Drown This City Good For A Girl Alex Reade

Interview: Alex Reade from Drown This City (@BIGSOUND)

DROWN THIS CITY ARE A POST-HARDCORE BAND FROM MELBOURNE

Drown This City Good For A Girl Alex Reade

Image: Drown This City / Alex Reade (Centre… lol u know)

I first came across the existence of Drown This City through a mate of mine who does their PR/Media – who did a great bloody job, by the way, as everywhere I turned I was seeing their sheeeit. Knowing that women screamers are rare-as-fuck, I immediately checked them out, and died from love for front-woman, Alexandra Reade’s amazing voice.

I completely assumed Drown this City were showcasing at BIGSOUND 2016, so got in touch with Alex to organise a GFAG interview, to find out… she wasn’t attending at all. But the epic thing was she was super keen to meet up and chat with me that she booked her BIGSOUND tickets and travel right then and there and bob’s your uncle, it was ON. What a G.B.

I loved chatting to and meeting Alex, her perspective on being a woman in a male-dominated music genre is really interesting and she is strong in who she is and what she does. I won’t say much more, but I loved transcribing our chat.

Drown This City Good for a Girl Alex Reade Live

Image: Drown This City / Alex Reade 

So, Drown This City are a 5-piece post-hardcore band from Melbourne who launched on to the scene just under a year ago with heavy audiences across Australia welcoming them with enthusiastic open arms.

According to their official bio that I just officially read for the first time: they started the project as an electronic act aimed at an EDM audience! What da fuck. I was not expecting to read that haha. But listening to their music, you can hear that electronic influence coming through in the production with lush synths laid up over the slick guitar riffs and under Alex’s brutal screams (and beautiful clean vocals). And result: it is real good, mane.

Drown This City released their kick-ass debut EP, False Idols, in June this year, and you can listen to it in all of it’s glory in their links below!

BUT FIRST: WATCH MY INTERVIEW WITH ALEX READE FROM DROWN THIS CITY!

If you’re in the Melbourne area, you can CATCH THE BAND LIVE NEXT WEEK supporting Lacuna Coil on October 13th at Max Watt’s. Pick up your tickets here.

So if you like what you hear, check Alex and Drown This City out online!

DROWN THIS CITY LINKS

Website
Spotify
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

GOOD FOR A GIRL: ALEX READE FROM DROWN THIS CITY (INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT)

Alex (Drown This City):
Tell me if I’m doing weird facials. I always get real intense in my face!

Emma:
Just do it on purpose! Be like pulls serious face at the camera (laughs) OK, so, first thing I wanna talk about is your influences and inspirations from a little young age, or teenager,  who were they or what was it?

Alex (Drown This City):
My Dad was a really big music lover. Listened to Kiwi music – Split Enz! My first love, Split Enz. Neil Finn, Tim Finn, obsessed just love their music. Crowded House. But the first band that really inspired me was actually Muse. Just listened to Absolution and completely fell in love. And that was the first time I thought “maybe I could be in a band. Maybe I could do this.” And I just listened to it on repeat.

Emma:
Rad

Alex (Drown This City):
And that’s before I’d discovered anything heavy – never listened to heavy music. I didn’t even hear any screaming until I was 18. I had no idea. Really got in to Alexisonfire. Heard them for the first time and completely fell in love with heavy music. Parkway Drive! Those two are probably my biggest influences. They really inspired me to go “yeah fuck: that!” I’m going to be in a band and I wanna do that! Just in love with it.

Emma:
So were you singing? Or were you playing an instrument before you discovered heavy music?

Alex (Drown This City):
I was actually classically trained.

Emma:
Really?! (laughs)

Alex (Drown This City):
(laughs) Yes I was! So my parents had big dreams for me to be an opera singer! So from about the age of 5 until I was 19 I had classical music lessons.

Emma:
Right, so you’re still making just as much noise, really, vocally.

Alex (Drown This City):
Exactly! Same amount of intensity but just for a different tone.

Emma:
Metal’s an interesting scene because there aren’t many women in metal, at all. Did you have any influences or inspiration, are there any role models for you to look up to? Or even women to look to sideways from your career?

