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Marie Parker, Secret Cities

How would you describe your music?

Some bloggers have compared us to acts like Grizzly Bear and Passion Pit. We definitely have been influenced by 60s rock groups as well, like the Beach Boys and the United States of America. Our classical music backgrounds are evident in our music, too.

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

"I write and sing about 40% of our songs and write string and horn arrangements and piano parts. We don't have a studio; we record in Charlie's parents' house using his equipment, so my role there is just to play my part. I'm the only one who currently lives in Fargo-Moorhead full-time, so it's also my job to find musicians to come in and record what we can't play (violin, trumpet, etc). As far as marketing, Brian has been running Western Vinyl for a while so I figure he knows what he's doing. He emails all three of us with these kinds of issues and I usually respond with a ""sounds good to me!"""

Describe your gear.

All I own personally is a horn, a cello, a computer with Sibelius notation software for our string arrangements, and a crappy old guitar that we don't use when we record or perform. Between the three of us, we also have electric guitars, a drum set, electric keyboards, some microphones, a couple of Digital Audio Workstations, and even a little bit of analog recording equipment.

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?

Well, the bigger issue is that regardless of any natural or socially constructed behavior differences, it's generally different to be a woman than it is to be a man. Speaking strictly as a musician in Secret Cities, however....I mean, I feel different in the sense that I can sing higher and the fact that my grandparents think it's weird that I'm going to hit the road in a van full of men this summer. But nobody in the band makes me feel like my I'm any "different" from them because of my sex.

Related Themes: Cashing In

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

"Keeping in mind that I've only experienced two decades of music as they happened, the thing that I notice right away is the increased sexualization of women musicians. "

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?

I'd give the same advice regardless of the musician's sex or gender, and it's this: Have confidence and be proactive. Also, if you're like me, you write two or three songs you hate before writing one you like. Don't let it discourage you.

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

"I picked up each instrument for a different reason. Piano was compulsory in my household; much to my dismay. I took four years of formal piano lessons, and about a year after dropping them, I approached the piano on my own and discovered that I had a talent for playing by ear. Shortly after, I started experimenting with writing music as well. I picked the horn because I thought it looked weird and nobody else in my school's band played it. When I was in high school, somebody left an old guitar in my choir director's office and never went back to get it. My choir director also happened to be my dad, so, hooray, I had a guitar! I decided to learn to play it. The cello was least convenient for me to start because my school district had no string program. I didn't even know what a cello was until I was about fifteen. Right away, I loved the way it sounded. It took a few months, but I finally convinced my parents to rent me a cello -- which had to be mailed to us -- and then I started taking monthly lessons. In Montana."

Related Themes: The First Time