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

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

Call Me Doxy

Call Me Doxy is an angsty, feminist interpretation of classical motifs in a Cabaret coated, rock n’ roll context. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Call Me Doxy may be better described as the musical equivalent of an unlaced corset, or a cacophonously sultry orchestra of ne’er-do-wells. Prompted to action by misogynists everywhere, Call Me Doxy often explores (and dispels) the concepts of gender roles, sexuality, and empowerment with the combined musical forces of five unlikely partners in crime.

What brought you to Boston?

Initially, college. But good friends, good music, and the warmth of the Boston community have kept us (Call Me Doxy) here.

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

Yes, to a certain extent. Most people in Boston are incredibly welcoming and tolerant. That being said, I don’t personally feel like I have enough of an awareness of/connection with other queer musicians. I would like that to change. Our band has been playing together for a little over a year at this point, but we rarely play shows with fellow members of the queer community. We would love to play a stronger role in advocating for the freedom to express sexuality and gender in less binary ways: it’s a huge part of why we make the music we make.

What made you decide to start performing?

We share the same ideals and the same message: people are people. All of us have been pigeon-holed at one time or another because of our gender or sexuality. All of us (regardless of whether or not we all identify as queer) want to advocate for social change, feminism, and a heightened awareness of the way bigotry has crept into cultural normalcy (and how to stop that.)  And it just so happens that all of us wanted to communicate this through classically influenced, cabaret-rock music.

What has been your proudest moment as a band?

Honestly, every moment we play together is the proudest moment. We rehearse twice a week, we play at least once a month, and yet the novelty of being able to share space with each other has yet to wear off. Just being in the same room as them makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy, it’s pretty gross.

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

Do it. If you have the slightest inkling to do it, DO IT.  Music should be music, regardless of your gender or sexuality. So do it. Worst case scenario, you’re learning something new. That’s a pretty innocuous worst case scenario.

The Revolutionary Marcia Deihl

It is not often that one gets to sit down and talk with an icon of the Women’s Movement, but I had that opportunity last week during my interview with Marcia Deihl. Marcia has been a fixture in the women’s movement in Boston since the late 1960s. It is hard to visualize a time with no women’s centers or GLBT rights. Deihl was part of a generation that gave these and many other things that we often take for granted. This was a time when the words “lesbian” and “feminist” were used with pride and often met with significant cultural resistance. She was at the forefront of the movement that not only normalized these terms, but helped define them. The word “queer” was used at that time to denote those belonging to the counter culture as well as to describe G&L peoples. It later expanded to include LGBT.  The movement in support of queer women began as a lesbian feminist movement and has expanded to include a broader spectrum of folks in the last 2o years. In any event, a view of the lesbian feminists of the 1970s would show Marcia Deihl at the forefront.

marciaPink390
marciadeihl.com

Marcia Deihl has been committed to activism since she came to Boston in the late 1960s to attend BU as a music major. She is a classically trained harpsichord player, but she felt boxed in by the traditional and elitist nature of her training. This led Marcia to pursue more radical alternatives, which she found in the Goddard School of Vermont. The school was offering feminist music courses in Cambridge, MA, influenced by the grassroots nature of the folk movement of the 60s and 70s. Marcia earned a Master’s Degree at the Goddard School in Feminism and Folklore. The school was also offering accredited Master’s programs in film making, left wing organizing, and children in the revolution.  This was a time when much of academia was not offering courses on women’s studies or radicalism and interested parties had to find places to educate themselves. It was only through the hard work and dedication of these activists did the larger academic community finally catch on to the need for an exploration of women’s history, popular culture, race and gender studies, and many other areas.

c. www.marciadeihl.com
c. www.marciadeihl.com

In Cambridge in the 1970s, there were Lesbian Feminist Music Collectives and women’s bars within which to showcase their talents. Bars like the Marquee in Cambridge, Sneakers in Somerville, and Somewhere Else in Boston. Imagine having a bar in the city exclusively dedicated to serving gay women? Boston has not had a women’s bar in over two decades. There would have been a ready -made venue for all of the bands QWIMB features. Women would not have to wait for their one night a month at male establishments and could have Monday-Sunday to plan events!

smash
www.marciadeihl.com

It was in this atmosphere that Marcia founded her band the New Harmony Sisterhood Band. Marcia’s website, www.marciadeihl.com showcases the band history as well as the history of other women’s groups during this time. Her Music in History workshop on the lesbian feminist movement is “Still Aint Satisfied.” She also has a program on gender and the representation of women passing as men throughout history entitled “She Dressed Herself in Sailor’s Clothes.” These workshops are the best place to start an understanding of the history of queer women in music since the 1970s. Please look forward to more features on Deihl and her experiences in the near future.

c. www.marciadeihl.com
c. www.marciadeihl.com

Q & A with Unstraight

Unstraight formed through a blaze of social media and dyke marches and friends of friends. Their music, simultaneously introspective and ringing with clarity, beckons you to connect and wills you to ponder the tenuous nature of relationships and all that you want from life. Unstraight coaxes the wishes out of your imagination and channels them into instruments and amplifiers, pouring sound into your ears until you’re moving your body not knowing why.

Jen on drums, Emily on bass, Katie on guitar, Lizzy on synth, and Madeleine on vocals: together they push the boundaries of alternative rock to the edges, with intertwining ribbons of electronic, punk, and garage. “Clarity” owns the first love song lyrics that Madeleine ever wrote, which pull at you, leaving you wanting more. “Not Close Enough” and “Show Me” tangle with hidden desires, and “Make Up Your Mind” simply wishes certain people would just make up their damn minds and expresses that through a variety of time signatures. And “Words to Seduce You,” well, music is going to save your soul and this song knows it.

The meaning of the band’s name is two-fold; one is blatantly queer and the other that Unstraight does not walk the common path. Walk with them–they already love you for it.

Unstraight is all women, all queer, and all you ever wanted. (bio courtesy the band)

Q&A WITH QWIMB

What brought you to Boston?

Madeleine: I came here for grad school in psych and stayed to pursue music, which is what I’m actually supposed to be doing with my life! Emily came for work as well I believe (she is a post-doc in math at Harvard), and Lizzy and Katie grew up in this general area. Jen has lived all over the country and finally found a home in the Boston area, where two of her siblings also live.

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

Madeleine: When I first moved to Boston and right up until I formed Unstraight, I was in the punk rock band The Furiousity. In that band I had my first taste of what a sense of community in the music scene could be like. When I put together Unstraight, having had that experience I actively sought out a queer music community. While it does exist in some ways it could always be stronger and more present. That is part of the reason that I put on the Big Queer Show (next one: June 6th—Pride Kickoff Party!) collaborating with Mad Femme Pride; I want there to be events in Boston (and beyond?) where the focus is queer music and musicians.

1014111_696854440354361_508085423_n

Do you have any sense of a history of a queer scene here or is the past a faded memory?

Madeleine: I’ve only been in Boston about 6 years and was just fully coming out when I arrived, so I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this question. However, I’ve found a really fantastic network of musicians, queers, artists, performers, queer organizations, and other awesome queer people and allies since I’ve been here and I think they and the events they are involved in really make the queer scene what it is.

Beyond dance nights, like many of Dyke Night’s events, Queeroke, and Zuesdays which I love and are absolutely necessary and appreciated, I think there is a need for other queer spaces and performances which many large events like Big Queer Show, The Femme Show, Genrequeer, Traniwreck, and smaller events like book clubs and discussion groups and craft nights try to fill. As far as history goes, event organizers of the past and present have one very formidable enemy: the couch. Come out and do things, queers and friends!

What made you decide to join a band?

Madeleine: I didn’t just want to join a band; I wanted to make one. I wanted to find musicians who could help me take the music that is in my mind and heart and release it to the rest of the world. I wanted my bandmates to be dedicated, passionate, honest and forthright, and more talented than me. And queer. I basically wanted the (nearly) impossible and got it, and I think anyone can, really, with perseverance.

I’m really grateful to now have a talented platonic musicwife in Katie, who basically has the same music brain as me. We write songs collaboratively and we just both kind of know when our parts (and sometimes when the other person’s parts) are right. We agree 98% of the time, and it’s kind of magical. Jen, Emily, and our new synth player, Lizzy, also seem to really understand the music in a way that I’m continuously amazed at; we give feedback openly, but so much of it seems to be instinctive. I’m lucky. Really lucky.

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Katie: I was extremely impressed and inspired when I first heard Madeleine sing. As the lead singer of her previous band The Furiousity, I immediately noticed her talent, technical ability, and the pure quality of her voice—how it stands out and shines.

Perhaps love at first note?

