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Rebecca Schlappich, Kiss Kiss

How would you describe your music?

"This is one of the most difficult questions for me to answer, maybe because of my inadequate mastery of the English language, or maybe because our music is just plain weird. The best I can do is ""Orchestrated Indie Circus Punk Rock."". We are all products of an ADHD culture, and our music reflects our socially induced lack of attention span. We probably never develop a melodic theme as much as we could, we bore quickly if we stay in one time signature too long, and we will throw in dissonance when tonality becomes tedious. "

What is your role in your band? In the studio? In business or marketing decisions?

If I could put "Rockstar Band Mom" on resumes, I totally would.

My job, first and foremost, is to perform. I love being on stage, and I love entertaining people. It's such a rush, and so humbling when fans know our songs and sing along at shows.

Me and my bandmates try to divide up our work for the band according to people's strengths. I like to help out organzing tour itineraries and doing tour promotion. I also help sell and keep track of our merchandise, although on our last few tours we've been fortunate to have talented tour managers/merchandise sales-ladies with us, who have been a blessing in relieving some of the stress before and after shows.

When we're on the road, I take my responsibilities as a bandmate and performer seriously. I do my equal share of loading in and out of venues, driving our tour vehicle (which is a full-size school bus!) and navigating. I find myself waking up my bandmates in the morning so we can get on the road on time, and I generally have to mediate disagreements when tour tempers are high. I help out with busines matters at venues as well, although Jared, our drummer, takes the lead in that area.

During the writing process, Josh, the lead vocalist, and I will generally sit down and work on violin parts together. I like writing as a band, but i find that I am more productive working one-on-one. In the studio I'm like the icing on the cake. All other tracks get laid down before the violin, save for vocals and any last minute effects.

We make business decisions as a unit. We may not all agree, but everyone's opinion is heard. We are all terrible business people to be honest, and if we could do nothing but play music and perform we would be the happiest kids in the world.

Related Themes: Behind The Music

Describe your gear.

With Kiss Kiss, I use an acoustic violin which I set up with an LR Baggs pickup. I send my signal through an LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI, and the pedals I use include a Line 6 Delay Modeler and Loop Sampler, a Holy Grail Reverb, a Boss Mega Distortion, an ARTcessories Personal Monitor, and a Peterson Strobo Stomp Tuner. I prefer to go direct to the PA for Kiss Kiss, but for other gigs I own a Fender Hot Rod Deville Combo Amp, and I have a 5-string electric Bridge violin. My professional acoustic instrument is an 1888 German violin made by Oswald Mockel. It's my baby, and is probably more valuable than my own life!

Related Themes: Gear

Do you think being a woman and a musician is different from being a man and a musician? If so, how? Was there a moment that made a difference clear to you?

"There are marked differences between being a woman and being a man in the music industry.  For the sake of brevity, I'm just going to take a look at the role I chose in the music industry, that of a woman in a touring rock band. You can't deny that there is a double standard of sorts in an industry in which an all-female band is still something of a novelty. There's no novelty to all-male bands, right?  So where does this double standard stem from?

In past decades it was much more difficult for women to be recognized and respected as contributing members of the musical community. In the 70's, 80's, and 90's to some degree, while the stereotype of a ""rockstar"" was a sexually charged, drug consuming, guitar-slinging Adonis with throngs of interchangeable female groupies, female musicians fought tooth and nail, working twice as hard to get their voices heard.  Women like Mama Cass, Janis Joplin, Debbie Harry, Pat Benetar, and Joan Jett paved the way for female musicians today. 

I am happy to admit that there are many more girls in bands today than there ever have been before.  Especially when you take a look at the ""underground,"" indie music scene, you frequenty see bands with at least one female member. It is still a male-dominated industry, but from my experiences, most of the tangible oppression has been overcome or left in the past. The worst I ever experience is being confused for a ""merch girl"" or girlfriend of the band during load-in, which I generally laugh off, unless I'm in a particularly combative mood.  Very rarely I'll have to deal with some light harrassment from a drunk bar patron, but I don't view this as relevant to being a female musician.  Drunk idiots are everywhere.

To be honest, I feel that the double standard mainly resides in the minds of women. I play so many shows where girls come up to me afterwards and tell me that they wish they played an instrument. I want to shake them and yell ""Well, why don't you?!"" but I generally try to phase that sentiment in a more positive way, and inspire them through my life and my music.  It's just disheartening when I see so many young girls content with being groupies to their boyfriend's bands rather than picking up an instrument, any instrument, and being rockstars themselves. There's no better time than right now to be a woman in a band, and personally there is nothing I would rather be doing with my life than making music with my band."

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

I touched on this briefy in the last question, noting some trailblazing women of past generations who made it possible for the current climate of possibility to exist for me and my fellow female musicians today. Instead, I'd rather note the similarities between the generations of female musicians. No matter what, touring and promoting your own music is hard work. It takes an incredibly strong woman to survive life on the road and thrive on little more than the belief that what you're creating is valid and relevant and worthy of recognition. I don't say this to laud my own strengths, rather I feel it is worthy of mentioning because every single woman I've met who does what I do has had a huge amount of inner strength and beauty. These are powerful, ballsy women, of whom I consider myself lucky to be among the ranks.

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Did anyone ever give you any valuable advice about making your way in the music industry? What advice would you give to a woman musician just starting out?

The best advice I have ever received, and what I have learned since joining Kiss Kiss, is that no one will ever care about your music and your band as much as you do. As a young band, the dream is to get on a record label, get management and a booking agent, and then you're set! Nope. You need to have your hand in everything, you need to be promoting yourself and creating opportunities for yourself, otherwise you'll get lost in the shuffle of the 40 other bands your label or manager or agent work for. If you're just starting out, get yourself out there. It's so easy to promote yourself online, if you're not sure where to begin, you probably have 5 tech-savvy friends who can help you. And most importantly, be proud of what you create. Work hard, never settle for mediocre, push yourself to be awesome, and be passionate about your work. It may be cheesy, but if you are honestly striving to be the best you can be, you will find fulfillment and success. Ladies, you've just gotta have balls!

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

"   You would think that my parents had predestined me to be a violinist, considering how young I started playing the instrument. On the contrary, it was my little 3-year-old, hair-brained idea to pick up a violin. I was watching television when a PBS program featured violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman. I promptly informed my parents: ""I wanna do that too!"". My mother found Pat Chandler, a Suzuki violin teacher who lived within walking distance of my house, and I started violin at 4 years old.  Incidentally, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Perlman a year later, backstage after a performance. I don't remember what he played, but I do remember informing him that I was also a violinist and that someday I was going to be just as good as him. I was a precocious child. My mother almost died.   I studied the Suzuki Method with Mrs. Chandler and with Linda Fiore, who is one of the premiere Suzuki instructors in the country, and had the opportunity to tour Austria, Germany, and Bermuda with Mrs. Fiore's performance group, The Dacore Performing Strings.  My final teacher before college was Lee Snyder, and I consider my education with him the most formative years of my musical life, as a classical violinist anyway. 

I went to Manhattan School of Music, and although my degree program was a classical performance degree, these were the years that I started exploring and finding my niche in the worlds of jazz, experimental, rock and pop music.  I joined my first band during my senior year, joined Kiss Kiss a few months later, and while my roots will always be in classical music, my heart has been stolen by my band and the music we create."

Related Themes: The First Time