Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Oh Captain

Dystopian post rock rage from Brighton

Website here

So..can you tell me a bit about how Oh Captain ended up being Oh Captain?

Sadie (drums): Well, Jamie, Hope and myself were all acoustic artists playing open mic nights around Brighton to begin with. Hope was the first person I sorta made friends with after moving here and we hit it off, I offered to put some drums to her acoustic tracks then it sorta went from there.

Hope (Guitar/vocals): After a couple of jams we invited Jamie along and the next thing you know, we're shouting and sweating and mangling our guitars, throwing ourselves about. After playing a few acoustic shows we realised we were getting way to heavy for that style of music so we moved onto electric guitars. At this point the line up was two guitars, drums and we all had vocal parts, we barely even had any pedals and the sweating was minimal. In the months that followed we wrote like we were on fire and smashed together our first E.P 'THE SKY IS FALLING!', on an interpersonal level we all became super close, it became apparent that we are all massive geeks who love zombie movies, sci-fi novels and buckle under the social pressures of appearing as if we're not horribly awkward people, haha!
After launching this, we focused in our writing skills; we somehow managed to write a whole new album in a year. We also worked hard on our live performance which are pretty explosive, often ending with Sadie collapsed on the kit, I'm usually on the floor and Jamie's crouched over his guitar like a mad-scientist.
We came to a crossroads with writing and then Joe appeared, as if sent from the Post Rock Gods, he plays bass and sampler and shouts! So now armed with a bassist and 18 months of band experience we jet set off to The Ranch Production House to record our debut album 'PISTOLS OUT' which is 9 tracks of rage, pain, dystopia, blood, sweat, tears, screaming, crying, singing, atheism, love, emotional torture, zombies, noise and above all a sense that 'things are terrible and they need to change! Right now!

Is that how you would define post rock in general or is that just Oh Captain?

Hope: Well 'post rock' as a genre is a lot of things, it's like a mix between psychedelic, grunge, metal and ambient instrument music. It's pretty technical and emotive so every band has it's own take.  The rage, pain etc is just Oh Captain really.
Sadie: I think that in terms of trying to define Oh Captain!'s sound, we each have a range of different influences, which tend to make themselves known whenever we jam with each other. I feel like we're very lucky that we sorta glue so well together, sometimes parts of songs just come to us super organically, and other parts we have to just work and work at it until we get something that fits well. I think if we all liked just one genre of music or one small collection of bands throughout our individual lives we'd clash more, musically. It definitely works in our favour that we all come from different musical influences. Post-rock is sorta just the genre we seem to fit into the most and at this point in time, the one we are influenced by and enjoy the most. It also has quite a niche audience at the moment too, which I think is what we're drawn to as a band.

copyright © 2014 Emily Hammerton-Barry
Sounds like the shows are pretty high energy!  How have they been received by Brighton punters?

Hope: Yeah we do play pretty high energy shows, usually people love it, I think mostly because it's a bit of a surprise considering how horribly awkward we are the rest of the time. A lot of people's reactions are 'Blimey, where'd that come from!' which is positive.
Sadie:  I hope people enjoy it as much as we do! Sometimes people let that be known, and sometimes we finish and people look like they're not sure what to do.. I'm hoping that that's a sign that it was a good show..either that or they're just not bothered really at all by it, I just hope it's not the latter! I feel like we give as much as we possibly can at each show and if people enjoy it - that's awesome! If not - no worries!

copyright © 2014 Emily Hammerton-Barry

You're in a mixed gender band - have you ever felt that the guys get treated differently by sound engineers, venue staff, promoters, other bands etc?

Sadie: Nope! I think we're extremely lucky to be in a band living in Brighton, where that type of thing occurs only rarely (as far as I have experienced). Its a very accepting city, with so many female musicians. I agree it is still very much a male dominated scene, but at almost every show we've played, we've had feedback that has been very positive and most people treat us as equals and in the exact same way as the guys. So much so that its not really something I ever consider when going to play a gig, I'll talk to other drummers and band members and the subject is always on the music, gender doesn't play much of a part for me in that sense. We're all just musicians, there to play music! If anything, I think many people see bands with female members as a positive thing. This is one of the many reasons I love where I live. I was in a band before Oh Captain! back in Surrey, and I definitely experienced sexism in the music scene. The comments I had were more about how I looked rather than the music I was playing, and that definitely pissed me off! I played very different types of venues though back then and in small towns, in front of quite small-minded people.
Hope: Hmmm, not really, in fact when we first started playing they always turned Jamie's vocals and guitar right down which was weird. I used to be a sound engineer and I booked most of the gigs so usually I was the one chatting away to the promoter and the engineer and never really found that to be a problem. The most I've ever run into trouble for being female in the music industry was when I was engineering actually. I think the experience is different for everyone though and I've heard /witnessed a lot of women having a harder time being listened to and respected at shows, especially if the whole band is female identified.  I think there's a lot of pressure to assert yourself when you're playing a show, you know? It's like you have to introduce yourself to everyone and really make sure they know you're in the band. But the guys haven't ever been treated differently, not in front of me anyway haha.

