PRISCILLA FRANK

A History Of All-Girl Bands And The Rock World That Tried To Keep Them Out

This post was originally published on Huffington Post

Written By: Claire Fallon

Women aren’t rejecting rock. Rock is rejecting women.

It was 1964 and singer Genyusha “Goldie” Zelkowitz had a problem. The all-girl band she formed in 1962 with drummer Ginger Bianco, Goldie and the Gingerbreads, had a major label record contract and an upcoming Las Vegas stint ― but the bassist, Nancy Peterman, had just told the band that she was pregnant. She’d formed an attachment to the organist of a band they’d been performing with; things had taken their natural course. In the 1960s, birth control for unmarried women was still illegal in certain states. Roe v. Wade was not yet a glimmer in the Supreme Court’s eye, and an attempt to get her an illicit procedure fell through. The situation was unsurprising, and the conclusion was unfortunate: Peterman had to leave the band.

Zelkowitz, who now goes by Genya Ravan, practically explodes with laughter remembering the incident now, 50 years later, during a phone conversation. “She kept saying she was ‘so lonely’!” Ravan hoots. “Had I known I would have bought her a vibrator.” A vibrator and a career, or a sexual partner and parenthood: That’s a choice The Beatles likely never had to make.

For Ravan, who was determined to make it in the music business, settling down wasn’t an option. After forming Goldie and the Gingerbreads, she saw the branding benefits of keeping the lineup all women, to capitalize on the exotic appeal of an all-girl rock ’n’ roll band. But over the years, they lost members, and it was difficult to fill all the parts in the group with women.

“A lot of the girls that were canned down the line … they wanted to have a family, they wanted to have children,” said Ravan. “There’s no room for that here.”

Womanhood used to usher women off the stage in fairly obvious, biological ways. But it’s 2017. Seven years ago, Pink put in a rousing performance at the American Music Awards while expecting a baby. In February of this year, Beyoncé performed gravity-defying moves during a Grammy performance while pregnant ― with twins.

Nonetheless, pockets of the music world remain startlingly male. Our greatest pop stars today might be women, but in instrument-heavy rock ― indie, punk, metal and beyond ― the standard-issue band is still a group of three to six guys. Less common: a group of male musicians with a female vocalist, or even a female keyboardist or bassist. Least common: a band comprised primarily or entirely of female musicians.

The music internet periodically offers up listicles of all-women bands to check out, which feature a common core cast of incredible indie groups: Hinds, Ex Hex, The Prettiots, Chastity Belt, Warpaint and so on. Plenty has been written about the the chart-topping pop-rock sister group Haim, but even in a diverse musical landscape of EDM, hip-hop, pop and hybrid music, a wide variety of all-male bands still flourishes. Why is the all-female band relatively elusive?

One might be tempted to blame women as a group. Perhaps we’re biologically uninterested in playing electric guitar, much like advanced algebra and video games. Maybe there simply aren’t girls out there with the chops and dedication to succeed. But ― much as with mathematics and video games ― a closer look at the picture suggests that the problem isn’t that women are rejecting rock. It’s that rock is rejecting women.

But how is the music world fencing women out? Picking on the visible gatekeepers is easy, and in many ways fair: Record labels, magazines and music festivals don’t tend to give women artists an equal platform. Last year, a HuffPost analysis of the gender breakdown of acts at 10 major festivals over the past five years found that the vast majority of performers were male. “[A]ll-male acts make up the overwhelming majority of festival lineups, ranging from 66 percent of all performers (Outside Lands and Governors Ball) to 93 percent (Electric Zoo),” HuffPost Women’s Editor Alanna Vagianos concluded. An LA Times piece on Coachella’s specific problems with women noted that, at the time it was written, only one female act had ever headlined the festival, out of over 40 headliners in its history.

Music media seems little better. In 2016, KQED Arts pointed out in December, exactly zero women made the cover of Rolling Stone ― no Beyoncé, no Rihanna, no Alessia Cara, no Hayley Williams. Women who do snag coverage by major outlets routinely see their musical chops downplayed in favor of their sex appeal, or wind up relegated to special women’s issues or listicles.

The problem, though, starts way before the point when the organizers of Coachella or Bonnaroo are scouting acts, and before magazines are picking out cover models. This isn’t an excuse for their paltry lineups of female artists; it’s just to say that there are other pressures guiding tastemakers toward men and guiding women to give up rock stardom.

Bands made up of all women are rare not because of a lack of talent, dedication or interest, but because women have been siphoned out of the pipeline at nearly every step of the way.

 

GAB ARCHIVE VIA GETTY IMAGES
A promo shot of Goldie and the Gingerbreads, which functioned from 1962 to 1967, consisting of three instrumentalists and a singer. It was considered to be one of the first all-female rock bands signed to a major record label.

Getting The Band Together

For young boys, forming a crappy band is as elemental a part of growing up as playing baseball, or quitting the baseball team to spend more time smoking pot. If you’ve ever known a handful of teenage boys, you probably know at least one who’s been in a jam band inspired by Phish, or a dude rock band inspired by Dave Matthews, or an indie rock band inspired by Weezer. Guys in bands stand to benefit from male bonding, creative self-expression, and cultivating a rock god image to attract romantic interests. As Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers told Billboard in 2016, “Even before success, pussy was number one … I wanted to hook up with hotter girls.”

The flip side, however, is that this gendered adolescent experience rarely includes a space for girls to be anything but doting audiences and, at worst, “pussy.”

“To me that was just kind of a given, guys were always starting bands and playing guitar in their bedrooms,” Allison Wolfe, the former lead singer of riot grrrl band Bratmobile and, most recently, Sex Stains, told me. She grew up in Olympia, home of artsy, crunchy Evergreen State College in Washington State, in the midst of the burgeoning ‘90s DIY punk scene. “I went to a lot of punk shows and saw guys playing. Olympia and Eugene were cool, not super macho like a lot of other places, but it still made me feel like I couldn’t really be a part of it.”

Suzie Zeldin, of the indie band The Narrative, spent her teenage years attending hardcore shows across the country, in Long Island, New York, that were packed with both male and female fans ― but vanishingly few female artists. “It was pretty rare actually to see a girl onstage,” she recalled.

And this was in the late ‘80s to early aughts. Decades ago, when rock ’n’ roll was really taking off, the scene was almost entirely male. “You go back to the ‘60s, and you’re talking about the dark ages of women in music, because the light that you’re putting out, there’s nothing to reflect it back,” said June Millington, co-founder and lead guitarist of the pioneering 1970s band Fanny. “You had to have the courage to walk into that cave that was completely dark.”

Her bandmate, drummer Alice DeBuhr, was blunt: “We didn’t think of ourselves as the beginning of or part of a tradition of women musicians. Because there weren’t any.”

