Bow Down to Brandie Blaze

Brandie Blaze is a hip hop artist from Boston, Massachusetts. Heavily inspired by Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliot, Blaze spreads her message of “trap feminism” through her hard hitting bars and dynamic stage presence. Performing since the age of 3, she started writing poetry in middle school and transitioned to rapping in high school. Blaze has had the pleasure of opening for such artists as JPEGMAFIA, Junglepussy, STL GLD, Oompa and Cliff Notez. She has also been featured in publications like Boston Hassle, the Dorchester Reporter, Vanyaland, Allston Pudding, Dig Boston, Boston Magazine, Elle Italia, Madame Rap and grammy.com. Brandie was nominated for 2 Boston Music Awards in 2019 and dropped her sophomore LP, Late Bloomer, this past December. 

photo by shotsxdjl

QWIMB Q&A with Brandie Blaze

What brought you to Boston? 

I’m born and raised in Boston. I’m the 3rd generation of my family to be born here.

Have you experienced a strong scene for Queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

Yes! It’s actually one of the things that I love most about the city and inspired me to come out of the closet in 2018. Before even knowing my orientation, the queer music scene really embraced me and showed me nothing but love and support. I felt at home and comfortable with who I am in my personal life in a way I had never experienced before. 

Do you have any sense of a history of a Queer scene in the city?

I just remember being really young and going to Paradise in Cambridge or Club Cafe with my cousin and just having the time of my life. It just felt really freeing, even when I was still questioning who I was. 

photo by Jay Hunt

What made you decide to start performing?

I’ve been performing since I was 3 years old, so I don’t remember not ever being on stage. I grew up performing, but I’ve changed mediums since being a toddler. I started as a dancer, which I did for 15 years. I started writing poetry in middle school and transitioned to rapping in high school. After I graduated in high school, I still danced for maybe a year, but I gave that up as well. I was 26 years old when I decided to give rap a serious shot because I was missing the stage and felt really empty without it. 

Are there any artists that you look up to or who have inspired your own music?

I grew up with Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliot and all the other amazing rap queens. They inspired me the most in developing my sound and style. Oompa, Red Shaydez and Moe Pope inspire me to continue to grow as an artist and to never stop working on my craft. They’re the bar I set for myself lyrically. 

photo by shotsxdjl

Do think things are getting better for Queer performers or are there still barriers to overcome?

Absolutely, there are barriers to overcome. Especially, as a hip hop artist. The genre is becoming more friendly to queer women, but we still have a ways to go. I want to be able to live in an age where people don’t feel like they have to be in the closet to be a rapper. 

What has been your proudest moment performing music or as a musician in general?

Releasing my second album has been my proudest moment so far. The release party was the biggest crowd I’d ever had as a headliner, and to see people’s reactions to hearing the album for the first time was incredible. I’m also really proud of the strides I’ve made as an artist and performer in the 3 years between my first and second album. 

photo by Jay Hunt

What advice would you give to a queer woman thinking about starting a band or learning an instrument?

Do it! Life is too short to second guess yourself. The first step is going to be the hardest, but once you start and stay consistent, good things will happen for you. Also, open mics are a God send and an amazing way to hone your performance skills and get noticed. 

Are there any other current or former bands or solo artists you would like to see featured by QWIMB?

Red Shaydez, Oompa

photo by Jay Hunt

Pitstain

Pitstain is a queer & feminist punk trio born in Boston, MA. Jules Ozone, on bass and vocals, loves melodic, spotlight-stealing basslines and distorted screaming blended with legitimate singing. Kelly Baker, on drums and vocals, is committed to a DIY ethos and writing heavy-handed lyrics about politics. Kathleen Silver, on guitar and backup vocals, combines meticulous riffs with fuzzy power chords. Imagine if Kim Deal, Meg White and Julia Kugel formed a band. In Boston. And were all super queer and wrote songs about the grind of everyday capitalism, mental health, and being hit on without your consent. The members of Pitstain met through volunteering at Girls Rock Campaign Boston, a feminist organization that empowers youth to make noise and take up space through music education. Self-described “polite punks,” the band members write all of their songs collaboratively and value respect and connection above all else in creative endeavors. 


QWIMB Q&A With Pitstain

Photo by Sasha Pedro

What brought you to Boston?

Jules: I originally moved to Boston for a relationship (0/10 would not recommend), but stayed to attend grad school for mental health counseling. I’m so happy now that I came here because it introduced me to an incredible community of musicians and friends.

Kathleen: I also moved here for grad school and part of why I chose my program is because of the location!

Kelly: I’m the outlier — I was born and raised in Boston.

Have you experienced a strong scene for Queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

Jules: Most of my community comes from Girls Rock Campaign Boston, a community that is made up of many queer women and folks with other marginalized gender identities. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so many people who share my identity, but outside of GRCB I can’t think of any queer women performers who I’ve met in the recent past.

Kathleen: Sadly, grad school demands have kept me from exploring the queer scene in Boston as much as I’d like. Most of my friends here are queer and/or musicians, but that’s probably a sampling bias on my part.

Kelly: When I was in my early twenties, almost a decade ago now, I was pretty heavily into the DIY punk scene in Boston — going to shows in Allston basements and all that. It was a super male dominated space. I felt unwelcome as a queer woman. It kind of chewed me up and spit me out. I didn’t go to local shows for a number of years because it was so triggering. I’ve gotten back into it again and have been so stoked to see how many queer, female, and/or POC folks are creating their own punk spaces and rewriting the narrative of who is centered in DIY spaces. I’m excited to contribute to it now.

Do you have any sense of a history of a Queer scene in the city?

Jules: I don’t at all. I just came here several years ago. According to my partner, Jamaica Plain used to have a thriving queer scene which diminished once rent skyrocketed in that area.

Kathleen: I really don’t but I’d love to learn more!

Kelly: Damn. This question really hit me hard… this is my hometown and I have no idea. That’s why QWIMB is so important — we have to archive & share & talk about queer stories.

Pitstain by Sasha Pedro

What made you decide to join a band?

Jules: I love playing music as an act of self-care, and I love collaborating with people who share my creative aspirations and worldviews. I’ve spent some time making music on my own but playing regularly with friends keeps me accountable and motivated to keep playing!

Kathleen: I’ve been playing guitar since middle school but always either in jazz band or by myself in my basement. I basically handed my best friend a bass and some No Doubt tabs and convinced her to learn so we could play together. We formed a band with our other good friend who is a drummer and after that experience, I didn’t look back! I have played in various bands since then but had a lull period for a few years, so I was SO excited to join Pitstain.

Kelly: It was a lifelong dream. But it felt super out of reach. By my late twenties, I honestly thought I was too old to learn an instrument. In 2017, on a whim, I attended Ladies Rock Camp and that blew my mind. I started teaching myself to play drums, joined this band, and here we are.

Are there any artists that you look up to or who have inspired your own music?

Jules: I started playing bass because I wanted to learn Kim Deal’s basslines from when she played with Pixies. I also draw a lot of inspiration from Kathleen Hanna; she describes her voice as “a bullet” shooting towards an imaginary target, and I think of my own voice in that way when I’m screaming lyrics at the top of my lungs.

Kathleen: So so so many, whether they’re an inspiration for their guitar, lyrics, general attitude, or all of the above. Some all-stars are Joan Jett, Debbie Harry, Shirley Manson, Emily Haines, Marissa Paternoster, and so many more.

Kelly: So many. I love listening to shit that blows up the idea of what a woman should sound like — you know, pretty and soft and shit. I get a lot of vocal inspiration from Brody Dalle (The Distillers), Stephanie Luke (Coathangers) and Marissa Paternoster (Screaming Females), for example.

Flier by Amber of Sapling

Do think things are getting better for Queer performers or are there still barriers to overcome?

Jules: Both! It seems like it has become more acceptable/celebrated to be openly queer as a musician over time, at the same pace at is has become more accepted in general society. Most of the bands I listen to, I listen to in part because they have queer members. I also see ways in which queer performers are held to higher standards than their straight counterparts, such as the queer band PWR BTTM being removed from all streaming services following abuse allegations while mainstream cis male performers continue making music despite numerous accusers coming forward for the same thing. 

Kathleen: What Jules said.

Kelly: Yeah, I think it’s still highly contextual. We seek out venues that are demonstrably queer friendly, we only book gigs with bands that we know (or know of) and have a good feeling about. That’s intentional. And it also feels like I’m in a cozy safe bubble of my own choosing. I think there’s a lot of privilege to that — as three white cis-women. There are lots of BIPOC artists and performers who might experience racism at some of the same venues that I probably consider “safe” or “good.” That’s a blind spot for sure. I look to organizations like BAMS Fest who are doing some dope artist organizing to carve out space for QTPOC folks in the Boston music scene.

What has been your proudest moment as a member of a band or as a musician in general?

Jules: I’m so proud of how our band writes music collaboratively and base all of our process and aesthetic on mutual respect and love for one another. I would not want to embark on any creative endeavor that didn’t double as an interpersonal bond with my creative partners. It is sometimes hard to maintain these values as stress and creative differences occasionally come up, but we stick to them regardless.

Kathleen: This was a long time ago, but I remember playing a show at this bar all the way back in high school with some other bands who were all dudes. I think it was my first show that was actually in “public” even though basically nobody came. I was setting up in the back and the manager forcibly grabbed my shoulder and was like, “No girlfriends allowed backstage.” It was immensely satisfying to shove his hand off me and show him my fist (marked B for band). That memory has stuck with me for over a decade.

Kelly: Oh my god, Kathleen, that’s the worst. Your response, though! Badass. For me, my proudest moment is just getting up on stage and doing it. It’s incredibly vulnerable and nerve-wracking and exhilarating, every time.

Flier by Kelly Baker

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about starting a band or learning an instrument?

Jules: Start out learning on your own! I think that many women/girls who want to play music feel that they need to be taught by a professional in order to learn the “right” way to play, and those professionals are often male musicians who teach in a didactic and intimidating way that does not always align with how people learn. Also, as women, we are socialized to be ashamed of any creative mistakes we make, which prevents us from learning because mistakes are so integral to gaining mastery. If you rock out alone in your room, you can make as many mistakes as you want and not feel judged by whatever bro thinks he’s been tasked with teaching you the “right” way to play.

Kathleen: Do it! Also, practice, practice, practice. It might take longer than you hope to get where you want to be but that just means you have more time to have fun getting to know your instrument. Practice for the process, not necessarily the outcome.

Kelly: You are not too old. Like, seriously, 65 is not too old. Or 30. Or 92. Or 15. The age you are now is the perfect age to pick up an instrument. There’s this obsession in our culture with doing things on a timeline. And that’s the least punk thing I can think of. Just go for it. Be sloppy, make mistakes, get weird with it.

Are there any other current or former bands or solo artists you would like to see featured by QWIMB?

Yes so many like: Palehound, Sidney Gish, and Oompa.


Social Media Links:

Instagram: @pitstainband

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pitstainband/

Meet Elliot Wren

Elliot Wren is an 18-year-old emerging Indie pop singer-songwriter who hails from the Boston area.

Elliot Wren’s music takes you on a journey through their experiences with their raw lyrics and expressive sound. Elliot reveals their substantive soul through the lyrics and arrangements they write and the ease at which they capture your heart.

Elliot Wren has been fortunate to have been an artist on the All You Got Tour for the 2019 season, Countdown To Christmas Concert in Celebration, FL, and First Night Boston in Copley Square. Whether they are performing at a larger venue or smaller more intimate venue, Elliot is always excited to meet new people and share their music. Elliot Wren plays festivals, coffeehouses, microbreweries, and bars/pubs in New England. They can be found weekly playing at open mics at all the well-known venues in the Boston area or rehearsing in the Strega Studios in Brighton. As an 18-year-old solo artist, Elliot Wren has had the pleasure of playing with some of the incredible local music artists on the Boston music scene. Look for more DIY collaborations and new music coming out this spring.

QWIMB Q&A with Elliot Wren 

at Article 24 in Brighton photo by Lisa Teeter

Q What brought you to Boston? 

A I was born and raised in the Boston area. I consider myself lucky to be part of this growing community with all its cultural and artistic diversity. 

Q What got you into music? 

A For me, music was always a way to express myself when I didn’t have much else. Whether it was singing or writing, it was a way for me to cope because I never really fit in growing up. I was always different and singled out, and the music was just my way of dealing with it. It probably saved my life if I am being honest.

Q What’s one message you would give to young queer music artists just getting into the music scene? 

A It’s going to be hard but my honest advice is to just be who you are. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. People will see you being authentic and will respect you for that and eventually you’ll find the people who will support and love both you and your music. 

Q Are there any artists who you look up to or who have inspired your own music? 

A One of my biggest inspirations is Hayley Kiyoko. She is an incredibly talented queer music artist who changed a lot for the LGBTQ community and musicians. I have followed her music career for a long time now. 

Q Do you think things are getting better for queer performers or are there still barriers to overcome? 

A There are definitely still barriers to overcome and there probably always will be but as long as we continue working to break down barriers it will keep getting easier. One of the best ways to help in this process is to actively support other queer music artists on social media and by attending shows. I love the DIY music scene and the opportunities to highlight the diverse talent in this city.

Q What has been your proudest moment while performing music or as a musician in general?

A I would have to say everything involved in the production of my new single, “RIP My Diary” which is being released on February 21, 2020. Writing the song with my previous vocal coach, recording it in BKY Music Studio with Brad Young, and then filming an amazing music video with Smash Cut Films out of LA was something so surreal. I was so proud of myself and of course my incredible team at Strega Entertainment Group for making the magic happen. 

Q When do your ideas for songs come to you? 

A It’s been at the weirdest times and because of the weirdest things. I’ve written songs in the car while my mom drove (safety first), at friends’ homes, at performance venues before a show, you name it. Most of the time though, it’s late at night after everyone’s asleep that I get my best ideas. I end up writing them all in my notes and coming back to it in the morning. 

Q Describe your creative process. 

A I will start with a song idea, usually a concept of the type of song I want to write or a line idea. I then grab my guitar and will play the chords that come to mind initially. After that, it’s usually a stream of consciousness. After that, I will go back and clean up the chords and the lyrics I have written. Once it’s all cleaned up and I have a first version of the new song, I will send it to my manager and if it ends up getting shortlisted for recording, it will go through some slight changes before actually being recorded in the studio. 

Q Have you ever dealt with anxiety about going on stage? 

A Oh absolutely. I just try to take a couple of deep breaths and I remind myself that I will be fine. I have to consciously remind myself that people are there to support me and even if I do mess up a chord or something, I can grow from the experience and hopefully never repeat it. One thing’s for sure, in live music anything can happen, but that’s part of the fun.

Photo by Len Films & Photography

Elliot’s New Single, RIP My Diary, Out Friday February 21, 2020

Check out their new video for RIP My Diary on Youtube.

Elliot Wren Online Presence:

Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/elliotwrenmusic

Instagram – @elliotwrenmusicofficial

Twitter – @Elliot_Wren

Website: https://www.elliotwrenmusic.com

For more information, please contact peggy@stregamarketing.com.

Hegemonix is Here

Hegemonix is the solo experimental electronic pop project of Ava Vex. They have been making music under different project names for a couple years now and identify as trans femme non-binary. They just released their latest EP “The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” They make music to explore identity and politics and also to make people dance and have a good time.

Hegemonix in the studio by Ava Vex

QWIMB Q&A With Hegemonix

What brought you to Boston?

I’m from the area and have been an active member of the DIY music scene here for a couple years now.

Have you experienced a strong scene for Queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc.?

Yeah a great DIY scene that’s accessible and supportive for people starting out playing shows and new projects as well as connecting online to book shows.

Do you have any sense of a history of a Queer scene in the city?

I know a little bit about clubs like Machine and Jacques Cabaret but nothing specific.

What made you decide to join a band?

I started making music and performing and putting it out independently when I was 12 and have kept doing since. I started making and recording music to experiment with sound and also to explore my identity and relation to the world around me, which I’m still doing.

In Studio By Ava

Are there any artists that you look up to or who have inspired your own music?

There are a couple of cis male musicians who have influenced me sonically for a while like Aphex Twin, David Bowie and Beck but right now I find a lot of female and trans pop musicians like Sophie, Charli XCX and Black Dresses to be inspiring in terms of exploring identity and sound in new and exciting ways.

Do you think things are getting better for Queer performers or are there still barriers to overcome?

I think things are getting better in terms of there being more widespread acceptance and understanding of trans and gender non-conforming identities but also there’s still work to be done to diversify fields like music production and live sound tech.

What has been your proudest moment performing music or as a musician in general?

My performances over the past year of being more openly queer and trans have been great and very inspiring for me and others from what I can tell.

Hegemonix Taken by Elsie Hupp, live at Caffeine Underground in NYC

What advice would you give to a queer woman thinking about starting a band or learning an instrument?

Personally I would say experiment and keep trying to find what works, just like I would say to people who are exploring their gender identity, there are no wrong answers, just options

Are there any other current or former bands or solo artists you would like to see featured by QWIMB?

Butch Baby or Prior Panic?

