Just a quick blog post from me to say Merry Christmas from Good for a Girl!
Image: can you tell I am a professional graphic designer?
It’s been a great year; we laughed, we cried, we swore at idiots. Well, I did, anyway… Thanks to everyone who has read my ramblings and watched my interviews this year – you hanging out with me on this crazy, sexy, beautiful thing we call the internet is awesome and I hope I gave you something to enjoy at least once this year. Maybe twice? Did I make you laugh twice? PLEASE ACCEPT ME.
I’d like to thank the following people for helping me out with this GFAG biz this year;
My partner in life and crime, Moses (who came to Auckland and Aussie with me to film all the GFAG interviews and then edited all of the footage for me too!)
My twin in ‘getting shit done,’ and manager, Tom, and his assistant Max
Everyone who commented on my blog posts so I felt like at least one person read them
Good for a Girl will be taking a little Christmas break, to eat lots of food and drink lots of beers and buy lots of larger-sized pants for my new post-Christmas body. I’ll be back soon with more interviews, more whack-ass stories, more cool women in music, and a fuck tonne more unnecessary swear words!
For everyone who follows Good for a Girl over on Facebook, you will have seen that the last 10 days of my life has been pretty full on as I attended both the Going Global and BIGSOUND music conferences in Auckland, NZ and Brisbane, Australia.
How else do you celebrate women than by immortalising va-jays in delicious fondant and then having other women eat them? You tell me.
So watch this space over the next ‘x’ amount of time (what…you think I actually had a plan for this chaos??) as I roll out interviews with some absolutely fucking awesome women I met at Going Global and Bigsound including;
Here is a special “omg lol the universe” moment that happened just as I was about to begin filming with Ellie at BIGSOUND as a wee teaser to tie things over while I panic wildly about how the fuck I’m meant to edit 13 interviews 🙂 <—that’s a smiling on the outside/panic attack on the inside emoji.
In light of recent events it was really timely for me to come across this video of Gisele Marie, a heavy metal guitarist who also happens to have a vag, on AJ+. Oh, and also is a practising Muslim who wears niqab.
And gives no fucks.
And just does what she wants because the majority of women worldwide are actually free to do what they want whether you like it or not, and no one else’s opinion actually matters so why even bother giving it?
As you can see; girl fuckin’ rocks it with her guitar which is aptly named Polka.
Gisele plays in a metal band called Eden Seed, and has been rocking her niqab since 2009. Gisele converted to Islam in 2009 from German Cathlocism after her father died; and everyone around her was totally chill with her choice and thought she looked badass in her niqab.
Gisele chose her faith for herself, and she chose to cover up in respect to her faith herself.
Some Muslim women choose not to cover up, and wear more ‘western’ fashion, that’s totally cool and respectable to their faith as well.
Some Muslim women choose to be chefs. Some Muslim women choose to be mothers. Some Muslim women choose to be astrophysicists, and some Muslim women like to serve their husbands. Gisele chose to be a professional musician! And 99% of these women will choose what they prefer to wear; whether it be religious garb or not.
You gotta admit; niqab is actually the perfect aesthetic for metal.
I choose to be a musician, graphic designer, blogger, and speed-eater. I wear the clothes I want, and I have the beliefs that I want. Sometimes my skin is covered up completely, and sometimes it’s questionable whether my attire is appropriate in a public space.
And just because this blog is on a roll with stalking Julia Deans, (making my blog the creepy culprit instead of myself…) I have to share this quote I saw her post this in a heated Facebook debate the other day over the ‘burkini’ saga;
‘Coercing a woman out of a burka is as bad as coercing her into one.
It’s not about the burka.
It’s about the coercion.’ – Arundhati Roy
So this actually started out as a post about women drummers in general, but when I got to Meg White I went so fucking overboard about her that I realised I needed to write a post about just her to get my feels out.
So, here are my feels, hums.
Meg White was the first female drummer I was exposed to directly in my childhood.
When the White Stripes first hit the global pop scene, I wanted nothing to do with them. Yep, I was too fucking emo at the time to give a shit about music like this as I was too busy listening to their Red, White and Black teen-angsty counterparts; My Chemical Romance.
I think you could even go as far to say that I strongly disliked them – especially because every dude who thought he could play guitar or bass would haphazardly bash out the riff to Seven Nation Army in the attempt to position himself as as-good-as, if not better at guitar than me. Good god. So naturally I developed an association of loathing for them via my feelings towards these clueless dudes. These.. Cludes.
In retrospect it’s partly a shame – if I’d have been able to let go of my desire to be emo as fuck and also ignore the Cludes being shit, I might’ve had a really cool modern woman drummer to look up to.
But you know what I also would’ve had as a young, impressionable female fan of Meg White and The White Stripes? The narrative that emerged between Cludes that Meg White is shit at drums. And the subtle implications that would arise that women are shit at rock music.
So now looking back, I thankfully avoided that narrative until I was a bit older; the first exposure being when I was hanging out with some guy friends of mine. I don’t know how the topic got on to the White Stripes, but the general consensus was that they were shit because Meg was a terrible drummer and couldn’t drum for shit.
At that stage, a ripe age of very-early-twenty-something-potentially-even-very-late-teen-something, I still didn’t give a shit about the White Stripes. But it did strike a chord with me that they were ripping in to Meg in particular. It sparked a curiosity in me that made me go googling, which yielded hundreds – if not thousands – of results in forums and websites of people (namely Cludes) – just attempting to rip Meg a new vag-hole.
Just quickly, let’s travel back in internet time and find some page one gems.