What do you think would help more women break into the fields of sound technology, DJing etc?

Hope: Hmmm, I think that's a tricky one and I suppose it'd start at home or school. By this I mean that girls should be encouraged just as much as boys at school to learn about electronics and technology, more efforts should be put in to making those types of classroom environments accessible for people of all genders and not just cis boys, groups and classes taught by other people who aren't guys in the industry would be a good place to start. Perhaps more apprentice spaces in the field would help as well. The irritating truth is that by the time you get to college or uni and sit down in a tech class ,even if it's an equal amount of guys to everyone else, these ingrained unspoken rules that "only guys like tech and it must be so terribly boring for everyone else so lets not bother including them at all" are always in the air.  Not to be too philosophical: My belief is that the structure of our society is still that there are two genders and one does building and bread winning and tech and the other shops, cooks and has babies. Obviously this entire statement from start to finish is wrong and that kind of thinking is what needs to change. 

Sadie: I generally think that there should without fail always be equal opportunities presented to people looking to further their studies etc. I didn't study courses such as music/sound tech, but my understanding was that it was, alongside many other courses, very male dominated. I definitely think that the way of thinking 'oh, I shouldn't learn this, its not targeted at or meant for girls' needs to change. When growing up in a fairly small town, at around 13 years old I expressed that I wanted to learn to play the guitar, and was met with some kinda weird looks, and people saying 'oh! a girl playing the guitar!' which made me scared in a way I guess, like I would be judged negatively or something. But then I was like, fuck it. I want to play the guitar.

So where did the name come from?  It reminds me of gay erotica for men...we used to sell a book with a similar title when I worked in a bookshop in Stirling..

Hope: Hahaha thats fantastic! The name actually comes from the title track 'Pistols out' which is about a fight/murder with three different points of view to it, that kind of theme of perspective and dystopia follows through a lot of the album with small resolutions as it goes, so we thought it'd be a good title.

Anything else you want to say about the album?

Well the it's out on the 9th October which us and Mutant Killer Collective are putting out and doing everything ourselves, which is proving super educational haha,  The launch and promotion has all been paid for by crowd funding via Kickstarter which was totally flipping awesome! So once we've launched it our next plan is to hopefully tour, release a new video then world domination of course!! Only kidding but on the side of D.I.Y and the collective; we're hoping to document everything and publish how the release goes in the hope to make it easier for other bands to get the music out there off their own back without having to wait around for labels, contracts and advances etc.

Thursday, 18 September 2014


Brighton garage rock duo 

Website here

So how long have you guys been a band?  Was there ever a bass player?

Hannah (vocals, guitar): I started the band a while ago but there have been various line-ups, some including bass. In February I asked Kate, one of my best friends from uni, to play a show with me, and it worked so well that we stayed together. She brought a new, much heavier sound to the band.

We've thought about adding bass, but we're happy just the two of us at the moment. We're trying out new sounds in terms of equipment to fill the lower frequencies live. 

Who are your influences?

That's a tricky one because we both have really varied influences.  As a band we draw inspiration from bands such as: Bright Eyes, Nirvana, Deap Vally, Alabama Shakes. But personally we're quite different.

Hannah - In terms of song writing Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes) is my favourite artist. I also love The Who, Kate Nash,The Kinks, Suzi Quatro, Fleetwood Mac, HAIM, Hanz Zimmer etc. Oh and Dolly Parton, I love her! But certainly, the band became what it is now after I went to see Deap Vally live. They blew my mind!

Kate (drums, vocals) - Growing up I was always listening to American bands: the first band I ever went to see was Taking Back Sunday, which gives you a bit of an idea the kind of genres I'm into. I was inspired to play music by a man called Bryce Avary who is the brain behind The Rocket Summer, he plays all of the key instruments on all of his records and seeing him play live (using a loop pedal) was amazing. Drumming wise I've recently really gotten into Hardcore Punk, bands like Title Fight and Balance and Composure are my main influences.

