Category: Interviews

June 21st, 2018
by Alex Teitz
 
            The first thing that may attract you to Taleen Kali may not be Kali herself, but the fact that her EP was produced by Kristin Kontrol. Don’t be fooled. Kali’s Soul Songs may be one of the best releases this year. It is a clash of experimental and synth with a raw edge as demonstrated by “Half Lie”
 

 
            Kali comes the band TULIPS. Miles Marsico from TULIPS plays bass on Soul Songs, and Rhys Hastings from Gothic Tropic is on drums. The EP can be ordered at and comes out June 22, 2018:
 
 
She also has a limited number of California dates coming up:
 
06.26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Resident (Record Release show)
07.01 – New York, NY @ Pianos
07.13 – Los Angeles, CA @ Lot 1 Cafe (punk covers)
08.24 – San Francisco, CA @ Brick and Mortar
 
               The EP comes out June 22, 2018 and can be ordered at 
 
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Soul Songs?
 
TK: Soul Songs had more instruments and overdubs than any other project I’ve recorded. I started hearing more arrangements with the guitars, as well as working with synths and sound healing instruments for the first time. It was an interesting experiment to see what guitar overdubs would work, or which to scrap. Sometimes a synth did a better job of defining a motif than a certain guitar part I had written for so long, so it took a lot of trust, trust in the team and trust in the new instruments I was becoming infatuated with. I learned how to allow the different instruments to serve the music in new and mind-expanding ways.
 
FEMMUSIC: How was making Soul Songs different from your other albums? What were your goals with the album?
 
TK: The goal with Soul Songs was to marry together the concept of a true blue punk record with complex arrangements in psych-pop music. How would we be able to achieve both, without compromising the other? It was an amazing challenge to bring a feeling of darkness while having ethereal, transcendent vibes.
Taleen Kali soul songs
 
FEMMUSIC: You’re signed to Lolipop Records. This is the same label you worked with TÜLIPS. How are they to work with that you returned to them with the new project?
 
TK: Lolipop is such an amazing supportive label that when I decided to go solo, Wyatt Blair is the first person I called.
 
FEMMUSIC: How was it to work with Kristin Kontrol? How did you meet her and what did she bring to the project?
 
TK: Kristin and I had been in each others’ creative orbits since 2010. When I decided to go solo, I was talking to a few different femme producers in L.A. and couldn’t find the right fit. Then all of a sudden I read on Pitchfork that she was moving back to L.A. to work on a film score, so I thought she might be interested in producing bands. It made perfect sense.
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
TK: I always hear the words and sounds in my head first. Depending on the vibe and my mood that day, I either take it to a vocal voice memo, bass riff, or guitar chord jams. Sometimes I hear certain lyrics or musical parts indisputably loud and clear and make sure to notate those before free jams. Once I have an idea of what I’ve heard, I spend some time jamming on it with guitar and scat some words. The song tells me what it’s about thematically at that stage, and I’ll usually draw in some inspiration from a poetry book and rhymes to help it find its form.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
 
TK: Madonna’s “Ray Of Light” was the North Star of this album. It’s the perfect psych song!
Taleen Kali
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
TK: I experience discrimination, misogyny, and prejudice as a queer femme woman of color in every waking hour. I am learning how to turn that fire into creativity and becoming more skilled at it every day. I am learning how to accept the setbacks with a certain irreverence or grace. We are all learning.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? 
 
TK: Iggy Pop!!!! I feel very connected to him like he is my musical father.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
 
TK: The nepotism.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

June 20th, 2018
by Alex Teitz
 
            Cornelia Murr has some friends everyone would like to meet. Her new album Lake Tear of the Clouds was produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket. It also features Bo Kester of MMJ. It features Shane and Justin from Amo Amo, and a little known artist Lola Kirke is also there.
 
            Beyond having good friends, Murr has an album with a voice all its own. It delves fully into that area between ethereal and dream pop. The songs transport the listener to a dreamlike state while wrapping them in a bed of woven lyrics. As example of this is “Tokyo Kyoto”

 
            Lake Tear of the Clouds comes out on July 13. For info visit https://www.corneliamurr.com/
 
FEMMUSIC:  Lake Tear of the Clouds was originally going to be a 4 song EP. What made you decide to make it more? What standard did you use for a song to make the album?
 
CM: We had a very finite amount of studio time that initially seemed like it would only allow for an EP, so that was the plan. But then when I was going through demos trying to decide which songs to record, there were just so many more than 4 calling out. I had been writing for so long without ever releasing any of it so I just had a lot of material stored up. In the end it was Jim who said what the hell – why don’t we try to bust out a few more songs in the days we have and make a full length, so that’s just what we did. It wasn’t a leisurely few days in the studio but it ended being actually the perfect amount of time, not allowing me to overthink things too much. (Though I did the vocals at home and took my time with those.) The songs that ended up on there are a mixture of old songs that were most dear to me and seemed to get along with some new ones that I knew I wanted on there. The Yoko Ono cover was just a song I was enjoying singing to myself around that time that my friend Audrey had introduced me to. It’s such a great song that didn’t seem as well known to the world as it should be.
 
Cornelia Murr
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Lake Tear of the Clouds?
 
CM: I’d say equal parts self-doubt and tuning trouble, haha. I had never really had anyone pay attention to my songs before because I wasn’t confident they were worthy, so just getting over the paranoia that I was wasting everyone’s time was a big internal challenge. And then the Omnichord has a mind of its own when it comes to tuning – it definitely is out of tune with some other instruments on some tracks which made the vocals VERY hard to do. But in the end I think some of that weird tuning creates a good kind of tension.
 
FEMMUSIC: You worked with both Jim James & Bo Koster of My Morning Jacket on the album. How did you meet? What made you decide to have James produce?
 
CM: I had met Jim over the years in a couple of different musical scenarios but then we properly met one night at a mutual friend’s party. He walked in the door when I was singing a Supremes cover with my friend Lola Kirke, and we just hit if off that night. I met Bo through Jim and just asked if he would lay some stuff down when we were recording, and he very graciously agreed.
 
FEMMUSIC: James is also producing Amo Amo’s album. I see you were working with Shane & Justin for Lake Tear of the Clouds. How was it to work with them? What did they bring to the project?
 
CM: Those guys are the best rhythm section around. It’s crazy to go from hardly ever playing my songs with anyone to then having those guys in my band. I’m just so lucky. They’re impeccable players but yet love to get weird and groovy and are dear friends of mine on top of that. They comprehended my songs on a level that I never knew was possible – like on a song called “Cicada” for instance, it’s very strange and in a jazzy time signature that has the potential to sound really forced and awkward, but they just made it so fun to play and brought the best out of everything.
 
FEMMUSIC: You’re signed to Autumn Tone Records. Why did you sign with them? How is it working with them?
 
CM: Autumn Tone was the first offer I got. I was just happy to get one at all and I really respect Justin’s taste in music (Justin Gage that is, who runs Autumn Tone and Aquarium Drunkard). Also my friend Greta (Springtime Carnivore) is on that label and had nice things to say about working with them, so that was that!
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
CM: Hmmm I don’t think I will ever be able to answer this question well. Either a song appears in a few minutes or it takes me years and endless re-writes to consider it worthwhile. Usually it’s the latter. I don’t really ever consider something finished, that part is very hard for me. One thing I pretty much always do is record while working out a song, for better or worse. I have thousands of voice memos and garageband files that I shudder to think about anyone ever discovering, because it’s mostly just me playing things over and over with different lyrics or parts, trying out so many ideas that will end up getting rejected. I gotta make some plan about what to do with all that haha… But I just like having it all recorded however haphazardly so I can remember ideas and bring in old ones if they want to come back. Also changing instruments helps sometimes, if I’m feeling stuck on guitar I’ll bring in my friend the omnichord or keys or something. I never really use beats, but I love recording shakers and claps and banging on walls and things for percussion ideas, that can also really open up a song when it’s lagging. Harmonies too. My songs tend to rely heavily on them.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
 
CM: Right now I’m going to say Mariah Carey’s “Heartbreaker” – because I remember singing that at the top of my lungs in 1999 and realizing that not only did I really love to sing but I could, like, hit some of those high notes and that made me feel pretty special.
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
CM: I mean – of course. I’m sure most women can attest to getting weird vibes in, say, a music store for example. You often either get hit on or ignored. Both obstacles to just getting what you need in there. Sound check is another scenario where some serious dick swinging often goes down. My dear friend (and magical singer), Becky Stark, recently gave me a super helpful (and hilarious) feminist guide to soundcheck over the course of a few very long text messages. I employed this guide at my last show and it did really help. Just certain ways of making sure your voice is optimally heard (no compression on the mid range for example, this the heart center frequency of your voice!). That’s the most common drag for me I guess – saying very deliberately to the (usually male) sound person how I want the levels to be on my voice and on every other element, and then of course at the show my voice ends up buried and the electric guitar is all jacked. 
 
Cornelia Murr
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
 
CM: Well, I love Meg Duffy of Hand Habits for one – would love to work with her in any capacity because she’s the best guitar player around, has such great songs, and is a sweet person. Touring with my friend Lola will probably happen and would be a blast because she’s my best friend. I guess dream scenario collab would probably be Kate Bush, if I’m allowed to dream here. I don’t think I need to say why.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
 
CM: The percentage that artists are paid through streaming services. It’s pretty criminal…

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

June 1st, 2018
by Alex Teitz
The Interrupters
                The Interrupters return to Vans Warped Tour with a new album called Fight The Good Fight, out June 29. This 4 piece punk ska band from California has marked their territory as the fun and wild side of rhythm. Working from their first album to now with Tim Armstrong of Rancid, and with Hellcat Records, The Interrupters have established a voice and style uniquely their own. FEMMUSIC continues to profile the women acts playing Vans Warped Tour with our interview with Aimee Interrupter. For info visit  http://www.wearetheinterrupters.com/  & https://vanswarpedtour.com/
 
FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making Fight The Good Fight?
 
AI: This time around we recorded to tape. Each reel of tape only holds 30 minutes of music and we only had a few so we only got two takes to get each song right. If we didn’t nail it in two we had to record over them. It was a very different method than we were used to but everybody in the band rose to the occasion and I think you can hear the urgency in the music. A lot of my main vocals were done live with the band to tape and those were the takes we used.
 
FEMMUSIC: I was reading a prior interview of yours that said that everything you’d learned from touring you to put to use in making Say It Out Loud. What do you think you’ve learned since then? How are you applying it in the new record?
 
AI: We are always challenging ourselves to be the best we can. We have done a lot more touring since the last album. We were lucky enough to play stadiums and arenas supporting Green Day as well as big festivals like Coachella and Punk Rock Bowling. We went right into the studio after two years of straight touring and everyone in the band was at the top of their game. We had a lot of ideas written already but also developed a lot of ideas in the studio with Tim Armstrong. We wrote and recorded around 30 songs and picked the best 12 just to make sure we were absolutely happy with the album as whole and there was no filler. We put a lot of love into it and we are all super proud of it.
 
FEMMUSIC: Fight the Good Fight continues your tradition of working with Tim Armstrong & Hellcat Records. Why keep coming back? What contributions do they bring to the band? Has there ever been a question of working with anyone else?
 
AI: We’ve said it before, Tim is the fifth Interrupter. He’s the best producer for us because we have all worked on so much music with him throughout the years even outside The Interrupters. He understands us as musicians and always challenges us to elevate our songwriting while not overthinking it. We have built such a great bond with him and Hellcat. That’s our home and always will be.
 
