Category: Interviews

November 10th, 2021

JJ Wilde 2

JJ Wilde

Today, JUNO-Award winning rock star JJ Wilde and SOCAN Award winning songwriter Billy Raffoul unveil the details of their three-track EP Born To Die, available November 19th via Black Box. Recorded at Hamilton’s Catherine North Studios, Born To Die channels the duets of Fleetwood Mac, The Civil Wars, Shovels & Rope and more, expertly showcasing the complimentary rock and roll stylings of each singer.

Born To Die

Of the EP, JJ Wilde stated: “These are pretty emotional songs, in the best way. There are love songs and there’s heartache. We’re both big fans of rock and roll and you can hear it when we’re singing both separately and together on this EP.”

Raffoul adds, “These three songs have so much variety between them. Born To Die is an anthemic rock song, while at the opposite end of the spectrum there’s ‘Colours,’ a soft autumn-themed track. Bridging the two is ‘Let Me Go,’ which is sonically powerful and gut-wrenching.”

Raffoul and Wilde only recently met this past summer in Los Angeles; a chance opportunity in a city neither had seen since the onset of the pandemic. When the two got into a room together, the creative chemistry was immediate and it became one of the most natural, organic songwriting processes either have ever experienced. The title track ‘Born To Die’ – a declaration of endless love – was written in a matter of hours. Returning to Canada to record, the warm and inviting atmosphere of Catherine North Studios perfectly matched the close, conversational tone of the EP. Shares Wilde, “It was really cool to return to Catherine North, because that was where I recorded with my first band. It was very nostalgic to be back there and record music that was reminiscent of my roots.”

Born To Die is Wilde’s second release of 2021 and follows her critically acclaimed sophomore album Wilde, released May 14th. The Kitchener-born artist took home the 2021 JUNO Award for ‘Rock Album of the Year’ for her album ‘Ruthless,’ while debut single ‘The Rush’ earned SOCAN’s Rock Music Award, and historically-marked Wilde as the first female artist to simultaneously hit #1 on all three Canadian rock charts, holding the slot for 10 weeks concurrently in addition to spending a whopping 21 weeks atop the Rock Big Picture chart.

FEMMUSIC interviewed Wilde about her Wilde EP and her tour with The Record Company.

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making the Wilde EP?

JJW: It was all done in the pandemic! Usually my producer and I are in the studio together, so having to write and record everything remotely was challenging. It loses some of the spontaneity and takes away the ability to turn to another person in the moment with a new idea. We’re very good at communicating because we’ve worked together before, but it was definitely still challenging. Studios weren’t even open, so I had to record some of the vocals in my apartment! You also sit with the songs longer, sometimes longer than you need to. So you have more time to question and overthink all the little details.

FEMMUSIC:  You made Wilde after doing the Ruthless album the year before. What made you want to do an EP vs doing another album?

JJW: I wanted to test a slightly newer sound and I thought doing that in a smaller EP was a good way to go. I wanted to share new music, but also take more time to work on a full-length album, so I got the best of both worlds here.

FEMMUSIC:  Tell me about “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” How did that cover come together with the Glorious Sons?

JJW: This song was done remotely, just like the rest of the Wilde EP. I’d been talking about doing a cover of a classic rock song for a while and Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks are two rock and roll legends, it just made perfect sense to me. The Glorious Sons are on the same label as me and Brett Emmons is a huge Tom Petty fan, so it all came together really easily.

FEMMUSIC: You started your tour with The Record Company.  What do you most like about touring? What do you like least?

JJW: I love all of it! I love being with my friends, it feels like a little touring family. I love seeing different cities every night. Being able to travel and play songs, just do what you love, is amazing.

I also love meeting people – with Covid, this looks a little different now. Right now, that’s what I like the least – I’m not able to spend as much time with fans as I’d like.

FEMMUSIC:  What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

JJW: There’s definitely some comments that come your way – people will be misogynistic, they will think of you differently, they will try to tell you what to do. You gotta stand strong against it all. Don’t compromise yourself at all, for anybody.

I have a background in the serving and bartending industry, so I was already familiar with this stuff before getting into music. I don’t think it’s fair that women have to stand up for themselves that way, but we take it one day at a time and keep fighting for ourselves.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

JJW: It usually starts with a guitar. I feel inspired in some way and need to sit down and get it out. I’ll start messing around on guitar, usually improvising everything and just recording it. I’ll do this over and over again, getting different versions of the same song. Then I pick out the parts I like the best and build the song that way.

That’s just one way though – it changes depending on the song. Sometimes I write out lyrics first, sometimes I sing acapella. I don’t just have one technique – it happens however it happens!

FEMMUSIC: What song, not your own, has had the biggest influence on you, and why?

JJW: There’s a lot! I’d say Adele’s “One and Only” – I absolutely love to sing this one and it used to be my warmup before vocals. Adele’s “Crazy For You” is also important, it was one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar. I was obsessed with it and it inspired me to write, because I wanted to write something like that. Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice” inspired me to learn how to play guitar. It’s a challenging song and it showed me that it may take a while, but I can learn and keep growing as an artist. 

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August 22nd, 2021

RATS

Summit Music Hall

Denver, CO

August 24, 2021

 
Royal and the Serpent is the band name and the personas of Ryan Santiago.
 

“I definitely feel like I’m two people living in one body, where I can just slip at the drop of dime and become a totally different person,” notes Santiago, who equally identifies as a “sweet sunshine angel” (i.e., the Royal persona) and a “freaky devil maniac” (the Serpent).

Santiago was a competitive dancer and into musical theater. She credits Donna Missal for teaching her guitar.

The band released the Searching for Nirvana EP in June which features singles “I can’t get high”, “girls (ft Phem)”, and “Phuck U”

The band’s 2020 EP Get A Grip featured the hit single “Overwhelmed.” Royal and the Serpent (RATS) has had a rapid rise from “Overwhelmed.” They were part of a live stream tour for Yungblud in 2020. They have been releasing edgy videos to their gripping music on a regular basis. Now they are finishing their first tour opening for PVRIS. RATS is a visceral experience mixing raspy vocals with a blunt force. They mix the ferocity of Halestorm with the theatrics of Garbage. FEMMUSIC was honored to have an e-mail interview with Santiago about the band and tour. For info visit @royalandtheserpent

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the Searching for Nirvana EP?

RS: Honestly releasing it was the hardest part. I couldn’t stop second guessing myself and I was so nervous until it was finally out. It was like a huge weight was lifted from me. Shoutout to my team for helping me get it across the finish line.

FEMMUSIC: What were your goals for the EP? 

RS: It was the first “full” body of work I had ever put out – so I think cohesion was my number 1 goal. I really wanted to make something that was meant to be listened to front to back. I wanted it to tell a story – a little introduction into my world and brain.

FEMMUSIC:  What changed in your approach to making Searching for Nirvana vs Get A Grip?

RS: I think stylistic choices. We really leaned into the rock space a little further than we had before. I also had a bit of a heavier hand in the production than before. Marky and I got to spend almost a whole month polishing it up before it was ready to be heard.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about working with Phem & Yoshi Flower. What do you look for in collaborators?

RS: Gosh two of some of my favorite people on earth. Yoshi is a longtime friend and collaborator. Phem and I met for the first time the day we wrote “Girls” – and we immediately hit it off and are now still very close. I think vibe is key when it comes to working with others. It’s all energy – when the vibe is right the music speaks for itself.

FEMMUSIC: You’re signed to Atlantic Records. What made you sign to Atlantic? What do you look for in a label?

RS: Atlantic was the first major that showed interest in the project – and I knew immediately that they were the ones for me. They were so welcoming, so warm, it felt like home the first time I walked in the doors. I think most importantly the #1 thing I was looking for in a label was a team that cared about the project, the music, the vision, etc. I knew from the first meeting I took that they had real interest in what I was doing and that meant more to me than anything.

FEMMUSIC: You’re touring with PVRIS. I’ve read you’ve had social anxiety in the past. How do you manage touring? What do you most like about it?

RS: Ooooof. Hahaha. We’re still in the midst of it and we’re almost halfway through. I’m not gonna lie – it’s been an adjustment! I’m also HIGHLY claustrophobic so that’s probably been the toughest part. Sometimes I get random panic attacks in the van. But for the most part we’re staying out of the crowds and staying safe with covid and all. Aside from some of the smaller hurdles – I love everything about touring. It’s my first tour and I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am to be getting to play shows every night with my best friends. I wouldn’t trade this life for the world.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

RS: In the beginning of my career it was a lot harder to get people to listen to my ideas and suggestions. People would easily steamroll right over me. I’ve really learned how to own my voice in a room and keep my energy strong. As a woman you sometimes have to command the attention. A little spice never hurt anybody 😉

FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique?

RS: Sure! For the most part I co-write everything. So it usually looks like: showing up to a studio with another writer and a producer, hanging for a bit, jamming for a bit, and seeing what pours out. It’s always based on personal experience/emotion/whatever I’m feeling at the time. I think the best songs are written when we take our brains out of the equation and we just let the music come through us. 

FEMMUSIC: What song, not your own, has has the biggest influence on you, and why?

RS: This is like such a tough question? Because SO much music has shaped me to be who I am today. I think if I had to pick one in this very moment it would have to be “Welcome to the Black Parade.” It’s a masterpiece in every sense of the word. A modern day Bohemian Rhapsody if you will. I could only dream to someday make something even half as iconic.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

RS: I guess if I could change one thing it might be the competitive edge a lot of people seem to have. I wanna believe there’s room for all of us to do what we love and still make it to the top.

Posted in Interviews, Previews Tagged with: ,

August 9th, 2021

 

Tune Yards

Gothic Theatre

Englewood, CO

August 11, 2021

https://www.gothictheatre.com/events/detail/403793

It’s now been over a decade since Merrill Garbus & Nate Brenner released BiRd BrAiNs. This artistic duo released their 5th album sketchy this year. It includes the single “Hold Youself.”

Tune Yards recently launched Sketchy TV which is:

  1. An exploration of the creative process behind the songs
  2. A variety show with Python-eske elements
  3. A Lot of Fun

FEMMUSIC was honored to have an e-mail interview with the band. https://tune-yards.com/

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making the sketchy album?

TY: The biggest challenge for me with any album is just showing up for the work.  In the end, it takes hours and hours of being present, in the studio, away from my phone, away from the internet, focusing and producing something.  There’s a lot of magic in making music but there’s also just putting in the hours so that you can be there for the magic when it happens.

Tune-Yards sketchy LP

FEMMUSIC:  What were your goals for the album?

TY: We wanted to make music that we really liked.  And we did that!  It’s nice to have the feeling that we’ve gotten better over the last decade, at songwriting, engineering, producing, singing, and not eating too many chips.  This was also the first album that we engineered on our own, which felt like a major achievement.  All those hours making mistakes really paid off.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Sketchy TV? How did the idea come about? How would you like it to evolve?

TY: A very long time ago, the idea came out of wanting to give fans, particularly white fans, resources for exploring the themes of our last album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life. At some point, I realized that people were not going to want to engage with an album as an online course, that we needed to meet people where they want to meet us, which is in joy, in music, in not-so-cerebral experiences.  

I’d love to make more episodes and get deeper into both the comedy and also into the influences behind the songs.  I think the funnier and more joyful something is, the more capacity we have to feel deeply uncomfortable things, too.  And we’ve got to FEEL if we’re going to HEAL, right? (I’m a songwriter, so I rhyme)

FEMMUSIC:  Now that you’re getting ready to tour. What do you miss most about touring? What annoyed you about it?

TY: So many things annoyed me that I refuse to be annoyed by anymore.  Seedy gas station toilet?  I missed you!  Having to wait for bathroom stops on long drives?  I love the challenge!  But really, I missed this so much.  I feel most alive, most free, most myself when I’m onstage, so there aren’t words for how grateful I am to have the opportunity to perform again.

FEMMUSIC:  Sketchy is the 5th album you’ve released with 4AD. What do they bring to a project that makes you stay with them?

TY: Freedom, respect for our artistic choices, support from many angles.  They’re an incredibly creative, talented, and experienced group of people, constantly innovating, and adapting quickly to an ever-changing industry.  And we see them releasing other music with great artistic merit as they navigate having to stay in business.  I feel really lucky that we’ve been able to stay working with some of the same people for over a decade now.

FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique?

TY: “Technique” is probably a strong word!  I start with…something.  Anything. Hopefully a tidbit, a vocal loop, a drum beat, that taps into something that brings me joy.  Nate and I start layering stuff on top of that, and eventually words start emerging from sounds, and melodies carve themselves out, and then finally we erase 70% of what we’ve recorded, to subtract whatever isn’t essential.

FEMMUSIC: What song, not your own, has had the biggest influence on you, and why?

TY: Oh gosh.  An impossible question.  I’m going to name the song “I Know What I Know” off of Graceland because it both blew my mind sonically when I was an 8-year-old, but also because it’s been instructive in how I might do things differently as a white musician with advantage, power, access, resources.  Paul Simon taught me a lot about using disjointed, evocative imagery in lyrics, and so much about melody.  But in this case the sound I found myself thrilled by as a kid was actually the band General M.D. Shirinda and the Gaza Sisters.  It was essentially their song, which Simon wrote lyrics and melody on top of.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

TY: Hmm.  Well systemic racism, misogyny, transphobia, white supremacy, etc, all exist in the music industry as they do everywhere else.  Capitalism holds them all securely in place.  What does an anti-capitalist music ecosystem look like?!

Posted in Interviews, Previews Tagged with: ,

August 8th, 2021

MAY-A -Press-Photo-1-Credit-Danny-Draxx

May-A is Maya Cumming, a 19-year-old artist from Australia. She released her debut EP Don’t Kiss Your Friends on Friday. The EP features songs written from when she was 16 all the way to last year. They include the singles “Apricots”, “Time I Love To Waste”, “Swing of Things” and “Central Station.”

MAY-A describes it, “It follows the course of a relationship, a journey of queer discovery and the growth from an adolescent to a young adult. Each song is a piece of the last four or five years of my life, the most recent track having been written last year and the earliest at 16. As the music developed, so did I. You can listen to me grow up, gain confidence and understand myself through the way I approach my relationships. I hope you enjoy this slice of myself and pieces of the people I’ve loved <3”

FEMMUSIC has featured May-A’s tracks “Swing of Things” and “American Dream” at:

https://femmusic.com/wp/?s=May-A

May-A has been compared to Lorde and King Princess. The story has been more about her age than her ability. In a week where the Tokyo Olympics just finished, a 19-year-old is veteran more than an epiphany. The story we see is a self-assured queer musician making her mark and following in the footsteps of others before her. She is an artist to watch for the statements she will make and ideas she will create that will change the view of the woman to follow her.

https://www.facebook.com/MAYAmusicaustralia/

 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Don’t Kiss Ur Friends EP?
 

MC: Picking which tracks should go on the EP. I’ve been writing songs with my producer for over four years so it was difficult to cut them down.

May-a-Album

FEMMUSIC:  What were your goals for the album?

MC: Just to get more music out. To give people something that they can hopefully relate to. To give more of an insight to myself.

FEMMUSIC:  What was your favorite thing about making the album?

MC: I’m in love with the process of making songs. I wasn’t really thinking about writing a record but more just letting my emotions out each time I needed to. I’m just glad it’s all cohesive.

FEMMUSIC:  You’ve signed with SONY in Australia, and Atlantic Records in the US. What made you decide to sign with a major label(s)? What were you looking for in signing?

MC: When I met my A&R at SONY we clicked automatically. She’s this insane powerhouse woman with the craziest energy. Just so excited about music and so ready to listen to everything you throw her way. Atlantic was one of the most diverse teams I spoke to, everyone was so excited and invested in the music. Both labels understood who I was and where I was coming from, they really valued my songwriting and agreed to work with me on my art and give me as much creative control as I needed. I feel really blessed and lucky to have found the people I did.

FEMMUSIC:  You worked with Powfu for “Swing of Things.” You worked with Baby Queen for “American Dream.” What do you look for in collaborations? Who else would you like to work with?

MC: I would love to work with Dominic Fike, beabadoobee, or Troye Sivan. I look for someone that I think I would write well with, someone who understands my project and I understand theirs.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

MC: I Just grab a page and write down every single thought I have based around a specific situation and freestyle off that.

FEMMUSIC:  What song, not your own, has had the biggest influence on you, and why?

MC: I actually can’t pinpoint a specific song but growing up listening to Taylor Swift and Amy Winehouse definitely heavily influenced the way that I look at the music I write.

FEMMUSIC:  What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

MC: Women make up 13.4% of artists, songwriters, and producers compared to 86.6% of men. It’s extremely rare to have a room solely full of women, and when you do end up in that situation, people like to tell you that you’re trying too hard to “make a point out of it” but a room full of men is completely normal. I’ve only worked with a female producer once. It’s hard for women in the music industry because we’re still talked over and looked down upon. It’s better than it once was but we’re all sick of it.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

MC: The above topics. an increase in the amount of females in the industry, especially producers. A hell of a lot more support for POC, LGBTQ, trans/nonbinary, and disabled artists from the public, from other artists, and from big companies.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

July 22nd, 2021

May Rio

May Rio spent years with her band Poppies. She has now released her solo album Easy Bammer. It features singles “Butter”, “I C”, “Party Jail”, and “Reservations.”

May says of the track, “Reservations” is one of the first songs I wrote for this album–it came when I was isolated, alone, at the beginning of lockdown. There was someone I was very fond of, who was sort of early on in the stages of a heroin recovery. You know, when you know something is kind of doomed but you flutter every time their name comes up on your phone anyway.”

Easy Bammer is May Rio’s, real name May Sembera, quarantine album. It is produced by Tony or Tony and mixed by Sarah Register. At the beginning of lockdown, May decided to sign up for a free three-month trial of the digital audio workstation Ableton, of which she says, “It was intimidating at first — I never have (and never will be) a computer person, but I was inspired by the music a number of friends had made with this program. I was pumping out demos, and at some point figured I may as well turn them into real records.” The blending of May’s beguiling ear-worm pop songs and Tony 1’s left-field production proved to be an initial success, enough so to plan more sessions.

Easy Bammer is not your normal album. It is filled with quick songs, with deep meaning and a soundscape that is DIY electropop mixed with a punk edge. For info visit https://mayrio.cool/

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making Easy Bammer?

MR: I’m not going to say it was easy to make, because so much work did go into it. But it’s hard to look back on the process and think of any real difficulties. How it came together, in all aspects really, felt natural and smooth. Probably the most stressful part of the process for me is mixing—I get really tripped up with small choices especially. But luckily I have some wonderful friends who have the patience to talk me down when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

FEMMUSIC: What were your goals for the album?

MR: It’s easy for me to write sad songs, I’ve done a bunch of that. And not that I’m done with those, but I wanted to make something that I would just have fun listening to.

FEMMUSIC: What changed about your process for a solo album vs making music with the Poppies?

MR: It was different in just about every way. With Poppies, we’d track the basics live, and never to a click. Also, we’d work on songs for a long time—sometimes years. There’d be a lot of back and forth, trying out different versions of songs. For Easy Bammer, I would write a song, and then maybe even just a couple days later I’d bring it over to Tony 1 and we’d bang it out in one intense session. I think that energy comes through—the recordings feel fresh to me. We can both be kind of intense people, and our working relationship is cool because we’re both very quick with our ideas, and both pretty decisive.

FEMMUSIC: What were you looking for in a producer for the album? What did Tony or Tony bring to the project?

MR: Initially I really didn’t know what I was looking for. I mean, someone I felt comfortable with, obviously. But in terms of sound, my only real starting point was that I knew I didn’t want to make something that sounded like Poppies—otherwise why not just put these songs into Poppies? I hit up a couple artists whose work I really admired, had a couple trial days with different people, just sort of exploring what this could sound like. Actually, I wasn’t so sure about Tony 1 before we started, just because when we talked he told me he’d never produced for anyone else before. But yeah, our first day of tracking we really just dove in and I knew right away this was it, this was how I wanted it to sound. It was such a high.

Tony or Tony brought so much to this album. Tony 1 and I—I think our skills really complement each other’s. He’s obsessed with classical music. It’s kind of crazy actually, he’s only been playing piano a few years, but you would think he’s been playing all his life. It’s inspired me to try to learn piano for real. But yeah, I think a lot of his obsession inspires some really wild arrangements. We have a really good musical chemistry, and we’re very direct with each other. It does feel like we’re always on the same page about things.

FEMMUSIC: What made you decide to release the album through Dots Per Inch Music? I see with the Poppies you’ve released on other labels.

MR: Actually, yeah—Poppies was never on a label. We did some one-off deals with labels where they’d make a batch or tapes or records for us, keep half. That kind of thing. But no, we were never on a label, I think we were pretty hesitant to sign with anyone for a long time.

With DPI, I loved the roster through and through. Usually with labels it’s pretty split with me how I feel about their artists. The artists on DPI all seemed very original to me, they’re all doing their own thing. One night I was shuffling through the three songs that Tony 1 and I had tracked so far, and kind of on a whim I hit up Tom (who runs DPI) to see if he’d be interested in taking a listen. We ended up meeting for coffee a couple days later, and yeah, that conversation made me feel confident about working with him. I trusted him, he didn’t try to tell me that there was any one right way to do things. I talked to other artists on his label who had only nice things to say. It was cool, it just felt right—I didn’t feel the need to shop it around or anything. And honestly, it’s been a dream label experience. Tom’s got a lot of integrity, but he always just knows his shit through and through. That’s kind of a rare combination to find in a label person. Or I don’t know, maybe it isn’t.

FEMMUSIC: What was your favorite thing about making the album?

MR: Man, I don’t know. I just love recording so much. I love writing songs, it’s the best feeling. And then recording, you give a song this whole new life. It’s so wild to create this thing that, yeah it came from you initially. But now it’s its own thing out in the world. I guess that’s what people say about having a baby.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

MR: My only real consistent technique is I try to just sit down and show up for it, not quite every day but almost. But I’m always mixing up the routine, I don’t want to get stuck in a rut. You know, sometimes I’ll just bang around on the piano, it’ll start that way. Or it’ll start with a guitar riff. Sometimes I’ll have a vocal melody I’ve been singing to myself that’s fully formed. I keep a book of lyrics, but it’s really unusual that the lyrics come first—it does happen though. On the rarest of occasions, a song will just come out fully—lyrics and melody together. But yeah, I don’t know theory or anything (though I’m getting to the point where I’d like to learn some basics). I just follow my ear.

FEMMUSIC: What song, not your own, has had the biggest influence on you, and why?

