Julia Roberts’ Global Warning Interview

Julia Roberts’ Global Warning isn’t fronted by the Pretty Woman star; rather, the group features Sandy Kruger on vocals and Julia S. Roberts on guitar. The bassist Brook Hodges and drummer Matt Schindelar make up the male half of the band. In less than half a year, Global Warning has put together some pretty great songs, and its status as one of few prominent female-fronted progressive metal bands in Ohio won’t go unnoticed. Its members have previously played in multiple successful groups. Notably, songs from Julia S. Roberts’ former project Driven Steel were played on radio stations in the US, Belgium, Germany, and Holland. The frontwomen of Julia Roberts’ Global Warning talked to Queens of Noise about the origins of the band, the group’s songwriting process, and their musical dreams.

How long have you all been playing or singing?
Sandy: Since I can remember.
Julia: I’ve been singing all my life and playing guitar since I was about 12 or 14, something like that!

What inspired you all to start making music, especially metal?
Sandy: My love for music. Angst, aggression, attitude, and creative dynamics – [metal caused me] to be able to express that vocally. Metal was a natural transition for me coming out of the hard rockin’ ’70s.
Julia: I grew up with music and always loved it. I like a wide variety of music, but metal and hard rock were the genres I mainly identified with growing up. I’ve always loved the energy and aggression in metal.

Have any musicians in particular inspired you?
Sandy: Many have. Various bands from the 60’s & 70’s for vocal harmonies. I like singers with some balls (chick balls too, lol!) to their vocals: Dio, Bruce Dickenson [of Iron Maiden], Klaus Meine [of The Scorpions], Rob Halford [of Judas Priest], Ian Gillan [of Deep Purple], Eric Adams, Doug Ingle, and Doro Pesch, to name a few. Nightwish-style vocals do not belong in metal, in my opinion.
Julia: I was inspired by Joan Jett probably first off, but mainly male guitarists since there really weren’t many great guitarists that were women in [rock and metal]. I respect Lita Ford for what she did, but I wasn’t really influenced much by her playing. My main guitar influences are Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jimmy Page, and Randy Rhoads, but I have many many more – too many to mention! I think Jennifer Batten is one of the best female guitarists I’ve heard, but she’s not metal/rock. I also was inspired by Nancy Wilson of Heart. She’s very underrated as a guitarist.

Julia, your tapping is wonderful. How did you learn how to do that?
Julia: Thank you! I would say Eddie Van Halen made it popular, and it was very much a part of any guitarist’s vocabulary in the ’80s and ’90s. I just practiced like anyone else! I find it comes pretty natural.

How did this band get started?
Julia: Sandy Kruger heard my music on a local college radio station here in Cleveland called the WJCU 88.7 FM “Metal on Metal” show with Bill Peters back in summer 2011. Sandy contacted me to see if we could ever get a band together, and she contacted Matt “Flammable” Schindelar to see if he would be interested in drums, and I had a friend contact Brook Hodges and [he] told me he was interested in playing bass. It all came together in March 2012 when we officially started practicing as a unit. Matt is currently in another band called Destructor, and Brook is finishing up a gig in Germany with his band Breaker soon.

Sandy: I was listening to Bill Peter’s Metal on Metal (WJCU 88.7 FM) radio show one Friday night [in] July 2011 and heard “Show Me.” The song caught my attention. I thought the guitar work was tasteful, classy and brilliant! I found Julia’s Facebook page and messaged her, asking her who played on the track, thinking she just did the vocals. When she messaged me back and told me she played all guitars on the track, I freaked! She said she was thinking of putting a band together and was hoping to find a bass player that could sing. I told her how much I liked her guitar work and commented [that it was] too bad I can’t play bass. She told me she never wanted to front a band and things started rolling from there. She came to one of my Black Death gigs at Ripper Owen’s Tap House and liked what she saw and heard. We started putting the band together in January. Matt came on board in February and Brook in March. Things have been moving very quickly ever since. We have some amazing musical chemistry in this band.

Why did you choose your band name?
Julia: I chose the band name because Julia Roberts is already famous, so why not capitalize on that, as it is my birth name after all? And the band is showcasing many of the songs I’ve already wrote, which are being retooled by this new band, almost like getting closure on the past and then moving forward. ‘Global Warming’ is a very popular albeit controversial phenomenon, and I thought it would be a fun play on words. “Global Warning” was very metal sounding and kind of foreboding, like “Watch out! Here we come!” And the band was good with it!

The two women fronting your band certainly stand out in the metal scene, if only because the metal scene is so dude-oriented. I’ve personally noticed that a lot of the women who do get publicity in metal mags tend to be very sexualized. Have stereotypes about women affected your shows or the way your band is perceived in any way? Do you want to contest them at all?
Julia: I would say that we are more about the music than creating some sort of “fluffy” image that I tend to see with other bands who are more concerned with looks than music. So far, the reaction has been great. We’ve only done 3 gigs so far in Cleveland, so it’s hard to tell. I know that not all men are into women in metal, but we’ll see if we can change that perception here! I think having a mixed gender band is a cool way to go, showing that men and women can work together in a metal band.

How does the songwriting process work for your group?
Julia: Most of the songs have already been written by me and my former bassist, Kelley Heckart (from Driven Steel), and we are just finishing those up before we move into the songwriting phase with this band. It was important for me to finish what I started with my old songs, as I felt they were important to finish. I’m on a mission, and the band is on board! Brook [the bassist] and I are working on a new song idea of his, and also tweaking more of my older songs from previous demos and unreleased songs like “In Your Sleep” (about a woman’s perspective on domestic violence) and “Born to Rock” (a rock anthem).

Do you still have day jobs, or are you full time musicians?
Julia: We all have day jobs, unfortunately! But our goal is to become full time musicians. Each one of us has a strong passion for music and performing!

As of right now, you’re unsigned. What kind of label do you want to sign with eventually?
Julia: Any label that has enough pull in the industry to promote the hell out of us, get us a great producer who understands our sound and hard rock/metal music, and that can put us on some big tours with some of our hero bands! And enough money for us to make it as full-time musicians in the industry. I’m not greedy; [I] just want to only do music and be in the entertainment industry.

What’s some of your favorite music to listen to?
Julia: I really like the new Rush and Van Halen albums, really great stuff. And other newer bands I like are Mastodon, Tool, Disturbed, Shinedown, Foo Fighters, and many others. I’m just going off the top of my head right now. The new Megadeth is good too.

Sandy:  Classic 80’s metal: Saxon, Priest, all things Dio, Sabbath, UFO, Scorpions, [Iron] Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Witchfinder General, Pentagram, Trouble, Manowar, Warlock, Accept, Anvil, Testament, Slayer, and Exodus. Also, FuManchu, The Donnas, 60’s garage rock, Iron Butterfly, and the Yardbirds. I also like local Cleveland bands: Destructor, Venomin James, Black Death, Suede Brothers, Shades of Remembrance – the list goes on…

Where do you want this band to take you eventually?
Julia: As I said, I want this band to get out of Cleveland and get on tour with a major band, one of our heroes or a newer band that has some balls. And I definitely want to make a full-length album, hopefully one of many. I just want our music to be heard and promoted on a global scale. I love inspiring other women [and] girls to play guitar and know that they can do whatever the hell they want to in this life! We are ready to rock the world! Bring it on!!