You describe your sound as garage rock - but the songs are quite eclectic in style I think. Moments at a Time is quite garage rock though, almost sounds a bit like Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  And Bodies in a Room reminds me of a band called Cat Bear Tree.. do you know them?

We've also been described by a local journalist as Gospel Garage Rock. We call ourselves 'Garage Rock' though because that's the direction our sound is moving towards. It's awesome that you said it sounds like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, we love them! We've heard of Cat Bear Tree, but not listened as of yet. We shall do now! 

Gospel? Where did they get that from?

We reckon it's because of the vocals. He was commenting on the track, She's My Demon, and we use a sort of call and response thing in the chorus which I suppose is relevant to Gospel.

That song is so great!  I saw you play at Queer Prom in Brighton and that was the first song you played.  It just rocked!

Aw thanks so much, that was a fun gig. The audience was really up for it and the setting was really intimate. We love that!

 As musicians, have either of you had any experiences of sexism?

Not really sexism as such. Sometimes people are surprised that we're a heavier band, but we've not had outward rudeness. I think if you turn up and are really sure of what you are doing, people (at least in Brighton) tend to respect you for it.  We are lucky in Brighton though, that has to be said. It's such a progressive place to live.

Kate - how is it when you walk into drum shops to buy gear? 

Personally I've never had any problems with it myself. I've always gone with my dad when I was younger and living in Brighton it's not been an issue for me. I feel sorry for the people that get those kind of problems though, it's not fair.

It definitely is a cool place - when I was there over Pride weekend. the local Morrisons had rainbow flags on all the checkouts.  That just blew my mind.  Pretty much everywhere else it's a nightmare for musicians who are female or present as female - I think drummers get the worst of it. 

So are all the sound engineers in Brighton are cool as well? 
We've played shows where there have been female sound engineers anyway. We also have a good friend who amongst her many talents is also a sound engineer and she said she's willing to work with us in the future. From our experience, if a sound engineer is being a bit of a douche they are generally being a douche to everybody, which in a strange way makes it more acceptable.

To be honest we try to be as nice to SEs as possible because if you're good to momma, momma's good to you! Also, as we are a two piece, SEs love our set up, makes a job easier!

So what's next for ARX? Any plans to tour?

Our current plans are to just play as many shows as we can and establish ourselves in Brighton and get the EP selling. We're also hoping to push up to London in the near future too.  We'd absolutely love to tour, and we have our sights on that for the not too distant future. We'd really like to come up and play in Scotland!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Noelle Tannen

Socially-conscious jazzy soul from New York

'Survive' gave me chills. Your voice is incredible!  Who would you say are your biggest influences?

I am so glad you dig it! My biggest influences (As far as other artists go) are; Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Debussy and I listen to a lot of 1930's song music like Cole Porter, Gershwin, Kurt Vile. Also these days, I love Nina Hagen. She is righteous. 

However, the experiences of the things happening around me are probably my BIGGEST influence.

Tell me about how that influences your songwriting.  The song 'Survive', has a strong anti-capitalism theme running through it..

Well, wealth distribution is something I think about a lot. Survive, is really about how every little thing we do, things that can seem really small like buying things when we really don't need it, consuming at establishments that we know are corrupt, use of plastic, etc ... 

We all know, that even in America, there are people that have like a shit ton of money, they hold most of the wealth, and then there is everyone else, some richer and poorer than others and this is just America. 

This song comes from the voice of me. A person who comes from a working class family, I support myself, probably would be considered on the poverty line if you calculated my yearly income. However, I live completely lavishly and have way more than I need compared to a great chunk of the world. 

I eat more than I probably need to, have more clothing than I need to, use more running water then I need to, Occasionally buy a drink at Starbucks or something. This might seem trivial to most, though its not, every little thing adds up. We have to really think before we act. If we don't than you are being cold. 

I could go on and on but I'll leave it at that. 
I haven't met you but I get the impression that you don't take any shit! Have you had many experiences of sexism throughout your musical career, and if so how have you dealt with them?

I certainly experience it a lot, in different ways all the time. For example, the music business is all about making and establishing connections, and getting attention from people that might be able to help you with your career. I have had experiences with men, where I wanted to establish professional and friendly relationships but it would often turn out they wanted to sleep with me or something like that. It's definitely frustrating cause it makes me feel as though I have to keep a guard up and always question peoples intentions. 

