Music is this magical thing that has the power to make you feel. It talks to your soul. It connects you with others. It tells stories. We want you to fall into the worlds of our guests and music plays a big role in making that happen. There are some remarkably talented women in our midst, some well known and some a bit more hidden. We aim to find and uncover these musicians and feature their work, as well as their stories, alongside the unique journeys of our guests. In our episodes you could hear an all female band, a solo artist, or a mixed-gender band; all we really want to do is recognize, promote, and support women doing their thing in music, and doing it well.
THANKS to our partner Allston Pudding for providing never-ending tunes and inspiration.
Listen to our Spotify playlist featuring all of our musicmakers.
Rene Kladzyk: Ziemba
MUSIC FEATURED IN EPISODE 15
Curated by Elaine Sheldon
René Kladzyk is a Brooklyn-based solo musician and performance artist who goes by the moniker Ziemba. She played her first solo show as Ziemba on October 27, 2013. Since then, she has put out two EPs and is working on her first full-length album. She recently had several songs featured on Season 2 of Broad City. Sarah first met René on a roadtrip through the South, where she saw her perform at The Mammal Gallery in Atlanta. “She’s incredibly kind and warm, but it’s almost like she’s from another planet,” Sarah said of Ziemba's performance. “We were all entranced by her performance, which concluded with her quietly asking the audience to shift their attention from the front of the room, where she had been playing a keyboard with pedals, to an old stand up, piano, where she sat down and sang ‘With The Fire’ (hear this song in episode).” It was a pure joy to collaborate with Ziemba on Episode 15, featuring Emily Best, and record a live performance with her for episode 15.5 She Does Music. I have had "Phantom See" stuck in my head from the first listen, and am secretly hoping it never escapes my memory.
WATCH: "Phantom See"
READ: Impose Magazine feature
Behind the scenes: interview with Ziemba
Photos by Kerrin Sheldon. Performance at The Bohemian Grove.
NONA MARIE INVIE: DARK DARK DARK, ANONYMOUS CHOIR, RONiiA
Music Featured in episode 14
Curated by Sarah Ginsburg
I come across a lot of talented musicians every year at True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri, but this one is special. Back in 2012, when I was confused and in college, I saw Nona Marie Invie perform with her band Dark Dark Dark and I’m not even kidding, from that moment on, things changed. Her voice and musical talent helped me tap into these feelings of sorrow and hope and longing and strength all at the same time. She sings, plays the piano and the accordion in Dark Dark Dark and is the leader of Anonymous Choir, a 16-piece all women’s choir that recontextualizes songs we all know by Neil Young, Kate Bush, and Leonard Cohen. Nona is not afraid to bend and experiment, exemplified by her project Fugitive, electronic, drone compositions brought to unique spaces like a yoga studio in Mexico. RONiiA is her most recent synthpop project that maintains a warmth through Nona’s unmistakeable voice. All of these projects are different and Nona doesn’t leave any of them behind, she just shifts her weight around and lets things change. Like I said, things changed for me after I first heard Nona and things might change for you after you give her a listen. Go ahead, find out.
What do you love most about making music? People tell me about when they’ve listened to my music in hard times or in good times or how it's helped them or affected them in these different ways. That feels really special and important to me and when I don't tour, when I go through periods of not performing, I realize that I miss that connection in the world, because I'm not that good at social media or calling people back a lot of the times. It's nice to be out there in the world and to know that people are hearing me and they're interested and they're processing it in whatever ways that may or may not be helpful for them, but that kind of connection or interaction feels important.
How does working with a group of women in Anonymous Choir compare to playing with Dark Dark Dark, where you are the only woman? The whole vibe is different when I'm surrounded by women. Just the way that we interact with each other and the things that we talk about are just sort of innately different than being the only woman in a group of 4 or 5 men. And the men in Dark Dark Dark are great, but there's just -- they’re not necessarily giving each other back rubs and asking about each other's days. There's differences too because with Dark Dark Dark, we were on tour all the time and so we were in this deep relationship with each other. We were more like family where we spent months at a time sleeping in the same room and being in the car all day and playing this intensely emotional and personal music. I think the way that we were with each other was more like sibling kind of. We really loved and appreciated each other but also needed space. And with the choir, we'll take little tours but it's not really like that. So every time we're together it feels really special and I think everybody brings everything that they can to the room with them; all their energy and all the good vibes and that always feels really nice.