You should check out Julia Roberts’ Global Warning on Facebook, ReverbNation and YouTube. Stay tuned for their debut album!

Settle Down: No Doubt Returns After 10 Years

This article originally appeared on MEOW Online.

No doubt about it: No Doubt’s new single, “Settle Down,” – same title but not the same song as Kimbra’s hit – is a great kickoff for the band’s first album in 10 years. The long string section at the beginning of the song, unexpected for a third wave ska band, proves the band is not afraid to keep their music varied and interesting.

No Doubt borrows from punk, reggae and pop influences. The group had a rough start. The band’s original lead singer, John Spence, committed suicide in 1987. Stefani, originally No Doubt’s backup singer, took over lead vocals following Spence’s death. No Doubt found itself competing with the ’90s grunge scene — their 1991 self-titled album failed to make an impact. They finally caught on with their 1995 release, Tragic Kingdom, with its hit singles, “Don’t Speak” and “Just a Girl.”

The band took an indefinite hiatus when lead singer Gwen Stefani started a successful solo career in 2004. She topped the charts with “Hollaback Girl” and “The Sweet Escape.” Stefani is also a fashion designer and philanthropist. She donated one million dollars to Save the Children’s Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Children in Emergency Fund last year.

Watch for No Doubt’s sixth studio album, Push and Shove, in stores on September 25.

Zoe Ann Interview

Zoe Ann, a rock/pop singer-songwriter from Dallas, Texas, has a lot going for her right now. In addition to a quickly developing musical career, she just signed a publishing deal to help get her music out there, got sponsored by Manic Panic NYC, and has been asked to partner with Complete Havoc and Cameron Crown Collection Skateboards. Check her out and see why so many people are investing themselves in her right now.

Tessa: What inspired you to start making music?
Zoe Ann: My parents bought a piano for the family when I was born, hoping I’d grow up to play it. When I was 3, I saw a girl singing on the stage at a festival in TX and told my mom that was exactly what I wanted to do. She found that remarkable since I was so shy! I started learning to play the piano as soon as I was big enough to climb up on the bench and began writing songs when I was seven years old. When I was about 10, I found my dad’s classic rock records from the 70’s and fell in love with The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. I got into musical theatre in second grade, which solved my shyness, and I immediately knew that performing was what I wanted to do. I’ve continued writing and learning both piano and guitar. I released my first album at fourteen years old and have been working on this project for two years. I’ve been working very hard on my second album and I am so excited to release it.

Tessa: Who do you consider your influences?
Zoe Ann: Well the classics of course: Zeppelin, The Beatles, Van Halen, and even Motown. I’m influenced by everything around me, really. Currently I really like Papa Roach, Katy Perry, The Used, Brand New, Flyleaf and Sick Puppies. I always find myself so puzzled when someone asks me this question, because my influences come from so many different things.

Tessa: You describe yourself as a singer-songwriter, but you definitely don’t have that traditional “woman sitting with an acoustic guitar” singer-songwriter image. Was it weird for you to choose that label in spite of that?
Zoe Ann: In truth, I am that behind the scenes. The final product of my songs is very rocked out, and I love that. But it all comes from me sitting in a room, either playing my piano or guitar writing my heart out. It’s all very real, and my songs mean a lot to me. Especially on this upcoming album.

Tessa: What songwriters do you look up to?
Zoe Ann: I absolutely love Adele. She has such heartfelt songs. Her whole album tells a story, and you can tell she works really hard.

Tessa: I’ve been asking a lot of people this lately: how does the songwriting process work for you?
Zoe Ann: My writing process varies, haha. Most of the time I’ll just be walking around and a really cool idea will pop up in my head, so I get out my voice memos from my phone and record it so I can go home and work on it. This year a lot has happened that has really hurt me and I’ve grown a lot from it, so lately I always have something to write about. I just pick up my guitar or sit at the piano and let it go.

Tessa: Can you tell me about what inspired one or more of your songs? Maybe “Lipstick Lies,” “Someday,” or “Girlfriend?”
Zoe Ann: “Lipstick Lies” was inspired by the fact that there are so many girls who only care about themselves and the “boyfriend of the week.” I was actually really bullied when I was in middle school, so I’ve written a lot about mean girls. 😉 Ha. “Someday” was inspired by my life, really. I’m growing up in a small town outside of Dallas and know my goal is a career in music; I’m doing all I can to reach my “Someday!”

Tessa: You play rhythm guitar and keyboard and sing. Would you say you’re more of a guitarist, keyboardist, or singer?
Zoe Ann: Singing is my #1. I love singing so much. I sing all the time. Keyboard [is] second, and guitar third since it’s so new to me, but I get better everyday!

Tessa: Similar question: your solo YouTube videos usually have you singing and playing an instrument, while your videos with your band have you just singing. Do you prefer performing with an instrument or fronting a band?
Zoe Ann: I like both, because I love moving around and interacting with the crowd, but I spend more time when performing with my band not having an instrument. But I can easily front the band with my guitar or on keyboards.

Tessa: Is it weird for you to just sing at shows without an instrument in front of you?
Zoe Ann: Not at all, I have a really high-energy rocked out show, so it’s not like I am just standing at the mic. [Also,] being able to pick up an instrument in a couple songs is a nice break from jumping around, plus [it] shows some versatility.

Tessa: Would you rather play at a small, intimate venue or in front of a large crowd?
Zoe Ann: Large crowd! My dream is to see a ton of people at my show, singing the lyrics, all having a great time. I want to make people smile. I want people to be helped by my music. I can’t wait for that rush of singing in front of a ton of people!

Tessa: Your website describes you as a “teen rocker.” How did you get your career started so early in your life, and so successfully?
Zoe Ann: I just had the desire and [a] family that was willing to support my dream. They eventually allowed me to homeschool [so I would] have enough time to focus on music as my career path.

Tessa: You’re surrounded by guys in your backing band, and I’m guessing in other musical situations you’re surrounded by dudes too. Is it ever weird for you to be the token girl? If so, how do you deal with it?
Zoe Ann: Well, I don’t always have the same guys in my band, but the one or two that stick with me are like my best friends. [We’ve] become so close, it’s like they’re my brothers. But unfortunately in the rock world, you really have to look out for yourself. I’m glad I learned that early on.

Tessa: You’re different from some independent artists because you’re managed by someone else. How does that work?
Zoe Ann: Well, I am independent and although I have management, they are here to support me and help me. I think many independent artists have managers. I generally think of it as not having a label, though I do want a label!

Tessa: Do you prefer this route to managing yourself?
Zoe Ann: My management is very hands off, and and yet if I need them, they are a phone call away. I love the arrangement I have, but not all managers are like this. I got lucky!