Check Out More From Hegemonix:

Hegemonix on Bandcamp: https://hegemonix.bandcamp.com

SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/hegemonix

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2lqBThCgLAeJZvJ5Fk9hXX?si=rq_0RWRwQ1KQscefFAWR1g

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPzL-zWjxPKhqEqaay9KhjQ

Hegemonix by Erin Eris Kangas, live at Trendy Shit Town in Roxbury MA

Here’s the link to the newest EP: “The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted EP” https://hegemonix.bandcamp.com/album/the-revolution-will-not-be-tweeted-ep

Lyrics from the new Hegemonix EP “The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted”

1. Revolution Is Gay

This is a double-edged song showing how a violent revolution can devolve into a sort of religiosity with the sing-song ending kind of substituting actual change, sort of an opiate of the masses obfuscating systemic changes. I imagined it as a queer Fight Club kind of revolt, like cis guys realizing their repressed gay and trans yearnings and finding solidarity in having gay sex instead of beating each other up in a masochistic display of irrelevance. Also for the record I don’t think Marx is wrong (that’s the narrator of the song speaking) although not entirely right but a useful figure to consider when approaching societal change and the emancipatory potential of labor. 

Well we burned all the factories tonight

Ran out in the street and had a fight

Pitting ourselves against one another

Hey man are you still my brother?

The police showed up and made a scene

Arresting us while we were peeing

On a monument of our boss

Guess it’s a symbol of our loss

I don’t care 

Anymore 

Revolution is here

We’re all queer

Well I’m sitting in a jail cell alright 

Talking to my comrades about our plight

Working class rebellion is the best

As long as you can pay the cost

The robot guards are on our asses

Telling us we’re unemployed masses

The revolt didn’t work and now we’re dead

This is the afterlife instead

All the time

We were lied to

Marx taught us wrong

Everything is a song

Sing for your life

Don’t be scared of the cause

Change everything 

Open up all your thoughts

Free love is here

If you want to be saved

Trust in the sound

Of your golden voice

Lyrics from the new Hegemonix EP “The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted”

2. White Lies

This is a song that I wrote one morning after reading about the the Tulsa race riots, which I recommend reading up on here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_race_riot

It’s been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history” as white authorities decimated what was then the most prosperous Black community in the U.S. I felt inspired to write the song to explore how racist systemic police violence is still very alive as we all know and to speak to how fundamentally violent the state is above and beyond supposedly “violent criminals.” I included a quote from the amazing Angela Davis from this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIDgDFvyeS8&t=8s

I was wary about releasing this song at first because it’s written from a place of purposeful ignorance, a somewhat conscious citizen who insights violence without considering the racial dynamics of the situation. I just want to clarify that I don’t directly believe what’s stated as “I” statements in these songs but rather wanted to illustrate a somewhat flawed point of view that might be the more common understanding of such events as peddled to us by the mainstream media. 

Woke up this morning

With tears in my eyes 

I couldn’t see through

All of the lies 

Hundreds dead in 

The city tonight 

Police killing whoever  

They like

We must maintain 

Law and order 

To have a story 

For the reporters

The citizens have 

Gotten unruly 

Time to show

The power of cruelty

White lies 

Black lives

Violence lives

In hearts and minds

They say that it’s 

A story in history 

So why is it such

A big mystery 

Black citizens 

Killed for resisting 

White powers

Still insisting 

We’re making 

A movie about it

Promotional 

Responses are rabid

Profiting off 

Tragedy like this

Is how we respect

Whoever resists 

We like

Bad times

Stories thrive

That surprise 

Angela Davis: 

“Because of the way

This society is organized

Because of the violence

That exists on the surface everywhere

You have to expect that

There are going to be such explosions 

You have to expect things

Like that as reactions

If you are black person 

Who lives and walks out

On the street everyday

Seeing white policemen 
Surrounding you”

Whatever man 

Race is dead 

Violence is fine 

As long as it’s mine

Lyrics from the new Hegemonix EP “The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted”

3. Ode to the End

Haha the big finale and definitely the opposite of what I believe. This song is complete resignation and acceptance of the hegemonic order of understanding, that nothing can change and we should just accept societal decay and environmental collapse. No! Maybe there’s some acceptance towards the end of the song though, like transcendance through giving up and being born anew as an empty subject ready for sustenance through revolution, circling back to the first song on the EP. Shout out to Julian and the Strokes for inspiring this song and the first one, big inspiration and definitely someone whose fighting for truth in the face of lies and deception. Keep up the good fight and I hope you enjoy reading my lyrics and commentary! 

Endless wars

Burning Earth

We’re not gonna win

Anymore

The climate is done

It’s all a hoax

Like the moon landing

He says as he smokes

On a cigar

He bought from a store

Down the street

Next to the prison

Where they keep those

Who do not fit

Into the state’s

Definition of a citizen 

He wants you to cum

But you don’t care

Because you are

So debanoire

Part of the queer

Vanguard of hope

That will help us

Slacken the rope

All the

Time you spent

Is not 

Gone

It’s just part of

Experience 

That helps you

Move on 

Are you not

Entertained 

Anymore

Is this not

What you asked

For

What is this trauma

Processing grief 

Actor plays parts 

Reading out lines

I’m calling cut 

Redo the shot 

It was all wrong 

So I walk out

This movie is fucked

The plot is so bad 

It’s going nowhere

Now we’re all bored 

Talk to my shrink 

Who says hold on

Find a new cast

Rewrite the ending 

He wants a cut 

Of all the profits 

Withholds my pills

Until I sign off

Of course I agree

I’m not a fool 

Compromise 

Is my golden rule 

Finally

The grand

Premiere 

We’re all here

The audience

Just loves it

As they clap 

On cue 

Are you not

Entertained 

Anymore

Is this not

What you asked

For

Oh

The end

My friend

Once again

Oh 

The end

Begin

Pretend

Catch their next show at Outpost 186 on 2/14/20 with Fen Rotstein and Expletive. 