We both spoke about how we are both classically trained and enjoy the opera. I think I asked her “Want to jam sometime?” and she invited me on her conquest to form an all-women all-queer band. Best decision ever.

We began writing music together and we’ve been creating some of my absolute favorite music in existence. Yeah it’s pretty awesome to be a member in one of your favorite bands! Jen, Emily and Lizzy are all such incredible musicians with improvisational skills and natural instincts, so everything just flows nicely. Madeleine continues to impress and inspire me with her beautifully crafted vocal melodies. I am beyond blessed to make music with all of these lovely ladies.

Jen: This is the second “lesbian” or queer band I was “recruited” into. This one, by Madeleine, who knew an acquaintance of mine, who had heard me play drums with the former band. I knew Katie beforehand, but I only knew of her impressive DJ skills – not that she was also a phenomenal guitarist who pulls Santana-esque riffs out of thin air, noodles Nintendo worthy segues and writes songs that Tool would be honored to perform, due to multiple, rapid-fire time signature and tempo changes.

And yet, I have a very hard time answering the questions “Who do you sound like? What is your style?” The first thing I noticed about Madeleine (besides her Harajuku girls style, for lack of a better term), was her Amy Lee of Evanescence style ethereal vocals which float over our much harder (though still not hardcore) music. And Emily – well, Emily impresses constantly. I call her the “band genius”. I learn new things about Emily all the time, and at this point, I’m no longer shocked, though I am continually impressed. Her skills seem to know no bounds, AND, bonus point, she keeps us on point during practices! Lizzy – let’s just say she fills out the band both with music and personality and I’m happy to announce we have decided to be music-wives. Emily will have to decide if she wants a music wife – we may have to have a wife threesome. When I heard Lizzy’s synth with our music – it was the “Aha!” moment – with eyes bugged out, and screaming “YES!”. The way that we practice, the way that we endeavor to perform, the way that we record – it is with the intent to be as professional as we can be. We mean to be taken seriously, but we are also having a lot of fun doing it!

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

Madeleine: For sound influence, I love Sahara Hotnights, Garbage, and Florence and the Machine, among many others. I also really look up to The Shondes, Amanda Palmer, and Melissa Ferrick—they are really making it DIY style and I really admire that.

Katie: I am inspired by many different styles ranging from classical to indie rock to metal to electronic to folk and more. Notable artists for me are Mozart, Tool, Bjork, Arcade Fire, Pantera, Rodrigo y Gabriela, DFRNT, Fleet Foxes, Juana Molina, The XX and Florence and the Machine.

Jen: I’ve never been into names: brands, celebrities or otherwise. But there have been a few artists that really get that sound that tugs at me and compels me to look them up (at different points in my life). I would say Juliette Lewis, MSMR, The White Stripes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Flyleaf, Bush and Gossip are a short list of bands/musicians that I look up to. I have a lot of respect for any artist that writes his/her own music and sounds great live, though. Shoutout to Kristen Ford and her amazing band, who are writing and performing amazing, original music live right here in the Boston Metro area!

Emily: I’m rarely able to identify an artist I hear on the radio – and this is even if I “know” the song well enough to sing the harmony. When Madeleine recruited me, she included links to music by three artists I’d never heard of. I love it when my bandmates share music with me. I’m learning a lot.

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

Madeleine: It’s better, but I feel like I/we live in a sort of bubble here in Boston. There are still many, many barriers to overcome; when I toured with my last band I got kind of sick of hearing “Oh man, you are pretty good for girls.” In this band we are both all women and all queer; double the chances for some sort of disparaging homophobic or sexist comment. I just like to think of it as double the opportunity to really unexpectedly blow someone away and change their minds and hearts, if just a little, in how they feel about queers and women in general.

Are you in any other bands?

Madeleine: No, but if I could quit my day job and do music exclusively I probably would at least have a side project or two. Or perhaps not be so terribly behind on band promotional work!

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

Madeleine: I have had so many proud moments, but I think my next proudest moment will be when we can finally release our EP to the world this fall. Right now we have some great demo tracks, but to finally have a tangible item that people can purchase and hold in their hand, to finally have something I want to send to everyone I’ve ever met and just say—hey LISTEN, that will be my proudest moment yet.

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

Madeleine: You want to? Start. Learn the instrument that resonates with you. Learn it and study it and love it. Find others who share your passion, they are out there. I volunteer for Ladies Rock Camp Boston for just that reason—women belong in music and queers do too. There is space for everyone; this is not a competition. Go to shows, say hello, meet people, be part of the world you want to be part of. The only thing stopping you is you.

Listen to some of their Music:

Clarity:

Words to Seduce You:

Show Me

Not Close Enough

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unstraight Has a Big Show Coming Up:

BIG QUEER SHOW: PRIDE KICKOFF PARTY–6/6/14

It’s all that you ever dreamed of in a show, and now it has come back as a fabulous kick off party to your Pride week! This show/party will not only start with some friendly Mad Femme Pride-led mixing and mingling, but will follow with four fantastic queer bands, dancing between sets and after the last band until 1 a.m.!

Featuring:

GLBTAQ-loving and friendly. 21+, 8 p.m., $10 advance, $12 door, Copperfield’s: 98 Brookline Ave., Boston.

June 6th BIG QUEER SHOW full 2

Want More From Unstraight:

FUR PURSE!!

FUR PURSE HAS ARRIVED

So just who or what is a Fur Purse?

Fur Purse is:

  • Eve Belfer-Ahern – vocals, saxaphone, keyboards
  • Amy Tyson – guitar
  • Claire Passey – drums

Bio from Facebook: “Menacing, pubesenct, black hearts.”

QWIMB asked the Fur Purse women some questions about life, love, and the pursuit of fur purses and here is what they had to say:

What brought you to Boston and how long have you lived here?

Eve, Claire and Amy were all summoned to planet Earth at different times, but for the same reason:  to be in Fur Purse.  Eve arrived in Boston first, having appeared to have been born and bred here.  Amy showed up in Boston not long after Eve first appeared, and did a bunch of stuff while biding her time.  Claire is the one who is still the most jet lagged.

Why did you form Fur Purse, what brought you all together?

Destiny cannot be denied, everybody knows this!    Inexorable forces, that’s what.  What more can we tell you?  Do you really expect us to understand these forces?  That is similar to us asking, “Why are you, Tina, so deadpanning-ly funny?”

Do you think there’s a good scene/community in Boston for queer female musicians?

We think it is amazing!!  You go queer female musicians!!!

No seriously, even though we don’t believe in labeling ourselves, we know, enjoy, are amazed  and are grateful for the INCREDIBLY strong female presence in Boston Indie Rock!!!  It gives us strength and courage!

Why do you think it was ordained 1000’s of years ago that the three of us would end up at these very particular coordinates as Fur Purse?  If you don’t believe what we are saying is true, then you probably think Ladies Rock Camp is a hoax too.

Fur Purse has Peeps
Fur Purse has Peeps

Have you noticed any trends in the scene, i.e. is it better or worse now than it used to be?

Based on the analysis of the data we each have been transmitting continuously  from the BostonMA area back to our source originations, there has a steep increase in people of the non-male persuasion playing instruments, singing and thrusting their pelvises on-stage in clubs and halls around town.  Marked increase.  Preliminary analysis points to probable cause/influence as likely being an organization, a camp, if you will, that is for ladies who want to rock.

eve yelling claire drums
Eve and Claire at The Cantab

Are there any artists who have inspired you musically or personally?

Amy: Cindy Wonderfulis someone who really helped light the way for me on this crazy zoom zoom wheee!   Eve sends props to all the great performers, like David Bowie, or Boston’s own Deb Nicholson.  Claire says The Haggard broke all the rules and changed her dna forever.

Have you been in other bands before Fur Purse?

Do you BFP?  What is BFP?  This is an illogical concept.

When and how did you get started playing music?

Amy started on air guitar first, then switched to a material, physical guitar at some point, because it’s louder and therefore sounds better.  Claire first started on the sewing machine at her mother’s behest. Once she mastered that sewing machine, her mother said she had “earned the right to hit things really hard”.  Eve started singing in her dreams, and continues to this day.  Shhhh don’t wake her up.

Claire and Amy at the Milky Way
Claire and Amy at the Milky Way

How did you come up with the name Fur Purse : ) ?

Goddammit!  It is not what you and some other people think!!  How can we ever get that through to you people!  We are going to keep protesting this until you believe us!

No – “Fur Purse” is really just a term for a sort of small-ish container into which people put things, in order to carry them around.   Like if you were a trader in the 1850’s on the Oregon Trail you would likely have a fur purse. or maybe if you were a fancy lady in out on the town in the present day. OK?

