Julia Deans Good For A Girl Emma Cameron

AGFAG: Julia Deans / Role Models for Young Girls

Julia Deans. Julia Fucking Deans.

I was too young to cotton on to Fur Patrol properly. To become a fan in all senses of the word.

Infact, I was 11 when their huge hit, Lydia, came out (which I loved, but didn’t have the age-appropriate tools or curiosity to obsess any further) and probably pushing 12 when their second track that I remember loving, Andrew, was released.

Fur Patrol Lydia NZMA 2001 Lydia Emma Cameron Good For A Girl

Fur Patrol accepting their Best Single award for ‘Lydia’ at the 2001 New Zealand Music Awards

So when I read that Fur Patrol were getting back together for what is essentially their last hoo-rah for the forseeable future, I knew I absolutely could not miss this opportunity at this time in my life, when I’d missed the WHOLE buzz in the early 2000s while I was too busy listening to fucking Simple Plan or some other horrific shit like that.

I personally know Julia a little bit through mutual friends and have met her a few times in the past year or so. I have had a passive respect for her from just knowing she was in Fur Patrol, and being aware of their general success and liking a couple of their songs in my awkward youth. So, there was an added layer of wanting to go see them play to support her as a (clueless) friend.

The show was on Friday 17th June, 2016 (as I write this; 4 nights ago).

What I anticipated was that I would enjoy watching a band play and recognise a couple hits and just generally have a nice time, hopefully get to say hi to Julia and have a few drinks then head home being like “that was an enjoyable experience, I think Fur Patrol are great.”

And that did happen. Quick review: the band are tight, the songwriting is incredible, the style development throughout their years of songs is inspiring. Julia is an incredible performer; her vocals are pitch perfect and so well controlled, and she moves SO WELL. She plays guitar like a boss and her on stage banter is funny and whip-snap fast.

Julia Deans Fur Patrol Andrew Good For A Girl Emma Cameron

Julia Deans in the “Andrew” music video – 2001. She is so fucking cool that she actually makes me consider cutting my fringe like that, even thought I KNOW I will look like a troll.

What I did not anticipate was how much of a profound effect actually seeing her perform on Friday night would have on me, and here is why.

As I watched Julia perform, I realised; I HAVE NEVER SEEN A WOMAN PLAYING GUITAR FRONTING A ROCK BAND WITH MY OWN EYES RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

The revelation almost brought me to tears. I found the inspiring and encouraging role model that I never knew that I clearly needed growing up and playing guitar/fronting a band.

Everywhere dudes look they can find role models; and all my life I guess I just subconsciously accepted that my role models were going to be the men and boys I was surrounded by both within my circle of musician-friends, and going to see other bands perform.

I now completely understand that girls need girl role models.

It sounds like a no-brainer, and it’s a feminist ideology I’ve always passively “pushed,” but didn’t even realise that I hadn’t had one myself all this time. And I now understand that that actually effected me growing up and trying to be a rock musician in a very heavy way.

Watching Julia perform had me going through all the thoughts and feels. Watching her made me feel empowered and validated.

That’s what I do!! She looks awesome doing it! That means I look (at least half) as awesome doing it! If I am amazed by her, maybe people can be amazed by me?

These are thoughts and affirmations I should’ve had access to since I started playing in bands from age 15! I can’t even imagine how much more confident I would be if I had had this revelation and encouragement from that age.

Holy shit!!

The quality and skill of this video I took is not only not good for a girl –
it’s fucking diabolical for anyone. It’s all I got – I am great.

My favourite part of the whole evening – which sounds fucked because the actual music and performance was incredible – was when Julia got her hair caught in a ring she was wearing on her index finger. That is such a thing that would happen to a woman in rock! Fuck! I am like her!

Seeing Julia play had an immediate effect of my confidence as a female musician.

After she played (sorry rest of Fur Patrol – you were great but you don’t have a vagina so you didn’t really effect me in profound ways BUT I had some real kicks out of a few of the bass riffs and beats) I had to boost off immediately as I was travelling out to a creative retreat with a bunch of local Christchurch musicians who form a collective called, Fledge.

These Fledge retreats are a bunch of musicians that get together and jam, non-stop, for days on end. I’ve only been to a couple since I met the crew in the last year or so, and I am usually paralyzed with fear to get up and jam. I have never done it. I usually listen and offer up ideas verbally (I like being bossy).

This weekend, I got up and I played guitar, I played drums, I played piano, I played bass, I sung. I was vulnerable and I was confident.

All because of seeing Julia Deans the night before.

/endJuliagush

I want to build more pathways for women in rock music.

More exposure. I don’t know when the next time will be that I get to see another prominent fucking woman wielding a guitar and fronting a rock band with my own damn eyes – and that is not right! I should be able to go see one as often as I go see a rock band with a dude in the front.

I’m going to go immerse myself in Fur Patrol’s back catalogue and attempt to make up for the years I missed out on.

12 thoughts on “AGFAG: Julia Deans / Role Models for Young Girls

  1. flipthatscript says:

    LOVE this piece, Good for a girl. Thanks heaps. I relate completely. These moments are good, and horrifying – when you realised she was the first band leader you’d seen in real life. Role modeling in the music scene is so important. In all spheres of life actually. Women in the music industry is my intense interest…..it is so gendered eh. Men are out the front in every sense, and women tend to occupy roles of nurturing in management etc, or if they are on stage, instruments that are closely related to the body – voice, then guitar, maybe piano…..woodwind and brass possibly….and the further from the body, and more technological the less women are scene.

