THE WIMPACT

A Feminist Music Collective

Women of ACL 2017

Happy one week anniversary of the Austin City Limits lineup release, everyone! As per usual, the lineup has been met with equal parts praise and trash-talking, with myself leaning more towards the former. I’ve seen better and worse lineups come out of ACL, and I think overall there are plenty of acts to be totally thrilled about. While I could dive into the female to male artist ratio (it’s, uh, not great… C’mon, C3). I’ll leave that to Alanna. Instead, I want to take a quick moment to highlight a diverse handful of women on the lineup who are currently making a big splash in the music industry in their own unique ways.

Disclaimer: There are dozens of badass, talented women on the lineup this year that I didn’t include below. That absolutely doesn’t mean I’m not super psyched to see them! I chose to put a spotlight on the women below because I believe they are each making an specific and particular mark within their respective genres, styles, and personas.

Disclaimer Number Two: This list is not in any particular order. I’m not here to play favorites, y’all.


 

Romy Madley Croft of The XX

Photo via The xx's Facebook

From: Wandsworth, London

You’ve Probably Heard: "On Hold", "Intro"

Stoked To See Her on the Lineup Because: As one-third of the indie electro-pop trio The XX, Croft brings the soothing vocals and mad guitar skills that makes this band the success that it is. Not only is she talented; Croft is also one tough chick. After suffering through the loss of both her parents and a cousin at a young age, she told Elle magazine: “Those tragedies 'have shaped me. It's been horrible, but it's made me who I am and made me stronger. I think I take that experience with me.'” You can hear Croft pay homage to these loved ones in "Brave For You" off of the band’s latest album, See You. Coachella-goers had great things to say about her performance last month, and I’m sure she won’t disappoint on the ACL stage. (P.S. Congrats to Romy on her recent engagement to visual artist Hannah Marshall!)

 

Photo via Solange's Facebook

Solange

From: Houston, Texas

You’ve Probably Heard: "Cranes in the Sky", "Don’t Touch My Hair"

Stoked To See Her On The Lineup Because: Solange is NOT just Beyonce’s younger sister. I repeat: Solange is NOT just Beyonce’s younger sister. Solange has paved her own way in the music world, particularly over the past year, and she’s given no indication of stopping. She's funky, she’s progressive, and she’s down with being herself. Her 2016 album A Seat At The Table, which pays beautiful and relevant tribute to the struggles of the modern black woman, topped “Best Of” lists across the board with great reason. She’s a must-see this year.

 

Photo via The Head and the Heart's Facebook

Charity Rose Thielen of Head and the Heart

From: Seattle, Washington

You’ve Probably Heard: "Lost in my Mind", "Rivers & Roads"

Stoked To See Her On The Lineup Because: Head and the Heart had a complicated 2016 -- with the exciting release of a new album also came the news that frontman Josiah Johnson had entered a drug rehabilitation program. Therefore, he skipped out on the 2016 tour. I happened to catch their Austin performance last fall, and I’m happy to report that they soldiered on well without him. I personally believe the band has Charity to thank for that. Her expertise on the violin is truly incredible and provides the backbone for the gorgeous melodies that HATH is so well-known for. Then, there are her folksy pipes. Don’t let her habit of shying away from the microphone fool you -- homegirl can really sing. I can’t wait to catch her again in October, hopefully with Josiah healthy and back by her side.

 

Photo via Crystal Castles' Facebook

Edith Frances of Crystal Castles

From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

You’ve Probably Heard: "Not In Love," "Crimewave"

Stoked To See Her On The Lineup Because: The future looked grim for Crystal Castles back in 2014, when long-time member and vocalist Alice Glass left the group for “personal and professional” reasons. Vocals and songwriting are (obviously) crucial for a band, both of which Glass provided, and I was anxious to see how they’d continue on without her. Enter Edith Frances. Loyal Crystal Castles fans didn’t exactly welcome her with open arms, so I give her major props for facing that firestorm head on. As far as I’m concerned, she’s proven herself as a worthy successor Glass, and I’m excited to see her prove that to any remaining haters out there.

 

Klara and Johanna Söderberg of First Aid Kit

From: Stockholm, Sweden

You’ve Probably Heard: "My Silver Lining"

Photo via First Aid Kit's Facebook

Stoked To See (Them) On The Lineup: Sisters Klara and Johanna make up one badass duo, and together they front indie folk group First Aid Kit. These two gals aren’t showy, letting their undeniable talent and speak for itself. After originally gaining fame from a Fleet Foxes cover gone viral, the girls went on to eventually tour and play with some of their heroes, like Jenny Lewis. Although the band’s influences range between everyone from Britney Spears to Bright Eyes, their country-folk sound is focused and clear. Despite the fact First Aid Kit has been around since 2007, I only recently discovered them (sorry, diehards), so I can’t wait to see them in action for the first time.

 

Photo via Alison Wonderland's Facebook

Alison Wonderland

From: Sydney, Australia

You’ve Probably Heard: "I Want U"

Stoked To See Her On The Lineup Because: Look, I have to admit that I’m generally not crazy about EDM. That being said, Alison Wonderland is one of very few women who has found wide-spread success within the genre, and she is absolutely kicking ass. The EDM industry is a man’s world, so it can’t be easy being a “female DJ,” (a term she actually detests) no matter how talented or deserving you are. Throw the words “Alison Wonderland Sexism” into your Google Search Bar and feast your eyes upon an upsetting smorgasbord of stories and headlines, some of which detail the horrific rape threats she’s received. I give Alison Wonderland all kinds of kudos for facing this behavior with such resistance and strength and continuing to make the type of music she’s so clearly passionate about. You go, girl.


Let’s hear it for these ladies and the many others that will be gracing the city of Austin with their presence come October. My fellow ACL-goers: Let’s show C3 why booking women does make money, by getting our asses to the stages to see these gals in action.

Member of the Month: Claudia Saenz

Claudia Saenz

Let’s give it up for another great woman in music.  The Wimpact applauds 28-year-old “Tejana” Claudia Saenz, a DJ and the founder of Chulita Vinyl Club, which was recently featured on NPR.  She was a big part of the first annual Women In Music! Bay Area festival as a panelist at the Pandora headquarters in Oakland this past weekend.  

Her nostalgic and proud description of growing up in Rio Grande Valley, Texas was one of family and close ones living in low-income neighborhoods, but being rich in spirit and rich in culture. As she told NPR, listening to chicano soul was “a way of archiving history.”  Before her career as a DJ started, she earned a degree in History from the University of Texas Pan American.  

Photo via CVC's Facebook

Saenz has taken a male-dominated genre and unintentionally created a movement with fellow chulitas that embrace the historic sounds of corridos and rancheras.  It is a generation of women deeply connected to their culture’s history.  Saenz first started Chulita Vinyl Club, or CVC, in Austin, TX in December 2014 and now has seven chapters. Although recently new to the Bay Area, Saenz now works frequently with the chulita chapter there.

She recalls certain DJs and music she loves, and realizes there were not many DJs that played the combination of sounds she loved - especially women DJs, for that matter.  So in her later twenties, she went for it as a hobby, and created a supportive following.  

During her speech at Women In Music, Saenz emphasized the fact that talent buyers need to start booking more women to headline shows.


Why she loves what she does and why her mentality matters: “If you don’t see yourself up there it doesn’t mean you don’t belong there.”

To learn more about Saenz and Chulita Vinyl Club, check out their freshly launched website: https://www.chulitavinylclub.com/

Q&A with the Founders of Damsel in Success

Damsel in Success - Jen

Has being a women in the music industry, whether as a fan, musician or someone who works in the industry, ever gotten you down? Constantly experiencing the sexism and mysoginy that comes with being in a male-dominate field? Does all of it leave you needing a positive reminder of how kick ass us chicks are?

Meet Damsel in Success - a brand new movement and accompanying Etsy store that launched last week. More specifically, meet Alexis Lowes and Cheryl Alper, the founders of Damsel in Success. They created this movement and store after being inspired by the other women they were working with in the music industry. Together, they created Damsel in Success, or DIS, as an idea, an inspiration, a daily reminder that when women lift each other up, we can foster success and positivity that make us all stronger together.

We caught up with Alexis and Cheryl during the week of their official DIS launch to learn more about them and the movement they have created.  