I deal with this by putting my foot down and showing that I am a strong person and really serious about what I do. I try to respect and trust everyone, come into relationships with an open mind and open arms. If I feel like if I am not being respected as a woman, or taken seriously I just don't feed into it. Its just simply not okay to let people manipulate you into situations like that. Also, you probably don't really want to work with someone who is trying to take advantage of you. This is a problem we all should recognize in different artistic communities. 

Also, the music industry is kind of dominated by males. A lot of times there can be this underlying skepticism when a girl walks into recording or collaborating sessions. Most of the time, the skepticism is proven wrong but its still pretty fucked up for that kind attitude to be there from the get-go based on gender stereotypes.  

I cannot express how important to stand your ground and not let male dominance override your artistic approach. I am not saying don't be self-critical, or don't take critique, because that is really important if you want your art to be good, gender aside. However, go into things with confidence. If you have strong ideas that you truly believe in then make that apparent. Don't let them shoot you down! 

Do you feel that it's becoming better or worse for women in music? 
Thats a really difficult question because I think it all depends on different situations and circles. I definitely think there still is like a lot of silent sexism that exists in the music industry, but again, it depends on who you are working with. Not everyone sees what happens behind closed doors. I think what is really great, are these communities, and circles of people like 'She's Pretty Good for a Girl' that are used as support systems to encourage and harness creativity and confidence for women artists.  


Monday, 9 September 2013

Madame So

Parisian-born, London-based singer-songwriter with punchy pop-rock tunes

photo by Derek Barnes
EP stream here
Website here

So who are your main influences?  

My influences include without being limited to..the Lemonheads, Garland Jeffreys, Sixto Rodriguez, Christophe Miossec (one of the best living French songwriters around), The Primitives (female-fronted original indie from the late 80s) and The Violent Femmes (US folk punk) , The Only Ones - I basically like poetic punk music whatever that means. But Liz Phair (circa 'Exile in Guyville' and 'Whitechocolatespaceegg') and Nina Simone really encapsulate the music I aim to be making: sharp, witty, direct, edgy without trying too hard to sound so...

I was surprised to see on your website that you've been compared to Tracy Chapman, what do you think about that?  The first thing I thought of when I heard your music was PJ Harvey.  The guitar riff on the first song on your EP reminds me of her early material.

Yes, I was doing the acoustic circuit for over a year  before I released the EP, so I assume people saw a black girl with an acoustic guitar, and that's the best they could come up with. It's silly but I take it as a compliment : Tracy has been at her prime a while ago...

About PJ Harvey, people have said that in the past even when I was solo acoustic, Allmusic even forced her influence on me, all this while I know close to nothing about PJ Harvey's music: the only track I own from her is 'This Is Love?'. A friend tried to get me into ' Rid of Me' and unfortunately I found it unlistenable... Without trying to be shocking, PJ isn't part of my musical culture, this said I like the protest track she's put out two weeks ago.

Like I said, Liz Phair was definiing in my musical upbringing : there's actually a cool piece here that looks on the influence she's had, even though people only reminisce of L7 and Hole (which I highly regard- I did listen to a lot of both these crews) when it comes to ballsy girls. 

photo by Richard Macien Clarke

As a musician, have you had any experiences where you felt like you were being treated differently than you would be if you were a man?

Yes, of course. Male musicians with whom I was trying to form some sort of collaboration have come to me saying my music is too "easy" or "simple", bur I see no point in showing off how one can play an instrument if there's no emotion or realness to it. For me, it's not about knowing your pentatonic scales by heart, but about making a sonic connection with an audience rather than just copying someone else's riff. So, often these very musicians can only come up with some deja-vu riff/chord progression and no lyrical content, instead of expressing themselves simply and/or freely however "easy" it may come across to others. These same guys would be unable to come up with actual SONGS: one with a melody and lyrics, rather than a complicated riffs been and done before by better/ or more famous musicians than themselves.

Also male promoters or punters who can't compliment you for your set without making a remark on the sound or detuning of your guitar- I found it funny that it would be something they'd only notice when it's a female playing, really... Most recently, my band and I (mainly boys) played a Battle of the Bands final. I was the ONLY girl performing out of 4 acts. The promoter (a female) asked us our timing requirements, I gave her a response promtply, asking to be programmed mid-evening (9pm to 10pm) so my fans could be on time to give us support, but she only got priority to the boys' requests and forced me to play first at 8pm... Yes, even girls are guilty of it, out of habit of male domination in the industry or maybe disguised jealousy, like they'd want to be on stage themselves. I've been told that before- I feel like telling them 'go on and do it then, and let's unite instead of competing'.
On that same battle of the bands night, a guy from another band, playing metal stuff, overcongratulated me, saying my stuff was 'summer-y' just because it's actually melodic, what the fuck does that mean? : my stuff is nothing but 'summer-y': I talk about smack and abortion" (not exclusively, obviously), thank you!