In this “article” about the “top 10 douchiest drummers of all time” – they list a whole bunch of guy drummers who have exceptionally large kits, or do a gratuitous amount of fills, or show off their technical skills too much for the authors liking. But then Meg is just in there, basically asking whether the fact she sits at a drum kit, performs arena shows, tours the world, and has several commercial and highly-acclaimed album releases under her belt even qualifies her as a drummer. At the end of their truly insightful paragraph about her, they state that if women want to play drums, they should “play it with some balls.”
Err, no thanks. Really happy living my ball-less life right now.
Or how about this really super great forum post from a right Colin Smellyshirt after Meg and Jack performed live on the global stage of The Daily Show that, after saying how shit at drums they thought she was, gracefully states at the end of their grand critique that “that bright red skin-tight outfit was [also] very unflattering on her.”
Oh wow!! How surprising and unexpected – a comment on what a woman is wearing and absolutely nothing about her male counterpart’s greasy hair (sorry Jack. That’s my hairdresser coming out, it’s on me.)
I get it, lots of people confuse being “great” at an instrument with technical and theoretical skill and knowledge. And this informs part of their distate for Meg as a drummer. But we can’t ignore that fact that on top of her simplistic style; she also has a vagina – which historically predisposes her to an extra layer of ridicule based on those features alone.
So years went by and I still didn’t give a shit about the White Stripes until earlier this year when I moved in to a place in which one of my flatmates has an electric drum kit set up in our music room, and my partner started wanting to jam with me and encouraging me to have a go on the drums.
I had not really touched a drum kit since I was around 10 years old (when I learnt drums briefly for a year) – unless I counted the occasional private sit-down at Dan’s drumkit where I would attempt rock beat 1 for about 10 seconds and just wish I could be swallowed up in a hole at the embarrassment of how I’m not just smashing out the confident beats and fills and just killing it.
So usually when I sit at a set of drums, my natural reaction used to be a complete meltdown. I can’t drum with overt technical and theoretical skill, so therefore: I cannot drum.
Until my partner said these 7 words to me when I got really frustrated ant my technique (but also secretly enjoying just rolling with it): “No, it’s cool. You’re like Meg White”
What comes naturally to me, my natural instinct at a drumkit, is completely primal and child like. Using the floor tom as the kick pattern. Using the kick drum as a counter rhythm. Bashing the kick, floor and snare simultaneously because fuck it and it feels good. And because I have natural rhythm, I can make it work.
And this is exactly what Meg White did, as well.
THIS. The way she double hits the hi-hats in unison with the double snare hits – is exactly like me. I can’t get complete limb independence, but who gives a fuck! Just fucking drum with passion and to the song.
Jack White said about his rhythmic counterpart; “She was the antithesis of a modern drummer. So childlike and incredible and inspiring.”
I love that – the antithesis of a modern drummer. That right there sums up why she made so many Cludes feel so fucking uncomfortable. Her style CHALLENGED them. Her style proves that you can just do you, do it well and with complete confidence in yourself, and TAKE OVER THE WORLD.
And the fact she was a woman backs up Jack’s statement in 2 key ways;
1. A ‘modern drummer’ would 99% of the time conjur images of male drummers
2. Her being a woman meaning she was the literal antithesis to this ‘modern drummer = male’ imagery
So thanks, Meg, for making me feel like I can forge my own path exploring the drums and (for the most part) keep at bay the feelings of inadequacy whilst my subconscious tries to hold me up to the standards of the male-driven narrative that puts the weight of respect on to highly technical skill over pure creativity, exploration, and the hard-working ‘doing shit instead of talking about doing shit’ artistry.
And I hope more women and young girls see women like Meg and that encourages them to just give it a go and create their own style and confidence on the instrument of their choice!
Now I think the White Stripes are great. And they would be nothing without Meg White.
Last week, I received a message from my lovely friend Katie Thompson, who linked me to a post made by Amanda Palmer, in which she makes fun of an email received from her agent where a festival booker is unsure of booking both Amanda and Regina Spektor – since they both have vaginas and play piano.
“I am tempted to ask if they have the same problem when they are confronted with two bands who BOTH contain men playing guitar” she says.
This is a dynamic that has irked (good word) me for some time, harking back to when my band were a baby trying to break on to the scene, and we were told we wouldn’t be able to break-through because it was ‘taking the piss’ of Paramore.
Though it was implied, it’s actually fucking true: there is no way there can be more than one pop-rock band fronted by a white girl at any given time.
If you hadn’t caught the memo, seemingly there isn’t allowed to be any pop-rock bands fronted by non-white girls at all…
There can’t be more than one woman with one particular musical skill set (i.e. playing piano. Or singing. Or playing guitar. Or having… hair) or hell will freeze over.
The apocalypse will be brought upon us.
Or even worse; Donald Trump will win the US election.
Dude. Jason Derulo sounds like The 1975 sounds like Chris Brown sounds like Joe Jonas sounds like Justin Timberlake. But we don’t have a shot ‘coz we sounded a bit like Paramore?
But Amanda Palmer potentially can’t be booked for a kick-ass show because Regina Spektors already on the bill?
I’m also recalling Keane, Snow Patrol, and Coldplay all being allowed to co-exist and sound like the exact same melancholic piano driven pop rock at once…
Female rock critic Evelyn McDonnell says in this article, “The men of power who are in this industry have this internalized, institutionalized sexism. They see men as having economic power and therefore get billed [over women].”
But I’m not convinced that’s the only factor.
I think it’s also that women in mildly similar genres or using similar instruments are simply not allowed to successfully co-exist in the psyche of people on planet earth.
Case in point: have you EVER IN UR LIFE watched a female-fronted, marginally pop, rock band on youtube and then read the comments? (This goes for other genres, but this one is relevant 2 my experiences)
Pretty sure you just described a band that actually sounds nothing like Paramore. Huh.
Paramore should sound like not-Paramore!!!!!!! Makes total sense.