Tessa: Where do you want your music to take you eventually?
Zoe Ann: I want my music to take me as far as possible. The sky is the limit, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to get there! This business has the power to be a good or bad influence in someone’s life. I want to help people and I hope one day, I’ll be traveling around the world.

Go out and support Zoe Ann by checking out her website, Facebook, or YouTube channel. I’m expecting great things from her!

Hearts Under Fire Interview

Hearts Under Fire is an up-and-coming band that just released a new EP, “We’ve Come Too Far To Live In The Past.” With Mary O’Regan on bass and lead vocals, Nicky Day and Kat Upton on guitar, and Lexi Clark on drums, the UK-based group plays a great mix of pop-punk and punk rock. Hearts Under Fire took some time to tell me about how they started their band, the other instruments they play, and weird reactions from audiences at their gigs.

Tessa: Why did you all start playing or singing?
Hearts Under Fire: We all started playing music when we were young (around 13), some of us in bands, some of us just at home for fun. It’s just been something we’ve always wanted to do and always had a passion for.

Tessa: What bands and artists inspire you?
HUF: We’re all influenced by such a huge range of artists, everyone from Underoath to Bruce Springsteen to Alkaline Trio to Prince. We listen to such a wide variety of music.

Tessa: How often do you all practice on your own and as a band?
HUF: I’d say on our own we practice all the time. When it’s something you love doing, it doesn’t feel like practice. It’s just doing what you enjoy. As a band we will generally get together once a week, but it varies depending on how many shows we have.

Tessa: How did you start a band together?
HUF: Lexi’s been in the band since it first started, and Mary joined not long after. Nicky joined about 3 years ago when there was space for a new guitarist, and Kat joined  just over a year ago when Steph [our former guitarist] left.

Tessa: Where was your first gig? What was playing that gig like?
HUF: All our first gigs were different. Lexi, Mary & Kat played in a few bands before HUF so they started young. Nicky’s first ever gig was with Hearts Under Fire in Guildford…nerve wracking to say the least!

Tessa: Do any of you play an instrument besides the one you use in this band?
HUF: Kat plays bass, Mary plays guitar, Nicky & Lexi play the tambourine…

Tessa: It looks like all of your members do backup vocals. Did all of you have experience singing before this band, or is this somebody’s first foray into singing?
HUF: Kat used to front a band called Black Nazarene, so she is a pro singer already. Lexi and Mary both sang backing in previous bands, and for Nicky it’s a first!

Tessa: I asked The Madeline Rust a similar question: why have you chosen not to label yourselves as an “all-female” band?
HUF: We don’t label ourselves “all-female,” as it’s not really important to us. We’re just four people who have come together to write music we love and put it out there, and we just happen to be all girls! We don’t think it’s really an issue to try and sell ourselves as that.

Tessa: Have you ever gotten weird reactions at your gigs as an “all-female” band?
HUF: Definitely. We’ve had people shouting all sorts at us (mainly ‘get your boobs out’), but a lot of people will pre-judge us before even listening to us. It’s always nice to get people come up to us after and say how much they enjoyed it when they didn’t think they would. Ultimately, the people in the crowds giving us abuse for no reason other than the fact we’re girls are the ones sitting at home doing nothing do whilst we’re out there trying to live our dream, so we don’t let it bother us.

Tessa: Okay, this is the last gender-related question, I promise. You’ve already been interviewed by a couple of sites. Do you ever get tired of being asked questions about your “all-female” status? What do you think about people asking questions like these? Do they ever get annoying? (I swear I have an excuse, because this site is centered on female artists. Haha.)
HUF: [We] wouldn’t say it annoys us. Sometimes it may work in our favour being all-female, sometimes it works against us. We just do what we want to do because we love doing it. People can form their own opinions of us, but hopefully our music speaks for itself and people will like what we do!

Tessa: How does the songwriting process work for your group?
HUF: Generally it will start with a guitar riff or some chords or a melody and just grow from there. We are all very much involved in the songwriting process, and any one of us can come up with an initial idea and we just roll with it!

Tessa:What was recording your newest EP like? Any interesting stories?

HUF: Recording the new EP was so much fun. We did it with our good friend Sam Burden at Empire Recording Studios in Guildford and just had the best time. He’s such a great guy to work with and brought so much into our recordings. As for stories, you’ll have to wait and watch the DVD we will be releasing with our EP when it comes out. 😉

You can get more of Hearts Under Fire at their website, Facebook, or YouTube. Check out their new EP as well!

What did you think about the interview? Tell us in the comments!

The White Noise Supremacists Interview

(Trigger warning: this interview contains frank talk about racism.)

The White Noise Supremacists are, thankfully, not white supremacists (look back and note the “noise” part), and only consist of one woman: Iféoluwa Babalola (pronounced eee-FEH-oh-loo-WAH bah-BAH-loh-LAH). Iféoluwa plays and sings all of the parts in her music. She answered a ton of questions from me about topics like racism in the music industry, feminism, producing her music, and recording her new album.

Tessa: Okay, I have a confession to make. When I first saw your artist name, I did a double take. My first thought was, “No way am I interviewing a bunch of racists!” Then I finally noticed the “noise” part of your name. What kind of reactions does your artist name usually get? Are they anything like mine?
Iféoluwa: Yeah, people always skip the ‘noise’ for some reason. I don’t know why. If I had to classify all the responses, I pretty much get fear or excitement. Younger Black people tend to be the most afraid, and then you get racist White people who get angry. I also get “liberal” White people who “don’t see color” trying to preach to me about how inappropriate it is. I think they have the most gall. Like, they’re oblivious to how inappropriate it is for them to tell a Black person how they should view and interpret and respond to racism- something they will never experience in their entire lives. The arrogance in that is astounding. But yeah, it runs the gamut. Either fear or excitement that someone is finally saying these things. I tend to get thanked by older Black men a lot too. It’s interesting to try and analyze the different responses.

