Music Features

Post Malone Talks New Album, Courtney Love, and COVID-19 on Nirvana Livestream

"I'm really proud of the music we're making. I'm having a lot of f*cking fun and I'm really excited to put something new out for you all to listen to, I suppose."

"I'm trying to put it out as soon as I f*cking can," said Post Malone, who has apparently been spending his quarantined days polishing his third album at home. "I'm really proud of the music we're making."

Post livestreamed covers of Nirvana songs this Friday and peppered the show with asides like that one. The performance featured additional efforts from Travis Barker of Blink-182, bassist Brian Lee, and guitarist Nick Mack. The whole set was a benefit for the United Nations Foundation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund; with Google's help, they raised $3 million.

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MUSIC

Mitski's New Single "Cop Car" Takes No Prisoners

The queen of cowboys ascends to an even higher echelon.

Mitski's been quiet lately, but no longer.

Over the past few months, the indie star went dark on social media, ended her relentless touring schedule, and gave no hints as to when (or if) her next project would emerge.

With the single "Cop Car," she's burst back onto the airwaves with a vengeance. It sounds like she's been bottling up emotions for months, and now they're forcing their way out in the form of screaming guitars and growling feedback.

The Key

Mitski has actually been performing "Cop Car"at shows for years, but this is its first official release. It's also the last installment from the soundtrack for the horror film The Turning, Floria Sigismondi's adaptation of The Turn of the Screw. So far, the soundtrack has featured Courtney Love, Soccer Mommy, Kali Uchis, Vagabon, Warpaint, girl in red, Kim Gordon, Cherry Glazerr, the Aubreys, and other indie greats.

Soundtrack producer Lawrence Rothman specifically contacted Mitski for the feature. "There is a pinnacle scene where Kate's mind starts to unravel while in her car and we needed a cinematic but grunge influenced song shadowing the scene," he said. "I reached out to Mitski to see if she wanted to get involved as Floria and I had a feeling she would deliver a song that was guitar-based but cinematic. 'Cop Car' went beyond what we imagined and we were ecstatic when she sent it to us!"

"Cop Car" definitely sounds like a mind unraveling. "I will never die," Mitski repeats at the song's climax, before concluding, "I've preemptively blocked all the exits. So I will burn in this movie theater." It's a blistering excavation of trauma or loss or a breakup or some twisted combination of the three.

The Turning and its soundtrack will debut this Friday, January 24th.

www.youtube.com

MUSIC

To Achieve Gender Equality in Music, We Need More Female Producers and Musicians

When women aren't writing, producing, and playing their own instruments, when they're singing words they don't believe in, or when they're feeling uncomfortable around all-male recording and production teams, how could they be making their finest work?

Fact: 21.7% of artists in the music industry are women*.

Additional fact: only 2.1% of music producers are women.

Recently, there's been a lot of discussion about the lack of female representation in the music industry, but there's been less emphasis on the startling lack of female producers. This has to change, because in order for women to achieve real equality in the music industry—not just illusory representation in the form of overt sexualization and commodification—they need to be producing their own music.

They also need to be playing their own instruments, working their own sound systems, and signing artists to their own labels. In short, more women need to be taking control of their work.

In a recent interview, producer and artist King Princess stated that "it's tough out here for women who have a vision, and I think that the most important realization I came to in music was that I need to be the person responsible for my vision. I need to hold myself responsible and learn this shit. It's not hard, it's just daunting to be a tech god."

Miquela interviews King Princess | Coachella 2019 www.youtube.com

She's right. Many women, for whatever reason, find themselves deterred from production, resigned to the idea that only men can adequately mix and master their tracks; but, in order to totally take control of their images and sounds, women need to hold themselves accountable and learn.

After all, just because a woman sings in a band and poses for press photos does not mean that her success is a victory for women on the whole. Women have been featured as vocalists in front of all-male bands since time immemorial, propped up as pretty faces while men rail on their guitars, fiddle with the levers on their soundboards, and pull the strings of the entire situation.

Plus, female frontwomen—especially in the commercial cover band industry—are often held to disturbingly sexist standards. Just look at the ads for artists on Craigslist and you'll notice that many of the calls for female vocalists specify that the candidate must be "in good shape" or even "slim," a disturbing and archaic requirement that throws the standards and requirements that haunt the music industry in stark relief.

This isn't to say that all female frontwomen are nothing more than pretty faces. It is to say that if we want to achieve gender equality in the music industry, underrepresented parties need to take up space not only behind the mic but in all aspects of performance and creative development.

