Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Exclusive: A Moment With Trish Bendix!

Afterellen.com's music blogger Trish Bendix has kept me up to date for some time now with her column "Soundcheck" on the site. She's interviewed Missy Higgins and Tegan Quin, two of my favorite people (and yours)! So I was honored when she agreed to answer a few questions for me. I really didn't need an introduction, after you read this interview you will see why I wanted to interview her and why she's one of the coolest people....ever. YEP.

How did you begin working for Afterellen.com? Was this before or after you started "The L Blog"?

I started writing for AfterEllen as a freelancer, covering music. Eventually, I started the music column, SoundCheck, and when ScribeGrrrl left the position of Blog Editor, the powers that be asked if I'd be interested in working for the site full time. The L Blog started after, for Chicago lesbians, separate from AE.

As a music blogger you have to cover a number of genres to please your readers. What kind of music are you actually into though?

I really do like most kinds of music, or at least some artists in each genre. I find, though, that my favorites are those that are more eclectic and mix genres, usually bands that have a pop edge to whatever kind of music they are actually making: folk-pop, dance-pop, indie-pop and hip-hop and R&B, which are just innately filled with some pop. I go through phases, sometimes, and right now I've been really into the country-tinged alt-rock like Brandi Carlile and Neko Case. My girlfriend (an addmittedly huge metal head) and I are really into Jace Everett's album, too - he sings the twangy theme song for "True Blood," which I think sparked the latest obsession.

You've done SO MANY interviews and articles over the years, is there one in particular that sticks out in your mind?

I once interviewed Missy Higgins backstage before a concert after watching her do a soundcheck. She had just recently come out as bisexual, and I was glad to get her to open up about my favorite song, "Secret," of hers, which was about dating a closeted girl. Tegan, of course, is a great interview, and that's because she's not afraid to answer anything. Molly Siegel of the Baltimore indie band Ponytail was really refreshingly honest and laidback, and both gay women of The Gossip (Hannah and Beth) were awesome. It was right before they blew up huge and were playing a tiny venue in Chicago. Beth was eating chocolate cake and bought me a coffee. Oh, and Sia right after she inadvertently came out in a UK gay men's mag.

Can you name three people that you want to interview that you haven't yet?

I'm hoping to get an interview with Brandi Carlile ASAP and would also love to talk with Carrie Brownstein and Joan Jett. Probably Sam Ronson, too, because she's been thrown into this crazy position of high-profile lez and I bet she'd be an interesting interview.

How do you feel about "Women In Rock" features/articles (and things of that nature)?

Ah, such a loaded topic. In general, I do not think they turn out to be much more than "These women are great - for women!" It would be a wonderful world if we didn't have to have specific issues dedicated to women because they had equal coverage everywhere else. The same could be said for lesbians: We have AfterEllen.com because we need it.

In my opinion this has been a great record release year (at least for indie rock). I haven't found myself listening to so much current music in years. Could you tell us a few of your favorites so far?

Some of my recent gay faves: Telepathe - "Dance Mother," Brandi Carlile - "Give Up the Ghost," The Gossip - "Music for Men," Tegan and Sara - "Sainthood" and Dance Yourself to Death's debut. Despite being semi-closeted, I'll also say Lissy Trullie's been a mainstay. I also love Ladyhawke and Little Boots, both rumored gays but otherwise, just really awesome musicians.

My blog is all about indie music/bands (for the most part). Are there any indie bands you think people should be aware of? Perhaps some local Chicago acts?

Chicago is lucky enough to have two great indie bands with lesbians in them: Bound Stems, The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir. We also have an awesome lesbian rapper named Psalm One who is on the Rhymesayers label with Atmosphere and some other hot MCs.

Favorite Sleater-Kinney song/record? (Oh you so knew that was coming)

Album: One Beat, Song: Jumpers - it used to be my ringtone

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brooke Svanes: The Beat Speaks

On March 15, 2009 I met Brooke Svanes (and the rest of Sick of Sarah, but let’s focus). It was the best night of my life. I mean I’d been blown away by Brooke’s drumming via Youtube for some time at that point. I mean I’ve seen her drum on storage containers, sofas, trash cans…etc. To see her live is amazing. She hardly moves her head when she drums, the only thing that moves is her hands (at what speed? I don’t even know! FAST!). She’s so meticulous. If she wasn’t drumming so loud I think we could hear her keeping time in her head. She’s quite a fascinating individual. She’s a quiet individual (mostly) and it’s my honor to present to you what I’m sure will be one of few interviews throughout Svanes’ career. How did I get so lucky???

So I've heard a couple times now that you started drumming when you were 10. That's really young. How old were you when you joined your first band?

I joined my first band at age 14? We were called the menstrual tramps. I totally thought I was genius because I thought of the name in 9th grade physical science class. But then found out that was already the name of a Minneapolis band. Ha. Other bands I played in were: Disrespectfully Yours, The Pseudonyms, Bootleg, Vertigo, The Pink Slips. All through high school.

