The loss of Cash Askew of San Francisco Bay Area dream-pop/shoegaze band Them Are Us Too has devastated many in the Post-Punk community. She was among one the 36 victims who perished in the tragic warehouse fire in Oakland on December 2. She was 22 years old.
Them Are Us Too’s debut album Remain on Dais Records, was one of the best records released in 2015, and we were honored to premiere the video for The Problem with Redheads this past July.
“Cash Askew was an absolutely loved and treasured member of the Dais Records family.” said Dais and the Band’s management in a press release, “We were in awe of her talent, her gentle kindness, and her creative momentum. … Her passing is an excruciating loss that we may never fully process or recover from.”
The band name Them Are Us Too could easily be construed as being about Gender pro-noun and Queer issues—but it goes far beyond that. Cash’s musical partner Kennedy explains in an interview with The Slutist:
“The use of gender neutral pronouns was not intentional, actually. I thought of the phrase while talking to my mom as a teenager about the housing crisis, and about which homeless people were getting attention and support and which were not. I was frustrated that those who were perceived and constructed by the media as one of “us” (those who lost their homes recently to the economic collapse, lived otherwise “normal” lives, had just “fallen on hard times,” etc.) were getting so much support whereas people who had been homeless for a long time or for different reasons, who did not fit this particular narrative of need, were not justified in receiving aid or sympathy. It was pitched basically that the “new homeless” were not like “them” and thus deserved resources. It was very upsetting/confusing/frustrating for me to process the lack of care for the constructed other, but I did not yet have the language to think or talk about the process of constructing otherness… so the phrase kept popping into my head and it stuck.”
This takes a new meaning if looked at from the perspective of why the Transgendered and Queer community—of which Cash was a part of—needed to meet in such a venue as the Ghost Ship. This was a place that was—for lack of a better word—a “safe space” during an era of increased hostility to the LGBT community and persisting housing crisis. I certainly hope this narrative will not be forgotten in the often self-righteous need to assign post-hoc blame for this tragedy. Underground spaces are still needed!
In the meantime, The Washington Post wrote a well said piece that honestly brought me to tears, and which I think everyone should read if they wish to fully understand this tragedy, and loss of Cash.
Also, please pick up a copy of Remain, and watch the videos for
The Problem with Redheads