04 Apr Tibbie X Speaks on Anarchy, Punk Rock, Art and Parenting
by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
I met Tibbie X in Manhattan in 2007, initially in awe of her coolness — and disarmed by her kindness. One of my favorite memories is of the day we jammed in her East Village apartment, where I watched her play bass riffs and learned of her deep-rooted love of the local NYC punk music scene.
Today her boundless creativity continues to inspire others. Since moving to Philadelphia in 2011 with her son, Tibbie’s toured the world as the bassist for punk band Reagan Youth, started new musical projects, and opened an art gallery space/boutique in the South Street district (Tibbie X Studios).
We recently caught up Tibbie to learn more about the new space, parenthood, and music.
Rockmommy: Can we take this back to the beginning? When did you discover punk, or music, as something you wanted to explore, artistically?
Tibbie X: The beginning would be when I saw punks in NYC around Broadway when Canal Jeans, Unique Boutique, Antique boutique … all these stores were like places to hang out outside of. I was around 8 or 9 years old taking ballet classes and would sometimes escape to check out the city on my own. I just wanted to hang out with them.
I got a mix tape when I was 11 from a skater kid in some other school that was life-changing. It was a mix of early goth, new wave, and punk and I was obsessed. I did everything I could to find music, stealing change from my mom’s old bags and walking all over the place in NYC and California to find record stores. I wanted to know the actual bands but I was horribly shy and felt stupid talking to anyone because I didn’t look “cool”. I was a little kid in ballet like wearing a leotard with jean shorts and Keds.
When I was older it was easier for me to have my own band than to deal with watching and meeting people. I don’t know how to stand around doing nothing and just like have fun that way. I started as a folk terrorist in upstate NYC playing punk songs at acoustic folk nights, writing songs about the hippies performing before me. Then it progressed to bandmates and I dropped out of art school.
Rockmommy: What was it like joining a band like Reagan Youth with such a huge fanbase and legacy?
Tibbie X: I joined Reagan Youth in 2012, before that I had tried out on vocals but it was weird. I knew the Reagan Youth songs and I had toured Europe a lot with my band X-Possibles and did some of Warped Tour with Kissy Kamikaze and we opened for Hedwig and the Angry Inch and stuff like that. When I joined Reagan Youth it was a huge relief because I didn’t think I was going to be touring anymore which was a horribly depressing experience. It was totally natural to become Paul’s bassist since our political beliefs are in line and we lived in the same neighborhood for 18 years before I joined.
Rockmommy: I believe you started a couple of other NYC-based solo projects between 2007 and 2010, with you as the front person. Do you have a favorite one? Are there any bands or projects you were involved in that stand out, when you look back now? (or, what do you miss the most?).
Tibbie X: From 1998-2004 and then briefly in 2010 I had a band X-Possibles, then after our drummer died I got weird for a few years trying to do other stuff like work corporate which sucked. I was miserable really.
I had a fun kinda “hobby” band Kissy Kamikaze but when that band started doing well it was embarrassing because it wasn’t real.
In 2012, I joined Reagan Youth and after a few tours I started GASH and I had a kind of mental shift that year and became hellbent on the concept of all-inclusive liberation within the underground in terms of all genders or non-gendered people /races/and everyone feeling a sense of freedom together without judgment. My band was very sexual in terms of our imagery but the lyrics and music was spiritually and politically motivated.
Rockmommy: When did you move to Philly, and why?
Tibbie X: I moved to Philadelphia in 2011 after having my son Severin. My husband at the time had been offered free housing and we were living in such a small space for so much money it made sense to move at the time. I think it was good for me since it’s a new experience, but I want to return to NYC someday. It’s my home even though it’s fucked up.
Rockmommy: I remember learning that you had become a mom in the 2010s! I also was in awe of you because you still made time to tour and pursue your passions. How did you make it work?
Tibbie X: Well I’ve lost every relationship, job, apartment, scraps of sanity … to bands so that’s how that works.
It was a lot, I mean I’ve always sold whatever I have, saved money from tours, people get jealous and vindictive and it’s like I’d just ignore it and do what I wanted to do anyway. It was perfect because I was able to be a stay-at-home mom full time and then go on tour for nine days and come back with enough to last awhile to be home with my son before going out again.
I worked really hard to transform myself during that time also so I had the stamina to do all this stuff. I worked out with a trainer at 5 a.m. Then I’d be with my son all day and we napped in the middle of the day.
Then in the evening after he had dinner and went to sleep I went to either band practice, a dance class or hot yoga. Then when I got home I’d take a long bath and all these lyrics came to me and I’d write them [and] fall asleep.
Rockmommy: What current music projects are you working on or in? Would you say you’ve evolved in terms of your playing?
Tibbie X: I’ve gotten a lot better on bass since playing with Paul, Madame St. Beatrice and Sturgeon aka Stza.
Rockmommy: You’ve seen a lot as a longtime punk musician, more than most of the women and gender minorities I interview. What would you tell them about the music scene? Any lessons learned you have to impart?
Tibbie X: I’m excited for the next adventure in music because the scene has changed so very much. I used to have a clear vision, diversify punk rock — that will radiate out into the world and make everything better.
Now the Internet is a tool used to wrongfully morally police people and separate what could be a very powerful unified force against the tyranny of the World Wide Government Class System and Police Force. There really would be no need for Authoritative Higher Ups if people could stop destroying each other over petty [stuff] without investigation of the truth.
I played in Reagan Youth for almost 12 years and we had Scott Sturgeon “Stza” sing for our last shows. Paul and I believe he is wrongfully condemned online and he’s become a source of enjoyment for people to destroy from the comfort of their own parents homes. It’s only getting worse as this feeling of control empowers people who are feeding off dopamine “likes” and algorithmed together continue the hate plague. That is the real pandemic. Live music in person and having events in person become all the more important to break people out of their screen isolation to hopefully rewire brains back to critical thinking.
Rockmommy: Tell us about your new store – how did you come up with the idea to do this? What’s the vibe and what should we know about it?
Tibbie X: Tibbie X Studios is my art gallery that very quickly evolved into an LGBTQIA-run space filled with vintage clothes, fetish gear, kitschy collectibles, comics, music, occult books and so much more. I met Lucien and Deadboy, two amazing artists who help run the space, and started up our events. We have an alternative to AA meetup titled “Sober Demons” and we run a craft night almost every Friday and Saturday which is a super chill hang out. I love seeing people finding out space and hanging out in our big chair out front or traveling to bring amazing artwork and clothing and to hang and meetup with like-minded others.
It’s like everything from when I first started this journey as a little kid jammed into one space and now, Sturgeon helped set up a music studio in the basement.
Rockmommy: You have a son, who is 12. What’s he into?
Tibbie X: Severin recently decided to go on a “dopamine detox” and quit video games. He started working out and is eating healthy and meditating. He’s super into chess and has started making things. He’s anti-social media and all forms of “commercialized mind control” using dopamine for addictive marketing.
So that’s another piece of the puzzle fit in. My son’s friends feel comfortable hanging out with him there [at my gallery] so I’m hell bent on making it work to support not only myself and my son but our community.
Bringing a creative hangout to the neighborhood and having a place to spread underground art literature exciting fashion and unique gifts is just more expansive liberation. That’s my mission in this lifetime. It’s all love — lead with love and everything will work out (or not and you’re stuck with the love which is alright also).
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.