________________________________________________________________________

Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Alexis: I am a working mom and have been working in the music industry for over 18 years.  The majority of my career has been as a roadie for various bands traveling the world.  I have been very fortunate to have toured with some amazing artists like AC/DC, TOOL, Neil Diamond, Sting and The Rolling Stones to name a few.  More often than not I am production coordinator on tour organizing hotels, flights, visas, ground transport for crew sizes varying from 12 people to 150 +.  I am true fan and collector of amazing tattoo work and that is what helped develop the logo for Damsel in Success.    

Damsel in Success - Cheryl

Cheryl: I’m a producer and the director of talent at an event production company – Diversified Production Services for over 10 years ago.  We produce concerts, festivals and fundraisers – iHeartRadio festivals, Global Citizen Festival, Michael J. Fox Foundation Gala, etc.  I started my career as a management assistant for Bon Jovi where I got schooled… before heading on the road for a few years.  Alexis and I met in 2006 at the Beacon Theater in NYC when I was with the production team for the Martin Scorsese Shine a Light film featuring The Rolling Stones.  Alexis was on tour with the Rolling Stones.  Outside of work, I’m involved with some volunteer groups, activist communities and I love to knit and being an auntie!

Damsel in Success - Charlotte

Tell us a little bit about Damsel in Success.

Damsel In Success is a new movement and project.  It’s in its beginning stages… a cool visual reminder to ourselves and to other others that we support equality… It shows that we support each other in a non-traditional way… something different than ‘I Am A Feminist’ merch.

 

What experience(s) inspired the creation of Damsel in Success?

Last summer we were texting about the daily struggles we were facing as woman, specifically in the production world.  We were continuously facing obstacles that our male counterparts were not facing.  We had to explain ourselves in ways than men weren’t expected to and generally work harder to prove that women could succeed in production.

Damsel in Success - Taylor

Alexis: There have been hundreds of experiences that are often subversive in which I have experienced sexism.  This is common to so many women but especially those in male dominated fields.  Recently it troubles me the reaction I continually face as a mother who travels for work.  My son’s father, who works in the same industry & travels as well, never gets asked the same questions nor is he subjected to the judgment I receive.  People don’t realize how deeply sexist it is to assume that as a mother I should stay at home or that the male would be the breadwinner.  Damsel In Success is a positive way for myself and our community to say – I got this!  Outside judgments and projections don’t phase us – we know who we are and were in this together.  

Cheryl: I’ve had some pretty in your face moments… not being brought out on the road because the act wasn’t into having a women in their traveling party, having men being offered up to take a position on an event instead of me despite having more experience to do the job right.  When I was younger I saw all the smaller ingrained sexism but had my head down and fought back by persisting, doing my job and working my up.  There weren’t as many women in the industry as there are now.  As I’ve gotten older & into a higher position, I’m more confident and have no problem using my voice, calling people out and pointing out the established sexism.  I really want to do more to change the culture overall than just in the smaller world around me.

Damsels in Success - Kylie & Datura

What has the process of creating Damsel in Success been like?  

It’s been very organic.  After we decided that we wanted to turn Damsel In Success into a brand and a optimistic movement, we started with the logo as a sticker, which was easy to hand out to co-workers and friends. The response was overwhelmingly encouraging.  The message of positivity and supporting each other really resonated and from there we decided to take it to the next level.

 

What is the goal of Damsel in Success, in your eyes?  

The ultimate goal is to let women know that we’re stronger together & that there is always a support system for each other.  We’re not in completion with each other.  So we’re going to continue to create cool and unique merch to keep in line with that visual reminder.  We’re working on creating networking events, mentoring younger women in colleges and just starting in the industry and creating support systems for women. 

Can you talk a little bit more about how Damsel in Success functions in the music industry, but also how it functions in many other realms outside of it?  