photo by Derek Barnes

Yeah, that reminds me of a recurring argument I had with the lead guitarist in my old band, about whether the guitarist from Walter Trout band was 'better' than they guy from Creedence Clearwater Revival.  I argued that technical superiority did not make the music better overall, and the music of CCR was obviously more soulful, despite, or perhaps due to their more simplistic playing.  He would just scoff at me patronisingly. 
So when you turn up to a venue, have you ever found that the male musicians in your band are treated differently by the sound tech/venue staff/members of other bands?

Well, I use a clean sound for my guitar so I don't have too demanding requirements but it seems, and I don't know if it's gender-related, that they always forget to put my vocals above all instruments, so I often get from the audience that they missed hearing the lyrics and that sucks because my material is very lyric-heavy, so if you don't catch what I'm talking about, you're missing half of the show, basically. Would this happen so often if I had a cock?.., I don't know.

Also, from members of other bands, they will always go pat my male band members on the back about our stuff after a gig, without acknowledging me, but that's ok: my band are great, deliver good shit, I guess I'm 'just' the girl who writes all the songs, but that's not for them to know....

One other occurance is when I was scouting for a band, some guys felt the need to reply to say it was not their thing, that they were after something 'heavier'... Then, why don't you just ignore my ad, knob! Sorry, I sound so angry at boys- I love them, really, just not when music making comes into play..

photo by Richard Macien Clarke

Yeah I hear that..the lead guitarist in my current band put an ad up saying she was looking for musicians to form a riot grrl band and some dudes contacted her asking if she'd like to be in their funk band - argh! 

Do you think things are improving for women in music, or do you feel like it's getting worse?
Well, I don't know...we, I mean, our gender is represented in the 'industry', but look in what way: one-dimensional, caricatural, over-sexualised, but genuinely empty in creative and artistic purpose or mission.. if you look at people like Rihanna, Del Rey, Gaga or Minaj, really!!
But I guess more girls actually writing their songs and playing their  instruments are coming through, from a variety of scenes, from First Aid Kit to Deap Vally to Savages. Even if they're not at all my cup of tea, if Savages can pave the way for more genuine music made by women being put forward, without it turning into an all-black clad/shaven-head uniform trend, then that's great. Also, I might be generalising a bit here but ultimately, I'll cherish the day when female musicians feel accepted, endorsed and supported enough so that they will not feel the need to use the all-female line-up card as a defense mechanism against machismo and will feel free, secure and comfortable delivering the music they want to make, and achieve the same levels of acknowledgement that men do enjoy.

 'Sell by date' music video

Monday, 26 August 2013

Shiny Shiny

  Queer electro-FLASH duo, they describe their music as 'fun, political and fluro' 

Website here 

How would you describe the Shiny Shiny live experience?

Well the live shows are always a new experience each time! There is always a lot of fluro and new costumes and funny antics, sometimes there might be games of elastics, or the audience might be on the stage, once a bunch of women jumped on stage and ripped their tops off! It's always something unexpected! Our material is very queer and women-centric, songs about the marriage equality debate in Australia, or disposable white goods, or picking up at the dole office, generally a bit of politics wrapped in a lot of humour and some hot beats. 
As female musicians and performers, how often do you experience sexism?

We have both been performing for years in other bands, Patty used to drum for Bertha Control, an all-female reggae band, and there are heaps of stories! There is the usual comments by idiots like "oh yeah I like women playing guitar because it pushes their tits up", then there is the sometimes tedious relationship with the male soundie who can either make or break your gig depending on whether he will comunicate with you or not. Once we had a shocker where the manager of the bar came up on stage, turned our PA down and shouted us to stop going on about our homo shit.. which was confronting, but encouraged us even more to continue doing so! 

Recently I have just really been aware of the general underlying sexism that's always there, even if it's not recognised. It shows it's head in the context of top 100's and music magazine articles that women just don't make it into. It's difficult because this is the stuff that is really hard to budge. 

Tell us about the Triple J (Aussie music magazine)'s top 100.  How many female artists made it in?   I'm even seeing articles about this in the Guardian now!  
There were apparently nine acts that made it into the top 100. There were quite a few articles about it following that weekend. It really just signals what we already know, that the music industry, and you know the world in general, is basically skewed towards the male population, whether that is conscious or unconscious. What to do about it? I don't know, maybe next year I will call everyone I know and get them to vote for the women that deserve to be in those charts? It's like the group 'Female Pressure' points out- it's not that there are not heaps of women out there, making great music, producing, engineering, running all this amazing music stuff,, it's just that they don't get recognised or promoted. 

Rolling Stone is not much better, according to their top 500 songs list less than 2% of the best songs ever were written by women,  and no women at all made it into their 100 best guitarist list.  Women have only been on the cover of NME (which comes out weekly) twice this year (Karen O in April, and Haim in January).  Why do you think this is?
Really, 2%? What about all the songs women have written that men take credit for, like all of Johnny Cash's stuff? I'm sure there are plenty of June Carters out there that could take credit for a good chunk of the other 98% of songs! This is why I don't buy those mags!   I really think that if we don't have representation, if we are not visible, then there is nothing for the next generation to aspire, or connect to in order to keep pushing for our equal space in the world. 

So tell us about your Ironing Maidens side project.  How did it come about?
The Ironing Maidens is Shiny's new project.. It came from a lot of things in the pot all at the same time. Patty was getting into circuit bending, I am into sampling old movies and adverts, we are always having feminist conversations about women's place in the world and how to change that perception, a friend left a hilarious old book from the 50's at our house - called "becoming a woman", written by a man of coarse, which is an entertaining read, basically how to be a good wife and avoid becoming a lesbian! Our friend Cate gave us the name when she heard what we were cooking up.

We also just wanted to create a new show that paid homage to the women who have come before us in the music and technology field, the times they lived through, how they pushed forward to the tops of their field. Women like Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire and others who have influenced electronic music. And then we added our own stories, some great new music, it's very theatrical, visual and colourful. It's all still in development, about to burst out into the world later this year. We are really hoping to tour it to America and Europe next year, fingers crossed! 

 Any chance of coming to the Edinburgh Fringe festival? 

We wish! Maybe next year!!! We are planning on being back over that side next year!!

To sum up, what what you say about the general state of the music industry?

I think that the current western music industry has so many elements of both exciting and annoying really. I find the concept of 'professional or successful musicians' referring to those few with top 40 hits, mentions in Rolling Stone etc and being signed to a label, to be limiting to the industry as a whole, and particularly for women. I think people should be encouraged to play music for the sake of their own health, for engagement and commentary on the social and political landscape and because it's fun! I think a successful musician is someone who has written something that has helped them understand something, that has touched someone else, or has kept a story alive. In other times and cultures, music has been used a tool of social change, and employed by everyone, I like that collective ownership of music, songs and stories. 

On the other hand I feel like I have more access to different music and the ideas and concepts of the global music world now, more so than I did with the couple of cassettes I was given by a neighbour when I was nine. I get to access more women's music now because I can search it out on the internet. I can also learn things more independently now, finding online tutorials etc, where as when I was young and wanted to learn guitar in a small town I had only the option of the one male guitar teacher who stared at my tits the whole lesson. 

What do you think would have to happen to improve things?

I think to improve things in the music industry..well..  I would just sack all the men running the industry and replace them with women, or even better with people under five years old.. seriously the kids know what's good.. if they dance, it's good!!!.. ha ha ha.. wish I could! 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Kerosene Queen

 Fiery punk five-piece from Birmingham

Listen here
Facebook page here

 Can you start by telling me a little bit about how the band got together?

Charly (vocals): Well, Kerosene Queen have seen a few line up changes the past 18 months, although Emma (drums) and myself have always been in the line-up. To begin with we were actually a four piece band but things obviously didn't work out, and when they didn't, I set out to what I have always originally wanted for the band... an all female line-up. It took a good year to find the right people for Kerosene Queen, me and Emma held multiple trials and auditioned both women and men for the band. It was actually when we had almost lost hope to find any female musicians when they actually came along! It happened so quickly I don't think me and Emma believed it at first as we had been struggling for a very long time to find this very line-up! 

We met Lexi via a website in search for musicians, and Becky (rhythm guitarist) and Zowie (lead guitarist) both turned up at the last audition we held and both blew me and Emma away! We were obviously looking to complete a four piece line-up, but due to the fact they were both brilliant we decided to expand and have a five piece and a whole new look for the band.

What previous bands had you all been in?

We've all been in bands before so that is of course always a bonus! Me and Emma have formed numerous bands together, the band we were in before were called 'Hushwhore' and before this, I myself as a young teen was in a Derbyshire based band called 'Blow Up Doll,' where Emma had various experiments/projects before she moved to Birmingham.
Lexi used to front a band called 'My Haunting Revenge' before she joined us on bass.
Zowie has played in numerous bands, one called 'Freakshow' for a small period of time, although she is also a very talented pianist and writes her own material.
Becky also played in a band called 'AvengeThis' amongst other smaller projects before she joined Kerosene Queen.

Who are your main influences?

Concerning influences, we've all been muddled in to one big heap of many, many influences! We all have very various music tastes and from the new material we are writing it is beginning to show. There is a mixture of punk, riotgrrrl, 'bubblegum punk', metal, grunge... it is quite a bizarre set we are coming up with but I am really pleased about that! We aren't too fussed about being categorised as long as our input and aura is strong and fiery. With all the songs we do write and are writing at the moment, we aim to put forth the fact that women DO have a place on stage in rock music overall and we CAN make amazing songs regardless of genre.

I see that you're still playing some of the songs from Hushwhore, the first one I listened to was 'Fuck the NME'  Can you tell me about how that song came about? 

'Fuck the NME' is undoubtedly a bit of an angry song. It is a bit of a stab at the music industry as a whole, but obviously the NME are one of the leading music magazines for 'rock' bands and genres. The NME indeed never feature many female musicians, and I find their whole 'Hottest Women in Rock' one of the most insulting things ever. It is degrading to the talents a woman has, and still keeps that social oppression of women that they have to 'look good' in the eyes of a patriarchal society to be recognised. It disgusts me, so yes, Fuck the NME!

Have you noticed how seldom women appear on the cover of music magazines?  Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) was on the cover of NME recently and I was shocked - it doesnt happen often!

 It is seldom to find a woman in their front cover, so Karen O is a definite shock, but overall - it hasn't changed my opinion of the magazine. Having one feature or one cover with a female musician does not compensate for their sexism. The magazine overall still needs a huge overhaul.

Can you tell me about any experiences of sexism you've had as female musicians?

Charly: I myself have experience sexism quite moderately. I've overheard, and been told a few times how 'fit' I am and then suddenly I have a predominantly male group in the audience obviously only watching my band because of my sexual attractiveness. 
Don't get me wrong, your image comes with the package in a band, that is if you care to have one, and yes I do care, but I don't expect it to be the main reason why people want to see my band, I don't find that as a compliment.
I have also been harassed at gigs, someone once tried to take a photograph of me from up my skirt once whilst I was on stage, that was really invading and I made him delete it afterwards, (which for some reason was quite hard to get him to do...) I've also had a man even state to my boyfriend after we'd performed once, 'Your missus is well fit if I were you I'd be.. *insert really disgusting sexual terms here*'
Sometimes it can feel like you're an object instead of a musician, you always have to hope you don't get an idiot/group of idiots in the crowd to ruin it for you.

Zowie: Once a guy said to me something like 'I saw your video of you shredding and it was sick! When I saw you I thought you were gonna suck'. He thought that was a compliment, but he assumed I was gonna suck cus I'm a girl.. Also when I filled in for a cover band the lead singer called me 'the eye candy' more than once which I found degrading and upsetting.

Becky: One of my exes used to say that women shouldn't be playing rock n roll because it didn't suit them.. I wasn't with him long..

Lexi: In my previous band I was the only woman and when we'd arrive at shows the organisers/promoters would approach the rest of the band to discuss what the plan for the night was, and would walk straight past me until I told them that I was the one they'd been speaking to all alongover facebook to arrange the show, book the band, sort out equipment and even get other bands to fill slots they had for the same night. Ninety per cent of the time people seemed surprised that it was me and not one of they guys that had done all of that and that I was the one who managed the band and did all our promotion etc.

Emma: I'm a female drummer and I have had surprised faces and comments when I state this. There is also the expectation that I will not be as good as a male dummer. Female drummers are in the minority compared to male drummers but this shouldn't affect how people view me talent-wise. Apparently it isn't deemed 'feminine' either, which I think is a load of bollocks.

 'Stab Back' live at the Old Bell, Derby

Why do you think so many people react to female musicians in this way?

People and men in general think women in rock will 'suck' because there hasn't been enough emphasis on the fact that women also belong on stage in rock music.

It is that whole ideology that women belong back stage because that is essentially the old rock n' roll lifestyle that has been portrayed to us and it is widespread. Women are shown to be in complete awe of male rock stars and could never amount to the same position as them, so they submit to a male's desire and consequently superordinate themselves in that situation. 