As with any boys’ club, some determined and talented women have always fought their way in. But bands aren’t just about individual moxie. Forming a band requires collaboration. As a teenage bassist in Australia, music writer Anwen Crawford, author of a New Yorker article titled “The World Needs Female Rock Critics,” wanted that classic, adolescent band experience. The only problem? “I could never find other girls to play with, in those crucial years when you’re forming bands,” she told me. “Your teacher is likely to be male, your peers are likely to be male. It’s quite isolating.”

Just playing with her male peers wasn’t a solution either, she pointed out: “The boys around me didn’t really take me seriously, or thought I was a novelty.”

For many years, and even, to some extent, today, women who did seriously pursue rock music were less likely to find a thriving community of female peers to play with. Female stars like P.J. Harvey or Suzie Quatro, Crawford noted, typically ended up as solo artists or the sole women in mostly male bands. After Goldie and the Gingerbreads disbanded in 1967, Ravan joined a mostly-male band and later built a solo career.

 

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Jean Millington (L) and Patti Quatro perform during a Fanny show in 1974.

 

The creeping, pervasive assumption that little boys learn drums and grow up to be rock stars while little girls play Barbies and grow up to be groupies can isolate and stifle young girls who do pursue music, or it can simply delay their start. Many talented female musicians don’t begin their careers until early adulthood, at the age when young people are exploring who they really are outside of their rigidly defined peer groups. By then, many of their male peers have been mucking around with their instruments and amateur bands for a decade ― but that gap isn’t an insurmountable obstacle.

Augusta Koch, the guitarist and vocalist of the pop-punk band Cayetana, readily admits that she “didn’t know how to play guitar” when Cayetana was born five years ago. Koch and her bandmates were all out of college and dreaming of starting a band when they met at a party in Philadelphia. They decided to join forces and polished their skills together, through years of intense solo and band practice.

Mindy Abovitz, drummer and founder of Tom Tom Magazine, started her first band in college, not long after she’d surreptitiously begun to learn drums. “It would have made zero sense to be in a band with a guy at that time, because all my guy friends who were musicians had been in bands since they were 12,” she told me.

“I played music in school band, clarinet and bass clarinet, but it wasn’t until much later that I thought I could do something like be in a band,” recalled Bratmobile’s Wolfe. “But I think I was very lucky to grow up in Olympia.” In the midst of a music scene that prided itself on counter-culturalism and anti-professionalism, “anyone could do anything, and it would be considered music,” she said.

Wolfe went to Eugene to attend the University of Oregon, but many weekends she’d return to Olympia with her friend and future bandmate, Molly Neuman, to hang around the music scene. They met Kathleen Hanna, then a student at Evergreen. Wolfe began to notice that women around her were forming their own bands ― and not cute, smiley bands. One day, the summer before college, she peeked into Hanna’s art gallery, Reko Muse, and saw a band rehearsal in progress. “There was Kathleen, onstage,” recalled Wolfe, “and she was just yelling at the top of her lungs, with her veins popping out of her neck, and her face was all red … It was really confrontational, and intense.” Hanna’s band, Bikini Kill, ended up becoming early supporters of Wolfe and Neuman’s nascent group.

Wolfe and Neuman wanted to be involved in the scene ― they were already referring to themselves as a band around Olympia ― but they didn’t actually begin writing and performing music until a friend asked them to play a show he was booking. Despite Bratmobile’s slapdash beginnings, their first show was a rousing success.

“I don’t think it would have happened outside the Olympia scene, because I don’t think we would have had the encouragement,” she admitted. “People would have laughed us off the stage. But instead we had Bikini Kill there cheering us on.”

 

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Bikini Kill consisted of female members Kathleen Hanna, Kathi Wilcox and Tobi Vail, as well as male member Billy Karren.

Keeping The Band Together

Getting an all-girl band together is a magical achievement, but it’s only step one. Rock bands are notoriously fragile things. Internal power struggles, ego trips and artistic disagreements tear many of them apart. For women, though, the stress of fending off inappropriate behavior, condescension and disdain rooted in their gender often ends up compounding the ordinary struggles faced by every band.

Having overcome years of overt or implicit discouragement to choose a musical career, female musicians face exhausting assumptions: That they don’t understand their own gear or craft; that, if they came later to mastering the art form, they are perpetual amateurs; that they’re just hanging around the scene to get male attention. Cayetana’s drummer, Kelly Olsen, pointed out that “women getting into relationships with musicians… get looked at in a very different way than men that do. And I know that we have been judged by who we date, like, you’re just doing that to get close to this band. And it’s like, actually, no! I have my own self and my own power in my own scene.”

The assumption, however, generally remains that women don’t belong onstage unless they’re accompanied and overseen by men. Lydia Night, the teenage frontwoman of The Regrettes, caught the rock fever early ― she’s been playing guitar since the age of six and has not only attended years of music classes but performed in several bands. Nonetheless, she’s noticed, sound technicians often assume she can’t handle her own equipment. The sexism is difficult to ignore thanks to one simple fact: The band has one male member, drummer Maxx Morando. “We’ve met so many amazing sound people,” she told me, “but we’ve met so many annoying sound people who just assume that … oh, of course Maxx knows how to set up his drums, but she must not know how to set up her amp.”

Though many of the women I spoke to said that they felt respected and appreciated by their male peers in the industry, the spaces men make for themselves aren’t always welcoming. Women might be left out of bands and tours by men who want to keep the fratty vibe, or who don’t want their significant others to worry about infidelity. “Tour buses are definitely places where women get excluded,” Abovitz said, referencing a situation she’d recently advised another female musician about. “They don’t get hired. They just get left off.” Her acquaintance and the other woman in her band weren’t invited on a bus due to this reasoning; in the end, they had to drive themselves separately for the entire tour.

When it’s not the men directly involved in the industry, it’s the press. Music journalism, a field that was carved out and is still largely populated by white men, has historically been hostile at worst, and patronizing at best, to female artists. “The assumption [was] that interviewers and other people could treat us with condescension and that was the norm,” says Millington. “That condescension was pretty lethal, because it can come at you in so many different ways, even the subtle ways cut ― at least 50 percent, 60 percent or more of the time, the condescension had to be there even if [critics] said they liked us.”

Critics and journalists might cover a girl band with a tone of surprise that a group of women could even play competently, or fixate on the band members’ sex appeal and gendered characteristics.

Plus, female artists were played off each other, creating the impression that in the massive rock universe, there was only room for one woman star. “It was never about the music,” Raven remembered of her early reviews. “They always had to compare me with somebody.” Usually, the times being what they were, that somebody was Janis Joplin. In 1969, legendary rock critic Robert Christgau described her as “this group’s resident Janis Joplin” in a review of Ten Wheel Drive, a jazz-rock band she joined after Goldie and the Gingerbreads broke up. Joplin comes up yet again in his review of one of her solo albums, “Urban Desire,” in addition to the accusation that “she oversings.” (Christgau’s oeuvre is a trove of chauvinistic criticism, which is rarely subtle; he takes pains to graciously judge that Fanny’s “execution is competent enough.”)

