Three lesbians walk into a German bar . . .

Local singer-songwriters use Queer Canadian hook for two-week tour

  • Jul. 4, 2012 12:00 p.m.
Singer-songwriter  couple Auto Jansz and Andrea June recently joined poignant alt-country-pop-rocker Kate Reid for a Queerly Canadian tour of Germany.

Singer-songwriter couple Auto Jansz and Andrea June recently joined poignant alt-country-pop-rocker Kate Reid for a Queerly Canadian tour of Germany.

Backpackers often use a symbol of our national identity — the Canadian Flag — as a way of fostering goodwill. Similarly, supporters of the LGBTQ community fly the rainbow flag as a way of promoting inclusiveness, diversity and a sense of Pride in society.

Three local lesbian singer/songwriters combined these two powerful symbols to market their music on their recent tour of Germany — the Queerly Canadian tour — featuring cabaret-folk couple Auto Jansz and Andrea June and poignant alt-country-pop-rocker Kate Reid.

The ladies wanted to set their tour apart.

“Otherwise we’re just three women songwriters, what’s the hook?” says Reid, who lives on Bowen Island. “We wanted to see if we could draw more folks in if we up the curiosity piece a little …

“My music is queer-focused, it’s the lens I write through. Auto and Andrea and I talked about whether we wanted to market that piece and we all thought it was a good idea. We wanted to target the LGBTQ community in Germany.”

The tour took them to Kappeln, Hamburg, Berlin, Kiel, Husum and Norderstedt, playing seven shows in two weeks at pubs, cafes and cultural centres. Two of the stops were designated for women only, something that’s not very common in North America.

“Women’s centres used to be so big back in the day, and they’ve all since shut down,” says Jansz. “I remember everywhere we went, when you drive into town there would be a women’s centre, you knew there was somewhere you could go. Now it’s easier for people to go out and be where they want to be, but some of the older generation don’t want to hang out with guys, maybe they’ve had some bad experiences and have just shut the door.”

Reid’s common-law-spouse, Maike Engelbrecht, is a native of Germany and helped the ladies book the tour.

“I contacted about 100 venues across Germany,” says Engelbrecht. “But I didn’t get many responses. I did get one response right away from a gay and lesbian organization in Kiel and they suggested we use an agent. I don’t think normally this is something he would take on, but he helped us book two venues and also helped promote the tour.”

Overall, the ladies say their performances were met with a great response, even if most of the people didn’t understand what they were singing about most of the time.

Reid, whose performances are very conversational, had Engelbrecht translate her introduction to each song so the audience would at least know the subject matter, even if they didn’t get all the jokes and double-entendres. And even though it seems Germans are reluctant dancers, the trio agree the scene was pretty similar to here at home.

“In Victoria, we tend to play in places like Caffe Fantastic on Kings, Orange Hall, Spiral cafe — smaller venues. Most of the places we played in Germany had stages, lighting, the big sound,” says June.

Queerly Canadian Poster“Visually, it all pretty much looks the same,” says Jansz. “You’ve got your bull dykes, your tom boys, your femmes, it seemed like it was all pretty much the same style, at least.”

They did notice a big difference in LGBTQ representation in German advertising, with prominently placed anti-homophobia ads and gay men in beer ads throughout the larger centres.

“It’s not like the streets are paved with gold over there, they don’t have legally sanctioned same-sex marriage, and there’s a lot of  other legal stuff that we have that they don’t,” says June.

The Queerly Canadian tour poster features a red and white Volkswagen van emblazoned with a beaver decal driving through the Rocky Mountains — a concept designed by Reid’s creative director Bronwin Parks (of Feisty Entertainment in Vancouver) that clearly (and quite humourously) says lesbian Canadians in Germany.

“Slap a beaver on a Volkswagen and call her done,” says Jansz about the poster.

“It’s pretty white/straight out there,” says Reid. “We wanted to market it as a queer tour. Because we’re all lesbians, we wanted to make sure it was part of the name.”

After discussing a few ideas, they left Parks to conceptualize the poster and the overall theme of the tour.

“We were trying to come up with something that said queer and Canadian because people don’t know who we are. We figured we’d exploit this Canadian thing — what ever they think that is. As long as they’re interested in it, we’ll use it,” says June. “We came up with all these ideas and we narrowed it down, but the poster designer told Kate our ideas were lame and that we should just call it Queerly Canadian, so we went with it.”

“To me, ‘Queerly Canadian’ is a lot about exploiting our national identity to get people to the shows. After all, nobody in Germany had ever heard of us, but they have heard of Canada … But I don’t think self-consciously about my nationality very often. I prefer not to try and ‘make sense’ of it — pin it down and identify how my Canadianess is expressed and all that. I think as soon as you try to pin down the meaning, to define it, you start shaping it into a simplified, narrow version of itself. The same with ‘queerness.’ I could talk about how I express my ‘queerness’, but I would prefer to leave it complicated for myself. I don’t need to articulate it. That is not to say I’m not into labels or anything like that. I’m a lesbian, and that is not some vague thing. Everyone knows what that means, at least on the most basic level. But in terms of identity, that is a lot more complicated.” M

To pre-purchase a copy of Auto Jansz and Andrea June’s upcoming album, visit

Auto and Andrea

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy Everett Bumstead.
The tree planting life on Vancouver Island features in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Juno-winning Toronto dub poet Lillian Allen is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet for 2021. (Photo courtesy Karen Lee)
Juno-winning dub poet is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet this year

Lillian Allen will present online lecture, reading and Q-and-A

James Summer, the City of Victoria’s new youth poet laureate. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Slam poetry expert introduced as Victoria’s new youth poet laureate

Vic High alum James Summer will serve in the role for 2021

There are many options for enjoying a meal out locally during Dine Around and Stay in Town, on now through Feb. 7. (10 Acres Commons)
Dine Around Stay in Town Victoria carries added importance during pandemic

Special menu items for eat in or takeout/delivery, staycation deals available through Feb. 7

Peter Crema and Harmony Gray (from left), past participants of the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching teen art group, at work in ArtLab in 2019. The NAG will be expanding the space thanks to a $75,000 arts infrastructure program grant. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre receive new arts infrastructure funding

Province announces recipients of funding through B.C. Arts Council program

Ty Wesley, Nicole Darlington and Cameron Macaulay (from left) performed in the Beholder Entertainment production <em>Gender Sucks!</em> in the 2020 Nanaimo Fringe Festival. (Video still courtesy Sam Wharram)
Nanaimo Fringe Festival artist lottery open to local and B.C. playwrights

Organizers hope to stage plays in-person at indoor and outdoor venues this summer

Canadian singer-songwriter-actor Joëlle Rabu will join her son, Nico Rhoades, for a livestream performance courtesy the Tidemark Theatre Jan. 29. Photo submitted
Mother/son powerhouses Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes join forces for Island livestream

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre hosts online music revue

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

Most Read