Alright lovely? welcome to Cassette Tape Radio its me, Talia Randall. How you doing?

This is a little bonus episode featuring a short interview I did with Oberon White, a queer, Welsh cabaret performance artist.

You might have already listened to episode 11 which features a poem / soundscape by Oberon. Its an excerpt from their show winegod. If you haven’t listened to that yet I urge you to.

In this bonus episode Oberon and I chat in more detail about winegod. It was a show that explored queer icons and took inspiration from mythology, specifically a Greek figure called Dionysus – which you might know as the god of wine. Side note the Roman term for this similar mythological figure is Bacchus, you might have heard of that too.

Anyway, Oberon was really interested in Dionysus as a queer figure and all the cultural and historical references to this icon. I found this really interesting particularly because there has been so much erasure of queer history, identity, mythology and I thought it was really important to find out more about those ideas. So Oberon and I had a little chat

Here it is, little bonus episode of Cassette Tape Radio


Interview with Talia Randall and Oberon White

Transcript by Christabel Smith

So just generally tell us a bit about your work. When you’re not in lockdown, reading and baking edibles, or furloughed from your part-time, non-arts job, who are you?

I’m a multidisciplinary ‘artiste’, like a lot of other people these days.

It’s so hard, I can’t say that myself, without doing that funky, special voice.

I’m an artist working primarily in performance, a mixture of live art, or experimental theatre, as well as cabaret and drag. Music and sound is always pretty central to what’s going on and I do sound design as well for other people. That smorgasbord of stuff, really.

If someone was to come to your performance in a post-vaccine or pre-Corona world, what might they expect?

One thing that’s been a big part of my practice is the idea of looking at queer and marginalised stories and histories and things and also, holding space for people, bringing to the forefront the ritual aspect of performance. There’s a sense of curating a ritual or ceremony with the sound and everything, creating something that’s experiential in that way, just seeing what happens with bodies in spaces. Alongside that, the more anarchic, playful things like cabaret in club spaces. That’s another side to what I do and those two halves inform each other, I guess.

You tend to perform lots of different spaces to each other. You perform in bars and nightclubs, your perform with Block 9 at Glastonbury, in theatres and gallery spaces – and You’re classically trained, right?

Yeah as a singer.

– You’ve told me you’ve enjoyed bringing more classical or ritual-type performances into a nightclub space, anarchic bodies in spaces, improvisation, into more restricted spaces like a gallery or theatre. Why is that important to you?

Well I think it’s about freeing up the material from the expectations of the context or form. If you take the classical stuff as an example, obviously that’s so banged-up with perceptions of who it’s for and who can access these things generally. That informs how people receive the work itself. If you divorce it from that context or space, you can bring it to different people and also, it helps people hear it with fresh ears or see it with fresh eyes. You can totally recontextualise it.

Like singing something operatic in a nightclub or a bar?

Totally that sort of thing. Taking a classical aria and performing a strange ritual in a gay bar or something.

That’s not what people expect when they hear ‘aria’. That leads really nicely into winegod which was your show that I very much enjoyed working with you on last year. Winegod is a show you’ve described as a contemporary performance ritual, tracing the ancientness of queer identity. Can you tell me more about that impulse to look at ancient queer history and why you wanted to make the show?

Winegod grew out of a previous project, where I was making work as part of Queens of the Underworld, which was a collaboration and sometimes ensemble led by myself and the artist Gwen de Loon. We were working and looking at similar themes, like the ancient mythologies, but not necessarily Dionysus’ / Bacchus, which is focused on winegod. We were looking at some connected things and it grew out of working and making material around that, but I think part of the impulse, there was something about the deity of Dionysus that I saw myself in from things I’d been reading, on a lot of levels, like the bodily level and the things they represent.

Can you tell us who Dionysus is?