FEMMUSIC: The Interrupters is one of handful of woman led acts on the final Vans Warped Tour. In past years there have been up to 25% of the bands being women led. This is not your first time on Warped Tour. I was wondering if you think there is a backlash against women in aggressive genres of music by the industry?
 
AI: I think being in a band and being able to go on the Warped Tour is a great accomplishment regardless of gender. I’m not aware of those percentages and I don’t usually check the line-ups of the shows I play and count how many bands are female led or not. Some bands have female drummers, guitar players, bass players, or keyboard players. I don’t really see a difference. The entire Warped production office is run by women. I have never thought of Warped Tour was a tour that would subscribe to any sort of “industry backlash against women in aggressive genres of music”, whether such a thing exists or not.
 
The Interrupters
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
AI: We don’t have any singular songwriting technique. Songs come about in so many different ways. The only thing we try to do is follow the creativity. Sometimes you go into the studio with an idea and you walk out of there with something completely different than you had in mind. Especially when collaborating, it’s like having a ball of passion everyone passes around until you have a song.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
 
AI: “I Love Rock n Roll” by Joan Jett. My parents used to take my Joan Jett cassette away from me as punishment and I learned to sing every word loud and proud as my act of rebellion against such an injustice. It helped shape the way I sing and to taught me to use music as my form of protest.
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
AI: Yes, of course. No industry is perfect and I’m certain that you can find discrimination in all of them. The music industry is no different. I’ve been singing my whole life so I’m sure you can imagine I’ve run into it a time or ten.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
 
AI: Right now I’d love to tour with the Skints. I think our two bands together would be a super fun show. I absolutely adore Marcia plus I could watch the Skints every night.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
AI: Every record executive should have to go on tour and sleep on the floor for a week at least once a year.
 

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: , ,

June 1st, 2018
by Alex Teitz  
BEGINNERS
Do you know Beginners? This Los Angeles trio broke out with 2 EP’s in the past couple of years, and touring nationwide. Led by Samantha Barbera this electro-pop band has combined a bold stage presence mixed with catchy songs that appeal to the audience. Now they are beginning a new chapter. They are releasing a new record called CREAM. One of the first singles off the album is “Let That Money Talk” which has a video that grabs your attention and doesn’t stop
 

 
INSERT VIDEO HERE 
 
We were honored to catch up with Samantha/ Sam to talk about the new album, video and where the band is going. For info visit http://beginners.band/
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making CREAM?
 
SB: The biggest challenge has been narrowing down the songs!  We have a bunch of song options for the record, but we want to make sure the record feels like a strong cohesive piece.  To do so, we have to leave a lot of songs that we love off the record. Maybe we’ll do a B-sides record down the line with some of these misfit songs!
 
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about your trip to Berlin and how it influenced making CREAM.
 
SB: In 2017, I spent a month in Berlin working on CREAM and it had a huge impact on the record.  For the first time in my life, I was doing music full-time and had the flexibility to travel and write with different artists around the world. I had toured through Berlin in the past, but had never spent significant time there. I fell completely in love with the city. Berlin has become this nesting ground to so many artists from around the world, because it’s one of the only major cities that’s still affordable for artists to live in (even though that’s changing).  There is a palpable spirit of freedom and lack of judgement. Maybe that’s just me glamorizing the city, but that was my experience at least. You can definitely hear the European influence on the record production, as well as a sexual mischievousness that Berlin is famous for.
 
FEMMUSIC:  How do you think you’ve evolved as an artist from Holy Fever, and the past 2 EP’s? What do you wish you’d learned earlier?
 
SB: In Holy Fever, I shared front person responsibilities with a male singer, so I was able to play off of him versus leading a crowd entirely on my own.  In Beginners it’s all on me. That was a big transition. At the same time I went from always being a bass or guitar player in a band to having some songs where I don’t play an instrument at all. Sometimes the best performance is just running around the stage going apeshit singing pop songs like you’re Madonna.  I took me a long time to feel comfortable with that. I wish I had been more comfortable stepping outside of my punk rock comfort zone sooner.
 
FEMMUSIC:  Let’s talk about “Let that Money Talk.” Tell me about making the video. How was it to work with Verluxe, Eva Dubovoy & Caroline Blaike? How did it feel to recreate that scene and feeling from Jumbo’s Clown Room? What scared you most about doing it? What excited you?
 
SB: “Let That Money Talk” is by far the biggest budget production I’ve done for a video.  The song and story behind it are so special to me. I knew I had to bring it to life the right way.  Part of that included getting Caroline Blaike, a stunning queer dancer from Jumbo’s, on board. It’s funny because I knew there would be make out scenes and I was actually kind of worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into the mood and be convincing with 30 crew members hovering over us.  But she is so incredibly magnetic. One look from her made everyone in the room disappear. I also didn’t know Caroline very well prior to shooting the video so I wasn’t sure if we’d get along, much less have chemistry. But getting to know her made me that much more attracted to her. By the end of the day, when we were in full make out scene mode, I think we were both having a lot of fun.  It also helped immensely having a woman directing us. Eva Dubovoy has a naturally edgy and sensual eye. Her direction was essential in pulling off such a sexually charged video so artfully.
 
 
FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
SB: I almost always have the same process when it comes to writing.  Get a good vibe going instrumentally and then I get on the mic and record all my initial gibberish melody ideas in real time.  I just keep doing that until my subconscious pushes words to the front.  My subconscious really decides what each song is going to be about ultimately, because those words just start coming out! It’s the most therapeutic and revelatory experience. Sometimes I even record all the harmony parts to a song in gibberish as well. Just to get the idea down how I want to hear it. Then later I go in and fill in any lyric gaps.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
 
SB: Oh man that’s a tough one.  I can’t think of a particular song, but definitely other bands have had an enormous influence on me. Even though BEGINNERS is super poppy, I came up in the punk/hardcore scene so a lot of my influences are artists like Fugazi, Black Flag, The Cramps etc.  Also The Beatles, always The Beatles. Frank Ocean really inspired a lot of my writing style on this upcoming record as well.  I love his stream of conscious lyrics and melodies.
 
BEGINNERS – Samantha Barbera
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
SB: As I’ve become more successful, I’ve noticed that when working with men on videos, mixes, whatever the case, sometimes I’m treated as though I’m being difficult to work with, when in fact I’m just being professional and confident in what I want.  As a woman, if you have too strong of an opinion, even when you’re knowledgeable in the field and paying for the work, you’re “difficult to work with”.  I’ve been in bands with men who had far less experience than I have, and never saw them questioned like this. It’s a big part of why I try my best to work with women as much as possible.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
 
SB: Well I always really wanted to collaborate with Kanye, but now that he’s on his Trump rant I think I’m out. Haha.  This is sounds like a weird one but there’s this heavier rock band Metz that I love. It would be crazy and amazing to be able to collaborate with people doing stuff so different from us.
 
I’d love to be able to tour with Santigold or Tegan and Sara.  I feel like those are within the realm of possibility. Someone hook it up!
 
FEMMUSIC: What’s one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
SB: Wow this is a tough one.  There’s a lot I’d like to change. Lol.  I guess the biggest thing I would change is the ageist, sexist way that women artists are commodified and trapped. Much more so than men, women have this ticking timebomb hanging over us.  Like as soon as we’re not 20 years old and a sex symbol for men, we’re worthless and our art is irrelevant.  I don’t think fans feel that way, but the record industry does and they hold the key to getting your music out for the world to see.  

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

May 25th, 2018
by Alex Teitz
Tami Neilson
 
            Describing Tami Neilson is difficult. The music can be traditional country, rockabilly and even playful to the point of Carmen Miranda with a song called “Bananas.” Neilson is New Zealand based and has strong ties to Canada including her record label, Outside Music. SASSAFRASS! Is the name of her 3rd album. It is a wonderfully wild creature filled with surprises. Neilson recently released a video from it:
 

            SASSAFRASS! comes out on June 1. For info visit http://www.tamineilson.com/
 
FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making SASSAFRASS!?
 
TN: Lack of time is always a challenge, especially since becoming a parent and juggling both music and motherhood. Being on tour for a large part of last year meant that I wrote a lot of this album on the run, noise-canceling headphones on, writing in my notebook while the rest of the band listened to music or made endless Snapchat videos, giggling in the seat behind me!
 
Tami Neilson
 
FEMMUSIC: What were your goals making SASSAFRASS!?
 
TN: SASSAFRASS! is the mouthy love-child of a series of events that led to its conception. Becoming a parent, losing a parent, turning 40…all these things drastically change your perspective and priorities. I suddenly realized that life is too short to take the judgments of others who don’t have your best interest at heart and decided to stop trying to please those people. It happened to coincide with a huge movement for the equality of women around the world and all those ingredients really emboldened me. I guess it’s all about coming into my confidence and the goal was to share that with other women, celebrate that freedom and hope it emboldens them to do the same!
 
FEMMUSIC: You worked with Ben Edwards again on this album. What does he bring to project?
 
TN: Ben brings loads of talent and great ears, but, he also brings a real gentle spirit, he’s part diplomatic peacekeeper when stress and tensions arise in the studio, but he’s always a straight-shooter and will hold fast to what is right for the song and the album as a whole project. I trust him with my music completely.
 
FEMMUSIC: This is your second album with Outside Music. Why did you sign with them? How are they to work with?
 
TN: I looked at Outside Music’s roster of artists, and a large portion of them are female- the fact that they represent mature women who are also mothers said to me that they are in it for the long-haul and not just looking for overnight success from young artists that can tour endlessly and cheaply (and exhaustively!) until they can break them. They are clearly used to working around those challenges and the fact that they believed in my music enough to take on a 40-year-old mother who lives on the other side of the world showed me they are passionate enough about my music to overcome those obstacles, but very grounded in reality. For me, that’s a great combo. It felt more like a committed relationship than a racy fling with the latest hot ticket.
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
TN: These days I tend to write in stolen moments. I don’t have the luxury of time that I used to have. Most of my songs begin with a melody sung into my phone as it sits on the passenger’s seat, hitting the steering wheel with a beat as the kids chatter in the back seat. I collect snippets of lyrics and song titles and melodies this way and then when I’ve booked in studio time to give myself a deadline, I dig through my little pile of ingredients that I’ve accumulated and set aside time to start cooking!
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
TN: Of course- the usual stuff you encounter when it comes to age and appearance have always been there, but, nothing hit me as hard as when I became a mother and dared to think I could continue to tour and work as a musician. I was on tour a lot last year and had people criticizing me on a nightly basis for leaving my children at home and not taking them with me, “How can you leave your children? They need their mother!”. It was a very hard time and I had to do a lot of work on breaking the cycle of guilt and shame society places on mothers who work. I had an epiphany one day while reading a blog of another musician mother who takes her children with her on tour- and she was getting the same criticism every night after her shows, but, in this instance, it was “How can you drag them around with you on tour? They need routine- they should be in bed!” I suddenly realized that no matter what you do in this life, you will be judged and criticized, so, you may as well do what is best for you and your family and what makes you all happy.
Tami Neilson
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
 
TN: Mavis Staples. She is my absolute hero. I got to open for her last year and she just radiates joy- and a gentle power. This woman walked alongside Martin Luther King and was an integral part of the Civil Rights movement- one she is still fighting today. She is incredibly inspiring. It would be a dream to tour with her, just soak in all her stories and watch her work. Not to mention listen to her sing every night!
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
 
TN: The one thing I’d like to change the world over- equal opportunity. The fact that “Tomato-Gate” (where a radio consultant recently advised country music radio programmers across the USA that if they wanted a successful radio station, “take the women out.” and that “…men are the lettuce in our salad, women are the tomatoes.”) can still occur baffles the mind and it needs to change.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

May 25th, 2018
by Alex Teitz
trout steak revival
 
            Trout Steak Revival is a Colorado band known for its mix of indie folk and bluegrass style. Their music blends country, bluegrass and folk into a sound that is both majestic and airy. They came to prominence winning the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band competition is 2014. They’ve put out 3 albums with the latest being Spirit to the Sea.
            Colorado Native Bevin Foley is the fiddle player and vocals in the band. She brings the spirit to the music and a keen songwriting sense. FEMMUSIC was honored to speak to Foley about Trout Steak Revival and how the scene has changed. For info visit http://www.troutsteak.com/
 
Trout Steak Revival will be at People’s Fair Art & Music Festival June 1-3, 2018 in Denver. For info visit https://peoplesfair.com/
 
FEMMUSIC:   What was the biggest challenge making Spirit to the Sea?
 
