Female artists perspective on diversity, gender bias and more – an interview with Mississippi shoegaze rockers KICKING

5 mins read

Kicking, a five-piece band hailing from Jackson, Mississippi, has taken a new approach to shoegaze rock with a gritty, heavier, and grungier sound on their new EP Goodbye Party. The band describes their style as doom gaze and sludge pop, and the record has been released through Harness Records (UK), Summer Darling Tapes (Europe), and Candlepin Records (US). Mixed and mastered by Jonathan Nunez, Torche’s guitarist, Goodbye Party is a prime example of Kicking’s unbridled honesty and intensity.

Comprising of five members, three of whom are female musicians handling vocal, guitar, and bass duties, Kicking stands out in a heavily male-dominated scene. In our interview with Bobbie, Lacy, and Sarah Grace, we delve deeper into their perspectives and experiences as female artists in the music industry, highlighting the difficulties they have faced and observed in the face of gender inequality.

Summer Darling Tapes, a DIY record label headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, specializes in releasing cassette tapes of post-punk, shoegaze, and dream pop bands in limited EU variants. SDT boasts an impressive lineup of artists, including but not limited to All Under Heaven, Dayflower, Locust Revival, Velvet Cathedral, The True Faith, Adored, Old Coke, and Bleached Cross.

It is worth noting that the inquiry into one’s emotions about being in a band seems to be reserved exclusively for women, while men are seldom questioned on this matter. In other words, discussions surrounding the political implications of this issue appear to be disproportionately directed towards women in bands. Do you concur with this assertion?

(Bobbie) Yeah, I’m sure our boys have never been asked that question. It’s always about how the sound was cultivated, their influences, or the gear they use. As if we didn’t have a hand in any of that, like Lacy and SG didn’t decide for themselves what pedals they wanted and how and when to use them, or us ladies are just so wowed to be able to make beep boop noises. For the record…….it feels fine.

(Lacy) Part of me wants to delve into an entirely prosaic conversation about gender in gaze theory and the impacts on art/the creative process. BARF CITY! You’ll have to buy me a peaty scotch for that conversation. Short answer: I concur with the mentioned statement.

(Sarah Grace) Definitely. It’s everywhere, not just in music but many industries.

What are your reflections on the progress that the underground music scene has made with respect to diversity and inclusivity, and what do you believe still needs to be done to address the systemic barriers that have historically excluded underrepresented communities from the industry?

(Bobbie) For sure, the needle is moving in the right direction. I think it’s important to keep showing up, create spaces were there aren’t any, and keep calling people out. DIY has always been good about that.

(Lacy) I personally like discovering new and interesting projects to bring to our area or for us to connect with in the digital space and on the road. Hearing the same voices, tones, mentality, and approaches to music are BORING. Also, if I hit you up on the socials it’s because I am picking up what you’re putting down. No bullshit.

(Sarah Grace) There have always been LGBTQ+ and culturally diverse people involved in music and art, but it’s just now becoming accepted in some cultures to explore alternative scenes and feel safe doing so. I think as people discover more influences, they can relate to that may have started or still participate in the DIY scene, and as people become exposed to more projects and local to them scenes, it will continue to grow.

Have you encountered instances of gender bias or sexism during your tours, and if yes, how did you navigate these situations? Moreover, could you offer any suggestions to our readers who may face similar challenges?

(Bobbie) I guess to some degree, just the total underestimation. The number of times I’ve been assumed to be the manager, or the girlfriend, even after lugging in all that heavy fucking gear. It can be pretty fucking annoying, but you just deal with it by doing what you came to do, play.

(Lacy) First let’s address that we experience gender bias and sexism in life, full stop. So, encountering it with Kicking is just like managing it in our everyday lives. But I’ll gladly use it to my advantage to get an assist lugging a Peavey 2X15 cabinet out of the van and onto the stage. My spinal fusion thanks all you “big strong men”.

(Sarah Grace) Yes, whether intentional or unintentional from fellow bands, venues, or show attendees. It’s been easier to navigate as I’ve gotten older and had more experience dealing with that issue. I’ve found that while sometimes it’s easier to ignore it and move on, I mostly prefer to bring attention to things that bother me and point out why it’s inappropriate to said person. My advice is don’t be afraid to say something or be “rude”. Change doesn’t happen with silence.

What is your perspective on the term “female-fronted,” which is frequently used to identify a band with a female lead singer?

(Bobbie) I get it, females doing shit is still a novelty somehow. I can get behind it in the sense of a search engine, trying to discover new artists etc., but as some sort of marketing it just feels fucking stupid. We’re a band, and yes, our vocalist is a female. Someone @ us when #felinefronted is happening. You mean there’s a Calico cat leading a fucking doom metal band, that’s important.

(Lacy) It bums me out, but if someone discovers Kicking or feels like seeing us gives them agency to do their thing by us being identified as “female fronted”, then I’ll gladly put down my personal hang-ups.

(Sarah Grace) A band is a band. Everyone in ours participates. I think of us as not female fronted but able to have the female and male perspective. But I’m not going to die on this hill – pick your battles.

Do your personal experiences with romantic relationships influence the lyrical content of your songs?

(Bobbie) Absolutely, but it’s important to note that rarely have they ever been about an ex or a lover. I write a lot about my experiences of childhood trauma, and the relationships that have been severed and devastated as a result, including my relationship with myself. Let’s look at a song like SDS, it’s my relationship with drugs and alcohol, or at least with self-medicating and impulsivity. When I started therapy, I was given the advice to start dating myself, and I just kept thinking how could I possibly date someone I hated as much as I hated myself at the time. Those are the “hate me’s” in that song, there’s not another person on the receiving end.

(Sarah Grace) Lyrically it’s all Bobbie and her experiences, etc. I feel like Lacy, and I contribute to the backup vocals by doing what can enhance whatever Bobbie is putting out with the music. Harmonies, echoes, doubling when we want the point to really hit.

(Lacy) I’m just here for a participation award in the vocal department if being I’m honest.

What else can be on the lookout for from Kicking?

(Bobbie) We’re never not writing, and we’re kind of a lot, so I would just say more.

(Lacy) I second Bobbie and will add to be on the lookout for more collaborations with bands/labels/companies we dig.

(Sarah Grace) As always, more songs to be written and recorded, although you can never know where next we’ll go locally to record. And you can spot us throughout the year at our favorite local dive, CS’s.

Pre-orders for Goodbye Party go live March 20th via Summer Darling Tapes online store.

Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via [email protected]

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