Again, just cause there is a woman singing, doesn’t mean it sounds like Paramore.
Believe it or not – i found this one on a Garbage music video.
On one of their songs from the 90s.
These two were found on the same video…
Ohhh I didn’t realise that’s how they got famous – I totally thought it was because they write really great pop songs and work fucking hard! Thanks for your insight. (Okay this one is a bit off topic but…)
And just because it looks like my blog is turning in to a “Emma loves Julia Deans a lot” fest, here’s the woman herself weighing in on the topic an article about Fur Patrol a few weeks back;
So it seems we can only handle one woman doing one particular thing at a time.
Alright. It’s time for a women-in-rock history lesson. FYI I just learnt of this story a week or so ago – and it had me both cracking up at the social cliché of the situation, and also raging at the system that was taking away shit from women in music back then – and still is today.
Goldie and the Gingerbreads.
Sparkly jackets and big hair: you can just see Amy Winehouse and Adele all up in this.
So, not the coolest band name on earth, but, a band with a pretty cool story!
As we know, there were shit tonnes of “girl groups” in late ’50s/early ’60s, but Goldie & the Gingerbreads was a bona fide rock and roll band and, get this: the first all-girl band signed to a major record label. Ever!
Epic. (not Epic Records, just epic in general… it is epic they were the first band to be… you know what I mean).
Look at Goldie getting to be all cool with her exposed neck while the rest were forced to endure the horror that is turtle necks.
The Gingerbreads were formed when singer Goldie met drummer Ginger later in 1962. How rockstar are those names by the way? Another reason for me to curse my un-rockstar name of Emma (said in a drab tone to exaggerate effect, please).
Goldie had never met a female drummer and thought an all-female rock band would be fucking cool. She was right.
Then they added a keyboardist called Margo and and a guitarist called Carol. Those names make me feel better about my predicament.
The band’s first single was “Skinny Vinnie,” released in 1964.
I was kinda hoping this song would be making fun of a pussy-ass-guy but it turns out she loves him. I guess it was the 60s.
After seeing the band at A PARTY, Atlantic’s chairman signed the Gingerbreads to Atlantic subsidiary Atco (lol you don’t see that shit happen anymore).
They were then sent over to Europe for some reason, where members recorded “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat,” which was a Top 30 hit in the UK. Can’t shake a stick at that!
Goldie & The Gingerbreads enjoyed their greatest success overseas, touring with The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Beatles – holy shit balls.
So, now to the classic stitch up.
After G&TG fucking nailed it in the UK with “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat”, they decided that they should definitely take that shit hot track back to their homeland of the US and nail it there, too.
BUT IN STEPS BAND WITHOUT VAGINAS, Herman’s Hermits (The 60s – wtf is wrong with your band names), and their shitty penis-version of the SAME SONG.
Just mere weeks before Goldie and her posse were about to drop their version in the States, Herman and his bloody Hermits release their version to great success, fucking up G&TG entire career and sending them in to financial ruin and legacy-oblivion.
In no way has this image been tampered with. This is what Herman and his Hermits looked like.
No shit, if you google the song ‘Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” – the Herms’ come up. Not Goldie and her delicious Gingerbreads.
Back then the recording industry worked different; writers wrote songs and artists recorded them. So I get that Hermy didn’t steal the song and claim it as their own OG – it just blows my mind that there weren’t any sort of legalities in place to protect Goldie’s recording of it for a certain period of time while they were enjoying success with it.
But the insult to injury is that despite Goldie and the Gingerbreads having an incredible legacy of being the first ever all-girl rock band signed to a major label, when you google the name of their biggest hit, they don’t even come up first!
I can’t find any comments from Goldie or her band members about the classic stitch up the Hermit’s did on them, so I’m guessing they went down the route of the right hand side of this graphic which, I guess, is to be expected in the 60s.
Girls, always be the image on the left. Protect your ideas, protect your content, protect yourselves!
It was such a fucking great night full of hugely talented musicians and poets, many of which I had the pleasure of meeting, seeing, and playing with for the first time ever.
Truly amazing efforts from Adam McGrath & The Eastern crew for pulling together this show from the depths of their passionate and loving hearts to raise money for The Women’s Centre. Last thing I heard from Adam was that the show raised over $5,000 which is fucking STELLAR.
If you would like to raise this number even further, you can donate to The Women’s Centre’s givealittle page, which is permanently open, so please share it around and ask your network to donate!
Also notable mentions to Blue Smoke for hosting the evening in their beautiful venue, and hooking up all of the crew with food and beverages to sustain the magic, and to Ben Delaney and Joseph Veale for their talents on the sounds.
If you were in the audience, thank you for coming, you really helped make a difference in Christchurch last night and I hope you enjoyed all of the audio-visual delights as much as I did.
I thought I’d put together a quick blog of the set list from the night so you all can find all of the artists you enjoyed most, and hear Patti Smith’s original version of the pieces we all performed.
So, here it is…click on artist names to be taken to their resting place on the internet. Click play on the videos to enjoy the true good songs and the true good words of miss Patti Smith.
“They can not harm me
They can not harm me
They can only
burn out my eyes
beat my limbs
black and blue
legs cant run
hands cant play
face cant sing
cant sing cant say
They can not harm me
They can only
turn in my eyes
rip out my teeth
spit pure ivory
carve my face like a clock
alarm me clock clock me
bleed me scape goat me
chain me to a rock me
rock me rock me
clever as a fox me
brand a star on/my left shoulder
a star on my left
clever as a fox
my spirit lights
behind the boulder
holding to my name forever
Knowing I’ll go on forever
Spirit laughing free as water
in a ring of fire
with its hair aflame”
Do you know what’s really fucking cool? Girl bands.
I was reading an article today about the history of women in rock, which gets down to the point of the late 20th century where women started finding their voice more in rock in the 70s, 80s and 90s, and it quotes Chrissie Hynde (lead singer of The Pretenders) as saying “I’m glad there’s a lot of babes doing this shit [now], because it’s kind of lonely out there”, which made me think about my own position in an all-male-band-except-me and how most often we only get to play shows with all-male-bands.
And yeah, when I think about it, it does get lonely out there. I don’t mind hanging with the dudes, and given my history of playing music with almost exclusively men, if anything I’m geared towards it.
It made me begin to imagine how different the dynamic would be if my whole band was women, though.
It would be so awesome to all get ready for a gig together, talking about girl stuff (farts, poos and period problems), while doing our hair and warming up our instruments before a show.
What Decades’ music would sound like if we were all women? Weirdly I think it would be harder and faster, angrier and more political, with a fucktonne more hair (and boobs).
WordPress auto-loaded in this caption for me: “Three girls playing the guitar, isolated on white background.” Yes, that’s EXACTLY what’s happening here. PS: This is barely even relevant, I should be in the image too if it’s of Decades as a girl band, but just the idea took me and I spent like 20 minutes on it and it’s so fucking funny so it’s in my blog. That’s how I roll.
The feminine energy of girl bands is so distinguishable. I find it hard to define, but there is something so very special about girl bands, and I’m only just at the tip of discovering what that is for me.
Here are 3 girl bands that have touched my psyche and subliminally influenced my development and perspective as a woman in rock music throughout my life.
1. The Runaways
An obvious choice, the ladies in The Runaways blazed the way for women in modern rock music after launching their estrogen-filled punk tunes on to the world in the late 70s.
Sometimes I really fuck myself off. I remember when The Donnas released Fall Behind Me in 2005 and I LOVED IT. I was about 15 and it was around the time I wanted to start a band. Seeing these ladies rocking out on C4 (or whatever the fuck music TV was then) had a huge impact on me.
They were playing RIFFS. The song was COOL. They had PRETTY HAIR.
It literally said to me: you are a girl and you can actually do this rock band thing while being a girl!!
But I never bought their albums or followed their career at all? I don’t know what is wrong with me (cough teenage malleable attention influenced by the societal hivemind men = better cough)
In a time where I was feeling my most overwhelmed by the more negative impacts of our cultures stereotypical femininity (I was hairdressing, which for me meant everything around me was image focussed, judgemental, pop music, not-a-hair-out-of-place-or-you’re-gross sorta vibe), Warpaint called to be in their soft, dreamy, modern hippy female rock vibes from the TV screen in the salon.
I had no idea what C4 was doing playing this amongst the glitz and glamour of the Top 20, but it was so fucking refreshing, and I became obsessed with this track, and bought the album immediately.
They have this effortlessly cool, don’t-give-a-fuck essence oozing out of all of them which feels really empowering in this modern age where a lot of women in music still feel the pressures of caking on the make up and wearing the tight clothing.
I’d also like to give local band Blue Ruin a shout out – a kick-ass modern all girl punk band from Auckland. I haven’t seen them live yet, but I hope they continue and I’m looking forward to checking out some releases by them.
The girls in Blue Ruin with Cherie Curry from The Runaways earlier this year when they opened for her.
I’d love to know what girl bands you’re in to, please comment and link to the ones you dig in the comments!
I have another ask, since I’m finding it hard to articulate describing the unique vibe of girls bands. How you would describe the energy of girl bands? I would love to make some social media posts quoting your descriptions. That are better than mine.
So comment those below as well, and I might just share yours.
(and feel at-rest in my soul that I now have an accurate description of my feelings via you).
Patti Smith: a name I’ve heard as many times in my life as I have strings on my guitar – well, up until last week when I was asked to take part in a charity gig honouring her music with all proceeds going to The Women’s Centre here in Christchurch.
I said yes.
Fuck. What was I thinking? I know nothing about this woman – how can I honour her artistry and her prolific legacy?!
I said yes out of a 50/50 mixture of helping support a struggling women’s charity and pure me-me-me selfishness (how’s that for paradox).
I thought it would be a good challenge for me. Solo Emma – this never happens (cripes on a bike) and I’d get to hang out with a bunch of local musicians I don’t usually get to, all the while throwing coin at a worthy cause. It works!
So, shit, what better way to fast track my appreciation than forcing myself to write a blog post about the woman?
So here is a list of things I don’t know about Patti Smith.
1. She is known as The Godmother of Music
Fuck, that sounds like a pretty big deal. Cue anxiety of doing one of her songs justice. Her 1975 debut album, Horses, is widely considered one of the most influential albums of the New York City punk movement.
2. She is a Singer-Songwriter, Poet, and Visual Artist
Ah, yes. What we call an “over-acheiver” – making the rest of us artists either feel fuckin’ useless, or fuckin’ inspired. I suggest to grab a hold of the latter, like myself.
“I don’t consider writing a quiet, closet act.
I consider it a real physical act.
When I’m home writing on the typewriter, I go crazy.
I move like a monkey.
I’ve wet myself, I’ve come in my pants writing.”
3. She is a social and political activist
Image: Patti Smith in an Iran war protest in 1975 (New York City)
Patti has been a vocal supporter of the US Green Party, was a speaker and singer at the first protests against the Iraq War as George W. Bush spoke to the United Nations General Assembly, and has toured in a series of rallies against the Iraq War, and called for the impeachment of George W. Bush (just to name a few).
Girl stands for justice. Dig it.
4. REM, Madonna, Courtney Love, U2, Morrissey and Johnny Marr all state her as their biggest influence.
Ummmmmm…. Me: immediately downloads all of albums to absorb what clearly must be Elixir of Greatness™
So, basically what I didn’t know about Patti Smith is that she is fucking awesome and now I’m very excited about learning her songs and learning things from learning her songs.