What would you like people to know? I guess mostly, I just want people to, people who are playing music, I just want them to keep trying and keep playing and keep doing whatever they want to do. All of us struggle with figuring out how to balance the mundane things like paying for rent and trying to lead creative and inspired lives and I just know that if you keep working at it you'll figure it out. That's what I wish I had heard more throughout my life.
BROOKE SINGER: FRENCH FOR RABBITS
MUSIC FEATURED IN EPISODE 13
Curated by Elaine Sheldon
Brooke Singer is the songwriter, vocalist and pianist of French for Rabbits, a New Zealand based dream-folk band, along with guitarist, John Fitzgerald. Brooke says songwriting is a life-long passion. She started writing songs as a child; sitting at the piano and coming up with her own tunes. She was six years old when she wrote her first song. It was a ditty about her cat who died. French for Rabbits may be best known for their songs about the sea. Brooke said their home country, New Zealand, influences their work greatly. In addition to be inspired by nature, Brooke also is inspired by real events in her life. French for Rabbits is working on their new EP now. Special thanks to Lefse Records for connecting us with Brooke.
How does being from New Zealand Influence your work? I didn't realize it until I left, but New Zealand is quite isolated. It's not until you get on a plane and you're on that plane for 24 hours to get somewhere else that you realize how far it away it is from Europe and America. Where we're living is a small settlement in a harbor. There are still big forests here and it's just alot more wild than other countries. I think nature is a big aspect to our music. I have always lived by the sea so it tends to creep into my lyrics even if I try to avoid it.
Where do you go to spark creativity? For me, creativity comes from a few different sources. It could be reading a book, or just going out in nature, or watching people and experiencing things. I do like mining. I like taking a situation that has happened to me and turning it into a song. I do that quite a lot. I like bad things to happen occasionally so I can write a really good song.
What advice would you have for aspiring musicians? You have to have confidence in your ideas and go with it. You don't know what will come out of an idea before you follow it through. You have to have a passion for music. It doesn't have to be a career, it can be something that you do in your bedroom or play tiny shows to your friends. You have to take it where you want to take it, and that's all.
What would you say to someone who is "waiting for the right moment" to make their first album? In New Zealand, people just kind of 'do it.' They just make it happen, regardless of the gear that you have. I think limitations are a good thing. It changes your process in a way that could make it better. I don't have every piece of equipment that I would like to have, but that's probably a good thing. I can't go too wild. I think people should just start and see what happens.
EMILY HOPE PRICE: PEARL AND THE BEARD
MUSIC FEATURED IN EPISODE 12
Curated by Sarah Ginsburg
Emily Hope Price is a beyond-talented cellist, vocalist and ⅓ of Pearl and the Beard, along with percussionist Jocelyn Mackenzie and guitarist Jeremy Lloyd-Styles, who are also vocalists in the band. I saw them just destroy it at True/False Film Festival a few years ago, and I mean that. When they play, it’s like they’re playing for the last time, everything goes into it. Emily, who comes from Logan, Utah, joined the Brooklyn-based band not long after Jocelyn and Jeremy created it, but it still took work and time and patience to become the family they are today. Even when they aren’t playing together, Emily continues to create. She’s worked on Broadway with Sting, scored a feature film, and recorded one song everyday for a year as a part of 365 Project. My conversation with Emily was a powerful, memorable experience, and you know what? So is listening to the music of Pearl and the Beard. We hope you enjoy both!
What was it like to join a band that had already been making music together? It took a long time for me to feel like I had a voice and allow myself to have that voice because I did feel like Jeremy and Jocelyn had main ownership. I felt like I was an au pair to our child for awhile. And then when I felt good about it, it felt awesome. It’s letting that selfishness go and letting go of that entitlement and that this isn’t just about you. It is a co-parenting situation no matter how many parents are involved. You’re all a part of it and everyone has a piece of themselves in it and it’s a matter of putting that together appropriately.