First and foremost, female producers would create space for many female artists who might have otherwise been deterred from pursuing music. After all, recording studios and concert halls are dark, intimate spaces where sexual assault occurs far too often, and it's impossible to know how many women have left music industry due to bad experiences at the hands of men who feel they have the power to take advantage of them. Earlier this year, a bassist named Ava revealed that she quit the music industry because of abuse she received at the hands of Ryan Adams when she was underage; and her story is far from an isolated incident. According to The New York Times, Ava "never played another gig" after "the idea that she would be objectified or have to sleep with people to get ahead 'just totally put [her] off of the whole idea' of being a musician." Her experience is not an isolated incident.

This is a tragic but all-too-common story. But if more women were to take up production, claiming these traditionally masculine spaces as their own and creating safe environments for young female artists, who knows what kind of alchemy could occur?

As things are now, the lack of female producers—and the concurrent number of female artists who have left the industry due to assault and intimidation at the hands of powerful men—could explain why women have been so underrepresented on end-of-year lists and in awards circuits. Plus, even if you do remain in the industry, it's quite difficult to create work that's true to your vision if you're not writing and producing at least part of it. (Rihanna can do it, but then again, Rihanna is an ageless superhuman, so that argument is irrelevant). Many pop songs with female vocalists—especially the kind that are getting pumped out by increasingly desperate LA's producers—were clearly not written by their singers, and so they're weighed down by a kind of synthetic detachment. When women aren't writing and producing, and when they're singing words they don't believe in, how could they possibly be making their finest work?

The same is true for instrumentalists. Though there are millions of extraordinary female musicians, a video of the top 10 greatest female guitarists features only a few female shredders and mostly includes songs with vocals, whereas every man in the top 10 is shown shredding on their rather phallic axes in full-on rock god mode. As long as women aren't shredding, their rock music is simply not going to be as effective as Mick Jaggers. (On the other hand, whether we really need more shredding is a topic for another discussion).

Top 10 Female Guitarists of All Time www.youtube.com


Top 10 Guitarists of All Time (REDUX) www.youtube.com

Of course, this definitely isn't to say that women can't rock—they can and do. Many women have annihilated all expectations and gender norms, despite impossible odds, using their traumas as rocket fuel. Courtney Love transformed her anger and pain from a 1991 assault into the song "Asking For It," and she's been destroying sexist expectations for her entire career. The entire Riot Grrl movement was dedicated to bucking gender norms and bringing unruly, powerful women to the fore.

Hole With Kurt Cobain - Asking For It www.youtube.com

Plus, some of our greatest, most innovative (and most criminally underrecognized) guitarists and songwriters have been women—take Big Mama Thornton, the original writer of Elvis's "Hound Dog" who received precisely zero of the royalties he received from it; or Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose work was a fundamental precursor to rock and roll; or anyone on She Shreds' list of 50 Black Guitarists and Bassists You Need to Know. So, so many female greats—women of color in particular—have been wiped from history or are just beginning to receive their due.

Big Mama Thornton - Hound Dog www.youtube.com

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Didn't It Rain www.youtube.com

Similarly, though they comprise a tiny percentage of the whole, there have always been female music producers. The problem isn't that they don't exist, but that they're not recognized, argues producer Ebonie Smith, citing many who are doing excellent work but who are not receiving adequate acclaim. These include WondaGurl, the teenager who produced Travis Scott's "Antidote" and part of Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail; Nova Wav, who produces for Kehlani; Nicki Minaj's producer DJ Diamond Kutz; and hundreds of others.

Things seem to be moving forward, at least. Initiatives like Smith's Gender Amplified, Inc. are encouraging women and nonbinary people to take up production and music tech. In terms of instrumentalists, a recent Fender study found that roughly 50% of guitars purchased in 2016 were bought by women or girls; and with publications like She Shreds elevating the voices of diverse female guitarists and bassists, we'll most likely be seeing a whole new generation of players rising from the ashes, the angry cries of their foremothers ringing in their ears. For some, that generation has already arrived—for example, LA Mag recently published an article with the self-explanatory title "Women Are Saving the Electric Guitar."

The Way Ep. 5: Cherry Glazerr's Clementine Creevy Teaches "I Told You I'd Be With The Guys" www.youtube.com


Studio Politics Featuring Ebonie Smith - EPISODE 1 - "ALL IS GOLDEN, GIRLS." www.youtube.com


Gender Amplified Mix Sessions: Georgia Anne Muldrow | Part 1 of 3 www.youtube.com

Still, as of now, the statistics show that far too few of the instrumentalists, composers, conductors, and record label executives who occupy positions of power are female. Of course, women are not at fault for their own historical marginalization. For a long time, women have been quietly discouraged from railing on guitars, instead advised to sit quietly at pianos or to sing prettily while men did the work. Plus, the tour and studio life often wasn't viable for mothers (though naturally, it's always been perfectly acceptable for fathers). The dearth of women in the music industry is the project of age-old systems of sexism and classism.