…I think that’s it. Again, if there’s a question you’d really like to answer feel free to add it on.

Yeah here are some questions I think we should answer:

What is best thing about being in band?   #1 Groupies  #2 Feelings

What is worst thing about being in band?   Feelings

What advice would you give to people who want to start a band?  Just do it and don’t look back!

Claire and Eve at The Milkyway
Claire and Eve at The Milkyway

For More on Fur Purse, visit their Facebook page.

Marissa Owens: Scruffy Folk Player/Former Bostonian

Marissa Owens, a self-described “scruffy folk” musician got her start in Boston and, as she moves into new aspects of career, keeps Boston close to her heart.

Listen to One of her Songs:

See, Saw – Marissa Owens

A Brief Bio of Marissa:

“A self-taught, unsigned folk singer-songwriter,Marissa Owens finds her home in Portland, Maine. Currently enrolled at SUNYPurchase for studio composition, she is a barefoot traveling soul, paddingalong the riverbanks of love, hope, sadness, and longing. The deep meaning shefinds in place, and her cherishing of fleeting human interaction, pours throughher rhythmic, powerful, heartbeat-esque finger picking style. Withdiary-confession lyricism, her music exudes a feeling of being suspendedbetween wandering and searching— both lost and found, home and away.”

QWIMB asked Marissa to answer some of our favorite questions about Boston and queerness, as we like to do. Here are her responses.

What brought you to Boston?

I came to Boston to study at Boston University. I was pursuing a degree in human physiology, but instead of studying, I wrote songs and recorded them in my dorm room. Boston was the place where songwriting started for me. Unfortunately for my roommate, I was always practicing tunes. Eventually, I had to pay attention to the fact that I dreaded school and should not be wasting money or time in the wrong place. I withdrew from Boston University and decided to apply to SUNY Purchase’s studio composition program. I had a free year between studying at Boston and SUNY Purchase, and in that time I got to reflect on my experiences in Boston.

What was your experience like in Boston?

While I was in Boston, I met a lot of great people because of my involvement in the queer scene at Boston University. I made a point to go to events outside of Boston University, just to feel more comfortable in the community. Boston allowed me to be open about my queerness as an adult. That was so valuable to me.

I loved wandering around Boston. I liked getting lost in the crowd, and I spent a lot of my time riding the T alone just to think. On my campus, people didn’t smile at others walking by. I wasn’t used to that. On one hand, I wanted strangers to connect, but on the other hand, I liked passing through a crowd where nobody cared about me. It is a confusing way for me to feel, but I explored all of that confusion and angst in my songs.

What’s great about Boston is there are so many young people there. There’s a feel of excitement, inspiration, and open-mindedness.

Did you feel there was a “scene” for queer female musicians? What about queer women of color? Is there a strong Boston scene in that regard? Was it welcoming/unwelcoming?:

There is a scene for female musicians. Although I was not playing shows in Boston, all of the artists I met and respected in Boston were women. I was so lucky to meet Jenny Owen Youngs and Steph Barrak. For big names, and indie musicians alike, I think Boston has a place for all musicians, because of the range of venues available. I was really in tune with the queer musician scene, and I think Boston supports that scene as well. What’s important is for people to create the scene, and a lot of musicians are doing that, with house shows and such, and that is incredible. As far as a scene for queer women of color, I didn’t really experience that. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t exist, but I’m sure the scene could be much stronger. Every place could stand to be more welcoming toward queer women of color who are musicians. Every place could be more welcoming to women in general. For a woman to get up and relate what she really thinks and feels is still shamed by society. That’s the way it is for people who are queer, of color, etc. But, we ignore all of that, and keep putting ourselves out there.

Thanks Marissa for answering our questions and adding to the QWIMB community!

For more info on Marissa and her music here are some links:

Queerpalooza featured this week on HOMOGROUND

Queerpalooza will be featured on Homoground’s podcast this week! Tune in Thursday May 12 at 9pm to Out Impact Radio to listen Live. It will be available on Homoground and on itunes shortly after.

There will be an interview with QWIMB’s founder Tina Lafleur and music by Queerpalooza performers Gunpowder Gelatine, Michelle Barrett, and Happy Little Clouds.

Check it out! Also, any local or national queer bands reading this? Submit your songs to Homoground and help them create their nationwide network of queer artists.