How did you navigate the dynamic and your own role in the band? It was up to Jocelyn and I to kind of feel out our relationship as two women, and not only that, but two women who have egos, honestly. In order to be a performer, you really have to have an ego. Even if you feel like you’re the most humble. We really worked on being kind to eachother, and fair and honest. I didn’t know what it was like to try to get along with another woman, not only in a business sense but also in a personal sense, because it went beyond being friends; we were family. But I have to say, looking at it today, she has become my family. She is my sister.
We call this, The Emily Hope Price Manifesto for musicians and all artists alike: If I could say anything to a young musician, it would be to just...create. Just create. Just keep creating one thing after another. Just write, write, write, write, write and play and play and play anything. If you don’t want to practice, if you don’t want to play, do something creative. Create everyday. Peoples’ souls need to produce. This is purely coming from a place of having experience of feeling trapped by my own perfectionism, actually stifling my own creativity because there was so much judgement and so much criticism upon myself and not letting my inner intelligence breathe and just live and make mistakes. Most, most of the time, most of the things I thought were mistakes, ended up being the best things I’ve done.
Be on the lookout for Pearl and the Beard’s new album 'Beast,' set to be released July 21st, 2015!
Curated by Elaine Sheldon
Audrey Ryan is a one-woman band with some impressive multi-instrument skills. An electric guitar, accordion, ukulele, banjo, vibraphone, drums, kick, tambourine and a loop station are all part of her setup--among other tricks. She grew up on an island off the coast of Maine and comes from a musical family; her dad played guitar and her mom sang and played piano and the organ. She started learning the guitar at the age of 10 and violin at 7--playing folk tunes to the likes of the Indigo Girls, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan. In college, her main gig was playing in bluegrass and jazz bands. It took her nearly several years, to find her voice and develop her own style as a solo artist in Boston, but she's done it and stands so strong. In the past, she has opened for artists like Suzanne Vega, Sam Amidon and They Might Be Giants. Audrey is a new mom with a new EP that you should download. She’s taken a break from touring and is collaborating with Will Dailey to create music for commercial licensing. Several years ago she wrote, “The Need to Be Heard,” a book for and about DIY musicians.
How would you describe your relationship with your fans? I’m very casual. I have this loft in Somerville, Mass. that I have been hosting shows at for years and it’s incredibly intimate. I usually ask people to tell me what they want to hear, instead of doing shot lists. I’m not someone who is distant from the audience. Here are these people staring at you, if you make them feel like there’s a lot of separation, they’re not going to connect with the music.
What is a piece of advice you would give to a young musician? You should really hone in your craft and try to be really good at what you do, before you do it in front of other people. I myself, when I started playing out, was not very good. I hadn’t rehearsed as much as I probably should have, and probably spent alot of time rehearsing in front of other people. But the problem with that is, you turn people off. And then it’s going to be hard to get people to come back in two or three years when you are good.
Where are you at in your career and where do you want to go? Things have changed for me in the past couple of years. In my 20s, I was touring non-stop, but now I don’t tour extensively. I’m focused more on licensing. I work with Will Dailey, a singer songwriter in Boston, to write pop and electronic songs for commercials. We’re both married and we both have a kid--he actually has two kids. We’re still artists and musicians but we have a very practical side of our lives now which makes it difficult to stay at bars until 2 A.M. So I’m moving more towards co-writing and working with someone. I think it’s better at this point to work with someone and not be an island.
LISTEN: Audrey Ryan on Bandcamp
READ: Review of Latest EP "Let's Go To The Vamp"
CONNECT: Audrey on Twitter
Lira Mondal: MINI DRESS
MUSIC FEATURED IN EPISODE 10
Curated by Sarah Ginsburg
Lira Mondal is as sweet as can be. She’s a native Arkansan, an aspiring pastry chef and the heavenly voice of Boston-based Mini Dresses. Comprised of Lira (who also plays bass), guitarist Caufield Schnug and drummer Luke Brandfon, Mini Dresses is making what you could call Boston’s beach music, a little dirty and not a lot of surfing going on, but listening to these folks might make you want to grab a board and try. It’s definitely not typical for music like this to be coming out of this city, but I’m glad it is. Staying true to their name, Mini Dresses has been steadily putting out EPs since 2012 and most recently released FOUR under shiny new label Little Death Records. Allow Lira to take you through the waves of Bianca Giaever’s story in Episode 10.
