by Maddy Siiter
INTERVIEWER: “So, what’s it like being a girl in a band?”
ME: *Clears throat, shifts in seat, a thick fog of discomfort rolls in from the distance* “Like, the same I guess?”
In some ways, yes, but in other ways, no.
My dream response to this question would go something like this:
“I mean, it is different, but not in a good way. Are you writing this down? I get strange looks from the bartender when I walk in. The guys around me stand awkwardly and offer to help me carry my gear. Instead of getting attention for my skill and talent, people care more about what I’m wearing. There’s a critic standing in the corner who has more scribbles on his notepad about how stringy my hair has gotten in 45 minutes under these stage lights than what I’m getting paid to do here. Apparently people care that I’m wearing a dress.”
*Same discomfort washes over a now pale-faced reporter*
*Takes another breath*
“Right before I start a sad song, I contemplate mentioning that the guy in my band helped me write it, that way I won’t be looked at as over-sensitive. Everyone loves boys who talk about their feelings. When I launch into an angry song, people get surprised and ask why I’m so mad, like they forget I have a reason. Sometimes I forget I have a reason. But yeah, I guess it’s pretty much the same. The male musicians I know definitely go through all that too.”
Maybe that answer exists somewhere, but I haven’t heard it enough for the question to stop being asked.
Having the perspective of both a young music journalist and female musician, the only way I could see an appropriate time to ask this question is if the journalist was going to print that exact response.
By asking this question it’s almost as if you’re implying you don’t want to change the fact the majority of the music industry is still a “Dude’s Only Club.”
For whatever reason, people like to jump to the label of “girl group” with any female band, which seems to unnecessarily and immediately dispel any substance or seriousness to their name.
Newsflash: “girl group” isn’t a bad word. In its basic sense, girl groups exist everywhere: groups of girls playing music. But what is implied is that lack of substance–that women are oddities in music, to be spoken and written about in a searching way, “There’s a woman on stage…but…why? What do you think she’s going to do up there? Is she going to cry or yell at us?”
Remember that time you heard a song and it overtook your body? Everything that musician–male or female, was saying in that exact moment seemed to stop time, rip your heart out and kick you in the stomach? These experiences are so rare, and even more so when the potential for them are being wasted on taking note of physical appearances.
I don’t take into consideration the looks of Elena Tonra when I’m reliving all my heartaches listening to Daughter. When I’m screaming to Bruise Violet’s Survival of the Prettiest in my car, I don’t care what they’re going to wear on stage at their sold-out Mainroom show at First Ave. I care how they make me feel. I care that they have the power to make me feel anything at all.