Alex (Drown This City):
That’s a really good question! My role models were men growing up because there weren’t any women. And I didn’t really get the memo that that was a problem. For me, it wasn’t about the fact they were a man, it was like “I can do that too. They’re doing it. I can do that.” But the first female screamer I really identified with was Alissa White-Gluz, originally from The Agonist, but now she’s the vocalist for Arch Enemy. She is just incredible and she was the first woman I ever heard scream. And I was like “alright. that’s amazing.”

Emma:
Did that change your approach at all to screaming? Cuz I got in to trying to do screaming when I was late teens too; I started getting in to August Burns Red and Architects, and love lots of bands from that scene. And was like “oh, maybe I want to go in more of that direction” because I was playing guitar as well and I was copying, doing what they do. But I only got in to screaming a little bit and I was like “nah I think singing is more for me” but I use screaming as an influence to how I deliver more yelling sort of screaming.

Alex (Drown This City):
Yeah

Emma:
But is there a difference in the way men scream to women scream? Like when you first discovered that woman screamer that was an influence to you – did you change your approach at all?

Alex (Drown This City):
Yeah that’s a good question – and when people say to me “how do you scream as a female?” I want my response to be “there’s no difference” because we both have the exact same vocal chords. But it does sound different, so you can’t deny there is a difference. But no, it never really changed my mind. I was just pretty set on “I will scream.” It took me many years to learn how to scream, and maybe because I’m a girl and it didn’t come naturally – that aggression didn’t come naturally.

Emma:
Yeah

Alex (Drown This City):
And I was like “how do I do this?” and I spent many many years of learning the technicalities of how to do it. Because I don’t scream from just aggression like “I’m just gunna scream now.” I learnt it as a technique. So perhaps that plays in to the gender thing? I know a lot of guys when you ask them how they scream they’re like “I just do it. I just get out there and I just do it.” But for me I had to really treat it like an extra skill set. Learn how I am going to do this because it’s not natural to have that.

Emma:
Or sometimes I wonder if it’s because women are quite a lot more… we kinda think before we act. We want to know the best way to do something.

Alex (Drown This City):
That’s so true!

Emma:
And we’re quite conscious of our health, and guys aren’t. A lot of them are like “I SCREAM” like “I don’t care if I blow out my voice” cuz they’re not thinking that. Do you find you had that approach? You wanted to do it without damage?

Alex (Drown This City):
Yeah! Definitely.

Emma:
So I wonder if that’s a woman thing as well? Cuz even with me when I meet other guy singers – i mean there are more experienced ones for sure – but ones that were kinda at my level when I was getting in to music, I was interested in looking up vocal warm-up techniques and vocal health online and learning what i need to do everyday to keep it healthy and what i need to do before and after a show. Whereas other guys that were at my same level are like “I just go out there and do it” and then they get off stage and they can’t talk anymore! I wonder if that’s a female trait that we look in to protecting and developing our craft.

Alex (Drown This City):
That’s a really good point. Because for me, it’s definitely analytical. And so much control around, and I gotta have routines before I go on stage. Like.. 3 days before hand “don’t talk to me! I can’t go anywhere. I gotta stay home and I gotta drink my tea.” Yeah it’s a really good point.. I don’t know!

Emma:
It just makes me think about how traditionally… I don’t know if it’s a gender role that’s been fostered or whether it is actually just genetic. Women, we want security, we do want protection, and even just in our lives we think about the future a lot. We’re quite an anxious gender. So that’s why I wonder if it all ties in to that, because we want the security of “well I know I like music. So I want the security and the best practise so I know I can do it for the rest of my life, and I know it will be a secure skill that I have.” I’ve never thought about that before, but that just made me think about that.

Alex (Drown This City):
Yeah I’ve never really thought about that either! Like when I compare the way I learnt to scream and how to harness that compared to singing, singing came really naturally. And I still sing in a sorta really clean way in Drown This City, but, so I never really put a lot of thought in to how I would do that.

Emma:
Mm

Alex (Drown This City):
But so much anxiety came with screaming for me. It took me years to learn. I felt a lot of anxiety and shame about how it sounded. Because it sounded like a girl screaming, it’s not a man. I’m never going to sound like my idols and people I love, and I was really embarrassed for a really long time learning how to scream. And I had to overcome so many obstacles in my mind. I would scream and it would squeak. I’d develop weird squeaks before playing shows. Like “Oh my god I’m losing it! Where’s it gone? Oh my god why can’t I scream?”