In the early days of rock ’n’ roll, even audiences who presumably showed up to enjoy these shows were sexist by default. Millington and DeBuhr both vividly recalled one particular compliment from male listeners that seemed to dog Fanny throughout its run: “Not bad for chicks!”

No matter where they performed, “that was the best compliment we could get through the early ‘70s. Isn’t that incredible?” Millington told me. “And we almost always smiled and said ‘Thank you.’” Worse, Fanny often confronted the assumption that they couldn’t play their own songs. “I can’t remember how many times people asked us, ‘Who were the male musicians playing on the album?’” DeBuhr remembered. To a group of women who practiced and performed tirelessly and who took pride in their music, this question was particularly galling.

In the punk era, disdainful audiences could be more aggressive. Wolfe half-seriously insisted that her nearsightedness and poor hearing protected her ego from the vitriol of sexist crowds. “A lot of the time I was saved by the fact that I couldn’t see or hear what was going on in the audience,” she said. After Bratmobile’s second show, Kathleen Hanna met them offstage and asked if they were OK. Unbeknownst to them, some “scary metalhead dudes” in the crowd had been hollering death threats at the band throughout their set.

Harder to ignore: An incident at a show during Wolfe’s time in the late-’90s band Cold Cold Hearts, when a man grabbed her ass while she performed. “I actually started laughing, because it was just too shocking,” she said.

 

JEFF KRAVITZ VIA GETTY IMAGES
“Growing up, there were a lot of girl artists like the Spice Girls, Aaliyah and Destiny’s Child,” Alana Haim told Lip Mag in 2014. “But none of them really played instruments and I would always look up to Stevie Nicks and Blondie – they are dope female musicians. So I just see us as a band. When people call us a girl band, I take it as an insult – being a girl in a band shouldn’t be a thing. It seems so medieval.”

 

Some women involved with the music world saw a relatively egalitarian, non-threatening environment, at least in specific scenes. Punk historian Gillian McCain, co-author of the oral history Please Kill Me, pushed back on the idea that the early punk scene could be sexually exploitative. “The girls were enjoying their sexual freedom as much as the boys were,” she wrote in an email. “None of the women we interviewed saw themselves as victims.”

But there’s no denying that some women in the music industry have been victimized, and that the experience can directly affect their careers. Pop star and songwriter Kesha, the most infamous recent example, follows in a long line of women whose voices were snuffed out thanks to male exploitation. Due to her ironclad contract and current legal battle with her former producer, Dr. Luke, whom she has accused of sexual and other abuse, Kesha is reported to be sitting on at least 22 new songs she’s not allowed to bring out.

In 2015, the original bassist of The Runaways, Jackie Fuchs, accused the band’s late manager, Kim Fowley, of raping her soon after she joined the band in 1975. She quit in 1977. In a HuffPost Highline feature, Jason Cherkis documented multiple alleged victims of Fowley’s sexual violence, primarily Fuchs and Kari Krome, a precocious songwriter Fowley began grooming at just 13 years old. By the time Cherkis spoke to Krome, some 40 years later, she had been out of the music business since her teen years, instead writing boxes full of unpublished lyrics. “[S]he couldn’t shake the idea that Fowley never believed in her talent, that he only wanted to sleep with her,” he wrote. “She ended up abandoning her dreams of becoming a successful songwriter.”

Though it’s impossible to say how many women’s careers have been stunted or destroyed by sexual predation, even those who remain and succeed continue to face gendered criticism and abuse. With few other options, women musicians often embrace determinedly nonchalant attitudes toward their harassers and critics. “It’s hard to play a show when someone screams ‘you can’t play guitar’ or ‘you’re hot,’ but at the same time,” said Koch, “we try to not let it ruin us.”

During the riot grrrl movement of the ‘90s, women on the scene tried to find safety in solidarity. After the butt-grabbing incident at her Cold Cold Hearts show, Wolfe remembered, “The amazing thing is I didn’t have to do anything. It was a girl power show; all the women bounced him out in two seconds.” By urging “girls to the front” and forefronting feminism, riot grrrl created a safer space for women in rock ― at least temporarily.  In other times, in other cases, playing through the pain simply led to burnout. “I left Fanny in ‘73, because I was just tired,” Millington told me.

When women aren’t kept out of rock genres through sheer discouragement, exclusion or harassment, the malleable nature of the genre can also be used against them. Women artists may be edited out of the rock annals simply through gendered perceptions ― what men play is rock and what women play is pop. Nowhere is this more evidently the case than with black women, who, like black men, often find themselves reflexively categorized as R&B simply because of their race. As Rolling Stone’s Brittany Spanos wrote in 2016, the white appropriation of rock has been so total that it “box[es] black performers into R&B and soul categories no matter how genre-bending they are.”

“Though largely forgotten in our whitewashed annals of history,” LaTonya Pennington wrote in The Establishment, “black women helped create the genre of rock, which has its roots in blues, country, jazz, gospel and R&B.” Just as many pioneers of rock were black men ― Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Little Richard and Bo Diddley ― many of the early female pioneers, like “Godmother of Rock ’n’ Roll” Sister Rosetta Tharpe, were black. White women were also often complicit in undercutting black women performers. The first recording of “Piece of My Heart” was performed by Erma Franklin ― known as an R&B singer ― yet it was white singer Janis Joplin ― known as a rocker ― whose rendition rose to fame.

The contributions of black women have been routinely swept under the rug and written out of rock history. But Pennington, Spanos and other critics have seen black women reclaiming their place in the rock genre in recent years, from undeniably rock acts such as The Alabama Shakes (fronted by vocalist and guitarist Brittany Howard) to indie darling Santigold to, yes, Beyoncé.

In “Lemonade,” the pop icon dabbled in country and rock ’n’ roll to great effect. “Beyoncé… provided one of the year’s most memorable rock moments with ‘[Don’t] Hurt Yourself,’” Crawford argued. “Here we have a song by a black woman artist (Beyoncé), who has not typically been ‘seen’ as a rock musician, which appropriates white rock masculinity in order to emphasize that the origins of rock music (in the blues) lie with black women, whose music was, in turn, appropriated by white men.” The all-important visuals work fluidly with the song to reinforce this message, she added. “The film clip … which begins and ends with a young black woman sitting behind a drum kit, makes literally visible this lineage of largely disregarded and historically invisible black female musicianship.”

 

CHRIS MCKAY VIA GETTY IMAGES
Brittany Howard performs during an Alabama Shakes show at a 2016 music festival.