BF: The biggest challenge for me personally was the fact that my Father began losing his battle with cancer as we started recording this album.  We made this album and released it during the hardest six months of my life so far.
 
FEMMUSIC:  What were your goals with Spirit to the Sea
 
BF: To put out our new songs in a way that reflected the ways that we have grown as a band over the last few years.  To stay genuine to ourselves and our experiences
 
Trout Steak Revival - Spirit to the Sea
 
FEMMUSIC: You worked with Chris Pandolfi again on Spirit to the Sea. What does he bring to the project?
 
BF: He brings an outside voice and opinion that is really valuable.  He helped us put together the final arrangements of the songs for the album and helped us take chances and explore new sonic territory with our sound.
 
FEMMUSIC: How has your music changed over time? What do you wish you’d learned earlier? 
 
BF: I think that our music has become more and more genuine over time.  We continue to learn who we are and are able to express things we want to say in authentic ways.  Writing our own music in our own voices.
 
FEMMUSIC: You’re a native of Colorado. How has the music scene changed? Are there any things you miss?
 
BF: The music scene has blown up in the last few years.  It is a great time to be a musician in Colorado.  The community is growing and full of inspiring and talented people.  Denver feels like it has become a hub for amazing musicians to live and perform.  I wouldn’t change that. 
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
BF: Melodies come easier to me than chords and lyrics, so most of my songs start with a melodic idea.  I know I have something special if I can get some chorus words added to the melody that get stuck in my head.  Song writing is not an easy or natural process for me, so I take my time and keep chugging along.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why? 
 
BF: I’m not sure that I could name just one song that I have been most influenced by. I’m sorry. 
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against? 
 
BF: I think that every woman, no matter what industry they are in, has experienced some form of discrimination.  Intentional or just as a symptom of societal norms.  So yes. 
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why? 
 
BF: We have a lot of friends that we get to see as we travel around touring the US.  There are amazing bands that I would love to do some shows with.  Fruition, Front Country, The Lowest Pair, Mandolin Orange, and The Little Smokies, to name a few.  I have so much respect for the bands coming up in the acoustic music scene right now and it is always really special when you get to collaborate and/or tour with creative people that you are inspired by and respect as performers and artists. 
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
BF: I would like to see more women on show and music festival lineups.  There are so many incredibly talented females creating amazing music right now. 

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: , ,

May 1st, 2018
by Alex Teitz
Brandy Zdan
            Brandy Zdan is a Juno nominated singer-songwriter. She has been part of 2 groups: Twilight Hotel and The Trishas. She is now releasing her second solo album calledSecretear. The album was produced by the same producer who did her first album, Teddy Morgan. Secretear includes the single “I Want Your Trouble”
 

Secretear will be released May 11 on Tallest Man Records. Zdan is an independent artist who stands out. We’ve heard her name many times before we could do this interview. Zdan is dedicated and gifted when it comes to making music. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/brandyzdanmusic
 
FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making Secretear?
 
BZ: You can never predict what challenges will come up when you dive into the recording process, but it will always be something and it will be something you least expect. ForSecretear, the songs made me work for them. So hard. 
We spent much time in pre-production shaping the vision, figuring out what is best for the songs, that was somewhat easy. That was all formed when we stepped into the studio.  What I didn’t expect was to blow out my voice or not be able to form chords on my guitar from just overuse and exhaustion. And this is something that doesn’t happen when you’ve made records for years and know how to track vocals and guitar. About half the record demanded a different muscle and a different approach.
I think that’s the most rewarding thing about recording. You always learn something about yourself and about the recording process. Recording continues to fascinate me and always will. Trying to match the sounds that are in your head, and the path you take to get them down. I can’t wait to start producing records for others. Very soon, very soon.
 
FEMMUSIC:  You worked with Teddy Morgan again on this album. What does he bring to project? 
 
BZ: Teddy and I are like “sonic” brother and sister. Without having to say too much he knows what I mean or what I’m trying to get in a sound. We just have the same taste and the same sonic palette. That’s a really special thing. We have built a trust throughout these two albums as producer and artist.
 
He also brought in Carl and Tom to play, which as a producer is such an important task. To “cast” the band that best serves the songs.
 
FEMMUSIC: What was your goal in making this album?
 
BZ: The only goal I ever have with making records is to get down on tape the vision that exists in my head. I write songs with production, parts and sounds in mind. Sometimes that makes it hard to go with the flow of where the song wants to go but I try to listen.
The other goal really is just to try to write better songs, write honestly and not give a f*ck, keep the blinders on and follow where the muse is taking me.
 
FEMMUSIC: How do you approach your solo projects differently than working with a band (Trishas, Twilight Hotel)?
 
BZ: On one hand, it’s always about serving the songs, that never changes, BUT on my own, I’m the boss, I’m in charge of where this goes. I love that freedom. The freedom to just trust the vision and mystery of the process and not have to answer to anyone or have anyone steer the ship. I’m at the wheel. 
 
I do love playing support roles as a sideman though. There is a joy in that, playing a part or a background vocal that lifts them up. It’s a certain set of skills I’m thankful to have.
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
BZ: I try to remain open to the muse all the time ‘cause you never know when she’ll show up. Sometimes melodies just come and you gotta be ready to take ‘em down.
That happens a lot for me.  I have so many voice memos of song ideas. Once I accumulate a bunch I go back in and see where they go.
I tend to not write on guitar or on any instruments. It’s limiting to me. If I just write in my mind, I can orchestrate it all. But of course after I’ve got a chord structure I’ll take it to an instrument. I do love writing on the omnichord. That’s brought out some of my favorite tunes. Navigator, from the new album was written all that instrument.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
 
BZ: Tough question. How could you only pick one song?  I think that’s an impossible one to answer. I could pick a Neil Young song, I could pick a Beatles song, even Joni Mitchell.
There have been songs at each stage of my life that have had influence but I honestly couldn’t pick one. Could I pick a record, Yes. The White Album.
Brandy Zdan
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
BZ: Of course, but honestly the constant state of proving oneself is the annoying and exhausting part for me.  Or the times when a man directs guitar gear talk at my husband (who’s a drummer) or at a male bandmate instead of me,  it makes my blood boil.
It’s our job now to know more and/or be as good or better than the boys. We’ve got to.
But in all honesty, I have just as little patience for seeing a woman on stage who doesn’t have her guitar in tune or doesn’t have her shit together as anyone. 
Man or woman, you just gotta be good. I don’t give a fuck what your gender is.
 
FEMMUSIC:  Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
 
BZ: I would LOVE to work with Daniel Lanois. He’s my favorite.
I do hope to have a record produced by him one day.
I also would love to work with Blake Mills, Jonathan Wilson.
They are 2 other music producers I love and respect.
ALL of their solo albums just blow my mind and their production is out of this world.
One day!
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
BZ: Oh man, I wish it was like sports!
You’re great, you get drafted. You suck, you get cut.
 
It’s that simple. Oh how I wish it was.
 
Brandy Zdan

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

April 30th, 2018
 by Alex Teitz
 Bloodboy – Lexie Papillion
            Lexie Papillion is Bloodboy. She is an LA artist who evokes the 80’s with the single from her debut album, Punk Adjacent called “Sex Crime”

 

           In 2016 Bloodboy released her EP Best of Bloodboy. Punk Adjacent is a full length album due out soon. The album was produced by Taylor Locke and fits firmly into the Begals and Pat Benetar mode. It is fun retro music. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/idkbloodboy/
 
FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making Punk Adjacent?
 
LP: Finding a producer, hands down. I had worked with a lot of different producers by then and didn’t feel any of them were the right fit to help me graduate, if you will, to this sound that was a bit   different and a bit more nuanced. I spent a solid 9 months- which I’m realizing now doesn’t sound that long, but it was a purgatorial nightmare- taking garbage meetings and I almost reached a point where I was going to try to produce the record entirely myself.
 
FEMMUSIC:  How was it to make a full length album vs an EP like Best of Bloodboy?
 
LP: So, so, so much more fun. The EP was written and recorded in a very disjointed way. There were three different producers involved and it was very piecemealed- a few hours recording guitars here, a few hours recording vocals there. Not only did it take forever, but it completely took the magic out of the process that way. On Punk Adjacent, the songs were much more fleshed out before we started recording. The vast majority of the time it was just me, Taylor, and Kyle (the engineer) locked in a room together and it was all very fluid. Every couple weeks, we’d have Darren Weiss come in to record drums and he was incredibly intuitive. It was finished in a little less than a month.
 
FEMMUSIC: How did you choose Taylor Locke as co-producer? How did you meet him? How was he work in the studio with?
 
LP: He found me! Although, I never asked him how. We had an initial meeting to chat about what I wanted to accomplish on the record and I knew immediately I wanted to work with him. He was able to read my mind in a way that no other producer had even before we started working. I hate the word “synergy” in this context, but it really was very synergetic. Taylor insisted we keep a lot of the parts from my demos, but he was able to expand on them in a way I wouldn’t have thought to. I’m very grateful for him.
 
FEMMUSIC: I see you’re signed to Everett Entertainment. What made you decide to sign with them? What do they bring to the project?
 
LP: Everett is my friend and former manager’s company. He was the first one to believe in the project and has been with me since the beginning. I’m lucky to have had his support; otherwise, I’m not sure I would still be doing this.
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you elaborate on how going to Louisiana influenced the album?
 
LP: When I initially decided I was going to Louisiana to write, it was really more about getting out of Los Angeles than anything else. But I do believe it ended up being an integral part of the writing and composition on the album. I stayed in a cabin near the Atchafalaya Basin and I didn’t rent a car, so when I wasn’t writing or wandering around, I was watching “Golden Era” TV shows (on a good bit of LSD) and I was really inspired by the scores. I think that definitely added a more cinematic element to the record. I also spent a lot of time watching local bands and I found that the live energy was so much different than what I’m used to. Musicians in rural Louisiana aren’t playing for any reason other than that they love it, and it shows. They look *happy* performing. Sometimes I go to shows in LA and it’s so obvious that the band or artist is trying to impress people, which I get, and I’ve definitely been there. But for the love of god, I wish people would come up with some new moves.
 
FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
LP: I almost always start with at least some idea of what I want the song to be about, even if it’s just a title. From there, it varies. Sometimes I’ll start with a bass line or a drum pattern and work around that. Other times, I write the chord progression on guitar first. I have to mix it up, otherwise I find all my stuff starts sounding the same.
Bloodboy – Lexie Papillion
 
FEMMUSIC:  What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
 
LP: Wow, this is a toughy. There are so many! I guess if I really, really had to choose ONE, it would be The Clash’s “Train In Vain.” I’ve been in love with it since I was thirteen. It’s not the most lyrically profound song of theirs, but it’s melodically beautiful and fun and honest. I just love it.
 