Say Hello to Fen Rotstein

Fen is a Latinx Jewish Trans woman making music and organizing shows in the greater Boston area. Known for a diverse body of work and a penchant for the weird, she’s found Boston to be immensely supportive, with a great deal of potential growth for its various scenes.

She got her start in the music industry at a young age playing to audiences around the country during the early days of the Brony fandom. Despite reservations and difficulties in a notoriously conservative scene, she was ultimately inspired by this burgeoning global creative network, and made use of her talents as a multi-instrumentalist and her years of classical vocal training to produce a wide body of work for the community in a variety of genres and styles.

Fen would go on to build a home and a network in Boston, MA, precisely the environment needed to spark a new burst of inspiration, both musically and emotionally. Through her Berklee education, Fen further developed a wide breadth of expertise covering composition, arranging, studio production, and engineering. And through her involvement in the local Rap, Rock, and Electronic scenes in Boston, she continues to explore vast musical landscapes, and hopes to increase her creative output and uplift the Boston music scene, a community that has supported her for years.

Photo by Echo Harris

QWIMB Q&A with Fen Rotstein

What brought you to Boston?

I originally headed out to Boston for school, but I’ve stayed here for the incredible music scene and the lovely queer community. It feels incredible to live in a city large and diverse enough for real connections to be made across various social, sexual, racial, and class-related boundaries; even more incredible to live in a city that’s also small enough for cross-city communities to become tight-knit, to grow while remaining close. Of course, the city and its various scenes have a whole lot of problems to work on, but there’s already such incredible momentum towards a better Boston; I’m overjoyed to get to stick around and see things develop!

Have you experienced a strong scene for Queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

While it may not be the biggest scene in the world, queer women are absolutely leading it! Boston music and queer women are inextricably linked; the best organizers, the busiest and most successful musicians, the hardest working and most stunning artists…they’re all queer women out here! To see someone like Brandie Blaze, or Dez Decarlo, take off and really shine…it’s just incredible; their hard work in the Boston scene makes that possible. It feels like we’re at the start of a new chapter for queer women in Boston.

Photo by Totem Fahey

Do you have any sense of a history of a Queer scene in the city?

I’ll be frank, being a relatively newer voice in the Boston scene, it’s hard for me to draw upon my own personal experience to give an idea of the history of queer music in Boston. However, I think its safe to say that a relevant chapter in this history is being written right now. More queer women are standing up every day, more black voices are being heard and celebrated, more safe spaces are opening up. An explosion of rap, rock, and electronic music lead by queer women is waiting to happen as we speak!

What made you decide to join a band?

While I’ve been working as a musician in one way or another, either solo or in a band, for around 10 years now, I found myself primarily doing solo work from the get go here in Boston. After a few years of solo work, I eventually came to the conclusion that collaborating and exploring music with a team of people might be exactly what I needed to progress, both within the scene and within the narrative of my own musical development. I started joining and/or starting bands here and there, and now I’m happy to say that I’m playing with Violet Not, and Pregnancy Mask; 2 rad bands filled with lovely people~

Photo by Sheri Furneaux

Are there any artists that you look up to or who have inspired your own music?

Oh most certainly! it’s easy to rattle off obvious influences, I mean I could hardly avoid mentioning Nine Inch Nails, or The Gorillaz, or Phy Life Cypher, or Aphex Twin, but ultimately, I think it’s always a bit more interesting to talk about what someone’s listening to when they’re walking home from work, or going to the grocery store. To that end, I’ve been listening to a lot of The Garden, Japanese Breakfast, Soweto Kinch, Ollie Byrd, and Pieta Brown— Really solid releases, songs that bring a sense of healing that I think is somewhat lost from a lot of what’s on the radio these days.

Do think things are getting better for Queer performers or are there still barriers to overcome?

I don’t really think those two things are mutually exclusive; there will always be barriers, but things are improving! More and more queer people are finding themselves accessing fame and mainstream artistic success that has never been known by the out queer people of generations past. Large parts of the US government are, on a federal, state, and local level, fighting hard to reduce our liberties as members of the LGBT community, and the damage being done is undeniable. From the place of privilege that many of us, myself included, find ourselves in, it can be easy to forget that countless queer people are living day-to-day, facing homelessness, poverty, starvation, constant and active threats…the struggle is absolutely real, particularly for the Black people and POC that make up the most significant parts of our communities. But the tide is turning, and legitimate positive change is being made on a societal level; bigotry is increasingly difficult in a world wherein people are personally familiar and supportive of queer people and the LGBT community. This is the role that music and other forms of art and media can play in our liberation.

Photo by Sheri Furneaux

What has been your proudest moment performing music or as a musician in general?

That’s definitely the toughest question for me out of all of these. For me, my musical career has felt and continues to feel like a never ending quest of growth and creative output; proud moments come and go, good performances are followed by bad performances are followed by great performances. Playing to crowds of a thousand or more, going on national tours, these are all definitely accomplishments I’m proud of, but I think my favorite moments in my musical life have been found while teaching. Teaching music and having the chance to feel like I’m helping people better understand music, even themselves, is possibly one of the most cathartic things I get to experience. Is it super corny? Oh most definitely.

What advice would you give to a queer woman thinking about starting a band or learning an instrument?

Photo by Sheri Furneaux

Pick something up, anything that speaks to you. Block out naysayers, build your support network. Find your home, your family, and your practice space. Once you’ve got that, all you need to do is practice, and to build your relationships. The best thing about being queer, about being a woman, even in these tough times, is plain and simple: you have every reason to be friends, partners, bandmates, and family with your sisters. We can build, but only with each other; there’s nothing that will help you more than reaching out to the people around you, building relationships, and giving yourself to the art you love, no matter what form it takes. The first, most difficult step is allowing yourself to love something without shame. Once you’ve got that love, nothing can stop you.

Are there any other current or former bands or solo artists you would like to see featured by QWIMB?

Oh for sure; right off the bat, y’all should contact Dez Decarlo and Brandie Blaze, and the bands WIMP and Ansonia! They’re lovely people and performers all around, and they most certainly deserve the attention. There’s a whole lot of amazing and talented queer women in Boston; people with real roots in the scene, like Dez for example, act as an inspiration to many of us. There may not appear to be a scene packed to the brim with queer women, but there are so many of us slowly rising to the surface. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see things blow up in the next year or two. If you’re at all concerned about finding great queer artists, I can confidently say, you’ve got nothing to worry about~

Photo by Echo Harris

For more on Fen, read Fen’s Interview with Boston Hassle

You can find the FEN Instagram and Facebook here: https://www.instagram.com/ohfenfen/  |  https://www.facebook.com/ohfenfen/

You can find the Pregnancy Mask Instagram and Facebook here: https://www.instagram.com/pregnancymask/  |  https://www.facebook.com/pregnancymask/

You can find the FEN soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/f3nning

FEN’s band, Pregnancy Mask has a new album coming out soon! Buy the album on Bandcamp! You can find the Pregnancy Mask Bandcamp at the following link here: https://pregnancymask.bandcamp.com/

Pregnancy Mask has a show coming up 2/16/20: https://www.facebook.com/events/122825892324624/

Flier by Fen

Introducing Amber Sage

Bio: Amber Sage is a singer/songwriter, as well as visual artist from Boston, Massachusetts. Sage’s style is occasionally categorized as ethereal wave, but consists more so of signatures found in Neo-Goth Pop. 

Inspiration is often drawn from her experiences with romance; occasionally involving both sapphic and heteronormative themes. Depression/PTSD are also  topics woven in throughout Sage’s discography. 

Amber Sage by Joseph Ramah

QWIMB Q&A with Amber Sage:

What brought you to Boston?

I am from Massachusetts originally! I grew up here and have lived here for most of my life. The LGBTQ community here is very much a strong community locally and I’m lucky to live in a place where people are supportive for the most part.

by Joseph Ramah

Have you experienced a strong scene for Queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

I feel like we are lacking representation of queer/trans/poc women in the local music scene and just women in general really. I do feel like the majority of LGBTQ representation is for white queer men and it would be a beautiful thing to see everyone be given the same amount of opportunity. I have been turned away from certain opportunities in the music industry that were then given to a man. 

Amber Sage

Do you have any sense of a history of a Queer scene in the city?

From what I have known, the queer community in boston was mostly underground around the 90’s and only in the 2000’s has it been a more widely known and supported thing. I feel like for a while there was not too many opportunities for queer folk.

What made you decide to join a band?

It was mostly my influence from 90’s grrrl bands that got me interested in doing music. I was in a few bands in highschool but none that were long term. My first real band was KK Slider (named after the animal crossing character). We were a band for about 2 years and then our guitarist moved to LA and things got a little complicated and I decided I wanted to pursue a solo career. My old bandmates are still in bands though that are really good!

Another reason why I make music – growing up I was always pansexual. I would fall for girls (and boys) and feel like I had no one to relate to and no love songs that felt accurate for me. I wrote a lot of my own songs about my first girlfriend at the beginning of my music career. And it was healing to write about that breakup.

Amber Sage by Joseph Ramah

Are there any artists that you look up to or who have inspired your own music?

So growing up I listened to a lot of “riot grrrl” music that was from the 90’s, a time when women’s rights were trivialized. Some of those bands were bands like L7, Babes in Toyland, and Hole. I found it to be be so empowering to see women out there being badass and fighting for equality. The only thing is I wish that there was again more representation for queer women and women of color. Was it progress for women to have that movement in the 90’s? Hell yeah. But there is still a problem where the narrative is mostly coming from women that are white or cis, and I think in 2020 we absolutely need to see more variety 100%. Also I love Kim Petras.

Do think things are getting better for Queer performers or are there still barriers to overcome?

I absolutely think there’s still barriers to overcome. More shows that feature LGBTQ people in general is needed in my opinion. 

What has been your proudest moment performing music or as a musician in general?

It hasn’t happened yet honestly.

by Daniel Nyman

What advice would you give to a queer woman thinking about starting a band or learning an instrument?

Do it! Life is too short to feel discouraged or to let fear hold you back

Are there any other current or former bands or solo artists you would like to see featured by QWIMB?

Lusus

by Joseph Ramah

Interviews with Amber:

http://bostonvoyager.com/interview/life-work-amber-sage/

Interview in Boston Voyager

Interview in Underground Vampire Club
Amber Sage
Amber Sage
Amber Sage

Check out Amber Sage’s music on Spotify.

Welcoming 2020 at the Rock Mansion

Have you been to a show at Rock Mansion? If you haven’t, you’re missing out! Amy Tyson rebuilt the Dorchester home herself over a period of years and it’s the most welcoming place in town to play a show. She sets up her PA from her home studio in the dining room and it’s an instant safe space for Queers, misfits, artists, and their allies to debut new material, new projects, and show off their talents.

Pam Nicholas welcomes you to Rock Mansion

On December 31, 2019, Rock Mansion welcomed the end of a tough year by celebrating 3 bands and one artist. Up first was New Recording 23, which is Pam Nicholas from Pop Smear, Shiva Speedway, and the current Dowager, and Amy Tyson of Fur Purse and Rock Mansion ownership. They are an instrumental rock project and are amazing. Pam is a force on the drums and Amy Tyson wails on her Ibanez like nobody’s business.

New Recording 23

David Champagne played solo next. He was a small package with a lot of heart and I linked here to his web page for more info about his music and upcoming shows with his other projects. Most of his other shows, if not all, are sold out, but you can get a sense of his sound at the link provided.

David Champagne

After a short break came Bicker. According to Eve Belfer-Ahern, Bicker can be described as, “Bicker is me n claire (Passey) (of FurPurse with Eve and Amy Tyson) and Ella from lady pills and Adam from Stompbox and Chris from black cat guitar, FIRST SHOW!!”

