Category: Interviews

January 21st, 2020
Vicky Warwick

Photo by Eloise Campbell

Artists Worked With : Charli XCX, Frances, Hailee Steinfeld, Tom Bailey (Thompson Twins), Hey Violet, Billy Lockett

www.sheplaysbass.com

https://www.instagram.com/sheplaysbass/

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

VW: I started playing bass in a band my friend formed when I was 12 years old. I fell in love with the feeling of being strapped into rock and roll and decided to take lessons, eventually moving to London aged 18 to  attend a music college for a Bachelor of Music in Popular Music Performance. I landed my first industry gig when a pop production house came to my music school to scout for musicians. From then on, I got to know more musicians and found more work in the London scene. I later ended up working in the music scene in New York City, and now I am based in Los Angeles.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo?

VW: If I’m writing with another person or in a group, it can often be a more formulaic experience. It’s very focused and usually cathartic, because we often start the session by diving into what’s going on in each other’s lives as an inspiration for songs. Normally we start a drum loop or a loop of chords and go from there. Writing alone has a lot less structure; I can just pick up the guitar and fiddle around with something for a minute and it might turn into a verse or a chorus. I could spend just half an hour on it and move away and come back to it a day or two later. Songs emerge slowly, from little stolen moments with myself. I usually write when I’m meant to be doing something but else. If I’m consciously writing – alone or with someone else – I usually like to have a few song references in mind so I know what kind of mood I’m trying to create. 

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

VW: I love touring, and love trying to play a consistently great show every night. I suppose that’s a challenge, but one I really enjoy. I think the biggest challenge as a touring musician is managing your schedule. Dates change all the time, and it’s hard to know what your work life is going to look like. Committing to other plans like friends weddings or family functions is really tricky. Not ever really knowing what you’re doing is just the ‘con’ to this job, but I also like that every month is different. 

I’ve been lucky in that my actual time on the road has always been a great experience, but every now and then, there’s tension between people and that’s always tough. Usually the case is that it’s short lived and happens as a result of tiredness or a bad day.

The lack of personal space when you’re touring by tour bus is obviously a struggle sometimes, but for me it’s just silly things – like not being able to hang around in a robe or have time to be butt naked and moisturize after a shower!! If there’s one shower for 10 people, it’s not relaxing.

VICKY WARWICK

Photo by Eloise Campbell

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work do you do?

VW: Not as much at the moment, but I’m still new in town and would love to do more of that once I meet the people in that world. With bass, I feel like it often gets recorded by the producer anyway; especially in pop. If I record things for people, I often do it remotely with my set-up at home.

FEMMUSIC:  How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

VW: Projects naturally separate themselves. I tour or do live shows or write with many different artists. My own personal projects include releasing music under the name Ainslie, and working on my upcoming podcast, which is an extension from my blog about touring – www.whereareweagain.com. I interview touring musicians and crew about their experiences and try and get their juciest stories from life on the road. I’m also looking to start recording music for another personal project that I’ll probably release under a different name (there’s really not enough hours in the day)! Everything I do includes collaboration though, and I love that.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

VW: I think we all face challenges, and I suppose some of them have come from being a female. I’ve definitely not been considered for certain gigs because they wanted males. However, I’ve gotten some gigs because they wanted a female, so it probably works out. It’s just a shame that deciding to hire someone based on their gender is even a thought. There’s not many industries left where that’s still an issue. I think in general, women still have to work harder to prove ourselves and be respected in the same way dudes are. A couple of times I’ve told other bass players that I play bass, and they’ve grabbed my hands and told me they’re too soft for me to be a bass player. That feels hugely disrespectful and something they wouldn’t have done to a guy. It’s still such a male dominated industry, but it’s so great that the large majority of men that I work with build healthy, professional relationships with everyone they work with.

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

VW: I wish there was a union that really could put rules in place that everyone would adhere to – things about minimum fees and cancellations and a way to put more contracts in place. All parties would be in a better position. There’s also no HR department in this industry. It often it feels like raising any issues like that or talking about fair fees is going to risk you keeping your job.

Posted in Interviews, Special Features Tagged with:

January 20th, 2020
Sarah Tomek

Credit Katrina Benzova

Artists Worked With: Steven Tyler, Maggie Rose, Gretchen Wilson, Sara Bareilles, Them Vibes, Loving Mary Band, Rick Barry, Glen Burtnik, Gedeon Luke

Insta- @SarahTomekDrums /  Facebook: Sarah Tomek Drums / Website (currently down) but is www.sarahtomek.com

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

ST: My father was a drummer in NYC in the 70s. I think he wanted a boy but got stuck with me as the only. It was in my veins and there were drums around the house, so the curse transcended!!

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo?

ST: There’s so much talent and too many good songs pumping out of Nashville on a daily basis, it’s intimidating. Living here, I’ve only written a handful of times with cats I’ve played or play with and even that’s a challenge! You’re walking into a room vulnerable with your ideas and/or thinking you can add to others.

The process of recording drums with fun time signatures and different grooves & starting from the ground up is something that I’d like to do more of.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

ST: My husband and I got married and I basically went on the road for 2 years. At the time, it was show day then 2-3 days off.  It’s hard NOT working, being alone with your thoughts and away from your loved one(s).

The OTHER element is you’re in close quarters with your band mates and/or artist. Everyone has these big personalities, (if your lucky like me, those are my people!) You are family and have SO love for one another, but you’re also trying to not kill each other.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?

ST: When I moved to Nashville I was told live players don’t play on the record. I didn’t understand. I was at lunch with a major producer and he said “I’m making this record (w/ artist I touring with at the time), with a different studio lineup”, then literal named every dude that was playing on every record coming out of Nashville. I got to tempo map some of the tunes for the record then watch the session drummer cop my parts off a board recording on a tune I co-wrote. I was mad. But lI was also immature. Looking back, I wouldn’t have been ready for sessions at that point.

A few years later I hooked up with producer Marti Frederikson. He kinda took me under his wing and that’s when I really became a better session player. Since then I’ve done slam sessions, ( publisher sessions when your laying down 8 or more tracks 11-2 pm, etc) I Played on Maggie Rose’s, Change The Whole Thing record which was tracked live with a 13 pc band. Drums bleeding through all vocal mics, etc. No margin for error there! I have 4 records I played on coming out in 2020 alone. All different and I’m super pumped on all of them! Right this second, Them Vibes has a single out called “Powers Collide” that I co wrote. We tracked live with me and Matt Nolan of Rude Music on drums. Matt’s mimicking a loop and Im the slop on top. There’s a fun drum break in it as well. NEAT!

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

ST: They tend to separate themselves. You gotta know what the artist/project calls for before you walk in the door and play to that.

FEMMUSIC:  What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

ST: Let’s say one gets a call for an amazing tour opportunity with a ginormous band and one of the reasons you don’t get the gig is because one of the band members doesn’t want women on the stage, more so he doesn’t want them touching an instrument. That would be wild right? (Like sooo hypothetical)

I can say bs like above happens less now than ever, but it’s still a man’s industry.

But looking at the industry, it’s still a boys club. What about females behind the board? I had the pleasure of working with Trina Shoemaker, the first woman to win a Grammy for best engineered record. That was in 1998. Come on maaaaan.

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

ST: Can I have 2?

I would shake up the country format and get it back to its roots. It’s an identity crisis and I can’t listen to half what’s being put out.

I don’t think music shows on national television should allow huge guest stars to come in and auto tune their vocals to high hell when the object is to judge aspiring vocalists. Your perpetuating something that isn’t real and that’s what I don’t enjoy about a lot of the music made today. Not everyone starting out can afford to carry a tuning rig to club dates.

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January 20th, 2020
Ellen Angelico

Edited with Afterlight

Artists Worked With: Uncle Kracker, Delta Rae, Wheeler Walker Jr., and many others. Starting in February, I’ll be out with the country artist Cam.

ellenangelico.com

@ellenangelico on Twitter and Instagram, although please keep your expectations low.

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

EA: I have no other marketable skills!

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo?

EA: My technique is pretty simple: if I can’t finish a song in thirty minutes then it’s not worth the effort haha. This is why I’m not a professional songwriter.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

EA: I enjoy touring. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up a life at home, but I’ve got a good rhythm going. The touring-related challenges that are hardest for me to overcome don’t involve the logistics of being on the road as much as getting the gig in the first place.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?

EA: I play on my friends’ records when they ask. I prefer road work at this point in my life.

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

EA: Dealing with schedule stuff is probably the most annoying part of my job. My color-coded Google Calendar would be hard to live without.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

EA: Like I mentioned before, the hardest thing about touring for me is getting the gig in the first place. Sexism is keeping people from hiring non-men. There’s tons of women doing this work. They just choose to do it outside of country music because they don’t see people who look like them in country music. Representation matters. It’s up to people making hiring decisions to find qualified female candidates. There’s no reason someone killing it in Americana or pop wouldn’t also do great in country.

I’ll add one other observation: I’m a pretty masculine person and find I benefit from some aspects of male privilege. If I am on the road with a more feminine colleague, I get asked to check the ground lift on the DI while my colleague gets asked if she plugged in the guitar. People assume I know what I’m doing because I more closely fit the “look” of country band members which is largely white, able-bodied, and male.

The community of female instrumentalists in Nashville is awesome. We’re friends and we lift each other up. We call each other for gigs and start projects to raise our profiles. One project I’m involved in is a show called She’s a Rebel, produced and performed entirely by women and non-binary people. Now in its sixth year, the mission of the show is to support an integrated, cooperative community of women whose talents make Nashville what it is. We honor the past, engage with the present, and have a ridiculous amount of fun. We have dancers! How many other shows in Nashville have dancers?

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

EA: A lot of the things I would want to change about the music industry – like a culture of inclusion and diversity, clear anti-harrassment and anti-abuse policies, and equal representation in airplay – could be solved by installing women in positions of power!

If I couldn’t make that happen, then I would make tour buses electric.

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January 20th, 2020

Hayley Jane Batt

Artists Worked With: BØRNS, Love Fame Tragedy, Superheart, Hey Violet, Emily Kinney, Freelance Whales, Zara Larsson, Adam Lambert, Maddie Poppe, Meg Myers

www.hayleyjanemusic.com

 
Insta: Haylo_J

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

HJB: My dad and brother are both in music, so I think I just thought that’s what you did when you grew up! I wanted to be a touring musician since I was 14 when I played bass in my brother’s band. I then went to Berklee college of music which opened the door to living in America and moving to LA, which is where my professional career really started. Most of my work has come from meeting great musicians and people out there, word of mouth, and being lucky enough to be in the right audition rooms or recommended for the right gigs at the right time.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo?

HJB: Often I’ll just sit at the piano, or with my bass or guitar and play around until I find something I can’t stop playing. I’m not sure it’s technique so much as just seeing what comes out and sounds good (to me). Lyrically I am quite particular and harsh on myself. I find it hard to accept a lyric if I feel like there’s a better way of saying it, and will bash it into the ground until its right, or throw it away. For me the hardest thing is knowing when an idea is done. I lose sight of what I think sounds good half the time, so writing with other people is great for this as there’s a fresh perspective and someone to bounce ideas off. Writing with a band is surprisingly freeing, as you have a clearer idea of what it’s for. 

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

HJB: Probably the pressure of knowing that you’re being hired to be perfect at what you do every night, because you’re part of someone else’s musical vision. It’s a professional service that someone is paying you for, and I’m always aware of that. Things do go wrong with live shows, and dealing with the recovery of that, especially mentally, is a challenge, but one that I’m quite intrigued by. I still never understand why sometimes I can come off stage and feel like I didn’t have a good show, and yet someone else who played the exact same show will come off stage saying that was the best one we’ve ever done! Understanding that and dealing with it effectively is as much part of being a touring musician is as playing the parts right (even though I just said I didn’t understand it…).

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?

HJB: Not too much. I’d like to do more but it’s hard to keep up the studio work while touring. There are a few producers who I’ll work with when I remind them I’m back in town, but most of my connections are in the touring world.

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

HJB: Touring pretty much dictates that for me. I can’t decide when someone is going out on tour, therefore I can’t decide on when I’m free to work on other things. That’s the thing I love most, so if I’m home working on personal projects and a tour comes through then that takes precedent.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

HJB: There have definitely been challenges, but being a woman in the music industry has also at times helped me enormously. Whilst I’ve lost gigs before because of my gender, I’ve also been hired because of it; If they specifically want a girl, or if they need an extra female harmony voice as well as a bassist. Getting a gig is often so much more than just playing, so male or female, the extra things that set you apart, or not, are always going to come into play.

On a day-to-day basis, the biggest challenge is overcoming stereotypes that have been established for previously male-dominated roles within the industry. If I’m in a band with a female drummer, I definitely notice a lot more comments thrown at us about how ‘cool’ or ‘badass’ it is that we’re a female rhythm section. The language used towards female musicians is different. For example people often ask ‘is it an all female band?’ You’d never hear someone ask a male musician ‘is it an all male band?’ It’s now become quite amusing to clock up stories of ridiculous things that are said to me and fellow female musicians, from both genders. I’ve been asked if I’m the masseuse/who’s girlfriend I am/if I’m the make up artist or dancer/if I’m miming. The list goes on. Most of the tours I’ve been on have had a great balance of men and women. However, it’s going to take a lot more women in the music industry for it to become second nature so that there are no more raised eyebrows or shocked faces when you explain what you do, or are good at it.

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

HJB: The way and amount artists/songwriters get paid. I don’t have the answer for how this would work with how music is consumed these days, but so many artists who appear to be ’successful’ are still struggling. It’s harder to make an actual living in the music industry these days for the people who are actually creating the music.

Posted in Interviews, Special Features Tagged with:

January 20th, 2020

Megan Jane

Artists Worked With- Lauren Jenkins, Kree Harrison, Hannah Dasher, Side Piece, Erin Enderlin and many more!

www.meganjanemusic.com instagram- @meganjanemusic

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

MJ: With my parents encouragement and support, I picked up guitar, drums and bass around 15 years old. Once I saw my first concert (Kathy Mattea) I was hooked!

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

MJ: I haven’t done song writing for many years but as far as coming up with drum parts for different artists, I always make sure my parts support the vocals and lyric.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

MJ: I think the most frustrating thing for me is having to prove myself in a different way because I am a female. You can see it on people’s faces when they expect you to suck because you are a woman but that just feeds my fire to go out and kill it even more.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?

MJ: I do a fair amount of studio work. I definitely do more road work but it’s a nice change every couple of months or weeks to use my creativity a little differently and then have something tangible and permanent to show for it.

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

MJ: Balance and schedule maintenance are key. Whether it is between different projects or work and having a consistent personal life. Everything requires a different amount of attention so time management is important. Equally important is listening to my body/mind when I need to step away bc I am not being productive and the best thing to do is rest or reconnect with life beyond work. If you are juggling different projects in a week- keep a good calendar, make and keep great charts and carve out a little personal time so you can maintain focus and energy to tackle everything with a great attitude.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

MJ: There is a shortage of females in the music industry- artists, sidemen, crew, call makers- and while its getting a lot of attention right now, progress always feels slow. I overcome my frustrations by doing my job the best of my abilities, having hard conversations with those that are willing and referring as many women as I can for work.  Our project Side Piece is all about getting more women on stage and being seen/heard. It doesn’t matter if you are a pro or novice, there needs to be more places for women to be supported and it’s vital that the next generation of women see other women on stage in a role that can seem and is honestly made to be elusive or a pipe dream.

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

MJ: Country Radio is totally screwed up right now. They are playing 1 song by a woman maybe once an hour and never two women back to back. It’s insane and it just makes it that much harder for women to break thru and have a real impact with no support on a vital platform. I would love to see more women sidemen with bigger acts in every genre. I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to hear “I’ve never seen a girl drummer/bassists/guitarist/etc before!” Nobody wants to be seen as a novelty when all you want is to have a chance to be taken seriously.

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January 20th, 2020

Megan Mullins

Artists Worked With: Alabama, Big & Rich, The Jonas Brothers, Shakira, Shania, Trace Adkins, Jamie O’Neal, Jamie Lynn Spears, Wade HayesAlso in the house band for NBC’s Nashville Star 2004-2008, CMT’s Nashville Squares 2019

Twitter/instagram/ @meganmullins10
Facebook @meganmullinsmusic

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

MM: My Dad, Melvin Mullins, worked in a factory during the week and played guitar and sang country music as one man band every weekend, along with a drum machine and bass pedals. My older brother wanted to play like him, when I came along I wanted to play like both of them. I started Suzuki violin lessons when I was 18 months old (they don’t normally start children that early but I was picking up pencils around the house and practicing the violin bowings because I had tagged along to my brother’s violin lessons) I had my first Suzuki violin recital at 3, started playing a couple fiddle tunes with Dad at his shows, that spiraled into a family band doing 100-200 shows a year from the time I was 3 on. During all those years playing country and bluegrass music with my family band, I was also classically trained on violin. There were always so many instruments and different styles of music I was exposed to as a child, it was an incredible learning experience and a great way to grow up.  When I was 15 I graduated high school, moved to Nashville and started working as a musician playing with other artists, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I also had a record deal for 8 years, I made three albums with three different producers. Although no albums were ever released, I still do solo shows from time to time. I play fiddle/violin, mandolin, guitar, viola, accordion, piano, clarinet and banjo, and sing lead and bgv’s.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo?

MM: I don’t have a specific technique, really, I’m always writing down notes and ideas when they come to me, and I finish them when it feels right, no rush. When I co-write with other people, I like to write with people I connect with and enjoy being around and also have good writing chemistry with. Writing with a band is more focused, towards a specific project.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

MM: I always joke that we get paid to travel, and play for free. I love traveling, but sometimes it can be taxing with early flights, or long flights. I’ve worked in every state in the US (Hawaii and Alaska included) and been to 39 countries so far. The heck of it is, you go to all these places but you don’t always have time to look around or see the sights. The beauty of it is, sometimes you do. that being said, there is so much good that outweighs any challenges, you get to travel the world, play music with your friends that feel like family and get paid for it!

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?

MM: I’ve mainly worked as a touring musician, but I do studio work here and there, both instrumentally and vocally. It’s definitely something I’d like to do more of.

Megan Mullins

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

MM: I’m not sure I do, actually. I love playing music, of any kind, any time. I have formed a band with some of my favorite people called Side Piece, we are a bunch of “sidemen” that happen to be women, and we have “banded together” to play music together and get more females on more stages. We always have an open call, if any woman wants to sit in with us they are always more than welcome.  Sometimes it can be intimidating for a female to approach a bunch of guys on stage and say, “hey, can I play too?”

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

MM: Whenever you see a female on stage, it’s a dedicated choice. Unless you’re on a tour where every band member gets their own hotel room (usually it’s two to a room assuming band members are the same sex, usually male), an extra room for one solitary female is an extra expense.  Also, there should be a separate dressing room which is more trouble to go to. Additionally, I’ve literally been asked (on large scale gigs) “hey little lady, which one of these guys on stage is your boyfriend?” “How’d you get this gig, if ya know what I mean?” To which I usually respond, either, “I auditioned ” or “I was hired based on merit, talent, and hard work”.  It’s just nonsense, to imply that a female couldn’t possibly get a job as a musician on a big stage unless she’s using “feminine wiles”. (Insert eye roll here)

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

MM: It is a bummer to me that music industry/radio/record labels etc. in this day and age still feel it’s ok to publicly refuse to give females equal airplay, things still happen like sexual harassment and abuse. The truth is, that stuff happens everywhere. In that way, the music business needs to change and be better, along with the rest of the world. Like the old saying about the weather, “if you don’t like it, just give it a little time”.  I think it’s ever changing – people and trends come and go, it all comes back around eventually.   I feel so lucky and blessed and grateful to have been playing music professionally as a career my entire life. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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January 20th, 2020

Tosha Jones

Artists Worked With- Saliva, Wayland, The Dead Deads

http://www.toshajones.com
http://www.facebook.com/toshajones777
www.instagram.com/toshajonesdrums

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

TJ:  When I was three years old I asked for a drum kit and my parents got me a Fraggle Rock kit from Toys R Us for Christmas. They didn’t know I would rip it to shreds within a year. So, I officially started drumming at age eleven in the middle school band.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

TJ: My biggest challenge touring is getting a proper shower. Also, if you’re the opening act for a bigger band, would be winning the crowd over since they really aren’t there to see your band.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?

TJ: Not a whole lot yet, but I did record drums on Brandon Baumann’s solo project that just dropped called “Manifestation”, which you can find on iTunes, Spotify, etc.

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

TJ: Somehow the Universe always times these issues out perfectly for me. I’m usually able to do everything I’m asked to be involved in without them interfering with each other.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

TJ: Of course there are challenges by being female compared to male. From it being not getting taken seriously at a soundcheck from city to city because I’m a chick, or that I can’t play as well as dudes because I’m a chick, etc.. It’s frustrating. In the past, I have actually stuck up for myself and have given that attitude right back to them, but within the last year, I have just ignored those types of issues the best I can and allowed my playing to speak for itself.

 

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January 20th, 2020

Adrienne “Aeb” Byrne

Artists Worked With: Eminem, Ed Sheeran, Robby Krieger, Stone Temple Pilots, Alex Lifeson, Tyga, Maxo Kream, Rich The Kid, Alice Cooper, Boston, Chicago, Haley Reinhart, Chad Smith, Doe Paoro, William Close and The Earth Harp Collective, and many others. My own projects have been under the artist name “AeB” and most recently “KENA
 
aebness.com kenasounds.com
On all social media: @aebness  @kenasounds

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

AB: My Dad is a musician as well as several other family members throughout our extended family. I always gravitated towards the piano in our house and my family was very supportive of my interest. I had classical piano and flute lessons from a young age, learned to play jazz from my Dad (Christopher Ell Byrne) and then began playing in his bands. In high school I started playing with a band called The Nightcrawlers. We played over 150 shows a year at our busiest and recorded and produced our own original album.  By the time I moved to Los Angeles I had put in a ton of time practicing, gigging and producing.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo?

AB: Part of my work is to be a nonstop fountain of ideas, so I am frequently changing my approach to stimulate creative. It also varies enormously depending on my role in any given project. I keep notebooks and recording snippets with ideas and then start to assemble them over time. I often will have something that jumps out at me as the ‘seed’ of a great song and then I’ll keep coming back to over time to develop it. I assemble musical ideas in Ableton in a similar way – a session might start with just a vocal idea or a bass line or something, and then I keep coming back to it and layering.

My work is usually collaborative. I find it energizing and inspiring to work with others. So sometimes I am coming back to these ideas and developing and sometimes I am sending them to collaborators and they are adding something. Or sometimes they send me a start to something and I add my ideas to it.

FEMMUSIC:  What has been your biggest challenge touring?

AB: The odd hours are the biggest challenge to me. So many of the issues human beings run into can be related to lack of sleep, and moving through ever changing time zones and playing late nights and having early call times… It tends to be all over the place which is really demanding.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?

AB: I do studio work almost every day. I am usually working at other studios about once a week, from my own place non stop, and when I am traveling I have a little studio in a suitcase so the flow is not interrupted.

Adrienne “Aeb” Byrne

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

AB: My dear friend and collaborator in the project KENA likes to talk about the metaphor of the horses pulling the chariot. If you put all your energy in one direction you go off course so you have to keep checking on them all to make sure you’re moving forward in the direction you want to be going in. It really describes the feeling well of an artists life – always many irons in the fire and many responsibilities. Some things that have a better paycheck and other things that have a great spiritual reward so they are still a valuable part of the equation. My life includes touring, session work, producing music for myself and others, teaching and mentoring, and producing events. It’s a lot to keep track of but they all support and fuel one another and once you start attracting like minded people to make greatness happen it’s amazing what you can get done.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

AB: People don’t always expect that you can play. I have had multiple situations where they say they are hiring musicians but what they are actually concerned with is having beautiful women on stage with them and even though they called for pros and have a room full of pros you might get treated like an amateur. I remember being in a rehearsal once and taking a solo and the band leader said ‘oh, AND you can play?!’ This was after doing several shows with this person and it took that long to get the opportunity to play enough for him to notice. I was once part of an entire female orchestra hired to play along to a track of an orchestra. We had multiple principal players from major symphonies sitting amongst us, it was mind boggling.

Thankfully this is far from the majority of situations, or at least it’s not usually that blatant. Unfortunately I think it is a very real stereotype that exists that is gradually undergoing cultural change and making room for women to be boss musicians without having to look or act like models.

All in all, my tactic has always been to make the best of situations and keep making yourself about what it is you value most. At the end of the day, I got paid well for those gigs and never went back. I was grateful to have the work come in, but not interested in working as a model instead of a musician, just not my thing.

As far as touring goes, in my experience what has been important is the chemistry of the people you’re working with rather than a generalized difference between touring or other types of musical work.

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

AB: Man, big question! I feel like I am constantly exploring change. The whole industry has been in constant massive change for decades now. The power to create music and ways of going about a musical lifestyle are in the hands of the people. I used to worry about the fact that I didn’t feel I quite fit into the established roles I was seeing in the industry growing up. Now rather than that being a shortcoming it is an asset, I have found a niche for myself because of my unusual set of interests and skills. That has already been a massive change I was dreaming of once upon a time.

Now, I would like to see the music industry grow in the direction of social responsibility. Music is the meditation that the general population tunes into, everyone gets into a rhythm together reciting song lyrics. What it is we are supporting and expressing as artists is not just about us but being the voice of the those around us too, become the songs that are stuck in their heads. I see a lot of artists that are conscious of this power and do something with it. It’s a very challenging time for the world right now so I would just like to keep moving in that direction.

Posted in Interviews, Special Features Tagged with: , ,

January 20th, 2020

Leanne Bowes

Artists Worked With: Cyndi Lauper, Hank Von Hell, Linda Perry, Corey Feldman, John Early, Shiragirl, Hunter Valentine, Tim Armstrong, Jane Holiday, Derek Day, Jennie Vee

leannekbowes.com, @leannekbowes

FEMMUSIC:  How did you become involved in music?

LB: My dad was a drummer and my mom was a music lover, so I grew up with music around me at all times. I naturally gravitated towards any instrument around me, but I specifically picked up the bass when I was 12 years old. My dad wanted to try out his new home studio setup so he asked me to play “So Lonely” by The Police on his bass while he played the drums and recorded it. Essentially, I haven’t put the bass down since then! I learned every CD in my house and beyond, which is how I taught myself to play. My dad actually passed away in 2011, and I’m proud to carry on his legacy by touring the world playing music I love.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo?:

LB: When it comes to songwriting, my strengths lie more in collaboration! I love bouncing ideas off of my co-writers and brainstorming to create something meaningful. Alone, my process is slow, and I tend to feel overwhelmed by all the possible options. When I work with even just one other person, those options are beautifully narrowed down to what we agree upon!

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

LB: I absolutely adore being on the road, it’s my favorite place to be. However, my biggest challenge is the “post tour blues.” It can be difficult to drastically switch routines. Going from “tour life” to “home life” takes a toll on your mental health, and I’m certainly still navigating that balance. Luckily I have a community of musicians around me and they all deal with the same challenges, so that support can be vital when I need a reminder that those feelings are common! I’m also happy to be that support for any fellow road warriors who need it.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?

LB: Tons! I used to only do studio work for the musicians for whom I also play live, but lately I’ve additionally been working on production and writing for other artists with my co-writer, Jake Bonham.

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

LB: It’s all about prioritization! I take my live performances with bands very seriously, and I play live a LOT. So, depending on which show or tour is next, I’m practicing for that first and foremost. As for separating projects, I have a huge file system that contains every chart for every band I’ve played for in the past 5 years. If and when they call me back, I can pull out their song charts rather than restarting from scratch.

FEMMUSIC:  What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

LB: I’m not always taken seriously at first. People tend to assume I was given a gig because of the way I look rather than the way I play, and unfortunately some men have gone out of their way to express that. Luckily on tour I’m at least able to prove them wrong with stellar performances and a professional demeanor. I don’t feel I alone can overcome the challenges we face as women in ANY industry, but I consistently recommend my female-identifying friends for gigs to build a bigger professional woman-identified presence in touring bands. I feel fortunate to have only worked with bands and crew– male and female–who show me nothing but respect.

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

LB: A lot of industry networking jams and events focus on the “big name” hired guns. They’ll have the same 10 musicians on rotation constantly. Of course it’s fantastic to watch them and to be inspired by them, but I’d love to see a jam or event that highlights the lesser-known musicians! There are so many talented people, especially in Los Angeles, and I think more should be given a platform occasionally.  

Posted in Interviews, Special Features Tagged with:

January 20th, 2020

Emily Moore

Artists Worked With:Fun., Nate Ruess, X Ambassadors, Børns, Ella Vos, KT Tunstall, Charli XCX, Hailee Steinfeld, Kesha, Wrabel

Emilyannemoore.com, Instagram: @emilymooreband

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

EM: For as long as I can remember I have been interested in music, although it takes different forms throughout my life. My dad is an amazing blues guitarist and singer songwriter so I always remember music being an important part of our house. As a kid, there were always times throughout the day where I was told to “Leave your dad alone, he’s writing.” I’m not sure I thought much of it at the time, but now I finally understand! The time and space alone to create is so important. I started playing piano around 8 years old but once I discovered guitar around 13 years old (and the rollercoaster of emotions that come with being a young teenage girl) I started writing music. Writing and singing have always been a creative outlet for me, a way to get a sea of thoughts out of my head and into the real world. I will admit that now, as a professional touring musician playing other people’s songs, it’s harder to find the time to write. It’s a goal of mine this year to make the time because I believe it is so vital to have a creative outlet in life.   

FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo? 

EM: I’ve always loved playing in bands. Honestly, my favorite part about playing music is the connection to the other people in the room whether it’s interacting with the people on stage around me or figuring out parts in a rehearsal space. That’s easily the most rewarding part of it for me. However, I’ve always found it easier to write on my own. That probably has a lot to do with feeling self conscious coming up with ideas around other people (another goal of mine for the year!). Turning your thoughts into a song is so personal and I’m still navigating how to do that in a room full of people. I’m so envious of myself as a teenager cranking out 3 songs a day. It felt so easy back then and I can only assume that was because it WAS easy! I never second guessed my ideas, never wondered what someone would think of them and definitely never worried about making money from them. I would sit down on my bedroom floor with a guitar and whatever feeling was weighing on me and just… write a song. These days, the process is slower but hasn’t changed much. I still write music, vocals and words all at the same time. It’s more like learning a song in my head than writing it.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

EM: The biggest challenge in touring is finding balance. That applies across the board. Finding balance between my home life and road life, playing music and writing music, alone time and social time and balance between being present and planning for the future. I always felt like touring musicians had an advantage in life because we have to learn early on how to get a long with a lot of people in a small 15 passenger van without breaks from each other for months at a time! We get to know more people on an intimate level than a lot of other professions. I’ve discovered the thing that helps me stay sane and healthy on the road is making sure to find that balance. I truly love the people I tour with (I’ve been lucky in that way) and I am always going to want to hang out with them but learning to take time to myself whether it’s going for a walk, going to bed early or reading a book, is crucial for my health.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do? 

Emily Moore

EM: I haven’t done much studio work. I have always leaned more towards the live aspect of music. I really enjoy the thrill and performance of being on stage in a room full of people all gathered there for the same purpose. There is a type of musician who really thrives in the studio though and they are such amazing players. I appreciate what they do for sure.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring? 

EM: I have been thinking a lot about this lately and it wasn’t until recently that I fully acknowledged the challenges women face in the music industry. I wasn’t consciously aware of the imbalance and I believe that is because I subconsciously learned how to make it work for myself. In the past I was flattered when I was told I was “one of the guys,” and would strive to be more like them. I would be called “lucky” for ending up where I was while my male counterparts would be praised for their hard work and talent. Arriving at venues I was always assumed to be a girlfriend, merch seller, hair and make up or a dancer before I was ever thought to be part of the band. One of my good friends was even asked if she was a masseuse because she couldn’t possibly be a bass player in a band (an amazing one, at that!). All these things may sound harmless but they are extremely insidious and it is hard work to not believe them when they are reaffirmed over and over again. I’m happy that the spell is broken and I have started to notice where the discrepancies are. Instead of being complemented that I am one of the guys, I’m starting to question why is it so much better to be one of the guys? Can’t I be me and also be good enough? Things have definitely shifted and I’m thankful that young girls growing up today will get to see musicians of all types on stage in front them. Women can be singers, bassists, guitarists, drummers, songwriters, producers, pianists, cellists, engineers, composers, French horn players, etc. Go figure! I’ve been extremely grateful to work with many artists in my career that understand this and value me. It can only get better from here.

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

EM: I’m sure if you ask anyone if they could change something about their industry there would be a number of small things that would make life easier. Obviously, I feel strongly about the growing inclusion of all different types of people into the music industry but for the most part I feel very happy to be doing what I do. It’s a pleasure to play music and I look forward to seeing how it grows and adapts in the coming years.

Emily Moore

Posted in Interviews, Special Features Tagged with:

January 20th, 2020

Ryan Madora

Artists Worked With: Robben Ford, Bobby Bones, and the Raging Idiots, Lamont Dozier, Kyshona Armstrong, Alicia Michilli, Slim Gambill

ryanmadora.com

bassplayerstoknow.com

Instagram: @ryanmadora

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ryanmadoramusic/

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

RM: I picked up the bass as a high school student and decided to go to college for Music Business and Journalism. After a few internships on the business side, I discovered that I wanted to pursue playing professionally. I began going to jams and networking with other players; this ultimately led to playing in various bands, teaching lessons, and gigging on a regular basis.

FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo? 

RM: As a songwriter, I tend to write instrumental music based upon grooves and melodic themes. It’s almost easier to write this way with a band, where each instrumentalist is contributing on their respective instrument and the ideas morph in real time. You don’t have to stop and create your own versions of drum parts, etc., and there’s a different level of excitement in the air.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

RM: Lack of communication. When you’re on the road, your daily schedule is determined by whoever is in charge, (aka the tour manager, the artist you’re with, or the person that speaks up the loudest). When no one assumes this role, it’s very difficult to manage your time and this can lead to frustration and miscommunication. Great tour managers make sure that everyone has a clear idea for the day-to-day, such as when you are leaving a hotel, what time you need to be at the venue for soundcheck, and whether or not you’re provided with a meal (and time to eat it).

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do? 

RM: I try to do as much as possible, from playing on demos to full records. Some months can be super busy and I may be in the studio a dozen times. Other months may be slower, particularly during touring season.

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring? 

RM: As a hired gun, I try to find a balance between the work I do for other people (gigs and sessions) and work that I do for myself (writing, teaching, and promoting my own projects). By nature, each artists’ project is separate and requires its own attention. I tend to prioritize gigs and treat each project with the time and respect that it deserves.

I also carve out time for my own projects, specifically for my book, Bass Players To Know: Learning From The Greats, and my column series with No Treble. I’ve also been developing educational material for skype lessons and for online courses with TrueFire. I work extra hard to set aside time every week to work on developing useful content and to practice becoming a better educator. This may mean that I have to write from the back of a tour bus or make notes while sitting at the airport, but it’s worth it when I’m able to accomplish goals that I set for myself.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring? 

RM: One of the biggest challenges as a woman in the industry is the fact that most people make decisions based upon image rather than music. This means that you’re often hired based upon your look rather than your playing ability. Sometimes you’re hired specifically because a band wants a “female bass player” to complete an image for the group, artist, or “all female band.” I believe that it’s important to get hired based upon merit and ability; I’d prefer to know that I’m on a gig because my playing and professionalism are what got me there. In order to overcome this, I often don’t take gigs that specifically seek out a “female bass player” because I’d rather play with people who are simply looking for “the right bass player.” This challenge exists whether or not touring is involved.

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

RM: I would change people’s notion of value. There’s a huge discrepancy between what people are willing to pay a “professional” for their time and what people are willing to pay a professional musician. For example, imagine you’re hiring a plumber to come and fix your toilet. They may show up at your house for one hour, charge you $120, and you pay it without blinking an eye. If you’re a musician getting hired for a four-hour gig, you may get offered $100 (though it’s often less). You’re showing up with your gear, ten-thousand hours of practice and playing experience, and the ability to play all of the music for the gig. You’re entertaining people, creating value for the club by attracting customers and keeping them at the bar, and you’re walking away with very little at the end of the night. The industry has suffered from de-valuation across the board—from streaming, to synch licensing, live performances, and session work—and it’s increasingly difficult to make a living in music.

Posted in Interviews, Special Features Tagged with:

January 20th, 2020

Lindsay Manfredi

Artists Worked With: As you know, I’m currently working with Scooter Ward and Nick Coyle from Cold, and very honored to be with that band full time, as I’ve been a fan and part of the Cold Army for over 20 years. I also collaborate often with Geno Lenardo from Filter/Chevelle. I’ve worked on many projects with amazing artists in my past. I sang, wrote and played guitar in a band with Eric Klee Johnson and Marc Johnson, two incredible musicians who the own The Pop Machine, a stellar recording studio out of Indianapolis.

lindsaymanfredi.com, coldarmy.com, IG: lindsaymanfredi, IG: coldmusic, FB Lindsay Manfredi, FB COLD

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

LM: I became involved in music as a young child. I sang in the choir at church and throughout my teenage years, in choir at school. I picked up my dad’s classical Alvarez guitar and beat up Mel Bay chord book when I was 17 and wrote my first song. Music was my life, my savior. I would sit for hours picking apart the different parts of songs of my favorite bands: Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Hole, Cold, Tool, … the list goes on and on.  I moved from my hometown when I was 19 years old to find people to play with and started my very first band in Terre Haute, IN, called No Strings Attached (NSA). Indiana back then didn’t have the music scene I needed, so my then bassist and I moved to Gainesville, FL with all our gear and no money and started a band there but we never got it off the ground. I was working at gas station and had maybe 50 bucks to my name and was seriously considering moving back to Indiana to go to college. I happened to have a good friend living in St Petersburg, whom was also my tarot card reader for years and years. She told me there was no way in hell I was going back to Indiana, so I packed my things, broke up with my band, and moved to St. Pete. I was a body piercer also. That was my vocation. There were just no tattoo shops in Gainesville that had any open spots. I found a job in Tampa working for Vahalla Tattoos, and got an ad in the paper looking for people who were interested in the bands I was in and wanted to start a band. I auditioned people, people auditioned me, and I ended up working with the talented David VanBreman and we founded Pretty Machine Gun. That project was fun, but never went anywhere but we did play some great shows and it was my first time actually recording in a studio. I was 21 at the time. (Found out later on that there was another metal band name PMG, but that was years later).

I ended up taking a little break from music, fell in love, moved to Chicago to try to make this love work, and then when it didn’t, I ended up back in my hometown in Indiana. I was still writing and playing open mics and things of that nature with my original music. During this time, I got pregnant, had a baby and was in college full time getting a communication degree. My guitar would sit in my closet, unplayed, for a couple of years, as I was extremely busy with schooling and my young daughter at the time.

Then one day, out of the blue, I just started writing again. I played at an open mic and ended up meeting my husband of three years. Gregg. He was and still is an incredible musician. He plays every instrument and can murder a fretless upright bass. We ended up starting a band together called, We’re Not Mexican. He is the one who encouraged me to pick up the bass. I was 27 at this point. I loved it. I was always a better bassist than a guitarist, although I would still play both and still do to this day.

Once my marriage split, I ended up moving to Indianapolis and it was there, I met the beautiful ladies of Neon Love Life, and we co-founded Girls Rock! Indianapolis. We started Neon Love Life to make an example of what you can do and write as females in the industry. I actually did a TEDx talk on it. We went into the studio and recorded our first full-length album and it ended up becoming the number one album of the year in Indianapolis according to music journalist, David Lindquist. And while I was ready to get out there and take it on the road, our lead guitarist, Ashley wanted to go to Yale. (Which she did and is now a doctor and I love her dearly.) Neon Love Life split after just two years and I started the Kaleidostars project with the brothers Johnson of The Pop Machine studio and Wonderdrug. We recorded an EP, and got endorsed by MLX mics. This alternative project is on Apple music and Spotify. We took that project to SXSW and tried to shop it but it just wasn’t resonating with anyone.

That being said, there was a rock band out of Indianapolis that Eric Klee Johnson had recorded and produced. They needed a bassist for a television spot that their current bassist couldn’t record. It was called Picture Yes. Since Eric played bass they asked him to do it, but he was busy, so I decided to learn the songs and do it. They were thrilled and ended up hiring me on full time as their bassist. We ended up going on the road with that project, opening up for the band, Saving Abel. We spent months and months on the road in a van and it was my happy place. I guess now is the time I should mention that I got the Cold spider tattooed on my body when I was 21. A Cold fan saw me play at a show and sent Scooter my photo. Jeremy Marshall, Cold’s original bassist had left and was working on a different project. I was touring with Picture Yes and had also taken over role as lead vocalist at that point. That’s when I got a tweet from Scooter saying he’d like me to call him. I did immediately and he asked if I wanted the gig, and it was an immediate yes. In the time it took for us to actually get in the studio, I was still playing with Picture Yes, but since we had changed singers, we renamed the project to Chasing The Sun. However, I moved on from that and moved to LA and then later, Temecula with Scooter, and we recorded the album with Jeremy Parker along with Nick Coyle on guitar and Aaron Fulton on drums. The Things We Can’t Stop, (Napalm Records), Cold’s sixth studio album, and my first album with them, debuted at 34 on Billboard and was in the top 10 on other charts.

I’m also very honored to be officially endorsed by Diamond Guitars. They have just created my own bass series called The LM Series Maverick and LM Series Hailfire. They’ll be available for purchase to the public after this year. We are also endorsed by Ernie Ball.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo? 

LM: My songwriting technique absolutely varies according to the particular project I’m working on. I used to write a lot with my guitar, but now with bass being my main instrument, I write mainly on that. When I write solo, I hear a melody in my head, I start to play it, I begin writing lyrics. I basically can hear the entire song in my head, so I just write out the chords so I don’t forget, sing it on voice notes. I actually probably have an entire album on my voice notes that I should be recording. Perhaps I’ll get to them when I’m not so busy.

Scooter basically does all the writing in Cold. He is a mastermind creator and storyteller. There are times he already knows how he wants me to play a particular part and shows me, and there are times he gives me free reign on what I hear for a particular song. It really all depends on his vision, which I’m one thousand percent okay with. I feel so very blessed to be able to work with one of my all time favorite musicians and even more honored to call him a best friend.

When I work with Geno, it’s usually for television or film. He writes the music, sends it to me and I create the lyrics and melody, and then record the vocals in his studio, usually the next day. We have timelines on those types of projects. Some timelines are longer than others, but it’s a blast to be able to create music in any form.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

LM: Touring is not at all challenging for me. It’s my favorite place to be. I’m a road warrior and love every minute of it. It’s nice to be in a tour bus with people I absolutely adore versus being in a van like I had always been in the past.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do? 

LM: I work in the studio a lot with Geno. The past couple of months have been very busy so haven’t work with him as much post-tour, but I’m also a partner in a luxury candle making business that Geno’s fiancé, Tricia Meteer created this past summer called EQXshop. I do have a song we’re going to be finishing up before I go back out on tour with Cold that I’m very excited about.

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring? 

LM: Separating projects is all about time management. I also have a book coming out this summer called Unkcufwithable: A Guide to Inspired Badassery (pronounced UnFUCKwithable). My personal blog has suffered the most from my insane schedule this past year, but there’s a time and place and vibe for everything, and I’m sure once the little things get checked off the list, I’ll have more time for it.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring? 

LM: I’ll be completely honest about this, for me, personally, I’ve never really had “challenges” per se. I’ve always been a respected musician. I work hard, I learn parts, I do my role in whatever position it pertains to. I got my dream gig with Cold and work with Geno BECAUSE they wanted some femme in their music and wanted to work with me. Like I said, I’m very honored and I’ve been very respected in the music industry over the twenty some years I’ve been in it. I don’t look at myself as a “female” musician so much as I do a musician. I think it takes a lot of determination to never give up in the industry. That’s the hardest part. But this was always my dream and I never really detoured from that.

I don’t have road challenges. Or perhaps that challenge is when I’m on my period. (wink wink)

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

LM: I think that the one thing I would change about the music industry is artist compensation in more than one area. We roll around in a tour bus and we have lives, but we don’t do this for the money. We do it for the love of music because that’s WHO we are. We are creators, and we can’t live without that creation and all the drama that surrounds it. But I’ll take that drama over anything because life is art, and I’m living my best life.

Posted in Interviews, Special Features Tagged with:

January 20th, 2020

Annie Clements

Artists Worked With: Maren Morris, Sugarland, Amos Lee, Side Piece (original project)  

www.annieclements.com instagram @annieclements www.sidepieceband.com Instagram @sidepieceband

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

AC: My dad is a professional musician down in New Orleans. He needed a bassist for his own projects so he taught me to play. I started playing gigs with him when I was a teenager. I graduated from the Berklee College of Music and began touring professionally after that.
 
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo? 

AC: I’m definitely a lyrical editor. I’m always seeking to explain a thought or an emotion as clearly as possible. I’m a bit of literalist, less of a poet. If I’m writing alone, I tend to tell a literal story, usually autobiographical. If I’m writing with a band, I think I’m good at taking other ideas and making them fit into the puzzle of the rhyme scheme. I find myself approaching writing as solving a puzzle.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

AC: Pondering how I can have children and also tour. I spent years worrying about this. Finally I froze my eggs (best decision ever) and once my boss Maren became pregnant she offered me the opportunity to bring a child of my own on the road. My husband and I are now expecting our first child, 2 months after Maren’s is due.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do? 

AC: My passion is live performance and I haven’t actively pursued a career in the studio. I get calls to do sessions over the internet and will occasionally work on projects in town. My husband operated a studio for years specializing in music for film and TV and I did a lot of that work back then. I’ve been fortunate to play and sing on albums for many of the artists with whom I tour and I’ve done a few projects for producer Dave Cobb who is amazing. You’re more likely to hear me on live records rather than studio recordings. My favorite live recording I’m on is Amos Lee’s Live From Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. I’m also on Sugarland’s Live on the Inside which was a number one record so that’s pretty cool!

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring? 

AC: I’ve been fortunate to have a really good gig for most of my career. It’s important to me to have several things going on to keep me inspired and it’s been a luxury to be able to have the financial cushion of a solid gig which allows me to pursue passion projects that may be musically rewarding but not necessarily financially so. My priority is always my main gig so that makes it challenging to make a big push with anything else but I’m able to contribute in ways that work logistically for me. That’s why my band Side Piece works so well for me. The whole idea is that it’s comprised of other side women so we all understand that people will need to sub out on occasion. We set it up that way.

Annie Clements

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

AC:  I’m always faced with people who doubt my ability simply because I’m living in a woman’s body. The flip side is that people are so surprised when a woman CAN play that they’re blown away. A big challenge for all women in this industry is physical appearance. A guy can throw on a baseball cap and a ratty t shirt and get on stage. Women spend time and money that men don’t to get ready for a show. When I appear on television, I spend at least an hour in a hair and makeup chair. There’s wardrobe involved. It can get very expensive. There’s just a LOT more that’s expected of a woman than a man in that regard. I’ve been teased on the internet for wearing the same clothes multiple times on stage. It’s important to talk about this discrepancy and make people aware of it.

I think my attitude is the most important weapon in fighting sexism. I have to be confident in my abilities, advocate for myself, insist that I make what everyone else is making even if it means having an awkward conversation with the people I work with making sure we’re getting paid the same amount. I don’t have a chip on my shoulder about being a woman. I’ve made my career as a singing bassist for female artists who want female harmonies during their show. It’s an asset. I think I do a good job of advocating for myself and all women without alienating the people I’m working with. Bitterness and anger aren’t successful attitudes to make inroads. Compassion and conversation are much more effective.

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

AC: I’m working on this with Side Piece. I want there to be as many women in this business as men, removing the novelty from an all-female band. When men get together and play, no on calls it a “boy band.” Side Piece shows are safe places for any woman who wants a chance to perform on stage to have one. It’s very intimidating to walk up to stage full of men and ask to play. We’re an all-women band so that other women can see what’s possible and feel comfortable to take a chance themselves. My hope and my aim is de-socialize the notion that playing an instrument is man’s work. I’m pregnant with a girl. I want a world where she can operate without fear, stigma or feeling like a novelty. I want her to be free to be herself.

Posted in Interviews, Special Features Tagged with:

January 20th, 2020

Beth Garner

Artists Worked With: So many knowns and unknowns LOL— Doug Supernaw, I’ve sat in or shared the stage with James McMurtry, Robben Ford, LeeRoy Parnell, Danny Federici (Bruce Springsteen) Shaun Martin, Norah Jones (back in the day) opened for Jimmie Vaughan, Joe Bonnamassa, Eric Gales, Kenny Wayne Shepard as a solo artist. As a sideman, opened for Eddie Money, Bellamy Bros, Lorrie Morgan—so many I have forgotten.

www.bethgarner.com @bethgarnermusic on twitter, IG, FB

FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?

BG: My oldest brother first taught me guitar and introduced me to music theory, other brothers and sister played guitar, bass, drums (but no family band!) Mother was a true patron of the arts and took us to the opera, concerts and was always listening to, or watching, something interesting.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo?

BG: I write differently for every song. I usually write my own songs, and a lot of times, they are a little riff or words that I can’t get out of my head, so they have to come out and I typically finish them by them time I get into the studio LOL. I have a theory that if I don’t complete a song, a new song won’t come to me. But I have also learned I prove myself wrong.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?

BG: Touring can be a challenge if the money isn’t worth your time, other wise, any problems I had on the road stemmed from people, myself included, partying too much and not taking care of themselves, which can be a definite challenge. If it is a long tour, I try not to eat bad foods, and I look for a weight room to get a workout in. But I haven’t toured too much lately because it hasn’t been worth my time, compared to the live shows I have been performing locally. And I love sleeping in my own bed.

FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?

BG: I’ve done some studio work in the past and random projects here and there, most recently on some songs for Kenny K and the Dead Cowboys. Great band and great writing. I hope Nashville is smart enough to latch onto their work.

FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?

BG: I don’t separate them per se, but I will have to time my practicing for the project. I try to start at least a month before the gig, if I have enough notice, and nail it in the last two weeks, but other times I will wait to learn only a few days before, especially if it is sub work and a one-off. I can’t hold that much material in my brain, so I compartmentalize when I learn it, so it can leave my short term memory and I can make room for new songs I have to learn for other people.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?

BG: I think the only challenge I faced was that a lot of people just didn’t know what to do with me. Am I a sidewoman? A frontwoman? A writer? Am I distracting from the “star” as a female guitar player, because it is somewhat rare (at least, while I was growing up)?  Sometimes people just didn’t want a girl on the bus because it was an added expense for me to have my own hotel room. Others didn’t want a female distraction AT ALL, even a band with a female lead (it happens, too). One drummer said I made him angry because I was “so good.” How did I overcome it? I quit caring about it, what people thought of me, or where I fit in. I feel the issues can be increased on the road, because you are living and breathing with the same 3-8 people every day, and your world can seem very small. Small problems become dramatic with a limited environment, like in riding in a van for 8 to 12 hours a day.

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

BG: I want the lawyers who run the labels to stop taking 12 year olds and “molding” them (with a “team,” at the cost millions of dollars) into what they THINK we should listen to. Of course there are always exceptions of young prodigies, but the thinking is backwards because people get better as they get older, or we are supposed to I think (if we don’t succumb to occupational hazards). Who says we shouldn’t or can’t get better? With life’s experience, it becomes something real and not manufactured, and that comes undeniably with age. I wish they would go see live shows and find great music and great performers, because that can save certain aspects of our culture. Save our sanity with a good time at least.

One thing I think the industry has forgotten is that, they used to pay US. Now, we give the labels our money, our talent, our album and videos already completed, and they put us up on a “distribution deal” we could have gotten for less money on our own, just by entering data online. We, as artists, dish out this money, while our royalty rates have dwindled to fractions of pennies. And many of us do this willingly, because we want people to hear our music. This current business model does not work for me. My return is not greater than my investment, and others are feeling the same. My remedy is to only make my music available in one place—my website. And spend the money I’ve saved by not being on Spotify, Soundcloud etc, on promo for myself. I’m working on this as we speak. I will be definitely be elaborating more about this at a future date. So keep up with me on my socials 😉

Posted in Interviews, Special Features Tagged with:

January 16th, 2020

Michelle Kash

Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” takes on a new life when done by Michelle Kash

Kash’s story is one of wanderlust. She found a gospel choir on Craigslist after being inspired by Aretha Franklin. She relocated from NY to LA and found her calling in a retreat in Utah. Kash has a once in a generation smoky rebellious tone to her music. It is entrancing. She is currently working on her debut album. For info visit https://www.michellekash.com/

 
FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique?

MK: I think that my process of songwriting has shifted over the years. Most of the time it was me alone, writing. It can be very intense and extremely emotional. Working on Bad Love Game was a new experience for me. Aaron Kamin and I connected immediately and there was an exceptional flow. It brought a kind of lightness to my process that I think I didn’t know how to access on my own.

In terms of the way that I write, I use notebooks and handwrite in them. I doodle in them over and over, the pages are just covered in words, phrases, and doodles. It looks nuts.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “Smoking Gun.” How did that song develop?

MK: I wrote “Smoking Gun” when I was caught between two loves. An old lover came back into my life and tried seducing me. We had that indescribable magnetism and one of those connections that you never forget, but going back there would have fucked everything up.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about the “Smoking Gun” video. Did that fit your image for the song? How was it to make?

MK: I intended the Smoking Gun video to portray a relationship that was intoxicating but also toxic. To feel bound to someone, to feel like I have no control and question.. .do I actually like it? And who is responsible for the outcome?

It was an amazing experience to make it and incredibly fun. Nandy McClean, my director, had a vision for a cinematic experience and she made me feel so comfortable. It was my first music video and it was a huge learning experience. Smoking Gun was the starting point for me to dive into where I wanted to go visually, which led to the video for Personal Jesus.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “Hurt Me.” How did that song develop?

 

MK: I’ve spent a lot of time struggling with ​and​ ​analyzing my ability to be in a relationship. I get comfortable having things the way I like it, doing whatever I want. “Hurt Me” was written when I had given it a go with someone for real, but it was long distance. I realized I didn’t really give it a real chance because I was always leaving them. I wanted to be challenged more, I wanted them to wake up ​and see​ that this wasn’t working, that maybe we weren’t meant to be. I wanted them to fight back and meet me where I stood, not just settle. It went beyond ​the relationship,​ ​as​ I wanted them to not settle in their life. It was an emotional time and I still have a difficult time performing this song live because it brings up a lot of residual feelings for me.

FEMMUSIC: How is the album coming? What has been the biggest challenge making it?

MK: The album is coming along great. I think the biggest challenge has been the emotional challenges; revisiting relationships and navigating my own life through the songwriting process. It can be a very intense experience, but ultimately I find it the most rewarding form of self expression.

FEMMUSIC: Are you interested in being signed by a label? Why or why not? What do you look for in a label?

MK: Being independent can have its challenges, and right now, it is very pure…I’m able to express myself, and figure out how best to present it. I’ve had a chance to be mindful and take time and space to evolve as an artist. I have heard pretty intense stories about working with a label and how the business side can dominate the creative side. I’m sure it would be a great experience if they believe in what you’re doing and put the power that they have behind you.

Today, I have an amazing team that understands and believes in what I’m trying to create. It isn’t easy to find those connections. I trust them and we have such a great relationship and I look forward to what’s ahead together!

FEMMUSIC: What are your goals for the next year? Musically? Personally?

MK: Musically, my goals this year are to write and record more songs, play more shows, go on tour, and collaborate with other artists. I would love to get music out and build a fanbase that I can ​get to​ ​know and connect with.

My main personal goal is to make animals lives better. I do a lot of animal rescue work and I am currently relocating dogs in need from India to the States. I am helping a clinic in Dharamsala, India, with​ ​things they need (that we tend to take for granted here​)​ such as a generator to keep the lights on and an operating light for surgery. As I write this, I just got word that a few of the dogs are being transported for adoption in the US and I’m so excited!

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

MK: “God Will Take Care of You”, Aretha Franklin (Amazing Grace album) Having experienced depression and anxiety, this song reminds me to hold on to the fact that it will pass. Even a moment of hope can lift you out long enough to take a breath. Music has always been that for me; a breath when I couldn’t breathe.

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

MK: I think that the biggest challenges I have faced were internal. I think there’s an unrealistic expectation for women in our society and I have definitely fallen into that. One of the best things about music is that it can be messy and that it’s for everyone. I find that I’m my biggest critique in all aspects of my life and it’s an ongoing invitation for me to practice self love and acceptance. I look to the women in punk rock like Patti Smith, Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde. Their artistry spoke with authority and paved the way for gender equality. They weren’t playing into a woman’s expected role as vulnerable object. The way they navigated these times is an inspiration.

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

MK: There’s so many innovative artists I admire that I would love to work but if I had to choose it would be Radiohead. How they have evolved and what they have done artistically over the years is incredible. They have pushed boundaries with music and technology, and to share that stage would be phenomenal. I also love what Billie Eilish is doing, her art is rebellious and vulnerable but also comforting.

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

MK: I’m so focused and so blessed to be on this journey. Every business has its challenges and the music business has been going through generational changes. At times, I think the industry can be overly focused on branding. So much so, that they want to put you in a “box”. I feel like there’s room for us to be more. Who you are as an artist is fluid and complex.

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January 16th, 2020

Jessie Clement

Jessie Clement worked with Russell Terrell, who has worked with Kenny Rogers and Thomas Rhett, and Brad Hill (Maren Morris) to make her debut album Slow Motion Philosophies. The album features the single “Borrowed and Blue” about lost love.

 

 

The album is an introspective piece on growing up. Clement’s vocals and lyrics cast a spell that makes you forget your listening to a 20 year old artist. FEMMUSIC was honored to catch up her and talk the album. For info visit https://www.jessieclement.com/

 
FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making Slow Motion Philosophies?

JC: There actually aren’t many challenges that I can remember! The only thing that was a little difficult for me was being well enough to record the vocals! When I get sick, I always end up with a cough that totally wipes out my voice, so I’m praising the Lord for having a team of really flexible people.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Russell Terrell. You’ve worked with him a lot. How is he to work with? What does he bring to the project?

JC: Russell Terrell is one of my favorite people in the world. He is kind beyond belief, as generous as they come, and he is an amazing mentor and producer. Russell has great ideas, and hears the end result far before we’ve gotten there – down to the nth degree – and he is “the background vocal guy” in Nashville for a reason. Some of my favorite studio moments have been throwing ideas around and tracking some crazy BGV’s with him. I can’t imagine trying to make music without him.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Brad Hill?  How is he to work with? What does he bring to the project?

JC: Brad is fantastic. He’s got the heart, the ear, and the connections. He’s all around super easy and wonderful to work with. The way he hears things is inspiring to me. I’m constantly amazed by both his and Russell’s ability to sense what is missing and fill the void with exactly what it needed. I have so so enjoyed making the last two records with him, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for us.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

JC: Therapeutic. Whether I start with a chord progression or a lyric, the process is always the same: “Get it off my chest.”

I’ve found that the old fashion way of writing is the best way for me. I believe I’m working on my 6th songwriting book. There is something so soothing about writing out your soul to the tune of a pen scratching on paper. The words write their own melody; I’m just there to witness it.

Jessie Clement

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

JC: I really can’t answer that. I love every single one of them equally. I know that may seem like a cop out answer, but truly. Every song is its own story inspired by my life and the production of each is inspired by the heart of the songs. I just love going back through all my memories every time I listen to the album.

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

JC: You Can Close Your Eyes – James Taylor

There’s something about that song that completes me. It feels like home. It’s my security blanket. It’s my life’s soundtrack. The entire song revolves around constants. The sun… The moon… Time… Love. I need to be reminded on a daily basis that while this world feels like it’s spinning off its hinges, some things always stay the same. That song is a reminder for me.

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

JC: I, thankfully, haven’t really faced any challenges, so far, being a woman in the industry.

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

JC: Easy. Jacob Collier. He is as brilliant as they come. I just want to learn from him, put our brains together, and see what we would come up with. Also I just feel like we’d be best friends.

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

JC: I think it is such a waste of time to give and be given false expectations. If a label, agency, or any other company that may profit from your hard work is interested in you and believes in what you do, they should actually do something about it. If they don’t, they should say so and move you along. I am so tired of people acting like they want to be a part of your team and then disappearing as if they’d never said anything at all.

I could just do with a whole lot less smoke blowing.

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January 16th, 2020

Alexandra Savior

It is always hard making a new album. There is the time in studio. The money out front. The collaboration and take after take. In making her sophomore album Alexandra Savior faced an additional challenge; trying to find a label.

Savior first broke with her album Belladonna of Sadness. That album defined Savior’s style in deeply melodic music with woven passionate lyrics. Savior’s returns now with The Archer which features singles “Crying All The Time”, “Saving Grace”, “The Archer” and “Howl”

 

The Archer was made because of Dangermouse and his label 30th Century Records. The Archer dropped January 10, 2020. For info visit https://alexandrasavior.com/

 
FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making The Archer?

AS: The biggest challenge I had while making “The Archer” was getting it released, while I was writing I didn’t have a label, I was sending my demos around, but it took some time for it to find its way to 30th Century.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Sam Cohen. How was he to work with? What did he bring to the project?

AS: Sam Cohen is great! He is very easy to be around, and is a great listener, so it felt like he was really receptive to my input. I think he definitely brought more psychedelic sounds to the record, along with bringing in so many talented musicians around New York to really help fill out the tracks.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about 30th Century Records. What made you decide to sign with them? How have they been to work with?

AS: 30th Century has been very easy to work with, I signed with them because Brian/Dangermouse has always been a friend and an ally to me, and I trust him more than anyone I have met within the industry. Everyone at 30th has been very accommodating and committed to my project, more than I have ever experienced before.

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest difference making The Archer vs Belladonna of Sadness?

AS: There were so many vast differences between the making of each record, but the biggest would probably be that I wrote it all in a more personal environment.

Alexandra Savior

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

AS: I like the song “But You”, mostly because it feels great when we play it live.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

AS: I write on guitar mostly, sometimes piano. First I come up with a chord structure, then the melody, then I spend a lot of time working through the lyric. I try to play each song every day and usually they change naturally overtime.

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

AS: Lately, I am really affected by “I Remember” by Molly Drake.

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

AS: I am generally reluctant to answer any questions about my experience as a woman in the music industry. But, the simplest way for me to try and convey how I’ve been treated by the industry because of my sex, and my age, is that I’ve had to overcome a lot of power dynamics, and being belittled in the media. People generally tend to treat me like they know me better than I know myself, I haven’t overcome this completely, but I have successfully filed out most of the people who have directly put me in degrading situations.

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

AS: I have major respect for Sudan Archives, I think she’s changing the narrative.

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

AS: I would like for the music industry to stop overworking and underpaying the artists whose artistic and soul identities are being marketed as products, for some self proclaimed “star maker” to buy himself Saint Laurent leather jackets, and drive his Tesla to bullshit meetings at overpriced sushi restaurants. I think it is changing in some realms, in some capacity there are people trying to help artists keep their integrity, the gap between the rich and the poor is so vast in America right now, it is hard to have faith in the arts, but people are searching for authenticity more and more.

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December 15th, 2019
The Coathangers

Photo by Jeff Forney

The Coathangers are a punk rock trio from Atlanta consisting of Julia Kugel-Montoya, Meredith Franco and Stephanie Luke. This year they released their 6th studio album called The Devil You Know. The album has complex composition mixed with blunt language on society today. It includes the singles “Hey Buddy”, “Step Back” and “F the NRA”

The band completed a winter tour recently. You can find FEMMUSIC’s photos of it at:

https://femmusic.com/wp/index.php/2019/11/20/the-coathangers-control-top-and-rocket-dust/nggallery/galleries/The-Coathangers

For info visit http://thecoathangers.com/

 
FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making The Devil You Know?

CH: It was actually a pretty easy album to make.  The hardest part was figuring out the cover art.

FEMMUSIC: You worked with Nic Jodoin again on this album. What does he bring to the project? How is he to work with?

CH: Nic rules.  Since this is the 2nd record we have worked on together, we know each other very well  which makes working together much easier.  He is honest and direct and very supportive of our visions.  Nic also challenges us and pushes us to strive to be better.

FEMMUSIC: What were your vision and goals with this album?

CH: We wanted to be a bit more outspoken on current events and things that were frustrating to us, but we didn’t want to do it in a preachy manner.  We really focused on the pre production of the album as well and pushed ourselves with the composition, lyrics, etc of each song.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

CH: It varies. Sometimes one of us will come to practice with either lyrics or an idea/riff/melody and we will all build around that. Other times we just kinda jam around and something will come together organically.

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

CH: I think “Fuck the NRA” is one of the most important songs on the album because of its message, but one of my favorites is “Step Back” because of the vibe and the way it shifts throughout the song.

FEMMUSIC: The album dives into politics, sexism, bigotry and more. This is not unknown territory for you. There is an ethos in punk that has always been against the establishment. I was wondering if you could explain how you view your role as musicians to evoke change?

CH: That’s a tough one! All we can do is write music that we believe in and stand behind. Hopefully people who listen to our music can relate and feel like they aren’t alone in their ethos.

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

Meredith answered this one: The Beatles “If Not For You” because she used to listen to it with her father, who recently passed away.

FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? How has this changed over time?

CH: We’ve had a few experiences as women that have been more annoying than anything, but sometimes its not because we’re women but just because that certain person (whether its a promoter or sound engineer, etc) is a jerk to everyone.  Other times it’s been an obvious male/female scuffle, a lot of times involving said male assuming we’re incompetent, man-splaining, etc. Ten years ago this would piss us off and we were a bit more vocal or reacted a bit more than we do nowadays. The best thing is to kill em with kindness and simply nip it in the bud in a more professional way.  There’s been a lot more non male musicians, stage managers, promoters, etc in every realm of the music industry over the past ten years which is refreshing because back in the day it was considered more of a “boys club” .

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

CH: Beyonce because she rules!

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

CH: The insane “importance” of social media.  A band shouldn’t be less noticed because they only have 5,000 followers on Instagram, Facebook, etc. It seems as though a bands success and value is determined through these platforms and I feel like its gotten out of control.  Just go out there and make music you wanna play and fuck the haters.

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December 15th, 2019

Stereo Jane

Stereo Jane is Sydney Schmier & Emilia  “Mia” Schmier, two sisters from Michigan. You may have heard their songs at the movies including this year’s film Ready Or Not. They have also been releasing singles this year including “Holy Hell”, and “Real World”

 

The sisters switch between soul, rock, punk, and blues effortlessly. FEMMUSIC spoke to them about songwriting and placement. For info visit http://stereojanemusic.com/

FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique?

SJ: We love laying down the track first, melodies second, and lyrics last! That’s how a lot of our songs were created. Sometimes we come into the studio with concepts or just start talking about what’s going on in our lives and write about that!

FEMMUSIC:  You’ve done songs for movies (Ghost Story, Ready or Not). Were these placements after the fact, or were you approached to do the music prior? How do you approach doing music for TV and film?

SJ: We were approached by a producer of ours for the song that was placed in Ghost Story. It was already written with Kesha and they wanted us take a stab at re-writing it as if it was one of our own! We ended up completely changing it and it ended up getting placed. For Ready or Not, a producing team (The Gifted) we’ve worked with quite a bit was working on the soundtrack and asked if we could do a version of “Love Me Tender” by Elvis, but in a punk rock kind of way. Syd sang on the track as a demo and the directors of the movie loved it! We always write songs then pitch them after.

FEMMUSIC: You’ve done songwriting with producers. Who have been your favorite? What have you learned from working with them?

SJ: We’ve worked with so many different writers and producers over the years. Some we vibe with and some we don’t! It’s such a great process working with so many different people because you can really narrow down who you love to work with. We love working with The Gifted, the Gomez brothers, and Clifford Goilo.

FEMMUSIC:  Tell me about Atlantic Records. What made you sign with them? How have they been to work with?

SJ: We signed when we were sixteen. We were so young and excited. We were still living in Michigan and to be signed to such a big label out in LA was so crazy to us. We won’t lie. We thought we were going to be famous overnight. CLEARY we didn’t realize what actually goes into developing an artist at such a young age. They gave us the tools to grow and learn. Now we look back and like to call it the “University of Atlantic Records” because we didn’t go to college. We studied 4 years at a big label.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “Holy Hell.” How did the song develop?

SJ: The song was written at APG during a night session. Cliff played us a few tracks he had on hand and we immediately gravitated towards the one that would become “Holy Hell”. We laid down some melodies with Lee Anna James and wrote the lyrics! It was a fun night. We were definitely a little slap happy since we were there until 3am and Mia’s bedtime is more like 9pm.

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

For me (Syd), “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” was one of the first songs I remember  really resonating with. Aretha Franklin was one of the biggest inspirations of my childhood and I always felt something special when I listened to her.
And as for me (Mia) I have to say “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. It was the first song I’d ever heard of them and it got me hooked.

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

SJ: It’s hard being a woman in music. Our whole lives we’ve felt like everyone has this low expectation of us. We’re two females trying to make it in an industry predominately ruled by men. Since we were kids we’ve always been underestimated. But while sometimes that feels like a challenge, it’s actually an asset. No one sees it coming. We speak up for what we want and we don’t settle for anything less.

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

SJ: Ah, too many people we could think of. Obviously we’d love to tour with Imagine Dragons or Twenty One Pilots. And as for collaborations, we’ve always been obsessed with the idea of mixing rap and rock. Post Malone would be an amazing collaboration for us.

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

SJ: We want songwriters to start making more for their art. We work with so many writers who don’t earn enough doing what they do. It’s hard enough being in such a cut throat industry. The only way songwriters make money is by writing a radio hit.

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October 31st, 2019
elizabeth

Photo by Naomi Lee Beveridge

Last year we interviewed Elizabeth Mitchell with her band’s Totally Mild release. A lot has happened since then. Totally Mild dissolved and Elizabeth has a new album called Wonderful World of Nature arriving November 1. The album was produced by John Castle and featured the singles “Parties”, “Beautiful Baby” and “Meander”

Mitchell has a Bossa Nova meets pop vocal style that stands out. For info visit https://www.elizabethmusic.club/

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge in making Wonderful World of Nature?

EM: The most difficult thing about this album was knowing how to start. I had a few false starts, thinking that I was ready, that I was finished writing… I really just needed the space to work out what kind of album I wanted to make and what I wanted to say. I guess a hard thing was that I was very excited to make an album but was a bit paralyzed by the many ways I could move on my own.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about John Castle. How did you meet? What made you decide to work with him on the album?

EM: John is really just a wonderful producer and now also a wonderful friend. I loved the work he had done with bands like Cub Sport and Hatchie, and when I explained to him the kind of album I wanted to make he really got it. We just clicked and it was clear to me that we would be able to make something really special together.

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest difference working on this album vs working on a Totally Mild album?

EM: A huge difference is that these songs, these arrangements really came together in the studio, I had never played most of them live until after they were recorded. So very different to recording with a band that has been fine tuning arrangements while playing shows. It was both freeing and terrifying to have the final say on all things. I also felt like I could really open out and take up space with the things I wanted to say on an emotional level.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about being a solo artist. What things are easier for you now? What is harder?

EM: I love the feeling of having to take full responsibility for myself; on stage, in the studio, aesthetically, in decision making. Having said that, I’m incredibly supported by my wonderful all girl all star band and my managers. It truly takes a village to keep this tiny pink baby afloat. Creatively, it can be weird to finish things without having bandmates who will agree or disagree with you on when something is finished, but I’m lucky to have a community of artists that I can ask for advice or opinions if I get stuck. I guess the big difference is I don’t have to fight for my way if we disagree, haha.

FEMMUSIC: This album has been in the works for a while now. I remember it August 2018 when “Burn It All” had its Australian premiere. What are your goals and vision for the album?

EM: Yes, I have re-recorded Burn It All for the album which is really nice. I love the 7” version but I really wanted the album to be one cohesive piece of work. My main goal is really just to communicate my feelings and connect with people through that. The album is very raw, it’s ugly and painful but I think that’s the most human experience and I know that I feel less alone when I can share in someone else’s pain. I am really loving playing these songs live so hopefully just lots and lots more shows.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

EM: I tend to write in bursts, follow impulses. I have a piano in my bedroom so I can basically write whenever I want to without setting up. This year I’ve also been trying to have one day a week where I go to a studio just to write, turn off my phone and try to be focused. I never thought that kind of structure would work for me, but even though I find it frustrating it helps to create the space for things to come out. I write in a pretty confessional way, usually about relationships. It’s surprising that anyone still wants to date me…

FEMMUSIC: When I asked you last year about whom you would like to tour with or collaborate with, you began by saying “I feel blessed to tour and collaborate with my band, I’d like to keep doing that until we get tired or kill each other. ” –  Now that Totally Mild is dissolved have your thoughts changed? Who would you most like to collaborate with?

EM: Totally Mild was a huge part of my life, and I’m grateful for the things we got to do together. I am in a really good place now where everyone I collaborate with and everything I do feels super intentional, and that’s something I could only have learned from all my past experiences; both good and bad. There are so so many people I’d like to collaborate with, like maybe too many to list… I am truly obsessed with Kacey Musgraves at the moment, maybe I could make a country album next.

FEMMUSIC: As a queer artist what can you do now, that you couldn’t a decade ago? What would you like to still be done?

EM: I guess just the fact that you can be a queer artist but it doesn’t have to be your entire story is something in itself. The video for Beautiful Baby is absolutely the most overtly queer thing I’ve ever put out, but I don’t feel worried about being pigeonholed into being only for a “queer market”. Like, I wouldn’t really mind if that did happen because I love my people but it’s exciting that being queer can just be one of many elements of an artist’s story.

 

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