Each month GoGirlsMusic.com spotlights an artist or band from its community, asking a series of questions. Enjoy!
What drives your music? When did you first know you had to do this thing called music or bust?
Tiik (guitars) – The universal primordial symphonic ooze? Life’s passion and love, totally. My musical drive…well, my father was a well respected jazz/big band musician so I had music around my home all the time. Dad’s muted trumpet lulled me to sleep. Mom said I started singing in my playpen. Mainly, I knew I was addicted to music by age 13. My mom bought me a guitar and the first thing I did with it, literally as I was touching the strings, was write a little instrumental song. So whatever drives THAT automatic instinct…I don’t know what that is…but I always did love the Beatles in my early guitar days.
Tina (drums) – For me, it’s love of the music and the love of my bandmates. They really bring out something special in me. I feel so comfortable with Tiik and Alexis and the camaraderie really fosters a sense of confidence. I knew about this musical drive from an early age. It’s never left me and I believe if you have something that you think and dream about everyday then it’s your obligation to yourself and the universe to act on it.
Alexis (bass) – Life drives my music – the need to connect through creation and performance, as well as the need to turn inward through the time spent listening and playing alone. I grew up surrounded by music, and I started playing stringed instruments when I was 5. It wasn’t until later in life that I recognized the role of and importance of music in my life, but music has always been a presence in my life.
Describe your music style and name three musicians you have been inspired by and why.
Tiik – with G.U.T.S. the instrumental style/sound is mainly alternative/punk/rock, somewhat politically driven and pounding with love and respect for each other and the world. From there it can and does morph into somewhat techno, symphonic, ballad, acoustic – blend all that in a mixer and serve over “the people”, bottled for sale to all who care about peace, love, justice & fun. BTW, G.U.T.S. is an acronym…..it stands for “Give Us The Strength”.
Whoa!!! My influences have been many over the years…too many … from the earliest music known in all cultures until today. Some are songwriters, some are guitarists because I do both…3 is too few to name…like I love Sia’s music & performance, and Pink is awesome …and JD Samson of Le Tigre (currently with MEN). And..Bitch…formerly of Bitch & Animal – love her lyrics and melodies. And I haven’t even mentioned guitar players or Ferron and Bob Dylan. So … to answer the question, I’ll stick to these 3 who are currently in my musical brain creative thing mostly: Always and forever, Janis Joplin. She has (and I mean “has” not “had”) the talent, lungs, heart and attitude that speaks to me. Rock those blues, girl! Linda Perry because she is brilliant and writes gorgeous songs. She was more than awesome in 4 Non-Blondes. Her lyrics are perfect and I love her melodic structure, the way she builds a song. I love her ability to make me feel her point, and also to lift me up. India Arie. Her lyrics are brilliant, deep, fun, true, important and her melodic structures are INSANELY amazingly perfectly delightful.
Tina- Budgie- Siouxsie and the Banshees, Lez Warner- The Cult, Roger Taylor-Duran Duran. I was (and am) a huge Duran Duran fan. Rogers drumming style really paved the way in my understanding of song structure, drum tracks, and how versatile drums can be in a song. He basically taught me how to play and I really credit him with being a major influence in my life.
Budgie- I simply love Budgies style. I love the way he uses tom toms and slips in the ‘off’ bass drum note on occasion. I love the way he can command presence in a song, his drums parts are so powerful and intense, and then he can just grab hold of it and pull it all back like the reigns of a horse at full speed (This Unrest is an excellent example).
Lez Warner- I learned a lot of the power hitting from his style. From his work with The Cult, to his efforts with Queen V. I love his intensity and simplicity. Listening to him play always makes me wanna go beat something!
Alexis – The style I’m drawn to is rock, with an edge and with a hypnotic rhythmic quality. I’ve been inspired by Pink Floyd, Concrete Blonde and Danzig, along with some Latin influences.
What’s your ideal venue atmosphere?
Tiik – Any place, like a big club or arena that has a good sound systems and lots of adoring fans…def love a packed house.
Tina – I love playing anywhere with a riser and a killer sound person.
Alexis – A big packed warehouse-like venue full of energy and with a lot of sound.
Describe how your music career has evolved since you first started performing.
Tiik – well, I’m from Washington DC and initially I was played around DC and did a little stint in Europe with my acoustic guitar and a guy partner. Then I bought an electric guitar and moved to California and found that some men had problems playing with a female electric lead guitarist…some insurmountable ego problems. So I started all female bands in Hollywood, Venice and the Bay Area and did some studio recordings and one album. Found out I love playing with women. Over time I’ve observed and lived through a variety of audience reactions to all female bands, good and bad. I became more determined to continue in all female bands because I love playing with women and because I also get over-saturated and bored with so many all male bands and all male everything in the music industry. Oddly enough, I’ve overheard some very rude comments by females when they didn’t realize I was a band member standing there listening. Once in reaction to our female saxophone player, I heard a girl say,
“That girl with a sax…that sax in her mouth…is creepy??? Girls shouldn’t have instruments that look like penis’s in their mouth. It’s gross.” I’ve had guys tell me I was their inspiration to start playing guitar, and then I turn the corner and another guy tells me I play pretty good for a girl. LOL!!! I moved back to Washington DC and played with Toshi Reagan. That band improved my lead guitar work a lot. Then did my own band Native Ban and released our album “National Tears”. That improved my writing and guitar parts. I did a bunch of compilation bands with many of the DC punk/dischord boys and then I put music aside for 4+ yrs when I went to college. I did feel a little lost not playing, so in 2007 I got back in there again after I met Bitch. She just blew me away and I thought, “Why the heck am I doing not doing this?” So then my writing and playing just exploded. G.U.T.S. is pretty much about everything I’ve done since 2007, though there are some of my oldies on the debut album.