But things are changing. Sexism still exists, but with women comprising roughly 50% of the workforce, we can no longer use sexism as the sole excuse for why there are so few female producers. On the whole, as a society, we've moved past second-wave feminism, wherein the only goal was to get women into the workplace. But in the realm of music producers, it's like we're still living in the 1950s, when it was radical for women not to want children. Women—as well as men—are to blame for the lack of female producers in the modern era.

Perhaps the issue stems from mindset. "What the experiences of women reveal is that the biggest barrier they face is the way the music industry thinks about women," said Professor Stacey Smith, whose studies generated a report called 'Inclusion in the Recording Studio?' Smith writes, "The perception of women is highly stereotypical, sexualized and without skill. Until those core beliefs are altered, women will continue to face a roadblock as they navigate their careers."

After all, production requires a unique combination of attention to detail, technological savvy, artistic vision, and brash fearlessness. You can learn literally endless amounts about how to produce, how to mix and master and EQ every fiber of every note; but ultimately, production is taking shot after shot into the dark. It's about believing in your own ability to hear and shape the music into the form you want it to be in. It's about taking control, the kind that will remain largely unattainable to women as long as the aforementioned perceptions exist.

Hopefully, someday this dissolves and we all realize that we're all floundering in the dark together. Maybe someday we'll all understand that gender is a fluid concept, and the ability to create art is one of the things that binds us together as human beings.

But that is not the world we live in. And until that world exists, we desperately need more women behind the mixing board.

*This article recognizes that trans and nonbinary people have often been more erased and marginalized in the music industry to a much greater extent than cisgender women.


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


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CULTURE

Lana Del Rey, Billie Eilish, and the Sexist Backlash Against Female Sadness

Sure, the topics they sing about might be destructive and controversial—but typically, we let men get away with writing about the same themes without blinking an eye.

Who could forget the firestorm that erupted around Lana Del Rey in 2012? The number of think pieces and posts smashing her for her purported glamorization of depression and sadness rose to the thousands, maybe millions.

She wasn't a feminist. She ran around with gangsters and slept with old men in her music videos. She loved Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg. She wanted to die.

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MUSIC

Goat Girl's 'The Man' Surges With Dazzling Garage Punk Energy!

New music video for 'The Man' plays scenes from 'Hard Days Night'

Charlotte Patmore

Written by Randall Radic

South London's Goat Girl recently released a new single and accompanying music video, called "The Man." The band, made up of Clottie Cream, Rosy Bones, Naima Jelly and L.E.D., will drop their self-titled debut album on April 6. A classic sketch by the late great comedian Bill Hicks inspired their band name.

Goat Girl's sound marries garage punk with a stylish flavor of indie rock. The result is vaguely reminiscent of Courtney Love's band, Hole: buff, de-rezzed, punk-Mafioso music full of gravitational frisson and shindig flavors, as if something gorgeously, nastily tight is being figured out and assembled.

"The Man" opens with jangly guitars and a throbbing rhythmic pulse flowing into a punk/barn dance melody exuding embedded lozenges of opaque ground zero colors. When Ellie's grimy guitar kicks in, the tune radiates expensively savage textures bordering on full-spectrum dominance, dirty and crunchily potent.

Rather than a wailing solo, the band rides a tranquil measure punctuated by muscular guitar chords underscoring Clottie's sweetly droning voice. "I bite my lips and taste my hips," she croons, as the music mounts to the venting guitars and crushing drums of the chorus. "You're the man, you're the man for me."

Clottie's cool, nonchalant, concentrated vocals unite the song, giving it a slo-mo atomic energy that's deliciously blasé, mutinous and sensual all at the same time. It's a haughty monotone radiating supercilious flair and intense almost abstract commentary, as well as suppressed eroticism oozing out in layered sumptuous waves. In effect, her tone of indifference assumes a fascinating voluptuous power.

static.independent.co.uk

The video, directed by C.C. Wade, presents a spoof of the Beatles A Hard Day's Night. The video cuts from images of the band preparing for a performance as their hotel is surrounded by hordes of worshipping male fans, desperate for just a glimpse of the band. After the performance, the band sneaks out a side door of the venue. Unfortunately our heroes are immediately spotted and chased through London by flocks of fanboys.

"The Man" is grand garage punk. The melody pulsates with intoxicating force and the rhythm groans with crazy, irresponsible ferocity. And Clottie's muttering voice imbues the music with a monomaniacally insane energy. Goat Girl has it going on!

The band will head out on the road this spring for a UK headline tour. A current itinerary is below, with U.S. touring news to be announced soon.

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