Claire Passey

What brought you to Boston?

I left Salt Lake City 2007 and moved to Boston for girl, I was 27. Ultimately, the relationship did not work out and staying in a city where I knew few people was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I did it and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

Have you experienced a strong scene for Queer women and folx with marginalized genders in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

I’ve watched the queer scene grow in the past 10 years or so, especially for female and gender marginalized musicians and performers. I think this is largely attributed to the impact of empowerment and community building cultivated by the Girls Rock Campaign Boston (GRCB). We started bands, stayed in bands, and continue to show up for each other all over the city.

Claire by Judi Silverman

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

No, I don’t really, though I know we’ve had one. My feeling is that “the scene” was likely (and largely) dominated by gay men.

Bicker photo by Tina Lafleur

What made you decide to join a band?

My friend Heidi of Hurtr (https://hurtr.bandcamp.com/) convinced me to replace their drummer at the time in the band Rope or Bullets. I’d been playing a drums to music on my headphones for years but never in a band and was convinced I wasn’t good enough. I was wrong.

Rope or Bullets Photo by SLUG Magazine

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

Oh Definitely. In my small town high school, I was inspired by John Bonham. In college, I picked up a copy of Punk Planet and saw a piece on two raging genderqueers I immediately identified with in the 1990’s Portland hardcore duo The Haggard. I’d never seen representation like that and it changed everything for me. Later that year, I went to Seattle to see The Haggard open for The Butchies and (holy shit!) watching Melissa York drum was so inspiring to me. Then a year later, I saw the Liars as well as the band Battles and started to really refine some of my stylings.

Photo by Stephanie Plourde-Simard

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

I think things are getting better but there are definitely barriers and stigma. I still get shocked looks from dudes in other bands who seem shocked after they hear me play and who I know are trying to find something else to say other than “you don’t play like a girl”. FUCK yes I do! Now get over yourself!

Photo by Stephanie Plourde-Simard

Red Shaydez!

Red Shaydez, (a stage name she developed from a pair of red sunglasses her aunt bought for her as a child), is a woman of countless talents. “Red” represents her aura and the passion she has for all of her pursuits. “Shaydez” intertwines her nickname and symbolizes her vision of the world as well as her point of view behind her sunglasses. The Boston-native powerhouse (with roots in Macon, GA) is a Boston Music Award winning hip-hop artist, professional video producer, public speaker, educator, and youth mentor. Red’s undeniable talent and electric personality have been widely praised by both local and national media such as MTVBET JAMSBoston 25 News , The Boston GlobeNPR MUSIC, and more! Her music video/mini-film for ‘Little Sabrina’ was selected for the 2020 Roxbury International Film Festival as well. 

Red Shaydez has been headlining shows and performing at festivals like A3C, Hip Hop Festival in Atlanta, BAMS Fest, and area universities in New England for over a decade. After being co-signed by the legendary MC Lyte, Red has released multiple EP’s, two studio albums, and was nominated for “Best Female Rapper of the Year” at the 2015 NYC Underground Music Awards. She has also been nominated for four Boston Music Awards including Album of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and more! Listen to Red’s 2016 Debut album Magnetic Aura, featuring standouts such as “Little Sabrina” and “Relapse,” her sophomore return Feel the Aura, with masterpieces like “Steppin Out,” “Come Here Lil’ Baby,” and “They Call Me Shaydez,” and fan favorite “Self Care ‘18” from 2019 EP Chillin in the Shade. Impressively, all of Shaydez’s work is entirely self-made, self-funded, and self-servicing. Everything from street team to video direction, from album art to beat selection is hand-picked and Shaydez approved.

Bio Courtesy of Red Shaydez website

Q&A for QWIMB

What brought you to Boston?

Born and raised baby!

Have you experienced a strong scene for Queer women and non-binary folx in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

Yes, I have actually. I was embraced with open arms from the Queer scene. That’s when my career began to take off in the city.

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

Not until 2018. I didn’t even know one existed.

Are there any venues or spaces that have been particularly influential or accommodating?