Tessa: So, you were born in Brooklyn, New York and are now living in Berlin, Germany. How old were you when you moved? What was the biggest culture shock to you when you moved to another country?
Iféoluwa: I was 27 when I moved to Berlin. There wasn’t a really huge culture shock but I do notice the differences. In my experience, Germans are more reserved. There’s a bit of truth to the stereotype. But I am much more comfortable with that, as I am more reserved by nature. In America I’m stoic, here I’m warm, lol. There also seems to be a difference in the way kids are raised here. At least the people around my age. Americans are raised with so much ego. “You are the best and greatest in the world and you can be anything!!!” (unless you are a woman, poc, queer, non-Christian, etc.), but here, it seems that you are more taught to be a functioning part of a group. Of society. Not that you’re such a special snowflake, which breeds less entitled douchebags, in my opinion. There are some everywhere, but it’s not so rewarded here as it is in the U.S. A lot of White people are more culturally aware here as well. A lot of them are friends with Africans, married or have kids with Africans, and can actually pick out African countries on a map. I’ve never faced that before. Being able to say to someone, “My family is Yoruba,” and they actually know what the hell I’m talking about. That was strange for me. Another shock (and I’m speaking as an outsider who has about a couple years experience in 1 city, so forgive me if I misinterpret, Germans) was how ashamed and apologetic, though I’ve heard some Germans say overly so, [the country is] about Nazi Germany and the holocaust. When you’re a kid in school, you are taught about it, from very young and throughout your school career. It’s really hammered home how horrible it was and that you should never forget. If you go out in the street with a Nazi swastika or any other Nazi symbol, you get arrested. It’s full on illegal. There is even some reservations about flying the German flag for some people, as German nationalism tends to be synonymous with racism. Contrasting that with the U.S. and how it regards [its] history of slavery and Jim Crow, how White Americans pretty much don’t give a sh*t and were raised to not give a sh*t, how the general sentiment is, “Whatever, Black people, stop whining and get over it,” how there are states where I can still drive into and see the Confederate flag waving, even on federal property, it was really a wake up call. It’s like whoa, America really has no respect for Black people. They hate us, blatantly so, and they don’t give a sh*t. It would be amazing to get arrested for flying the Confederate flag. To have the nation actually feel shame for the heinous things it did and teach their White children about it so it stops happening and never happens again. But that won’t happen any time soon. That country hates us too much. That was shocking for me. To just finally realize the country I was born in feels that way about who I am.

Tessa: Who or what inspired you to start making music? What artists do you consider your influences?
Iféoluwa: I’ve always been musical. It was never really a choice. I started singing as a girl and it just snowballed from there. Singing along to tapes, music vids…I grew up listening to everything. I don’t know if it counts as an influence if you don’t sound anything like it—that is kinda the case with most of my influences, but if we’re just talking about artists that made me see musical expression in a different way, it would have to be Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Joy Division, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Suede, The Smiths/Morrissey (even though he is a douchebag), Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Radiohead, Sam Cooke, Silverchair (Neon Ballroom and Diorama are amazing records), Fiona Apple, Sade, Fela, Bjork…I think those are the main ones, though I’m probably forgetting some.

Tessa: How does the songwriting process work for you?
Iféoluwa: Currently, I just think of an idea, usually from a news story I read or something I’m dealing with in my life, and I write lyrics. Then I come up with a bassline or drum beat if the melody doesn’t come first. And I lay some guitar on it last. That’s how it’s been working lately though when I first started, it was all words first, melody second, then guitar, drums and finally bass. I like starting songs on different instruments, though. You get a completely different sound.

Tessa: What inspired you to write “Big Strong White Man?”
Iféoluwa: Being pissed the f*ck off at having the people whose hand has been on your throat for centuries pat themselves on the back with the other hand for “saving” you.

Tessa: Is there any intentional symbolism in the video for “Big Strong White Man?” For example, is there any reason why the (presumably) kidnapped girl is tied to a chair with pearls, breaks free with a guitar pick, and drops her blonde wig to the floor at the end?
Iféoluwa: Yes. It’s pretty much an allegorical representation of both my experience with my band and the common experience of being born a Black female in Western society. You’re sort of born bound, gagged and exploited by your surroundings and it’s up to you to free yourself. I won’t explain it any more but if you keep that in mind, the meaning is pretty apparent.

Tessa: There were some pretty ignorant comments on the YouTube video for “Big Strong White Man.” How did you deal with that? What reactions have you gotten from that song besides people being racist to you or giving you the “reverse racism” BS?
Iféoluwa: I don’t deal with it. I refused to respond. Say it to my face or shut the f*ck up. It’s all just fear and ego. This Black woman saying and doing things only WE are supposed to be able to say and do. “Who does she think she is/put her back in her place” kinda thing. So f*cking old. I’m 30. I’m used to it. And I’ve made it this far and will only keep going. People either love it or hate it. I like being polarizing. I love bands that make you feel the extremes. No one wants to hear a song and go “eh.”

Tessa: There are interesting vocal effects in the studio version of “She’s Soft Inside.” What exactly did you do to your voice there?
Iféoluwa: Ha! Well, it’s really just some crappy filters I found in GarageBand. That song was on my 1st EP and it was really the 1st of my more aggressive-sounding songs I ever recorded. There is another one that was the second called “Meant to Be” that has the same effect. It’s pretty much me being self-conscious about my voice. I grew up singing R&B and soul music and that’s still where my voice is even though when I write, soul music doesn’t come out. I thought it was too clean and pretty sounding and felt weird about not sounding more “rock” so I tried to gruff it up with effects. Then I was like, this is lame, my voice and this music are unique. So I ditched the filters and really embraced it. The next song I recorded after those was “How Do You Wish To Go?” and I sort of sang that defiantly sweet and soft and added harmonies. And I was like, this sounds f*cking cool! So the vocal effects were no more after that.

Tessa: What instruments do you play?
Iféoluwa: Well, in order of “damn good” to “kinda crappy but it works”: clarinet (7-year band geek, holla!), drums, guitar, bass, piano.

Tessa: So you do the singing and play all of the instruments in your songs. Do you produce all of your music too? If so, how did you learn how to do that?
Iféoluwa: Yes, I produce and arrange everything. I just learned by doing. I didn’t have money to pay anyone else and when I did get input, I never liked anyone’s ideas more than mine, lol. So I stopped asking. I worked with one “producer,” but all he did was push buttons on really expensive equipment, and he really didn’t give a crap about my music at all. It was really infuriating but also depressing. And most producers are guys and they just take it for granted that because you’re female you’ll let them “mold” you and just be a mouthpiece for their ideas. I have my own ideas. And they’re good ideas. So I decided to use them.

Tessa: I saw some of your live videos on YouTube, and I think your one-woman show is very cool. Do you have any advice for someone who might want to try doing the same thing at live shows?
Iféoluwa: Thank you. Um, just try and get a good idea of the instrumentation you want in a song and figure out the best way to realize that live with only you. It’s a great creative exercise. I have many versions of my songs because the recorded versions can’t be recreated live and solo. But I didn’t want them to be boring acoustic versions so I was like, what riff do I want to keep, can I get rid of this bassline or simplify it so it can be looped through the entire song, etc. It’s actually quite fun. Trying to keep the identity of a song but changing the execution. Or sometimes the identity changes altogether. Sweet songs become rough and harsh, rough songs become melancholic and beautiful. Just read up on gear to see what’s out there. I used to get Tape Op for free for years when I was younger but don’t know if it’s still that way.* Anyway, find something that might possibly do what you want and go to Guitar Center or whatever and play with it all day. But beware. Music store dudes are notorious d*cks. If anyone asks if you are buying for your boyfriend, feel free to kick him in the balls and run. I will testify for you in court. They’ll never take us alive.

Tessa: Who’s the drummer playing with you in your “Madman” video? How often do you play shows with other people?
Iféoluwa: She’s an awesome drummer named Veronica and we met through Craigslist. I put out an ad for someone to play old Motown covers with just for fun and she answered. We met up to jam but spent most of the time just talking about ourselves and music and jamming on my stuff. We never got the Motown covers together but I ended up getting that ROIR [the record label] show and asked her to join me for a few songs. One was a Michael Jackson cover of “Rock With You” that I really wanna put out eventually and the other was Madman. There may have been more but I forgot. After that show, we both left NY so that was the end of that. But it was still fun. Anyway, I’m kinda burnt out on playing with other people. They just don’t respect you unless you act like an asshole, and I’m really not interested in that, so I have more fun playing alone. I’ll probably form a backing band of paid musicians at some point, but I haven’t been getting shows lately that are big enough to warrant that kind of financial commitment, so it’s solo for me. Plus I can do it well alone, so why not?

Tessa: In your interview with Imusicate.com, you mentioned that you used to run a “Black Indie” night in Brooklyn to promote black artists. Do you think the music industry has improved the way it treats black artists, especially since you started on the scene? Does treatment of black artists vary in the different parts of the world that you’ve lived in? What do you think we can do to continue to move forward and improve things more?
Iféoluwa: The music industry is just horrible and desperate in general and no, it’s not getting better for anyone, let alone Black musicians. I only started doing this 6 years ago and solely on an independent basis so the few times I have come in touch with “industry” people it has been enough to warn me away. They really are the worst. Just soulless. It’s not art to them; it’s a paycheck. I feel it can be both. Racism is worldwide so Black artists aren’t treated too differently. But there is more respect and openness in Europe for all kinds of Black music. I find, in the U.S., if you are a Black man who doesn’t rap or a Black woman who doesn’t sing gospel or R&B, people run screaming. It’s like they don’t know what to do with you; your very existence has melted their brains. It’s pretty ridiculous. Whereas here you can pretty much find a place for yourself if you try. There’s an opportunity here for Black underground or alternative artists. That’s really nowhere to be found in the U.S. What can we do to improve this? Young Black artists need to depend on ourselves more. Remember when I said young Black people tend to be the most afraid of my band? That is my #1 reason why things aren’t improving. I did a documentary called “Bluck You!” that I’m still working on completing about my experiences in NY and why there is no Black alternative scene that I know of pretty much anywhere. And I came to the conclusion that it’s because we don’t want one. Too many Black people nowadays need White acceptance to validate their art. And they pretty much feel like without mass White acceptance, they will never be successful. That isn’t true, but they believe it. So they only say, think and express themselves in ways that won’t threaten the predominately White, affluent and shockingly racist and sexist, entitled “indie” audience. There’s no bravery or adventure. Because everyone is “staying in their place” to get in the f*cking indie blogs or on Pitchfork or hang out on Bedford and N. 7th with their Indie White Pals or whatever. It’s sad as f*ck. And I ran screaming. And I am not ashamed in the least.

Tessa: Is there anything you think should be done to help make things easier for black female artists in particular, since you guys have to deal with both racism and sexism?
Iféoluwa: I have no clue. People have been racist and sexist for centuries. I, we, can’t change that. But we can stop taking sh*t. That’s pretty much it. Black women, stop taking sh*t. They only give it to you when they think they can get away with it. We need to support each other too. That always helps. It shouldn’t be based solely on sex and color, though. That’s not helpful. But if you come across a Black woman and you like her art, reach out and tell her so. Collaborate. Write songs together. Organize shows. That will change things. Stop being so afraid of anything that lies outside racist notions of “appropriate” Black behaviour and outlook. It doesn’t exist. Black people can differ from each other yet still work together. We are not a monolith. F*cking hell.

Tessa: Is your “Black Indie” night up and running again? If not, do you plan to start it up again anytime soon?
Iféoluwa: Um, well in Berlin I see about 3 Black people per week so I don’t think it will happen here, lol. But eventually, yes. I don’t see myself living in NY again anytime soon, if I can help it, but who knows where or when it’ll pop up. Maybe in Nigeria or Sierra Leone! Africans are into everything. Who knows. But the night and the concept are far from dead. Just…resting.

Tessa: How is recording “The Scene Is Dead,” your debut album, going? Any idea when it’ll be released?
Iféoluwa: Argh, I dunno! My dad just donated some new recording equipment to me, so since I finally have a decent microphone, I plan to get at least another single and video out before September. It will be the song “Meant To Be.” Then the album by October. But I am really ambitious with it. It will probably be a double album. I just haven’t decided whether I’ll put it out all at once or in 2 parts…we’ll see. But it’s coming! Definitely before the apocalypse. The end of all life as we know it tends to curb procrastination, I’ve found. (I’m kidding. Not an apocalypse psycho, thanks.)

Tessa: I think it’s pretty cool how you post a “face-destroying song of the week” on your Facebook page. You posted a Bikini Kill song a couple of weeks ago, and that group was really feminist. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Iféoluwa: I’m totally a feminist and very proud to call myself one. I often meet women who don’t want to call themselves that. Like they’re ashamed. I weep for them, to be honest. It must be so sad to feel ashamed of standing up for yourself and demanding to be treated with respect. To be treated like a human. I don’t get women like that. But I’m not out to change minds anymore. I just do me.

Tessa: What are you trying to achieve with your music?
Iféoluwa: I’m a musician and I’m out to make good music that is brave and honest. That’s it.

If you want to see more of Iféoluwa, check out the White Noise Supremacists’ website, Facebook page, or YouTube channel. Please (respectfully) share what you thought about the interview in the comments!

*I would like to note that you can totally still get a free subscription to Tape Op here.

Interview Agreement

I interview most artists by sending them questions through email or Facebook and having them fill out answers and send them to me. If you are based near me and a face-to-face interview is a possibility, I’ll let you know.

After an artist has accepted an invitation to be interviewed, I’m going to ask her/them to read and agree to these terms. (If you want to be interviewed, post your music in the comments or on our Facebook page.) They’re pretty simple, and if you don’t like one of the terms, feel free to let me know.

1. You will let me know if you are uncomfortable with answering any of the questions that I ask you. I’d hate to ask a question that rubs someone the wrong way. Please let me know if I do instead of just leaving your response blank.

2. You will do your best to get your responses to me within a week of my sending you interview questions. If your circumstances are keeping you from doing so, you will let me know.

3. I reserve the right to edit your responses for spelling and grammar mistakes that could interfere with a reader’s enjoying the interview. (This will prevent nitpicky people like me from not really taking in a response because somebody used “effect” when they should have used “affect,” for example.)

4. I reserve the right to edit out or censor curse words and inappropriate language if they distract from a response. (To use an example where cursing was okay, this interview with Danielle Ate the Sandwich had a curse word that I felt was appropriate because it expressed her true feelings about dealing with record companies.) If an artist is cursing or using insulting language that doesn’t add to the interview at all, I may choose to take out that part of the response. If you’re being really hateful, I might decide not to feature you after all. Please check out the interview disclaimers.

