Author: Willa Rudolph
The experience of endometriosis, though different for everyone, is so deeply inlaid with pain of all kinds. Beyond the obvious physical pain, living with this disease so often engenders grief and loss, anger and anxiety, despair and hopelessness. From the routine gaslighting and misinformation from medical professionals to the lived reality of endo radically altering lives, the story of endo patients is often impossible to fully capture and communicate to those on the outside.
Yet, as anyone who has ever cried from a sad love song, been moved by a work of art, or captivated by a good poem can likely attest, it is sometimes the darkest, most heartbreaking experiences that allow something beautiful to be created. It is the beauty of connection, of seeing your own pain reflected in a new way, of knowing that you are not alone. — Endometriosis Foundation of America website
On a quaint farm, far, far, away (1.5 hours up the Hudson River), lives Bernadette Higgins and Oliver Ignatius, founders of of the world’s only independent music studio and animal sanctuary that we’re aware of, known as Holy Fang. Though they live outside the city, they find artists entrenched in the NYC scene and help them out with recording, and even networking.
Warriors II is the second annual compilation album in Ollie’s and Berni’s campaign to support endometriosis research, with all proceeds going to the Endometriosis Foundation of America (18 tracks, almost all of which unavailable elsewhere, for a mere 10 bucks on Holy Fang’s Bandcamp page) featuring artists (in order of appearance) such as Computerwife, Swordes, Sofia Zarzuela, Demi Ramos, November Girl and many more besides, with Berni and Oliver’s sweet daughter Lennon wrapping up the comp with a cover of “After Hours” by The Velvet Underground.
Why endometriosis, you ask? Well, Bernadette has dealt with endometriosis since puberty, and Oliver has been by her side for much of that time. The way they connected their experience with endometriosis to music happened first when they became friends with Dr. Seckin, “the world’s best endometriosis surgeon,” some time after Berni had become his patient.
Dr. Seckin is the founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, which has a great history of raising money and hosting fancy galas, etc., but the Holy Fang gang agreed “there was a gap in terms of reaching the young people who are actively battling this disease in real time, who may or may not have found access to diagnosis and good treatment, the ‘warriors’ themselves.
We became sort of ‘youth ambassadors’ for the EndoFound, and we devised the ‘Warriors’ series as an opportunity to elevate and work with exhilarating, primarily femme-led talent, creating these installations of brand new material, making lemons into lemonade, with the idea that all these brave ‘warriors’ suffering in the shadows through this silent disease can come out. We can make noise together– be it joyful, a howl of pain, a cry of sorrow, a sigh of hope…some catharsis for all of us to share.”
All of this led Berni and Ollie to curate talent and build community through recording and producing Warriors I at Holy Fang Campus, which has now very recently been followed by Warriors II, released on Spotify just a couple of weeks ago.
Ollie explains to The Deli, “I’ve watched [Bernadette] deal with unsympathetic doctors, faulty science, chaotic and botched surgeries that resulted in further complications. For the whole first half of Bernadette’s journey, most doctors still considered endometriosis to be primarily an ‘hysterical’ psychological malady, and it was clear to see the scales were tipped horribly against this women’s health condition.”
Sofia Zarzuela in between recording at Holy Fang
I asked Berni specifically why this work is important, and she replied, “1 in 10 – think about how many people that actually is. And that’s a conservative estimate. There has been so much stigma around this condition, and around reproductive health issues in general – nobody wants to say or hear the word vagina, and we’re left with thousands and thousands of warriors fighting a secret, silent battle every day. ‘You don’t look sick,’ is the common refrain experienced by the endometriosis sufferer. We want to say we see, we hear, we know – we are all in this together. For future generations, for there to one day be a cure, that is our most fervent hope. For now, we are trying to generate the most beauty and good things we possibly can.”
Me at Holy Fang in between recording w/ my band November Girl
Holy Fang’s origin story goes a little something like this: “Holy Fang is an exquisite, residential analog-digital hybrid recording studio and arts center located on an animal rescue sanctuary an hour north of New York City. Owned and operated by Oliver Ignatius and Bernadette Higgins, who led the Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen collective in Brooklyn before transitioning to Holy Fang. Our business is in making beautiful records, hosting beautiful events, and destroying the minds of those who had been led to believe that the world was flat.”
This hippie farm where adorable animals roam, the most positive energy radiates, and where incredible music is being made, is such a special place that really shows what kind of people Ollie and Berni are! Check out Warriors II today!
Editor’s note: The first Warriors comp, released around this same time last year, is well worth checking out as well. Plus, it’s only $7 to purchase on Bandcamp (click link above) and all proceeds likewise go to the Endo Foundation. From the swaying melancholia of Flowerface and O. Ignatius’s “No Way Home” to the churning backbeat and banshee wails of Sorry Mom’s “Seafood” (an exclusive Holy Fang-made recording that’s a beat slower and a notch more frantic/fervent than the babyface babyface LP version) to a nifty stripped-down demo rendition of Shilpa Ray’s “Bootlickers of the Patriarchy”…
…to an über-cool exclusive track by the ever-melodic-and-hypnotic Hello Mary called “Inside Me” to the heavenly harmony-laden balletic tearjerker “It Must Have Been Love” by Charlotte Rose Benjamin (another exclusive) all the way to the final track’s melancholic mandolin-and-guitar duet “Kavinace” by a mysterious group billed as Slothbox, both volumes of Warriors are so chock full of earworms and straight-up emotion-stirring feels that you’ll easily get your $7 or $10 worth all the while contributing to a worthy cause related to women’s health so you know what to do, don’tcha?
HOLY FANG IN PHOTOS:
MORE MUSIC BY THE FEATURED ARTISTS: