My Pre-Show Rituals

One thing I’ve been asked several times before, and I’m expecting it to come up a lot when we release our album or headline our first tour from press is; what are your pre-show rituals?

Every musician gets asked this; vag or peepee. But there is a super fun expectation that my rituals must be different because of vag.

“You must take way longer than the guys to get ready?”

And some of the questions are just… why does anyone even care?

“How long does it take to do your hair and make up before a show?”

I don’t know? However long I’ve got.

“How many outfits do you bring on tour?”

The same amount as the guys do but why don’t you ask them?

“How do you avoid getting sweaty?”

Emma Cameron Good For a Girl Shelley Te Haara Sweaty Decades

Answer: I don’t avoid getting sweaty?? Photo by Shelley Te Haara

And I’ll re-wear sweaty outfits, I don’t have room for multiple “looks” and I don’t have time to do washing (despite being a girl – CRAZY I know!). I’m happy to stink in the name of rock.

So, what are the Pre-Show Rituals of Emma Cameron from New Zealand rock band, Decades?

I’ve decided to write them down once and for all so all journalists looking for my girly list of pre-show rituals that definitely differ from the guys I’m on tour with can just copy and paste from here.

1. I re-string my guitar
While I’m restringing my guitar with my vagina, I’m surrounded by cute little birds holding on to my various hardware while we sing a song together.

2. I warm up my fingers/guitar
I do this whilst simultaneously painting my 1/2-inch long finger nails a pretty shade of pastel pink

3. I do my hair.
But so do the guys – let’s just say my hair straighteners weren’t the only pair on tour with Villainy and City of Souls last month.

4. I do my make up.
Yo, has anyone heard of a little boy band named “KISS” ?
I put as little effort in to it as possible because I just sweat it off panda-style. If KISS used some sweat-resistant shit, let me know. I’ll buy it.

Emma Cameron Good For a Girl Bradley Garner Sweaty Decades

Fig A: The sweaty panda. Photo by Bradley Garner Creative

5. I get changed in to my stage outfit.
While all the men on tour just perform in the stained track pants, ripped wife-beaters, and ‘i sat in the filth of these undies for a 6 hour drive to this venue’ they travelled comfortably in (sarcasm), I go through the grand ritual of putting on a different t-shirt. So girly.

6. I warm up my vocals
Unless guys have magical vocal chords that are constantly warm (ANOTHER WAY THE PATRIARCHY HAS A TOTAL FOOT STOMPED ON THE BACK OF WOMEN?????), I think this is not uniquely female.

7. I take at least 3 shits
Yup.

 

 

The Damsel In Distress

It was around 2009/2010 that I really started taking on the identity of being a vocalist in our band. Not just a guitarist who happens to also wail in to some beat-up town-bicycle-style microphone because no one else in the band can be arsed doing it.

I had aspirations to develop my voice to be front-person worthy. Strong, reliable, and impressive. And so I started googling vocal tutor’s on youtube (as if my poor arse could actually afford a real-life tutor) and I started asking our live sound guy to record our gigs so I could hear problem points that I needed to work on.

After playback of several of these recorded live gigs where it sounded like I was singing under water with a mouth stuffed full of the dicks of my enemies – so, not my ideal scenario – I expressed my horror to our sound guy (and long time good friend and ex-band member). He agreed that he always struggled to get my voice to cut-through past the guitars and drums using your humble and common SM-58’s found at most venues.

We both agreed it was time for me to get my own microphone if I wanted to guarantee I had the ideal vocal sound and cut-through at all future gigs no matter what venue we played at.

Not to mention that using the supplied SM-58s at most venues can be a horror story. The SMELL some of these venue-owned microphones can have. Good lord; you’d think vocalists have a natural disposition to apocalypse-level gingavitis.

Good For A Girl Emma Cameron Blog Smelly Microphone

This is what I envision people with bad breath purposefully do to those venue-owned microphones.

Yeah, it is enough to inspire you to drop that cash-monies on your own mic and inject it with your own familiar throat-funk. You have only yourself to blame.

So this good-friend-sound-guy let me come and hang out with him at his workplace (one of the best sound companies in the country) for an afternoon so I could do a shoot-out of about 5 different microphones that the company had in their arsenal. We tested them with rock music playing so we could hear that A) my vocals cut through music clearly and B) my vocals sounded tiiiight.

And so it was decided; An Audix OM-7. Crisp, clear, fucking magnificent. A well-informed decision at the aid of a professional.

I purchased one immediately much to the dismay of my bank account, and I was beyond amped to use it at our next gig which happened to be about a week later.

Damn, my voice was going to sound HELLA CRISP at this gig, man.

Good For A Girl Singing Passion

How I imagined I would feel when singing through my fucking great new microphone.

I road tested this microphone to the best of my abilities at band rehearsals with no technical issues and with admiration from the guys as to how insanely ace it sounded.

We showed up to soundcheck to a this gig in which we were a support-act for. The sound guy was someone we’d never met or worked with before, but that was fine. It’s always great to meet and work with new people and expand your network.

He was in the process of setting up the mic’s for our check, when I said to him,

“I won’t need that 58 – I’ve got my own mic”

“Aw, nice one love, plug it in”

[I get out my shiny new amazingness of a microphone]

“Wait – no no what is that”

[me, very proud and confident]

“an Audix OM-7! It’s brand new, I’m very exci-”

“Oh no, that’s not any good you don’t want to use that one.”

 

Before even getting to excitedly tell my story about how I came to acquire this microphone, he completely shut me down. He used his position of power as a grown-ass-man to shut-down a young girl. He made the assumption that I had bought this microphone with no knowledge about it because what would a young girl know?

Well, I was younger then and didn’t have the confidence to stand my ground and prove that my vagina and youth hadn’t hindered my ability to make educated decisions about the gear I use. But, from memory I ended up being “allowed” to use my microphone and he just did his fucking job and made it sound good.

Guys like this are the sole reason I still – to this day – lack confidence in my own knowledge, experience and self-attunation (IT’S A WORD… THAT I MADE UP) when it comes to music and gear.

Guys like this are the reason why I still sometimes catch myself feeling like I don’t know what’s best for me, and sometimes even apologising for not-knowing something (which, I do actually know, I’m just scared to enter a debate that I can’t be fucked with and in which it is assumed I am in the position of “wrong” for simply having flaps in the place of a sausage and there will be no winning).

And I know this doesn’t just apply to me, I fear many young girls are made to feel this way by condescending (older) men in the music world.

I don’t know many guys who are scared to be wrong – most guys I know have unquestionable confidence in their gear of choice and this is a quality I’ve always envied in men.

If this scenario were to happen to me again tomorrow, I would assert that perhaps he was just a bit of a pussy and didn’t actually know what he was doing if he couldn’t deal with a microphone that wasn’t a 58, and I would give him the context of how I came to own this microphone and why I know it is the best choice for me.

I’m stoked that now I am mostly surrounded by male musicians and other industry workers who just treat me like a musician, not a damsel in distress, and start at a base assumption that I do know what I’m talking about (even when I don’t – but in turn providing me with a space where I don’t feel like an idiot for not knowing).

But it’s taken me a long time to get even here, and I still question myself and feel sheepish and like a “silly girl” at times – for absolutely no fucking reason except for that I’ve grown up feeling that I should.

I can’t imagine the steroid-level of self confidence I would have when it comes to choosing and using my gear if it had been assumed from the start that I am allowed to have the knowledge and confidence to make my own decisions.

As it turned out, about a year after this incident my microphone was stolen by a sound engineer and replaced with the same brand of microphone but a lower end shitty model. That sound guy clearly knew what the fuck was up. Fuck that guy, but thanks for affirming that my microphone was the tits.

RIP Microphone.

AGFAG: Annabel Liddell

My association with the New Zealand band, Miss June, started off on a foot of pure. fucking. envy.

I knew that the Foo Fighters were after a rock band with a girl at the helm to open for them in their most recent stadium shows in New Zealand, and Miss June took out pole position.

Miss June Annabel Liddel Good For A Girl

Miss June. L-R: James Park, Annabel Liddell, Chris Marshall, Thomas Leggett. Photo: Cleo Barnett

I immediately googled their name and this video came up of a live 95bFM performance for their song “Drool.” I was immediately pissed off at how cool they were and how the front woman, Annabel Liddell, could effortlessly pull off Mom Jeans.

Determined to not be a cry-whinge-baby, I headed to the Christchurch show early to make sure I didn’t Miss (lol) their set.

It was suuuuper hard to be a cry-whinge-baby after that.

I immediately fell in love with Annabel’s undeniable stage presence, and the band’s overall youthful and hectic energy.

Simply put, they fucking kicked ass.