5. I also reserve the right to mark your interview as “appropriate for ages 16 and over” if I feel it’s necessary. I have quite a few family members supporting this zine, and one of my first interviews was with a ten-year-old drummer, so I want to keep at least some parts of the zine family-friendly and give a warning when some parts definitely aren’t.

6. I should send you a preview of what your interview will look like before I publish it, so you can approve any changes. If I don’t send you a preview before publishing the interview, you will call me out on it and tell me if there’s anything you want fixed. Once you receive your preview, you will tell me if any changes I may have made bother you and I will work to fix them.

7. I might make a last-minute change right before publishing an interview because I noticed that I worded the introduction oddly, left out a link, or missed a spelling mistake earlier. If you object to a change for whatever reason, you will let me know and I will fix it.

8. If you like your interview, you will post it on your website or Facebook, because I love it when people promote my zine.

Again, post your music in the comments or on the Facebook page to get an invitation! While you’re at it, check out the interview qualifications too.

Can’t wait for your interviews!


Interview Qualifications

So, in order to get an interview invitation from Queens of Noise, there are a couple of qualifications.

1. I have to like your music. That’s the most important part.
Female and male musicians should be held to the same standards, so no, I will not feature a solo artist just because she’s female or a band just because it has a female member. I can’t write good interview questions if I’m not interested in who you are as a musician. Keep in mind that Queens of Noise is for all women in the music industry, and I am interested in genres besides rock and metal: pop, hip hop, jazz, R&B, blues, and more. I do my best to keep an open mind regardless of genre.

If you send me your music and I don’t send you an interview request, it might be because I’m a busy student, and this zine is a hobby. I might not be devoting all my energy to this site at the moment but still be intent on sending you a request eventually. If I don’t send you an interview request, it might also be because I don’t realize how awesome you are, and that’s not your fault. Keep making music and putting yourself out there, and never stop trying just because you didn’t meet my arbitrary standards, or anyone else’s, for that matter.

2. Your act has to have a strong female presence.*
For good solo male artists and all-male bands: I’m sorry I can’t help you. This zine just has a very specific purpose. Beneath the Grid Music is a great site that features unsigned and independent musicians of all genders, and you can send them your stuff.

So, what does a “strong female presence” even mean? Obviously, solo female artists and all- female bands will have no problem qualifying for an interview with a zine promoting women in music, but what about mixed-gender groups? Well, I created this qualification because some sites promoting women in music will only feature all-female and female-fronted bands. While I’m sure they have their reasons, that cuts out awesome bands like The Babes, who are male-fronted and have strong female instrumentalists. Other sites want bands with women playing instruments and won’t take otherwise all-male bands with a frontwoman who only sings. I don’t see a point in excluding bands with male members so long as its female member(s) are strong vocalists or players. I like to get to know an entire band, not just its female members.

These rules seemed arbitrary to me, so of course I created a weirder and more arbitrary one: I will interview mixed-gender bands so long as they have a “strong female presence.” Bands with female instrumentalists will generally be safe, but let’s be real: if a band has one female member and all she does is play the tambourine for a few seconds in each song, that doesn’t really count as a strong presence. Now, if your tambourine player also plays a range of percussion instruments and writes her own parts, then that would count and I would probably be comfortable with interviewing the whole band.

I will interview the whole band if I’m certain that the female member(s) won’t be overshadowed by the men. So if the frontwoman of an otherwise all-male band is a great performer, writes her own songs, can really grab an audience’s attention, or just generally holds her own against the guys she works with, I’ll feel comfortable interviewing the whole band. However, if the guys write her lyrics for her or she’s not an especially strong performer, there’s going to be a problem.

If I’m afraid that the sole female member of a band will be overshadowed by the dudes in an interview, or if I just find the female member to be the most interesting, I might ask to only interview her. Yes, it’s weird and arbitrary, but it’s my website and I make the rules. I will still mention your band in the interview and promote your group.

Thanks so much for checking this zine out! Keep making music!

* I would like to note that I am open to interviewing transgender female musicians, and that my standards for them are the same as the ones for cisgender female musicians. If you are a transgender male musician, email or message me and I’ll be happy to send you sites that are open to featuring you.

Jeanne Marie Boes Interview

Jeanne Marie Boes, based in New York City, is a pianist and singer-songwriter. She talked to me about pianists and singers who have inspired her, the songwriting process, and how she came to compose for short films.

Tessa: You’re a great piano player. How long have you been playing? Do any pianists in particular inspire you?
Jeanne: Thank you. I’ve been playing since I was 10 or 11 years old. The first pianists that come to mind are Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder. They’re both extremely talented songwriters, pianists and performers, and I definitely count them as inspiration.

Tessa: You’re also an awesome singer. What singers inspire you? Is there anybody you ever tried to sound like?
Jeanne: You’re so kind. I think I’ve tried to sound like many vocalists over the years, but my main source of inspiration comes from the greats – Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.

Tessa: A lot of singer-songwriters start out by testing their material on audiences at open mic nights. Did you do that? If so, were there ever any interesting experiences you had?
Jeanne: Of course, I’ve been to many open mic nights, more than I can count. Not one in particular stands out to me, but I’ve gone to many all over Long Island, Queens and Manhattan. It’s one of the best ways for performers starting out to hone their craft and perfect their sound in the most honest way possible.

Tessa: What’s the most interesting paid gig you’ve had?
Jeanne: I once played for a yoga class. Very interesting and intimidating, but fun.

Tessa: Some of your playing seems to have a jazzy flavor. Did you ever play in a jazz band? Did you play in any other groups before becoming a solo artist?
Jeanne: I’ve never played in a jazz band, although I would absolutely love to someday. I’ve always done the solo thing, long before playing with bands – but over the past couple years, I’ve played or sang in a few local rock bands.

Tessa: Did you study music in college or high school?
Jeanne: In high school I was a music major at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.

Tessa: What’s the songwriting process like for you?
Jeanne: It always seems to be music first, then lyrics. I’ll either think of a tune or mess around on the piano first – but it always comes back to the melody that starts it off.

Tessa: You have an interesting variety of covers—Adele, the Jackson 5, and Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington. What music do you like to listen to?
Jeanne: I listen to so many different types of music. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Kills, The Black Keys, Taylor Swift and Adele, just to name a few.

Tessa: Why did you choose to sing backup on the Little Embers‘ song, “Raise the Dead?”
Jeanne: I was so thrilled when they asked me to sing in their music video. I had been singing back-up vocals at a number of their shows, and I guess it was just being in the right place at the right time – but it was an absolutely wonderful experience and I enjoyed every second of it.

Tessa: I saw that you compose for short films too. How did you start doing that?
Jeanne: Another example of “right time, right place.” I know the director of the films personally and he liked my first effort. He’s used my work a few times, and hopefully more to come.

Tessa: How did you come up with the creepy music for “Who’s There?” It’s hard not to be freaked out by that video.
Jeanne: I watched it many times before starting to write down and record ideas, but one thing I knew was that I wanted to take part in the suspense but not overshadow it. It’s a wonderfully made short-film and I was so glad I could be a part of it.