Do you like to play another version of yourself when you are up on stage? When you're a performer, you're always playing around with how you put yourself out, how you present yourself, what your identity is. There's this pressure, especially on women, that you have to be this outgoing person who is making witty banter with the audience, always having that clever thing to say. It’s that pressure that you have to be a rock star with a capital "R" capital "S." I guess I've always flirted with the idea of playing around with the kind of personality that I want to give off, but then not being so comfortable with myself that I'm actually able to. But Mini Dresses isn't that kind of band, it's not a band that’s out to manipulate how we are perceived.
Who, in your music and in general, are you influenced by? I’m really into Broadcast and love Trish Keenan. I feel like she was a really genuine person and she definitely came off in her music as this curious woman who had all of these different influences. She was into film and literature and occult but even though she had all of these far flung interests she always sounded familiar and so warm and inviting, even when she was singing some very dark things. I guess I really look up to her as an influence and that’s how I kind of want to come across but then sometimes I do want to be really cool and...I don’t know how to do that.
Your latest EP FOUR was put out by Little Death Records who handprints cassette tapes in addition to a digital download. What is the benefit of the physical tape? I love recording on tape and listening to tapes, especially being a child of our generation on the cusp of both the CD coming into prominence, but also making mix tapes as a child, that was really attractive to me. People are more and more starting to appreciate the materiality that comes with tape and that it does sound richer, sweeter and warmer. Just like vinyl sounds different than an MP3 with the pops and the scratches. You have to be in tune to what you’re listening to. Little things like flipping the record or flipping the tape become these ritualistic experiences. That was something that resonated with me as a child because I would always listen to the radio with an empty tape in the deck, just waiting to hit record when my favorite song came on. I hope that they really do come back into play...quite literally.
Where and how are you inspired to write the lyrics to your music? I have to be in control of what I'm singing and what I’m saying. That's why it's so hard for me to write lyrics because if I don't have an immediate source of inspiration like a book or a movie, which are the first things I go to, then I just have no clue where to go because I feel that if I don't have something to say, what's the point in trying to sing something because it won't be genuine.
READ: Vanyaland Review
WATCH: ‘Bracelets’ Video on Boston Hassle
Casey Dienel: WHITE HINTERLAND
MUSIC FEATURED IN EPISODE 9
Curated by Elaine Sheldon
There's no way you won't fall in love with Casey Dienel's voice. But take it from me, falling in love with her, as a person, is fairly easy too. I picked up the phone to chat with Casey for an hour, and within five minutes I felt like I was catching up with a good friend. She's full of talent and experience, but it was refreshing to see her humility and gratitude come through when talking about dealing with depression and sharing funny stories from her early career (HINT: listen to the last four minutes of Episode 9 to hear). You may know Casey from her hit Icarus, which has had a life of its own, including being featured on Project Runway. But spend 20 minutes with her last two albums, Kairos and Baby, and you can hear Casey's life bleeding into her music. They are vastly different in arrangement and tone. Pitchfork said it best, "Kairos was woozy both instrumentally and conceptually, leaning toward gossamer dream pop. Baby, her newest, sheds the downtempo beats of Kairos, experimenting with more jagged percussion and orchestral flourishes, notably horns." Casey explains the deeply personal journey of making Baby, among other tidbits. We're greatly honored to showcase Casey's talent in Episode 9 with Linda Pan.
What is your process for writing? Every time I write it's like I am reinventing the process. I don't have one strict method and I'm not superstitious at all. I am always writing, even if I'm on an album cycle, I am still writing on my days off. I write a lot when I'm on tour. I just always keep it going so that way I'm not stressing the source. When I have writer's block it's usually because I'm getting antsy. So I found the best way to prevent that anxiety is to be pretty casual about it.
You've toured around the world, so what piece of advice would you give to a young producer? Do it yourself, as much as possible. If you want to go on tour, and you're waiting for someone else to book it, don't wait. Just figure it out. If you want to make a record, and don't know anyone, it's so easy now to get a student copy of Ableton, Garage Band or Logic and just bang it out. Especially on the technology side, women aren't encouraged enough to take that on. I really think that the more girls take that stuff on themselves (like writing your own beats) the better it's going to be for us. Alot of times they just assume you don't know what you're doing. And the power of assumption is so insidious and quiet. And over the years, you will be like, 'Am I crazy?' But you're not crazy. When you walk into a studio and they're talking about microphones and then they're like, 'Let's just talk about clothes now,' because you're in the room.
Baby is a very personal album, how does it feel to look back on it? I feel like Baby was this really cathartic work for me and it healed a lot of things that I didn't even realize were in pain. When I take a step back and look at that work, I'm like 'Holy shit, that person was really, really depressed and unhappy.' I'm also extremely grateful that I'm not there anymore. Like when you see a photo of yourself when you were a teenager and really depressed, and you are like "God...thank you to everybody who asked me how I was doing.' But here's the thing with mental health, you're never all better. But I think it's good to talk about because I think a lot of people who have depression are really embarrassed by it.
LISTEN: White Hinterland on SoundCloud
READ: Pitchfork Reviews White Hinterland
WATCH: White Hinterland on VEVO
Taryn Blake Miller: Your Friend
Music Featured In Episode 8
Curated by: Sarah Ginsburg
Every March, I go home to Columbia, Missouri for my version of ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’: True/False Film Festival (T/F). Besides getting to see stacks on stacks of films, my favorite part of T/F is the music. T/F hand picks musicians from all around the world and brings them to the middle of Missouri to play for moviegoers before films, at late night showcases, and on the street corners of downtown Columbia as we stumble out of one dimly lit venue and run to the next. One of the buskers that we were lucky enough to hear is Taryn Blake Miller who plays simply divine music under the moniker Your Friend. It’s hard for me to describe the feeling her songs give me, but I will tell you that every song makes me close my eyes, put my hands on my heart, and just sway. Elaine and I were simply taken with Your Friend, and we’re pretty sure you will be too.
How would you describe your music? A blogger once said that it was kind of like something that would exist in a pretty unpopulated territory but is still welcoming. I like to say that it’s evolving and it’s open. There’s a lot of space and room within it. But I’d say it’s a well intentioned hand shake.
Where does ‘Your Friend’ come from? I’ve had a lot of experiences making really serious connections with strangers and not knowing who they are later, not getting their name, nothing, probably not ever seeing them again. But they’ve kind of stuck with me so I guess it’s kind of related to that in a way. What does it actually mean to be somebody’s friend? Whenever I’m interacting with anybody I try to be present and real with that person, because what you put out is what you get back and that’s how you make those connections with people. If you go into it being earnest and honest, then they react that way and it becomes genuine.
When you are performing a song, even if you’ve played it live countless times, are specific feelings from when you were originally writing and developing the track triggered? If I can’t hear myself in the monitors or if there’s some sort of technical difficulty, I can still find the notes that I’m singing based on how it feels. I can go back to those moments and channel how it felt to write it because that’s how it physically felt in that moment. So I can revisit that. Your brain remembers that, your muscles remember that. I think it can be sustained and even grow to something more important or special to you if you want it to.
Musical Inspirations? Arthur Russell, Lucrecia Dalt, Dave Harrington, Jenny Hval, William Basinski, Holly Herndon, Tim Hecker, Andy Stott, Julia Holter, Jana Hunter, Annie Clark
Ana Karina DaCosta: The Derevolutions & 28 Degrees Taurus
MUSIC FEATURED IN EPISODE 6
Curated by Sarah Ginsburg:
When I asked Ana Karina DaCosta what she feels when she’s on stage, she got choked up. Ana Karina, based in Somerville, Massachusetts, might be the biggest lover of music and people that I’ve ever met. You’ll hear it when you listen to the sounds of one of the many bands that she’s in and you’ll feel it when this sensation of warmth and acceptance washes over you while in her presence. Ana Karina was born in Brazil but moved to Virginia, where she learned the cello, when she was in the third grade. Today, she’s a master of the bass, sings like a freaking angel, and dabbles in percussion all around the Boston music scene. The genres of her musical projects vary greatly, which says a lot about her too. She’s up for anything, she just wants to play.
