MORE

13 of the Best Female-Fronted Bands in DFW

The Chloes
The Chloes

It's no news that the Dallas-Fort Worth music scene -- and music scenes around the world -- can often feel a little unbalanced when it comes to the male-to-female ratio. Why aren't an equal number of women picking up guitars, sitting down to keyboards or clutching drum sticks for the masses? It's dumb, but here's a list of 13 badass bands in DFW led by women who don't give a crap about the conventions.

See also: -The Five DFW Punk Albums We're Most Excited About for Spring/Summer/Whenever Punk Time Allows -The Ten Most Badass Band Names in DFW

The Chloes April Wenzel, songwriter, lead guitar and lead vocals for the all-female pop-meets-alternative rock group The Chloes:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

The people that hold most of the access to the action in the music scene are men. I can't help but sense that we have to rely on men's tastes and judgment in music and image for your success, but we really enjoy being women and telling our stories in our own way. We are often received with confusion when venues and fellow bands actually see we are not a punk band or singing folk lullabies and not sure in which mold to squeeze us.

We used to get a lot of unsolicited advice about how to look and how to sound from men that they wouldn't tell a fellow male band lead. We like to really get into a feminine zone by dressing up on stage and finishing our set with "Put that Dick Away" and the audience is not sure to be offended or laugh. The venue staff who knows us usually sings along. We all play instruments also, so it challenges both males and females in the audience who are used to seeing the wives and girlfriends in a support role backstage. At the end of the day it's about the music, and oddly enough, it's mostly men who buy our music, men who download our music and men who write us and tell us they can't stop listening to our album and how much it moves them.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

Liz Phair is a major inspiration to me. I grew up around the junk food of commercial radio which is to this day the female singer and/or dancing role with a perfectly auto tuned song about safe topics. There can be some of magic in that kind of polished up music, but when I found Exile in Guyville, I was blown away. Here was this woman singing about incredibly honest and raw struggles in her life, owning her sexuality, making demands on the universe, playing guitar and making it sound fantastic. You'll hear a heavy influence of that album in our music. I also enjoy experimenting with other artists' sounds like Lykke Li, The XX and The Coathangers. Sometimes I'm moved to just write a guitar song and I hear a heavy Foo Fighters or Strokes influence. Country and rap also have very special sounds I'm attracted to, Lucinda Williams, Neko Case, Estelle, and Azalea Banks. As long as it has that honesty and bit of magic, it's going to influence my stories.

Eat Avery's Bones Lead singer and bassist Meggie Hilkert, of the comically offensive punk band Eat Avery's Bones:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

I started playing with Eat Avery's Bones at a pretty tender age, and I received my fair share of cat calls, proposals from gnarly dudes, and belittling remarks about my skills as a bassist: "Wow, you're actually pretty talented!" But, in this reality, that is just part of being a woman and I've known that all along. Nowadays it's not a priority to feel like I need to impress anyone. In all honesty, the reason I love being in my band so much is because I get to have an insanely great time without feeling the restraints of how society expects me to act based on my gender. At times I find myself making a mockery of those expectations, and that was never something I consciously began doing...but it's a hell of a lot of fun.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

When it was most important in my band's developmental stages, we had a lot of support and guidance from women and men in the DFW scene: Nouns Group, Teenage Symphony, The Undoing of David Wright, Christian! Teenage Runaways. The (amazing) people in these bands encouraged us to be us, and accepted us, and I could not have asked for a better scene in which to start playing music as a young woman. I switched from being primarily the bassist in EAB to doing vocals only recently, and influences on my vocal and performance styles include Eric Paul of Arab on Radar, and Chloe Lum of AIDS Wolf--two folks who, despite the number of times I have seen them perform, still freak me out and blow my mind.

The Atomic Tanlines Allyssa "Alli Play-Nice" Lowe of The Atomic Tanlines:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

I get this question asked a lot, and as far as the people I associate with in Denton, they are very accepting of women in music. I get more excited about seeing a woman in a band than most individuals because I want to see more. I say this because I know it's hard to get people to listen to you unless you have a mic or instrument in your hand. It's scary to find that courage if you aren't an outgoing person and want to create music with others. In the beginning, some people write you off or judge you harsher.