Bicker at Rock Mansion 2020

Bicker at Rock Mansion 2020

Bicker ruled! If you like Fur Purse, watch out for Bicker! I took like 50 photos I swear to God. I wish I had a video, but you’ll just have to keep your eyes open for their next show.

Claire, Ella, and Adam of Bicker

Eve of Bicker with the crowd

If you want to see New Recording 23 again, you have to bother Amy and Pam to keep it up, which they better!

New Recording 23 at Rock Mansion 2020

Holy Ghost was supposed to play, but one of the women, Mary Beth Cahill got sick. Suzanne Hinton says about Holy Ghost, “This will be the first show for Holy Ghost, me and Mary Beth Cahill (we used to have a band called Looker).” I hope to see Holy Ghost come together again in the new year.

New Year’s Eve at Rock Mansion 2020 Flier by Suzanne Hinton

The final band of the night, Argo Arkestra, was supposed to bring the extravaganza with sci-fi covers and the like, but I missed it because I had to leave before they went on. Christopher Carmelovich describes the Argo Arkestra as, “Argo Arkestra is Noell Dorsey (Guillermo Sexo/Major Stars/Beautiful Weekend), Aaron Bennett (Crystal Understanding/Death Shepherd/Planet of Adventure), Ernie Kim (Tristan Da Cunha), me (Planet of Adventure), Adam Brilla (Broken River Prophet), Bear Brown (Ho-Ag/Gun Mother), Tyler Derryberry (Ho-Ag/Planet of Adventure/Squirty Worm), and Brian Church (Tristan Da Cunha, who won’t be there this time).”

Argo Arkestra by Georgia Young

There could not have been a better party with a better group of people to ring in 2020. The Rock Mansion 2020 is a place to watch. Words can’t really describe what the Rock Mansion means to me and I hope you have the chance to experience it for yourself so you don’t have to wonder what all the fuss is about. It’s not open to the public,it’s a private home with small private parties,  but if you’re nice and get to know these amazing women, maybe you’ll be invited to the next show.

Flight of Fire

Introducing: Flight of Fire!

Comprised of four vivacious, accomplished women, this dynamic and passionate band explores the musical textures of upbeat hard rock, emotional folk rock, and intricate progressive rock, creating the fresh sound that is Flight of Fire. Highly influenced by classic rock artists such as Led Zeppelin, Journey, Rush, Heart and The Who, as well as modern rockers like Halestorm, Paramore, The Foo Fighters and Evanescence, Flight of Fire has varied inspiration contributing to their unique sound – rooted in time-tested rock with a fresh, modern flavor. Equipped with a dynamic lead vocalist, belting beautiful melodies with power and passion; identical twin sisters creating a harmony of electrifying guitar leads and gritty bass grooves; and a woman of mind-blowing rhythmic inspiration keeping the pocket tight, Flight of Fire is a force to be reckoned with. They have opened for Bon Jovi, The J. Giles Band, The Michael Allman Band, Fitz & The Tantrums, The Strumbellas, Joywave, Alestorm and Lita Ford. Their awards include: Winners of Limelight Magazine’s “Opening Act Contest” 2016, Winners of Radio 92.9 Earthfest Battle of the Bands 2016, Winner of Limelight Magazine Music Awards’ “Band of the Year” 2016, New England Music Awards’ “Last Band Standing” Boston Finalists 2015, Hard Rock Rising 2015 Boston City-Wide Champions and Winners of the 2013 Fox Rocks Bon Jovi Contest to Open For Bon Jovi At Ford Field, Detroit.

QWIMB sent Flight of Fire some questions about Boston and Queerness and here’s what they had to say:

What brought you to Boston?

Our lead singer, Maverick, and our guitarist and bassist, Tanya and Tia respectively, moved to Boston in 2009 to attend Berklee College of Music. Our drummer, Kat, is from Dracut, MA

Have you experienced a strong scene for Queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

We’ve been inspired by so many of the amazing queer organizations in Boston! We’ve been involved with the Dyke March, both in their fundraisers and at the Dyke March itself, and our good friends Unstraight and Mad Femme Pride put on the badass Big Queer Show, which is always a great community of people!

Do you have any sense of a history of a Queer scene in the city?

We’re relatively new to the scene, so we can’t speak to Boston’s queer history as well as others could, but as newbies, we definitely feel that there’s been a strong queer musical community here for a while. We love volunteering for the Ladies Rock Camp Boston (& Girls Rock Campaign Boston), which, while not an exclusively queer movement, is certainly a feminist, empowering org that has been inspiring women to break barriers and make noise!

Flight of Fire
Flight of Fire

What made you decide to join a band?

We’ve been committed to music since we were little, writing songs, studying and performing as much as we could, which brought us eventually to Berklee! Once we were there, we shared a dream of forming an all-female rock band, and Flight of Fire was born.

Are there any artists that you look up to or who have inspired your own music?

We have been greatly inspired by bands such as Led Zeppelin, Rush and Heart in terms of their instrumental/musical prowess and variety. Lzzy Hale from Halestorm inspires us with her leadership skills as a woman in the modern rock industry.

flight-of-fire-pride

Do think things are getting better for Queer performers or are there still barriers to overcome?

Both are true! Boston is one of the best places in the country to be a provocative person, and female queer musicians are breaking barriers just by being themselves! That being said, as an all-female band, we’ve received our share of persecution, from casual condescension and pigeonholing to outward harassment. There’s still hard work to be done.

What has been your proudest moment as a member of a band or as a musician in general?

A couple years back, we won a contest to open for Bon Jovi at Ford Field Stadium in Detroit, and that experience was one of the proudest and most motivating opportunities we’ve had!

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about starting a band or learning an instrument?