Emma:
Yeah and you’re doing it to yourself, eh?

Alex (Drown This City):
Exactly. It’s purely mental. And I actually had my singing teacher examine my vocal chords one day. He said “oh let’s have a look.” Had a look at them and he’s like “nah, listen. they’re the same vocal chords you sing with, Alex. If you can sing with them you can scream with them. there’s absolutely nothing wrong.” I’m like.. the mind is a very powerful tool! (laughs)

Emma:
Yeah and I think that women musicians take over a lot more than guys minds. I’m the same with my vocals! Like even when we were recording our album last year all of a sudden when it got to vocal week I felt so precious like “fuck…” and I actually made myself sick and then I couldn’t sing! I got like.. I don’t even know what I had the doctor couldn’t diagnose it but another guy in the studio ended up getting strep throat so we think it was that?

Alex (Drown This City):
Wow

Emma:
But like who would I have caught that off? I was just so anxious about “oh my god what if my vocals do this?” or “ohh it’s sounding scratchy before I even started” “when I warm up it doesn’t feel like it’s getting loose” and all this stuff that I actually did it at the detriment of my actual recording session and I couldn’t get the vocals done!

Alex (Drown This City):
Maybe we’re just so in tune with our bodies.. like we wake up in the morning like “something’s wrong something’s wrong what is it I need to find out, i need to protect” – and you’re right it must be instinctual because I wouldn’t think men do that?

Emma:
Yeah wouldn’t think many of them would. There’s probably men out there that do, like anxious men. But I still think it’s probably like the default thing in women. Like most of us do that?

Alex (Drown This City):
It’s a really good point (laughs).

Emma:
And you said before that you’ve had in the past, guys being like “how do chicks scream?” and you’ve just been like “how do guys..it’s just the same.” Have you had many experiences being a woman in metal where not just with your artistry, but with general fuckery coming at you for being a chick?

Alex (Drown This City):
(laughs) Yep! On my way here this morning I was just having a quick read through Facebook I’m like “I’m just gunna go–” cuz I know it’s there – but I decided to go back and pick out a few instances. And it’s – people are obsessed with gender. So they can’t critique me as a musician. They have to critique me as a female musician. And so I was reading a few comments on Facebook. One we got was “another excellent band ruined by a terrible female vocalist” and I’m like well I’m not a “female vocalist” I’m a “vocalist.” There’s not difference.

Emma:
Yeah that’s interesting because they judge your terrible-ness on being a woman. Where as if they didn’t think about your gender they’d be like “she’s pretty fucking good.”

Alex (Drown This City):
Exactly. We had a guy ask us once, sent us a message, “oh I love your music, it’s so wonderful. Great vocalist, Alex, but any chance one of the guys in the band are going to do any vocals?” And I thought “well I’m the vocalist?”

Emma:
Yeah we’ll just get the drummer to hop off of the kit and start…

Alex (Drown This City):
Yeah! And it was an assumption that apparently they’ve got these skills that… and mine aren’t good enough. “Are you gunna get male vocals in there?” So I am a vocalist at the end of the day I don’t breathe any different, I don’t walk any different, I don’t do anything different. I don’t sing or scream any different to any guy. And so it’s just this obsession with being female! And another few instances, we were looking for a guitarist, and we were advertising publicly on Facebook and a few people were responding back going… and I don’t wanna be crude and you can cut this out if I’m not allowed to say this?

Emma:
Always be crude

Alex (Drown This City):
Alright! Basically it was, “nah shit band. I’d fuck the girl though” those comments. Um. When I was playing a gig last week, a guy walked up to me and said “hi. I was paid $5 to come get your name. How you going?”

Emma:
What?! Paid $5?!

Alex (Drown This City):
Yeah. So he was paid to come over and talk to me. And felt like it was appropriate to come over to me while I was on stage and basically try and… whatever it was.

Emma:
Holy shit.

Alex (Drown This City):
Yeah and I was like.. you’re not taking me seriously! I’m a performer. I’m here, I’m trying to perform. Like fuck off.

Emma:
And you don’t see them doing that to any of your guys.

Alex (Drown This City):
And I was really thinking a lot more about this. And another thing I’ve found quite interesting is the use of saying you’re a “female-fronted band.” So that’s quite a hot topic at the moment. And the thing I can’t get my head around is… I can’t do anything about the fact that I’m female.