Passing The Torch

With all the obstacles and forms of discouragement women in rock have faced over the decades, rock is no longer the coolest nor freshest genre. Does it even matter how inclusive it is to women anymore? Crawford, though she qualifies that it’s important for women to have equal opportunity in any genre, suggests women look elsewhere. The masculinization of the scene has been so entrenched, and the genre itself seems so archaic, that she “wouldn’t necessarily advise [a young woman today] to pick up a guitar. I think of rock music like the realist novel ― it’s fun, people are still doing it, but why?” And though “other genres have their own problems,” she pointed out, there’s a less lengthy and calcified history of exclusion to undo. Women have been making huge amounts of exciting, boundary-pushing music in electronic music, in pop and beyond ― rock just hasn’t been as welcoming.

Conversely, McCain downplayed the severity of the obstacles faced by women in punk rock ― though the punk scene was predominantly male. “Unfortunately that’s the case in a lot of vocations,” she wrote in an email. “I think there were barriers to both men and women making it in punk music! […] In some ways the women may have held an advantage as far as getting more media attention.” McCain cited breakout female stars of the era, from Patti Smith to Tina Weymouth, who remain popular today. As Ravan realized in the 1960s, being a woman in a man’s world could be a great marketing tool.

Still, staking a visible claim to rock music isn’t just an ego trip for marginalized artists: It clears the path to stardom for those that follow. Not only does it make it easier for audiences and critics to conceptualize, for example, black and female artists as rockers, but it helps future musicians to avoid the derision, harassment and sense of alienation that has afflicted many.

Even today, women deal with gendered belittlement and abuse on tour. But audiences have seen enough female rock musicians to mitigate the level of scorn faced by individual artists. Where Fanny and Goldie and the Gingerbreads often felt like their gender was so unusual that it was simply treated as a gimmick ― the only reason people bothered to book them as opposed to the many male bands ― women who are currently early in their music careers see a more diverse scene. Night told me that The Regrettes perform alongside “a lot of women … super badass women.”

Zeldin has also toured with a number of bands with one or more woman. “There are a lot of bands that have at least some female presence. It’s nice to see that happening more and more,” she said.

Part of the more welcoming environment for women and gender non-binary individuals in rock has to do with changing norms, like a better understanding of the harm caused by sexual assault. Recalling her time in Fanny in the ‘70s, DeBuhr describes a scene that was not only permissive of male urges, but that lacked a language to talk about it critically. Though sometimes she felt deeply uncomfortable with the sexualized atmosphere, she told me, “At the time, I don’t think we called it sexual harassment … It was creepy, I didn’t like it.” Creepy behavior might still be fairly common in the music industry, but women musicians do have the vocabulary to talk about it. Take music publicist Heathcliff Berru, once a power player in the field. He fell precipitously from grace after a raft of female musicians and industry professionals ― most notably Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors ― publicly accused him of various forms of sexual misconduct.

Even the idea that women can be rebels and artists as well as homemakers, mothers and playthings needed to emerge over the past few decades. Not only were the first all-girl bands were presented as gimmicks, they were often presented as sexualized ones. Fowley notoriously positioned The Runaways as a clique of sexy jailbait rather than serious musicians ― and that’s a temporary brand at best.

During high school, in 1960s Iowa, DeBuhr played in a girl band called Women. (“We were a gimmick,” explained. “That was the attraction, it was all girls.”) While at an Iowan club, teenage DeBuhr saw a female drummer in a jazz trio. The drummer was older, “maybe 40,” she recalled. “I said, ‘I will quit when I‘m 30. I won’t be an old lady playing the drums.” She did end up hanging up her drumsticks not long after Fanny broke up. Now, she says, she regrets it.

To a young DeBuhr, that solitary, middle-aged woman drummer may have seemed like an oddity at the time; the lack of visible female rock icons inevitably perpetuates the assumption that women don’t belong onstage, unless they’re go-go dancers or sultry vocalists. Even serious bands like Fanny and the Gingerbreads faced pressure to go onstage scantily clad ― which they resisted to varying degrees.

 

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Night (L) and Genessa Gariano of The Regrettes perform at a Planned Parenthood benefit.

 

Perhaps the most important evolution has been the determined, serious incursion of women into the genre, a genre that at first seemed to have no place for them. Though Ravan and Millington cite a few forerunners as inspirations ― Etta James, Lillian Briggs ― they saw their own music as something different. They were playing rock ’n’ roll in bands, just like the boys.

Today, budding musicians have a pantheon of women rockstars to draw inspiration from and emulate. “When I was five, my dad took me to a Donnas concert … and I just fell in love with it,” Night told me. “The turning point for me ― I think I was 10 ― my mom took me to see a movie about the drummer of Hole. I started listening to a lot of Hole, Bikini Kill, Babes in Toyland.”

A push for mostly all-women bands may be unlikely today because, in a more inclusive scene, female musicians see less of a need to huddle together. When Night initially fell in love with The Donnas, she longed to start an all-girl band; now, she says, she doesn’t even think about gender when forming a band. Zeldin, who has always worked with male musicians, felt the same. “I’d totally be down to do a girl band,” she told me. But she wouldn’t be motivated to do so “just because it would be all girls.”

The success of “girl rock” can come in waves. For groups like Fanny and Bratmobile, being all women was part of the point; at those times, it felt like both safety in solidarity and a way of making political statement. “If the whole point was giving voice to girls, then yeah, we wanted to play with other girls,” said Wolfe. After the overtly feminist, but flawed, riot grrrl scene faded, punk and indie rock seemed to contract around men again.

“I feel like riot grrrl ended in the mid-’90s, and by the late-‘90s there was a lot of backlash,” said Wolfe. “Suddenly there were a lot fewer girl bands in the punk scene, and it was like, what happened?” The backlash to riot grrrl, which she concedes had its own problems, still felt “like sexism. Or just dissing feminism.”

Though juggernaut all-women bands like Sleater-Kinney arose from and survived riot grrrl, they were more the exception than the rule. By the early aughts, critics were commenting on the almost startling sexism of the ascendant emo and punk scene. Andy Greenwald’s Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo noted the dearth of women on popular emo labels, as well as the overtly resentful and objectifying view emo artists took of women: “Now emo songwriters were one-sided victims of heartbreak, utterly wronged and ready to sing about it, with the women having no chance to respond.”

In an essay on emo misogyny from her 2015 book The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, titled “Where the Girls Aren’t,” music journalist and critic Jessica Hopper remembered growing up in the era of riot grrrl. “For me, even as a teenage autodidact who thought her every idea was worthy of expression and an audience,” she wrote, “it did not occur to me to start a band until I saw other women in one.” Watching female fans at emo shows where all-male artists sang about cardboard-cutout women who had hurt them, she thought, “I don’t want these front row girls to miss that. I don’t want girls leaving clubs denied of encouragement and potential.”

The clock couldn’t simply be turned back to the 1950s after the riot grrrl era ended, though. Bikini Kill records were still out there. We knew about the Bangles. Zeldin, who grew up frequenting the emo and hardcore scene, took the rarity of women onstage at those shows as a challenge. “I think that’s probably partially what drove me to do it, aside from having the inclination,” she told me. “It was more like ― I don’t see girls doing so let’s do it.”

Abovitz, who launched a whole publication to cover female drummers, believes fervently in the power of modeling. “There’s this sort of thing that every female drummer I know does: Go out and play a show not just for herself, but for every other female drummer,” she said. “You just want to do it, so that people will get over it already.”

The scene already looks less homogenous than it did 10 years ago, despite the daunting machismo of the aughts. Earlier generations of women musicians have sought to further their gains by promoting their own legacies, and even by educating new generations. Millington started the Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA) with her partner, Ann F. Hackler, in 1986. The institute runs rock camps for young girls, among other initiatives to support women in music. Camps like the IMA’s have begun to bear fruit ― like Night’s The Regrettes, formed by three girls and a boy who met in an LA School of Rock.

Though the genre has put up walls against women for decades, women have refused to stay out ― and the more they refuse, the more open the music industry becomes to all women.

“You gotta keep writing songs that speak out about this stuff, or keep being in bands, or whatever it is that you do,” said Wolfe. “Being there, inserting yourself in a space that isn’t common for women to be.”

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Princess Chelsea Good for a Girl Interview Emma Cameron Decades blog

Princess Chelsea being magical and angelic in space

She was speaking on a Going Global panel called ‘How to Make a World Class Record’; having released 3 albums, 1 EP and a string of independent singles since 2009 – girls knows what’s up.

As we were all leaving the panel room, I talked myself in to approaching her impromptu-style for my first ever GFAG interview before I rolled in to a couple ones I had pre-scheduled for the day. I definitely freaked her out a bit with my 5 second elevator pitch which included a very creepy invite down in to the dungeon-like space I was filming in, but to my surprise and delight, she agreed to join me.

Princess Chelsea is an experimental ‘space pop’ (I love it when we make up genres) artist from Auckland, but you may also remember her from indie pop/rock band The Brunettes, or from the band Teenwolf.

She has an online reputation with her music videos and musical style for marching to the beat of her own drum, and after chatting to her for 10 minutes I discovered that this translates in to who she is as a person, and what kind of music she was brought up with has had a big influence.

I kinda got lost on Youtube for a good hour or so watching all of her music videos; amused, impressed, entertained, and at times creeped-out. I love her!

NOW YOU SHOULD WATCH MY INTERVIEW WITH PRINCESS CHELSEA.

For a full transcript, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Chelsea just released a brand new album, ‘Aftertouch‘ last week, comprising of covers she’s recorded over the past few years. She puts her unique musical touch on a huge range of songs, including the cover of ‘Come As You Are’ by Nirvana which is featured in the interview above.

LISTEN TO IT:

Check out Princess Chelsea anywhere you please on the interwebz:

PRINCESS CHELSEA LINKS

Website
Facebook
Soundcloud
Twitter
Spotify

GOOD FOR A GIRL: PRINCESS CHELSEA (INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT)

Emma:
What got you in to music growing up?

Princess Chelsea:
Well, ah, I started like.. my family was given a little key-tar when I was 5. And I started just playing all the songs I heard on the TV ads and at church on the key-tar. And I guess that’s what got me in to music; this Yamaha key-tar!

Emma:
Cool! So did you have any artists that, while you were jamming on the key-tar, not just at church or on TV but were their any artists growing up that made you go “what can I do with this key-tar. what can I create?”

Princess Chelsea:
Well at 5, I think I listened to a bit of classical music so I was really in to Grieg, like the Peer Gynt Suite, which has got In The Hall Of The Mountain King and a bunch of other really great orchestral pieces. I think at that age you’re pretty much exposed to the music your parents have around that you hear on the radio ‘cuz like you’re not going to go to the record store when you’re 5.

Emma:
Definitely (laughs) so what kind of stuff did your parents listen to?

Princess Chelsea:
Um, they had one Simply Red CD, one classical compilation, and they didn’t really listen to a lot music but they had a really good 80s pop compilation. So after you’ve heard my music knowing that there was a Grieg classical composer compilation CD, an 80s pop CD, it will make a lot of sense to you.

Emma:
(laughs) Okay I better go home and listen to it and make sure I get it.

Princess Chelsea:
Yeah you’ll be like “okay yeah of course”

Emma:
“It makes total sense now I get what’s going on.” So did you have any women influences growing up at all that you felt were role models to get in to music? Or do you feel like they were absent?

Princess Chelsea:
Well actually that’s a really good question. I think, it’s funny, I guess I never really thought about music in terms of gender until I was older and was a musician. And then I realised the challenges that it can bring being a female musician. So when I was younger I got in to Patti Smith in my formative years. Thought she was pretty rad. I thought Gwen Stefani was really rad. Hole. Courtney Love was given a really unnecessarily hard time.

Emma:
So was this around your teenage years?

Princess Chelsea:
Totally.

Emma:
Were you conscious of like “oh these are women artists”?

Princess Chelsea:
I don’t think I was. Because I guess at that time I was kind of “middle class Shore girl”. Didn’t really realise… I didn’t kind of notice sexism.

Emma:
Me either. And that’s what I like to explore now, being older and being like “okay there is a thing happening here.” I’ve had some weird stuff happen to me and I actually didn’t have many women role models growing up. And like I saw Fur Patrol for the first time a few weeks ago when they went back on tour and I was watching Julia Deans play and I went “holy. fuck. I have never seen a woman fronting a rock band, playing a guitar, live in front of my eyes.” Like growing up I never did. Like there are some bigger bands that have come over but the women are singers or.. whatever. And it’s interesting that you’re kind of similar that you didn’t really have women role models growing up. And even when you started getting in to women in music as a teenager..

Princess Chelsea:
I didn’t really think about the context of it. And it wasn’t something, like I said, until I started getting a bit older and realising “that shouldn’t really be happening” I started thinking about that stuff more.

Emma:
And because of your genre – have you found that it is a male dominated genre? Or have you found quite a lot of women that you can kinda push out to sideways?

Princess Chelsea:
Well I think, I make kinda electronic-y pop and there are quite a lot of female artists doing that. And that’s becoming a lot more common. I do think that, I’ve had for instance, things reviewed by male music reviewers that lump all of your female electronic music like.. that’s a genre. But they would never do that with someone like… who’s a male in electronic… I wanna say Moby (laughs)

Emma:
(laughs)

Princess Chelsea:
That was just the first one that I thought of. Like Moby and Boards of Canada like they’re both male electronic artists – but they’re totally different – but if they were female would people just be like “oh yeah that’s the same.” Maybe they would be? Not smart people. Bigoted people.

Emma:
Have you ever had any kind of ridiculous scenarios and experiences thrown your way that were swayed, like you felt like they were negative because you’re a woman?

Princess Chelsea:
Yep! Well when I was in a touring band, I was playing in The Brunettes. And I was operating a midi keyboard that was controlled at that time by a protools session. And it was all very tech-y. And we played about 150 shows over 160 days. So I’d done this every single day, Id set up.