When a guy messes up a song, or something along those lines, he isn't scrutinized, but when a woman messes up she is a joke. But if a woman surpasses expectations, she is only good "for a girl," or the fact that she is a girl gets thrown in front of everything. But in the Denton/Fort Worth music scene everyone is very aware that inequality is bogus. They are all really solid dudes.

For me, the fact that I am a person of color fronting a punk band, I get a hell of a lot more micro-aggressions about my race rather than because I am female. Every time I'm in Dallas, some asshole touches my hair without asking. Some of these guys are a real hoot, especially the ones who ball their hands into a fist and say "Right on!" when I pass by. Or the ones who said they have seen my band and say how jazzy and soulful we are because they saw a sax and it only makes sense, right? We have to be a jazz or a soul band because a person of color is singing and they just so happen to have a sax. Usually these are the dudes who when conversing with me say "Oh girl," and "Holla." I'm so sick of it. That's how it is, I guess, being in a predominantly male climate -- that and the jokes that go too far. Growing up in this whole "troll" culture era, I get that everyone is at risk for a harsh joke, but sometimes people make jokes about something non-consensual, and that is hard to be around. It's really awesome that I don't experience these things regularly in Denton. I just had to tell you straight about the things I experience frequently outside of Denton/Fort Worth.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

I'm influenced by all the really wonderful people that I surround myself with. Everyone is creating and manifesting and it's beautiful to see everyone working together. I love my friends seriously. If they jumped off a cliff I would too, because I know damn well we all know how to have a good time. Musically, I'm influenced by Tupac. Just kidding. But not kidding. Um, Alice Bag, Jello Biafra, Polly S., Marc Bolan, Selena, Grace Jones, Iggy, OG Ron C! Just everything I listen to and grew up around...it all has an impact because it all is meaningful to me.

Vulgar Fashion Julie Mckendrick, lead vocalist for death-synth duo Vulgar Fashion:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

I guess I was pretty lucky growing up in the '80s when MTV was in its infancy. I had the opportunity to see women that were aggressive and mysterious which I identified with yet not completely. I was still looking at men in music for inspiration. I was attracted to extreme forms of expression. I found most of what I was looking for through heavy metal like Metallica pre Black album and gansta rap like Ghetto Boys, N.W.A. I tried to get into female led metal bands but the ones that were presented to me still had sexualized stereotypical themes in the songs. The ones that didn't, such as Joan Jett and Patti Smith, were not heavy enough for me. There might of been women doing sonic art with a more aggressive vulnerability but I was unaware of any. The music industry was still definitely dominated by men which is true in all western art movements. So, working in an all boys club can be extremely difficult sometimes. Women performers are judged mostly on how they look rather than the content of their music. I tend to ignore what an audience expects of me and just perform in an organic way. I feel like it would be false and too easy to just play it safe.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

I have tons of things that influence me. I really like Lana Del Ray; she is probably the weirdest person ever. I also really like the Britney Spears Blackout album. There is a very direct connection between that album and some of the songs on our album...Madonna in the '80s, a lot of music in the '80s was good. All of the radio music today pretty much sucks. That's why you have bands from the '80s doing big tours. Anything that I respond to emotionally influences my art work.

 

Bitch Bricks Bassist Jennifer Rux, of the all-female psych-garage trio Bitch Bricks:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

Schuyler (guitarist) and I talked tonight and we both agree that this is a tough one to answer because it has its pros and cons. With some people it takes longer to get respect as an all-girl band. On the other hand, some people just like you because you are a girl band. We are in a man's world in ways but we don't take it serious. When we first started we played with a lot of metals bands. They love women and asked us to play even though they probably didn't like our music. But, we don't mind it so much. Playing with a packed house of screaming, drunk metalhead guys is crazy fun. 

Who are your musical or personal influences?

I have always been captivated by the hypnotic, trance-inducing qualities of the boogies (one chord blues). I love early psychedelic music such as Barrett-era Pink Floyd and The 13th Floor Elevators. They also drew their inspiration from boogies.

The Virgin Wolves Jaimeson Robbins, lead singer of the bluesy rock 'n' roll group The Virgin Wolves:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

The boy's club atmosphere of the music scene is only intimidating until you're in it. After that, it's almost an advantage. I know what you know, I can do what you can do, and I smell nice doing it (most of the time, we live in vans, too). Haha. When you first start making music, as a woman, that's when it's most frustrating. While you may always take a little shit from your male counterparts, nothing shuts them up like being good at what you do. I think people can absolutely see through women who are banking their success on the novelty of being a girl in a rock band. Sometimes, that affords a little extra credit to those who aren't. But that's true of most "band gimmicks" in the scene (regardless of gender), if it's bullshit people are going to say so....and that's a good thing.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

My influences span far and wide. My mother and my father knew how to raise tough ladies. Musically, there are just too many, but they all seem to stem from the delta blues. That's my happy place, ironically.

The Red Death Singer and guitarist Kitty Holt of the "dirty rock 'n' roll" band The Red Death:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

There are a lot of female acts out there, but the large majority of them are singer/songwriter acts. For me personally, it is empowering to be the lead for a dirty rock 'n' roll band. It's great to be in a position to get up on stage and scream and yell with all of the boys.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

My influences are so widespread, but personal influences include my family, my best friend Hannah, and the music community of Denton. Musical influences include classic artists such as Zeppelin, The Who, and Queen as well as local artists such as The Toadies, The Virgin Wolves, and The Phuss.

Hard Drinking Housewives Amy Donaldson, guitarist, vocalist and keyboardist for folky, jazzy rock band Hard Drinking Housewives:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

It's ridiculous. For instance, like right now, when I'm trying to reply to this message, I can't hear anything over the sweaty ball conversations and the popping of Pabst Blue Ribbon. But yeah, I have had to train my brain to hang/think like a dude. They are like tiny sheep and most of the time I can persuade them with my girly bits to get stuff done.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

Anybody that plays from their fucking HEART, as well as: hoola hooping, margaritas, pretty colors, and throwing things.

Def Rain Ashley Cromeens, lead vocalist of synthy dream-pop band Def Rain:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

I am a human being who wants to play music for the rest of my life. I consider myself a musician. Not a female musician. Just as my sister is an accountant. Not a female accountant.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

My dad is my biggest musical influence. I grew up watching him play in bands. I danced to his sound checks. He taught me how to play guitar. He is the number one reason why I play and love music.

 

Pocket Change Lead vocalist Ruth Salverda of experimental duo Pocket Change:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate? Guys make a great audience. Besides, Joe's always there with me and honestly I feel as much pressure, admiration etc. from the females in the Denton scene.

Who are your musical or personal influences?

Comedy--especially when rooted to the tramp. The martyr I never could be and Vaudeville, The combining, DYI exchange.

The Treelines Amanda Newton, lead singer of the '50s-tinged pop-soul band The Treelines:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

Hmm. I like all climates. I guess you could just ask what it means to be a woman. I think that if you wanna do something then do it. As far as music goes, I did it and I'm lucky some people like it! Yeah! So people are super nice for liking my music and not caring that I'm a lady!

Who are your musical or personal influences?

I like Billie Holiday, Fats Domino, Gillian Welch, Otis Redding, Lesley Gore, Sam Cooke, and Dolly Parton. Lately I've been listening to LOTS of Shovels and Rope.

Space State
Space State

Space State Lauren Ramirez-Potter and Carisse Elizondo, guitarists and vocalists of the dreamy psych-folk group Space State:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate? It's definitely intimidating sometimes, but we support each other creatively and try not to let it affect our performance. We know that there are times where we might be judged more harshly, but everyone has their own opinion. - Lauren Ramirez-Potter

Josh and Cameron are pretty encouraging, as well. Having the guys, family and friends to support us is great and I try not to think about the fact that we're playing with a bunch of other male-based groups. - Carisse Elizondo

Who are your musical or personal influences?

As far as musical influences, I would say Robert Plant, Chan Marshall, Entrance Band. Carisse incorporates more of her own style and then we collaborate our different tastes. - Lauren Ramirez-Potter

Zhora Taylor Rea of electronic band Zhora:

The music scene can often seem like one giant boy's club. What does it mean for you to be a woman leading a band in that type of climate?

This is true, although I try not to think about it that way.  I am just really fortunate to be a part of it all. 

Who are your musical or personal influences?

David Byrne-his style has always been a favorite of mine, and the way he just IS. Erykah Badu is most inspiring to me as an artist and as a strong independent woman. Prince, Karen O., David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, and Gary Numan, Little Dragon, Robyn, Tom Waits, Sade, Tom Petty...OK, I'll stop there.

Keep up with DC9 at Night on Twitter or Facebook.


Sponsor Content