Check out Jeanne’s Facebook page, Soundcloud, and website, and tell us what you think about the interview in the comments!

The Madeline Rust Interview

The Madeline Rust are based in Nottingham, England and play music heavily influenced by the ’90s grunge rock scene. Lucy Morrow plays bass and fronts the band, Aly McNab plays guitar, and Martin Syvret plays the drums. The band took some time to tell me about their day jobs, their decision to not promote the band as “female-fronted,” and Aly’s struggles with arthritis. There’s even a bonus question. Learn about their perspectives on music here!

Tessa: Okay, a standard question that I use: why did you all start playing your instruments, singing, or making music?
Martin: We never had a television when I was growing up, so we always had the radio on. My mum was a teddy girl, and I had a diet of rock’n’roll and a little bit of jazz. I just always seemed to be drawn to the drums. My guilty pleasure as a 10-year-old boy was watching the drummers in the military bands that used to come to Jersey every summer. I used to hang out and try and get a go. I joined the school band at the age of 11 and never looked back.
Lucy: Thanks to my parents, there was always music in the house when I was young. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, The Cars and Kate Bush all remind me of my childhood. When I was 12, my uncle won a crappy acoustic guitar at bingo, and so I decided to try and learn songs that I liked. I’ve never been able to read music but learned to play by ear. Inevitably, when I heard Nirvana for the first time, I wanted an electric guitar, and my parents obliged for my 14th birthday. Aly and I went to school together, and we started a band at about this time. In this band, he drummed and I played guitar and sang – though I only sang by default because nobody else in the band wanted to. And actually, that’s the same reason I play bass in The Madeline Rust!
Aly: My parents are folk musicians who play Scottish and Irish stuff, so I grew up in a house with guitars, fiddles, mandolins and stuff all over the place, and my parents would have parties where people would get up and play or sing, and that was important to me. I never really heard pop music as a child, then started to get into punk as a young teenager (of course), and then I heard Nirvana and my life changed.

Tessa: Another standard question: who are your influences? I definitely hear some Nirvana in your music, and some of Lucy’s screaming reminded me of Joan Jett.
Martin: For me it’s classic rock, [Black] Sabbath, Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and more modern(ish) bands like Clutch and Monster Magnet.
Lucy: This is such a hard question. I enjoy most musical genres to some degree, and I guess I’m influenced by everything I enjoy… I suppose if you listen to The Madeline Rust, the ’90s grunge scene obviously influenced us a lot. Though we have been referred to as “’70s rock,” which may also be a fair reflection of some of our other influences.
Aly: I guess musically relevant influences for me would be Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Tool and ZZ Top. I LOVE ZZ Top.

Tessa: Do you have any musical idols?
Lucy: You mean apart from Lemmy?
Aly: Yep, Lemmy, absolutely. Also Duane Allman and George Harrison.
Martin: Bizarrely for a drummer, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy.

Tessa: How does the songwriting process work for your group? Does someone bring in lyrics so you can all add instrumentation? Do you write riffs, then lyrics?
Aly: Basically, I sit at home a lot and noodle on my guitar.
Lucy: Aly will come up with some rough ideas, and we all build around that. Vocals-wise, I play around with different things until I find a melody that fits right… Since we don’t have backing vocals, I tend to harmonise in some way with what’s going on with Aly’s guitar playing. Lyrics seem to come naturally to fit the pattern of the vocals.
Martin: Aly will bring a rough idea of a riff to a rehearsal, and we’ll knock it about for about an hour and record it live. Aly then sends it to us via email, Lucy will write some lyrics and the following week we have a song all ready to go. I tend to come up with the endings. (Well, Aly and Lucy have to let me do something…)

Tessa: All musicians have to balance the fun aspects of their music, like performing and writing, versus the business aspects of music, like distributing their merch and making sure they get paid. How do you all balance the fun and business aspects of being a band?
Lucy: Martin basically deals with everything “business”-wise… I just enjoy the creative aspect of designing flyers and posters, so I usually do that. My husband designed the album artwork – he took all of the Monument Valley pictures we used for the sleeve. Our friend Rich Solaini recorded our album in nine hours, and then mixed the whole thing in a few days.
Martin: A few band meetings in the pub and talking constantly on Facebook. We play for fun and are taking a very DIY approach to the business side of things. When I have a bit of time on my hands I sit in front of my laptop and email radio stations and magazines trying to get some coverage. I have found that we get a much better reception from The USA than we do here in the UK. We have had radio play on stations across America; they seem to be much more receptive to unsigned bands and are willing to take a chance on adding bands like ours to their playlists.
Aly: I stay away from the business side, as I’m hopeless at it.

Tessa: Do you have day jobs? If so, where?
Lucy: I have a full-time job in the clinical research industry. I manage a big diverse team, and I travel around a lot. Having such a demanding work life and so much responsibility means I need to do as much creative stuff outside of work as I can.
Martin: I am a full time student doing an animal biology degree at Nottingham Trent University.
Aly: I retired due to ill health last year. I’ve had arthritis since I was 3, and it’s getting worse at the moment. I used to be in banking, so I guess it’s partly my fault for the way the world is…sorry!

Tessa: You chose not to describe your band as female-fronted, which I think was a cool and interesting decision. A lot of bands will put the label “female-fronted” or “all-female” in their descriptions of themselves very quickly. Why did you choose not to?
Lucy: The fact that our singer is female is an incidental fact – it doesn’t bear any relevance to our music. Adding “female-fronted” to a description of a band indicates that this is something people look for (or don’t) in a band. It suggests some sort of “specialty music”; that the gender of our singer has some sort of bearing on whether you will enjoy our band or not. Our band is made up of three very different individuals – and the gender of each member is not relevant to the music we play.
Aly: Plus I think you have to be a female human for it to count. Bazinga.
Martin: I don’t think being female-fronted was an issue that we ever thought about. We are a band. Thinking about it, you never have to describe bands like Metallica or Pink Floyd as male-fronted… I have to admit that there are a lot of fanzines, magazines and internet radio stations that are geared towards female-fronted bands, and I’m glad they are there because they have given us some great coverage, but it’s not something we actively seek out. We are just three people making music and if others like what we are about, that’s a bonus.

Tessa: Why is your Bandcamp description written the way it is? (The Western theme is cool, by the way. “Strangers in a desolate ghost town, here to settle an old and bitter feud.”)
Martin: Over to Lucy on this one.
Lucy: Ahem. I am obsessed with becoming the eponymous rider-in-black from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s amazing movie El Topo. I make all my stage outfits, and everything I make is a nod to El Topo’s style in some way. My husband and I travel to the US regularly and have spent a lot of time wandering round ghost towns in Arizona, California and Nevada. I like to imagine our music playing out of a derelict saloon, into the silence of the desert…
Aly: Not even cowboys listen to us? Ouch…

Tessa: What is your goal as a band? Do you want to make it big, pay your rent, or just make a few bucks and have fun?
Lucy: For me, it’s being part of something I can feel proud of, and having fun in the process.
Martin: Just to make music, play it and have fun, and maybe break even, that would be nice…almost impossible, but you can dream. (Haha.)
Aly: You know, I’ve not even thought about a goal. Being in a band with Lucy has always been an important thing to me, as we’ve been in bands together for over half our lifetimes now, so I guess to continue that would be my goal. And millions of dollars and a 1959 Les Paul would also be cool.