FEMMUSIC:  As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
LP: I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve felt discriminated against, but I’ve definitely felt that certain producers didn’t trust in my ability to know what I wanted because I’m a woman. Thom Monahan was the first producer I worked with who really pushed me to trust my creative instincts instead of trying to steer me in a particular direction. I think this is actually an amazing time for women in music. We’re getting more recognition now than we’ve ever had and we’re supporting each other instead of competing with one another. I’m excited to see what happens in the next few years.
 
FEMMUSIC:  Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
 
LP: James Murphy would be my answer for both. I love everything he’s ever done. He has a way of creating songs that are profoundly simple, funny, and relatable, and he’s always maintained his artistic integrity. I’d say I trust his creative sensibility more than anyone else’s. I also think LCD Soundsystem would be fun as hell to tour with
.
FEMMUSIC:  What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
 
LP: This obviously isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future, but I wish artists didn’t have to rely so heavily on social media. I’ve been told countless times certain opportunities are contingent upon my number of “followers” and I find it very stressful. I don’t like feeling that I have to be a “brand” in addition to being an artist. But, again… I don’t see that changing due to the sheer number of new artists emerging every day. It’s just another way of trying to distinguish ourselves and I’m trying to make peace with it 😉
 
 

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

April 30th, 2018
 Alex Teitz
Jaala
 
            On April 20 Jaala released their 2nd full length album called Joonya Spirit. This Melbourne band is led by Cosima Pay on guitar & vocals, Maria Moles on Drums, Jules Pascoe on bass, and Carolyn Schofield who joined recently on syn. In 2015 the band released Hard Hold to rave reviews.
            The new album brings a unique lyricism to a slow drive alternative beat as expressed by the single “Sames”
 
 
            Pay’s vocals have an instant draw that electrifies the music. Jaala has not yet made it to the US but everyone should be on the lookout for them. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/jaalaband/
 
FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making the Joonya Spirit album?
 
CP: Just having a short amount of time to track everything was really a big pain in the arse. It was fun, but a pain nonetheless. You’re also putting the music under a microscope; I remember thinking that we should rename the album ‘music for ants and other insects too’, because they’re the only types of creatures who are going to like this weird shit.
 
FEMMUSIC: How was making Joonya Spirit different from making Hard Hold?
 
CP: We did it in a different studio and worked with a different team. This time we had Dan Luscombe produce and Jono Steers engineered. Both did marvelous work.
 
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about bringing in Carolyn Schofield to the band. What made you decide to bring her in?
 
CP: I met her a year or so ago and am a huge fan of her solo ambient work. I think she is a synth lord and a musical genius. I feel honored to play with her and Maria Moles (on drums). It’s just the three of us now, so the vibe is more stripped back then what you hear on the record.
 
FEMMUSIC: You’re signed to Bedroom Suck/Remote Control Records. What made you sign with them? What did they bring to the project?
 
CP: I had a dream that when we got the album pressed there was a Bedroom Suck logo on the record. I usually make decisions like this. Sometimes you have to listen to your guts. It’s is a bit of a strange mix because the artists on the label aren’t really too much like Jaala, but maybe that’s a good thing.
 
Jaala
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
CP: Find a place where no one is around and have a bash on the guitar and process whatever is on my mind. Sometimes there is someone home though and I spend a long time feeling really red faced and worried what they may have heard.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
 
CP: “Love and Prison” by Blonde Redhead. It’s so soft and I vibe with the sentiment of the lyrics. I remember listening to it thinking, wow I want to make something people can cry to and stop whipping bad boys in the crowd and getting maggot on stage. I think that was really the death of Mangelwurzel (an old band I was in- my secret shame.)
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
CP: Ha. Yes, of course. All the time, although I am getting better at staying away from the people that put me down. I think the most bullshit thing I was ever told was that I actually DO know the names of the chords, but I just don’t let on so I seem ‘special’ or something.
I think it’s really hard as a self taught musician, dealing with imposter syndrome to find the confidence to navigate leading a band. Being a female makes it harder, but it also drives me to get better and stick it to the man.
That’s another reason why it’s such a lovely thing working with Maria and Carolyn; I feel safe with them and we can talk about our secrets and anti-aging face creams.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
 
CP: Oh golly, anyone who would take me on tour pretty much. Nai Palm took me last year and I will forever be grateful. She is a boss. It’s really hard to get the funds to go and I’m really hoping we can get a grant this year to go to the U.S but none of our applications have been successful to date. Might have to sacrifice a chicken in the garden or something. I would love to have a crack at doing top-line vocals on an R’n’B track, mostly because it would be maybe the hardest thing to do, seeing as I sound really nasally and un-sexy.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
CP: The music industry is really messed up because you have all these artistic people surrounded by business people who are only in it for the coin (there are some good eggs). It’s easy to get fucked over and taken advantage of. I also think heaps of musicians are trying to make ends meet so they get obsessed with fame and success and it all just feeds into this fucking nightmare called the music industry. We are all going to die; everyone needs to stop being assholes.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

April 30th, 2018
by Alex Teitz
Church Fire

Photo by Veronica Lee

            Noise. Scream. Growl. Thunder. To describe Church Fire is to give a thesaurus a workout. This Denver 2 piece is a live performance that comes on stage and tears apart convention. The bass levels are so low sometimes you know it is being registered on a seismograph. The music itself can vary from being heavenly to devilish in a beat.
 
            The band began in 2013 and has been on a high trajectory to the top in a short time. Webber came from Dangerous Nonsense and is known for working with groups from Girls Rock Denver & Titwrench. Before this interview was set, Church Fire was booked to play Titwrench Stockholm. Church Fire will be playing at the 303 Music Festival on May 17. For info visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/303-music-fest-tickets-42925745059 & https://churchfiremusic.com/
 
NOTE: This was done as an e-mail interview. Only in the places specified was there a definitive separation between Shannon & David. For that reason, many of the questions are answered as CF: Church Fire.
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
CF: David writes music every day and Shannon writes words.  David shares his music with Shannon and her reaction dictates which songs we pursue.  Together, we join David’s music with Shannon’s diary entries and craft the flow and structure of our songs.   
 
FEMMUSIC: Your live shows are very theatrical. Do you take on a different persona when performing? How would you describe that persona?
 
CF: David is the church and Shannon is the fire. 
 
Shannon: I definitely feel like I enter into a different persona/realm when I perform.  I really can’t help myself.  No matter how I’m feeling, I just slip into something new on stage.  In Dangerous Nonsense, we would put together elaborate costumes for each performance and, while dressing up assuages my stage fright by allowing me to separate myself from the audience/real world, I also find power in embodying the experience.  The music takes me over.  I’ve always been a little dramatic, was involved in theatre a lot in high school, and I absolutely love performing.  I find it much more difficult to break the fourth wall on stage and actually talk to people.  I would love to just creep on stage from the darkness, shout my diary at everyone along to David’s dope beats, and then slink back into the darkness without having said a word or shown our faces much at all during the performance.  It feels powerful to step into a world that David and I have created, to feel possessed and just let myself manifest whatever ends up flowing through me.
 
I wouldn’t necessarily say there is a specific persona I’m “going for,” but there’s something primal in getting swept away in music, anger, inspiration, and so I let myself do that.  It’s really the only way I know how to be on stage.  If I break “character,” I just end up embarrassing myself or saying something inappropriate/forgetting what I was going to say and my nerves get the best of me.  It is a spiritual experience to slip into these other dimensions we create together and really own the power of letting go – and our live performances have become one of our greatest strengths.  When I’m captivated, it allows others to be captivated as well.  Also, I have never been the best, most accurate singer and I am not a graceful person.  I’ve found so much strength and freedom in letting myself be the weirdo that I am instead of trying to fit into an arbitrary mold of someone else’s imposed sense of perfection.  In turn, being ourselves and expressing ourselves in our authentic, weird ways makes us a unique band.
 
We’ve been described as riveting, and I have come to understand that there is a real need for people to see women being powerful and ugly.  I don’t mean ugly as a slight here, but I am not concerned with being easy on the eyes/ears.  I am disturbed and angry.  Our anger is powerful, and our power is beautiful.  For me, seeing women truly hold space in anger, ugliness, power and rawness feels existentially necessary.  That’s where I go when I perform. 
Church Fire

Photo by Veronica Lee

 
FEMMUSIC:  You’re both Colorado natives. How would you describe how the scene has changed? What is better? What do you miss?
 
CF: There is more money and more people, and more people trying to make money on music, which, on the one hand, is good, making music is a lot of work and why should the people selling beer get all the money?  On the other hand, you lose a little bit of the wide open crazy spirit, which we love. The enormous diversity of music in Denver has been amazing to be a part of. Now there are more musicians aiming for something with broad appeal which can kind of crowd out the more interesting stuff a bit.  But weirdos will always find a way, and even with a whole lot more slick mainstream stuff going on there still seems to be plenty of room for interesting and unique events. Maybe having tension between the two sides is okay because conflict can help spur creativity. As long as all these new rich people don’t price out all the amazing artists here, which unfortunately is happening, but that is a different more difficult question. We miss Rhino, and we miss Colin Ward.  It’s hard not to look at that tragedy and not be angry and sad about the changes in Denver.
 
FEMMUSIC: How did Sew Buttons on Ice Cream & Dangerous Nonsense prepare you to become Church Fire? What did you learn from your early projects?
 
CF: Sew Buttons On Ice Cream is church fire, but we did learn that less is more, in terms of number of words in your band’s name.  Our earlier projects taught me how important it is to try and make the music that you want to hear, and to follow your interests and let them change.
 
FEMMUSIC: I see you’ve just been booked for Titwrench Stockholm. Congratulations! Is this your first international show? What are you looking forward to with it?
 
CF: Thank you!  Yes, it will be our first international show. We have some shows in France and Germany before Titwrench but, yes, this is our first time playing outside the States. We’re looking forward to playing with artists that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to see here in Colorado. 
 
FEMMUSIC: You’ve now put out 6 recordings since 2013. What have you learned about your own music doing them? What are your own musical goals?
 
CF: Two of those recordings are remix albums, one by Solypsis and one by The Red Side, so we can’t really take any credit for those, but we do love them and hopefully some people learn about those artists from us.  Another one is a split tape and collaboration with the fabulous Morlox, whom we also strongly endorse.  There is a three song EP and two full length albums.  We have learned that recording is not our strength!  And we need as much guidance and feedback as possible. With our last full length, pussy blood, we feel that we made some major improvements and that had a lot to do with the help of Brad Smalling at Evergrove Studio who helped us improve our mixes and mastered the album for us.
 
We have also learned that despite our burning desire to be pop, our strength is probably screaming.  And despite our comfort in the underground circles, we aren’t really that weird.  We have our own little alchemy and we are always running the risk of not being anything at all and falling between two stools.  We’ve come to accept that boxes exist for a reason and that most people, most of the time, want their noise to be noise and their pop to be pop.  We’re the same way, but we also want everything all the time and we just can’t help but to try and combine those two things even though we fail most of time. Our goal is to be critically acclaimed and commercially successful!  But since that is unlikely, we’ll just keep doing it because it’s the thing that makes being alive ok. 
  
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the most influence on you and why?
 
CF: My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult – Kooler than Jesus, because it is dark and dance-y and a little funny and we always wanted to be a cross between Thrill Kill and Amy Grant.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with or tour with? Why?
 
CF: Well, we have collaborated with Mirror Fears on four tours and we have two more coming up with her, including the trip to Europe, and that seems to be a match made in heaven so we’d like to keep working with her if she’ll have us.  And maybe somebody super-duper famous whose coattails we can ride, doesn’t matter who as long as we can bring Mirror Fears too.
 