MR: I can’t say that SZA’s “Supermodel” has influenced anything I’ve written so far, but it’s definitely impacted me. It’s one of the craziest songs I’ve ever heard—it’s just so raw, it feels like it came straight out of her. Like it wasn’t even written. I know a lot of people channel artists when they’re writing a song; I’ve never done that. I think this was the first time I thought, damn, I want to write a song like that.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

MR: A lot of the challenges are not so obvious. You can tell something is wrong, someone is treating you as lesser than, but then you’ll have someone else tell you that what you’re seeing is not really there. Sometimes it is more obvious. Like, I went into a Guitar Center to replace an amp on tour. My bandmate (a guy) came in with me. I was the one shopping, I was the one plugging in my guitar to different amps and seeing how they sounded. But the sales rep, whenever he started talking about the amps I was looking at, he’d be talking to my bandmate instead of me. Oh, it pissed me off. I said something to the sales rep after, just like pointing out to him why that was not okay. He seemed genuinely surprised.

Poppies had a band member (who we eventually fired) who was always insistent that I should never stand in the middle on stage—the reasoning being that because I was the only woman in the band, I already had more attention on me. Never mind that I was the lead singer. I don’t know, things like that made me uncomfortable to take up more space. I would try and make myself smaller. The final iteration of the band was better. But I would say that with most of my friends being a least a little queer, it ended up being pretty hard on me, being in a band with three very straight cis dudes.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

MR: There are a lot of changes I would like to see! But I think one of the most pressing issues is that artists should be compensated by streaming platforms for the work they break their backs to make. Spotify currently pays artists around $0.0032 per stream. How, in any world, does that make sense?

 

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

July 8th, 2021

Brynn Elliott

FEMMUSIC first interviewed Brynn Elliott in 2018. See interview at: https://femmusic.com/wp/index.php/2018/09/07/brynn-elliott/

At that time she’d just graduated Harvard and was releasing her EP Time Of Our Lives. The EP featured singles “Miss You”, “Internet You”, “Tongue Tied” and “Might Not Like Me.” Elliott toured extensively after the EP came out.

In February Elliott launch her “Tell Me I’m Pretty” Scholarship. Today she releases her new EP Can I Be Real? The new EP includes singles “Tell Me I’m Pretty”, “Letter to a Girl”, and “Without You.” She is releasing the single “Can I Be Real” today.  

Elliott worked with a different team on the album including producer Monarch, and songwriter Michelle Buzz (who is executive producer of the EP). The new EP presents a calmer, more confident Elliott asking questions of herself and the world, and looking for a genuine truth.

Brynn Can I Be Real

Before she begins touring again, she will have a special livestream on July 15, 2021 at 9pm EST. Details can be found at: https://www.momenthouse.com/co/brynn-elliott-live-from-the-troubadour

Elliott will also touring select dates:

JULY

15 – Los Angeles, CA – “The Can I Be Real Livestream Moment” Presented By Moment House

SEPTEMBER

13 – Washington, DC – Union Stage

14 – Boston, MA – The Sinclair

15 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge

17 – Atlanta, GA – Vinyl

20 – Chicago, IL – Schubas

22 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry

OCTOBER

4 – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw

5 – Los Angeles, CA – Moroccan Lounge

For info visit https://www.brynnelliottofficial.com

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the Can I Be Real EP?

BE: The biggest challenge in making Can I Be Real? Was figuring out what I wanted the theme of the  EP to be. My first EP was easy in terms of finding things to write about because I wrote it during my time in college and the songs followed almost subconsciously. For this EP it was different. I really thought about what I wanted to say and the experiences I had since the last EP. And I realized that I lived in this state of performance and people-pleasing for two years promoting my first project. So when I sat down to write the second I wanted to make sure that what I was saying was real and authentic to me, and to what it means to be human. And that ended up being the main theme of the EP.

FEMMUSIC: What lessons did you learn making your first EP that helped making the Can I Be Real EP?

BE: When I was making the first EP I learned to be very specific with what I wanted each song to sound like. Finalizing the production of the project was just as involved as writing it. And so I knew I wanted to take that same mentality with this EP – not just telling a lyrical story, but a sonic story as well.

FEMMUSIC: What was your goal for making the Can I Be Real EP?

BE: I think I started this EP by saying “I want to make an EP of hit songs” which is a very silly thing to say. I am not sure I at all succeeded in that goal but what I did do once I started writing was really surrender to what needed to come out of me in my songwriting. I don’t know if these songs are hits, but I know they are songs I needed to write and there’s a lot of satisfaction in that.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about The Monarch? How did you meet? What did they bring to the project?

BE: I met the Monarch in one of my first sessions with Michelle Buzz in Los Angeles back in 2019. They bring this perfect balance between ease and intensity to songwriting sessions. They are both very relaxed but will speak up if they think we could write a better verse or chorus. That’s such an art in and of itself and I think the creative environment they foster really made me feel like I could trust them. So when it came to producing the EP I knew I wanted them to be very involved. I think they are geniuses at production and I am very honored to have worked with them on this project.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Michelle Buzz? How did you meet? How was she to work with? What did she bring to the project?

BE: I met Michelle Buzz for a session for the first time in 2019. It was honestly the most magical thing when we met. We sort of look similar and so we had to take a moment and make sure we were not part of some kind of Parent Trap situation – twins separated at birth. And then we just started writing that day and it was so exciting for me to write with someone who was at the very same stage of life as me. We related so much that first day and became fast friends. I hope to write songs with her for many years to come.

FEMMUSIC: FEMMUSIC featured the “Tell Me I’m Pretty” Scholarship. You’ve spoken before about how you got into Harvard. What was your goal in setting up a scholarship?

BE: My goal in setting up the scholarship was to do (in an extremely small way) what the people who have loved me most in my life did for me: they encouraged me to pursue my dream and calling. I hope that my music encourages women to live the life they are meant to live and the scholarship was a more practical way for me to engage with women in that way.

FEMMUSIC:  “Letter to A Girl” is a letter to your younger self. Tell me how that song developed?

BE: “Letter to a Gir”l was the first song I wrote when I started writing again after being on tour for those two years. I opened for Why Don’t We. They have the most incredible fan base, the majority of whom are teenage girls. I remember wanting to write a song for them and for my younger self – because I saw so much of my younger self in those girls every night on the tour. So the song is really all of those things I wish I had known then with the main theme being about beauty. I wanted this song to encourage people to know that beauty is so much more than physical appearance. Beauty is a broader concept about stewarding a good and true life and that’s what I say in the song. You are beautiful because you are human. Beautiful is created in your mind and your outlook on this precious life.

FEMMUSIC: Touring is returning post-COVID. You toured extensively with Time Of Our Lives. What are you most look forward to in touring? What do you dread?

BE: Touring is my absolute favorite thing to do. I look forward to every aspect of touring in this post-COVID world. I think we are all longing to be together again. I really can’t say that I am dreading anything regarding getting back on the road.

FEMMUSIC: What has changed about you & for you during COVID?

BE: I have experienced a lot of loss during this covid season. I lost my dad and my grandpa. I think the biggest thing that has changed for me is that I want to make the most of my life. With covid, we were all faced with the preciousness of life. So that fact has just fueled me and encouraged me to fight harder in this life and keep going.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

BE: I would love to see the music industry continue to give opportunities to women. The industry has come a long way in this regard and I feel very grateful to have a majority female team. But there’s always more work to be done allowing those historically underrepresented to have a seat at the table and I look forward to that work continuing.

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March 15th, 2021

Describing Dessa is hard. She has her hand in every pot and they have not left the spinning wheel. Dessa is a rapper and part of the hip-hop Doomtree Collective. She is a published author of My Own Devices. She presented a TED talk on scientifically eliminating prior relationships. She has been published in The New York Times. She was part of the Hamilton Mixtape with her version of “Congratulations.” She has a song about Janet Yellen. She has launched a podcast called Deeply Human with BBC World Service, American Public Media, and iHeart Media. She also has started a series called IDES where she releases a new song on the 15th of every month. March’s IDES is “Life On Land”

“I started writing ‘Life on Land’ sitting at my Casio keyboard wearing a green sweater and with my hair still wet from the shower,” Dessa explains. “I know because I filmed a little video of myself playing the key line to make sure I didn’t forget it. The first lyrics came easily: ‘Flip a coin, flip a car / I don’t care where we are / the picture and the sound won’t sync / some things time can’t fix’. Almost every other line resisted being written. I walk a lot to try and solve that problem, muttering for a mile or two and coming home with another viable four bars. Like the other songs in the IDES series, this track is a collaboration between me and producers Lazerbeak and Andy Thompson. All three of us thought the song needed an epic pop chorus…but those are easier to talk about than they are to write. When we finally had words and music for each section, we tried several sequences before landing at the structure on record. In the end, we built with pop bricks, but decided to ditch the pop floorpan and go rogue.”
 
 
Alongside this release, Dessa is also announcing a collaboration with Dogwood Coffee Co. on a limited-edition coffee. IDES coffee—available in 12 oz whole bean packages—is a blend of coffees from Mexico and Colombia, lightly roasted to produce a cup with notes of maple syrup and dark chocolate covered almonds. Online orders can be placed via Doomtree’s website, and packages will be available at Dogwood’s three retail locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul later this month. A portion of proceeds from sales at Dogwood’s shops will benefit Second Harvest Heartland, one of the nation’s largest and most effective hunger relief organizations.

 

Dessa has taken bold steps to stay nimble and always working during COVID. Dessa’s experiences can be applied to artists in any year. Dessa is as iconic as Amanda Palmer, Lady Gaga, and Beyonce. She is not as well known…yet. FEMMUSIC was honored to talk with her about her experiences. For info visit  https://www.dessawander.com/

FEMMUSIC: By the time this runs Deeply Human will have begun on BBC. How did that project develop? What are your goals with it?

D: I received an email from a colleague who asked if I’d be interested in a gig hosting a science program, a collaboration between the BBC and American Public Media. Behavioral science fascinated me since I was kid–well before I knew the term ‘behavioral science.’ I’ve always been curious about why people think and behave the way we do: sometimes brave, sometimes mean, sometimes neurotic, sometimes hilarious.

FEMMUSIC:  Doing IDES your diving into your catalog and also collaborating with other artists. What has been the biggest challenge putting it together?

D: IDES is a single series: on the 15th of every month I release a new track. I’m working with producers Andy Thompson and Lazerbeak on every song, and sometimes we’ll work with guest players or beatmakers too. In the beginning, working remotely was sometimes maddening–an idea that could have been auditioned in the studio with two minutes of dial-turning, could take a lot of back-and-forth over email. But I’m beginning to suspect I’ll emerge as a better collaborator after this is over: I’ve learned to let go and trust more, my old meticulous methods don’t serve very well at the moment and I like what the new flexibility is doing to the music.

FEMMUSIC: IDES is about singles. Sound The Bells was your last album in 2018. Do you think you will make another album in the future, or has COVID made it easier to thrive by releasing singles alone?

D: Very likely, stay tuned. (But I’m not planning much of anything farther than 6 months out–uncertainty is the global mood these days.)

FEMMUSIC: During COVID artists have had to pivot. Before COVID you were already pivoting into different projects from Hamilton Mixtape to Minnesota Orchestra. What fuels your own need to pivot and how do you sustain it?

D: Working as an indie musician almost demands that you have several income streams–there usually isn’t enough in any one of them to sustain you. The plate-spinning can get intense, but it also makes for a really interesting job and, by extension, an interesting life. I don’t see myself as having pivoted too often–because exploring a new enthusiasm doesn’t demand that I leave the others behind.

FEMMUSIC:  In 2020 organizations like NIVA (National Independent Venue Association) & NITO (National Independent Talent Organization) came into being as lobbying forces for the industry. They do not represent artists. What would be your way to organize artists and what is the first step?

D: A lot of artist interests intersect with NIVA & NITO, so I think there are opportunities to work together well there. Musician unions and trade organizations like the Recording Academy exist…but I think there is definitely room for more grassroots groups. I’d keep an eye on orgs like The Future of Music Coalition–they advocate, share information, and build community.

