DJ Skooch

Jen Scumaci (DJ Skooch) has been beat-mixing, remixing, and mash-upping groovy tunes on the New England Seacoast since 2014. She has been the opening DJ for the Ladies of LCD Soundsystem National Tour, Thievery Corporation’s Treasures from the Temple Tour, INBOUND Rocks Presents Amy Schumer (2017) and Two Dope Queens (2018). Coined “The Community’s DJ,” Skooch has provided the soundtrack for community-focused events including TEDx Portsmouth, Portsmouth PRIDE, Telluride by the Sea, Beats with Benefits, and Pecha Kucha Night.

One of her passions is creating safe spaces for women and the LGBTQ+ community to come together and dance, namely The Sagamore Club Presents Series at The Press Room, See-You-Next-Tuesdays at Fool’s Errand Boston, and the annual Women’s Weekend Ogunquit.

Tune into Skooch’s “Set for Love” on Friday November 20th – a 12-hour marathon livestreamed DJ set to benefit the Last Night A DJ Saved My Life Foundation, which is raising funds to provide food, clean water, and sanitation supplies to communities in developing countries suffering from the consequences of lockdown. More info on IG @j_skooch and FB @DJSkooch.

Photo Credit: Jen Scumaci

What brought you to Boston?

I moved to Massachusetts in 2000 to go to grad school and loved it up here so much that I stuck around and moved closer to Boston in 2002.

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

Ya know, I really have! I think the Boston area is a great place to be a queer womxn because even though the actual “scene” might not be as prevalent as it is in some other cities, the sense of community I’ve experienced is off-the-charts. Every queer womxn I’ve met has the same fire, passion, and drive to create connections between and amongst us that are empowering, uplifting, and super genuine and I feel so proud to be in the mix. Before the pandemic, I was spinning at Fool’s Errand on the Fenway every week for See-You-Next-Tuesdays (cocktails, snacks, tunes, connections, & community for queer womxn), launched in January 2020 by the amazing Chef Tiffani Faison. I have no doubt that had it not been for COVID, those nights would still be going strong!

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

Well, this is where the “Boston marriage” originated, right? 😉 In all seriousness, the history of LGBTQ+ advocacy in Boston runs pretty deep – this is where GLAAD was born and where the first openly gay state rep (Elaine Noble) was elected – and Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Obviously these are not examples of a “scene” but I guess my point is that there’s a lot of queer blood in the veins of Boston’s history and I just love that.

What made you decide to start performing?

In 2014, my best pal DJ Jodi (DJ Jodi Entertainment) asked me if I would consider learning how to DJ to work some gigs for her. Saying “yes” was like tapping the first domino in the most amazing domino chain ever. I love being a DJ more than I’ve ever loved working any job I’ve ever had and I wanna be an 80-year-old grandma dropping bass like you read about.

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

Well, I don’t really have “my own” music since I’m not a production DJ (not yet, anyways…!). I use other people’s music to elevate events and experiences and I do work really hard to curate sets and mixes that honor and celebrate the original work of the artists whose music I use. My DJing/mixing style has absolutely been influenced by the pioneers of hip-hop music (Kool Herc, Grand Wizard Theodore, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash). I have always been – and always will be – madly in love with The Beastie Boys. And my DJ idol is DJ AM – he was the greatest. There are some super fierce female DJs I look up to, too – DJ Perly, DJ Lady Style, and DJ Killa-Jewel are all mind-blowingly amazing!

Photo Credit: Jodi Duston

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

I think things are both getting better AND there are still barriers to overcome – especially for queer womxn – and I think this will pretty much be the case for the rest of my lifetime anyways. I can tell you that I’ve had many negative run-ins with straight male DJs while I’m just trying to do my thing, but I think that says more about their fragile masculinity than it does about my skills. Sexuality and gender scare people who’ve not spent enough (or any) time or energy thinking about their own identities. I think that population is shrinking, though, and I see a future full of humans who embrace, appreciate, and celebrate everyone for exactly who they are.

What has been your proudest moment as DJ?

At the risk of sounding like a total sap, I am always proudest when I’m playing and I look into the crowd and see my wife lost in the music, dancing like crazy. But if I had to pinpoint a specific proudest moment, it was just recently when I was in my basement all alone with my Technics 1200s and figured out how to manually breakbeat with Biggie’s “One More Chance.” It was also pretty rad to get to open for Thievery Corporation, the Ladies of LCD Soundsystem, and Oompa.

What advice would you give to a queer woman thinking about getting into music or starting to DJ?

DO IT. DO IT NOW. DON’T WAIT ANOTHER MINUTE. And, you don’t have to drop everything to do it – you can ease into it and as long as you are consistent, you’ll gradually get better and better at it. And as you get better at it, you will fall in love with it more, which will make you wanna keep getting better at it, then you’ll fall deeper – it’s an amazingly fulfilling cycle. Also, reach out – make connections with people and events that feel important to you. Hell, if you like what you read in this interview, reach out to me and let’s talk – I love collaborating with and learning from rad people!

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

ALL OF THEM! I wanna know about everyone, for realz! Thanks for giving voice to queer womxn in music in the Boston area! <3

More from DJ Skooch

Jen Scumaci

jen@fastgirl.co

603.285.1143

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/

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