FEMMUSIC:  As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against? You work with Girls Rock Denver. What is the most important lesson a girl should know to succeed in the music industry?
 
Shannon: While I have had some experiences where I’ve been dismissed, tokenized and sexualized, I have found that creating strong bonds with other women is very important.  I try to make sure the communities that I endorse and engage in are spaces where womxn feel comfortable.  We’d rather play shows that are early, free, all ages and accessible, and I work to build inclusive bills at inclusive venues.  While collaborating with artists on our music videos this summer and releasing our new album (summer camp doom diary is on deck to be released late summer on the wings of a slew of music videos from the album), it’s important to us to collaborate with womxn as much as possible.
 
I’m still working on speaking up when it comes to compensation, claiming my space and sharing what’s important to me with the men who run spaces, run sound, and “run the show.”  When I struggle with that, I reach out to people I trust and I rely on my friends to remind me that I’m strong and that my experience and perspective matters, and to keep me grounded.  It’s important to say no when you know that’s the right response – and you don’t need to give anyone a reason or an excuse.  It’s also important to feel like you can talk to promoters about being paid for shows if that’s important to you and demonstrate that you respect your own hard work.
 
I would remind a grrrl in the music industry to trust herself, value her own opinion and to advocate for herself and others.  Work with people who respect you and others who are often marginalized in your field.  Rely on other womxn in the community when you’re struggling with that, and let go of other people’s opinions of you.  Your art will speak for itself, and you deserve respect.  Also, if you see a need in your community, fill it.  Sick of working with sound guys?  Learn how to run sound!  Sick of seeing men put together bills full of white guys on guitars?  Book your own shows, start your own space, or find people you trust who are doing that.  It can feel like you’re in a desert, but we are out here!  I’ve been really lucky to be a part of organizations like Girls Rock Denver and Seventh Circle Music Collective, where I could learn how to run a soundboard, set up a drum set or build a light-reactive synthesizer in a comfortable and supportive setting.  And now I have the amazing responsibility and privilege of extending that opportunity to others.  Ultimately, it is your community that matters.  There are some communities I am better off not engaging with.  There are communities that I don’t want to validate; I’m not sorry for that and I don’t feel like I’m missing out.  One way to hold communities accountable is through our participation (or lack of participation) in them.
One of the most phenomenal reflections I had the privilege of witnessing from a former Girls Rock Denver camper who now plays regularly around Denver is this:  we are the ones who are actively changing the scene.  We are setting the standards for treatment and behavior, and before too long those younger than us will be surprised by the notion that spaces were once unsafe and that women felt like outsiders in their own communities.  Simply showing up, being yourself and being unafraid is a powerful statement in itself.  Eventually, it’s those who marginalize others who will be marginalized.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
 
CF: Capitalism.
Church Fire – Shannon Webber & David Samuelson

Photo by Veronica Lee

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: , ,

April 29th, 2018
by Alex Teitz
 
Pema
 
            Last year Austin based Alex Napping released their sophomore album on Father/Daughter Records, Mise En Place. Led by Alex Cohen, this 4 piece caught our attention in a live show.
 
            Now Alex Cohen is back with a different project, Pema. Pema shocked us with the first single “Depend” and the video for it:

Pema will be releasing Bad Habits on May 18 on Topshelf Records. Bad Habits is an intensely personal and introspective album. Cohen is a charismatic and emotive songwriter who takes control with Bad Habits. For info visit http://whoispema.tumblr.com/
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Bad Habits?
 
AC: This was the first album that I produced entirely on my own and wrote & recorded 95% of it alone in my bedroom in Brooklyn. Working through self-doubt and creative walls without the feedback and reassurance of collaborators was an extremely challenging, but ultimately rewarding process!
 
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Pema vs Alex Napping. What are your musical goals with project? Why could they not be done under Alex Napping?
 
AC: Pema is my chance to experiment with production and songwriting entirely on my own clock and according to my own vision. It’s a chance to explore musical ideas that aren’t beholden to the normal constraints or benefits of collaboration.
 
FEMMUSIC:  You worked with Topshelf Records for Bad Habits. Why did you choose them to work with? What did they bring to the project?
 
AC: They are good people who are excited about the music! What else could I ask for?
 
FEMMUSIC: This album is introspective. What was the catalyst for this album?
 
AC: I wanted the challenge of producing an entire record by myself and I wanted the content of the record to somehow parallel that journey. The desire to produce and write something, particularly without the help of men, came at the same time that I was breaking down and restructuring my identity and experiences as a woman. So I sought, through writing these songs, to explore that and did so through the lens of perceived character flaws and the standards to which we hold women to be good, and feminine, and chill and the list goes on and on…. So just as making an album on my own opened up the door to creating my own rules on the musical side of things, the thematic content is my attempt to reclaim the right to make my own rules for what I do and don’t like about myself without the influences of others.
 
FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique? Was it different for this album?
 
AC: I don’t necessarily have a singular songwriting technique despite carving out time into my routine for writing. Sometimes it starts with messing around on guitar or piano, sometimes it starts from a voice memo of a melody idea I had while walking around, sometimes I program some drums and bass and go from there. I would say that holds true for this album.
pema bad habit
 
FEMMUSIC:  What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
 
AC: I feel like I’ll have a few years where a single song will really rip me apart and then I move on from it because it doesn’t hold the weight that it did when I was at the point in my life going through whatever I was going through. Like, I’d say 5-6 years ago that song was “It’s Okay” by Land of Talk because I was recently out of college, trying to figure out who I wanted to be as an adult, and starting my own band for the first time and it was the kind of music that I think I wanted to make (especially with the first Alex Napping record)
For the last couple of years, it has been “Need Myself” by Empress Of. Her music is so empowering to me. She is such an amazing producer and songwriter and has made me believe that I can be both self-sufficient and successful in both making music and life in general if that’s what I put my mind to.
 
FEMMUSIC:  As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
AC: Definitely. Being talked down to by a promoter or soundguy is the most obvious example. There are scarier instances in which I get followed to the car while carrying gear by strangers asking if I need “a man’s help.” I could write about this for pages, though, so I’ll stop there.
 
FEMMUSIC:  Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
 
AC: Empress Of, Caroline Polachek, Bjork, Grimes, Lorde, Solange… all would be absolutely amazing haha. These are the people that have inspired me the most as I’ve searched for and settled into my identity as a musician.
 
FEMMUSIC:  What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
AC: I wish it were more set up for longterm sustainability. I don’t want to be a flash in the pan artist, and I’m trying to create a sustainable career as an artist and producer, both in my skillset and work habits.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

April 2nd, 2018
by Alex Teitz
Rich Girls – Luisa Black
 
            New York band Rich Girls is Luisa Black, August Churchill & Gavin Haag. After releasing EP’s, Fiver & Love Is the Dealer, the band is releasing their full length album Black City on April 6. The singles “Hit” and “Wayne” show an alternative band released with no constraint. The album was recorded on both coasts and begs for a headlining tour. For info visit https://www.richgirlstheband.com/
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Black City?
 
LB: There was a ton of momentum heading into recording. We worked hard on pre-production and had this whirlwind week where we tracked basics in Brooklyn and I flew to San Francisco to finish guitars and vocals. And then two days into recording I got super sick and lost my voice. Just completely. So all that momentum came to a screeching halt. I had to cancel a bunch of sessions and there was a week there where I couldn’t see how I would finish the record. I ended up canceling my return trip to NYC and stayed an extra two weeks in California to get it done.
 
FEMMUSIC:  How was your approach different in making a full album vs EP’s? What lessons did you learn from making EPs?
 
LB: I love EPs as a format because you can’t fuck them up. You get a handful of songs to take a stand. And you can really dial in a sound and an idea. It’s an exercise in subtraction. It’s pure. Making a full album is harder. It forces you to expand. There was a lot more sonic range on Black City than on our previous EPs. New instrumentation, a bigger range of tempos. I took more chances.
Rich Girls – Black City
 
FEMMUSIC:  I see you recorded on both coasts. How did you choose Travis Harrison & Sean Beresford to record the album? What did they bring to the project?
LB: Travis we lucked out and found when we did a live session for Brooklyn Today Radio. Those mic-it-and-go things usually sound terrible but he did an amazing job and it sounded great.
 
Later when we were looking for a studio to track in, our friend Steve Matrick, the talent buyer at Piano’s, recommended a guy who he said was the engineer for Guided by Voices and would be a great fit for us. It turned out to be Travis. So that was easy. And then Sean I’ve been working with since I was in The Blacks. He’s been an incredible creative partner to me. At this point it’s like we have a secret language. Plus he tolerates my incessant call for more reverb.
 
FEMMUSIC: You’re signed to Tricycle Records. What made you sign with them? How are they to work with?
 
LB: Julie Schuchard, who runs the label, was a big supporter of local music in SF.  She signed my first band, The Blacks, and I’ve been working with her pretty much ever since.
 
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
LB: It almost always starts with a sound in my head and then I try to make the sound real by writing the song. So production is a big part of it for me. With Black City the writing process was much more raw. I was pushing into new sonic territory. Also my lyric writing process is sort of bizarre. I write phonetically. Meaning I mostly start with sounds instead of words. Occasionally I’ll get lucky and start with full phrases but that’s rare. I chase feeling first. 
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest impact on you and why?
 
LB: Too hard. But the songs that have the biggest impact on me are the ones that spin me in new directions and change how I think about sound.
It’s some kind of dark magic. I know when it happens because I stop whatever I’m doing and listen.
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
LB: There’s so much low-level bullshit but it’s not specific to the music industry. I can’t tell you how many times a guy finds out I play in a band and immediately asks me if I play bass.
I used to explain that I play guitar. Now I say, “Why, because I’m a woman?”
 
FEMMUSIC:  Whom would you most like to tour with or collaborate with? Why?
 
LB: Iggy Pop! I’d be honored to watch him wipe the floor with us.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
 
 
LB: Those right-wing country stars who tell artists to stay out of politics. Let’s shoot them into space.
Rich Girls – Luisa Black

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

April 1st, 2018
by Alex Teitz
Sharptooth

Photo Credit_James Harper

 
Baltimore band Sharptooth is a hardcore act with a political edge. Their release last year of Clever Girl was received with acclaim in the industry. Clever Girl included the track “Fuck You Donald Trump” which clearly set the stage for this uncompromising band. Lauren Kashan is the vocalist and has a history that involves more than just music. Sharptooth is one of four female acts on the Vans Warped Tour. For info visit http://sharptoothband.com/ & http://vanswarpedtour.com/
 
FEMMUSIC:  I have to begin by asking how someone who was studying box turtles and reptiles became the voice of Sharptooth? How did it happen?
 
LK: Music and zoology have both always been my biggest passions, even since I was a kid. I got my first breeding pair of geckos when I was about 7 years old, and never grew out of that childhood obsession with dinosaurs that so many children share. I got involved in chorus and theater in middle school, and singing quickly became the most important part of my life. I went to a magnet arts school for vocal performance in high school, where I studied Opera in 4 languages and took intensive college-level theater classes and performed in the musicals. Being an art school, being interested in counterculture was basically a requirement for graduation, and my group of friends enveloped me into the local indie and punk scene, a place that I immediately felt at home. Once I started college, I decided that going back to my roots and pursuing a career with reptiles would be the most rational path for me. I still cherished that love for scaly critters, so why not get paid to work with them while moonlighting as a vocalist in bands, or moshing at local shows. It was never an either-or thing for me; these were passions I held dear alongside each other. Now, being involved in the local music scene for over a decade, you meet a lot of people, which was how Lance (our guitarist) came to approach me to see if I’d be interested in doing vocals for Sharptooth. At the time, my former band was wrapping up, and I was interested in writing heavier songs with more sociopolitical lyrics, and when I voiced that, Lance and the band were onboard. So we hit the ground running, writing and recording demos and playing short tours straight out the gate. I think we all knew we had something special with Sharptooth, but we never could have anticipated how things took off.
 