Emma:
Yep.

Alex (Drown This City):
But, aside from that, it’s one word. It’s the word female. So putting it in a tagline “female-fronted” – it doesn’t actually change anything. There’s an assumption that that’s giving me an advantage. And that’s not fair. “That’s not fair that you put female-fronted in there stop doing that.”What’s unfair about that?

Emma:
Yeah I agree.

Alex (Drown This City):
I think you’re over sexualising the whole thing. What am I hoping to achieve?  You know, it’s purely because there’s not many female screamers, not many females in bands. The same people criticising are the ones going “where are the females? Why aren’t they there? More chicks should be in bands. But don’t you dare say you’re a female-fronted band!” So I’ve always thought that was really weird as well.

Emma:
Really odd!

Alex (Drown This City):
I just don’t understand the obsession and it wasn’t something that I was prepared for coming in. I just put my head down. I’m just like anyone else. These guys are my best friends. You know you’re in a band with guys and you’re just one of the crew.

Emma:
Yeah you’re just mates playing music together. I was kinda the same like that. I never really knew there was sexism in the industry, it didn’t come in to my sphere of influence. I never thought about it really until a couple of years ago – I mean this blog’s only started this year – when we started releasing a lot more and yeah, it did crop up a lot more. I was like “what? I just thought we were playing music? I didn’t realise this was a thing that I have to deal with. What?”

Alex (Drown This City):
Yeah!

Emma:
So what are you wanting to do moving forward? What are Drown This City up to?

Alex (Drown This City):
Ooooh! Quite a lot of things. We’re quite new, actually. So we withheld a lot of our online presence. We’ve been writing music together for a couple of years, sorta preparing our release. So since December last year we came out. And we’ve just tried to push it as hard as we can. But we’re just focussing on writing as much music as we can because I think that’s a downfall for a lot of bands.

Emma:
Yep

Alex (Drown This City):
They come out with this product and then they tour it, and then they have to take a break. They don’t have anything to put out there. And unfortunately content is key. If you don’t have the content people are just going to move on to another band and it’s quite crushing actually!

Emma:
Yeah!

Alex (Drown This City):
You’ve got these highs and these lows of people coming in and being so interested in what you’re doing – even in our short amount of time we’ve had ups and downs in interest as well. So we’re just writing as much as we can as often as we can. Always prepared for any opportunity coming up. But we’re playing some pretty good gigs for the rest of the year, we’ll announce some soon! We haven’t unleashed them yet. But we’re playing a really good festival next year which I think is the highlight, which is a Unify festival called Unified. And yeah, that’s another interesting point as well because there’s only two females playing that festival..

Emma:
Yeah! Right.

Alex (Drown This City):
There’s myself and another band called Savior who have got a female vocalist as well. A vocalist. (laughts) Not a female vocalist – just a vocalist.

Emma:
(laughs) Just a vocalist, yeah! Happens to have a vagina.

Alex (Drown This City):
Yeah so out of 220 musicians playing there are only two females playing.

Emma:
Wow.

Alex (Drown This City):
So that received a lot of… that sort of sparked a big debate in the last couple months of “where are they.”

Emma:
Yeah well there’s been all those things of people removing all the male bands off festival posters and just leaving women ones on there and being like shrugs the posters are completely bare essentially. But I suppose that’s kinda like dominant in the metal scene, especially. There’s quite a lack of women.

Alex (Drown This City):
There definitely is.

Emma:
Like you go to the country scene and it’s quite even or even like rock.. i mean rock’s not even but it’s  way more women there… metal’s kinda like… even hip hop! Drum and bass. There are some specific genres that are massive genres. Like huge followings.. electronic, drum and bass and the metal scene have very loyal fanbases and huge followings and it’s like “where are the women at?” and there’s a lot of women fans, so?

Alex (Drown This City):
Yeah!

Emma:
It’d be interesting – I don’t know how we’d ever find out – but women fans… whether they are in to women vocalists as well? Whether there is actual bias within audiences? but..

Alex (Drown This City):
Well when I was growing up I didn’t really like a lot of female vocalists. But it wasn’t because they were female. I didn’t go searching for it.

Emma:
No me either. I didn’t know that I should. Or I didn’t have influences that were women. But since starting this blog it’s like.. there are so many women artists out there!

Alex (Drown This City):
Yeah I know!!

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