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Beth Waters

How would you describe your music?

Modern folk, somewhere between Sarah McLaughlan and Elliot Smith.

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

I'm the songwriter and the performer. I have a percussionist that I feel pretty invested in emotionally and musically. I don't like to perform without him. I am partners in business with my husband. We run the record company together so we make marketing decisions together, but I make all the creative decisions. In the studio, I also feel like I'm in the drivers seat. I'm usually there for mixes and my producer and I understand that I have a high need for "quality assurance". I want to be involved in every level of recording.

Describe your gear.

I have a keyboard for performing, a Breedlove acoustic guitar, a couple of 58 shure mics, and some recording equipment for home (including condenser mics, preams and computers).

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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?

"Having kids has really made it clear to me the difference. But that's a difference for any mother who would like a career as well. I really felt I had to stop playing music while my kids were little, I couldn't breast feed and be there in the way I wanted to without taking a full on break from music. Being a woman also has been helpful in some ways, and difficult in others. I remember trying to get into a venue called ""The Red Devil Lounge"" in San Francisco when I was first starting out, and they referred me to their ""women's"" night instead of just letting me come and play with my band. At the time I found that rather insulting. Also, it's harder to get ""real"" reviews about your music. Many people want to compare you to another female artist rather than comparing you to music that is similar. That makes it hard to be unique and female at the same time. "

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Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

I think that the differences in generations are trends in the music industry in general. It's much more about being sexy in some now a days in some genres of music, but I think that's true for men too. Maybe there is more of an expectation that if you are a woman making music, you better be able to have the whole package and be able to sell yourself as a product too. The only woman who isn't like that that I can think of off hand right now is Bonnie Raitt.

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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 single most valuable piece of advice that I have been given, but really had to figure out for myself is: Write to please yourself. Don't try to please your audience, but really make the music you want to and the audience will follow. I feel like I have to re-learn this all the time, but it's a simple truth. When you are true to yourself and your art, it translates and your audience "gets" it.

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Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

I think I chose piano because my older brother played and I wanted to be like him. But more than that, it's such a naked canvas every time you sit at the keys. It takes no effort to make something happen and there is a sense of control to what you are doing. Also piano is very linear.. it's all laid out in front of you and the choices are obvious. It seems like with guitar, there are several ways to play a chord and it feels like they are all hiding waiting for you to explore them. I guess that's how I feel about the difference between the two. Also, as a child.. your fingers don't hurt when you play piano. The texture feels good of the cool keys, so there is always a positive association.

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