Interestingly, I think both my careers share some common themes. A lot of what I do at my current job involves traveling around the state, doing assemblies for kids with giant pythons and alligators, teaching them about some of the most misunderstood and feared creatures in the world. So it makes a lot of sense to me; I’m on a stage basically all the time, delving into subjects that are often shrouded in misunderstanding and ignorance, and hopefully opening people’s minds. I consider my role in both Sharptooth and as a herpetologist to be that of an educator, and an advocate for the misunderstood; whether that misunderstood being is a person or an animal. It’s about teaching compassion and understanding for all other living beings. So for me, the two go hand in hand.
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Clever Girl?
 
LK: If you want that answer, you’d probably be better off asking Lance, who did SO much of the heavy lifting with recording, producing and helping to engineer the record. He was the one shouldering most of the burdens of stress and deadlines and all of the minutiae that goes into making a record. As the vocalist, it was my responsibility to write lyrics that were cohesive and explained some really nuanced concepts in accessible ways, and use my instrument to the best of my ability, and get in the vocal booth and give it my all.
For me, the biggest challenge with this record was finishing it, feeling proud of it, personally sending it out to literally 3 dozen record labels… and not hearing a single word back. You pour your soul into a record, spend hours looking up labels and attempting to connect with them, and the realization that none of these labels probably even read my e-mail, let alone listened to the record, That was pretty painful. So we took it on the chin and released it ourselves back in February of 2017. We had a lot to be proud of regardless, so by then, I was just ready for the world to hear it.
 
FEMMUSIC: You’re signed to Pure Noise Records. Why did you sign with them? What benefits do they bring, and downsides?
 
LK: We signed to Pure Noise because we were offered a literal dream come true, completely out of nowhere. It’s a label that is home to most of my favorite bands in the world, run by people who were passionate about our music and our message, and willing to back what we did to the hilt. It was honestly a once in a lifetime opportunity. One of my good friends with connections to the label just put the record in front of their noses, and they jumped on it immediately. I feel incredibly fortunate that we have friends and a label that are backing what we do so passionately, and who are willing to go the extra mile for us. There honestly have been no downsides to this signing, and it’s been nearly a year. Everyone who works at Pure Noise has been so kind, and supportive and insightful and talented, and I truly feel blessed to get to work with such incredible people as one of their artists.
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does a song develop in the band?
 
LK: For me as a lyricist, it’s different every time. Generally though, Lance will write and record a demo instrumental track, with all instrument parts, and send it to me and see what I think. Lance is always churning out material, I have a file with almost 20 potential Sharptooth songs in it that I just run through and mess around with lyrically. I typically keep a running list of song concepts and topics I want to write about, and I basically wait until I feel inspired about one. Sometimes I’ll have a brain wave, and grab a track, and write a whole song in one day. More often, I’m constantly jotting down lyric ideas, and pulling them into and out of songs until they feel right. I do pretty much all my lyric writing in my car, where I can play the instrumental tracks on the stereo and scream along, recording little voice memos and jotting down lines at stop lights. Sometimes I’ll just go and sit in my car in a parking lot for hours, writing and rearranging. I’m in the process of writing lyrics for some new material right now; it’s been a lot of hours spent just sitting in my car yelling. Once I get a rough idea of lyrics, we usually send the instrumental to the rest of the band for them to mess around with and make their own.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest impact on you and why?
 
LK: This is such a hard question. My gut instinct says “Built Upon The Sand” by Stick To Your Guns. This was a song that shaped my views of humanity, the way I interact with others, and the way I approach my life and the people in it. At its baseline, it’s a song about school shootings, and what kind of mindset a person has to be in to commit that kind of atrocity. But at its core, it’s a song about having compassion for others, the change that that compassion can create, and about seeking to understand and love one another, so as to hopefully bring light to another’s darkness, and make the world a better, more peaceful place. The song’s final repeated refrain of “I understand you” is a lyric that has echoed in me since the day the album came out, and has, I truly hope, helped make me into a more loving, compassionate and understanding person. It’s a mantra I’ve repeated to myself in times of frustration and hurt, when facing a world that so often seems dark and cold and unforgiving, and has brought me a lot of hope.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to tour with, or collaborate with? Why?
 
LK: I’d love to tour and collaborate with bands full of diverse people, of all genders, races, sexualities, abilities and walks of life. We so desperately need more diversity and representation in heavy music, and having that opportunity would help to create a lot more visibility and amplification for so many different voices. That’s first and foremost. But getting to work with bands like Stick To Your Guns and Every Time I Die would be pretty neat too.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
LK: More inclusion. More diversity. More visibility for marginalized persons. I guess that’s 3 things, but it’s part of the same idea.
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
LK: Is water wet? Heavy music in particular has always been extremely gate-keepy towards femmes. Hardcore is such a hyper-masculine environment, and while being able to express some of those more stereotypically masculine traits has been so important to me and has always resonated with me, that environment comes with a huge slew of problems as well. I know so many women who have divorced from metal or hardcore because of discrimination, and in hearing their stories, I certainly don’t blame them. There have been times I’ve wanted to bail too. But this music speaks to me unlike anything else, so it’s kind of become my mission to love this genre into being better. There’s so many beautiful things about heavy, angry music and there’s so many people who need the passion and release it brings. So I’m not ready to give up on it yet.
 
FEMMUSIC: Sharptooth is one of handful of woman led acts on the final Vans Warped Tour. In past years there have been up to 25% of the bands being women led. I’ve read in other interviews you’ve been asked about how women in heavy metal and punk are treated. I was wondering if you think there is a backlash against women in aggressive genres of music by the industry?
 
LK: Like I said, aggressive music has not been kind to women historically. But I feel so grateful for all of the bands and fans that are fighting back; by making their presence known at shows, by simply being visible, by starting bands and zines and running venues and booking shows. There’s so many women in the industry who work behind the scenes as well, and they deserve a light to be shined on their hard work as well. It’s not just about those of us with microphones. But as someone with a microphone, I have a chance to draw attention to the things that need to be changed, and the people who are fighting to make those changes. At this point, people can backlash all they want, I think the tide of inclusion is becoming unstoppable, especially with the younger generations.
 
FEMMUSIC: Sharptooth is political with songs like “Fuck You Donald Trump.” How much does the news influence your songwriting? Is the choice to go political in songs unanimous in the band? What do you hope to achieve with your fanbase by being political? Do you have any named goals?
 
 
LK: Our whole band is pretty politically aware and active, so it’s a pretty natural thing for us. All of us are on the pulse of what’s going on in the world, and in our government, most of us either listen to or read the news fairly regularly. That’s just who we are personally. Our goals are more of a social nature than a political nature: to create a culture of inclusion and visibility for diverse and marginalized voices and social issues in heavy music. Some of these voices are ours, some are ones we use our platform to draw attention to. While some of our songs take aim at more “political” targets, like the government, the president, the police force and organized religion, it’s always with the intent of focusing on how those systems affect society, culture, and people, and empowering each other to make a more compassionate and equal society for all by changing these systems. I hope that’s what our fans can take away from our shows; a sense of empowerment, agency, and a feeling that they are being represented and supported; so that they can go forth into the world and make their voices heard.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: , ,

April 1st, 2018
by Alex Teitz
Nina Nesbitt
 
            Nina Nesbitt is a rare artist in the music world. She has her own music studio (Nightwatch Studio) and label (N2 Records). She has walked away from a music label and is still standing stronger than ever. She made her mark internationally with her debut album Peroxide in 2014 with the singles “Selfies” and “Don’t Stop.” In 2017 she started releasing singles from her new album including “The Best You Had” and “Somebody Special.’ She released “Psychopath” with Charlotte Cardin and Sasha Sloan at the end of March:
 
 
She is touring the US opening for Jake Bugg and also on a headlining tour:
04/01 – Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC
04/03 – The State Room – Salt Lake City, UT
04/04 – Bluebird Theater – Denver, CO
04/06 – The Heights Theater – Houston, TX
04/07 – The Parrish – Austin, TX
04/08 – The Kessler – Dallas, TX
04/10 – The Back Room @ Colectivo – Milwaukee, WI
04/11 – Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO
04/12 – Deluxe @ Old National Center – Indianapolis, IN
04/13 – Beat Kitchen – Chicago, IL
04/14 – House Of Blues, Cambridge Room – Cleveland, OH
04/16 – Bogart’s – Cincinnati, OH
04/17 – Eddie’s Attic – Decatur, GA
04/18 – Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN
04/19 – Visulite Theatre – Charlotte, NC
04/23 – Club Café – Pittsburgh, PA
04/24 – DC9 – Washington, DC
04/25 – Baby’s All Right – Brooklyn, NY
04/26 – Space Ballroom – Hamden, CT
04/30 – Great Scott – Allston, MA
05/01 – World Café Live – Philadelphia, PA
 
For more information visit http://ninanesbittmusic.com/
 
FEMMUSIC: You write and produce your own material. You own both a label and a studio. What benefits does that allow you?
 
NN: I get to do whatever I want musically which is nice. I feel like that’s the way it should be. I got to hand pick a great team around me and being on an indie label allows you to have control over that instead of being assigned to someone who is maybe not passionate about the project. It’s all about having passionate people collaborate with you. Also being able to have the option of producing my own music is great because you don’t feel like you have to rely on other people to do what you love. I definitely prefer collaborating but it’s always good to have the option.
 
FEMMUSIC: You left your first record label. I was curious to see that you signed to Cooking Vinyl. Why did you sign with another record label? Why Cooking Vinyl? What benefits do you see in being with a record label?
 
NN: I knew that I didn’t want to sign to a major at that point in time. I didn’t really know if I wanted to put music out for a while but once I worked out the songs then Cooking Vinyl came along and put their hand up when no one else did. I really admired their courage to say ‘we think you’re great’ when there was nothing really going on for me. It was all about the songs and the fanbase I’d built. I knew that I needed the funds to be able to put stuff out and also wanted to build a team around me and they seemed like the perfect fit. Any artist that works with them has made several albums and I think that’s always a really good sign.
 
FEMMUSIC: It has been 4 years since Peroxide came out. You’ve been releasing singles. When do anticipate a full length album? What lessons did you learn making Peroxide?
 
NN: The new album is written, almost finished recording. I think it’ll be out this autumn but I’m waiting for what feels like the right time. With streaming it’s all about the single song now and then I think once people have heard enough of them it’s time to drop the album which is more like a body of work. I wrote Peroxide between 17-19 so I guess it was a very confusing time for me because I was growing up and I didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted. I think you can hear that in the record, but I kinda like that because it shows where I was at. I definitely wanted to make a really strong cohesive sounding record with this one and really find my sound.
 
FEMMUSIC: What is the biggest challenge working on a new album?
 
NN: It was actually a really simple experience. It was a weird period of time for me because I was very depressed while writing it but I’d get these lyrics just landing in my head every few weeks and that would be another one written. It literally felt like someone was sending songs in to my head, it was that natural. I guess actually getting to the stage where I knew what kind of album I wanted to make was the most difficult part, but once I knew it just came out.
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
NN: My best songs have always started with a lyric idea prior to writing. I get a bunch of lyrics that I love and then try and fit them in. Sometimes I’ll start with a melody over a piano and then go and pick lyrics that I’ve stored away to fit. I also write for other people though and that’s a totally different experience, that’s more getting in a room with people and just having fun, seeing what comes out.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest impact on you and why?
 