Tessa: So Lucy, I think it’s really cool how you can go from singing very prettily to almost screaming. How do you get that raspy quality about your voice without hurting it? Any tips for someone who might want to try singing that way?
Lucy: Shucks, thanks…but who said it didn’t hurt?! …um, I drink Old Grandad and Pepsi. (Pure class.) I always seem to end up singing like this – it just feels right! I like to hear singers who have different or interesting voices: Lemmy, David Bowie, Roger Waters, Jack White, Anna Calvi. I went through a phase when I was a teenager, listening to extreme vocal stuff like Diamanda Galas. It’s cool hearing what the human voice can do.

Tessa: How did you all meet and start a band?
Martin: I met Lucy at a mutual friend’s wedding, we got talking about music and about a year later she introduced me to Aly.
Lucy: Aly and I went to school together and have always been in bands together… I met Martin at a wedding. I believe that’s the tradition, to meet your future drummer at a wedding.
Aly: Yeah, I was playing the drums to “Breed” by Nirvana in the music room at school, and Lucy asked if I wanted to be in a band in the next lesson. And here we still are…

Tessa: So, what does your band name mean?
Aly: So, first you should know that due to my illness I take a LOT of painkillers, okay? Bear that in mind.

So about a decade ago I had a dream about a monster. Nothing unusual there, as I’m a lifelong Stephen King fan and monsters pop up from time to time. This one was a little Victorian girl in a pinafore dress, but her neck was about 12 feet long and bendy like Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four. She was using this to spy on me through a window, and when I confronted her by saying (in shock), “Who ARE you?” she said “I’m Madeline Rust.” And at this point I woke up nearly screaming.

So from that day on, the name has been rattling round my head, and after being stuck for a band name for what seemed like forever, we decided to use it. It confuses people, but that’s okay; we like doing that.

A bonus question
Tessa: After reading the interview, I want to ask another question. Aly, how does your arthritis affect your playing?
Aly: Playing guitar with arthritis is tricky. Apart from the basic fact that I don’t know if I’ll be able to even play a gig until that day, as I can wake up pretty ill quite randomly, when I play I have to wear Tubigrip bandages on my wrists to stop them from swelling, and I tend to play very light guitars onstage to save my shoulders. Even so, after a half hour gig I’m in lots of pain and I tend to get swollen knuckles and a stiff neck the next day.

I’ll never be a jazz guitarist or a shredder, as my fingers don’t stretch very far; some of the joints have fused and don’t straighten. But I guess it’s become part of my style – lots of basic power chords, or open, ringing drone notes and partial open chords too.

My insecurity about this means I’ve always looked for tricks to keep the sound interesting, and that’s where the pedals come in, I guess. I don’t know if you know the scene in “It Might Get Loud” where The Edge from U2 plays a riff with all his FX and it sounds awesome, and then when he plays without it the riff’s like two notes or something, but it’s very funny and that’s basically how I feel most of the time. My gear is all carefully chosen to cover up the fact that I’m not playing guitar “properly,” basically. Not that there is such a thing as playing properly, of course!

You can get more of The Madeline Rust on their Facebook page, Bandcamp, or Soundcloud. What did you think about the interview? Tell us in the comments!

Danielle Ate the Sandwich Interview: Part 2

Read the first part of Danielle’s interview here

Welcome to the final part of Queens of Noise’s interview with Danielle Ate the Sandwich! The singer-songwriter took some time to tell me about, among other things, her decision to be a full-time independent musician and the practicalities of doing so. Aspiring musicians, take note!

Tessa: What are the benefits and drawbacks of being an independent musician?
Danielle: The biggest benefit for me is the feeling of accomplishment. It’s a great feeling to know that I’ve gotten where I am because of myself and the help of a few great people. It’s a very small operation, so it’s possible to take credit and feel pride. I like the control of making the right choices for myself and steering my path in a direction I agree with. I also get to keep most of the money I make. I pay out to a manager, publicist and bandmates, but I don’t have to be paid by a record label. I am the one writing the checks and overseeing how everything is managed. This is also the drawback. It’s A LOT of responsibility and most days I feel more like a small business owner than a musician. It’s hard to keep your priorities straight and the passion for the artistic stuff alive and well. I spend WAY more time emailing and shipping and ordering and organizing than I do practicing or writing. But I’ve been trying to say no more and leave time to write songs and do the things I like more than the busy work stuff.

Tessa: Why have you decided not to go with a major label?
Danielle: Partly because I’ve never been asked to be on one, but also because I really like being in control of what I’m doing. It’d take a really accepting record label to make me an offer I would feel comfortable being involved in. I really like to do things my own way and have a hard time with people telling me what to do. I don’t like when people think they “get” me, especially when they don’t. I feel like record labels are kind of unnecessary—they’d make things easier for me and maybe have gotten me farther than I am today, but I would also have had to put up with a lot of their sh*t.

Tessa: How did your Kickstarter project, where you raised money to help pay for the costs of producing your new album, turn out so well?
Danielle: I can’t say for sure. I think I have a large number of fans on the Internet, so anything that happens on the Internet goes well for me, but after seeing how it all turned out I think it’s undeniable that I have incredible fans! I think they just believe in me and WANT to help me. It was really a surprise to me how it all went down! I was pretty confident I could make the amount I asked for, but I assumed it would take WAY longer.

Tessa: Wanna tell us something about your new album? Maybe some interesting stories about recording it, or would you like to talk about the songs on it?
Danielle: It’s a pretty good album! The guys who played on the songs with me really helped me make it sound cool and a little different than my last record! It’s [become] easier for me to work with others. I’ve grown up in that sense. I can listen to people’s suggestions and say, “Okay, let’s try it!” instead of, “NO WAY! They are my songs and you can’t do anything to them!” There are a couple of songs about gay rights, some on religion, some on love and wondering…I guess the topics are pretty similar to what I usually write about, but I think it’s going to be good!!

Tessa: On your Kickstarter, you said, “thank you for supporting me on kickstarter now and especially during my last few years as a full time musician!” Why are you quitting music? I’ll miss you!
Danielle: Oh no! I’m not quitting. I was just thanking people for the past three years of being supportive and encouraging to me! I am still going on; I just worded that wrong!

Tessa: Any tips for aspiring musicians?
Danielle: Just go do it and do it as good and often and as genuinely as you can.

You can get updates on Danielle’s upcoming album through her website or her Facebook. She’s touring this summer, so check out this page to see if she’s coming to a venue near you!

What did you think about the interview? Share your thoughts in the comments section!