‘Art Sex Music’ Memoir Spotlights PETA US’ Indie-Rock Activism
The mid-’80s saw a cultural revolution. Experimental music and the punk-rock ethos shook up the art and culture worlds, and the revolutionary spirit was alive and well when PETA US exploded onto the indie scene with Animal Liberation, named The New York Times‘ “Rock Album of the Week” upon its release in April 1987.
Featured alongside The Smiths and Siouxsie and the Banshees was avant-garde duo Chris & Cosey, whose song “Silent Cry” is an ode to an animal rescued from a laboratory. Below is an excerpt about the project from Cosey Fanni Tutti’s new memoir, Art Sex Music, which has received rave reviews from The Guardian, MTV, and Rolling Stone. Cosey has consistently challenged the boundaries of music and art over the past four decades. Her new book reveals how she became involved with PETA US to challenge society’s abusive relationship with animals:
The mid-morning mail arrived. A package from Wax Trax! Records in Chicago containing animal rights literature with graphic descriptions and photographs of animal cruelty, including the horrific suffering of animals in slaughterhouses. I read it once and never looked at it again – it was too distressing. Wax Trax! were releasing an album, Animal Liberation, which Dan Mathews of PETA [US] … was putting together. Jim at Wax Trax! had assumed me and Chris were vegetarian and asked us to contribute a track. We weren’t vegetarian until that envelope arrived, but we have been ever since.
I sat and wrote the lyrics and we recorded the song “Silent Cry” in about four hours. It had been sparked off by a chance meeting with Dan the previous year at our friend Lene Lovich’s house. Now the album was being released, Dan was in the UK to promote it and we met up again to discuss a live performance of our song at an animal rights party he’d organised at the Limelight in London. … Performing our gentle, sad song was quite emotional but I held it together.