I’ve gotta finish this post up here because now I’m gagging to get my guitar out.
All ticket proceeds go to The Women’s Centre in Christchurch – a place for women, run by women offering support, solidarity and resources. It currently faces an uncertain future due to funding cuts and budget shortfalls. In a terrible paradox, funding for mental health and well being providers is at an all time low when need (especially post earthquake) is at an all time high.
This week I want to talk about girls that shred on the guitar. For those who are unfamiliar with the term “shred” as it relates to music:
Shred – verb to play a very fast, intricate style of rock lead guitar.
So, I’ve put together a wee list of women guitarists who come to mind that have been on my radar throughout the years for you to check out and have your face MEEELLLLTTTEDDD by.
Fig 1. You. After You’ve Listened to these Girls that Shred.
1) Jennifer Batten
Okay this is O.G. (that’s “original” for those who aren’t gangsta) guitar hero for me. Those of you reading who know me personally will be well aware I am a big huge MASSIVE Michael Jackson fan. I grew up on Michael Jackson’s music. I absolutely loved watching his live concerts when they played on TV and my mind was BLOWN by this unicorn-bondage-amazonian woman, Jennifer Batten, who fucking SLAYED on the guitar as part of his band. Jennifer played with MJ on all 3 of his world tours.
Image: And her look was incredible.
Looking back now I think, as a child, I may not have even realised she was a woman due to all the gears she wore at times and not to mention everyone else in the band being a dude so: child-like assumptions. But later on in life I did realise, and it became a fixation for me for a while to work towards eventually playing guitar for Michael Jackson when I “grew up” (still waiting for that to happen).
Anyway, Jennifer has had an illustrious, amazing career as a girl that shreds, including 3 studio albums of her own which you will really love if you’re in to music where vocal melodies are replaced entirely with guitar solos. Her early offerings were Above, Below and Beyond (1992), Jennifer Battens Tribal Rage: Momentum (1997). Then you’ve got her most recent release: Whatever (2007), which is an out-of-this-world experimentation of guitar solos mixed in with samples and covers (which I bet Michael Jackson would’ve loved the shit out of).
Okay if it’s not entirely apparent from the video still, Orianthi was also a guitarist for Michael Jackson. I thought it was awesome that Michael Jackson searched for new female blood to take the place of Jennifer for his cut-short This Is It tour, and I was quite obsessed with her and her talent after seeing the movie. Orianthi is from Australia and started playing music she was just 3 years old with piano, and moved to the guitar at age 6.
She has been playing in bands since the age of 14 and performed in her first stage show for fuckin’ Steve Vai at the age of 15! Orianthi met and jammed withCarlos Santana when she was 18! Can’t deal. This girl has incredible talent.
Can we all just take a moment for this short 80s-dream of a clip? In the 70s,Lita Fordwas the lead guitarist of the most successful all-girl band of all time;The Runaways. In the 80s she embarked on her solo career which is the deliciousness above. Lita started playing guitar at age 11, and at 16 she was recruited in to the Runaways who released their debut album 1 year later. Fuck I wish I had an album under my belt at 17.
Lita is featured extensively in the 2005 documentary film Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways, in which she spoke candidly about her time in the all-girl band. Among other things, she alludes to verbal and sexual abuse endured by the band members at the hands of their (male) manager, Kim Fowley. Fucker. I’m glad she called him out.
Image: Note to self – get name inlayed in to guitar neck so people know i mean bizniz.
In the late 80s she signed a management deal with none other than Sharon Osbourne, and released her most successful album to date, Lita. She has released 9 albums in total (!!!) – including Time Capsule which apparently is coming out this year.
4) Sophia Di
I want to get a little bit indie now; as a lot of the true, insane fucking shredders on guitar are quite often what is commonly referred to as “bedroom shredders.” This is most likely because these guitarists are so fucking talented, all they do is sit and play guitar in their rooms (or home studios) and practice the shit out of their instruments and film it for the world to enjoy (gawk at) on the internet.
Sophia Diis amazing. I have no idea where she is or what she is doing now, but I knew her briefly years ago in the Christchurch (yes, local!) metal scene. She played lead guitar in the Rockquest-winning youth metal band, Beneath the Silence, and fucking killed it.
Image: Sophia being one of the coolest 15 year olds on the block
She went on to play in another band called The Omega Chronicles, which the solo in the video above is from. Sophia if you’re out there somewhere I hope you’re still shredding.
Side note – just had to have a laugh at this comment on the video:
“nice mastery at such a young age. see that? i didn’t say “because you’re a girl”. that’s irrelevant.”
Why did you still have to bring it up, then? He wants da gold starrrrs.
5) Juliette Valduriez
One more bedroom shredder for you: Juliette Valduriez. I followed Juliette’s classic punk and rock covers on youtube for years after Gibson Guitar posted the above video of her covering Ozzy Osbourne’s Bark at the Moon on their Facebook page which went viral (for the times).
I’m not just impressed with Juliette’s skills; part of it is also how she just plays it like she doesn’t even know she’s playing it. Like in her head she’s just eating a sandwich, or reading a lovely book, or daydreaming out a window, but her hands are just shredding all by themselves.
About 4 years ago the videos stopped coming, which sucks. I just visited her Facebook Page to see she hasn’t posted there for years either and there are just a bunch of bewildered fans concerned for her safety…
That got dark quick. Well I hope she is just on a hiatus while she is creating a killer album and will emerge glorious when it’s ready to melt all of our faces w-w-w-w-worldwide.
So, those are a few female shredders I’ve come across in my journey of hurtling through the universe on this rock called earth.
Please send me links in the comments to girls that shred that you are in to! I don’t know enough of them!
