"Lyrical, thoughtful indiepop! I'm a writer above all else, so lyrics and the interplay of words--both sounds and meaning--are really important to me. I write all the songs (words and music) for The Angeles Project, and put a lot of care into every line and melody. But although some of the tracks have a downtempo, introspective feel, they're never super dark or depressing--at the end of the day the vibe is pretty catchy and accessible, just low-key, not-overly-produced electropop with some (we think) really great tunes."
What are some of The Angeles Project's influences?
"My influences vary widely depending on the style of music I'm writing at the time. I love the songwriting of Emily Haines (both with Metric and solo), although my own work has a more oddball, lighter touch. On this project I've been inspired by Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers, 80s pop generally, and the sincere, quirky lyricism of The Magnetic Fields. People have variously compared certain of our tracks to early Jesus and Mary Chain, Berlin, Roxette, and Mazzy Star, and my voice to Belinda Carlisle, all of which are super flattering, although none of those were conscious influences for me. I've also enjoyed learning about newer artists that folks have compared us to--like HAERTS, Little Daylight, and Azure Blue, who I wasn't familiar with before but are making really beautiful, interesting music."
What are some of your favorite things about being a musician? What are some of the challenges?
"I love working with other musicians and artists, being part of creative partnerships and communities where you're enthusiastic and supportive of each other's work. My experience of making music also really opened up once I realized I didn't have to do everything all by myself--write the songs, sing the songs, play the instruments, record the tracks, do the videos, etc. Once I accepted that I was never gonna practice enough to be a killer lead guitarist, it freed me up to do what I love most, which is to write songs. I can write a decent song and then collaborate with other musicians or a producer to make it sound exactly right, or give some ideas for a video to a director and let them take it from there--we've got an animated music video in the works directed by this awesome artist Jason Cirimele, which I'm really pumped about. On a personal level, I find it challenging to keep things about the music, not about my own image. It's part of why I always refer to The Angeles Project as "we," even though it's a solo project, and purposely released our first three singles without putting my picture on any of our materials--it takes the focus off me and keeps it on the ultimate product, the songs. Plus, even if I'm the central force behind the Project, everything I do is collaborative--from the production to the music videos to performing live. Everyone who partners on those is part of The Angeles Project and deserves a lot of credit. At the same time, it's hard to do any PR without proper press pictures--people want to see a face, I think especially so with a female lead singer. So right now I'm really thinking hard about presenting more images of myself in ways that don't detract from the music, and am finally going to get some decent press pics done. It drives me a little crazy, though--for a time I semi-seriously considered operating The Angeles Project as a cartoon band, like Gorillaz or Jem and the Holograms, and just doing everything through an avatar.
As far as bigger picture challenges, it's hard to make money in music unless you're also really good at marketing or work closely with someone who is. I happen to enjoy the business and PR side of things, which helps, but for now, I'm keeping my day job!"
Tell me about what your experience has been like as a woman in the music industry. Have you had any experiences where you felt like sexism contributed to how you were treated?
"As someone who's been writing songs for fun all my life but only recently started recording and releasing my material, I feel pretty new to the music industry as such. I'm sure I haven't seen or experienced half of what women who are career touring musicians or trying to negotiate significant record contracts experience. But something that's been driving me crazy lately is interacting online with music journalists and other bands who automatically assume there's a dude running the show, despite the fact that all our materials state that The Angeles Project is my solo project. Just lots of "hey man" and "hey bro" communications, or assuming that The Angeles Project must actually be the creation of my producer, who's a guy. There's this presumption that as a woman fronting a band you must "just" be the voice, not the driving creative or business force. It's true in other parts of the music industry, too, so much so that the Twitter profile for Sargent House records, which is a Los Angeles management company and record label founded by Cathy Pellow, says up front "Female owned so don't call me bro." (https://twitter.com/sargenthouse). But you know, I'm sure she still gets bro'd all the time."
What messages do you hope to send to aspiring young girl musicians? What advice do you have for young girl musicians?
"As I alluded to before, you don't have to have perfect technical skills in order to make music and have a great time doing it. Once I realized that, it was really freeing. As an artist, there can sometimes be a lot of fear around putting yourself out there, or feeling "I'm not good enough yet." I certainly struggled with feeling self-conscious when I was younger, like "I'm bad at jamming on guitar," or "my voice isn't that great." A lot of girls and young women, especially, worry about being judged, and end up only playing by themselves or writing awesome music in their bedrooms for years without showing it to anybody. But then if you look around, there are all these young guys who barely know how to hold their instruments forming bands right and left, just for the fun of doing it, and then they develop their skills in the process. So yeah, give yourself permission to not be perfect and just get out there anyhow--you'll have more fun and ultimately learn a lot more! Also, if you're a particularly self-conscious person, try sharing your music under a different name or experimenting with creating a stage persona--it can feel really personal and naked to perform a song as just you, but if you think about doing it "in character" there can sometimes be a bit more distance and freedom to experiment with presenting yourself in different ways."