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Jessie, Public Radio

How would you describe your music?

We're a good mix of rock and pop - true rock and roll with catchy choruses. Public Radio has been described in the past as emo-tronic (because of the Alesis Micron, which backs the killer guitars and drums with some sweet synth). Our music makes you want to dance and shout about something you believe in at the same time.

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

My role in the band is to play my instrument and sing my heart out. When on tour in the past my husband (the main singer/songwriter of Public Radio) has joked for me to take my wedding rings off when I sit at the merch table, but he's only half joking. I'd like to think a lot of the other things I offer the band are important, but the guys would probably disagree. Like I'm really good with directions, I try and keep the van clean and the merch organized, I have cooked a ridiculous amount of meals for the band over the past 4 years, and I'd say I'm the peace-maker of the group. In the studio we have an amazing producer who works primarily with Mark (the main songwriter). They get things done and call us in when they need our skills. As far as business and marketing go, I may start taking more of a managerial role here in the next few months. I am expecting our second baby in August and will need a few months off to keep up with her. But while I do that, I am going to dabble in managing Public Radio, which is exciting to me.

Describe your gear.

I play a Nord Electro 3 and an Alesis Micron

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?

Haha! Yea, I do think there's a difference, but it's not really a big deal to me. I think there's an assumption that ALL women are high-maintenance, and therefore don't make the best band-mate or road tripper. Which I must disagree with completely. We have had several different MALE fill-in band members over the past few years and they were way more maintenance than I ever am! I have a lot of respect for women musicians, actually. Especially ones that can also juggle having a family. One of my heros is Kori Gardner of the band Mates of State. She has 2 kids, an amazing band with her husband, goes on tour a lot and keeps making hit records! I am so impressed and inspired. I think being a woman in any kind of constantly changing career - like music - is harder and more different than being a man. When I found out I was pregnant with our second child (BIG surprise), the rest of the guys in the band automatically assumed I was out. I'm sure in their minds they were thinking "There's no way she can come to practice and play shows let alone go on tour with 2 young kids!". It feels a lot like discrimination, to be honest. It felt like just because I'm the baby-carrier (being pregnant) it suddenly exiles me from playing my instrument and being on stage. My husband will have 2 kids as well but no one thinks of kicking him out of the band. If there's ever a babysitter problem (like we can't find one), I'm naturally the one who has to find a fill-in for a show. I get tired of it, but I'm an overcomer and I'll find a way to be a good Mom and maintain my position in a band that I love and believe in with all my heart. I have done a lot of shows pregnant and even traveled across the country very close to my due date. When I play a show pregnant, I get pumped by watching a video of the artist M.I.A. who performed at the Grammy's while 9 months pregnant. Now that's an unstoppable woman.

Related Themes: Behind The Music Cashing In Old School vs. New School

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

In some ways I do, like there are definitely way more women in the music industry than there were several generations ago. I also know for a lot of women to "make it" they are given some pretty strict rules from their labels or managers so they can "sell the artist" better. For instance the industry wants thin, attractive, single women. I guess this applies to men as well, but I feel like the talent of a woman can get overlooked by trying to make her look like a pop star - to sell her as a sex image. I don't necessarily feel like women had to jump through these kinds of hoops to have success in the 60's and 70's.

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?

No, no one has personally ever given me any advice about making my own way. Although, I'd have to say I am inspired by the women artists who are going after it and doing a fine job like Regina Spektor, Kori Gardner, Chan Marshall, Karin Bergquist, and so many more of my heros. My advice is to not be "the angry girl", and try not to use your body to sell your music. Let the music sell itself.

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

I took some lessons playing bass a few years ago, but the band already had a bass player so I warmed up my piano fingers and gave it a shot. I'm definitely not the most talented musician in the band, but I love playing keys and singing.

Related Themes: The First Time