WOMEN IN MIAMI
MUSIC AND ART / by Theo Rodino
The swampy air of Miami has cultivated a microcosm of art and artists. It pains me a bit to have to make a distinction between genders when it comes to talking about an artist, poet, or musician, but unfortunately there is a disparaging unbalance in the artist landscape, as it favors guys. Not to say that Miami or the broader United States are disenfranchising women (intentionally at least), but I think a comment should be made about the unbalance. Rather than focusing on the lack of women making gains in their artist endeavors, I would like to focus on a few of my favorite artists, who happen to be women.
Have you gotten different responses from the "scene" because you are a woman?
Yeah, I deal with a lot of basic people simply because I have a pussy and run my own musical game. It’s funny, I’ve had local "friends" in the "scene" praise me for being their "favorite female guitarist," as if that were a separate entity of rock n’ roll. Super insulting. I also had a local promoter tell me, in reference to another band, that he felt "so-and-so is the best female-fronted band right now," as if to rouse my insecurity. I am apparently supposed to be threatened by any other woman who enjoys mild to moderate success in her musical ventures.
Was there an initial level of having to prove yourself? I suppose more so than would be customary for a man?
I have been accused of being "all attitude" by certain critics, but I think that’s just my nature. I come across a certain way to certain people and make no apologies for it. Nothing is customary in rock n’ roll--you just do it.
Why did you start making music and art?
I began playing the piano at the age of 7 and then graduated to rock guitar in my early teens after discovering Sleater-Kinney and riot-grrrl music. I just couldn’t help it, I need to make music in order to feel alive, otherwise I’m despondent and my spiritual energy is heavy, nonexistent.
How have you seen Miami changing in the last few years?
It’s definitely growing more "trendy" in some regards, which I don’t care for. But I’ve also seen amazing things happening lately, such as the Miami Girls Rock Camp, which was introduced to this area last summer. Definitely something to look forward to.
Does being a Mother play a role in you as an artist?
Yes and no. I started writing the bulk of my anthology—Poppy Tunes, available on Bandcamp—after I had my son a few years ago. I had a lot of time on my hands and he’d just sleep all day, so I began making lo-fi dreampop tracks in my living room. These days, motherhood impacts how much time I am able to dedicate to this love of making music, so the struggle is real.
What is the future for you as an artist, what is next for Whorish Boorish?
I’m always going to create music under this moniker, as the legendary R. Stevie Moore personally told me to never ditch it, so expect a new release sometime in the summer of 2016. Other than that, I’m searching for a line-up to help me actualize a live outfit. Any interested players are free to message me on the Whorish Boorish facebook page.
Can you tell me a bit about your work with Keel Her?
Rose (Keel Her) and I met on Soundcloud around 2012, when I began uploading the bulk of my personal work onto the site. I also met my former partner, Benjamin Eroglu of the Danish band Eerie Glue, with whom I went on to form a relationship and subsequent international project called Las Fritas. Just like I’d do with Keel Her and also Gorgeous Bully (another one of Lima’s collaborators), Ben and I would e-mail audio files back and forth and eventually came up with some EP’s as Las Fritas, traveling back and forth between the United States and Denmark between 2012-2014. Rose went on to work with legendary R Stevie Moore and got signed by Critical Heights, and is a general bad ass bitch. We did a split together a while back, which is here.
In regards to Houndstooth, why do you and Tony Kapel push yourselves to be as involved with what’s going on in Miami as much as you do?
We don't know why we push - but it’s in us to do so. Our involvement is not to compete or be better than others, but a way of archiving and having input on art and music history. Our involvement is strictly due to what needs to be done to get a message/point/artist out there. Houndstooth was originally a booking entity for Tony - but quickly accelerated to what it is with the intentions of getting music shelved and in people’s ears.
Would you say there are any central themes in regards to your art, both visual and musical?
My visual art goes in and out of series. Sometimes, these series are very specific to a topic or happen based on a group of people I encounter or am affected by. My pieces tend to have some surreal and subliminal messages. Some are creative crosscurrents that play in visual and audio art. I harness the mechanics of a stimulated mind, to promote free thinking as ideology. The band is just another abstract way of hitting all the senses - such as the textures I add to my work, and for smell people have recognized the coffee fellowship as the scent of the cottage. (Houndstooth cottage has developed into a haven for certain artists in Miami, acting as a means of supporting one another, one can commonly find themselves with coffee in their hands, both because of the coffee drinking culture of Miami and due to the many hours spent recording or working.) Being able to reach into these spheres for inspiration is a great benefit to me and those affected.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in Miami, especially in the early years of the blooming "art scene"?
I can't answer for the blooming art scene, Miami's art scene is 60 years deep - females have been in the forefront the whole time - it’s the men who need to jump in front to be recognized.
Where do your DIY sensibilities come from?
DIY is the result of the DIY minded becoming the industry standard. The music and art I do is honest and follows no guidelines or known structure. The industry needs to be reset for the real artist out here. Good production doesn't mean a good musician.
What’s next, not only for yourself and your many different projects, but for "the scene" around you?
What’s next is a boring question and allows no room for revelation. I see no reason to stop what I'm doing - I don't do things for the scene since "scenes" alienate and draw lines in the sand - it’s time for the next group to come and continue. It’s not up to one person. I do have suggestions, but individuals with collective support is what’s needed.
Maite and Rebecca just scratch the surface of remarkable artists in Miami. Some other notable figures include Juju Pie, who’s recently released album Welcome to, You’re not Alone can most be most simply described as a therapeutic, sort of slow lull into a subconscious ease, that takes hold of your joints and sedates them until the final track. If jagged yells are more your style, Ale Campos’ project Smut has brought some of the best music listening experiences I’ve had in the past few months. A particularly satisfying one consists of playing "No Me Toques" off of Matter That Soils or Blackens at full volume while driving a considerable amount over the suggested speed limit in the early hours of the morning. The crunches of the bass and the impact of the drums over the subpar sound system in my ’03 Jeep Liberty is something to revel over. Balancing the coarseness of Smut is Urp Durp, the project of Krystle Bruise. Krystle is a bit of a character, playing for Pariuh, a band known for setting up living room like scenes during performances and giving out toothbrushes to audience members and encouraging them to brush their teeth then and there. Krystle is also responsible for creating a series of characters one can easily find on stickers around town or in murals at Miami’s favorite ashtray, Churchill’s.
Check out more of Whorish Boorish’s work here and Maite Urrechaga’s work here.
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