Women in Punk Music - Kelly Jolene

Art by Emma Ensley

Art by Emma Ensley

This is an ode to 2015 and to the women who owned the SHIT out of punk music and saved my brain from certain doom- Thank you.

In 2007, I was a teenaged girl, coming home every day from high school to abuse this pitiful, deep-purple Ibanez, electric guitar. Musically, I had no aim. There weren’t any bands that I related with. It seemed like most of the women playing music at the time were country artists. I went to local shows that were either sad boys playing sad music or angry boys playing angry music. There wasn’t a lot for me. 

My best friends were in bands- all boys – and no one ever asked me to join. My older sister sang on a track recorded in a guy’s bedroom because he had a crush on her. Of course, we were invited to every show to support our “local scene”. I stopped playing my guitar at all after a while; it seemed pointless. I was very obviously not invited to the party, except to clap. 

I kind of stopped listening to music after that, too. I settled down with the Tegan and Sara, Laura Marling, and MewithoutYou that was already downloaded on my iPod and surrendered. I went to college, met more boys who wanted to tell me about their refined musical tastes, and listened to their albums in their rooms. It was like watching a movie that you auditioned for, but didn’t get the part.

It was like watching a movie that you auditioned for, but didn’t get the part.

By my sophomore year, I started losing my patience. I knew I had to ditch the bubblegummed version of me that I had allowed myself to become. A year later, I ditched college. I began seeking inclusion in places where I might actually find it, namely, the local punk venue, Sluggos. My sister gave me her St Vincent albums to put download and lo! There it was! Annie Clark re-baptized me with heavy distortion and fuzz petals and her strange, feminine aggression. It was how I felt; it was the most effective voice of feminism in music I had ever heard. She became a wormhole that led me to other female artists - rock music, punk music, and alternative country. I picked my guitar back up, started learning tabs again, and recording shitty songs on my computer for my own damned enjoyment. I listened to everything from punk like RVIVR to Hurray for the Riff Raff’s sweet ballads.

2015 was the year it all became tangible for me; music finally became something I wrote about, read about, and talked about. It became such a rich part of my identity as a female! It was like walking through a desert for the first half of my life; walking for so long I forgot how much I hated it, how hungry I was for inclusion, and then FINALLY finding civilization. I started looking up shows near me that specifically featured women. I stumbled onto the goldmines that are She Shreds Magazine and Jessica Hopper. My girlfriend and I talked longingly about these women and how much we needed them. So, we decided we would find these goddesses and join them! Here is a portion of what we found:

Thelma and the Sleaze - “Heart like A Fist” Ep (technically 2014)

Favorite Track: Ain’t Ur Baby

I saw this band at a trashy venue in Chattanooga, TN. Lead guitarist, LG, has some dirty, dirrrrrrty riffs and vocals that will make you tingle in so many places. This is some slimy, Southern, rock and roll at it’s finest. If you ever see this band live, prepare to offer them part of your soul! They put on such an energetic live show and display so much power with their instruments. Also, they’re releasing a full-length album in 2016. There are rumors of Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes sparing some vocals on this record! 

Downtown Boys - “Full Communism”

This band is incredibly important in punk music. I’m talking about punk as an ideology. I don’t really hear a lot of politics in mainstream punk music; but it seems like that’s going to change a lot in the next few years. Front-womaned by Victoria Ruiz, an activist and general bad ass, this album deals with racism, homophobia, and problems in the prison system all the while providing positive, dancey punk music. The record is bilingual, which is fucking awesome for any Spanish-speakers who feel like they don’t have a place in punk because of a country still struggling with racism. Downtown Boys used this record to create a place for us all in punk music. And it’s tight as hell.

Dilly Dally - “Sore”

Toronto-based grunge band with a power pop aftertaste and a lot of glitter and a lot of slime, Dilly-Dally released their debut album this year and it honestly KILLS. Front woman Katie Monks has a voice a little bit like Hole’s Courtney Love, except she actually sounds like she’s having fun while she’s teetering in between songs about lust, friendships, and weird shit that goes on in her head. Lead guitarist Liz Ball has some guitar tones on this record that are so good it makes me clench my fists. SOMEONE FIND OUT HOW SHE DOES THIS and get back to me! This record is so tight and well done. They also do a sick cover of Drake’s “Know Yourself”. Look it up. 

Mitski - “Bury Me At Makeout Creek”

Oh god. I could leave it at that, honestly. Mitski made the best soft-punk album I’ve ever heard. It’s rough and rendering. Mitski is a pretty blatant writer, and it seems to come from the most honest of places. She successfully writes about love and death in a human way while being incredibly refreshing, which is a near impossible feat for most writers. She has a beautiful voice, knowing when to serenade and when to scream. Mid-Fi and dissonant, this album will move your guts around in your stomach and you will cry, damn it. Mitski is also half Japanese and very vocal about making a safe space for minorities in punk music. An incredible force.

Favorite lyric might be:
“I want a love that falls as fast / as a body from the balcony” – on track “Townie” 

Palehound - “Dry Food”

Palehound is Ellen Kempner. This album revives indie rock. Her writing is clever, witty, and also possesses a certain darkness and vulnerability that’s there for the taking. My favorite thing about this album though, is her guitar playing. She has an unpredictable way of playing that keeps you on at attention. I had a great time
seeing her live and watching her effortlessly finger her way around frets, with a beanie pulled down so low, it almost half-masked her eyes. It’s a solid record that got a lot of attention from Pitchfork, among other music sites. 

It’s hard picking favorites! Other fantastic releases are “Rose Mountain” by Screaming Females who is fronted by Marissa Paternoster. She also put out another incredible album from her side project Noun called “Throw Your Body On The Gears And Stop The Machine With Your Blood.” Marissa is the best guitarists I’ve heard this year. She runs a youtube channel called MTV12 where she shows music videos and talks to visiting bands.

We liked the album “Women’s Rights” by Childbirth. Mostly, this album is lovable because it’s fucking hilarious. Favorite tracks are “Siri, Open Tinder” and “Breast Coast.” 

It could go on forever! And I spent so many years thinking there was no place for me here! Thank you, 2015. I’m 23 and finally recording shitty bedroom songs!

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Tweet at Kelly Jolene here and read her poem Common Knowledge in our third issue.


"Camera" - New Single from Superbody

The southern based electro-pop group, Superbody, hasn’t wasted any time giving us another oddball pop hit guaranteed to find it’s way onto your Party Jams playlist. Camera is the first single released by the duo since their debut LP, 'Hades Land' back in May. While keeping to their signature stormy vocals and retro-inspired charm, this new song brings a cleaner, groovier quality, making it more of an immediate attraction.

art by Kayla Leach & Jordan Wells

In our interview with the band, frontman Gregg McCurry distilled a Superbody show down to just three words: Look at me. We think you should oblige him.

2/13 - Athens, GA @ The Caledonia Lounge

4/1 - Chattanooga, TN @ Chattanooga Film Festival

superbodypop.com



A look into the work of Emily Mohrbacher

Emily Mohrbacher is a Minnesota based ceramic potter and artist. She was featured in Babe Soda's first issue and is the drummer of the rock band Val Son. We had the chance to talk with her about her work and the complex themes, influences and forces behind it. 

via emohrbacher.tumblr.com

via emohrbacher.tumblr.com

Your work is rooted in ideas about women’s roles and women’s labor. In what ways do you draw from these beliefs and in what ways do you push against them?

Well, I am a homebody. I love to clean, and I’m in a very happy place when I’m left alone to cook or bake. The traditional role for most women in the United States was, and to a great extent still is, to occupy the home and kitchen spaces as a domesticated body. As a person and as a maker I reclaim the kitchen and the home as a place of sanctuary, of reflection and of creative energy meant just for myself and for those I wish to share it with. My ceramic practice is highly physical. I’m wedging clay, throwing pots, pinching pieces, coiling clay to make a sink or whatever else. I love the physicality of working with clay because it so poetically relates to the labor of women – labor in the kitchen, in the factory, out in the fields, in the delivery room, the bedroom, wherever. I’ve been afforded a lot of privileges despite being female in a violently patriarchal society. Due to these allowances I feel it’s important I understand where women have been historically and to do my part to start different conversations, to challenge the traditional narrative through my own actions and my own work.

via emohrbacher.tumblr.com

via emohrbacher.tumblr.com

Has growing up in the Midwest influenced your work?

Simply put, yes. My work investigates a few main topics, all of which I feel connect to the Midwest. I’m interested in exploring how gender roles are upheld, how they develop in our relationships, how they shape our perspectives. I’m interested in exploring the mechanization of the body, specifically the female body, and how the domestication of women was/is a cultural, systematic thing. I’m interested in abuse and drug addiction. I’m interested in the linkages between some victims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and how their trauma manifests as addiction. I’m interested in the power of religion, specifically Catholicism, and how religiously deviant acts – be it premarital sex, abortion, or abuse - are silenced, kept secret and are either ousted as a kind of social humiliation or internalized as sins. I’m interested in the character of mother, in the act of child rearing, the responsibility of maintaining human life, a family’s life, while also satisfying one’s personal needs, goals, dreams. These themes are all linked to my upbringing in the Midwest and Minnesota. Secondly, I’m profoundly moved by this landscape, both socially and naturally. It is a blue-collar climate, fields dug up, mounds of earth churned and seeded, harvested and put to bed. There are long histories here of men and women rising early to work at the meat packing plant, or the lumberyard or out on their farms. I think Midwesterners are incredibly resilient and tied to nature and to the Earth in a unique way. I think this stems from the place’s cultural history, understanding the soil, the rain, when the storms would roll in, to sow the field when the moon was waxing, to speak less and listen more, to be thankful for what one has. I draw from these themes, as well, themes of something mystical, magical, something I feel very tied to here in the Midwest. 

"I love the physicality of working with clay because it so poetically relates to the labor of women – labor in the kitchen, in the factory, out in the fields, in the delivery room, the bedroom, wherever."
via emohrbacher.tumblr.com

via emohrbacher.tumblr.com

You seem interested in both cultural history and your own personal history. How do you see these two ideas coming together in your work?

I think there’s something to be said about investigating broad topics that fascinate you and then breaking them down into something relatable. It’s scary to reveal secrets, to open up. Nothing in my work explicitly depicts my own experiences but they’re in there. The things I find the most interesting are also some of the things that have torn me up inside on a personal level. I think it’s important for people to not be left alone in their secrets or their trauma. Connecting with someone through art, be it a pot or an installation or a song, is a really healing thing. I work from the background I grew up in and try to boil that down into something someone can digest, mull over or talk about. I’m still working through how to do that in an effective way. Drawing a faceless woman on a pot doesn’t really do it for me anymore. Figuring out solutions to communicate what I want to is a frustrating process for me, but still one I really enjoy. 

via www.facebook.com/Val-Son-1609361932629374/

via www.facebook.com/Val-Son-1609361932629374/

Aside from pottery, you play the drums in a rock band. When did you start playing drums, and what first drew you to the instrument?

I’ve only been playing the drums for about a year. A few things drew me to start drumming. I’ve been dating a drummer for a number of years now and he’s really good. Like, really good. We met playing music so watching him play and be the driving force behind a lot of the bands and projects he’s been involved with is inspiring. We had this idea in the fall of last year to just do a two-piece thing, him and I, with me on drums. It was called Pink Clouds and it was the first time I was the drummer versus the guitar player. It was so fun. I felt so powerful, even though my parts were simple I felt like I’d found my instrument. Now we’re a three-piece with our friend Eric Carlson and we’re called Val Son. It’s so fun playing with those guys. We write songs about growing up here and about a lot of the same themes I confront in my pottery. I really love the overlap in mediums. I also think it’s important to note that there are so many chick drummers out there but they’re not seen with the same visibility as men. I think I’m drawn to drumming because of this, too, in whatever small way I want to make women more visible, and have us taking up more space.  

 

An Interview with Lisa Y. Méndez

We talked to Lisa Y. Méndez, an artist in California, about making zines, inspiring women, and the importance of artistic outlets. Lisa is the founder of the quarterly print zine, From Hell to Highwater. She blogs about zines and her art practice on Uno Foto. You can also check her out in Babe Soda's second issue here.

via Uno Foto: Art & Zines by Lisa Y. Méndez

via Uno Foto: Art & Zines by Lisa Y. Méndez

When did you make your first zine and what was it about?

So, the first zine I was a part of making was actually put together by my Women’s Studies professor in 2009. Each of the students in my “Feminism & Pop Culture” class did half pages of blackout poetry and collages and she organized it into an awesome compzine, which I still have. The pages reflect the students’ views of women in pop culture and the day-to-day struggles of being a woman. I’ve been lucky enough to keep connected with her and actually interviewed her for Issue 10 of my own compzine, “From Hell To Highwater”. 

via Uno Foto: Art & Zines by Lisa Y. Méndez

via Uno Foto: Art & Zines by Lisa Y. Méndez

One of my favorite things in your shop is your series on “Iconic Women”. Is there an iconic woman who you feel has influenced your work (or how you work) more than any other?

Thanks for that! That project was very empowering for me to work on at a time when I needed it the most. I’m inspired by so many women on a daily basis, both in real life and popular culture. As far as naming names though, Courtney Love is one of the first people to come to mind. Obviously I don’t know her personally, but from everything I’ve read about her and videos I’ve seen—I saw her live this year and I was speechless –she just rocks my world. She’s gritty, honest, a person who’s had to deal with other people’s bullshit thoughts about how she lives her life, but most importantly, she never apologizes for who she is. But if we’re talking “real life” iconic women, that’s most definitely my Mum. Both women prove to me that persistence and focus is a key to life. No matter how long it takes, focus on your goal(s) and get it done.

What do you find to be the most fulfilling aspect of zine-making?

It’s definitely the fact that zines allow my creative voice to be heard. I love having a tangible outlet that can be so easily reproduced and shared at my own discretion. It’s very different compared to painting or drawing in that way. Something else that comes to mind though, is that I get just as much fulfillment just talking about zines with people, especially those who aren’t familiar with them. I like planting those seeds in people’s minds that zines are a great creative outlet that anybody can do.

via Uno Foto: Art & Zines by Lisa Y. Méndez

via Uno Foto: Art & Zines by Lisa Y. Méndez

Your quarterly publication, “From Hell to Highwater” includes work from artists of all skill levels. Can you talk a little more about “From Hell to Highwater” and how it came about?

FHTH literally just happened. I thought to myself, “I want people to feel like that have an outlet for their art and I want to be the person that helps them share it.” I intentionally sought submissions only from women for the first issue, all of them I knew, and I got such an awesome response that I just kept going with it. I alternate between not having themes for the issue and having a theme. I never turn anyone down because I’m a strong believer that any person’s genuine artistic intention always has some kind of merit. Thankfully, I’ve had good luck with getting awesome content! I intend to keep going as long as there’s people interested in submitting their work and hope that the zine itself continues to evolve.

 

What are 5 things you’re currently into?

I’m always into 311. I get a lot of shit for that, but 311 is my band, man. I have some of my favorite lyrics tattooed on my fingers for daily reminders, one of them being, “Life’s not a race”. I just started reading Morrissey’s new autobiography. I’m always into Moz and I hope reading his book will enlighten me in some way, preferably artistically. I hate to say it, but I play Candy Crush and Farm Heroes Saga way too much, but I love puzzle games like that. My bike. I love my bike and having everything I need a bike ride away. The adrenaline rush from biking is always worth the sweat. Finally, I’m always into the idea of not assuming. It’s easier said than done sometimes, but I think getting into the habit of not assuming can prevent a lot negativity in your life.

 

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Q & A with Superbody

 

Welcome to the Babe Soda Blog!

To kick it off, we had writer Corey Cummings interview the amazingly odd and captivating members of the pop group, Superbody. 

If you aren't familiar with Superbody, you can check out their video for "Call Me That" featured in the first issue or visit their website superbodypop.com

 

Your videos feature a lot of interesting and nostalgic props. How do you choose them? What props can we look forward to in future videos?

Caleb: Every prop thus far has came out of my bedroom. I feel at home in my bedroom. I want to take people into my house. As far as the future goes, maybe I’ll try taking people into different rooms of my house.

 

What are your thoughts on the southern music scene?

Robert: Personally, i’d love to see us all get along. So many rappers, singers and guitarists around here seem to have so much unwarranted hate towards each other. It would be so nice to about to walk down the streets of my hometown without having to constantly look over my shoulder. Stop the violence.

 

What’s your songwriting process like? Do you have any band rituals?

Caleb: I wake up around 5:00 every morning, and then I promptly go back to sleep and wake up around noon or one, dependent on my circadian clock. At that point, I meditate for as long as it takes for the automatic writing process to take over. Some days, while my hand writes what it feels like writing, my lips part and my throat emits low note rhythms, these notes become the bass lines. My Tascam 424 Portastudio is always recording in my bedroom, I’m an avid collector of EVPs, and these recordings combined with the automatic writing experiments become a rough draft for a track. I’m not in a band.

 

Describe a live Superbody performance in three words.

Robert: Look At Me

 

What’s your dream venue? What would your dream show look like?

Caleb: "Yuv g’t fiah ’til showtime. Give ‘em hell!” the captain said with a toothy grin. It was cold on the upper deck, but the stacks gave off a much needed warmth. Caleb choked down his cider, and directed his gaze down to the lower decks. He had never seen such a crowd in his life. 2,000 passengers were aboard the Sultana that night, and Superbody was tasked with keeping the crowd entertained on their journey to St. Louis…….

 

In terms of music, what’s your biggest guilty pleasure?

Robert: As of late I have been listening to a lot of “indie”  and “underground” bands i’ve found online. Not too proud of it.. But geez is some of it catchy!

 

Who would play you in the inevitable Superbody biopic?

Robert: Given this a lot of thought over the years and I always seem to go back to the king of comedy himself Adam Sandler!

Caleb: Vanessa Hudgens. Hands down. I’ve always though we were twin sisters, in some plane. We both have dark features, similar attitude, and similar eyes. She’s also a Sagittarius. 

 

What will your tombstone read?

Robert: “Beloved Father Of Many. Lover To All. Mama’s Boi.”