FEMMUSIC:  Similarly in 2020 touring stopped & streaming went wild. What do you see the new paradigm for artists in 2021 and beyond?

D: I’d love to see the pay structures of streaming services revisited. Fingers crossed. But I’m not sure how this last year will affect our industry in the long term. I expect to be surprised, frankly.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

D: I gather little scraps of language during my daily life: an overheard bit of conversation, a striking phrase on a sign, a couplet that comes to mind to describe the people walking past. Then when it’s time to write a song, I’ll play the music on repeat for many hours, stitching some of these scraps together until I’ve got a clear direction for the lyrics.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

D: Paul Simon’s lyrics on Graceland were eye-widening–they were so strange, but also rang true. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill got worn out in my care. And Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” knocked the wind out of me. All three writers combine the sacred and the mundane in interesting ways–which is something I grew up to be interested in doing too.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

D: I have been mistaken for a waitress or hired help at my own shows and received feedback on my physical appearance in professional settings in a manner that (to my knowledge) my male colleagues did not. I have been touched inappropriately by fans and promoters. Online commenters sometimes speculate about my gender in mean-spirited ways–in short, the way I look or act must mean I’m not a real woman. In the interest of painting a full picture, however, I’ll also say that sometimes my gender has benefitted me in this industry. When I started rapping, there were few women doing it. That relative novelty attracted attention–the voice I had to offer was one different that those that dominated the scene.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

D: I think physical beauty and sexual appeal play an outsized role in our society–and maybe in entertainment most of all. I’m excited when artists who buck that trend manage to make their way to big stages.

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December 10th, 2020

Nadia Vaeh is the pop superstar you wish you knew. She was born in Atlanta and is now in Los Angeles. In 2019 she had a bittersweet Christmas song called “Holidazed and Confused.” This year she has a joyous song called “Christmas Cards.”

Written by Nadia Vaeh and Dion Shaw, “Christmas Cards” rings in the holiday season with love and newfound traditions. “One day, I will have a partnership with lots of secret notes and inside jokes where we build lots of memories and traditions together,” explains Vaeh. Christmas cards were a staple for her family growing up, which help spark inspiration for this song. “Cards were always big for my family, and my mom would display them on the mantle every year around the holidays,” says Vaeh. “I feel like tradition is so important. For now, I am creating some new holiday traditions with myself, and I look forward to sharing and adding to these with someone special one day.” The track was produced by Dion Shaw and Tyler Spratt, mixed by Tyler Spratt, and mastered by Paris Minzer.

For the past year Vaeh has been putting out a new song and video a month. These singles included “Monroe” on empowerment, “Anxiety” on mental illness and more. Each song also has donated money to a different cause including Girl Up, Alliance of Hope, Peace Over Violence and Human Right Campaign.

Vaeh’s secret is a great team and the ability to collaborate. If you read the credits you will find many names, and many of the same names producing, directing her music. FEMMUSIC was happy to interview Vaeh about her career. For info visit https://www.nadiavaeh.com/
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? Am I correct in hearing you begin with lyrics?

NV: Typically I begin with lyrics or a melody idea. Sometimes a song can just start with a single word, like “Boomerang” and other times it can begin with just a melody idea like in “Mirrors”.            Nadia Vaeh

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about some of your collaborators, especially Tyler Spratt and Dion Shaw. How did you meet? What do they bring to a project?

NV: I love my team and would not have been able to cultivate the sound that I had dreamed of for so long without them. We are all stronger together and interestingly I met them on separate occasions and just saw the synergies. In the beginnings of our all working together, Tyler and Dion had not even met in person as Dion is based in Australia. We have been expanding out our team and have been collaborating with a couple producers/songwriter out of Nashville (we love you Andrew Gomez, Daena Rodgers and Jen Miller!) Some of the new music we have lined up has really been a beautiful evolution. I’ve also been doing a lot of co-writes for other artists with friends and that’s been fun to branch out in this way as well.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Zane and Noor Gharzeddine. How did you meet? How do you work with them to design a video? 

NV: So Noor is my cousin from my dad’s side! We’ve worked together on music video projects prior to “Anxiety”. I ended up connecting with ZANE through a Film bidding website that I made a post on looking for someone of his caliber to create a video with. The project I originally connnected with him on did not go as planned, but we became friends through the experience and bonded over being Lebanese lol. Since my cousin was in Lebanon during the majority of the logistical coordination for “Anxiety” as well as for the filming was a no brainer to bring on ZANE to help fulfill the vision in full. My cousin worked really hard to ensure that the vision was clearly communicated and we all did several three-way chats and zoom calls as well as email threads (galore) to create this visual.      

FEMMUSIC: I saw you were part of a Women In Music Atlanta panel in August. What made you move to LA? How have both cities influenced and changed your music and style? 

NV: That was a really uplifting and fun panel to be a part of and helped me reconnect to my roots. It was also super cool to link up with some fellow Atlanta-bred indie artists.

I decided to move out to LA because I really enjoyed the collaborative culture here. I was coming out to visit quite a bit and realized I was growing so much in the small windows of my visits. I will always have a love and appreciation for my home city and it’s shaped me as an artist in person so much, but LA is where I’ve been able to do the most healing and really bloom into the artist I always wanted to be. Atlanta gave me my grit and LA made me stronger.

FEMMUSIC: You’ve released a number of singles, but haven’t released an EP or album. What benefits do you see to releasing singles only? Will there be an EP or album in the future?  

NV: Oh yes! I have EPs and albums in the works, but at this stage in my career singles are the move! I also really enjoy building and branching off of one song in a very detailed way as I grow further into my artist skin as well as grow my fan-base.

FEMMUSIC: A number of your songs you’ve donated portions of the proceeds to different organizations. What motivates your activism and does it manifest beyond the donations? 

NV: I do this because it’s why I’m here on this earth. My artistry is meant to shine light on various causes and working with organizations that take the intention of my songs to heart with their work is an additional way I can perhaps make a difference in my time here. In alignment with my artistry I also really enjoy mentoring young people and have been developing a school program to aid teens with issues involving body image, anxiety, self-acceptance and healthy self-esteem.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

NV: Recently Demi Lovatos “I love Me”. I’ve struggled with orthorexia on and off and body dysmorphia which is an issue so much on the rise with social media for both men and women. I really admire Demi and how she uses her voice and artistry.          

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

NV: Lol I think being a woman in the music industry is automatically setting you up for adversity and struggle. It is not an industry that is kind to women. I will say, women are so incredibly strong though and built to endure the pain, which I hope one day will not be a norm. I’ve been undervalued for my thoughts and ideas, talked down to, sexually violated in various ways, been “demoted” for declining these sexual advances or standing up to myself, not been seen for my talents or contributions of the mind but for how much “heat” I bring to a room. It’s hard as hell to be a woman in this world, let alone one of the more toxic industries. [this is the light version] What keeps me going are the good ones that I am lucky to have encountered and work with, as well as the calling to put myself out there through music as I know it is for a greater purpose than even I still to this day have a full understanding for.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

NV: This is so tough!!! Lately, I have been really falling in love with Miley Cyrus more and more. She uses her platform to promote so much goodness and it would be such and honor to align with her. I also feel like our voices would sound really interesting together.        

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

NV: The way that artists are valued is so imbalanced and I would want to restructure the economic design of how songwriters, producers, and artists actually make money. In other words, I would restore balance and create a pay structure that is actually a decent livable wage for the creatives that make the industry go round.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

November 1st, 2020

Cassidy King

Cassidy King has released her debut EP, Not So Picture Perfect, on October 23. The EP is a collection of writings inspired by the first person she ever fell in love with and the love triangle that ensued. The triangle started with Cassidy at one point, her love interest at another and the woman’s boyfriend the third. It created an unknown competition between two lovers that inevitably ended in heartbreak. She notes, “to this day I’m still not sure if I truly loved her or just loved the way she hurt me. She was the best and worst thing that ever happened to me but through her I learned that love is beautiful because it’s not perfect and maybe that was the point.”

No So Picture Perfect includes “Wasted”, “Safe Places”, “Abigail”, “When I’m Gone”, “Ashes” and “Polaroid.” The videos have been visually mesmerizing and present a visual metaphor of real life events.

King comes from Chardon, OH and counts Paramore and Ani DiFranco as inspirations. For info visit https://www.instagram.com/cassidyyking/?hl=en

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Not So Picture Perfect?

CK: Not so Picture Perfect was definitely the most emotionally challenging record for me so far. Where I come from being vulnerable is more equated to weakness than strength so I’ve definitely struggled with putting out a story that is so close and personal to me. It’s giving such a vulnerable piece of me to people, it’s about battling myself in a lot ways and the hard lessons I had to learn.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

CK: Most of the songs come from things that I write on the notes app for my phone. They’re normally one liners or poems that are quick descriptions on how I feel at the moment. I’ll even take a voice memo of me venting sometimes and turn that into a song later. By the time I get into the studio I have so many  different types of ideas on my phone that it all happens really naturally. I personify the emotions I feel from situations to make them easier to understand and ultimately cope with.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about working with Tyc and Mike Tuccillo. How did you meet? What did each bring to the project?

CK: I feel really grateful. Ty and Mike both worked so incredibly hard and they both bring such a different feel to each song. We spent an average total of 8 hours for each song just on mixing alone over the phone. I met Tyler through a close friend of mine. Tyler only lives 5 minutes down the road from me so it was way too perfect. I met Mike through my manager Kevin. I trust Kevin a whole lot so I already knew so many great things about Mike before working with him prior. The first time I met Mike, he took us all to the best vegan restaurant I’ve ever been too so I knew he was a keeper right then and there. We recorded “Safe Places” at his studio in LA during November of 2019. 

Cassidy King -not so picture perfect

FEMMUSIC: I understand at one time you were considering a life in comedy. What made you decide to switch to music, and when did you know it was the right choice?

CK: I’ve always been drawn to self expression since doing theater in high school and have wanted to tell a story in whatever way I could. Music has been helping me tell that story in ways nothing else could and I know it’s right because it feels right. Life is always subject to change with the ways you see and express yourself and I’ll always be open to new ways of expression. As I grew, music ended up paving the way for me to say the words I needed to.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

CK: I feel like my answer to this question changes quite frequently. There’s j so many songs that I hold close to me for different reasons. One of them being “Sleepyhead” by Passion Pit. That song was shown to me by my sister 12 years ago and that song still feels the same to me every time I hear it. It feels timeless. Another one I have to say is the “Girls like Girls” music video by Hayley Kiyoko. It was the first music video I ever saw portraying a love story with two girls and it really helped me be comfortable in expressing queer love stories through my own lens.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

CK: I wasn’t always accepted for who I wanted to be. I was raised in a very conservative area and was taught from a very young age to feel wrong for who I was. Walking into music, I still had a lot of unresolved internal battles that had caught up to me. Those battles made it difficult to get a hold of my identity because I was avoiding my sexuality and my feminine masculinity. I spent the first 20 years of my life trying to mold myself into what I thought the perfect “woman” looked like while knowing I was never going to be it.  There was this certain box I thought I had to fit in and that whole idea had taken a huge toll on the music itself because I wasn’t being honest. I was so far removed from who I actually was but the only reason I overcame that situation was having to go through it. The hard way.  I had to find self love in a place where it was unfamiliar and near nonexistent. It took time and patience. I had to learn myself before I loved myself. Sometimes you have to go through things like that. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have fought so hard to become who I am. I learned to love every piece of me because I had to fight so hard for it. That box I spent so much time trying to fit in to doesn’t even exist. There are so many different ways to feel beautiful as a woman and a big part of my beauty comes from my masculinity. Now matter how challenging it is, you should be allowed to feel beautiful in whatever way makes you most comfortable.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

CK: Definitely Hayley Williams. I feel like I could learn a lot from her even by just having a conversation.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

CK: I would love to see the physical image of an artist become less important in their musical journeys. So much depends on that nowadays and we’re losing touch with what makes music beautiful in the first place when we throw shame at our differences. Our vulnerability is our are strength, not our weakness

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

November 1st, 2020

Kat Hamilton

“Why Do I Miss You When You Hate Me?” is one of many questions asked on Kat Hamilton’s Recovery Songs. Hamilton comes from a punk background in the band Manic Pixi. Hamilton is a singer-songwriter based in LA. She has a long history on the East Coast.

