AGFAG: Sylvia Massy – Producer

Here I present my mortification of having not known of Sylvia Massy.

My lovely friend Phoebe Hurst aka Hunter tagged me in the below video the other week and I was left sitting there just thinking to myself: “holy shit.”

No other thoughts, just “holy shit.”

I’m a simple person.

Sylvia is an American entrepreneur, music producer, mixer and engineer, writer and artist in the United States.

AND she is a lady incase you hadn’t guessed already..

^^ Oh my god how fucking awesome is she?

Sylvia Massy is best known for producing Tool‘s 1993 debut album, Undertow, (which went bloody double platinum) and her work with other lilly wee boy bands you may have heard of such as System of a DownJohnny Cash and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Syliva Massy Good for a Girl Hugh Grant

Being a young recording artist myself, I have already been in my fair share of studios; and it struck me that I have not worked with a woman in recording before, or really ever seen another women in my vicinity whilst in that environment.

I have a sneaking suspicion they are actually quite rare.

The only other direct exposure I can think of for women in record engineering and producing was a TV ad years ago for the Open Polytechnic or something where there was a girl student talking about all she learned there about recording that she was going to bring in to the “real world.” I wonder what studio she’s working at now?

As you may be able to tell from the incredible video above of Sylvia talking about “Adventure Recording” and all the mental microphones and microphone techniques she has – she is well known for her quirky and creative approach to recording to create unique manual sounds.

You’ll also learn she is a killer illustrator as well! She has released  a book called “Recording Unhinged” – in which she’s drawn all the illustrations for it as well.

Syliva Massy Recording Unhinged Good For A Girl

Doing a bit poking around the internet about Sylvia, I noticed she too gets her fair share of bullshitty man-splaining and condescension despite her very apparent authority and talent in record producing.

I loved this comment I found in response to that which I could not have put in better words myself: “Gotta love the internet shitlords who seem to know better than a Grammy award level producer/mixer/engineer. Take your barely veiled misogyny and go listen to Undertow by Tool or Gilt by Machines of Loving Grace and realise this woman’s got bigger balls than all of you put together. Sylvia’s credentials are bulletproof. ”

Love it. Love her. Hope to meet her one day!

Learn more about Sylvia over at www.sylviamassy.com

And I’m off to go check other women producers!

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

AGFAG: Jennie Skulander

I can’t remember how I heard about Devilskin.

It was like they exploded into the stratosphere out of (seemingly) nowhere for me. All of a sudden, they were EVERYWHERE with songs and music videos all over the airwaves, and selling out shows left, right and centre.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Devilskin are a four-piece alternative metal band from Hamilton, New Zealand, formed in June 2010. The band consists of Nail (lead guitar), Paul Martin (bass, backing vocals), Nic Martin (drums), and most importantly; Jennie Skulander (lead vocals).

jennie skulander devilskin steve dykes

L-R: Paul Martin, Jennie Skulander, Nick Martin, Nail. Photo by Steve Dykes

Jennie’s vocals impressed me from the start but it was safe to say Devilskin weren’t my cup of tea.

They obviously were the perfect cuppa for a huge amount of rock-starved New Zealanders, but I continued to be baffled and amazed at the response to the band.

That was up until recently, when it truly clicked with me at Homegrown.

Jennie’s a fucking badass.

She alone sold Devilskin to me with her pure badassery.

jennie skulander devilskin bradley garner homegrown

What the fuck is this? How is she so cool? Photo by Bradley Garner Creative

I was privileged to have been handed an artist pass to Homegrown (despite not actually performing.. I spent most of my time drinking all the other bands’ beer..) , which meant I could go ANYWHERE I WANTED. THE POWER.

Naturally I spent the majority of my time between the free drinks and the free food areas.

But I did saunter up side-stage on several occasions to get an insight in to New Zealand’s most successful rock acts’ stage dynamics.

There are a lot of things you miss when you’re in the audience just consuming a show.

There was one major thing I would’ve missed with Devilskin’s show had I not been side of stage, and this was: Jennie is 21+ weeks pregnant.

jennie skulander devilskin

Here is Jennie setting the FUCKING BAR for women in music. I salute her.

Holy shit. This woman is incredible.

Here she is running off stage periodically while the guys do their instrumental thing, to cradle her tummy and smash back a banana (this was initially fucking hilarious to unsuspecting me; but now I understand it’s good for vocals. She’s a professional; I’m a person who laughs at people eating phallic objects).

Then she just goes the-fuck-back-out-there, infront of thousands of people, pregnant as shit, screaming the hell outta her lungs, stomping and twirling around, just generally absolutely killing it as if there isn’t a tiny human in there wondering ‘what the fuck is happening out there?!’ at all.

I’m a Jennie fan. Devilskin win.