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Female bands in the Valley music scene have a voice

Female bands and those in the underground music scene seek to offer messages of empowerment and representation


 "Arizona's female punk scene looks to inspire women through empowering music." Illustration published on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017.

The underground music scene in Phoenix is diverse in genre, but in many cases the well-known bands are male-fronted or all-male bands.

However, the Phoenix music scene is full of female bands of many diverse genres and backgrounds who have the same message—to inspire a new age of women. 

Doll Skin, a local hard rock and punk band, began at the School of Rock in Scottsdale and played on the Vans Warped Tour earlier this year. As a well-known group in the Valley, they’ve released two albums and toured across the U.S.

According to the band's members, the representation of women on the scene is important. They are aware of the male-dominated field that they are a part of and hope to speak to younger girls to show them the importance of representation.  

Meghan Herring, the drummer for Doll Skin, said there's a power in the female voice, especially the voices of angry women.

“I feel like this year, more than ever is like extremely important for a woman to start getting into the scene,” said Herring. “I think it’s very empowering that there’s lots of women that are getting angry and rightfully so.”

Doll Skin’s music discusses topics ranging from everyday interactions to serious topics such as sexual assault. 

Not all of their music is political. 

“You can’t call yourself a punk band if you’re not specifically talking about what makes you angry," Herring said. 

The band was not as accepted in the Phoenix music scene early on, especially the punk genre, she said. Once they branched out to a new area that was more receptive of the band, they returned to the Valley and got much better feedback, Herring said. 

The Underground Foundation (TUF) at ASU works with artists and musicians that sometimes go unrecognized in the ASU community to showcase their talents.

The president of TUF, Nicholas Rennemann, a junior design studies major at ASU, said underground music offers a unique experience.

“I think that underground music provides a much more fulfilling kind of creative outlet than normal music does,” Rennemann said. 

But he said there's a lack of female representation in the punk and underground music scene.  

“I think it’s crucially important,” Rennemann said. “Punk music in general, which is pretty common in the scene here is just totally a male-dominated thing and that’s really unfortunate.” 

He said that the punk genre is especially great for messages of empowerment and feelings on the current social climate. 

“I feel like punk music is a perfect medium for messages like that,” Rennemann said. “It’s definitely more common in female-fronted punk bands for sure since they’re the ones directly feeling that source of anger really.”

The Darts are another all-female band rooted in both Phoenix and Los Angeles. Describing their music as garage-psych-rock, this year-old band is comprised of artists with a like-minded taste in fun music. 

Nicole Laurenne, who plays the organ and sings for The Darts, said the band values their creative message. 

“The only message I really see as a theme is sort of this don’t mess with us kind of thing,” said Laurenne. “Don’t expect anything from us and let us be who we are.”

Laurenne said the Phoenix scene was very welcoming to the band. 

“In Phoenix we never had any trouble finding great musicians to play with,” Laurenne said. “We always felt very welcomed by the venues and by the press and all that stuff and radio stations will play us.”

It's important to be respected when you’re surrounded by such good people, she said.  

Laurenne said the underground music scene is vital to artists and their fans. 

“The underground scene is kind of everything when you’re a musician, that’s where all the heart of it is,” she said. 

With less of a focus on their gender and more of a focus on their music, the band wants to speak to its audience. Rennemman said that Phoenix may need to change a few things first before female (punk) bands are more commonplace.

“I don’t think it’s the case yet for sure,” said Rennemman. “I feel like people need to express that they would be open to that a little more.”

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