The next night, because I was so excited about this new Girl Lead Rock Band®, I went and checked out their local side-show they had booked at the darkroom in Christchurch.

I loved that EVEN MORE since it was more a vibe suited to their grass-roots, DIY, riot grrrl vibes and I left with a major girl crush and a fucking cool t-shirt (and so did my boyfriend. Matching. TRULUV.)

Annabel Liddell Miss June Georgia Schofield

Annabel being a badass goddess. Photo by Georgia Schofield

Annabel is quite a bit like me, in the respect that she started learning guitar at age 9 but doesn’t really have much to show for that in terms of technical skill (I read an article where she said that about herself so do not smite me). We’re both just girls who love playing guitar, singing our lungs out and writing songs about things we’re passionate about.

In true punk form, and particularly in the vein of riot grrrl punk, Annabel’s song writing focuses heavily on questioning societal norms and issues that effect women and girls (YASS).

Matriarchy was the first single of their debut EP of the same name, which is a short but absolutely killer punk track calling out dudes who ridiculously think feminism is threatening to men in any sort of way.

It’s perfect, and I was stoked to join in on the festivities of the video when Annabel put a call out on her Facebook for girls to send her clips of them dancing in their undies to the song.

She made the music video herself as well.

I feel aligned with her in her commandment of her own art, and being the boss of her own creative outputs. I don’t make our music videos, but I make everything else for my band. And I’m very proud of myself and other women in rock music who are driving their own ships.

I really look forward to more music and more killer shows from Annabel & her boys in the future.

 

 

 

 

NO GIRLS ALLOWED.

This is the earliest tale of when my vagina got in the way of fulfilling my dreams.

I started learning guitar when I was 9 after my parents told me that perhaps violin (my chosen instrument to learn) was going to be too hard. In retrospect, I think they were just angling for me to do something that was cool.

My Dad had always wanted to learn guitar, and fair enough; he wanted to live vicariously through me. Just as I will pass my own regrets on to my children, and so is the circle of life.

I was a natural at guitar; I picked it up almost immediately and was well on my way to super stardom at age 9.

By the time I started high school; I was done with lessons. I saw no need for them anymore because I could just figure everything out myself. I was a fucking guitar GODDESS.

After showing my parents that I “took guitar seriously” (had to be playing for more than 5 years), they bought me my first electric guitar at age 14. It was a 3rd-hand Mexican Fender Stratocaster. It was cool as fuck, I felt cool as fuck.

Emma Cameron Good For a Girl Fender Stratocaster

As a young teenager; I was at the FOREFRONT of the creative selfie. Some legend would have it that I created the selfie.

It was at this point that I decided guitar lessons would be good again. I’d worked out bar chords and power chords ALL ON MY OWN (so proud), but I wanted to get in to some more technical stuff and learn proper technique for said technical stuff.

My new tutor saw that I had pretty decent chops and immediately moved me up in to the top group-lesson for my age group with two other guys that were in my music class.

These guys weren’t impressed. What on EARTH was I doing in their class? She’s not as good as us!

I actually dreaded going to guitar lessons because of the weird exclusive attitude. I decided against learning much more about being a lead guitarist, I wanted to do rhythm guitar while singing simultaneously and absolutely had to join a band, so I dropped out of the lessons.

It just so happened these guys were in a band with 2 other guys (a bassist and a drummer) in our music class. Perfect opportunity! I could jam with them, girl guitarists in rock bands are cool as, right?

Both of them were super “I can shred harder than you” – so they needed a rhythm guitarist!

Wrong. I was not allowed to join Amplitude (lol band name).

The vibe was that girls absolutely weren’t allowed. I was uncool and I would taint the bands street-cred.

Being in a band was a special club that I didn’t have the secret password to: a penis.

I was heartbroken, I felt there was no other opportunity for me to start a band in high school. At that point in time there were no other girls I knew of who I could start a vag-band with.

Guys; I NEVER GOT TO DO THE RITE OF PASSAGE THAT IS ROCKQUEST.

A year or so later, I decided being emo was totes cool, So I became a bit of a street rat and spent a lot of time in the city and at local AA gigs hanging out with other defunct youth just looking to fit in.

I met this older dude who had dropped out of high school and was studying music and playing guitar at a local music college.

One night he invited me along to “jam” (foreign words to me at the time) with a drummer he studied music with. The drummer was a lot older than us and his name was Dan.

The very Dan that I still do music with today. This was the start of Ashei, which – 10 years later – turned in to Decades.

Emma Cameron Good For a Girl Decades Ashei Throwback

16 year old Emma and 21 year old’s Liam and Dan. (far left was our original guitarist, Jono). 2006. My face says it all: “Suck it, Amplitude.”

Looking back now, I think Amplitude were just intimated by my vagina-fuelled greatness.

Amplitude could’ve had it all, but now they’re rolling in the deep.

 

 

Which one is your boyfriend?

This is a deeply personally alarming question I get a surprising amount:

“Liam… he’s your boyfriend, right?”

“Is he your boyfriend?”

“And is Liam your boyfriend?”

“Which one is your boyfriend again?”

Hell-to-the-no Liam is not my boyfriend, and what exactly makes people assume that I am dating someone in the band?

It’s almost like I can’t be in a band without one of the men in there being my partner, who let me in at the immense punish at the rest of the members. Like I’m Yoko Ono. Fucking hell, John.

The Beatles and Yoko Ono 1969

WHY.

We’ve been a band for 10 years and not once have we released any content which features Liam and I looking even remotely romantic.

The closest Liam and I have ever got to heavy physical contact was after the earthquake here in Christchurch which happened as I was heading to his house for a writing session, and he said “er… do you want a hug?” when I showed up and I responded “It’s okay, I know that would be weird” and he was like “okay cool”.

If you asked both of us if we were dating, you would physically see us recoil in an awkward pool of slight disgust – but like a love-infused disgust. And when I say love I mean like asking your 9 year old son to hug your 6 year old daughter and they’re like eewwww noooooo. Not love-love. Just have to make that clear because it seems people can’t tell the difference.

I’ve never dated any of the guys in my band, nor would I ever. They are cootie infested – it’s a fact.

If I had brothers, they would be them and it would be like dating them.

Have you dated your brother before? No, I didn’t think so. It’s pretty gross. It’s frowned upon, actually.

Emma Watson Harry Potter Rupert Grint Daniel Radcliffe Kiss Incest

Emma Watson having to kiss Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint in the later Harry Potter movies = she gets the “IT’S MY FUCKIN BROTHER!!” cringe vibes

And looking at bands we all know and love with men and women in them that dated, it simply does not work.

WE ALL KNOW WHAT WENT DOWN IN FLEETWOOD MAC.

Although if we were to analyse bands with these hetero-romantic dynamics, we can see that whilst almost ALWAYS ending badly, they actually tend to bring out the best fuckin’ heartbreak songs ever.

No DoubtDon’t Speak
Fleetwood Mac – Actually; that whole fucking Rumours album
Paramore –  Aaaannnnd the entire Brand New Eyes album, too…

…uh, if you can get an entire album out of a break up, maybe it’s worth it?

I’m not planning to trial-run it anytime soon.

AGFAG: Possum Plows

I’m wary of placing Possum Plows of New Zealand pop-punk band, Openside, in a box.

Possum identifies as gender-non-conforming, and this is also part of the reason why; she is fucking awesome.

She is just the kind of human we need more of in the public forum to engage an audience with her art while simultaneously opening the doors for our youth culture (and humanity at large) to work towards a deeper degree of acceptance of diversity in all forms.

I first started following Openside when they were still called ‘Maybe Rave!’ – a super young, 4-piece pop-punk band hailing from Auckland.

They caught my attention because of the similarities I could draw with my own band at the time; a girl at the helm,  3 boys faffing about in the background (jussssst kidding), and a clear appreciation for melody and merging that with rock music.

openside possum plows band

Openside L-R: PJ Shephard (Guitar/Vocals), George Powell (Drums), Harry Carter (Bass) and Possum Plows (Vocals/Queen).

A couple years later and they, like my own band, have rebranded and chosen a more clear direction for their sound. In our case it was get rockier, and in their case it was get poppier.

My god can this girl write a pop tune.

In 2014, Possum won Auckland University’s Popular Music degree’s Songwriter of the YEAR while doing her Bachelor of Music. That was enough for me to start following her and her boss-ass budding career with extreme intent.

I then went on to learn more about Possum’s personal message, which resonates so strongly with me.

Possum’s writing is strongly focussed on relevant social commentary which both supports the youth generation and educates a slightly older demographic who may still fall in to the scope of their target audience.

In one of their latest songs, Worth It, she talks about themes of consumerism and corporate greed preying on our self-worth and need to fit in. I like that she talks about themes not prevalent in your regular pop music which more often than not; encourages consumerism and pushes lavish lifestyles.