NN: Oh I couldn’t pick one but I’d probably say in most recent years “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette because of how lyrically open it is. I love that she doesn’t hold back. It made me feel fearless with lyrics.
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
NN: Yeah I think more or less every woman I know in this industry has in some way or another but I do think it’s changing and getting better. It’s more about changing people’s attitudes and subconscious I think. All the men I work with are really supportive and I feel like we are treated as equals in all the sessions we do.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to tour with or collaborate with? Why?
 
NN: I’d love to write with Max Martin. He’s my ultimate pop goal. There’s so many hits he’s written. I also love the way Calvin Harris collaborates.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
 
 
NN: I kinda feel like the two biggest things I dislike about it are slowly changing. Artists having the control and the attitude about woman’s writing/producing ability.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

March 8th, 2018
Stella Donnelly
 
Stella Donnelly has come in like a lioness in the past month. This Australian artist just signed to Secretly Canadian and will be releasing her Thrush Metal EP in June. Her first two tracks are uncompromising attacks on the male system:
 
 
 
It is Donnelly’s conviction is both her songs and videos that attracts our attention. Her songs have a subtle pop sound to them and are lyrically unique. Donnelly will be playing SXSW and a short US Tour afterward before returning to Australia. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/stellamusicband/

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

March 6th, 2018
by Alex Teitz
Starcrawler photo credit: Autumn de Wilde.

Starcrawler photo credit: Autumn de Wilde.

 
            The Los Angeles rock phenomenon Starcrawler is in the process of conquering the world. This hard rock live act is touring Japan before SXSW and has been on our radar ever since their self-titled album dropped. The album was produced by Ryan Adams. Led by the ferocious power of Arrow de Wilde, this band will dominate this year. Their single “I Love LA” gives a hint of what they are like:
 
            FEMMUSIC was lucky to get an e-mail interview with both Arrow de Wilde and Austin Smith. For more info visit https://www.starcrawlermusic.com/
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does a song form within the band?
 
Arrow: I don’t know about a technique. We’re not painting a landscape. We just write the songs as they come.
 
Austin: How a Starcrawler song forms is usually Henri comes up with a riff and a melody. Then when we rehearse we start to work out what we all like and don’t like. From there the skeleton of a starcrawler track forms.
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making your self-titled record?
 
Arrow: Probably worrying about every single detail, trying to make it perfect. And also coming up with an album name. Which we obviously couldn’t do.
 
Austin: Never feeling like its done was creeping in the back of my mind quite often.  Like is this not polished enough? Or is it too polished?  Should we add more should we take out more? I felt a wave of relief once it was released cause after it’s all done I was happy with all aspects of the record .
 
FEMMUSIC: What made you sign with Rough Trade? What benefits do you see in signing with a label?
 
Arrow: Rough Trade was like my dream label. I think they are one of the coolest ones around and they have an amazing history of bands. And we love everyone who works at the label. It just felt right. I’m very grateful.
 
Austin: Well we all had liked bands that were with RT both of the past and currently. Also they were the kindest label we had met with at the time. It was a easy choice for us to choose such a progressive and forward label.
Starcrawler
 
FEMMUSIC: How was it working with Ryan Adams in the studio? What did he bring to the project?
 
Arrow: Amazing. I love Ryan. He is one of the most creative and spontaneous people I’ve ever met. He has so many ideas and all of them are so brilliant.
 
Austin: Working with Ryan was a good experience in understanding how to flex ones creative muscles. Always allowing us to try things and not thinking any idea was too outlandish or absurd. The one key fact he unearthed in all of us was simplicity. Keeping things easy and taking out the complexities that no one really cares for.
 
FEMMUSIC: Your live shows have caused a stir. How did you develop your stage show both individually and with the band? What is the hardest part of the stage show for you? Why?
 
Arrow: A lot of planning, but a lot of it also came naturally and in spur of the moment. I’m not exactly sure what the hardest part is, however that’s also not something I’m keen to reveal.
 
Austin: Well Arrow from the beginning when it was just her and I (Austin). She had ideas about having a truly visual show and once we have a full band these ideas came to fruition.
 
FEMMUSIC: What song, not your own, has had the biggest impact on you and why?
 
Arrow: There isn’t one song. I don’t really believe in having one favorite thing because that just doesn’t make sense to me. I would never be able to listen to one song for the rest of my life and I don’t think anyone would. You would end up hating the song. But to answer the question, the album ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ by Ozzy Osbourne made me want to start making music and performing.
 
Austin: Mark Morrison “Return of the Mack.”
 
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
Arrow: I’ve been discriminated against like anyone in this business. I don’t know if it has to do with me being a woman, maybe it has. But I don’t really like to think of myself as a woman because that makes me sound too grown up or something. Sometimes people will have problems with what I do, but that’s exactly why I do it. If every single person in the world loved everything, there would be nothing to fight for or rebel against. And that’s what rock and roll is all about.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to tour with, or collaborate with? Why?
 
Arrow: Ozzy Osbourne.
 
Austin: Mall Grab or Theo Parrish.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
Arrow: Bring back the money.
 
 
Austin: Changing the idea that radio play matters. I think that some of the music that’s impacted my life the most have been artists that generally weren’t allowed/not given radio play. Also fitting the radios format provides such boundaries for artists that I think when someone’s goal is to make radio friendly music, they are limited in what they can create.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

March 2nd, 2018
 by Alex Teitz
CLARA-NOVA
 
            Sydney Wayser evokes another reality with her music as Clara Nova. Her songs include “Echo” and “The Illusionist.” She has been working on a new EP The Iron Age with Shawn Everett. This French-American is influenced by her European roots and by the works of Gainsbourg & Brel, among others. This year she is playing at SXSW. Get a taste of her music with “The Illusionist” video:
 
 
For more information visit http://www.clara-nova.com/
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making your new EP?
 
SW: The last few years have been a bit of a whirlwind actually. Unfortunately, my story falls into the usual category of artists losing their music to record labels. I parted ways with a label and they took my masters leaving me with no work to show after 2 years of recording 2 full length albums for them that were never released. From there I reached out to my fans and supporters and hosted a Pledge Music campaign which allowed me to raise funds to re-record the music that the label took. I ended up surpassing my goal and am now on the other side about to release a piece of this music to the world! It’s funny how on this side of the journey I’m so thankful for the label implosion. I was able to separate from a company that was holding me back and now I’m in control of my music and can decided how and when to release it. I am forever grateful to my supporters who pledged and made all of this possible.
 
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Shawn Everett. How did you meet? What made you decide to work with him on this project? What did he bring to it?
 
SW: Shawn Everett mixed my last Sydney Wayser record, Bell Choir Coast, that was released in 2012. We hit it off right away and have remained friends since. When I moved back to Los Angeles from NYC in 2013 I reached out to him about the new CLARA-NOVA music I had written and we decided to make a record right on the spot. We had kind of a kismet moment actually of running into each other in a random coffee shop and chatting about it. He mentioned he just moved into a new studio and once he finished setting that up he was booked with The Alabama Shakes (making what would be later released as Sound & Color) but that he was free whenever they were not in the studio. We started piecing sounds together and before we knew it we had finish 18 songs. He is one of the most inventive and experimental producers I’ve ever worked with and has an unmatched ability to coax the best out of everyone in the room. By the end of the record we were reading each other’s minds and playing what felt like musical Tetris of shifting pieces around until they found their right place.
 
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about France. I understand you visited it when growing up. What is it about the culture and music that inspires you?
 
SW: Paris is my second home. My father is French and my mother is American. My parents met in Paris in their early 20s in what may be the most romantic story rivaled only by Amélie or some witty romantic comedy. As a child, we spent the school year in Los Angeles but holidays were spent in Paris.  Growing up with a French family meant the culture and art seeped in without knowing it. Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Brel and Françoise Hardy were always playing on the record player. We’d go to the Louvre, L’orangerie, Centre Pompidou and small art galleries throughout the city. My grandparents were antique dealers and collected vintage gems. They loved showing us the beautiful and unique antiquity of Paris and of France. Paris has this magic sense about it that feels like we are living in parallel universes. I feel like it is 2018 and also 1918 at the same time.
 
CLARA-NOVA
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
SW: Songs usually feel like they write themselves. I’ll throw a few ideas around and see what floats up to the top. Then I take those ideas and pull on them until they reveal verses and choruses. Eventually I end up with a song. I usually don’t sit down thinking “I’m gonna write a song about X”. I sit down and think “hmmmm… I like this image, what words would I use to describe it or that’s a cool melody. What happens if a flip it? What happens if I elongate it? etc”
 
FEMMUSIC:  What song (not your own) has had the biggest impact on you? Why?
 
SW: I’m not sure I can pick one only song! I’d say the album Poses by Rufus Wainwright changed my life and musical thinking. I’ve listened to that record for 14 years or so. I go through periods where I listen to it on repeat for months without listening to anything else. The musical composition, lyrics, arrangements and performances are all brilliant. It hybridizes electronic and organic elements which I find beautiful and interesting while maintaining overflowing emotion and honesty.
 
FEMMUSIC:  As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
SW: I think every woman in the industry has been discriminated against at some point. These discriminatory incidences are not always intentional but happen in response to peoples own self doubt, insecurity and ego. This incredible movement is breaking down these barriers and pushing people to think before they act out and react in response to their own insecurities.
 
I had the great pleasure of singing in an all women choir supporting Shirley Manson of Garbage and Fiona Apple for Girlschool LA last month and am forever in awe of those women. They were open-hearted and inclusive, kind and appreciative of everyone in the room. I hope this movement creates more writing sessions, rehearsals and meeting that feel as great as those rehearsals and performances felt. We have everything to gain and I think we gain it but loving and respecting our collaborators and team members no matter their race, gender, sexual preference or social status.
 
FEMMUSIC:  Whom would you most like to tour with, or collaborate with? Why?
 
SW: I’m a huge fan of Phoenix and would love to open up for them on tour. Maybe it’s the French connection or maybe it’s just that they’re music is so great but I’m a big fan of everything they put out in the world. Side note – Their Blogotheque video shot in Versailles is stunning as well!
 
Another person I’d love to collaborate or tour with is Karen O. I think she is just  A+++. She’s fearless and vibrant. A strong voice for women and honestly she’s just such a badass!!
 
FEMMUSIC:  What’s one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
 
SW: I wish A&R wasn’t a lost art form. I hope we can go back to a place where record labels love artists’ creativity first rather than their numbers. A place where labels truly help musicians find their voice and their sound. The industry moves so fast these days many artists get lost in mergers and are left with nothing.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

March 1st, 2018
by Alex Teitz
Lucy Rose
            Lucy Rose went through some life changing experiences to make her 3rd studio album Something’s Changing. She changed labels. She toured Latin America with the help of her fans. She went into the studio in a different way. The result is an album that reveals the artist’s true heart. Lucy Rose is on tour with Paul Weller in the US this month. For info visit https://www.lucyrosemusic.com/
 
FEMMUSIC:  It sounds like you went through some profound changes before recording Something’s Changing. How did that effect your own goals for recording the album?
 
LR: I think my whole perspective for music and making records changed after really getting to know my fans. I understood what they had taken from my music and the importance of songs and making music. During that trip I reconnected to my guitar and writing songs began to feel natural again. I guess you can put a lot of pressure on yourself when you’re making something and worry that no-one will like it but I was just thinking about those fans I had met and was writing the record for them so I wasn’t worried and enjoyed the whole experience.
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Something’s Changing?
 