PS when I was a student and had a lot more time on my hands I started getting in to more technical guitar work. Since then I’ve become even more lazy and pared Decades songs mostly down to single string simple riffs. Hence my admiration for female shredders!
Check out 19 year old me in my messy room with a shitty laptop mic:
After sharing favourite women-led bands and musicians with commenters on my last few posts and new discoveries being made on both my side and yours, I thought, why not put together a public list of the 5 women-led bands I’m digging right now?
So.. yeah.. I’m doing that!
1) Courtney Barnett
I first heard of Courtney Barnett a few years back when her manager was at a music conference I was attending, and he talked about how she was the next big thing. I was a cynical ass and never checked her out FUCK WAS I MISSING OUT.
I snapped up her latest album Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit on CD when I was on holiday in Australia last year as I was going to be doing a bit of road trippin’ and my shitty rental only had a CD player. It is hands down my favourite album of 2015. Fuck this girl can play guitar and write a fucking TUNE. Pure love. I hope to see her live one day – she was actually playing in my city, Christchurch, when I was on this Aussie road trip i.e. the universe hates me.
Marmozets are like a white Jackson 5 of the 21st Century that play math-metal influenced pop rock music. And you can quote me on that. I don’t even remember how I came across this family of musicians a couple of years ago but I’m so glad I did because Becca has the voice of an aggressive british angel and she writes some very down-to-earth and relatable lyrics that are a snapshot in to the life of being a young 20-something girl in a rock band. I like.
I especially like yelling this song manically in my car when I’m alone. Or with people; I don’t really care.
Plus it’s like God loved his creation, Shirley Manson, so much he was like “let’s make another one of those for the kids today.” Their debut album, The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets, is also a 2015 highlight for me. Also they played on the last night I was in Melbourne last year recording our album and I was horrendously sick and couldn’t go i.e. the universe hates me again.
Whirring was the first song I ever heard by Welsh band, The Joy Formidable. I fell in love with Ritzy Bryan’s voice immediately. Her voice has this pixie-ish feminine charm which is so rad over some heavy single-string guitar bashing. Then I looked them up on the interwebz and was even more excited and inspired to find out she is the sole guitarist and knows her way around a fucking extensive effect-pedal rig. She literally made me more confident to start experimenting with pedals, so thanks wonderful human.
THE OUTRO IN THIS SONG THOUGH. Whirring is off their debut album The Big Roar, but they’ve since released another album called Wolf’s Law and they just released their latest album Hitch this year!
I’d heard people talking about St. Vincent a bit but hadn’t checked her out until I saw her self-titled album on the shelves at JB Hi Fi at the aformentioned Australian road trip so I picked that up too. Wow – this girl is fucking weird. I love her. She is a space alien guitar queen, and has such a unique and effect-heavy guitar style.
Check out this video of her out talking about her style – I am inspired by her confidence and open-ness to do whatever comes natural to her and not to emulate anyone with her instrument.
I put ???? after Hannah because I literally discovered Middle Kids today and I can’t find what her last name is! But I really fucking dig it – and so I wanted to share my newest discovery with you. They are from Sydney and are fresh on the scene, Edge of Town being their (as far as I can tell) debut single.
They are showcasing at the BigSound music festival in Brisbane in September which I’m heading over for, so I am super excited to check these guys out live!
I don’t have much more to add for them since I don’t know anything about them except for that this song is cool as fuck. Upon some quick googling I don’t think they’ve even played a live show yet, they are that hot off the press. So, enjoy!
Starting this blog has been one of the more rewarding and exciting things I’ve done in my life.
Opening up the conversation about women in rock music (and I hope eventually once I become more “worldly” that I can expand my knowledge to other genres) has led me to some cool experiences and conversations already with a wide variety of women, men, and “the media.”
I didn’t think I would experience this so early in the piece, and I’m grateful for everyone who reads my ramblings. Love.
So, shortly after I launched this blog, I had a PR friend of mine contact me with a very exciting proposal they wanted to include me in.
They wanted to pitch an editorial piece on basically exactly what Good for a Girl is about – the absurd and often hilarious discrimination of women in rock music – to one of the most popular women’s magazines in Australia and of course I was excited.
They already had a slew of amazing women lined up and ready to share their tales, so I was like “hell yeah, mother fucker.”
I loathe typical women’s magazines, personally.
“how to get him to scream in the bed!” ..uh, stab him with a steak knife?
“how to get that bikini body” …umm put a bikini on your body?
“How to get flawless skin” maybe stop encouraging women to cake on 3 tonnes of make up every damn day of their lives causing them skin issues and sadness?
But, the other women they had gotten on board are women I look up to in New Zealand/Australian rock music and I was honoured to have the opportunity to share my weird-ass voice alongside them to a market that all-too-often gets sold (and willingly buys in to) messages of “you’re not good enough.”
Well fuck, it turns out we weren’t good enough, either.
My mate got back in touch with me to tell me that the editor of this academically-regarded piece of fine monthly social commentary for women (sarcasm) turned down the pitch because she wanted “scandal.”
I pictured the editor to be somewhat like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
I can just picture her (yes, her!!!) in the boardroom. All her writers sitting around the round table, while she enthusiastically shouts at them,
“I want RAPES!
I want MURDERS!
I want ‘the sound guy told me to wear a shorter skirt so i STABBED HIM!’”
These are, of course, very real and serious issues that are still ongoing in the music industry (and beyond).
But what myself and the other women lined-up to share their stories wanted to talk about is equally important – because it’s about the overall passive lack of respect for simply being a woman, which is exactly what sets a mass mindset that manifests in to these more extreme situations.
It’s more culturally ingrained and it continues the harmful narrative; women are less-than and should be treated as such.