Openside Possum Plows Shave Head Worth It

“You cut your hair off any they call it a trend” – Worth It

“But wait, we’ll sell you what you need
Though it’s temporary..

We got our ways to make you feel good
Make your dream life take flight
Just follow the leader
We got the goods to make you feel strong
Make you see more of what you want

Cause you deserve it
Darling, you’re worth it”

She follows on from themes Lorde approached in her rise to fame, but Possum has an extra angle of straying from the norm when it comes to her personal identity, and I really look forward to seeing her develop this more in her lyrical themes.

The band has just signed to Warner, raising the opportunity for Possum to spread her culturally-relevant and socially-necessary messages far and wide.

Bring it on.

 

Hi, My Name Is Non-Human Public Property!

Being on the live music scene you tend to come across a lot of drunk people, and half of the time, I’m one of them myself. But I showed some great restraint on the Dead Sight Tour with Villainy last month in my attempt at creating the most amount of sleep for myself and the least amount of crying while driving to the next city at 9am in the morning.

Dealing with drunk people (and being a drunk people) is all part of the music scene and 9 times out of 10 it’s an enjoyable and entertaining experience – it just gets draining when certain individuals cross a line – and there was one guy in Tauranga who really just got me wanting to cut a bitch.

Decades Emma Cameron Tauranga Mount Maunganui Richard Robinson Photography Muzic

“MAAAAAARRRRGGGHHHHHHHHHH” in Tauranga. Photo by: Richard Robinson Photography

 

Let me set the scene: I was hustling CDs at the end of the show at the exit to the venue. I was engrossed in the task, pushed-up against one of the doors to allow people to flow in front of me and pick up a CD or have a chat.

Many of these people were understandably drunk as shit after enjoying an absolutely killer show. Being “HEYYYYY. YOU’RE THAT burp-hiccup-hybrid CHICK violent sway FROM THAT BAAAANDD  spit got me right in the eye” is an experience I actually really enjoy engaging with nightly.

Shout out to those guys who are trying really hard to pretend not to be drunk – we all know drunk people have subtlety down to a fine art.

Actually, it’s more like a 4 year old’s attempt at drawing their mum which just looks like a circle with some lines coming out of it, but it’s still art, and they’re super proud of it so don’t say anything.

kids drawing of mum

This actually fucking came up when I googled “4 year old’s attempt at drawing their mum”.

But when it turns in to silently innapropriately touching me is where shit starts to get a bit… shit. So, back to the cunt-ass-guy.

He was the Picasso of drunken subtlety as he squeezed passed behind me, making sure to get his crotch really pressed in to my (admittedly, magnificent) butt.

Let’s note that there was a vast amount of space larger than the grand canyon to simply walk in front of me without touching me altogether.

As my brain registered this, I confusedly looked over to him walking towards his mate doing that “cowabunga dude” hand wiggle signal with his tongue poking out, genuinely proud he’d pulled off the most “subtle” sexual harrassment of a woman without her noticing.

Good For a Girl Emma Cameron Drunk Guy

A scientific graphic I’ve put together for you to explain this guy

 

Oh, I noticed.

“OI!” I yelled at him which either fell on deaf drunken ears, or was ignored out of not wanting a very public confrontation with me.

My pal who was helping me throw CDs at unsuspecting individuals (a fucking angel queen) caught on to what happened after some very expressive facial expressions from myself and yelled out “that’s fucked up, man. You’re fucked!”

Still nothing.

I didn’t want to cause a scene, but in retrospect I really wish I had. Like when you have an argument with someone and you come up with the perfect response 4 hours later. (THE WORST.)

It’s quite hard in the blink of a moment to decide whether or not causing a scene in front of fans will strengthen their respect for you, or in our weird-ass culture which shies away from confrontations and loud women, will cause them to dislike both myself and my band.

But it’s coming to the realisation that for some reason when you’re a “public personality;” like a musician, tv presenter, actor, a kardashian, you all of a sudden become an object without feelings to grope and hump and pretend it’s a life achievement.

What is that? Will we ever figure it out? Will Donald Trump ever die?

Anyway, fuck those guys.

I loved performing in Tauranga, the staff and crew were fantastic and the vast majority of the fans were absolutely delightful.

10/10 except douche-nozzle guy gets a solid zero. Don’t be that guy.

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Fig. 3: The butt. Photo by Matt Henry Photography for Muzic.net.nz