Alexis – I’ve gone from exclusively focusing on the creativity of music to also valuing the creativity and self-expression involved in performance. Precision and power have become more important to me, feeling like I can really get out there and perform with total confidence.
How would you describe the music scene in your area?
Tiik – The Washington DC music scene is awesomely diverse. We have everything here. But getting into the major clubs is NOT easy. And getting the LGBTQ community to come out to shows is not easy either, so we play for all audiences. Straight guys adore us and dance to our tunes.
Alexis – There are a lot of small excellent venues in DC, and more keep coming on the scene. DC is the U.S. home of both punk and go-go, and it is exciting to see the city become more of a creative center.
What was the inspiration for your latest release?
Tiik – Well, I have to say meeting Bitch in 2007 was the big push for me. She woke up my creativity when I didn’t even know it was asleep and I wrote a bunch of new tunes. And then finding Tina and Alexis, who I adore and who love this music, …that cemented the deal cuz they totally rock this music. And Alexis writes killer tunes too which will be on the next release…or maybe we will even try to squish one in on this release… which is titled It Takes G.U.T.S. (featuring SuperSHE)
Tina -I love the lyrics Tiik writes. I really do think she is a wonderful lyricist and I think we all speak the same language musically. They love my contributions to the music and I love theirs. It’s a great feeling!
What do you think is number one for a musician to think about before preparing for a CD project and do you have any tips on saving time in the studio?
Tiik – I honestly don’t think there’s any one thing that’s most important to think about BEFORE “preparing” for your CD. Just go ahead and prepare. LOL!!! Prepare by getting all your tunes ready. All the song elements are important. Save your money, enough to finish the project or it will be left hanging. You’ll need to pay for recording, mixing, final mix and mastering. Practice a lot with your band before you go into the studio. You really need to be prepared or you waste time and money. It’s expensive. If you invest in your own computer and digital recording software (I have Logic Pro 8 – for Mac) then you can save lots of studio time & money by recording raw tracks directly to your computer and then let the studio tech mix them. I did some guitar, vocals and keyboard parts at home and gave them to the studio tech for mix and mastering.
CD covers and all that promo looking imagery can come later. And then when to release it and do a follow up tour…that’s all a part of it too. Try to work out good timing.
Tina -Make sure you have your songs in order by the time you get into the studio. I think what would be helpful is to try and spend some time at a studio so you can watch and learn from the producer and the musicians.
What makes or breaks a musician just starting out in your opinion?
Tiik – Well…let’s talk original artists here…mostly, you need a sound and feel that people relate to and respect, or you have a look and sound that can represent a certain demographic, because what makes a musician, whether starting out or not, can be as flukey as good timing…like you have a look that appeals, whether natural or theatrical. That can totally be timing based on current trends/anti-trends. Or, you have a charisma that appeals. Again, just a timing thing there. Mainly though, I think you need to play well and be nice to the audience…connect with them. Be nice, be positive, have a message of hope.
However, to BREAK you as a musician…just go on stage totally wasted and you’ll lose all your fans or potential fans faster than you can say “Who unplugged my mic?” There’s nothing more lethal than insulting your audience with “not being there”…being drunk on stage is especially offensive to fans. It ain’t funny. It looks bad and makes you look foolish and not worth anyone’s time…like you think you’re so great you can just rip off fans like that. And your flame will die fast too if you are arrogant or mean to your audience. Be nice, be positive, have a message of hope.
Tina – It def helps to surround yourself with people who are supportive and encouraging. A recipe for failure is to NOT have this.
Describe your toughest moments in your quest for a music career and tell us how you overcame them.
Tiik – The first thing was getting past the boys not wanting to let me play my guitar…I had to fight to be able to play my guitar in a band. I overcame that by having all female bands. Ha!!! Eat your heart out boys!!! Then losing loved band mates to drugs or death. I just had to cry and heal. And the next has been what Tina said below…finding the band mates to gel with.
Tina – Finding bandmates who I gel with musically and personally. I waited a LONG time to meet these ladies.
What advice would you offer to up and coming artists who get discouraged other than don’t give up?
Tina – Stay true to yourself and if/when you meet people who bring you down or don’t believe in you, just keep going and surround yourself with loving energy.
Tiik – What Tina said … and, trust the universe, and keep your side of the street clean, and “you can’t stop a bird from pooping on your head but you CAN keep it from making a nest there.” …and, “don’t let the winter crawl into your eyes, attitudes get old but they never get wise.”
Alexis – Believe in your ability, and express what you came here to express. This is all uniquely yours.
Tell us something you want the music world to know about you.
Tina – G.U.T.S. is looking to do a world tour!
Tiik – Again, what Tina said…and, I would love G.U.T.S. to tour with any of these artists; Pink, Linda Perry, Sia, Uh Huh Her, Lez Zepplin, Paramore, The Raincoats, The Noisettes, Heather Nova, The Veronicas, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon, to name a few. LOL!!!
What have you gotten out of being a member of the GoGirls community?
Tina – Meeting other female musicians! I love the online support we get and give to each other! I’m so glad GoGirls is here! Thank you!
Tiik – Great connections with other female musicians and some gigs from that and more fans. Lots of hope and happiness. No down side to this GoGirls adventure. GoGirls rock!! YAY!!!
Connect with the ladies of G.U.T.S.: