Category: Interviews

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.

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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.  

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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

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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.

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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.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

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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October 2nd, 2019
Patriarchy_agustin_fireplace

Actually Huizenga has been performing under her own name for a while now. Now she has a new project with Andrew Means called Patriarchy. They are releasing their album Asking for It on November 8 on Dero Arcade.

Huizenga is a multi-talented artist. She is a singer-songwriter, filmmaker, director and more which is evident with Patriarchy videos.

Asking For It is a tsunami wave of hard rock and vicious lyrics. The album has 10 songs including “Asking For It”, “Burn the Witch”, and the singles “It Goes Fast”, “Grind Your Bones” and “Hell Was Full.”

For info visit http://www.actuallyactually.com/

 
FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making Asking For It?

AH: Patience 

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Andrew Means. How did you meet? What made you decide to form Patriarchy with him?

AH: I met him through Facebook when he submitted a drawing for a coloring book I was making for my last Actually album Predator Romantic, and then his band 3teeth was playing Das Bunker and he said he wanted to work on music with me.

Andrew is a talented male who has respect for my power and was down to combine our forces into a few songs while he had his studio free between 3teeth concerts.

The songs were good so we decided to release them and make a band (even though I had already decided to stop making music and focus on film lol). Took a year for anyone to bite though.

Patriarchy_Album_cover_FINAL_Aug1

FEMMUSIC: What is the biggest difference between Patriarchy and your work as Actually Huizenga?

AH: The themes are all very similar- the sound is a bit harder and darker. It’s music that I’d rather have sex to personally.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Dero Arcade. What made you decide to release the album with them? What have they brought to the project?

AH: I decided to go with Dero Arcade because he said he knows how hard it is to be a woman in the industry since he used to Identify as female. Now that he’s a bit more male, he gets taken more seriously (if that is even a proper word)- I like him because he is not politically correct like everyone else stresses over in this social media succubus world, I’ve been rejected by labels all my life – and not just music labels. Hahaha

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about “Grind Your Bones.” How did the song develop? How did you translate that in the video?

AH: Well, it’s a song about trying to get some power back to have good sex…. mixed with fairy tales. The video was an audition for my live band and I wanted them to experience a real-life fairy tale in the Grimm tradition… 

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

AH: I constantly take notes on my phone, in notebooks all over the place etc etc…

And then I usually come up with some sort of riff or melody (I record that with my voice on my phone ) and then I  find a line or word or sentence that blends with it… and go from there- either by myself on my shitty logic or I go to the studio when Andrew has time.

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

AH: Kind of brutal to just have one song- or one of anything to describe such an important thing as “influence.”

The album I’ve listened to most would have to be Pretty Hate Machine by NIN. Good for work, for cleaning, for whatever you need..

Also

I do think that one of the best composed and most mysterious sounding pop songs- is “Careless Whispers” by George Michael. I know it’s super popular, but even with its serve popularity there is something dark and deep about it.

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

AH: I don’t really like to talk about that anymore. Why do you think I’ve called my band “Patriarchy.”

You can watch my films “Viking Angel” and “The Art of Eating” to get the jist of how I’ve been treated. It’s never going to be easy being female if you want to keep control of your work. And it’s not just males who try to keep your face smothered in the dirt.

Long story short, I have never been treated well and I face push back every single day of my life.

But I just work harder and I try to remember that without my art, I would rather be dead.

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

AH: Trent Reznor hahaa but I’m sure everyone says that.

As for touring, I’d be happy just to be able to do a full scale world tour- so anyone cool who has a similar vibe to my Patriarchy music I guess.

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

AH: I’d like them to listen to my music. 

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October 2nd, 2019

Sassy Black

SassyBlack is Catherine Harris-White a Seattle based singer-songwriter and producer who comes from rap roots. She started with a project called THEESatification and was signed to Subpop. Her latest project is Ancient Mahogany Gold, a soulful R & B album that skillfully gets into your heart. The album was released on September 13. FEMMUSIC was honored to speak to Harris-White about the new album. For info visit https://www.sassyblack.com/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Ancient Mahogany Gold?

CHW: I think finding the right sounds was hard at first. Trying to convey the mood, the meaning behind the songs. Also song selection was hard, there were 4 or 5 songs that didn’t make the record because they didn’t fit the energetic levels of songs that were foundational to the record. 

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Ebonie Smith & Adam Straney. How did you meet? What made you decide to work with them on the project? 

CHW: I met Ebonie years ago when she was studying at Barnard and had booked THEESatisfaction to play and speak at a panel. Hadn’t seen her in years til we bumped into one another at NAAM in 2017 (I think). Adam, I have known for years now and he has mastered most of my solo projects, all my albums with THEESat & w/ Shabazz Palaces.  Working with Adam was kind of a no brainer because he knows my sound at this time and we work well together. Working with Ebonie was a new leap for me, but I am a fan of her ear and her work as a producer and engineer. I knew it was time for something different with this record and that I could trust her with my vision.

FEMMUSIC: What was your vision for Ancient Mahogany Gold

CHW: This album is a clear expression of my current self. The vision was/is to share my growth and continue on my journey to 1000 releases in my life time. The vision is to release with deep intention.

sassy-black-ancient-mahogany-gold

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?  

CHW: I can try. It’s a special secret experience hard to put into words. Music flows in and out. Sometimes I start with the production aspect, sometimes the lyrics. Sometimes a melody, sometimes a concept. Maybe a bass line, maybe chords. Maybe I’m developing songs to add to a project, maybe I’m challenging myself. It’s all different, it’s all me and it all just depends on how I feel and what the reason for the songwriting process.

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

CHW: I don’t have an answer for this. I can’t think of one song that has been the biggest influence on me. I have been influenced by a lot of music and songs and it changes from day to day, week to week sometimes minute to minute. Right now I’m currently into “We Got Each Other” by Chaka Khan.

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

CHW: I would really like to collaborate and tour with Moonchild and Kiefer. These artists really inspire me right now. Their music is grand and moving. I feel like we sonically connect. Omar is another artist. Terrace Martin is amazing. So are Nova Wav & TrakGirl

 

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September 10th, 2019

YONAKA

Yonaka made their US debut this summer playing in NYC and LA. The 4 piece rock band released their debut album Don’t Wait “Til Tomorrow earlier this year. The album is punctuated by songs like “Lose Our Heads” and “Rockstar”

The band has an edgy arrangement with a pop addiction. It is a dangerous combination. The band self-produced the new album. For info visit http://www.weareyonaka.com/

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow?

TJ: I think the biggest challenge was time. We had one month to record and produce 11 songs ourselves. It was long days every day using everything we got to make these songs sound incredible with a small amount of time. Comping vocals is probably my least favourite thing, you start to feel a bit crazy in that part of the process.

FEMMUSIC: What lessons did you learn from making your previous EP’s that helped to make the album? What was the biggest difference?

TJ: I think the biggest lesson was learning that we were capable to write, record and produce and album ourselves. We produced the previous e.p Creature and half of the e.p before that Teach me to fight. You have to make people believe in you that you can do it. So we learnt that we could totally do it on our own. It’s just a lot more pressure as you can’t take a seat back at any time as you are 100% in it all the time. In the future we would love to work with other producers I think this is a great thing as another creative mind can bring things to your work that you can’t think off because you have already taken it to your favourite place.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Fueled By Ramen. What made you decide to sign with them? How are they to work with?

TJ: We love that label and the roster. It has such incredible music and they are very positive. We have only been to America once thus far so we will hopefully be getting out a lot more next year.

FEMMUSIC: The video for your single “Rockstar” came out recently. Does the video fit your vision of the song? How did the song originate?

TJ: Yes, making that video was lovely we had some fans come down and take part and they made it so special singing all the songs on the album between takes it was such an inspiring experience and Libby the director is so talented and me and her sat down and spoke about what the song means and I wanted it to show 2 perspectives and that should be a daydream and reality but we had to do it on a budget and she came back with the show idea versus the singing in my bedroom cutting from shots and it was just great. We have had this song for about 1.5 years and it’s lyrically a dream up of being a rockstar and talking about the present of having no money but still living and dreaming.

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

TJ: For me it’s between “Creature” I love this song so much i never get bored of it. It’s a love song but in the opposite way of writing a love song it talks about the deeper meaning of love not the dreamed up one. And “Don’t Wait Til’ Tomorrow” – this is an important song and a message to anyone going through a hard time mentally or just feeling low. It’s a message to say you’re not alone and to reach out and speak to someone.

YONAKA

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

TJ: It differs but usually we will start with a melody and write under that or it can start with a riff and sometimes we even start fresh from the laptop and make a synth line or beat. we try to keep it fresh so we don’t get trapped in one way of writing but usually the melody determines the song.

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

TJ: The 2 artists that influenced me massively at the start of Yonaka were Amy Winehouse and Jeff Buckley I learned from them that you can be completely honest in your songwriting and being not ok is ok to talk about. Songs from them are “So Real” Jeff Buckley and “Stronger than Me” – Amy Winehouse. Today I listen to all sorts of music from the 1975, Travis Scott, Kanye West, lady gaga, twentyone pilots and loads more.

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

TJ: I watched the Joann Jett documentary “Bad Reputation” the other day and I think that barrier of women in rock/punk music is still very much there. I don’t think I personally have faced challenges yet.

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

TJ: Aghhh so many people. Travis Scott, twentyone pilots, Lady Gaga loadsss….

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

September 10th, 2019
Lauren Ruth Ward by Liz Ibarra 3

Photo of Lauren Ruth Ward by Liz Ibarra

Lauren Ruth Ward is a prolific songwriter and the next rockstar you need to know. She released her debut album Well, Hell last year. Since then she has released new singles including “Valhalla” and “Wise Gal.”

She has also done Happy Birthday Jim, a cover album of Jim Morrison/The Doors. Ward has a style and substance that stands out with a song like “Valhalla”

She is currently touring with Melanie Martinez. For info visit https://laurenruthwardmusic.com/

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Well, Hell?

LRW: We didn’t have any challenges during the making of Well, Hell. It was my first album so I was pretty excited the entire time. My band rules. We found two incredible producers/mixers to work with. Also, Ed and I learned so much about each other and about the music we innately create. Six out of nine of the songs on the album are the first six songs Ed and I wrote together. We co-produced the tracks as well. The only challenges connected to that album are the cons we experience when we signed it over to a label (long after we created it on our own). There were some pros as well. But yeah, just the usual bureaucracy BS all artists go thru when taking a chance and accepting an offer to take to their art to the next level. No regrets though!

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Grey Goon. How did you meet? What made you decide to have him produce the album? How was he to work with?

LRW: Grey Goon a.k.a. Doug Walters a.k.a. Dougy Fresh is a sweet, talented man from DC. I’m from Baltimore but hung out in DC a lot, we never met in those days. I met him in LA thru Eduardo and a couple other DC pals. Doug not only Engineered / Produced and mixed 6 out of 9 tracks, he also played drums on them! He’s very easy to work with. I also dye his beard (a little silver stripe). Check out his band Oddnesse.

FEMMUSIC: Tell about Red/Sony Music? How did Well, Hell end up with them? I understand you walked away from another label. How were they to work with?

LRW: We signed to Weekday Records who were a subsidiary of Sony/RED. I liked my RED PM and the deal itself was a great deal but I quickly realized it was not the right deal for me. One example, I like to record music and then release it. I know, what a concept. At times it was hard to all agree on the right producer and then once we did, the paperwork would hold things up. The indie peeps we were working with (to create Well, Hell album) weren’t legit enough to the guys at my label (Weekday). I don’t understand that part. I fell into a deep depression and found it very hard to create. I thought “why bother writing new stories if I can’t share them?” I adapted in other ways. Budget was tight on artwork and contracts were brutal; if I wanted to use one of my pal’s photos for single art, etc. (like I used to) then they’d have to sign all rights away for little to no fee. I was embarrassed having that conversation with photographers so I stopped and I got into water colors and made some of my own single artwork. No one was out to get me, its just how it goes. They have their reasons. One morning I woke up and Sony dropped Weekday and WD didn’t want to continue w/o them. So they generously (almost fully) gave us back the couple unreleased tracks we had worked on under the term, they kept Well, Hell and we parted ways. I am back to my happy, hyper-creative, independent self.