I think it is the idea of a woman on stage having the same aura (and essentially more power) similar to a man is the main aspect that people find hard to imagine and accept.

Do you ever get annoyed with being referred to as an 'all female band'?  I've notice that bands are never referred to as 'all male'!

Yes I do. I do find it quite marginalising, but as I just said, because it is so hard to accept women as musicians, the idea of women in bands has to be reinforced and it is shown through our choice of language and band description terms!

What do you think would alleviate the problem of sexism in music?

Honestly I could give you loads and loads of ideas I think will help in alleviating sexism in music. If I had to be brutally honest with myself, (and unfortunately accept it too) sexism will (hopefully) begin to disappear over the simple concept of time. Only time will tell. It isn't something that will be eradicated 100% as sexism is embedded in our society and culture, sexism is intentionally or unintentionally adopted, so highlighting it and education of it is possibly the key, although this will most certainly be hard to do with the pressure of the media and the overall music industry as they both generally make money from many forms of sexism. To change the music industry, you need to change the social norms to which it belongs, and the minds of music lovers.

 Yet as I said, I think once music lovers are educated about sexism, and realise the inequality and want the change, the media and music industry will have to find other means to 'sell' music.

We just need women to keep going, keep fighting and keep highlighting that we belong on stage and we are up there for our own pleasure, we are not doing it for anyone else's, so this now ancient concept of rock n' roll and women can take a stroll and stay in the past!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Cat Bear Tree

South London-based Cat Bear Tree are made up of Zoe Konez (guitar and vocals) Claudia Mansaray (bass and vocals) and Sarah Smith (drums and vocals).  Their influences include Warpaint, Sleater Kinney, Pixies, Bloc Party...

Is there a Slits influence?  The staccato guitar on Crayons reminds me of them, I suppose its the London accents as well! 

Zoe: No my guitar playing isn't directly influenced by the Slits. I love PJ Harvey, Kaki King, Ani difranco, and heavier bands like Glassjaw, Mars Volta and Deftones which probably shows a bit.

As female musicians, do you ever feel that you're being treated differently than male artists would be? 

From our experience of playing gigs around different venues in the UK, it seems that female musicians perhaps have to work harder to be taken seriously, however we like to think that once people hear our music that gender becomes irrelevant. We have recieved the occasional ignorant comment like, ' you're too good to be girls' but essentially the outcome is positive. Like so many female musicians before us we hope to continue to help raise the profile, educate and improve equality for female musicians. 

How do you feel about being labelled as an all female band? 

Again, we would prefer that we were known for our music first and foremost, I mean how often do you hear/read.... ' we love this new all MALE band?!'   However, that said, we are what we are and we are proud to be an all female group. All girl band nights and riot grrrl themed events seem to be growing fast in popularity and we love getting involved with this stuff. 

Do you have any particular experiences of sexism you'd like to tell us about?

I guess our only experiences of sexism would be that we frequently get told that we "play well for girls", which is a interesting comment to take. On one hand it's a compliment being told that we play our instruments well but then on the other hand, being female shouldn't have any bearing on that. We would however never react in a negative way when somebody says that, as in most cases when guys say that, they genuinely think that they are giving us a compliment and don't see any problem with making such a a comment.

What would you say to all the 15 year old girls just picking up a guitar now?
To all 15 year old girls picking up a guitar we'd say "GO FOR IT AND STICK AT IT!". We all started playing our instruments when we were teenagers and are very glad that we kept at it. We'd also tell them to "PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE". They may come against some sexism in music and the best way to fight against that is to know how to play your instrument well. That way there's no room for silly comments.

We also think its good to have some strong musical influences and to spend time listening to their music and style. Some amazing female musicians who we are influenced by include (Pixies and Breeders bassist) Kim Deal, Melissa Auf der Maur, Kaki King, PJ Harvey, (Yo La Tengo percussionist) Georgia Hubley, (Slits and Raincoats drummer) Palmolive and (Sleater Kinney and Wild Flag drummer) Janet Weiss.
Any plans to play a gig north of the border?

Yes we certainly do have plans to play some gigs north of the border. We want to try and play as many places as possible and spread some Cat Bear Tree love! Especially after our EP 'Let's Share Hearts' is released on 5 August. We are also very keen on doing 'gig swaps' with other female bands. We'll sort out a gig for them in London for both bands to play and they do the same for us in their home town. This benefits both bands as we can find each other good gigs.

New music video for 'Blind'