Damsel in Success - Lisa

Lately, we’ve been finding ourselves as the older or more senior female members of a team.  We’re seeing women just starting out, struggling and still facing the same tired stereotyping and sexist obstacles that we faced.  Yes, it’s gotten a bit better but it has a long way to go.  The sexism in the rock & roll business is deep-rooted.  As we’ve grown, we’ve realized we don’t have to continue to prove ourselves, our work speaks for itself… but we’ve also realized that we want to help the young guns just starting their career.  When we started out our careers there weren’t many women in those roles.  There were some of course but what was missing was a sounding board for those sexist predicaments we found ourselves in.  It’s a big boys club and while we are not out to create a girl gang - we want to support women in the industry as well as woman as a whole. Use our voices literally and figuratively.
 

Tell us a little but about your Etsy store? What kind of items can we find there? 

We have tee shirts and tank tops… sweatshirts and kids shirts along with hats and a few more items… all with the Damsel In Success logo.  We also have some additional clothing items that push the envelope.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DamselinSuccess

Damsel in Success - Lauren

A portion of your profits go to different non-profit organizations that support women? Right now it's Planned Parenthood, but what other causes and groups might we expect to see DIS support in the future?  

Our goal is to give back to the women’s community as a whole, whether its Planned Parenthood on a national level or a local women & children’s shelter in our of our own communities. 

 

 

What would be your advice to young girls (and boys!) in regards to fighting for equality?

- First off… never think that being a girl or a woman is less than.  

- Consciously make a daily decision to bring each other up - not tear each other down.  

- Use your voice…you can make a difference by pointing out the inequality to someone… just having a conversation with someone can change their mind…

- Let go of sexist statements that are directed at you or others… take your skirt off, grow some balls, don’t be a pussy etc.  Often these are said without actually thinking about what is being implied.  Change the vernacular.  

- Know your worth and don't be afraid to ask for it.                                                         

- Be brave, be daring and speak up.

Follow Damsel in Success on social media!

Dear SXSW: A Hate Letter / Thank You Note

Well, folks -- it’s Thursday, March 16th, meaning we’ve reached the beginning of the end of this year’s SXSW Festival. As an Austin resident, I’ll admit I’m eager to see it come to a close, but I’ll spare you my typical, obnoxiously lengthy catalog of complaints that includes the crowds, the lines, and the god-forbidden traffic, all of which are rapidly growing with each new year of the festival. I know you’re not here to read an opinion piece by a local who found a soapbox to jump onto and shout from. Plus, I actually think SXSW once was a smart and beautiful concept, where people came together to appreciate art in a lovely city, and I’m hopeful it can find its original identity to revert back to again someday. With that in mind, I’ll keep this part brief: SXSW just isn’t what it used to be.

I know, I know -- I’m 23 years old; I’m not exactly a seasoned SXSW vet, and I typically find angry, old Austin nostalgia to be excruciatingly stuck-up, closed-minded, and, well… boring. But even the simplest Google search or conversation with my own dad (honestly, a great resource) will tell you the musical side of SXSW was originally focused on offering unsigned bands a chance to perform for label executives and scouts in hopes of being discovered. What a basic and important concept, right? What is now essentially one big week of big names, advertising and sponsored events used to be a simple celebration of music and a representation of hope for the underdog.

All of this being said, SXSW has brought so much incredible artistry into the mainstream. I recognize its place in history, and I am grateful. Additionally, my audience is not lost on me, and, as members of The Wimpact, we have SXSW to thank for helping create a space for some untouchably talented, inspiring, and downright kick-ass women in the music industry. Below are a few women and women-fronted bands whose SXSW performances helped launch the successful careers they have today. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
 

  • Norah Jones - 2002
  • Feist - 2005
  • M.I.A. - 2005
  • Amy Winehouse - 2007
  • Katy Perry - 2008
  • Janelle Monae - 2009
  • tUnE-YaRdS - 2011
  • Grimes - 2011
  • Alabama Shakes - 2012
  • HAIM - 2012
  • London Grammar - 2014
  • September Girls - 2014
  • Warpaint - 2014
  • Angel Olsen - 2014
  • Poliça - 2014
  • + so many more!


So here’s to hoping that, as I type this, there’s an undiscovered female musician warming up backstage in one of Austin’s countless venues, just hoping her performance garners even a fraction of the recognition she deserves. And here’s to hoping I’ll be listening to her on Spotify before this time next year. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go wait in one of those lines so I can buy overpriced beer and be smashed up against a wall in a dingy East 6th Street bar for an hour. Until next time!