Emma:
You were very experienced. You knew what the fuck you were doing.

Princess Chelsea:
I knew what I was doing! And there was one particular night that a sound man asked me if I wanted a mono or stereo input and I said “stereo” and he was like “i think you want mono” and I was like “no I want stereo.” And he’s like [full body gesticulation] “are there sounds going from left to right?” and I was like “…yeah. It’s stereo, bro.”

Emma:
Like having to physically explain it. “Do you know how stereo works?!”

Princess Chelsea:
And he still wouldn’t believe me and ended up throwing the extra D.I. required at me! and I was like 23.

Emma:
Really! Like he was throwing a tantrum that you knew what you were doing? Like it pissed him off?

Princess Chelsea:
Well he just didn’t believe that I knew what I was doing. And I’m just like “why don’t you believe me?”

Emma:
I’ve had that experience before with a fucking microphone. I bought my own mic to the gig and the sound guy goes “ohhh no you don’t want to use that one. You want to use this SM-58” And I was like “no. I don’t want to use an SM-58. I have my beautiful Audix microphone here that I’ve tested against other ones. this is my microphone.” And he was kinda just a cunt to me for the rest of the night. It’s annoying because I should’ve – no I shouldn’t have just use the microphone that he wanted me to. But the whole gig would’ve been a lot easier and stress-free for everyone if I’d just used his stupid microphone because he didn’t like that I had my own and I knew why it was better for me – not him.

Princess Chelsea:
There is like an interesting, for instance one of my friends is a sound person who is a male but whatever type of person or whatever their gender identity or whatever, he would always tell them if he thought they needed to do something else. If they needed to turn their amp down, or if they needed to do something. So there is a fine line sometimes between… how do I put this without sounding really dodgy?

Emma:
Just sound dodgy.

Princess Chelsea:
Well not everyone is a terrible person, so like maybe someone is telling you someone is telling you something because that’s the right thing to do – not because you’re a woman.

Emma:
Exactly. And it can go either way.

Princess Chelsea:
But there are certainly a lot of assholes out there!

Emma:
Oh yes!

Good For A Girl Interview Possum Plows Openside Emma Cameron

Interview: Possum Plows from OPENSIDE (@Going Global)

I FINALLY GOT TO SEE OPENSIDE PLAY AT GOING GLOBAL 2016

Openside Possum Plows Interview Good For A Girl

Openside L-R: PJ Shepard, Possum Plows, George Powell and Harry Carter

I’d been following Openside for a few years (back when they had another name), had been in online cohorts with their singer Possum for a wee while, and still hadn’t managed to catch any of their highly energetic and outrageously fun live shows (so they were described to me by others).

Until we were on the same showcasing bill as them for Going Global this year – and they did not disappoint me, at all. Not even one bit.

Safe to say Openside’s performance was a fucking fun-fest of sparkly pop-punk goodness that, unless you were a buzz-kill-absolute-corpse-drag of a human, had people dancing in no time.

Openside Possum Plows Good For A Girl Live

It was also really nice to meet band mates Harry, PJ and George for the first time and find out they are top-qual lads, and even nicer still to finally get to hang out with Possum in the flesh and talk to her about… her!

Usually I would chuck a wee gush and a bio in here, but I actually loved all up on Possum a few months back here – so read that if you wish, and come back!

NOW YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY WATCH MY INTERVIEW WITH POSSUM PLOWS OF OPENSIDE.

For a full transcript, scroll to the bottom of this post.

We don’t have to wait at all for new music from Openside, since they have just released their brand spankin’ new EP, Push Back, last week! If you’re in to pop-punk that’s more on the pop side, with a bit of beats and electronic goodness, you’re going to love it.

YOU CAN ALSO CATCH ‘EM THIS WEEK OPENING FOR ELLIE FUCKING GOULDING in Christchurch (Thurs 29th) and Auckland (Sat 1st). Pick up your tickets here

OPENSIDE LINKS

Website
Spotify
Facebook
Instagram
Snapchat:
weareopenside

…………………………………………………

GOOD FOR A GIRL: POSSUM PLOWS FROM OPENSIDE (INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT)

Emma:
So the first ting I would like to learn about it is your influences growing up – what kind of made you want to get in to music?

Possum (Openside):
For me, it was a lot pop punk and the earliest band that I really connected to was Fall Out Boy when I was probably 11 or 12, and I think it was around the time they released “Infinity on High

Emma:
Right! Okay, so a bit later

Possum (Openside):
Yeah, and then after that kinda went back and some other albums to listen to which is always nice. whispers people are looking at us….

Emma:
(laughs) it’s okay!

Possum (Openside):
I think they can hear us!

Emma:
Maybe they can hear us..

Possum (Openside):
Sorry! Um, yeah. But Fall Out Boy for me was like a good combination of complicated lyrics that really talked about quite personal, emotional things. Stuff that normally people won’t really talk about. And then also the sort of high energy, you can sing it really loud in the car when you’re driving. And that’s how I learnt to sing harmonies, listening to Fall Out Boy.

Emma:
Yeah, me too! Pop punk bands, emo bands, all those guys that sing really high (laughs)

Possum (Openside):
Yeah!

Emma:
Really good for girl vocalists

Possum (Openside):
Exactly! That’s what blows my mind now; when I go through and actually play out those melodies and realise they’re hitting high B’s and high C’s like it’s nothing and it’s quite impressive, but that was just the style at the time so you totally take it for granted.

Emma:
Totally.

Possum (Openside):
But yeah, Panic! At The Disco and I used to listen to New Zealand bands like Goodnight Nurse, they were a huge influence. And that’s why it’s cool to be back now and doing that genre.

Emma:
And making it new, as well!

Possum (Openside):
It has come back in to fashion, so to speak. And a lot of younger kids are rediscovering those bands like, 10 years later which is crazy! A lot of the Openside fans, i feel like they go through and they experience things very similar to the way I did when I was their age. It’s really cool.

Emma:
So those bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco, were you around 10/11?

Possum (Openside):
(nods) Mmm!

Emma:
What about younger than that? Like growing up, not even starting your music career or even not even thinking about a career in music – what kind of music were you surrounded by growing up?

Possum (Openside):
Before that, you know, it’s always what your parents are exposing you to. My Dad was really big in to The Smiths, so I listened to a lot of The Smiths, in to my teenage years as well. And a lot of songwriter types like Bic Runga, and Carole King, even as a young person, it sort of made me want to write songs because I used to have really bad trouble getting to sleep when I was a kid. And I couldn’t get to sleep without listening to something otherwise I’d get scared of monsters.

Emma:
It’s a good distraction!

Possum (Openside):
Yeah! And I used to listen to Bic Runga albums and Carole King albums when I was falling asleep and it was really comforting.