Who were you're biggest influences?

I was super influenced by bands like Motley Crue, Firehouse, Saigon Kick, and Guns n Roses at the young age of 5. I had older brothers so I would get really addicted to their music. I was always wearing headphones and listening to my little cassette tapes. Like constantly. It was my escape really. And then I got into bands like Nirvana, Garbage and Hole. That's when I met my friend Elija, who basically runs the ND music scene. And he lent me Sleater-Kinney's self-titled album and Bikini Kill's CD version of the first two records. From there I started listening to all sorts of bands, like The Third Sex, Team Dresch, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, Sarge, Unwound, Bangs, Minor Threat even! haha...

How do you come up with your beats? Could you take us through that process?

I've always been obsessed with numbers and counting (praise OCD here...lol) and so I just always kind of hear beats in my head. I might hear a drumbeat I like and then sort of elaborate upon it and make it my own, as it is impossible not to be influenced by music one listens to, I think.

You're a bit more reserved than the rest of the band. I guess drummers have a reputation for being kinda crazy. Do you find that people are surprised at how cool and laid-back you are?

Well, I think that being crazy is sort of a prerequisite to being a drummer. I mean, we like to hit things. A lot. But yes, I am a more introverted person by nature. Though I'm also a Gemini, so there are many different facets to my personality. I am a pretty private person. Laid-back? Depends on the day and what I'm on. haha...

Is there a specific venue you want to play that you guys haven't yet?

I'd love to play the main-room at First Avenue in Minneapolis.

Sick of Sarah has accomplished a lot in a short period of time. Could you offer some advice to any young aspiring female musicians?

Advice? Keep practicing. Don't let anyone try and dictate to you what you should be playing or how. I mean, suggestions are rad, and we all need help, but in musician world, there are a lot of egos floating around and people who like to call the shots. Just play, and be open to constructive criticism. Let it inspire you. Play to get better. Play to get it out of you, because you have to. Play for the right reasons.

Photo Credit: Amber McDonald

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Correne Spero: 'A Thinking Girl's Hero'

Correne Spero pictured center

I'm a big Lucky Bitch fan and an even bigger (slightly obsessive) Northern State fan-most importantly, a Spero fan. So I was beyond stoked when you unveiled your new project, Paperwork. First off, where did the name come from?

Oh heyyy Janay-nay! Umm, the name Paperwork just sort of made sense to me, I guess because being in Northern State for 10 years there was a LOT of administration and paperwork associated with that band..because we basically do everything ourselves, we have self-managed for about 8 of our 10 years and sometimes it felt like I was drowning in desk-work, when the whole point of being in a band was to..be in a band. But the rest of it is all a very necessary evil. But I kind of just wanted this little Paperwork project to be like the antithesis to that. I wanted it to be all about the songs and the music and not at all about the business or "admin" side of things. So I named it Paperwork..like to remind me of that or something? Does that make sense?

I've only heard a few tracks so far. I really like what I hear, it's definitely different from your previous work in LB and NS. I had a hard time placing it in one genre, which made me like it more. How would you categorize Paperwork?

aperwork is sort of my dub country punk project. I think of it as my Southern Rock album. Cuz every girl needs one of those...right? But with some reggae and country thrown in and a little punk edge. When I put up more songs, I think you'll see what I mean? I hope? maybe?

You mentioned on your Myspace that some songs were written over 10 years ago. Did those songs in particular require a lot of re-working or did you stick to the original sound?

Yeah, we basically just stuck to the original thing that was going on with those songs. They are kind of straightforward country/rock songs. The funny thing is I recorded some of them (like BK'00 which is one of the ones up on www.myspace.com/paperworknyc) back before Northern State started on my old 4 track ,and now I don't even have a cassette player, so I had no way to listen to them and remember how they go before I went to record them in Little Rock. Technology has changed, Janay! I was really feelin my age! But it all came back to me once I was down in Little Rock. It was cool to record words I had written so long ago, it was like they made more sense to me now more than ever. But now I am thinking about the lyrics in a totally different way. It was cool to check in with the 10 years younger version of myself and see if she still made sense to me, and if I was still pickin up what she was throwin down - and I definitely was.

Since there are songs over a decade old, does that mean that you initially set out to be a solo artist before things took off with Northern State?

Not exactly. I went to Audio Engineering School before Northern State formed, and I was very focused about wanting to be a musician. And I was writing songs and recording them in my bedroom and stuff. But I wasn't dreaming of being a 'solo artist' so to speak. I think when Northern State came along I was really psyched to join a band and be a part of something with other people. It gave me a focus and the three of us together had an energy that was really inspiring to me and more fun than the old 4 track-alone in the bedroom thing.

Are you still working with Lucky Bitch at the moment?