    • emmadecades says:

      Yes – and considering I myself play guitar and front a rock band, it’s absolutely absurd that I’ve never been exposed to another woman doing that in front of me before. I’ve been doing this band thing for over 10 years now… it’s mental. Thanks for your comment xo

      • luckless says:

        I kind of think that it’s mental too. Cause there have been SO MANY WOMEN doing exactly that for the past 10 years right beneath your nose. Maybe you just haven’t been looking for them? Whether their music is to your taste or not is one thing… But it’s a whole other thing to say that it hasn’t been happening.
        Street Chant / Mermaidens / Dear Time’s Waste / Reb Fountain / The River Jones / Mermaidens / Fazerdaze / Doprah / Anna Coddington / Devilskin…
        and then from earlier days The Bengal Lights / The Coolies / Foamy Ed / Punches / Victoria Girling-Butcher

        and then SO MANY non-rock-front-women…

      • emmadecades says:

        Hey! I’m talking about prominent mainstream – I’m not saying “girls” as in my age. I’m saying “girls” as in like KIDS. Most kids are only exposed to the music their parents listen to, or mainstream stuff on the radio. Even on the commercial rock radio here in NZ there are fuck all women. I just did their MusicLab and out of 140 songs – 1 of them had a woman vocalist (and she doesn’t also play an instrument). Sure in the underground and indie scene there are plenty – and I am WELL aware of them.
        As a kid, Fur Patrol were huge in NZ but I still missed out because I wasn’t old enough to be allowed to go to gigs. Then by the time I hit teenagedom I was sucked in to the hole of modern punk, emo, and metal which was predominantly male (like most rock genres) and was conditioned to only enjoy their voices in a way, I guess!
        It’s only in my more recent years of life I’ve been trying to personally unravel the male dominated subconscious acceptance in all aspects of my life and seeing Julia perform made me realise how much important development I missed out on as a girl who plays rock music and now a woman who plays rock music who missed out.
        It’s still a shame though; as I have become more ‘woke’ as an adult woman, I still have to seek out the woman-led bands. There still isn’t a big enough representation on mainstream/natural discovery (radio – still has the biggest influence in NZ) And let’s face it; our nation’s young girls of 5 – 12 years old aren’t going to Street Chant shows – lol.

  2. Melody says:

    Great post, all so true. I grew up loving Fur Patrol (I was 14/15 and lived in the same city so got to see them lots) and my friends and I all adored Julia. But even still I get these crazy overwhelming emotions when I see women fronting rock bands because we dont see it enough. Recently got to see Courtney Barnett and basically cried inspiration tears the whole time, she’s fucking amazing if you ever get the chance!

    • emmadecades says:

      Hey Melody – faaarrrrk you’re lucky! I never saw anything growing up. My first rock gig ever was age 13 and it was Zed – sausage fest! ha ha. And by that point many of the prominent female-fronted rock bands in New Zealand had gone quiet. And with the internet being young and my parents restricting my access to it, there wasn’t much way that I could find or know if there were any gigs on or bands with women in them (and also by proxy of not having the exposure – I wasn’t particularly interested either).

      OH MY GOD I love Courtney so much – I was so gutted I had to miss her when she was here last as I was in Australia at the time. I made up for it by buying her CD and playing it non-stop in my rental car for the entire 2 week trip. So much love for her – she is amazing.

      Thanks for your comment! x

  3. Rebecca Bird says:

    I saw Lzzy hale and her band halestorm at download festival last week and she is an amazing guitar player and singer, hope you get to check her out sometime playing live

    • emmadecades says:

      Oh man – Download festival must’ve been a blast! I’ve watched a videos of Lzzy playing piano at shows before too and her voice is massive.

      • Rebecca Bird says:

        It was amazing!! That is the trouble with NZ you are so far away from the rest of the world! Also as a kid growing up if you like heavier rock, alt rock and metal it is hard to find people to connect with there and you feel like a black sheep! Certainly that is the way I felt. Since living in the uk I have felt more free to be myself as I don’t feel like I’m the only weirdo in the room! Keep doing what you do Emma and inspiring women and girls to show them there’s more to life than the mainstream!

      • emmadecades says:

        Totally – part of my experience is definitely influenced by living in a country so removed from the rest of the world and a more varied culture. Still; where are the hugely popular and long-lasting women-fronted rock bands on a global scale (a la Foo Fighters, Metallica, AC/DC, Nirvana, Muse etc) that couldn’t possibly be ignored by our small culture-pot here? ha ha. Weirdo’s unite x

  4. bbrunskill says:

    I totally, totally agree. I’ve seen Julia a few times and she’s an amazing talent.

    Great singer, epic songwriter, great guitarist and bass player, moves great on stage and looks downright sexy – but not in a trashy, give-the-boys-what-they-want way, more like a confident woman being a boss kind of way. Last time I saw her she was playing with The Adults, and I don’t think anyone really noticed Jon Toogood and Aaron Tokana.
    Julia Deans was far too busy being awesome.

    It gives me a lot of hope for my daughter to see people like Julia and Anika and Ebony Lamb and yourself and a few others who are just being themselves in the music scene without giving way to the billion and one opinions of what they should sound and look like.

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