The Power of No

If you haven’t heard Portland musician Ezza Rose in the past five years or so, you should know her sound has changed: She’s no longer playing folky bluegrass string music. “Growing up I listened to a lot of punk,” she explains over the phone.

Going electric with her band is a return to her roots, she says. “We’ve been sinking our teeth into a lot of material that’s geared politically.” 

If you have any doubt that her music has taken a new direction, check out the pounding tom-tom intro that blasts her song “No Means No” into the stratosphere.

That song, off her brand-new album of the same name, is a slightly surf-rock, Sleater Kinney-style punk manifesto for the #MeToo era. The song’s video, filmed at various locations around Portland, shows women running daily gauntlets of male harassment and abuse. These women fight back. One pulls out her cell phone to take footage of her catcaller, making him look a fool. 

While the album echoes issues raised by the #MeToo movement, Rose says it was largely written before the hashtag exploded into public awareness. More than anything, she says, it’s an album about the value of keeping your word.

“Being true to your word,” she explains. “Being impeccable with your word, and valuing other people’s word. For me ‘no means no’ is the overarching thematic idea. It’s a liberating idea for me.” 

Ezza Rose plays along with The Domestics 8 pm Friday, Nov. 30, at Hi-Fi Lounge; $5 advance, $7 door, 21-plus.

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