You gotta break this shit down from base level. From the level where Colin Smellyshirt hates your tights, or from where male fans think it’s okay to rub your butt.
These magazines aren’t helping anybody – man or woman. Not only did they turn down the opportunity to shed light on the culture of subtle sexism and help contribute to the conversation to shift this culture; they also turned down an opportunity to spotlight some talented woman living in their country, working hard, achieving their dreams. Creating pathways to inspire teenaged girls and even older women the confidence that they can TOO do anything.
And doesn’t that whack-ass editor realise that they would’ve looked fucking cool doing that?
Well if you’re going to do something right, you should do it yourself.
So, I will tell these stories. Keep an eye out for interviews coming soon. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but it’s going to happen.
And if you know of any women who would be keen to contribute their experiences – please let me know bycontacting me.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
The other week I was listening to The Rock FM’s Morning Rumble on my drive to work, which is a show with great tunes and testosterone-driven hilarity and initiatives (seriously, how men come up with ideas like ‘CAR-B-Q’ – and then actually fucking execute them is beyond me).
On that morning they were joined in banter by their news reader, Jen, who was pulled in to a segment to help explain the seemingly bat-shit-crazy stuff women say or do to men, and she would bluntly non-explain why women did these things. She was as funny as she was unhelpful – she added to the men’s turmoil.
“Why does my wife nag me all the time?”
“Because we believe nagging helps.”
It was fucking hilarious.
I loved it – never reveal our true secrets, Jen.
Towards the end of the segment, Jen simply couldn’t explain one woman-like behaviour with anything else but “periods”.
“Euurrgggh!” cried Rog, Bryce and Tom in unison.
“Don’t say that word this early in the morning!”
“Just never say that word Jen!”
While their reactions cracked me up, It got me thinking; why are men so disgusted by periods? Especially men working in the rock music biz because:
Periods are metal as fuck.
We must contemplate the sheer badassery of women who bleed for around week straight once a month and not fucking die.
Although we can’t account for our victims.
If the devil himself sacrificed six-hundred-and-sixty-six demon goats, it wouldn’t be half as bloody as what a vagina expels each month.
The boys – hell, all of us – should be throwing horns when periods are mentioned; not recoiling in disgust like a bunch of pussies.
Actually, that’s an unfair simile… because pussies are tougher than Chuck Norris.
What else do you know that can take a solid pounding and not only live to tell the tale, but actually enjoy it?
A pussy wouldn’t recoil from the mention of a period. It’s clit would also throw horns and head bang at the mention.
Is the main issue the blood?
Blood has been a celebrated theme in almost every genre of metal since metal was born!
e.g: – Slayer – Raining BLOOD (From the album Reign in BLOOD – it’s a blood fest) – Cannibal Corpse – I Cum BLOOD (Bonus points for the blood coming out of a genital) – Metallica – Pumping BLOOD (as if that’s not EXACTLY what our uterus is doing once a month)
For a lot of women, at least one period-day a month makes us feel like satan himself has set up firey house inside our abdomen, and has decided to redecorate by pulling down the walls with his jagged claws, and having a field day shoving them down the vagina-drain with a pitchfork.
Some women vomit until our throats are raw (think primal screams), some of us shit acid (feel free to use these lyrics) — we go through absolute hell, but all of us live to tell the tale.
Periods are beyond brutal, people.
So next time periods are mentioned on air, I challenge The Morning Rumble to simply react with; “hell yeah mother fucker, periods are metal as fuck” – then hit play on Blood and Thunder by Mastodon.
The life of an independent touring band can get pretty disgusting. In fact, even if you’re signed.
Basically, unless you’ve got a private jet flying you from stadium to stadium and a team of carers ensuring your every need and demand is taken care of, everyday necessities and basic routines can become quite challenging. The reality of piling your shit, self and band mates into a van, arriving at a venue, unloading, soundchecking, hopefully eating something, running merch and actually pouring your heart and soul into giving the best performance you can possibly muster is a deceptively brutal process. All-male bands have traditionally been afforded the luxury of people expecting them to be somewhat dishevelled, unkempt – or just downright filthy. You’re probably familiar with the meme that it adds authenticity.
I’m sure you can imagine the first thing big labels would do with freshly signed well-to-do pop rockers would be to “grunge them up a little, just work on their look a bit – you know?”
Image: Me on tour at all times.
But much like Hollywood, there is an unspoken expectation that the women of the trade maintain ultra femininity at all times. If showbiz is outrageous – rock n’ roll is fucking ape shit. So with this in mind, how does Emma Cameron of New Zealand rock band, Decades,maintain my Lady-like Dignity on tour? Just take a look at these 8 easy tips!
1. Wet wipes.
Can’t get back to the accom in time to shower after soundcheck and feeling sweaty and disgusting from the 5 hours you just endured, trapped in a confined space, where the smell of Pringles and dude farts seems to have permanently lodged itself in your … forearms? Wet Wipes.
2. Space saving.
Need to reduce suitcase space to allow room for your cosmetics and beauty products? Simply re-wear sweaty outfits – each and every show.
3. Bathroom battle-station.
Is your greenroom just the back of a bar with a few empty kegs and some mouldy couches? Do your make up in the venue’s not-even-cleaned-from-the-night-before-some-womans-vomit-on-the-vanity bathroom!
4. Bedtime battle-station.
No time to clean your face before the precious 3 hours of beauty sleep you get before hitting the road again? Second day make-up!
Image: Me in the morning. “Okay, I can work with this”
5. Pie & V Smoothie.
How do you turn a 5am petrol station breakfast-nightmare into a pretty, Instagram worthy, culinary piece of art? Just blend it all up with your portable Nutri-bullet.