We're not doing anything right this moment, but we played a show this past summer and we may play another one later this fall. Lucky Bitch is just like a really loose supergroup of bitches who luv to rock..who can blame us? But we record and rehearse and play REALLY sporadically. We don't all live in the same city so it makes it kind of hard to be like a high-functioning band. Lucky Bitch is really just about fun - it's like instead of getting together with your girls for dinner and drinks we get together for rehearsal and drinks..or play a show..it's really awesome to play with those girls and it's really cool that it's such a low pressure gig, I enjoy being one of 6 in that band..I can kind of just hide in the corner on some songs, or behind the drums. I can sing a Lita Ford cover (and I do). Anything goes. It rocks.

Will you be touring in support of this project soon?

Right now I am just focusing on finishing recording this Paperwork album, I am hoping to have all the recording done by the end of this year..and then maybe I'll think about playing some shows. I am actually kinda shy about playing shows, especially in a situation where there is more emphasis on me..I feel better with Sprout and Hesta or the Lucky Bitches on stage with me.I'm sure if you've seen me on stage with Northern State, you probably wouldn't get that, but it's true. But I am having a really good time recording this Paperwork album with some good friends, so if they would be up for playing some shows with me, I think I'd be into it, as long as the live show felt more like a band thing..which is basically what the album is turning out to be anyway..it's like a band with a revolving door and a few amazing key players.

Speaking of touring, is there a place you've dreamed of touring but haven't had a chance to yet?

YES! Little Rock! Northern State has never played there. Also Memphis, I can't remember but I don't think we've ever played there either..maybe some places like Athens, GA..and we haven't played Nashville properly in a long time so I'd be psyched to play there..As you can see I have a bit of a fascination with the South. Or maybe the Florida Keys? Do some Jimmy Buffet covers?

Northern State formed almost 10 years ago, in that time at some point Lucky Bitch also formed and now you have Paperwork. Has music always been it for you, I mean have you ever wanted to do anything else?

Yes, music has been it for me since I was pretty young..But I'd say music and trying doing something positive in the world besides music are my twin loves. In college (at Oberlin) I was a Women's Studies major and kind of a super feminist activist on campus. Activism and working for positive change has always been really important to me, and that's something I recently decided I wanted to dedicate myself to a little more again. I missed it. I can't ever imagine not creating music- but eventually it just starts to feel kind of lame to me to always be asking people to come see your band, buy your merch, buy your cd..I start to feel like..who cares? It's all very necessary stuff, especially if you are trying to make a living off your music like Northern State has been fortunate enough to be able to do over the years. But I don't care if you are the Rolling Stones, at the end of the day, your band is a little bit stupid, you know?

Sooooo.. recently I have been working a bit with immigrant populations in NYC - helping them learn English, go to college, become citizens, etc.. I grew up very aware of the story and hard work of my great grandparents, my grandparents, and my parents. It's because of them that I've had an education and the ability to follow my dream and be a musician and travel the world. I'm living a life my great grandparents probably could not have imagined. So this kind of work really rewarding for me.

I also have this kind of crazy dream of being in local politics someday, maybe pull a Sonny Bono, oh heyyy! Touring and campaigning are basically the exact same thing anyway..But I want to just be like grandfathered into local office without actually having to run for anything and have my head on signs or anything. Can you arrange that, Janay?

That's it! Hope it's short enough. You're so awesome for doing this. I really am a huge fan. Thank you so much!

Aww Janay, you're a doll, me and the Northern State gals all appreciate your support so much. You are obviously a lady of discriminating and dare I say fabulous taste, and we feel very fortunate to know you..thanks again for the opportunity to talk about my little Paperwork project.



Thursday, October 1, 2009

Get Tegan & Sara On Canadian Radio & Don't Be So Canadian About It!

So tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow Tegan & Sara's first single off their upcoming, highly anticipated (as proven by a recent poll in which it beat out Weezer's Raditude for most anticipated October release...JUST saying...), record Sainthood, hits Canadian radio. The track is called "Hell" and is a guaranteed pop/rock hit. That is if it can get proper rotation.
The purpose of this is NOT to make TnS mainstream, simply to get good music on the radio, Tegan & Sara just so happen to fit the bill. So below I'm going to list some radio contact information for you guys to utilize in the never-ending fight to get Tegan & Sara what they deserve. But this isn't just for them, you should fight for other indie bands you love to get more air play too- I mean on one of these station's websites their flash was pictures of Miley Cyrus, Jonas Bros and Akon....do ANY of you even listen to these people!?

And you don't have to be Canadian to call and request or inquire about the song. Radio stations play a song based on how many requests they get for it, so keep that in mind.

89x (Windsor)

99.3 Fox (Vancouver)

Main Switchboard: 604-684-7221

100.3 The Q (Victoria)

Hot 103 (Winnipeg)
Studio: 204-788-WINS
Switchboard: 204-944-1031

Hot 89.9 (Ottawa)

91x (91.0?) (Ontario)

CJLX FM 92.3 (Ontario, Loyalist College/Community Radio)

And as a joke, maybe request "Hell" from Sainthood on
Life 100.3 Christian Radio (Ontario)

All anything ever takes is a little action. It's how everything came to be something.
(either I'm really deep or that made NO sense!)