Recovery Songs is an unconventional album. It’s 9 songs are a challenge to artist and listener alike. The lyrics ask questions, personal and universal. The songs are danceable including “Ohio”

At its core, Recovery Songs is an honest trust. It is something not often heard or recognized. For info visit https://www.instagram.com/kathamiltonofficial/

 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Recovery Songs?

KH: This is my first full length solo album and it was a tough adjustment to be “the boss”. I spent five years in a band that functioned as a democracy. We had to agree on every choice. But this time, I had the final say in every aspect of the process. That isn’t my comfort zone at all. My team was looking to me to make choices and give them direction. It was baffling to have these artists that I respect, want me to tell them what to do. Sometimes I had to pinch myself, it was so surreal.

FEMMUSIC: What were your goals for Recovery Songs?

KH: To write the truth. For all musical arrangements or explorations in genre, to be an extension of the truth I had written. I wanted this album to feel like the truth and a guitar, even when we added all of the other elements.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Allee Futterer. She is producer both on Recovery Songs & The Grey Area, How did you meet? What does she bring to a project?

KH: Allee is my bestie! We met as roommates in a work abroad program in London. We played in a cover- band when we were abroad and then reformed that band in Boston when we got back. While I was living in New York and she was in LA, we stayed in touch and grew our friendship. Everything with us has always been about mutual admiration. When I showed her the songs for The Grey Area, she expressed that she had some production ideas and we went for it. When I felt like Recovery Songs was starting to take shape, I sent her some demos and asked her if she would want to produce it. I love how detail oriented she is. She creates little moments in the production that you wouldn’t expect.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “Empty Room.” How did that song develop?

I wrote it while Manic Pixi was still together as a potential song for that group. It didn’t really fit in the album plans but I always felt a special attachment to the song. Empty Room was a sigh of sad relief during a time in which I felt like there was pressure on me to be positive all of the time. There was this dark, vacuous part of myself that I was hiding away. I just kept getting more depressed and more anxious behind the curtain. “Empty Room” was born out of that experience

FEMMUSIC: Recovery Songs is filled with a number of questions – “Where do you run to?”, “Did your heart stop working”, etc…  How did the questions and answers develop and change while writing and producing the album?

KH: I’m glad you noticed that! Ultimately as a writer, I like to constantly question my own opinions and judgements. A song where I’m telling someone who broke my heart that they’re an asswhole, isn’t as interesting to me as a song where I question my own role as a reliable narrator. Were they as horrible as I am depicting them or am I just feeling not enough…etc.. In Recovery Songs and my questions don’t get answered. My goal in making the record was to tell the truth as I saw it, and in life, we don’t always get the answers we seek. As far as how it influenced the music, none of the songs have a lot of resolution. There are abrupt endings or endings where the music doesn’t return to the 1 chord of the key. I want the listener to feel heard and seen, but I don’t know if I want them to feel fulfilled.

Kat Hamilton - recovery songs

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

KH: Recovery Songs was an approach I hadn’t done before. I kept a mic and basic demoing setup next to my bed and every morning I woke up and just started recording ideas. These songs needed to come out of me and all I did was give them the space to do so. Normally in my songwriting approach, I will have a melody, or a lyric, and I will let it bloom and take shape over a series of weeks while I’m off living life. I’ll record a chorus idea into my voice memos and then add a verse and a bridge a month later. But with this album, I was writing every day. Since the making of this album, my process has shifted to an “off the cuff” approach. I’ll make a whole song in five minutes, get a snack and then figure out what worked.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

KH: Death Cab for Cutie “Transatlanticism”. Everytime I listen to it, I notice something new. That’s what I want my music to do. Ben Gibberd does such a great job of telling the story using all elements of the song, not just the lyric. I keep finding myself returning to that song for guidance and inspiration.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

KH: When I was in the DIY punk/rock scene, I just couldn’t be taken seriously. The gatekeepers were men who wanted to sleep with me, but didn’t want to sign me to their label, or invest in my bands music. It felt a lot like shopping for a used car. No matter how learned I was, the man selling me the car only saw one thing. In the years since, my experience as a woman in my field is much more nuanced. I don’t work with many cis men, but I also have that option because I’m no longer in the east-coast DIY scene. I have a more diverse pool of collaborators and industry professionals now. I wouldn’t say I was able to overcome it, as much as I was able to find my own scene in Los Angeles where I get to surround myself with inclusivity and respect.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

KH: I want to write a song with Carly Rae Jepson. I think we would have a lovely time. I have always looked up to Against Me! and it would be a dream come true to tour with them, someday when tours are a thing again. I would also love to sing with Miguel. His voice transcends logic, TBH

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

KH: I have a long list! Since I touched upon inclusivity already, I would really like the value of an artist’s work to not be determined by their Spotify streams or instagram followers. I don’t just mean monetarily. I mean their cultural relevance. I have friends who write incredible albums but they aren’t given the same opportunities because they aren’t verified. I’d really like to see this aspect of the industry change.

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November 1st, 2020

Katie Melua

Katie Melua’s Album No 8 came out on October 16. Melua is one of Britain’s most successful artists. Her catalog has been certified platinum 56 times around the globe. She joins Kate Bush as the only 2 British female artists to reach Top Ten with seven consecutive albums in UK chart history. She is also in the Guinness Book of Records for playing the deepest underwater concert at 303 meters below sea level in 2006. She is only 36.

Melua’s debut album was Call Off The Search which she made at 19. Album No 8 was produced by Leo Abrahams and was recorded with the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra. The lead single is “A Love Like That”

FEMMUSIC is humbled to present this interview with Melua. For info visit https://katiemelua.com/

 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Album No 8?

 

KM: Writing lyrics that were clear, truthful and appropriate for songs. I’ve always been fascinated by lyrics specifically because as a vocalist that’s the main material that I work in. It’s a great challenge to write clear and effortless lyrics in this classic pop genre and especially for them to feel true so that I sound like the 36 year old woman that I am.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about working with Leo Abrahams? What did he bring to the project? What made you decide to have him produce it?

KM: Leo Abrahams was recommended to me by one of the best session musicians and artist called Tim Harries. I needed this record to celebrate great musicianship. I really revere the tradition of great session players and the way records used to be made in the 60s and 70s, and Tim suggested that Leo would be a great captain for manning the ship of musicians.

FEMMUSIC: What were you looking for in orchestration? You worked with the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra on this album. You’ve worked with Stuggart Philharmonic as well as the Gori Women’s Choir in the past.

KM: The orchestrations were composed by Leo and I’d played him references by Charles Stepney as well as Gia Kancheli and Leo managed this magical alchemy of bringing the lyrics and the songs into a deeper dimension by being both adventurous and ethereal. The Gori Women’s Choir featured on ‘Heading Home’ and Teo Tsiramua arranged the parts, their discipline and attention to detail was inspiring to see in the studio.

FEMMUSIC: What was your vision for the album?

KM: A record that truthfully captures the complexities and beauty of how I see the world.

Katie Melua album no 8 cover

FEMMUSIC: What have you learned in the previous 7 studio albums that you applied with Album No 8? What did you do differently? 

KM: The thing that I applied was working with great musicians, surrounding myself with really good people and what has been unique is that this is the first time where I have been in a position where the lyrics are entirely my own.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

KM: I tend to collect song ideas by having my ears open to sayings, how people talk, the sound of sentences and words and sometimes the sounds of life around me and atmospheres. The next stage is usually me with a co-composer where we flesh out a demo so harmonically and musically we set a musical architecture and the final stage is then me writing alone for many months working on the words.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

KM:“People’s Parties” by Joni Mitchell – I love Joni Mitchells’ mixture of storytelling and stream of consciousness. Her description of feeling social anxiety is so great to hear from Joni Mitchell. Musically it seems to utterly depict the underlying emotions that the song talks about.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

KM: If I’m honest I think I faced as many challenges for being the youngest in a group. I’m not saying this just to be anecdotal, but it’s true. I would struggle to get my voice heard because I was the least mature. On the question of sexism; whenever there was any whiff of it towards me, I just didn’t give a fuck, and I just carried on getting as good as I could be with a job that I love.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

KM: It’s actually seeming to be going this was already, I see it in the young generation of artists… less drugs and alcohol.

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October 23rd, 2020

Drew Citron

If you ready our feature on Hired Guns earlier this year, you would know how much it excites us to see someone come forward with a solo project.

https://femmusic.com/wp/?s=Hired+Guns

Today that someone is Drew Citron. Citron has been a touring band member of Frankie Rose, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Public Practice. She formed her own band Beverly in 2013. Now she releases her own solo record called Free Now. The latest single is the title track “Free Now.”

FEMMUSIC was honored to speak to her about the album. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/drewcitron/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Free Now ?
DC: Not getting to tour or play shows with my awesome new band.

FEMMUSIC: You recently released “Kiss Me.” Tell me about how the song developed.

DC: “Kiss Me” was an excuse for me to let the power chords fly, I love the guitars on it! It’s a song about keeping your old love feeling new.

FEMMUSIC: I understand you worked with John Agnello on “Kiss Me.” What made you decide to work with him? What did he bring to the project?

DC: I met John through a friend who manages him. We got sushi and he was not only the coolest producer I know (his resume is insane), he also turned out to be one of the nicest and most fun dudes to hang out with. Our vibe was stellar in the studio, I can’t recommend him more highly. His approach is old school, his guitar tones are flawless crunchy gold.

FEMMUSIC: Although you worked with a number of other musicians on the album, a large portion has been engineered, produced and performed by you. What were your goals for the album and what motivated you to take the lions share?

DC: I just am kind of a control freak I guess. I’ve been working as a front of house engineer at venues for years now, and I sort of took the reins this time because I’m just much more knowledgeable about the craft at this point. And it’s good to be a control freak about your art.

FEMMUSIC: You’ve played with a number of other bands. Tell me about your own. Where did you meet Nico Hedley and Laura Catalano? What do they bring to your own projects?

DC: Nico was my friendly and adorable coffee guy when I lived in Williamsburg. That’s how we met. Laura was in a really rad band called Weedhounds, and I asked her if she wanted to sing with me after one of their shows at Shea Stadium. She’s amazing at playing guitar while maintaining perfect pitch. They are indispensable to my ability to play music. Nico is one of my favorite people to jam with and mess around in the studio with as well – he has his own solo project, I highly recommend checking him out!

Drew Citron

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about working with Park the Van. You’ve worked with other labels. Why did you want to release your solo album with them?

DC: PTV was right place right time. I mixed a Broncho show at Elsewhere – one of my favorite nights doing sound actually – and they are released by Park the Van. That’s how I connected with Chris, the label head. He just was so enthusiastic about what I’m doing, and he was a Beverly fan as well. We really bond over our love of Grandaddy. It’s a wonderful label, with a lot of heart and a family-run ethos.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

DC: That’s an impossible question but I’ll say “Shooting Star” by Elliott Smith. Big hook, big feeling, big words, big sounds. I like when bedroom sad guys go Abbey Road with it. That’s where I’m trying to go.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

DC: It’s changed a lot since I started touring a decade ago. It used to be much more intense to load into a venue, you kind of never knew what you were going to get. If some idiot was going to try to tell you how to do your job. It’s like that sometimes when I run sound too, dudes have asked me if I know how to use the mixing board. I usually chock it up to insecurity on their part, and move on. I think it’s really important for women to support each other in this world in general and particularly in the arts. I really default to be more inclusive and generous with women and underrepresented folks when I’m working at a venue.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

DC: I’m obsessed with Bill Ryder Jones right now. Tons of femme-lead stuff, Hannah Cohen, Alena Spanger, Men i Trust, TOPS, I like Phoebe Bridgers.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

DC: I wish we got paid by streaming services.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

October 23rd, 2020
Emma Charles

Emma Charles has lived a rollercoaster in the past year. She graduated from Berklee College of Music and was getting ready to tour when the world closed down. In the past few months she has been releasing singles from an upcoming sophomore EP. They include “25” , “Book” and today “Osmosis.”

“Osmosis was written in Los Angeles by myself and my producer and co-writer Doug Schadt. I had the idea for the chorus while on the treadmill at the gym funnily enough, and ended up writing the chorus at home the same day. I brought the song in to Doug where we fleshed out the lyrics and wrote the rest of the song. ‘Osmosis’ details a person in love who is struggling with communicating in a relationship.”

Charles is originally from Connecticut and lives in LA. She comes from a musical family. She has found luck with producer Doug Schadt. For info visit https://www.emmacharlesmusic.com/
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

EC: I wouldn’t really say I have a certain technique, but I do gravitate towards certain methods. Usually, I will start out with piano or guitar, and then come up with a melody by singing various vowel sounds over the chords. Then, once I have the melody solidified, I will start to write the lyrics. If I am writing with others, usually I am working on melody and lyrics without the chords.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Doug Schadt. You met him while you were at Berklee. Tell me more about that meeting? What does he bring to a project?

AC: I was a sophomore in college when I started researching producers, and learning about who I wanted to work with. I saw that he had produced Maggie Rogers’ “Alaska” which was one of my favorite tracks at that time, so I reached out to him and set up some sessions at his studio in Brooklyn. The first time we met, we recorded 2 original songs of mine in 4 days! Over the past few years, Doug and I have developed a great relationship. I believe he’s one of those rare producers where he creates a track with everything I want, without me even having to ask for it. It’s definitely unusual to find a producer like that so I am very thankful to have worked with him for as long as I have!

FEMMUSIC: I understand that the Connecticut EP and its successor were made at the same time. What was the biggest challenge making both EP’s?

EC: I brought in a handful of pre-written songs to Doug with the intention of creating as much music as I could without a final end goal in mind. It just so happened that we created enough music to split it up into 2 EP’s. The first EP was created with the intention to include songs that were about the move from Connecticut to Los Angeles, entitled “Connecticut”, and the second EP to describe what it’s like after living in Los Angeles for a bit and the struggles that come with it. The most challenging thing we came up with was trying to find variation in the tracks. A lot of them sat in the same sonic space, so we had to really think out of the box to create tracks that were different from the rest, like “25” and “Connecticut”.
Emma Charles
 
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about your creative team. I was curious to hear your creative director filmed the “25” video. How did you find her?
EC: Research! Marina Piche has been such an amazing creative director, and she really has been able to help me hone my brand to be the most authentic, elevated version of myself. I found her through researching artists with a visual brand I love. I stumbled across a very talented artist, Vera Blue, and I learned that Marina had worked with her on a few album covers and I loved what she did, so I reached out! Luckily she was open to my vision and we clicked instantly. She had the awesome idea for the “25” video, and yet had so many restrictions due to COVID. I had the idea to create a live, beatles-esque stage, but since we couldn’t, Marina was able to take my live idea and translate it into miniature figurines! She definitely made the most out of a tricky situation! However, once COVID restrictions lifted a bit, we were able to create a full, live music video for “Osmosis” with actual people, following COVID guidelines. So glad it worked out this way because this video is definitely not one to miss!
 
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

EC: When I was just starting my artist project in 2018, Phoebe Bridgers had just came out with her Stranger in the Alps album, and the song “Motion Sickness” immediately stood out to me. That song was a modern take on classic folk/rock, and Phoebe was able to blend all of the elements of folk and pop that I wanted to do, and I hadn’t heard that before in a modern setting. It became the main reference track for one of my first releases, “Comfort in the Chaos”.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

EC: I definitely feel like in college and even after that, I hadn’t been taken as seriously as I was just a “blonde girl who sings”. I believe I have more depth than just that, and can bring a wide array of things to the table, creatively, visually, and musically. When I feel like I am not taken seriously enough, usually I write an angry song about it which makes me feel empowered!

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

EC: This is such a loaded question! I have so many huge inspirations- I would love to collaborate with Maggie Rogers, Bon Iver or Phoebe Bridgers, and go on tour with Dermot Kennedy, Hozier or JP Saxe.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

EC: I think what’s really difficult to deal with now is that there is so much content, and a lot of it is based on personality/looks. Things can go viral just because of the artist’s personality but not the music itself. If I could change one thing, I would change the way that music is consumed- I wish people listened and reacted to musicians based off of their talent and musicality, rather than persona.

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October 15th, 2020

Cf Watkins

Cf Watkins is based in Brooklyn and her Americana music envelops the US. She has shared the stage with Langhorne Slim, Future Birds, Chatham County Line, Lowland Hum to name a few. Today, October 16, she releases her sophomore album, Babygirl. The latest single is “The Tell”

FEMMUSIC was honored to e-mail Watkins about the album. For more info visit http://www.cfwatkins.com/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Babygirl?
 

CFW: One objective challenge was that Max Hart, who produced the record, lived in L.A. and I lived in Brooklyn. Max plays with Melissa Ethridge and he was on tour most of the year. So recording the record happened over the span of a lot of time, a lot of emails, and phone calls. Max would tell me when he would have a week off to go into the studio and I would fly out to L.A. where we would spend five days at a time working tirelessly on songs that we had already started planning over long-distance demos. It was an interesting way to work! It had its challenges and frustrations but I think the constraint of time and space forced us to be really intentional, and also allowed us the space to really reflect after we had finished an intense week of recording.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Max Hart. How did you meet? What made you decide to have him produce the album? What did he bring to the project?

CFW: Max and I met through a friend- they were recording some country covers for fun and I was invited along to sing. We had a great time and, when Max was back in town, he reached out to see if I wanted to work on some of my originals. We started working on a few songs, and then it just kept growing from there. Max is the kind of person you only meet one of. There are no other Max Hart’s out there. He’s such a genuine, sincere, curious, and hard-working person. Every time we worked together I felt encouraged and challenged- I felt safe with him to be vulnerable but also pushed by him to explore my strength. He is a great musician and producer in the technical sense- but I think what makes him such a great collaborator is his openness to whatever is happening in the present moment.

FEMMUSIC: What was your vision for the album?

CFW: I didn’t start with a clear vision for the album- I don’t think we knew it was going to be an album when we started recording. It developed slowly and the vision grew with the songs. Eventually, it became clear that I wanted this album to be a vessel for me to explore my own strength and what love means to me- to explore love in songs that aren’t just about longing.

FEMMUSIC: What did you do differently with this album vs I Am New?

My first album, I Am New, was recorded in one week in a studio in Virginia. I had a very small group with me- a producer (Daniel Goans of Lowland Hum), engineer, vocalist, and banjo player. Between our modest size and the limited amount of time- we had to be scrappy, and we didn’t have time to overthink the songs. I think that constraint really added a lot to the final recording- it feels like a documentation of how I was feeling in a very particular time. With Babygirl, it was recorded over years, with months in between each recording session to be able to listen back, come up with new ideas, scrap songs all together. Both directions have their advantages and disadvantages- but I’m glad I’ve gotten to experience both.

Cf Watkins

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? 

CFW: I usually start a song because I am feeling emotional about something, whether it’s something on my mind, a story I’ve read, a memory, a dream, a letter I’ve come across… I will sit down with my guitar just to sort through my feelings. When I’ve found a chord progression that matches how I’m feeling, I start humming a melody, then eventually I turn the melody into words. I’d say a very small percentage of these songs, or doodles ever get fully formed or survive long enough to be heard by anyone else. Some songs stick and some don’t- I try to trust them.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

CFW: Hmm… it’s hard to choose one! The first thing that comes to mind is “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, I would like to say something more original- but, it is exalted for a reason! It was one of the first songs I learned to play and sing. It has always been the top of the mountain to me, the pentacle of lyricism, storytelling, and melodic majesty.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

CFW: I’ve definitely struggled with confidence. I have often found myself in rooms of all male musicians, playing on bills with all male musicians, and then even when there are other females- it could sometimes force a sense of competitiveness. There was a kind of subconscious feeling that I had to be both “one of the boys,” but also that my music needed to be sensual, seductive, or sweet in some way. There are just layers of things I’ve internalized- and I don’t think I’ve overcome them, but I am trying to be more aware of them. While I lived in Brooklyn, I started to meet a lot more female musicians that are just so confident, so incredibly talented, bold, amazing band leaders- that’s been very transformative for me. Being inspired by other women has been the best medicine.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

CFW: Anyone who’s known me for longer than 5 minutes knows my #1 dream since I was 8 has been to collaborate with Harry Connick Jr. His music has really been a companion to me throughout most of my life- and I think he’s brilliant.  But, more recently, I’ve been admiring Adrianne Lenker- I think she is one of the most talented songwriters of our time. I would just like to soak in her presence and be able to see what happens when she’s forming songs, see where they come from.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

CFW: Gosh- I dunno- I guess just the word “industry” is the tough part, huh? Like music, or art in general- it comes from a far off place, it’s delicate, mysterious, and powerful. To turn it into an industry feels cruel in a way but, in our world, seems necessary if you want to reach people. In my ideal universe, maybe intention, sincerity, or the level of divinity that exists in a song would be what propelled it forward into the ears and minds of others rather than the amount of social followers or PR budget.

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October 15th, 2020

Julia Bhatt

Julia Bhatt’s 2020 started great. She turned 18 in January and graduated high school in February. In March the world changed and her first tour was postponed to 2021. Now she is releasing 2 Steps Back, a 4 song EP out October 23. The EP has three older songs and the new song “Vampires Suck.” In September Madyn Garretson animated her song “Bird Girl”

Bhatt comes from Miami. Her music has a playful side mixed with retro rock as shown by “I’m Cool.” For info visit https://www.instagram.com/juliabhatt/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the 2 Steps Back EP? 

JB: Honestly, it wasn’t too difficult to pull together since 3 of the 4 songs came out already, and the new one I’ve had in my back pocket for a while.

FEMMUSIC: “Vampires Suck” is the new song on the EP. How did that song develop? How did it make the cut for EP vs other songs? 

JB: I wrote the song in 15ish minutes after a dare. You know, how the best songs form. It’s a really fun song. The lyrics are crazy and the music is catchy. It was kinda a no brainer.

FEMMUSIC: The video for “Bird Girl” came out recently. This is an older song, and not on the EP. Can you tell me how that song developed?  

JB: Bird Girl is actually the most recently written song of all of them. I was in my emotions and wanted to not be, so I wrote a song about a world where I can jet set and nobody notices.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?  

JB: I don’t really have one. Usually, I try to put some chords together into a fun melody so I can write to it. Lyrics just kinda come out. Not much of a premeditated process.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Elliot Jacobsen & Mike Tuccillo. How did you meet them? What did they bring to the project?  

JB: I met Elliot through my music lawyer, Janine Small. We hit it off right away and creatively, we mesh well. He introduced me to Mike and almost everyone else I now know in the industry. He helps me interpret the non-cohesive thoughts I have about the music into actual words and sounds. He knows the technical side of the music world so he helps me channel the creativity I have into something tangible.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why? 

JB: That’s a hard question. A lot of songs and artists have influenced me. Maybe, of all time, it would be “It Had To Be You” (I like the Harry Connick Jr version.) because my parents used to sing it to me before bed and it kinda shows how, even from a young age, I was introduced to all kinds of music that I still listen to today.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? 

JB: I mean, as a kid even, it’s hard to play with the big profesional people. I have a sense of professionalism for sure, but I’m blunt and I say what I mean. I’m taken aback by how little people say upfront, and how much there is in between the lines when it comes to contracts and agreements in the industry. People are ready to take advantage of anyone.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why? 

JB: I love Julian Casablancas, whether it’s The Strokes, The Voidz, solo stuff, so he would be sick to collaborate with. Very creative dude. Maybe also someone like Tame Impala or the Neighbourhood. They’ve repeatedly come out with cool different shit. I’d very much like to be a part of it.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

JB: As I said before, I wish people were less formal and more honest. We’re (mostly) all creative people trying to make music and have fun. I wish people wouldn’t take things as seriously and just let the music talk. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

September 23rd, 2020
Sad13 - Sadie Dupuis

Sadie Dupuis is a magician of creativity. She fronts two bands, runs her own record label, released a book of poetry, and has established a poetry journal. She is known as much for her poetry and her music. On Friday September 25 she is releasing Sad13’s sophomore album Haunted Painting. The album includes guests Roberto Lange, Satomi Matsuzaki, Merrill Garbus and Rick Maguire. It was recorded and mixed in 6 studios with a host of women engineers. You’ve already seen the singles including “Hysterical”, “Oops…!”, “Ruby Wand” and  “Ghost (of a Good Time)”,

FEMMUSIC was honored to speak with via e-mail about the album. For info visit https://www.sad13.horse/

 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Haunted Painting?

 

SD: Not getting to play it live for the indefinite future, probably. A lot of pent up energy in making these complicated arrangements and not getting to show them off IRL!

FEMMUSIC: Haunted Painting is your first record with Wax Nine. What made you decide to work with them? How was the experience?

SD: Wax Nine is my own record label, an imprint with Carpark. I’ve been lucky to release albums by two of my favorites artists–Johanna Warren and Melkbelly–on the label, as well as co-release a compilation tribute to Adam Schlesinger with Father/Daughter Records earlier this year. We also launched a literary journal earlier this year which runs bi-weekly and features new poems and illustrations every issue.

FEMMUSIC: I was intrigued your choice to use women engineers on the album. Can you tell me what you were looking for in engineers? What made these 6 (Sarah Tudzin, Erin Tonkon, Maryam Qudus, Lily Wen, Anne Gauthier & Emily Lazar) stand out?

SD: Emily Lazar is a long-term collaborator for me; she’s mastered most of my records as well as some of my favorite artists, everyone from Beck to Dolly Parton. I hosted a panel for Sonos and She Shreds in 2018 on audio engineering, featuring Emily and three other amazing women in different corners of production. We are drastically underrepresented in music technology, comprising about 2% of engineers, and as a producer myself, it felt strange and hypocritical that I’d only hired men as tracking and mix engineers in the past.

Most of the engineers I hired on this record were friends, or friends of friends–I was a big admirer of Illuminati Hotties, Sarah Tudzin’s band, and Lily Wen I have known for 15 years. Erin Tonkon has produced heavy hitters like David Bowie, but also more contemporary bands I love, like Pixx and Lady Lamb. Maryam Qudus worked with several friends–Allison Crutchfield, Madeleine Kenney–and also fronts her own amazing project called Spacemoth. And I met Anne Gauthier on tour in Louisville, when Speedy got to check out her amazing studio La La Land. All are brilliant producers and people who I’d recommend to anyone and hope I’ll work with again once it’s safe.

FEMMUSIC: You recorded the album in-between touring with Speedy Ortiz and the Mouthguard book tour. After that constant frenzy how has not touring during COVID affected you? What do you miss? What has changed for you during it, both positive and negative?

SD: It’s strange adjusting to so many nights in a row at home! One of the best parts of tour is having a chance to see or play with faraway friends a couple times a year, and I really miss that. But one positive is that I have a lot more time to dedicate to projects that aren’t strictly my own, like the Adam Schlesinger compilation, the poetry journal, recording on some friends’ projects, as well as the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers, which began work a few months ago.

Sad13 - Haunted Painting - Album Art

FEMMUSIC: What was your vision with Haunted Painting? What was your favorite part of the arrangements?

SD: Since I recorded in five different studios and mixed in a sixth, I wanted to make good use of each place’s unique gear lists. Each song was arranged to include all the most interesting equipment at each studio. Trying to write specifically to a location (and to instruments I’m less familiar with writing for, like strings, woodwinds, lap steel, theremin) was a fun challenge.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? Is it different from your poetry writing technique? Where do the 2 merge or separate?

SD: In composing music, I usually have a chord progression in mind. I demo drums and bass before anything else, then add synth parts, finally guitars, vocals last. So I’m trying to write the lyrics to fit on top of a mostly arranged song. Poetry I’m generally starting from scratch without any guidelines, especially not the built in constraints of trying to fit syllables to music.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

 SD: I have thought about ‘The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’ theme song almost every morning upon waking for like a decade, so unfortunately, I have to answer with that. I can’t wake up and not think of it. I hope to be free some day.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

SD: I don’t think misogyny is a challenge for any one person to “overcome” individually, especially if you are on the receiving end of it, but making sure to use whatever hiring power I have–crew on tour, opening bands–to make my corner of the industry more inclusive and representative of diverse music workers has been a priority for me, and makes touring a lot easier and happier.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

SD: There are a couple 2020 records I’m obsessed with – Ganser, Kitty, Yaeji, Backxwash, Yves Tumor, No Joy, Katie Dey, Allie X, Caroline Rose. I’d be over the moon to play or tour with any of those projects.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

SD: Be cool for artists to actually make money off the streaming services that earn billions thanks to our work! 

 

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September 3rd, 2020

 

Tali-BACK TO YOU

Tali is a Toronto based R & B artist. FEMMUSIC is honored to premiere her debut video for “Back to You.”

“Back to You” is the second single off her new EP Shadows coming out September 11. Tali speaks about the video, “There are a few meanings to that one. On the one hand, it’s about losing and then finding my way back to myself, as you can see if you watch the video. But there’s also a deeper interpretation: That no matter how far you might stray from a person, a dream, yourself or anything, if it’s meant to be, ultimately it’s going to find its way back to you. I believe things come back to you if they’re meant to.”

“The title Shadows tells of an evolution and growth (two following EPs we want to release in the future tell an unfolding story, In-Between Girl and Out Of My Skin). Shadows talks of the transition from adolescence into young adulthood.

Coming out of the Shadows: learning about myself, relationships, getting a sense of the world around me in ways I never knew before. Other interpretations of Shadows are the battle/contrast between the mind and the heart (the paradox) and how one always follows closely to the other, walking closely behind like a shadow; love and loss, letting the old fall into the shadows and new love come into your life; losing yourself and falling into the shadows, and coming back to yourself even stronger. Shadows encapsulates the nighttime; peoples’ true natures coming out of the shadows (in relationships etc.) I’m a night owl, I love the night – the art cover really displays these themes.” For info visit https://www.facebook.com/talisingstolive

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making the Shadows EP?

T: The creation of these songs were great fun and a wonderful learning experience being abroad. Upon writing these songs, it was my first time as a young adult traveling on my own across the world, to different cities and breaking out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot about myself as a songwriter and singer, honing my sound, being assertive and confident with my vision and telling my story.

TaliEPShadows

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

T: There is no formula to how I write! It always happens spontaneously. I might start with a lyric or a concept that pops into mind, write it down on paper or in my phone; perhaps a melody comes to me first and I record the idea and build lyrics around it with a piano. If I’m in the studio, someone else might be working the keys and I’ll be singing melodies. I love writing lyrics down and have hundreds of notebooks full of them. I bring those ideas with me to the studio, or I sit at the piano at home and see what strikes a chord and build around that. It’s all a blur really and in the midst of excitement, frustration and passion, out comes a new song and the rest is history. I then listen to the song again with fresh ears in the morning and I get an inkling if it’s a special one.

FEMMUSIC: How does Shadows compare to Lucid? What have you learned since Lucid came out?

T: Lucid was a little compilation of songs I put together; I produced and wrote all of the songs. It was adolescent me experimenting on a midi keyboard and writing songs for the first time. I uploaded all of the songs to Soundcloud and Bandcamp which I set up as pay-what-you-can. At that point I hadn’t ever been in a real studio or worked with other writers or producers. I was dipping my toes in the water and it opened a floodgate. Since creating Lucid, I’ve traveled to different countries, worked with many amazing creatives, honed my music sonically, grown as a songwriter, signed a record contract, a publishing deal, gained life lessons and many more life experiences to write about.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

T: “Dance me to the end of love” is the first song that pops into mind. Leonard Cohen has always been my mum’s favourite artist so she’d play his songs since I was a very small child. When I first heard that song, it struck a deep chord with me. I’ve gotten a tattoo that symbolizes this song. The song still has the same effect on me as it did the first time I heard it. I’m very close to my mum and we bond over his music.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

T: I haven’t personally experienced this, though I’ve heard it from my fellow artists and songwriters that they lie about and hide their age. They’ve experienced pressure to be a certain age and have a certain look to be successful and be taken seriously. Being true to yourself, believing in yourself and in what you’re doing is what truly matters. People of the world – with their beautiful hearts and ears that have a thirst for wonderful songs – are your audience, they are listeners of your songs; there isn’t an age expiration in achieving that. There will always be judgment of some kind to some degree, no matter what you do, so just tread upon your path of joy and try to ignore the noise.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

T: Anderson .Paak and Bon Iver are two amazing music acts I’d love to work and/or tour with. I dig their tunes. I’ve consistently listened to their songs over the years. They’re talented songwriters and musicians and it would be great fun sharing the stage or collaborating with them on a song in the studio.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

T: I believe the mental health (and health overall) of artists (and all folks in the music industry) should always be a top priority. Being a musician or someone working in the music industry can be strenuous. More therapy, conversations, tackling of struggles and pressures and finding a good balance between living an artistic lifestyle and prioritizing one’s well-being.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

August 19th, 2020

AlexTheAstro

Alex the Astronaut releases her debut album The Theory of Absolutely Nothing on Friday August 21. This summer Alex the Astronaut (Alexandra Lynn) could be found on Smithsonian’s Project Pride and the Pride: Inside music festival. She has been releasing singles including “Christmas In July”, “Banksia” , “Lost” and “I Think You’re Great.”

Alex has 2 previous EP’s called To Whom It May Concern and See You Soon. This Australian artist studied both math and physics while also playing soccer in the United States at Long Island University. The Theory of Absolutely Nothing takes on subjects from domestic violence to a friend who died in it’s 11 tracks. It begins with “Happy Song” which fits her personality. Her songs have lightness and lift. For info visit https://www.alextheastronaut.com/

 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making The Theory of Absolutely Nothing?

