Monday, 13 May 2013

The Ragnoutaz

Kick-ass Parisian electro-punk band not afraid to sing about the full experience of what it means to be a woman - their name is a viking war cry for 'There will be blood'. 

                                                                        Listen here

                                                      Website here

So first of all could you just tell me about how the band formed?

Zelda (lead vocals): It all started in the spring of 2011, me and Marion (on bass) wanted to compose music together just for fun. We would hang out at hers and use her and her girlfriend Marie 's recording gear (which was mainly their PC with Cubase and a mic).  Marie joined us shortly after on guitar and voila! we became a trio. It got suddenly more serious with Marie joining in and we played our first gig not so long after forming the band. I also need to add that , although we started out as a trio , we recently decided to have our friend Lea on drums to give more of a live feel to our drum machine samples, as she's an excellent drummer with great energy and intuition. 

Who are your main influences?  

They're very diverse. I for one love all sixties music : soul, early reggae, ska, rocksteady, and british beat, freakbeat, garage.. I also love late seventies/eighties punk, power pop, oi!. Bloody Mary loves a lot of classic rock n roll and also indus and post punk. Same goes for Lady M. who's a big fan of post punk,of glam and rock n roll in the general sens of the word, but who also loves soul and funk. 

When we compose for the Ragnoutaz, we "inject" slight touches of all these but without making it too obvious (whether it's through the bass line, my flow on lead vocals or aggro power chords by Mary) and then when the drum machine comes it's all wrapped up in something more poppy and somewhat electro. :)

 Have any of you experienced sexism in any form as a result of being women playing music?

We can all say we've experienced sexism for being female musicians MANY TIMES! Itthen will take different shapes and happen in different contexts. For instance, I play drums in a sixties beat/pop band and I've been told once, after a gig, that I did a great show but that I was an exception among female drummers because generally : "women can't drum! Even good ones are bad! They're clumsy and bad! and 50 years of rock history with no real good female drummer is clear evidence of that!!" . I then realised that this guy was trying the worst chat up line in the history of the universe...

Then, Lady M. and Mary often tell me stories of them going to a amp store or guitar store and being compleeeetely ignored for hours by all the male shop assistants. Then Mary also gets a lot of bullshit as she's also an excellent sound engineer and generally, at first glance, male musicians will not trust her. We've also heard a lot of bullshit form the same people who would have us play... what a shame.

Why do you think it is that female musicians experience this kind of prejudice so regularly?   I was reading an interview with Adele Bertei who was in the no-wave band The Contortions, and she was of the opinion that it comes from fear.  Would you agree with that or do you have a different perspective?

So our perspective on this is that we don't necessarily believe it's due to fear. We get the feeling it's more because of general lack of visibility of female musicians. When you start playing gigs and end up among a lot of male bands and musicians, you can sometimes feel you're being treated like a total newbie. Men love talking about their equipment , pedals, the size of their plectrums etc. and they don't want to share that with us cause they seem to think we have no clue what they're talking about. So most of the time they don't take us seriously as musicians, but when they see us on stage, or realize we can actually PLAY, they're like "wow you're good!". The funny thing is, it may also happen the guys who don't think you're not a skilled musician because of your gender are actually bad musicians themselves. Some of them are so full of shit and what's funny is that they never seem to question their capabilities. In general, people will expect more from female musicians. It's sort of like you need to prove you deserve this title.

 'Dance and Suffer' performed live at the Live festival Arthémise

How have you been received by the music press? 

We've been received quite well, but it's only been on webzines and blogs so far. But still it's been quite positive and we're super grateful! On the other hand, I suddenly started to get a lot of hate mail sent directly to the webzines and blogs, from the same person under different nicknames (but with the same IP address! haha!). We've tried to find out who it was but we reckon it might just be some angry ex of mine. ;)

Or somebody who's just jealous!  What advice would you give to all the young girls just getting into playing music now?
The advice we would give them is to start playing live as quickly as possible, especially if they're into rock n roll. Just getting on stage as often as possible, borrow a car once in a while (if one of them drives) and start going places. That's for me the best way of learning the ropes and getting better at your instrument as well! If they feel that there aren't enough opportunities to play, then why not organise their own events and invite bands over. It's also a great way to create a network. This is what we're doing with the Ragnoutaz and also through Bloody Mary and Lady M's association "Crache!" (which is also a fanzine, there Facebook page is here). The more we play, the more we meet awesome people and discover new sounds and simply the more we grow as individuals. And if you start getting in touch with a lot of all female bands as well, you realize slowly that you're not only creating a network  but also doing something for the cause : making it possible for awesome female musicians to get the visibility they deserve. 

The second piece of advice I would give is to get out there and do your thing without caring what people think. There will always be haters and bullshitters trying to put you down or patronize you, not only dudes but women as well. I remember playing at some club in Paris a long time ago with Lady M and I's former band the Sixtits (i was on drums back then) and while we were getting the gear up on stage, two chicks started playing around with our mics  and taking the piss out of us. Our lead singer Sab at the time got pissed off but stayed surprisingly calm and got the mics back from the two girls. Though when we hit the first song, she started singing at them with all her might and suddenly these two chicks realized they could not fuck with us. They then came to see us after the show to apologize. Women will sometimes be harsher than men towards other women and that really sucks.

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