By Julie Lewis
With so many incredible, creative female artists in the music industry, as well as our local Texas music scene, you would think that there are no underlying issues. However, that is not the case.
Female artists still remain in a battle in regards to just being treated as an artist, and being held to the same level of respect as men.
I spoke with Michelle Soto and Christina Carmona of Blushing, a “female-fronted” shoegaze band out of Austin, Texas to get a better perspective on the topic.
Julie Lewis: What problems do you more frequently face being a she in the music scene?
Michelle Soto: I feel lucky to say that I don’t have too many pointedly negative experiences as a woman in music but I see the challenges out there and the work that still needs to be done. Women in bands want communication with the same level of respect and inclusion as the male counterparts. Stage plots, booking, settling up payment, our rig rundown, whatever it is. Talk with all of the band members on the same level.
I know some women also feel this nagging self-consciousness about sexuality and their stage appearance. ‘Is this skirt too short?’ ‘Should I try to be more sexy / less sexy?’ ‘Do I convey a look that will be accepted by everyone? It’s a CHORE and it sucks that some of us can’t help but think about it. I know I do and I envy those who may not. If a woman wants to embrace her sexual presence and share that with her audience, let her. If a woman feels most comfortable in casual clothing and isn’t trying to put her sexuality out in the forefront, let her do that too.
Christina Carmona: Fortunately, we really have had positive experiences overall. I feel like mostly we have eye-roll encounters. For instance, one time Michelle was loading into a venue we were playing and a guy trying to make small talk asked her if she was doing “girlfriend duties” by helping to carry her boyfriend’s equipment.
Although, women are present in the music industry, overall we still need to work out a few kinks. A big issue lies with the behind the scenes environments including studios, the booking, etc. I also spoke to Caro Somes, a recording engineer and artist on the topic, who says some people have a problem with the term “female-fronting” or “girl bands”. However, says she’s okay with the label of being a female artist if it’s used to recruit more gender diversity to bills and record labels versus as a sonic descriptor. “Girl band” is not a genre.
While speaking with Somes, she emphasized the idea of self-care. She explained her encounters in the recording process as not knowing how or when to stand up for her vision while working with more experienced and assertive people. “ I’ve found myself having to restate my opinion repeatedly to be heard. I’ve had to build a stronger belief in my vision. Codependency is a real threat in situations where someone with more power is putting in their time and/or money. I’ve learned to seek validation from myself first. To know what a ‘yes’ really feels like is important to preserving the integrity of your sound. These are all ways I fortify myself against inevitable prejudice in the industry.”
Overall, I concluded that we need equal opportunity within the industry. As a music community, we need more than just the existence of female artists, artists of color, LGBTQ+, and so forth… We need the respect.
Blushing and Their Debut LP
Let me begin by stating that this record is absolutely captivating. The first track, “So Many” presents you with a dreamy, hazy feeling. From the very beginning of this album, I noticed a slight shift from previous work. However, I would not consider this a negative thing at all. I asked the band what they truly wanted to bring to the table with their latest record, and if there were any specific elements, sounds, or ideas they wanted to introduce.
“We truly dug deep into the bag of sonics and themes with this album. We tried new instruments, arrangements and effects. Some songs even veer into different genres. Thematically we have a few songs that are quite heavy in subject dealing with loss, stress, disorders, grief etc. There’s a spectrum of moods represented ranging from sweet dream pop to dark coldwave. During the course of Blushing we have all been through a lot, coupled with our distinctly individual musical taste we allowed all of that to come out in full force on this album.” – Michelle
“Really just comparing what we did in our last two EP’s (and really digging the result) we really just wanted to come out with something that was better, faster, dreamier, heavier…everything. Mainly to want to emulate what you would see at our live performances and trying not to create parts that are impossible to play in a live setting. We also made sure to have a producer that understood what direction we wanted to take and push us to get there.” – Jake
Both members stated they wanted to bring something heavier and deeper, and you definitely receive what they were trying to portray. A piece in particular that I keep finding myself playing repeatedly is from Track 1, “So Many”. As soon as the track hits 2:34, the energy built up is released in the most beautiful way possible. They explained to me that they were inspired by the challenge of pushing beyond the sounds they established in previous works, yet still wanted to keep the dreamy roots. I think they truly did an amazing job of executing the more diverse sounds. Every track on the album establishes a unique feel, while still being grounded and overall is an eclectic work of art.
Blushing’s self-titled LP is now available for streaming on all platforms, as well as for purchase in all online music stores.
Featured image by Blushing LP cover