6. Fast Fret Face Serum.
Can’t bare to sleep in your makeup again or re-apply in a public bathroom? Simply apply Fast Fret to your face, not only does it make your guitar strings faster but it turns out it also acts as an all-over, lightweight bronzing foundation.
7. Don’t move gear.
The one time you can cash in on The Patriarchy’s reign, is on tour during load in. Use this precious time to catch up on Instagram, bust some sweet Pilates moves and paint your lady nails.
8. Wear your undies inside out. Ran out of clean undies? Don’t have a spare $8 or the time to get to Kmart? Or simply cannot be fucked? You know what to do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 somethingthat 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
It takes a special kind of person who decides to start up and operate a live music venue.
I happened to meet one of these very special individuals after a show on the Dead Sight Tour with Villainy a couple weeks back.
Let’s call him Colin.
Colin gives off the vibe that he’s one of those venue owners who’s just kind of over it. Perhaps he still loves live music but he acts like he fucking hates it and fair enough I guess, after 2745 weeks of owning a venue.
After the show had finished and members of all bands and crew were in the green room celebrating with a rainbow of drinks and banter, he decided to drudgingly approach me for a chat while I was mid-pack-up-my-shit-mode (a mode I take very seriously and do not like to be interrupted).
I could see him out the corner of my eye; a waft of old ciggies and booze was preceding his arrival.
In no way was this approach bright-eyed or enthusiastic. More so it was clear he had something he felt he really, seriously, needed to tell me to help me advance my career.
“Yeah, I thought you guys were alright. Some parts I liked, some I didn’t. The thing that I really didn’t like though was the image. To me it doesn’t match up with the music”
“The image of the whole band?”
“No. Just you.”
“It’s a bit too much like that Devilskin bird for me”
He says as if that’s a bad thing.. Anyone who’s ever seen Jennie up on that stage knows she somehow manages to fucking kill it while donning heels, stockings and corsets. She looks hot as fuck.
The resemblance is uncanny.
He’s also seemed to have forgotten that little stage prop I have called a guitar.
I realise that he’s just meaning my ripped stockings. That’s the only common factor between Jennie and I that I can think of. Here I am in a baggy man’s t-shirt as a dress (thanks boyfriend), ripped stockings, and Doc Martens.
I look him up and down and wonder if it’s been two weeks or three since he last washed his 20+ year old, faded and stained, stretched and contorted, button-up polo shirt.
“So are you going to go give your fashion advice to the dudes in this room as well?”
“No, they don’t need it”
“Well cheers dude, I really appreciate the honesty.”
Sometimes I really regret being nice and not just saying what I actually think. Which would have been along the lines of “and who made you the next Karl Lagerfeld of New Zealand?”
The offending outfit.
You run in to a lot of men like this being a vagina-owner in this industry. You don’t match what their ideal woman should look like, which grinds their gears, and they think that saying it out loud to you counts as “constructive criticism” for your music.
I might start asking them if they would be interested as coming on board as my personal stylist.
I thought I could handle it myself but it seems Colin has other ideas.
P.S. Not two days later did I see Jennie absolutely fucking kill it on the rock stage of Homegrown, 21 weeks pregnant – no less. Ironically because of this, she was actually wearing an outfit similar to my own instead of her regular corset and heels get up. She’s in it for comfort for an actual baby bump, I’m in it for hiding my food-baby & poo-baby bump.
He’s one of the most talented and exciting guitarists and songwriters I know. When I first ever saw him perform in his band I just knew that I was going to bonk him one day.
One of the things I appreciate about him is that he is the FIRST to champion me and Decades. He will tell everyone about my achievements and our music before his own.
One hot summer’s night a few weeks back, he and I were mincing and rinsing at a waterfront bar in Akaroa called Harbar(you gotta smash those fish tacos… innuendo not intended but encouraged) while our friends played an acoustic gig as we overlooked the ocean and got eaten alive by mosquitoes (cunts).
The scene of the crime – awful isn’t it? PS fuck seagulls.
Over the course of the night, our table seemed to accumulate a vast array of locals; two women in particular stick out in my mind due to how they reacted when another local jovially told them, “you’re sitting with a group of world-class musicians here!”
The two women looked across at us: me, my boyfriend and our male (relevent) mate.This was one of those nights where I was assumed; The Musician’s Girlfriend™.
The two women looked absolutely ecstatic, “Oh my gosh, how exciting, what kind of music do you guys play?” etc. The gushing went on for a while as they eyeballed the boys and occasionally would shoot me glance that seemed to say: “These guys are so cool!”
I relish these occurrences like a delicious pasta, slurping as I mull over the fun I can have before they find out I am also a musician and not just The Musician’s Girlfriend™.
I leaned in to the women and said “I know, and obviously I am just a secretary for some dude or something, feeling pretty privileged sitting at this table with these world class musicians!” insert fucking oscar-winning twinkly eye look of idolisation at the boys
“Oh, darling – talk yourself up! You’re an executive to the manager!”
“Oh yes, absolutely.”
I eat the assumptions up. Cue another 10 minutes of them back-and-forthing with the boys about how amazing they are, without the boys having much luck getting a word in edgewise. I could see my boyfriend just frothing at the bit to scream his praises about me.
It didn’t actually happen until a couple hours later when all had been forgotten and several more bottles of whatever-the-fuck had been consumed later at the table when I saw our song pop up on the streaming app of a major radio station here. (Yes I psychotically check because being on the radio is insanely exciting for 10 year old me who lives deep down inside my blackened-cynical-adult-heart).
I discreetly and excitedly leaned over to show my boyfriend this micro-development in my evening – internally filled with narcissistic supply, and he grabbed that as his moment.
“EMMA’S SONG IS ON THE RADIO RIGHT NOW” he yells at the entire table while holding up my phone for all to see.
The looks on those women’s faces… absolutely delectable.