Lis Harvey doesn’t buy into other people’s idea of sexy. The 30-year-old Brisbane photographer launched her own underwear brand, Nico Underwear, celebrating simplicity and minimalism, because nothing else felt quite right. “I felt very strongly that there was a real gap in the market, between that really over-the-top lacy stuff or just like everyday Kmart two dollar cottontails or whatever,” she says. “There wasn’t really anything in between. And for me personally, I felt like I didn’t fit into any of those categories.”
HEAVY METAL IS A FORCE OF NATURE I’ve always loved guitar-driven music. But growing up in Indonesia, we were so limited to what made it to the one cassette store we had. I think our choices were Guns n’ Roses, Ugly Kid Joe and whatever. It wasn’t until I turned eighteen in Canberra that I went to my first hardcore show and it completely just blew my mind. It was this band called 4 Dead and it was a really quiet Tuesday night. There weren’t that many people at the show, but as soon as they came on, it was like a tsunami. Eventually that band became bigger and bigger, but at the time it was like, this is fucking Canberra. Why is this happening? So I think from then on I was very much, I have to learn how to sing like that. Seriously, I don’t know how, but I’m going to try.
LADIES ARE WELCOME I always felt really safe and really welcome at hardcore and metal shows. And I think a lot of women would agree. It’s an incredible feeling. I haven’t had a bad experience. There’s respect. I mean, you’ll always get creeps, but there’s not too many. And there’s a huge amount of trust. Especially if you’re in a mosh pit. But I never feel like anyone’s going to cross the line, because everyone has that sense of respect for one another.
STAYING TRUE My family and I never tried to be what other people were. We always just tried to be The Staples Singers. We never tried to be disco. Never tried to be anything but what we are. I think that’s what made us. Our sound was so unique. It comes from my father, Pops Staples, singing with his family down in Mississippi. And these are the voices that he gave my sisters and I to sing.
STAYING HUMBLE I’ve never believed in “star”. My sisters and I, we’ve always kept ourselves humble. And it’s the best way to live. I don’t care how high you go up, you’ve got to come down. So I prefer to stay at one level. And be happy. Today, I’m always happy. Nothing can bring me down. I am everyday people. There are no big I’s and little you’s. Everybody’s the same. I’m no better than anybody else. I’m just a singer that God is using. He gifted me with my voice. I didn’t just reach up and order my voice. It’s my God given gift. So I use it the way I know he would want me to use it.
GET A BIT ANGRY Sometimes the best stuff is produced when you’re kicking against something. Scotland in the past has had this great big chip on its shoulder. It’s been able to look up to England and blame it for stuff, which I think is kind of lame. But at the same time, when you’re anti-stuff, like anti-Thatcher, anti-Tory and anti-establishment, then it can be very fruitful. And movements like punk were completely justified.
REMOTENESS IS GOOD Pre-Internet and pre-mobile phones, it was very apparent in Glasgow that we were a country unto ourselves, especially the eighties and maybe the nineties. That was back in the day when it was a long way from London and people weren’t coming and going so much. There were a few [musical] roots put down in the eighties, but more sporadic elements. Back then, people still went off to London. But in the nineties, people started making records and staying in Scotland.
FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS (OR DON’T) We got kicked out of school. For us, it was almost like we wanted to prove all them wrong. We were just like, “We have to do this now.” And our rule was not to have a fall-back plan. I wouldn’t want to give that advice to any kid that gets kicked out of school. I don’t want to say, “Don’t follow your dreams,” but sometimes following your dreams no matter what can be kind of dumb. I knew what I wanted to do when I was seventeen, but we were really reckless and stupid and it could have gone really wrong. But we were stubborn enough to stick through and work really hard, even after seven or eight years of just straight failure. I just knew that we had something special.
PARENTS CAN BE WRONG In the States, all middle class parents are like, “You must go to university and do four years, no matter what.” Well, maybe some kids shouldn’t do that. What’s wrong with having a blue-collar job? People still need to do those jobs and they’re well playing. I probably wasn’t cut out for university and a lot of kids aren’t. I think it’s baby boomer mentality, where it’s like, “You’re all special snowflakes and you’re the best at whatever you do.” No, not everyone’s the best at what they do. I’m really into writing, but I’m probably a shitty writer.