CAN YOU DEAL YET?
White Lung are a Canadian punk rock band who formed in 2006 with Mish Way-Barber as their vocalist, Kenneth William on guitar, and Anne-Marie Vassiliou on drums. Their first album, It’s the Evil (2010), was released on Deranged Records. Bassist Caroline Doyle joined the band in 2016.
Patty Schemel rose to prominence as the drummer of Courtney Love’s band Hole from 1992-1998. In 2013, Schemel joined the indie rock group Upset, formed by Ali Koehler, previously of Vivian Girls and Best Coast.
While studying at University of Oregon, zine writer Allison Wolfe met Molly Neuman and together they formed Bratmobile, some of the first members in the riot grrrl scene. Bratmobile released their first full-length album, Pottymouth (1992) on Kill Rock Stars, an Olympia-based record label.
Formally the bassist for folk rock band Leopold & His Fiction, Micayla Grace now plays for the punk rock band Bleached. Their most recent EP Can You Deal? (2017) deals with the complexities of being female musicians in a male-dominated industry.
Bay Area band Wax Idols originally started as Hether Fortune’s solo project, and expanded to include Marisa Prietto, Rachel Travers and Peter Lightning. Their latest single “Everybody Gets What They Want” was released through Etruscan Gold (2016).
Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Tegan Quin is one half of Tegan and Sara, a Canadian indie pop band, with her identical twin sister Sara Quin. Both sisters are openly gay and active members of the LGBT community. The duo have released eight studio albums and numerous EPs.
Before starting her own project, Alicia Bognanno interned at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studios in Chicago. She recorded demos of her own material there before relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, where she formed Bully. The band’s debut album, Feels Like (2015), was recorded live in only a handful of takes.
Formerly known as Deers, Madrid indie rock band Hinds formed in 2011, and consists of Carlotta Cosials (vocals, guitar), Ana Perrote (vocals, guitar), Ade Martin (bass, backing vocals) and Amber Grimbergen (drums). They have released one album, one compilation LP and four singles.
Liz Phair is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. Her 1993 debut studio album Exile in Guyville was released to acclaim, it has ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Melissa Jefferson, better known as Lizzo, is an alternative hip-hop artist who founded the indie hip-hop groups The Chalice, Grrrl Prty, The Clerb, Ellypseas and Absynthe. Time included her in their list of 14 music artists to watch in 2014. Coconut Oil was her first EP off the major label Atlantic Records. (2016)
LA-based band FEELS was started by Laena Geronimo, born out of her previous project, Raw Geronimo. Their self-titled debut LP (2016) was produced by Ty Segall and showcases the band’s raw, frenetic punk energy.
Hayley Williams is the lead vocalist and primary songwriter of Paramore. The band’s second album, Riot! (2007), was a mainstream success and certified Platinum in the US, with hit singles including “Misery Business,” “Crushcrushcrush,” and “That’s What You Get.” Paramore received a Best New Artist nomination at the 2008 Grammy Awards.
Bethany Cosentino is the singer, songwriter and guitarist of Best Coast, which she formed in Los Angeles in 2009 with Bobb Bruno. The band’s debut LP, Crazy for You (2010), was described as “striking the perfect balance between reverb-drenched vocals and classic California pop hooks.”
English-born singer, songwriter Kate Nash’s debut album, Made of Bricks (2007), peaked at number one in the UK. In April 2011, Nash announced the launch of her own record label, Have 10p Records. Nash appears in the new Netflix series GLOW.
Matt & Kim are an indie electronic duo from Brooklyn, New York. The group formed in 2004 and consists of Matt Johnson (vocals and keyboards) and Kim Schifino (drums). The duo is known for its upbeat dance music and energetic live shows. Since they started performing together in 2004, they have released five studio albums.
California-based band The Aquadolls were founded by lead vocalist Melissa Brooks in 2012. The band is comprised of Brooks, Ryan Frailich, Jacob Brown and Bella Devroede. Their debut album Stoked on You (2014) was released by Burger Records.
JD Samson is a musician, producer, songwriter and DJ best known as a member of the bands Le Tigre and MEN, which Samson started as a queer art collective. She also co-founded the performance art group Dykes Can Dance. Samson joined Le Tigre in 2000 and recorded and released Feminist Sweepstakes with the band.
After playing drums for both Best Coast and Vivian Girls, Ali Koehler went on to form the band Upset. The lineup consists of Ali Koehler (guitar, lead vocals), Patty Schemel (drums), Lauren Freeman (lead guitar) and Rachel Gagliardi (bass, vocals). Their debut album She’s Gone (2013) was released on Don Giovanni Records.
Julien Baker is a musician and guitarist from Memphis, Tennessee. She is a member of the alternative rock band Forrister. Her debut solo album Sprained Ankle (2015) was met with critical and commercial acclaim, and in 2017 she signed to Matador Records.
Mish Way (White Lung): Being a woman plays a role in my communication with the world, but not my capabilities when it comes to the music itself. Gender does and does not matter. And for now, that discrepancy somehow is keeping me sane.
Patty Schemel (Upset, Hole): Drumming is a bloodsport, like boxing. It’s not for wimps. Part of developing the necessary stamina is to teach yourself to play through pain, something that women do particularly well. We labor and give birth… Some people tape their fingers and ice their knuckles, but I prefer to let it bleed.
Allison Wolfe (Sex Stains, Bratmobile): We live in a sexist society that is highly gendered, and my way of dealing with and confronting that reality has been to highlight my experiences specifically as a woman in music—to own it and embrace it.
I think it’s more radical to not try to be “one of the guys,” but to set our own standards and uplift our own teen girl bedroom scenes, for example. Instead of breaking into the all-boy clubhouse, I’d rather invite the girls over for kool-aid at my house.
“It feels weird to say that a woman playing music
is an act of resistance in itself.”
— Cecilia Della Peruti
“Riot grrrl” and “girl band” are not musical genres. Many ‘90s female musicians who didn’t identify as riot grrrls got lumped into that label by lazy, unimaginative journalists… The media was happy to tokenize female musicians and pit our bands against each other, acting like there wasn’t enough room for all of us in our variety.
Micayla Grace (Bleached): I love the saying “feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”… I don’t want to focus on the oppression so many women have suffered through the ages and the sexism we still encounter as an incurable disease; I see it as a guitar we are still tuning. So yeah, I’m optimistic, but it’s gonna take a lot more work and the best way to honor this legacy of women being considered equals is by being an example.
Marisa Prietto (Wax Idols): “The thing is, Marisa, you’re going to have to play harder and be better, and it’s because you’re a girl, I’m sorry.”
Tegan Quin (Tegan and Sara): With more success came more respect. Sort of. Rarely do we see anything quite so blatantly sexist as calling us “Tampon Rock” (Pitchfork) or disturbingly homophobic as “pretty good even if they do hate cock” (NME). But it happens print, and everyday on social media.
As women in music it seems we HAVE to be categorized in the headline. Even now. Our gender, our sexuality, our looks — all of it has to be defined, indexed, reduced, and brought to attention before the music is ever even mentioned. If it’s mentioned at all.
Liz Phair: “Little girls should be seen and not heard.” I remember someone telling me this dictum at my uncle’s holiday party when I was four or five years old…I didn’t know what was so objectionable about a little girl’s voice, but it was clearly a powerful, disruptive weapon that I was in possession of.
There’s a reason I wrote my first songs quietly, in my bedroom. Seen and not heard is still the most popular role for a woman to play.
For a woman to lead, for her to speak her mind loudly, in front of people, is still radical. STILL?? Yes, still, in 2017. Probably until 2185. So settle in and lend a shoulder because this boulder we’re pushing uphill is fucking heavy.
Lizzo: Q: “WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A WOMAN IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?”