Emma:
So there were some women musicians in there. Like even with your pop punk influences – like, were Paramore a big thing?

Possum (Openside):
Yeah, definitely!

Emma:
Even though around that genre they were kind of one of the only stalwart..

Possum (Openside):
They were in the forefront.

Emma:
Then came like, Hey Monday and We Are The In Crowd… was it We Are The In Crowd? They have a girl in the band don’t they? Or was that a different band…

Possum (Openside):
Oh, yeah, a little bit later I’d kinda deviated…but Paramore was definitely a big influence on my young bands when I was like 13. And even now, with Openside, definitely for the other members of the band, Paramore was a big influence on them. Cuz they’re like.. 4 years younger than me. When we were liking the music when I was 12, which was like 2006, that was the music that was cool, but for them, like 3 or 4 years later it was kinda a bit more niche and they had a slightly different experience of it. But that’s why we ended up being a band even though we have this age difference, because we have this mutual love of pop punk. (laughs)

Emma:
(laughs) Yeah, that’s cool! So it’s interesting because I feel like there probably weren’t that many women around – there weren’t that many women around – in pop punk. So you weren’t really even subconsciously being exposed to a lot of women in that genre being the main influence for your music. Now you’re a bit older do you seek out women influences? Are you conscious of that at all? Or are you kinda just like ‘whatever comes…’

Possum (Openside):
I think you do become more conscious of that. Partly being older and partly just the culutral context that we’re in now.

Emma:
Yeah because you are a frontwoman, now.

Possum (Openside):
Yeah! And, that diversity element. And also the topics people talk about. Like a lot of traditional emo was like ‘white boy problems 101.’ And we can laugh about it now but at the time that was seen as the ‘be-all-end-all’ like, “this girl, I liked her but then she wouldn’t call me and now I’m really depressed and I wrote a song about it” and there is some problematic content in there, and it’s just being able to identify that and still appreciate it for what it is. And in terms of seeking out diversity, it’s the same with race in pop punk. Pop punk is so white. So any time there’s somebody doing something different with race and gender and queerness in music – which is happening more and more across genres – put more value on that! Not just for the sake of it but also because their perspectives are often more nuanced and what they write about is offering more to the conversation than the same old 4 stock standard white boys, you know?

Emma:
(laughs) over and over again

Possum (Openside):
And I definitely try to do that in my music with talking about the queer experience as much as anything else. And I think that has really translated in to our audiences. Because I think pop punk audiences often were – like there were a lot of queer folk.

Emma:
But especially because a lot of those audiences are teenagers at that really sensitive stage where they are trying to figure out like “is it okay if I wanna be different? Or do I have to put myself in to one of these boxes?”

Possum (Openside):
Totally. And it’s just interesting that even though these bands were so homogenous, the audiences weren’t reflected in that. The audiences were much more diverse so it’s nice to see that changing.

Emma:
Cool! And as a frontwoman, have you ever experienced any discrimination at all? Or any ridiculous things where you feel like you weren’t respected because of who you are? Cuz you’re not a white dude with a dick?

Possum (Openside):
(laughs) One of the things I think about is that my gender effects my experience. It effects the way people interact with me. It effects how my music is received. But also people who are cisgender men, it effects their experience too but they don’t know that it’s happening. So the difference is that people often ask how your gender effects your experience so you’re thinking about it all the time – you’re aware of it. But one of the privileges you have when you’re not a minority is just thinking that it’s not effecting your experience when it is. And that I would just like to see more white people and men and cisgender folk being asked to examine how those things are effecting them.

Emma:
Yeah cuz it’s like positively effecting them – cuz they dont realise the opportunities they get.. they just think that’s the default experience when we experience maybe less-cool stuff. As opposed to thinking no everyone has an experience, but yours is always positive because of who you are.

Possum (Openside):
Yeah! And they think about their struggles, becase you do. You’re gonna focus on the things that disadvantage you more than the things that advantage you – and that’s the whole constant examination of privilege. But I feel like part of making things move forward isn’t just talking about how when you’re a minority – how that effects your experirence – but actually asking for that to be spoken about more widely.

Emma:
So moving forward with your artistry and your band, do you think that you’ll focus more on the queer experience and women’s experience? Do you feel like you have any sort of agenda to communicate that with your audiences or are you just kinda like… it’s not really a thing that crosses your mind?

Possum (Openside):
No, I definitely think about it! Partly when we first started to get a little bit more successful I wasn’t really out yet. And there was a part of me that’s going “okay, i don’t know if i should talk about this” if this is going to compromise some opportunities I’m getting. And you feel scared like “is this label going to want to sign us” or “are people going to be scared of this thing?” especially being non-binary, is quite new to the mainstream, and people don’t know what it is. But then after I did talk about it, and I realised how much of a positive thing that can be for the people who listen to your music. And some people may come up to you and thank you for being ‘out’ and “thank you for wearing the trans symbol on your t-shirt” and what it means to them. You can’t not do that. It’s always gotta be part of it. And why else are we really making music? Like there’s lots of little things but the way you connect with people and the way you help people – the way people helped you when you were listening to music. When you were watching people who were trans, or just be ‘out’ and be confident in who they are and say “okay this is part of me, but it’s not my whole story I’m still this musician and I’m doing my thing and that can be for you as well!”

Going Global and Bigsound Cunt Cakes Good for a Girl

Good for a Girl at Going Global and BIGSOUND!

Going Global and Bigsound totally kicked my ass.

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.

If you recall from my blog post about my story as a woman musician not being controversial enough a couple months back, I vowed to tell the stories of other women’s experiences in the music industry, and by christ, I fucking did it.

And I did it with my #cuntcakes in tow.

Emma Cameron Good for a Girl Going Global and Bigsound

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;

Tali
Anna Laverty
Princess Chelsea
Possum Plows
(Openside)
Lisa Crawley
ECCA VANDAL
Alex Reade (Drown this City)
Hannah Joy (Middle Kids)
Bec Sandridge
Ellie Scrine (Huntly)
Chloe Turner (Listen)
Grace & Jenny (Wet Lips)
and, Caitlin Duff (Manor)

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.

Watch this space!

 

Gisele Marie Niqab Muslim Good For A Girl

Rocking out in Niqab

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.

Rocking Niqab Eden Seed Good For A Girl Gisele Marie Muslim Burka

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.

Sometimes, our western society still tries to police these things in me, also.

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 

Get with the times, hums.

See the world through Gisele Marie’s niqab.

And like she says,

‘be yourself and peace for all’

Meg-White-Good-For-A-Girl-Emma-Cameron

Meg White “Sucking” = Meg White RULING.

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 Emma Cameron Good For a girl

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.

Meg White Drums Emma Cameron Good For a girl

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.)

Meg White Studio Emma Cameron Good For a girl

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

Meg White Drum Emma Cameron Good For a girl

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.

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!

Good for a girl woman amanda palmer regina spektor

(We Can Only Handle) ONE WOMAN AT A TIME PLZ.