LR: It really doesn’t feel like a challenging project, in many ways it was the easiest record I’ve made yet. I’m sure with more experience that helped but I had a very clear vision in my head about what I wanted to make, I had all the songs written and had been playing them for half a year or so so I felt confident in playing and singing them. The only challenge I can think of is that I was self funding this record and managing myself, so it was a lot to take on but it all worked out in the end.
 
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about working with Tim Bidwell. What did he bring to the project and what did he bring out of you?
 
LR: A lot of laughing. Tim is one of the funniest people I know. Sometimes when you’re recording, things can feel quite serious. You’re in a studio, the clock is ticking and you know it’s costing money so there rarely feels like there’s time to mess around, be silly or just have another cup of tea and relax. And weirdly this record was so quick to make. In making the environment so relaxed, we did less takes and caught real performances. I think he brought out the best in me, sometimes I can be quite serious so it was nice that fun Lucy was out making this record.
 
 
FEMMUSIC:  It sounds like the production time of Something’s Changing was both really quick (17 days) and relaxing at the same time (I read you were attending some shows as an audience member then). How did that differ from producing your other albums? Were there any benefits or downsides you weren’t expecting with it?
 
LR: We clocked off most evenings around 7pm, so it meant I had the evenings to myself. I live in London, so don’t know that many people in Brighton which is were Tim lives, so I spent most evenings on my own going to see gigs. I not great on my own but I love it at the same time and it gave me lots of time to think about the record and the songs. Honestly I really enjoyed making this record, like I did the other records, they were all such different experiences, the first at my parents house in their living room, the second in a proper studio in London and this one in Tim’s house in Brighton. I did find it hard being away from home so much but it meant I was determined to work hard and get the record finished quickly. And the biggest benefit from making the record is the new friends I’ve made, Tim and Laura (Tim’s wife) are now great friends of mine and the musicians that Tim introduced me to are now by band who I love.
 
FEMMUSIC:  Tell me about Arts & Crafts Records. How did you come to sign with them? Did you have any reservations about signing to another label after leaving Columbia?
 
LR: I’ve always loved Arts & Crafts and it’s been a dream of mine to be able to release my music with them, I still can’t really believe it’s happened. After being set free from Columbia Records, I was a little nervous about my next step and I knew I would never do a regular major deal again, so I’m licensing my music, which gives me a lot more control and freedom to make the music that I want to make and put it out in the right way. I more involved in every step now so it feels much more authentic.
Lucy Rose
 
FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique? How has it changed over time?
 
LR: It’s like waiting for a bus, you can be waiting for ages or two buses come at once. Last night I sat down at the piano and somehow wrote something and then picked up my guitar and wrote something else. But this last month I’ve written nothing because the moment wasn’t quite right and the feeling wasn’t there. When that feeling of inspiration comes I make sure I make the most of it and if it’s not there I try not to worry.
 
FEMMUSIC:  As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
LR: There’s been the odd moment here and there where I’ve thought ‘if I was a man would you have said that to me? Or asked me that? Or treated me that way?’ Some people treat men and women so differently and don’t even realize it. I’ve had the odd comment on a radio show, when I was talking about living with my fans where the male presenter has said ‘oh you can come stay in my house’ and there’s a joke that’s slightly inappropriate that follows this and I feel like all my power has been taken. If I laugh along then how can I be taken seriously as a musician and if I say something I’m an uptight bitch who can’t take a joke. It’s really hard sometimes and I pick my battles but it’s never easy.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with or tour with and why?
 
LR: Neil Young, 100%. Because he’s my hero and I’d like to think his fans may like my music.
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
 
LR: Tough questions but if I could change one thing I’d love the industry to not be profit driven.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

March 1st, 2018
by Alex Teitz
charlotte kemp
            Charlotte Kemp Muhl is a rare artist who is skilled in many disciplines and active in all of them. She is a model, director and multi-instrumentalists. She is most well known for being part of Sean Lennon’s band Ghost of a Saber Toothed Tiger (GOASTT). She is part of Kemp & Eden. Recently she started Uni with David Strange and Nico Fuzz. The new band adds glam rock to insightful and humorous lyrics characterized by their lead single “What’s The Problem.” The band will be releasing an EP on Chimera Records later this year. For info visit https://www.uni-bomber.com/
 
FEMMUSIC: You’ve worked with David Strange before. What made you decide to make Uni a permanent band?
 
CKM: I produced/arranged a solo album for David after hiring him to play guitar in my folk project, as a kind of barter system. We had so much fun that we started a side project called Uni, which recently turned into our main project because we wrote so many songs and it felt like it had a lot of potential.
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the vision of the band in style and music?
 
CKM: We were listening to a lot of Ziggy Stardust, T Rex, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Beastie Boys and The Kinks at the time, so there’s a lot of 70’s glam influences with rock/prog riffs and sometimes a 90’s flavor.
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting process?
 
CKM: I write most of the music and riffs while David writes a lot of the lyrics. Nico came into the picture later but he played a lot of cool overdubs and wrote great harmonies. We love music gear so sometimes we’ll get inspired to write a new song when we get a new guitar or tape delay.
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the Uni EP?
 
CKM: Finding the right front man was a big thing. It was a miracle meeting Nico when we did! We quickly became an Adam’s family of sorts. Another challenge was figuring out how to modernize the classic sounds we love. We experimented with Nico playing electronic drums over the real ones, and sometimes using analog Moog synth bass in lieu of real bass.
 
FEMMUSIC: What are your own goals with Uni?
 
CKM: The idea was to have a pop project, but my idea of pop is verrry odd. Guess I’m really out of touch with the current pop charts of EDM music. I still think Ziggy is pop.
 
FEMMUSIC: You’ve worked with GOASTT and Kemp & Eden. What differences does Unihave in comparison? Any similarities?
 
CKM: Every group of people have a different chemistry and bring out different aspects in each other. Eden brought out the romantic Victorian quality in my songwriting and production. Sean and I were obsessed with 60’s psychedelia for the Goastt. Uni was more inspired by the early 70’s and our love of vintage gear.
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the “What’s The Problem?” video? Does the final product match your vision for it, and the band’s?
 
CKM: It was our first video so my concept was to do it very cheaply in a tiny studio. Was inspired by Diane Arbus and Toilet Paper magazine. I shot it on 16 mill film so we only had 1 or 2 takes for everything. Was so fun bringing in all the different characters! Of course some of the vignettes were pretty scandalous and bizarre, so there were moments we would be duct taping up a naked girl and looking at each other like, we hope people see the comedy in this!!
 
FEMMUSIC:  As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
CKM: Eh, there will always be a set of stigmas and challenges every group of people have to deal with. People can be condescending to me as a woman occasionally but I never feel like a victim. It just motivates me to beat them.
 
FEMMUSIC: If you could tour with, or collaborate with anyone, whom would it be and why?
 
CKM: My friends? I only like to tour with people who make me laugh. But I’d love to collaborate with so many people- mostly in the classical world. Writing for orchestra is my dream!
 
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
 
CKM: Everything!! It’s awful. So vapid and corporate. Kids need to be reeducated about what good music is, and its deeper function in culture to make people think/be uncomfortable, challenge status quo, and offer catharsis.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

March 1st, 2018
by Alex Teitz
Jade McInally
 
Melbourne four piece Jade Imagine released their EP What the Fuck Was I Thinking in April on Courtney Barnett’s Milk! Records. The band is led by Jade McInally, who previously performed as Tantrums. McInally has also performed with Teeth and Tongue. She recorded many of the songs with Dave Mudie, drummer for Courtney Barnett.
 
Jade Imagine has not toured the US. We are looking forward to her following in Barnett’s footsteps in taking over the world.  We are pleased to present this interview with McInally. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/jadeimagineband/
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
 
JM: There’s no real ‘method’ to my madness, although I have noticed a loose pattern developing lately…Usually it begins with me going for a walk, or doing something kinda monotonous (doing the dishes, riding my bike, showering, etc) and that’s about the time when a melody or a lyric or a rhythm starts working its way into my brain… next thing, I’m humming it. That’s when I’ll usually reach for whichever instrument feels appropriate, or my phone to record it. By that stage sometimes I have all the parts for bass, drums, and vocal harmonies in my brain and I have to work pretty quickly to catch it all! Very disruptive, this musical beast!
 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making What the Fuck Was I Thinking?
 
JM: Having blind faith in the process and trusting that all the pieces will come together the way they should.
 
FEMMUSIC: It sounds like Dave Mudie became your producer by fate. How was it working with him?
 
JM Yes, well he produced a few of the tracks; Stay Awake and Esteem, and then did a bit of other stuff here and there (overdubs, guest percussion, piano, etc)… working with him was effortless, fun, intuitive and quick. He has a great flow and we got so much done in such a small amount of time. It was a very fortuitous thing that we met and that he was free and keen to collaborate!
 
The other producer I worked with was Tim Harvey (he produced Walkin’ Around, Tell Her She’s Dreamin’, God Is A Crown and You & I). He was really there for me throughout the entire process. A lot of the vibe of the EP is his production and playing!
 
FEMMUSIC: Given you were working with Mudie, signing to Milk! Records was not a stretch. What made you sign with them? What benefits do you see in signing with a label?
 
JM: I would only ever work with people who I trust and believe in. Working Milk! Records was a no brainer. Jen and Courtney are extremely talented, driven, intelligent and plus they’re powerful women – who wouldn’t want to work with such inspiring role models?!
To be honest I didn’t expect to release my record with any label, but when this opportunity came up I thought that I would definitely be mad to turn it down.
Working with labels isn’t for everybody – I would always assess it on a case-by-case basis!
 
FEMMUSIC: How do you think your own music and vision has changed since the Tantrums?
 
JM: I (like to) think that I have a more refined and direct creative vision. Tantrums was a steep learning curve and I think that it was important to learn some of those lessons early on in my music career.
My own music now feels more true to who I am and the music I want to make now. But that’s not to say that I wasn’t diggin’ Tantrums when I was in that band!! Just a different time and a different place… It’s good to be open to change when you’re an artist. That’s how you grow and learn and make killer art.
 
FEMMUSIC: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned that you wish you knew earlier?
 
JM: The most incredible song can start with just one line, one melody. But you’ve got to believe in that little seed of an idea otherwise you wont give it the chance to grow and be an awesome song (Sorry, so corny)!!
 
FEMMUSIC:  As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
 
JM: Look, I think that I probably have. I know that I have been talked down to, treated as though I’m stupid, been ignored, been objectified… which, in the moment, is a horrible and angering feeling! But I also have been embraced, applauded, listened to and celebrated and I strongly believe that there are just downright dickheads out there who treat all people in a horrible way. I genuinely don’t think that me being a woman really changes anything. I like to see all people as equals. Gender issues and peoples senses of sexual-identity are becoming so fluid, broad and diverse that I really just think the best way to approach day to day life is to embrace and accept our humanity, above all else.
Jade McInally
 
FEMMUSIC: What’s one thing would you change about the music industry?
 
JM: Well for one, I would like to see the Australian Government demonstrating a higher appreciation and recognition of what the arts does for this country and for the world – and to support it more, financially.
 
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to tour with, or collaborate with, and why?
 
JM: I would really love to tour and/or collaborate with Ty Segall. I really love his musical ideas – I have for years – and the one time I saw him live was such a killer performance. Seeing that for a whole tour would be a dream come true!
 
I would also love to collaborate with St Vincent… mainly just to see how she gets those EPIC guitar sounds. Haha.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,