Bleached is a Los Angeles-based band comprised of frontwoman Jennifer Clavin and guitarist Jessica Clavin, formerly of Mika Miko, bassist Micayla Grace, formerly of Leopold & His Fiction, and drummer Nick Pillot. The group has released the studio albums Ride Your Heart (2013) and Welcome the Worms (2016) via Dead Oceans. Their EPs include Francis, Carter and Searching Through the Past b/w Electric Chair.
Formed in Los Angeles in 2003, Mika Miko released 10 recordings, including EPs, tapes and full albums, and was known for their frenetic live shows. The band was comprised of Victor Fandgore (Jennifer Clavin), Jet Blanca (Jenna Thornhill), Michelle Suarez, Jessica Clavin and Jon Erik Edrosa. The group broke up in 2009, and the Clavin sisters went on to form Bleached in 2011.
Cecilia Della Peruti
A Los Angeles-based musician, Cecilia Della Peruti fronts the band Gothic Tropic. She has released Awesome Problems EP (2011) and the recent full-length Fast or Feast (2017), recorded in LA with Devendra Banhart and Electric Guest’s Todd Dahlhoff. Peruti has also toured with bands including Børns, Charlie XCX and Night Terrors of 1927.
Can You Deal?
A 2017 zine compiled by musician Jennifer Clavin of Bleached. In a series of essays, images and personal accounts, artists share their experiences of their female gender defining other people’s narrative of their art. www.canyoudealzine.com
A hardcore punk band from Huntington Beach, California, F-Minus was formed in 1995 by Jen Johnson and Brad Logan, though the lineup changed before the band’s breakup in 2004. F-Minus released four albums including Self Titled (1999), Suburban Blight (2001), Wake Up Screaming (2003) and Won’t Bleed Me / Failed Society (2005), as well as six EPs.
Inspired by the punk shows they saw growing up in Los Angeles, Jennifer Clavin and her sister Jessica founded their first band, Mika Miko, in 2003. As the group gained popularity and played energy-infused live shows, Clavin realized that instead of interviews focused on their music, the press asked various forms of one question: “What’s it like to be a girl in a band?” This treatment of gender over art indicated that being female and in a band—or worse, in an all-female band—was an act or some sort of protest instead of what it actually was: musicians making music together.
The Clavin sisters now front Bleached, which they founded in 2011, and after 14 successful years releasing albums, playing shows and making Billboard charts, they still hear variations of that same question. This year, they released their sophomore album Welcome the Worms, which Clavin describes as her most challenging, emotionally deep record to date. If Clavin was tired of hearing these types of gender-based, beside-the-point questions, she thought her female contemporaries must be as well. She reached out to them—a prolific, powerful group of musicians including both newcomers like Julien Baker and Hinds and industry veterans like Allison Wolfe (Sex Stains, Bratmobile) and L7. Their responses are compiled in Can You Deal?, Clavin’s recent zine which protests simplistic “girl band” journalism and speaks out against how females are treated in the music industry. Following the 2017 election, Clavin has also been active politically, releasing a set of acoustic covers for purchase via Bandcamp and donating the proceeds to Planned Parenthood.
In the sort of interview she’d like to see more often, Clavin talks with her friend and fellow musician Cecilia Della Peruti of Gothic Tropic about Can You Deal? and shares her essay that kicked off the zine.
Cecilia Della Peruti: So, when did you start playing music and writing songs? Who inspired you to pick up an instrument?
Jennifer Clavin: I started playing music in ninth grade, I think. My dad had guitars around the house that he made himself and my mom was a singer. We would go to these family barbecues, and they would be the band that would perform for everybody.
“When I found punk in high school,
I was like, ‘Woah, this is so cool.
My parents will not approve of this.”
— Jennifer Clavin
CDP: Our parents’ generation called those “hootenannies.”
JC: Oh my God, so my parents are hootenannies. So many jam sessions. I feel like I was always listening to whatever music they were doing, so when I found punk in high school, I was like, “Woah, this is so cool. My parents will not approve of this.” My sister Jessie and I would go to like two shows a week or every weekend—whatever band was playing at The Showcase or The Glass House.
CDP: Did you grow up in coastal regions?
JC: No, in the valley—Northridge. But we would drive until we got to The Glass House or The Showcase in Corona. I remember seeing a lot of older bands like The Attics or The Rezillos or Subhumans. One time we saw this band F-Minus play. I’d been going to shows every weekend and for some reason seeing them both onstage made me think, “Wait. Why don’t my sister and I have a band?” Jessie was already playing bass heavily at that point. I remember trying to play bass a little bit, and that’s when I decided I should pick up a guitar, since they were laying around my house, and learn to play so me and Jessie could be in a band together. We had our friends singing. So basically we started playing music to be able to be in a band. It was seeing F-Minus that made me decide to pick up an instrument, and I always wonder that it must have been because there were women on stage.
CDP: Do you feel like seeing F-Minus and having an early real-life example of women playing instruments was an invitation to do it yourself?
JC: Yeah, totally. It seemed like something that I could actually achieve. I’ve never taken a class to learn an instrument, so it’s weird that I got this idea like, “I think I can do that too,” just by seeing a woman on stage.
CDP: So when you started, did you ever recognize any sexism at that age and do any experiences come to mind?
JC: I think about this question a lot. I always wonder how much sexism I experienced and how much of it was me not being confident in myself. When I would go to shows like, I remember a guy grabbed me.
CDP: Did you realize at that time that it was maybe worse than you thought?
Because I remember brushing it off easily for no other reason than, “Oh, it’s normal.”