I don’t think we’ve walked away from another label. Who told you that? Haha. We’ve walked away from some Sync and Pub deals. All very intriguing but am still learning what kind of artist I am. That’s the most valuable thing I learned. I use to kind of be a label basher because I like grinding and being independent. But the truth is, not all labels / Pub / Sync deals are evil, ya just gotta find one that fits with how you work.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Happy Birthday Jim. What made you decide to the album? How was it different from doing Well, Hell?

LRW: Ed and I did Happy Birthday Jim because we love Jim Morrison and I love birthdays. It differs from WH is all ways; it’s a cover album, Ed and I recorded most of it at his place, we made it because we were bored and wanted to have fun and collaborate with friends, the list goes on…

FEMMUSIC: I’d like to ask you about 2 important people in your life: Eduardo Rivera & LP. Can you tell me how you met each of them? How have they changed you and your music?

LRW: Met Ed at my EP release show on my 27th birthday Nov 4th 2015. He used to date one of my best friends. She told me about him and vice versa. Night we met he said “I hear you need a bassist”. He played bass the first could shows which started almost immediately. He eventually started playing guitar, I love his playing and felt comfortable enough to write with him. If I wanted to get better at guitar, I’d want to play like Ed. I love his style. I brings different ideas out of me. He’ll play something cool on a loop and words and melodies will come out of me. When it works it works.

I met LP when she played a festival in Baltimore June 2014. I moved to LA Jan 2015 and we re-met her in LA June 2015 at the Roosevelt. She’s my love, she inspires everything I do, not just my music. I’d need a books worth of space to fully explain.

Lauren Ruth Ward by Liz Ibarra 4

Photo of Lauren Ruth Ward by Liz Ibarra

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

LRW: When I’m writing with Ed, he plays guitar and I like to freestyle. I usually have an emotion or message so I’ll just let my mind speak and not judge myself. I’ll then write down what I like and then go back and make the rest of it make sense. It’s kind of the same when I write alone except my melodies are more influenced by the chords I play. I make up a lot of “chords”. I know I’m probably playing something real haha.

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

LRW: So many. At the end of all six 2 year relationships, I always go back to “We’re Both So Sorry” by Mirah. It’s a truthful and peaceful goodbye. “Challenges like these can be won or lost or laid to rest. Now we both agree to separate from the lonely castle steps. The kingdom is destabilized, the watchtower unmanned. The bedroom lies abandoned and the future is unplanned. But we’ve got the past to remind us of what’s chivalrous and grand. And hey I’m sorry ’bout so much baby but I know you’ll understand”

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

LRW: I’ve been underestimated by both men and women who’re brainwashed by the patriarch’s gender binary hooha. I just keep on doing me.  Best way to convince someone their wrong is by showing them.

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

LRW: SZA or Jack White. No explanation needed.

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

LRW: I think it be wild if fame and talented went hand in hand. Also if big media present top 40s as only one kind of genre and not THE genre. Too many thoughts on this one, I’m tapping out! ha.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with:

September 3rd, 2019

Bellhoss - Becky Hostetler

There are few local artists like bellhoss. bellhoss is Becky Hostetler, as well as her band. If you’ve haven’t been paying attention, she has slowly been getting on bigger and bigger bills. There was also her sold out EP release for Geraniums. bellhoss is gaining momentum for all the right reasons.

bellhoss’ music stands out. As a band it is filled with arrangements that fill the void between bedroom and rock. As a solo artist the songs have a vulnerability and raw emotion to them. The stagechat at a live show is honest, heartfelt with self-deprecation. All parts of the music hide nothing and invite the listener to share in the emotions.

bellhoss  has 2 completed projects. Her demos, and her recently released EP Geraniums. Geraniums features songs including “naked”, “lunch”, “weight”, “chasing”, “heart apart”, and “geraniums #1”, and “geraniums #2”

We were ecstatic to speak with Becky about the EP and her songwriitng. For info visit http://www.bellhoss.com/

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

BH: Time was the biggest challenge! I have been incredibly lucky to have an amazing band full of talented people who were also very busy when we recorded, so the biggest challenge was working around everyone’s schedules.

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest difference making Geraniums vs Meek Demos 17?

BH: Having a band was the biggest difference. The demos were my first foray into recording music at all, for posterity’s sake and to see what happens when I put any of my music out in the open for people to hear. The Geraniums EP is a more intentional process of releasing an album, with a band contributing to a much bigger sound.