A: I DON’T HAVE A DICK.
Laena Geronimo (FEELS): Girl band. “Girl” to modify the definition of “band.” What is a girl band anyways? I realize that most people don’t consider what they are saying when it just rolls off the tongue in such a familiar way. Aside from the click provoking efforts or maybe just sheer laziness of many music journalists, I hear people whom I respect say it all the time.
“Many ‘90s female musicians who didn’t identify as riot grrrls got lumped into that label by lazy, unimaginative journalists… The media was happy to tokenize female musicians and pit our bands against each other, acting like there wasn’t enough room for all of us in our variety.”
— Allison Wolfe
People say it to me, often sandwiched into something intended to be a compliment, without blinking an eye. I cringe every time. Sometimes I ask who their favorite “boy band” is, if I’m in the mood to risk pissing someone off… it’s funny when you flip the table, it sounds so ridiculous. That’s because it is.
I make music. I don’t make girl music. FEELS is not a girl band. We are a band. Gender plays absolutely zero role in a person’s ability to play any instrument, write songs, freak out on stage, or any other aspect of being in a band. I personally feel that art itself is beyond gender or race or sexual orientation or any other physical/social identity. It is fluid, limitless and free roaming, without walls, ceilings or floors. It is a shape shifting mirror, for everyone to relate to in their own personal way.
There is literally nothing especially amazing about girls, or women, being passionate about making art. There is no inherent physical handicap being overcome, no gender-centric obstacle conquered which deserves special recognition…I refuse to participate in the special Olympics of music, in a sub-category small pool where the rules are different and the bar standard has been adjusted to be easier to surmount, in order to compensate for some imaginary affliction that I and all other women uniquely share.
Hayley Williams (Paramore): When the band started touring, I was embarrassed that every review we got back only had to do with me. Fleeting moments of acceptance were quickly followed by bigger waves of shame. Why couldn’t people just forget I was a girl? Why did it matter if I was? I didn’t feel particularly female, nor male, when I was on stage. Deep down, I think I was beginning to realize something profound about music, which is still the truth today: Music is bigger (and better) than gender.
It took me a while to realize that my microphone was powerful. It took me even longer to realize that in my own femininity, there was also power. Never did it occur to me that seeing a female behind a microphone could be seen as a threat. The funniest part of all of it was that on the outside I had that power but on the inside, I was still figuring out how to use it… and not always gracefully.
“There’s a reason I wrote my first songs quietly,
in my bedroom. Seen and not heard is still
the most popular role for a woman to play…
For a woman to lead,
for her to speak her mind loudly,
in front of people,
is still radical.”
— Liz Phair
What I wish I had known back then was how little it all had to do with me. Any sexist article or misogynistic remark thrown at me from a crowd—none of it was because of me. There was a social myopia plaguing our music scene. My problem was the way I was internalizing it as truth.
At some point, I realized that whether or not I could change the whole game, I had to change the way that I existed within it. So, I stopped apologizing for being female and started accepting all the power and responsibility that comes along with it.
Bethany Cosentino (Best Coast): Yes I AM a woman! and I have a lot to say… “What is it like to be a woman in a band?” How do I even answer that? “Being a woman in a band is just like being a man in a band except you have to explain that you’re a woman in a band every single day.”
“I was beginning to realize something
profound about music,
which is still the truth today:
Music is bigger (and better) than gender.”
— Hayley Williams
Kate Nash: I have been called an angry lesbian, a diva and a psycho bitch. I’ve been told to go stick a bomb up my cunt and explode, I’ve been assaulted at shows, I’ve been mocked for writing like a teenage girl writing in her diary, I’ve had rape and death threats online, I’ve been called “everything that’s wrong with music distilled into one slag,” I’ve been told “we’ve come a long way,” I’ve been told to stop playing instruments, to stop doing that “screamy thing where you sound like a little girl,” I’ve been asked “have you been a naughty girl?” I’ve been told not to be so angry.