Jo Squillo: “I tell women not to be intimidated, fearless girl forever”

Today, April 6, at the Teatro Lirico Giorgio Gaber in Milan, a piece of Italian music legend is celebrated: Cramps Records 1972 – 2022 is a unique and unrepeatable event, starring the artists and the history of Crampsthe record company created and founded in 1972 by Gianni Sassifor over two hours of live music.

The evening will be presented by Jo Squillo and will include two sets of Patrizio Fariselli Area Open Project in quintet, one of which is entirely dedicated to the unforgettable first album of the Area “Arbeit Macht Frei”milestone of that daring mix of experimentation, free jazz, electronics and rock which is the hallmark of the group and which this year celebrates half a century of its publication, which took place in 1973. The second set, with other pieces from the repertoire Area and a tribute to Franco Battiato will conclude the concert. Eugene Finardi will perform a tribute to Gianni Sassi and one, together with Charles Boccadoroto John Cage, i Skiantos will perform some of their songs related to the Cramps period, Lucio Fabbri & Friends they will make a tribute to Demetrius Stratos and the songs “Radio” And “Rebel Music” by Eugenio Finardi, Charles Boccadoro in addition to performing with “dream” by John Cage, will give a very special performance together with Patrick Fariselliagain in homage to John Cage, Andrew Tich will present some excerpts from his album Cramps “jerk off”.

Giovanna let’s start from the evening: what emotions do you expect and do you think that a young audience will also arrive, fascinated by a person, Gianni Sassi, and an era?

I sure hope so, we need to be aware that the past that made us visionary and avant-garde must transmit new strength to music. Today there’s too much business and too many gold chains, people make music to buy a nice car. Which, let’s be clear, is legitimate but it’s not part of my culture.
What can you tell me about your relationship with Gianni Sassi? In 1980 with Cramps you published “I’m bad” And “Horror”…it was your debut. What remains today of the spirit of the Rock Party?

It was the first independent party in Italian history, it was a civic list and the symbol of the middle finger then made history in many fields of art. I remember that at my first concert, it was December 1979, Gianni arrived in the dressing room saying that just one song was not enough, to prepare others and after a few days, with Paolo Tofani the keyboardist of Area, the second arrived.
Will you be only in the role of presenter tonight or will there be surprises?

I’m doing something special tonight. Then I would like to experiment to celebrate Demetrio Stratos, my master of the voice. I hope to be able to do diplophony, an exploration of the vocal world which for him was not just singing.
Let’s travel a bit through your story: with Kandeggina Gang you changed the music but beyond this you were already carrying on feminist and ecological battles in the 80s: does it make you sad to see that today nothing, or little, has changed?

I founded the non-profit Wall of Dolls born in Milan on the occasion of the Expo and then replicated in many cities: it is a permanent installation inspired by an ancient Indian tradition whereby every time a woman suffers violence, a doll is posted at the door of his house. It is the denunciation of a problem, including a cultural one, that the new generations need to know. We go to schools to talk about cultural change. In 1980 I offered free tampaxes and now the tax has dropped from 22 to 8 percent: it took 40 years for a small percentage to appear, so as not to consider them luxury goods. Ours remains a patriarchal society, based on business and brutalized by the absence of alternatives. We have developed the rock of commitment that told the reality. Today I travel around Italy and see places that know how to face feminist and environmental battles but what can you do against the multinationals and the nothingness of the cell phone? They should be turned off every now and then.
It’s 40 years of Adventurers, single from Festivalbar with the video shot on Etna. Do you plan to celebrate it in some way?

You open up a world to me by mentioning the anniversary. Many people ask me to do it again, there is a need to return vocally to music as a life expectancy that looks beyond. A verse like “we’ll fly away across the sky” conveys a broad and spiritual vision of the human being that is rarely found today.
The 90s have somewhat extinguished your artistic rage and brought a Pop sweetness. You were the leader of an Italian pop that would explode later on: does feeling that you are still a point of reference today give you a sense of responsibility?

I wanted to communicate to a wider audience, to give a voice to all women. A global sisterhood was needed and in 1991 I told them like this, without borders, with “We are women” together with Sabrina Salerno. I’ve never felt special, that’s who I am. I didn’t market my business. I define myself as an “artivist”. I teach courses in universities: you know today they are all good at talking but to be really good you have to believe it and be credible. We take the children of victims of feminicide on vacation and collaborate in the reconstruction of a life. We help the survivors financially for treatment but also just to get their driving licence. We have donated five thousand items of new clothes to give dignity to those who leave home with nothing after filing a complaint.
Your documentary “Forced Marriages”, presented at the Venice Film Festival in 2021, will it be a trailblazer for other documentaries? Music, television and cinema… the complete artist.

My creativity is all round. I already had Women in prison made in the women’s section of the Milanese prison of San Vittore. We sang a song, we wrote one, I took three inmates to Venice with me. There is a high reoffending rate in the female prison population. But also little acceptance by society: we are following a girl who has been out for eight months for whom there is no future; she was then hired when they discovered her past of her fired on the spot. She also can’t find a home because there is no guarantee. We also deal with eating disorders, with a little girl who almost died because she was bullied and her parents didn’t notice. Everything was possible thanks to Giacinto Siciliano, the director of the prison, and to the people who work within those walls. We made a recording studio in the prison, and the inmates learned to film themselves and tell their stories.
Today do you feel more fearless girl or do you claim the right to scream we are women?

I always like to feel like a fearless girl but remembering that there’s more than just the skirt.
What will happen in the coming months?
Jo in the House, my daily dj sets live on instagram in the time of the covid, brought me to meet the new generations. At my age I go to perform at the disco. Today women have a new image, it is no longer just the sixty-year-old man who is fascinating. The woman today must not be intimidated.