FEMMUSIC:  I noticed the album was mixed and mastered by your band members. Was there any discussion of an outside producer? How was that process with the band? Were there any conflicts?

BH: For this first album, I really wanted to work with friends. Malena and Payden are both well-versed in audio engineering and are kind souls, so I knew it would go well with them. The songs are very personal for me so I did not feel ready to have a stranger’s opinion on how they should go, especially this time around. Overall, it was a very gentle process working with these friends, which is just what I needed to ease into the whole idea of recording.

Bellhoss

FEMMUSIC: Are you interested in being signed to a label. Why or why not?

BH: At this point, I am seeing where the wind blows and starting to brainstorm about what I want to do with the next album, but yes, I would love if a label was interested in signing bellhoss. Recording an album is a big investment, and having the financial and PR support from a label would be incredibly helpful. Also, I’ve been a music fan for much longer than I’ve been a musician in public, and being signed to a label is a dream I had before I ever thought I could do the music thing in reality.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?

BH: For most of my life I have used songwriting as a way to journal my thoughts and process my emotions, so the process takes different shapes for different songs. Sometimes it starts with a collection of words that I wrote processing something, often it starts with a series of chords and a melody and then adding words a bit at a time. I’m trying to come up with a more cohesive process now that this project is a thing, but that itself is a work in progress.

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

BH: Probably “Roman Candle” by Elliott Smith- it’s grungy-crunchy and so so sad, and it informed me on the ability to be quiet and angry and loud and sad all at the same time. Elliott Smith really made it okay in my mind to write through hard feelings, when in most other parts of my life I had to keep a smile on.

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

BH: Overall, I haven’t encountered any huge challenges. In fact, I’ve received more support than I ever expected, from all genders. I’m at a point where I think my gender is irrelevant to my experience as a musician.

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

BH: I love Pinegrove and their whole crowd, they have a friend who started a project called Jodi and I’d love to work and/or tour with Jodi or Pinegrove. They all seem to be very organic in their songwriting approach, with a mix of punky emotions and folky earthiness, which is exactly where I like to exist with my music.

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

BH: Denver has been incredibly friendly as a scene and community, and I’d love to see that in more places. I’ve been planning a tour, and have definitely found a lot of awesome people around the country who are incredibly friendly, especially in DIY scenes, but I definitely start to see competition in some places that I wish would heal a bit. In the last couple years when I finally had the guts to get on stage consistently, I realized there’s room for everyone; everyone wants to hear new music at some point and there’s a niche that anyone can fit into. I hope more people who feel competitive can see the space that is carved for them, without feeling threatened by other artists.

Posted in Interviews Tagged with: ,

September 3rd, 2019
mxmtoonThere have been many tours selling out this year. King Princess, Billie Eilish to name a couple. The latest is from bedroom pop artist mxmtoon. mxmtoon is Maia a 19 year-old Chinese-American artist who bleeds soft emotion into every song. The singles from her new album, the masquerade, are numerous including “prom dress”, “high and dry”, “seasonal depression” “blame game” and “dream of you.”

The masquerade album is due out September 17. It follows the 2018 release of her EP The Plum Blossom. The album has 10 tracks as 20 songs. Each song has an original version and an acoustic version. mxmtoon has been doing the same thing with her videos of the singles. There are not enough words to describe the honest sincere landscape that mxmtoom paints in every song.

She emotes a vulnerably and honesty that stands out from the plastic landscape of pop music. For more info and to get a ticket for the tour visit  https://www.mxmtoon.com/

 
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making the masquerade?

M: I think the biggest challenge by far was understanding what sort of narrative I wanted to form when writing the album. I think at the start I was really concerned about my ability to tell a story, and with an album it felt like there was this really big pressure to make some sort of project that has a huge message to it. One that when people listen, they feel uplifted, inspired, and maybe even as if they got answers to questions they’ve been pondering for ages. I’m always hyper-aware of what sort of impact my songs may have on someone with message, and even more so with an actual album.  Eventually I realized that as long as I spoke honestly about my experiences, the narrative would form on its own. The story became about my journey understanding who I am, and the things that have happened to me to form the individual I am today.

FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Robin Skinner. How did you meet? What made you decide to have him produce the album?

M: We met when our managers put us in touch! I had been listening to his music on my own for a while already, so when the opportunity to work with him came up I was extremely excited. His own music has such a distinct quality and character and the possibility of even getting to see how he works in a studio environment was amazing. Robin has an incredible ear for music, and I think our brains work very similar in the way we hear melodies and sound.

FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest difference for you making an as opposed to the Plum Blossom Ep?

M: The Plum Blossom EP really felt like the perfect bookend to the chapter of music I had been making in the confines of my bedroom for a year. A truly stripped down and exposed way of making music, one that I’m of course still a fan of, but working on the masquerade was a really creatively fulfilling process. I can only know so much on my own, and working with a producer who has a plethora of tools available that I haven’t learned to use, helped me understand what else I was capable of as an artist.

The Masquerade

FEMMUSIC: The Masquerade has songs both in a regular version and an acoustic version. What made you decide to do it that way? What do you hope people will hear differently?

M: I wanted to make sure I included an acoustic version almost as a way to pay homage to the type of music I made originally. Also each song on the masquerade started in the acoustic form! That’s the way I know how to write and make music, and I know a lot of the people that listen to my music also appreciate being able to have the option to listen to my music the way they may have originally found it.

FEMMUSIC: Your tour is selling out. What excites you most about touring these songs? What scares you?

M: Oh my goodness, I’m always terrified! I’m extremely excited to be able to be back playing live shows though. I don’t think I’m truly able to understand the world I am in until I’m on a stage performing. There’s something so magical about the fact that for one night a room of people can share an experience together and connect over art. I’m ecstatic to be able to be back in that. I’m really nervous about playing in a band for the first time, but also that’s one of the things I’m most pumped for!

FEMMUSIC: Your songs have an honest vulnerability to them.  Can you describe your songwriting technique?

M: Usually, I keep a log of different emotions or experiences that I go through. Almost like a cheat sheet for song topics, and maybe when there’s a particular day that I’m going through the same thing again, I’ll go back and check the list to write about whatever topic it is that day. Melody tends to surface in my head on its own, and from there it’s my job to fill in the gaps with words that I think accurately represent the song’s focus.

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

M: I think a song that really introduced me to the way I understand music as a force is “Blood” by The Middle East. That song makes me cry every time I listen to it without fail. The imagery and minimalism of production resonated with me from the first listen, and unconsciously I think that type of song was what I ended up creating on my own. I’ve never been one to stick to one genre of music and listen to it for ages, but the only constant in my musical world has been a single playlist with songs very similar to “Blood.” Songs with minimal production, heavily acoustic, and really rooted in the singer-songwriter world.

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

M: Often times I think my position as a young woman of color is pretty tough. I usually have to work twice as hard to walk into a room and confidently feel as if I can navigate the space. Nobody in my family has any sort of familiarity with the music industry. I come from a family of educators, and choosing to enter into a field with no foundational knowledge has forced me to become a strong advocate for myself and understand what my goals are. All of that requires that I make it known that I do indeed know who I am, what I want, and how to do it, but of course that’s a lot of pressure for a young woman. Trusting my voice and intuition has been a key factor in overcoming the obstacles that I face, and I think that applicable to many fields!

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

M: I would love to collaborate with Clairo! I admire her a lot as an artist and we both came from similar spaces on the internet. Seeing her progression as an artist has been incredible to watch, and lately I’ve been loving her debut album. I have yet to do a whole lot of touring but to be honest with you I’m usually excited about whatever sort of opportunities I’m given. I do have this weird dream of being able to open for Smash Mouth at one concert, I just think that’d be a great story. How legendary would that be?

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

M: To be honest, since I’m still really fresh in the music industry, I’ve yet to fully experience it all. My own experience thus far has been incredibly untraditional, and I don’t think I’d like to alter per se, but I really do like how the industry has been completely turned on its head. There are so many ways artists are able to pursue music nowadays, and I love that. It’s incredible to see how varied the pathways have become for art and music, and I’d love to keep seeing how people can continue to defy the odds on their own.”

Posted in Interviews, Special Features Tagged with: , ,