Well basically the show is called winegod and everyone knows, well, not everyone, but people might have heard of Dionysus as a god of wine, of the party, and that is how this figure has been presented to us. But if you go into it, they are more deity representing this transgression and things which you might talk about in a contemporary way as being queer, amorphous. Their followers are very sexually liberated people and there’s a lot of blurring of genders and transgressing of norms and change. Later, you see with Christianity coming to the fore, all these aspects of humanity then become characterised as demonic or evil. Those themes at play, that’s what drew me in. and a wish to uncover those things which had been lost or intentionally obscured and representing it to people. Especially with a lot of the discussion around queerness and particularly around gender and trans identity, a lot of people who are right wing will often say, oh, it’s the modern phenomenon, this new invention, we always did all right with two genders, this sort of thing when actually, these things have been part of civilisation for centuries and millennia, since there were people. I guess that was an impulse.

Queer and trans identities, like you said, have been around since there were people. You said when we were making the show, when you look to queer history, icons or idols, the furthest people go back is maybe the 60s, but actually there’s this big long trace lots of people don’t know about. Dionysus is one of I guess those queer gods…

Queer icons!

Gods, icons, I’m all of them (haaa)

Colonialism has also been responsible for disrupting that and hiding that and oppressing it.

Oh completely.

Was that something that was intentional from the beginning or something that became more obvious as you started to write and make the show?

It’s so hard sometimes to think back. That show had a long off and on development process, really drawn out. I think you uncover more and more. You get drawn to something quite intuitively, feelingly, then maybe it’s only later on during the process that it becomes apparent what you’re working with. A lot of the work we did together was about clarifying and bringing some of those things to the forefront and clarifying the intent as well.

When you’re drawing from rich history and mythology and cultural references, it’s like where do we find the through line? Why is this story important now? From where I was sitting, it was about that unearthing of a history that more people should know about but then can also serve as a solace or inspiration to a lot of young queer people who feel histories are untethered. They’re not untethered, they’re there, they’re just been intentionally erased or hidden.

Yeah I think an important thing with the fact of erasure, especially when you’re going back as far as something like Dionysus, it becomes impossible to just uncover things, it’s about doing the imaginative work with the material you do have available. It’s taking the facts and creating an imagined version because the literal one is impossible to uncover. That’s what’s so exciting as well.


Cassette Tape Radio is a mixtape style podcast by Talia Randall. Each episode is totally different to the next, its surreal and experimental. We’ve got songs about fax machines:

(sound of pressing play on a tape)

I wanna, I wanna wanna fax you.

I wanna, I wanna wanna fax you.

(bendy synth)

Baby relax, fax to the max.

(climbing chords in a 1980s electro pop synth style + fax machine noise)

(sound of pressing fast forward on a tape)

Dream journals:

I dreamt Mel Gibson was trying to play supermario with me in a window less room

I dreamt I met a man who called his bum hole Barbara

I dreamt I gave birth to a baby made of paper clips.

(sound of pressing fast forward on a tape)

a brand new musical genre

(Medieval lute)

ElectroKrud, a new musical genre

(Sings in autotune: ElectroKrud)

Imagine that the entire youth population of the Home Counties are all on acid and all of them are sharing one cigarette, in a yurt on the Sunday morning of a festival.

(Sings in autotune: ElectroKrud)

(sound of pressing fast forward on a tape)

We even have poetry:

Proverbs for a woman drinking alone

If a woman drinks

Undisturbed in a forest

Does she even exist?

A man walks

into a bar

And ruins the woman’s evening

(sound of pressing fast forward on a tape)

As well as interviews with legendary talent including the literal godfather of hip hop.

“Poetry before us was kind of quiet. You might have had tea and crumpets, you know, sat round and maybe whispered to each other, not talk too loud. We put brass knuckles on it, punch you in the face with poetry, we gave it a rowdy sound, we turned up the volume and it became a war cry in many ways, for a lot of people”.

Join me in the randomness and search Cassette Tape Radio whenever you get your podcasts.