 

AL: I think the biggest challenge was getting the writing to say exactly what I wanted it to. I think it should be the easiest part but there are just so many words in this world and only about 150 of them fit in a song. I try and really max it out with the words in the verses but even still you have to really think about it.

FEMMUSIC:  One of the most powerful songs on the album is “I Like to Dance.” How did that song develop? The arrangement is beautiful.

AL: Thank you, that song came about at a BBQ. I was talking to a judge and he told me there was something he saw that he thought I should write a song about. He said he’d seen this woman in court on a domestic violence case and she explained to him how great her boyfriend was but that “I just wish he’s stop hitting me.” And I got a tear and goosebumps so I did lots of research on domestic violence and built a story out of all of it. My friend Nora and I produced it together and that was the first time I’d done production which I felt really proud of.

FEMMUSIC:  What was your vision for the album?

AL: My vision for the album was to include as many “colours” as I could. I wanted the shades of dark and light and I wanted all or as many different emotions that I could see playing out around me to be depicted in 10 songs.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

AL: Fit as many words as you can into a small space and hope for the best haha

FEMMUSIC:   The album reflects a lot of growth in friendships and relationships. How have you changed and grown (personally & as a musician) in the past few years? Do you have any goals for the future?

AL: I think I’ve grown a lot, I went from being a university student living in dorms in Long Island to being a professional musician and travelling the world. I’ve become more and more grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given, I think it’s still sinking in that I get to do my dream job and personally I’ve become more confident and myself. I would love to tour again, and I would love to keep writing music forever.

ATA 2020_credit_ Jess Gleeson

FEMMUSIC:  Australia has re-imposed closings with COVID-19 (as of this writing). I remember in April when you ran a campaign for donations for your friend the nurse in NY. I also was reading an interview of yours just before SXSW was supposed to happen. How are you doing during COVID-19? What do you miss? Are you focusing your creativity in different ways?

AL: I’m doing okay, I’ve been really lucky, I live with three housemates and we all get along well. It’s been interesting I think I’ve had the time to build up lots of my friendships again where we’ve kind of drifted because of me touring. At the same time I miss travelling and my friends that I have in music world all over the place. I’m way more creative I’ve gone back to writing almost everyday like I did when I was in highschool which feels really wholesome and has definitely been good for me.

FEMMUSIC:  What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

AL: I like Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen. I always cry listening to it. I really don’t know what it is, I think it’s a very uniting song and it has a bit of non words in it which is fun. I think it’s a song that I go back to a lot when Im having a hard time and I always have so it feels like an old friend.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

AL: I think there’s always little things that chip away at you like people at shows assuming you don’t know things that you do know, or awkward/uncomfortable encounters at the signing desk or while you’re on stage. There’s also the dark stories that I know about assaults and abuse. I don’t think you overcome them, I think because it’s ongoing it’s a trauma that we have to face constantly as a society. It’s changing slowly, I think it’s important to teach young boys that feminism works for them too and that it’s important that we stick together and help each other when we need it. That they need to be able to share their feelings without being accused of being less than. And I think for anyone experiencing discrimination it’s about standing with other minority groups in the same way you stand up for yourself.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

I would love to collaborate/tour with Dave from Gang of Youths. His writing is second to none and the colour and expression in his voice is so unbelievably good. I really love his storytelling and I could listen to him sing all day.

FEMMUSIC:  What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

AL: I would change that it’s not equal. I think we have a long way to go and it’s time to put the work it.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

August 13th, 2020

 

girlfriday

Girl Friday is a band that should be permanently on your playlist. This LA 4 piece is Libby Hsieh, Vera Ellen, Virginia Pettis & Sierra Scott. The band mixes addictive music with biting lyrics that are designed to incite and inspire. Their songs include “Decoration Currency” about the music industry, “Generation Sick” about abusive men and people who protect them, and more from their 2019 EP Fashion Conman. Now they are releasing their album Androgynous Mary out August 21. The latest single is “Earthquake”

For info visit https://www.girlfridaytm.com/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge in making Androgynous Mary?

GF: We had to work with pretty intense time constraints in terms of playing shows, working, and recording most of the album in about a week. We definitely had our work cut out for us, but ultimately this little creature was birthed from a labor of intense love.

FEMMUSIC: What is your favorite song on the album? Why?

GF: The fact that you are asking us to pick a favorite child is very upsetting. We love our children equally and make sure they’re well taken care of even when we leave town for extended business trips.

girlfriday

FEMMUSIC: Did you approach making Androgynous Mary differently from Fashion Conman? What did you learn making Fashion Conman?

GF: We made a really conscious effort to have Androgynous Mary encapsulate more of our live sound. In a lot of ways, we let Jesus take the wheel on this album and focused less on perfection and more on a more raw, visceral, high-energy experience.

FEMMUSIC: You’re signed to Hardly Art. What made you sign with them? What were you looking for in a label?

GF: We were looking to be adopted by a kind family, and boy did we find one! Hardly Art is a lovely group of people who value us as artists and as individuals, and we’re excited to move into the office at their earliest convenience.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

GF: We hit the “randomize” button on Wikipedia, select 50 answers which we promptly print out on 100% recycled copy paper, douse them in rose-scented holy water, put them into a fishbowl, and let the games begin.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

GF: The School of Rock soundtrack brought us close enough together to be able to face the musical journey of Androgynous Mary head on.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as women in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

GF: Everyone we work with currently is really receptive to our not wanting our gender expressions to define our music, but it hasn’t always been that way. Although it’s not a topic we shy away from, as there is so much inequality surrounding most genders in the music industry, we don’t want it to be the defining aspect of our identity as a band.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

GF: Hole, Thurston Moore, Kills Birds, Blaenavon, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Flat Worms, Wolf Alice – we all have quite different music tastes, but we’re drawn to expressive, theatrical performers.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

GF: We’d love to be able to join a musicians’ union that’s not restricted to studio musicians. We’re also always looking for more sustainable, eco-friendly ways to tour and distribute music.

girlfriday

 

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

July 21st, 2020

Liza Anne

Liza Anne releases her first album on Arts & Crafts Records on July 24. It is called Bad Vacation. If all vacations were like this we’d all need therapy and the party afterward. Bad Vacation is a 14 tracks that can be breezy and danceable. They also have lyrics that rip apart facades and stare life in the eyes. The title track is a small taste:

Bad Vacation was recorded with her touring band of Robbie Jackson, Josh Gilligan, and Cody Carpenter. It also includes Lou Hayat.

Anne’s previous albums include Fine But Dying, Two, and The Colder Months. In a previous life you would see her self-depreciate her own fears and anxiety. You can still get the T-Shirt “Liza Anne’s World Famous Melancholia.” Bad Vacation marks a turn that is dramatic. Liza Anne is fully formed and ready to grab her place next to St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, and Leah Wellbaum.

FEMMUSIC was honored to speak to Anne about the new album. For info visit http://www.lizaannemusic.com

Liza Anne has created a virtual retreat to accompany her album release, a ‘Bad Vacation’ micro-site – featuring a 1-800 hotline, reading list, playlist, bundles, and more at https://badvacation.co/

Liza Anne - bad vacation

 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Bad Vacation, the album?

LA: Once we started making it, it was the most seamless process. I think the most difficult part was all the false starts – I had written the record over almost three years and we sort of soft started making it a few separate times – different factors keeping us from committing to making it. Mainly, I knew I wasn’t finished writing it. Once I gathered myself, finished and revised the songs I felt strongly about – it happened in one full swoop.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Kyle Ryan, Micah Tawlks & Justin Mendal-Johnsen. How did you meet? What made you decide to work with them on this project? What did they bring to the project?

LA: I can’t imagine this project happening with any other crew of people. In a Feist documentary I watched years ago, she described the people you invite into your creative space like pedals on a pedal board and the same song can have a completely different experience given whatever people/pedals they are being filtered through – I think that each of them, Justin at the beginning with Devotion and Desire… Kyle, demo-ing with us before some of the songs were even done, even writing a handful of them with me … Micah, bringing a sense of feeling to it I didn’t even realize was hidden in some of these songs. All three of them made me feel capable in a way I hadn’t felt before. I could expand, but the truth of it is – their brains are all over this project, along with the moosh of us as a band, Robbie, Lou, Josh and Cody – this record is like a communal handprint. I feel so lucky for the collaborative side of what we did.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “This Chaos, That Feeling.” How did the song develop? Tell me about the intro on the song? 

LA: This song was a stream of conscious that just happened one day. I was fucking around with guitar and just processing the pain of the end of my last relationship. I just sort of spoke the words over this droning chord pattern, building into this really simple chorus. I brought it to the band and it took its first “shape”. We played it on tour for Fine But Dying – the song lived almost two whole years before being reborn in the way it is on the record. It’s lived a lot of life, that little buddy. It gives me lots of room to be angry about something that felt hard to feel in real time … sometimes when you love someone, anger takes a strange backseat. Maybe that’s where resent grows. Anyways, each time I play it, I let a little more go. It’s a healing act.

FEMMUSIC: The final track “Too Soon” had some wonderful arrangements to it. How did that song develop? 

LA: I wrote this song two days after the first time Josh and I kissed. And, in every sense, it felt too soon. I was experiencing a heart swell towards my best friend. Someone who would feel shitty to lose and I wasn’t sure if, in passing that threshold from buddies to being all close and smooshed and romantic … I don’t know – I just was scared it would ruin the whole thing. It felt brave to even admit love was growing. At that time in my life, I would have taken “I don’t need anyone” to my grave – I think Josh knew that it was a bit of an act all along, that’s probably why I’d always felt so drawn to him. “Too Soon” is a catalogue of giving into that initial attraction.

FEMMUSIC: Please tell me about your vision for the album.   

LA: This record is a record about all that I wanted to feel – the catalogue of pain, catharsis, joy and a naive hope that after love has stung you, maybe there can be something pure waiting for you. I think it’s a very good picture of growing – the clumsy thing we inevitably will do in front of people and, in the meantime, cause a little damage. I am excited to be 80 and listen back to this with a softness for this window of myself that, somedays, feels hard to find in a real time.

Liza Anne

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How has it developed since The Colder Months?

LA: Wow, hm. Since The Colder Months – I guess, I’ve been in expansion. But, there’s something about the timeframe when I wrote the colder months that was so child-like in a really charming way. I was writing every day, I didn’t have any concept about “what someone would think of my work”, nobody knew my work, my work was purely for self-work and self-care – an almost, self-guided therapy. So, there’s a purity there that I almost think I’ve returned to with Bad Vacation, in some ways. Returning to the beginners mind towards it all. The main difference is that I have a band around me – collectively and collaboratively growing these songs from the baby bloom of an idea into a whole garden of feeling. That part is very special. Trusting people enough to carry it all out. It’s a language we’re all growing with each collaboration.

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

LA: I think “Wuthering Heights” from Kate Bush is an easy “if-I-never-heard-this-I-would-be-different” song. It sort of shook off some dust I hadn’t even known had collected on my creative spirit. Reiterating that there are no rules. A song can be as strange and wonderful as you let it. I warm up my vocals to that song before shows. I love her so much.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?

LA: Phew. You know, I would hope that having a vagina wouldn’t keep me from opportunities or even end up being the reason I am given opportunities. I want to be asked into the room or to the party because I’m good at what I do – not because I’m a token that crosses off some quota – I hate that shit. I guess the worst part of anything is being sexualized for just existing. I hate that. It makes me feel so dirty and unsafe.

FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?

LA: I would really love to collaborate with David Byrne – I think we would be friends. Even just being friends would be nice. And, I guess that’s my dream tour as well. OH and Harry Styles

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