What do you enjoy most about singing? I like to harmonize. When I was growing up I was always trying to. When people would sing the lead part, I was always trying to find the harmony. And then when I found The Mamas & The Papas I was like, ‘OH MY GOD, there's like 8 harmonies that I can find.’ It makes sense that that's what I'm doing now.
So, what does it feel like to be up on stage? I used to give myself a really hard time when I had a corporate job and I would play three shows every two weeks or I'd go away on the weekend and I had this double life. I'd say, ‘What am I doing on a Thursday night in this Veterans Hall in middle of nowhere Connecticut?’ And I'd be like, ‘You know what? I'm having a good time and I'm playing music and what else would I be doing? Home watching law and order or something?’ So that's how I feel: really lucky. And it feels good. It feels good to sing and it feels good to play and it feels good to have people like it.
What do you think music has the potential to do? I just hope it has the potential to lighten things up for people, just lighten things up. I don't dislike heavy themed music, it depends on how it's presented. But I think music should make people feel something and it should be happy or obviously sometimes people enjoy listening to sad music because it helps them put into words what they can't. I think a lot of people’s lives can be like that, where there's a lot of serious stuff they have to deal with, and if they're lucky they get some time to sit at home and listen to music or go out and see it or make it. I hope it just lightens things up. That's what it does for me.
HANNAH WAXMAN: PEACHPIT
MUSIC FEATURED IN EPISODE 4
Curated by Sarah Ginsburg
I came across Peachpit at a show upstairs at Charlie’s Kitchen in Cambridge, MA. I was there to see a friend’s band play, but before they came on, my ears perked to the ethereal sound of Hannah’s voice when she began to sing on "Sunday to Monday." It’s an unforgettable track unlike any of its neighbors, yet it fits so well into Peachpit’s album Come Down Pilgrim.
What are your roles in Peachpit? I used to be the bass player when we were a four piece a couple years ago and my brother was the drummer. Since he moved to New York we took on Ben (our new drummer) and Jordan (our new bassist). Now I play keys, some flugelhorn, tambourine, and vocals, of course.
What do you love about making music and/or performing for an audience? There's the kind of selfish satisfaction that I get when we really nail a song. When the parts complement really well, when we can play it smoothly, and I just enjoy listening. But then there's the separate thrill of playing for an audience. I still get butterflies before shows, even small venues. I always hope they're having as much fun as I am, and when they are, when they're dancing along. There are few better feelings than that.
How would you define the music you make? It's always hard answering this one. Peachpit's music might be described at a basal level as a mix of 60's pop and rock & roll. Some of our big inspiration is from groups like Wilco, Radiohead, The Monkeys etc. With spiritually inspired lyrics and a sprinkling of synth. tones and patterns, we're putting our own peachy twist on the classic rock sound. We're "christian" rock for the souls of hell.
What her bandmates say: Beyond playing a variety of instruments in the band, Hannah is also a part of the primary writing process. Out of the group she probably has the most formal music training, which makes her a great reference for building vocal harmonies and composing for different instruments. She's been noted for her precise sense of rhythm as well.
MUSIC FEATURED IN EPISODE 3
Curated by Elaine Sheldon
I discovered Cassie's tunes while wasting time on Facebook. Turns out Facebook can lead you to some great talent. A friend from home shared it, I clicked and was hooked. I knew when I heard Cassie's music that it would be perfect for Anna Sale's episode.
What is your role in this musical project? I write songs, sing and play guitar and piano.
How personal is your music? My music is very personal. It's important to me to be honest with myself when I'm feeling intense things, and that happens naturally for me with music. When I'm making demos I just trust myself and write. In the studio, I like to collaborate with others, so I try to separate myself from the emotions and focus on trusting the other musicians and creating the most dynamic sounds. I love being able to listen back even years later and immediately go back to specific feelings. I don't perform often, so when I do I'm usually fighting a bizarre mix of self consciousness and overzealousness.
At what moment did you decide to make an album? I've been recording songs since I was about 15, but I didn't make a complete record until after I had made records with two different bands. Working with other people made *writing a record* seem less daunting, and it gave me confidence to do it on my own. I think I have good intuition about sequencing records just from listening to so much music. Once I start putting things in some order, I can feel it if something's missing. I did one record that just kept getting longer because none of the songs I was writing felt like a good opener.