Studying at the National Film School in the late 1970s, June Miles Kingston was surrounded by Punk, it was the heartbeat of Central London, the war drums of a new rhythm. Even the during time she spent at Punk’s celluloid coalface, as she worked alongside Julien Temple on Malcolm McLaren’s film “The Great Rock and Roll Swindle”, June was never tempted to pick up a guitar and join the fray. Not until she bought a drum kit that is.
Moving into a squat with Kate Korris, original Slit and fleeting Raincoat, June was offered a ramshackle kit by Sex Pistol Paul Cook
“I met the Pistols and made friends, then I moved in to squat with Kate Korris and Joe Strummer and bought a drum kit from Paul Cook for £40.”
Already looking like a member of a surly girl gang, with her biker leathers and pouty grin, it was fairly inevitable that within a few months June and Kate had formed the Mo-Dettes.
I think even if you or I had bought a drum kit from a Sex Pistol and were currently living in a squat with a former Slit, then we too would have formed a band, but what we might not have expected was the length, breadth and success of Miles Kingston’s foray into a Post Punk world.
June’s drumming was the solid back-beat behind the Mo-Dettes choppy rhythms and runaway choruses – a sort of elegant power drumming if that’s possible.
Their post punk connections led to support slots with Madness, the Clash at Notre Dame Hall and Siouxsie and the Banshees at Hammersmith Odeon, and pretty soon their single “White Mice” was a bonafide independent chart hit.
The Mo-Dettes disbanded in 1982, but June continued to make music as both a sought after drummer and also a vocalist. She’s worked with the Fun Boy Three, providing drums and backing vocals on “Our Lips Are Sealed”, similar duties for The Communards, and more vocals for both Big Country and Microdisney among others. She also made the video for The Selecter’s Back to Black.
We are interested to learn that more recently, June has returned to art and film studies and her film “Dear Miss Bassey” was selected for the “Hackney Attic” Film Festival and awarded best student film in “The Smalls” London Film Festival. The film recounts an imaginary letter from June’s mother to her life-long idol Shirley Bassey. It’s touching without being overly sentimental, imaginative and of course beautifully filmed. The over-arching themes of regret, lost opportunities and a love of music are based around June’s mother, but maybe there are also parallels with June’s own trajectory, of someone who doesn’t have those same regrets, and who might have been accidentally nudged towards their destiny in the guise of Punk’s “have a go” attitude, and the opportunities that it offered, especially to girls.
“I think I blossomed through punk,” says Miles-Kingston. “I found my political head which I had started to discover at art school. Punk made it easier to express yourself at a time in your life when you needed an identity, when you were finding out about who you were, the most difficult time for most people – that time between adolescence and becoming a grown-up.”
You can read more about June’s filmwork HERE and watch Dear Miss Bassey below.