Do it! Don’t worry about being great, or even good. Just follow your inspiration. Don’t filter yourself too much – as women, especially queer women, we’re socialized to hold ourselves back every second of every day! Music and performance is about throwing off the status quo and disregarding anything that gets in the way of expressing your most powerful self.

Are there any other current or former bands or solo artists you would like to see featured by QWIMB?

Carissa Johnson, Unstraight, Viva Gina

Flight of Fire recently released their first music video! 

You can check it out HERE

The Legend: Thalia Zedek

Thalia Zedek was born and raised in Washington DC and Silver Spring, MD. She moved to Boston in 1979 and shortly thereafter began performing and recording with bands on the local punk/post-punk scene. In the 80’s she played with White Women, Dangerous Birds (Propeller Records), Uzi (Homestead Records, reissued on Matador) and the New York based Live Skull (HomesteadRecords, Caroline Records). After her stint in New York fronting Live Skull she returned to Boston in the 90’s and formed the band Come. Come lasted until 2000, releasing records on SubPop, Matador, Beggars Banquet and Domino and touring with Nirvana, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Hole, Swans and many others.

At the turn of the century she formed her own group, the Thalia Zedek Band (Matador, Kimchee Records,Thrill Jockey) who are still active to this day and whose 7th release will be out this August on Thrill Jockey. She also recently formed a new band called E, who are currently recording their first LP for Thrill Jockey and she performs live as a member of Dyr Faser and Animal Hospital Ensemble.(Bio courtesy of Thalia Zedek)

Thalia Zedek by Lana Caplan - TZ9260bwcrop
Thalia Zedek by Lana Z. Caplan

Thalia Zedek is truly a living legend and one of the finest voices in rock music today. Boston is lucky to have such a talented musician gracing its many stages. Thalia took the time out of her busy schedule to answer QWIMB’s questions on Boston scenes, Queerness, and being a musician. 

What brought you to Boston?

I initially came to Boston to go to school at Boston University. I lasted all of one semester before deciding that college was not for me, but in the meantime I had already joined 2 bands.

Have you experienced a strong scene for queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

My very first band was called White Women. The other 2 women in the band Dolores Paradise and Judy Jetson were both lesbians and in a relationship together. Dolores Paradise was also the wife of, and had a child with, the infamous Lou Miami of Lou Miami and the Kozmetix, a well-known Boston queen who fronted a great rock and roll band.

Thalia Zedek by Lana Caplan
Thalia Zedek by Lana Z. Caplan

Do you have any sense of a history of a queer scene in Boston?

Because of my association with White Women and Lou Miami I was thrown right away into the queer punk scene. The music scene that was based around Cantones and Maverick’s was full of queers, trannies, lesbians etc. Human Sexual Response, Plastic Warsaw, Mark Thor, Lou Miami to name a few. I also kind of remember all of those bars being managed and booked by lesbians. Joan Martin who later managed my band Dangerous Birds booked The Space, and Marlo MacDonald Nagy managed Cantones, to name a few. When I first saw Nan Goldin’s book “The Ballad of Sexual Dependancy” I recognized a lot of those people. I think those photos were from that same scene but probably 5 or 6 years before I was there.

A few years later Marianne Peacott and some others started Rock Against Sexism as a response to the Rock Against Racism movement that was happening in England. I would go to their monthly Tea Parties that were held at a gay bar called the 1270 and loads of local feminist bands would play and the DJ would play punk and post punk music. Most of the women who went were lesbians and there was a really big punk lesbian scene that came out those “Tea Parties”

E by Hanna Rose Shell
E by Hanna Rose Shell

What made you decide to join a band/start performing?

For as long as I can remember I always loved playing music and wanted to be in a band. So I was always trying, but hearing Patti Smith sing Gloria on the radio at 16 was a HUGE moment for me! I went to high school in Silver Spring and I started a band with a girl I met in high school who is now known as Azalia Snail. We bonded over Patti Smith in art class. She was also a huge punk fan and she also turned me onto a ton of other cool bands like Xray Spex and Sex Pistols.

Are there any artists that you look up to or who have inspired your own music?

Patti Smith, Leslie Woods from the Au Pairs, The Raincoats, Pat Place (guitarist for the Bush Tetras and The Contortions) Lydia Lunch, Nick Cave, Velvet Underground, The Birthday Party, Circle X…

Thalia Zedek by Lana Caplan
Thalia Zedek by Lana Z. Caplan

Do think things are getting better for queer performers or are there still barriers to overcome?

I think that things are a lot better these days for queers in general, but of course there are still barriers and prejudices to overcome. Especially for women, because there is till SO much sexism in “rock” music.

What bands are you currently performing in?

Thalia Zedek Band, E, Dyr Faser

Thalia Zedek Band by Tamara Bonn
Thalia Zedek Band by Tamara Bonn

What has been your proudest moment as a musician?

There has been a lot of them, but there have also been some embarrassing ones!

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about starting a band or learning an instrument?

Do it because you love it and not for any other reason. But if you really love it don’t give up, even when it gets tough. There will be a lot of ups and downs if you really want to do this music/band thing, and you just have to learn to roll with them.

 

2-25 The Lizard Lounge
2-25 The Lizard Lounge

Check Out Thalia on Tour In 2016:

  • Feb. 25th at the Lizard Lounge, Cambridge- Thalia Zedek Band with Brian Carpenter and the Confessions
  • Feb. 27th at Troost, Brooklyn NY- Thalia Zedek Band
  • Feb. 29th at Charlies Kitchen, Cambridge- E with Far Corners
  • March 12th at Midway, Jamaica Plain- E with Fur Purse, Geoglyphs and Medical Maps
  • March 15th at The Sinclair- E with Tortoise and Mind Over Mirrors
  • March 18th at Cake Shop, NYC- Dyr Faser with Minibeast and Platinum Vision
  • March 26th at Out of the Blue Too, Cambridge – Dyr Faser with a zillion others!

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