Club Café, Midtown Café (no longer with us), and last but certainly not least Bella Luna Lounge (also no longer with us)

Photo by Jay Hunt

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

Aaliyah for sure for her overall persona and approach to music/personal life balance. Her mystery. Probably one of the biggest reasons I wear the shades besides my social anxiety! Lol

I’m also inspired by Missy Elliot, J. Cole, Nas and Queen Latifah to name a few.

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

There will always be barriers to overcome because people as well as institutions feel entitled, especially with the Transgender community. Opportunities given to queer folks often exclude them. That needs to change. With that being said–things are getting better in some areas.

What advice would you give to a Queer person thinking about getting into music?

You deserve to take up space. You have every right to be here.

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

DJ WhySham, DJ Live, Oompa, and Lik Meraki

Red Shaydez Website

Red Shaydez on Twitter

Red Shaydez Instagram

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

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

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 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 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: http://soundcloud.com/ohfenfen

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.

Say Hello to Solo Sexx

Bio:

Forged deep in the psychedelic undertow of UMass basements, sticky floored queer clubs, house parties, porches, and backyards, Solo Sexx has been serving rude and riotous Salt-n-Pepa-meets-Buzzcocks-meets-Shangri Las realness since 2008. Since then, they’ve glittered and grinded all up over New England and beyond, performing at the Boston Freedom Rally, touring the East Coast, rocking festivals and events for the likes of Girls Rock Camp Boston, the Human Rights Campaign, Yes All Women, and more–all while bringing their unique brand of fearless flavor to audiences who leave wondering how they ever survived sans-Sexx. With a fearless sense of humor and a no-holds barred attitude, Solo Sexx turns the hip-hop hypocrites on their head and leads fans to a whole new horizon: with home cooked beats and outta sight rhymes covering everything from being broke (not for long), being white (last they checked), and being free to perform the self pleasure their name is shouting, Solo Sexx proves that the alternative to the add-water-and-stir rap chumpitude is funkier, fresher, and just plain sexxier than ever before.

QWIMB Q & A

What brought you to Boston?

Heather Mack: I grew up in the ‘burbs, moved out to Wild Western Mass to get weird for 5 years, then when I graduated from UMass decided it was time to take my chance on the “big” “city” of Boston. I’ve been here ever since!
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Have you experienced a strong scene for queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

Heather Mack: I think Boston is incredibly lucky to have a fierce faction of queer feminist badasses involved in all aspects of artmaking, from promotions to production to burlesque to punk rock and everything in between. The best part is, although the queer scene is relatively small, people are LOUD about it–in one week you might have Queeraoke, WTFQueerlesque, and Pink Noize, all unapologetically loud and raucous queer, feminist events happening at all different parts of town. And for the most part it’s pretty inclusive, like a big weird rainbow family you just might not have met yet. We freaks tend to stick together, and it makes a big difference.

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

Heather Mack: The first “queer” event I ever attended in the city was probably Rocky Horror back when it was in Harvard Square–I was just a little tyke back then! Since then I’ve felt incredibly blessed by all of the opportunities I’ve had to be involved in the queer scene, as a performer and as a fan. I’m not so sure about the scene’s “history”, since I didn’t really start identifying as queer until college out in W.Mass where I frequented queer events for the first time, and only since coming to Boston about 5 years ago have I gotten really involved in this scene in particular. Either way, I’m pumped to be out here making new queer history with so many awesome artists and visionaries, and I gotta say, the future’s looking bright!
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What made you decide to join a band?

Julez:Being around creative people during those crucial college years who were also experimenting with music and constantly producing art of all genres. For me, the beats came first and I owe a lot of my early inspiration and motivation to that core group of creative friends.

Heather Mack: Julez really says it best, we were just incredibly lucky during our college years to have been part of a chaotic cotillion of psychedelic musicians, artists, visionaries and weirdos that had our own unique culture and community where everyone was not only free, but encouraged to experiment with everything, especially art. I had started a punk band when I was in high school called The Bush Administration and even though we didn’t take ourselves seriously I was really addicted to the feeling of shocking people onstage with something they didn’t expect, or would otherwise dismiss. I also already had an instinct for having a fully female fronted band performing songs that were filled with innuendo, and that riotous, raunchy energy provided the foundation for my later music.  In college I was part of a crew of dudes who were into hip hop and freestyling, then Julez transferred to UMass and everything got kicked into overdrive. She went home for winter break and taught herself to make beats, by the time she got back we were writing songs for just the two of us. That’s when we created “Solo Sexx”–the name is a reference to going solo, pleasing yourself first, and knowing that sometimes you just gotta do it on your own, you know?