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…

Good For A Girl Kermit Sipping Tea Woman

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)

1.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 6.20.44 PM

Pretty sure you just described a band that actually sounds nothing like Paramore. Huh.

……………………….

2.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 6.22.50 PM

Paramore should sound like not-Paramore!!!!!!! Makes total sense.

………………………

3.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 6.25.59 PM

Again, just cause there is a woman singing, doesn’t mean it sounds like Paramore.

………………………

4.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 6.26.37 PM

Believe it or not – i found this one on a Garbage music video.
On one of their songs from the 90s.

………………………

5.

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Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 6.43.35 PM

These two were found on the same video…

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6.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 6.49.16 PM

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;

Good For A Girl Woman Julia Deans

So it seems we can only handle one woman doing one particular thing at a time.

Christ on a bike!

The Runaways Live Good For A Girl Girl Bands

Girl Bands are Fucking Cool

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).

Decades Good For A Girl Girl Bands

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.

The Runaways Good For A Girl Girl Bands

My first touch point with The Runaways was via Joan Jett‘s song “I Love Rock and Roll” – which my Dad showed to me after Britney Spears released her sparkly cover of it to a 11-year-old pop sprogget Emma.

“Listen to the real thing”

Thank god for Dads.

 

…………………………………………

 

2. The Donnas

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.

The Donnas Good For A Girl Girl Bands

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)

 

…………………………………………

 

3. Warpaint

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.

Warpaint Good For A Girl Gil Bands

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.

Blue Ruin NZ Band Good For A Girl Girl Bands

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).

What I Don't Know About Patti Smith Good For A Girl Emma Cameron

What I Don’t Know About Patti Smith

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

Patti Smith Good For A Girl Emma Cameron

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

Patti Smith Good For A Girl Art Photography

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.”

–Patti Smith

Sold.

 

3.  She is a social and political activist

Patti Smith in an Iran War Protest, NYC 1975 Good For A Girl
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.

Patti Smith Good For A Girl

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.

The Songs and Words of Patti Smith; A Women's Centre Fundraiser

If you’re in Christchurch on Thursday 28th July, do come to The Songs and Words of Patti Smith; A Women’s Centre Fundraiser where I will be performing her song, Dancing Barefoot, and making my first foray in to publicly jamming with musicians that aren’t Liam, Dan and Curtis as part of the house band for the night!

Buy Tickets Here

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.

good for a girl blog girls that shred header

Girls That Shred: Guitar

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.

Fig 1. You. After You’ve Listened to these Girls that Shred.

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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.

Jennifer Batten Good For A Girl Girls That Shred

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).

 

2) Orianthi

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 with Carlos Santana when she was 18! Can’t deal. This girl has incredible talent.

Orianthi Good For A Girl Girls that shred

Image: Alice Cooper thinks she’s alright, too.

Orianthi, like Jennifer, also has 3 studio albums, but she is also a pretty solid vocalist and writes her own songs. Check ’em out: Violet Journey (2007),  Believe (2009), and Heaven in this Hell (2013)

 

3) LITA FORD

Can we all just take a moment for this short 80s-dream of a clip? In the 70s, Lita Ford was 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.

Lita Ford Good For A Girl Girls that shred

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 Di is 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.

Sophia Di Girls That Shred Good For A Girl

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.

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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:

Good For a Girl women-led bands Emma Cameron

5 Women-Led Bands I’m Digging Right Now

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.

Courtney Barnett Good For A Girl 5 Women-Led Bands I'm Digging Right Now

Listen to Courtney Barnett on Spotify

 

2) Marmozets (Becca MacIntyre)

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.

Becca MacIntyre Good For A Girl 5 Women-Led Bands I'm Digging Right Now

Listen to Marmozets on Spotify

 

3) The Joy Formidable (Ritzy Bryan)

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!

Ritzy Bryan Good For A Girl 5 Women-Led Bands I'm Digging Right Now

Listen to The Joy Formidable on Spotify

 

4) St. Vincent

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.

St Vincent Good For A Girl 5 Women-Led Bands I'm Digging Right Now

Listen to St. Vincent on Spotify

 

5) Middle Kids (Hannah ??????)

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!

Middle Kids Hannah Good For A Girl 5 Women-Led Bands I'm Digging Right Now

Listen to Middle Kids on Spotify

 

Well, that’s it! 5 fucking great women-led bands I’m digging right now – I hope you discover some new music that you fall in love with here.

What women-led rock bands are you in to at the moment? Please post ’em in the comments so I can discover some new ones!

Emma Cameron Good for A girl Blog Scandal

“We Want Scandal”

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.”

Emma Cameron Good For A Girl Sexism Meryl Streep The Devil Wears Prada

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 by contacting me.

 

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.

The Morning Rumble: Periods are Metal. Period.

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.

emma cameron good for a girl periods are metal kill bill blood bath

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?

emma cameron good for a girl periods are metal the shining blood gif

NOT PREGNANT!

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.

emma cameron good for a girl periods are metal satan blood

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.

My Pre-Show Rituals

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t know? However long I’ve got.

“How many outfits do you bring on tour?”

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

“How do you avoid getting sweaty?”

Emma Cameron Good For a Girl Shelley Te Haara Sweaty Decades

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Cameron Good For a Girl Bradley Garner Sweaty Decades

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

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

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

7. I take at least 3 shits
Yup.

 

 

The Damsel In Distress

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

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

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

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

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

Good For A Girl Emma Cameron Blog Smelly Microphone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good For A Girl Singing Passion

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

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

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

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

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

“Aw, nice one love, plug it in”

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

“Wait – no no what is that”

[me, very proud and confident]

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIP Microphone.

AGFAG: Annabel Liddell

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

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

Miss June Annabel Liddel Good For A Girl

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

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

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

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

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

Simply put, they fucking kicked ass.

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

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

Annabel Liddell Miss June Georgia Schofield

Annabel being a badass goddess. Photo by Georgia Schofield

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

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

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

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

She made the music video herself as well.

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

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

 

 

 

 

NO GIRLS ALLOWED.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Cameron Good For a Girl Fender Stratocaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Cameron Good For a Girl Decades Ashei Throwback

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

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

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

 

 

Which one is your boyfriend?

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

“Liam… he’s your boyfriend, right?”

“Is he your boyfriend?”

“And is Liam your boyfriend?”

“Which one is your boyfriend again?”

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

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

The Beatles and Yoko Ono 1969

WHY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma Watson Harry Potter Rupert Grint Daniel Radcliffe Kiss Incest

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

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

WE ALL KNOW WHAT WENT DOWN IN FLEETWOOD MAC.

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

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

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

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

AGFAG: Possum Plows

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

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

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

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

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

openside possum plows band

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

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

My god can this girl write a pop tune.

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

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

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

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

Openside Possum Plows Shave Head Worth It

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring it on.