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

Julez: DJ culture has always been a big influence on me. I was always trying to recreate the way DJs mix different sounds and samples together. So our beats reflects that.

Heather Mack: AAAH! So many. Rupaul, Kate Bush, GG Allin, TT The Artist, Rye Rye, Santigold, MIA, Buzzcocks, 90s house divas, Cakes Da Killa, PWR BTTM, David Bowie, Amanda Palmer, Missy Elliott, Downtown Boys, Mykki Blanco, Big Freedia, the Shangri-Las–bands who challenge the status quo, defy gender roles, and just make badass music that challenges you to think critically while also having an absolute blast on the dance floor.

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

Heather Mack: The internet is bringing things to a whole new level in a really positive way–I think queer female performers are getting much more visibility, and more and more celebrities are coming out as genderqueer and trans and sexually fluid, so that’s helpful in terms of breaking down old narratives and stereotypes around gender and sexuality. I also think there’s been a push to create intentional queer DIY spaces where those artists are not only welcome, but explicitly sought out and celebrated. The more visibility there is, the more we are able to give permission to other queer female or trans or genderfluid artists to be fully, wildly themselves–and to support one another in the process. I’m also pumped that venues tend to be really open to having queer events or having queer identified bands perform, and I’m happy to be able to host events like that too–like our upcoming Queer Women in Hip Hop night.

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Are you in any other bands?

Heather Mack: Nope! But I am in the Boston League of Women Wrestlers.

What has been your proudest moment as a member of a band?

Julez: Performing on stage at the weed rally in Boston a few years back! Such a huge crowd- felt like a rockstar.

Heather Mack: My favorite part of being in a band is the reactions we get from the crowd. Although every single show we invariably have some crew of (usually) dudes come up and say some version of “I thought you were gonna suck, but you were amazing!” and it’s always satisfying to know that you smashed a stranger’s perception of you, that’s not what makes me proud. What’s really incredible is when young women come up to us and tell us that we showed them that it’s possible to be a woman who raps and rocks crowds, and that we inspired them to try to make music too. As much as we do it for ourselves (hence the name, again), those moments are what sustains us and make us really proud of what we’re doing. That’s why we also love to do events for badass organizations like Yes All Women, Human Rights Campaign, and Girls Rock Camp Boston–because we know we’re offering up our art to help contribute to a positive, supportive community where people of all genders and sexualities have the resources they need to rock out in whatever way they choose.

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

Julez:YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE! Seriously don’t be afraid to take that first step, and don’t doubt yourself too much. And if you’re lucky and the ideas and creativity starts flowing early on DON’T SLEEP ON IT! Make the most of it- it’s a precious commodity.

Heather Mack: DO IT! Make mistakes. Write a song, then scribble it out and start over 20 times. Then stop scribbling things out and embrace every flaw as a foundation for something fabulous. Go see local shows and discover new heroes. Make friends with your heroes. Book shows with your heroes! Don’t wait for other people to do things for you–learn everything you can by throwing yourself into it. If you feel like there aren’t enough cool venues in Boston, create one. If bookers don’t want to book a hip hop show, bypass them and book shows yourself. Make other amazing friends who create weirdo art and love you for it and hold you accountable to your aspirations. Be reckless, fearless, and bold–even if you’re terrified. There’s no time like the present–and life’s too damn short to be boring!

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

Heather Mack: Check out Afro Panther (iamafropanther.soundcloud.com) and Billy Dean Thomas (facebook.com/billydeanslist), two artists who will be performing along with us at our upcoming Queer Women in Hip Hop showcase at the Lilypad, January 30th!

For more from Solo Sexx: