« Previous Artist | Next Artist »

Melissa Beattie. Band name: True Womanhood

How would you describe your music?

"When somebody asks what genre our band falls into, we say art rock - thought we prefer the term ""avant-pop."" To me, that term describes a band that thoughtfully incorporates experimental, atmospheric and noise elements to a basic pop song structure.

The also band strives to incorporate different genres of music into our own songs. We are fans of all genres of music from all decades. I grew up listening to alternative rock, hip-hop/R&B and even classical music and showtunes. We incorporate those genres in our own music. Some of my bass lines are homages to Motown greats. Noam, our drummer, uses a hybrid drum set that contains traditional rock drum kit as well as a sampler and triggered, electronic drums. Our singer, Thomas, is equally indebted to Michael Jackson as he is Morrissey. An interesting combo!

We are still striving to define our own sound, but I hope we always incorporate elements from different genres in all of our songs from this point on. "

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

"Thomas tends to write the ""skeleton"" of a song. I will listen to a guitar riff/progression he comes up with and provide a melodic bassline. Sometimes the roles are reversed. Now that I'm better at my instruments, sometimes a song is created on a bass part I come up with. Both he and I are responsible for much of the pop elements of a song, although Noam is equally involved in the writing process.

We are share pretty equal responsibilities/roles in the studio. We all write our own parts. If we don't like the way something is sounding in the studio, we will speak up. We've all known each other since middle school so we don't feel like we have to hide the way we're feeling too much. Thomas tends to seek my approval for his vocal parts just as much as I seek his approval for some bass parts I come up with. It's a pretty democratic environment.

I'd say that Thomas and I are mostly responsible for making the business and marketing decisions (although he tends to make more of the business decisions while I 'sign off' on more of the marketing decisions.) I majored in communications, so I am particularly interested in promotion, PR, social networking and branding (in this case, creating a band image). If Thomas is making a business decision, he always consults with me first, but the band typically trusts my judgment when it comes to marketing. I have a lot of freedom in my band and feel that I have a lot of control behind the scenes, which I'm thankful for. "

Related Themes: Cashing In

Describe your gear.

"BASS GUITARS: Fender American Deluxe Precision Bass Gibson SG Bass

BASS AMPLIFIER: 1969 Blue Line Ampeg SVT

PEDALS: Boss Delay; Boss Metal Machine; Whammy pedal; Death by Audio Octave Clang pedal "

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 is a stereotype that all females either sing, play tambourine or play the bass. When I tell some people that I play the bass, some think it's awesome - others say, ""Yeah, yeah. ALL female rockers play the bass."" That's when I really realized I needed to prove myself. Because that opinion still exists, I feel an absolute need to be as proficient and creative at the bass guitar as possible. I practice nearly every day for at least two hours, so I have become a lot better at the bass in a short time. Mostly men will come up to me after a show and say, ""Wow, you are incredible at the bass. I was shocked when I heard you play!"" - or something to that degree. Of course, I am flattered by the first half of the compliment, but secretly annoyed that people are so surprised that a woman can be good at their instrument. I don't think men realize that they're being borderline offensive when they say those types of things.

I also refuse to wear skirts or dresses on stage - which may just be a silly insecurity I have - but I do not want to be considered ""eye candy"" or a sex object while I'm playing. I mean, of course you can be an amazing musician while wearing a feminine outfit, but until I get really, really good, I will be fearful that wearing a dress will be considered a ploy to get people to pay attention to the only girl in the band.

My female rock idol is Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein. One of the best guitarists I've ever heard. Confident on stage, extremely intelligent. Both men and women respected her. Though beautiful, she didn't feel the need to dress herself up to get attention - she is just a flat-out amazing musician. If I became half the musician Carrie is, I'd consider myself successful!"

Related Themes: Behind The Music Onstage

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 would suggest to other women that they practice as much as they can. Women can be just as technically proficient as men; women can write great songs. Don't dumb yourself down because you think fans will like you more.

Down the road, I would encourage women to make sure they are financially stable before they decide to pursue music full-time. I worked a full-time, salary job and was able to save a good amount of money. I am about to leave my job to tour. I am in a position where I can do this for a few months and feel secure. Never rely on a man's bank account. "

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

The singer/guitarist of my band, Thomas, and I hung out nearly every day for a couple of years. He always had a guitar in his hands while we were watching TV, etc. It had always been a dream of his to form a band. For about a year straight, he begged me to learn how to play an instrument. He figured, "We're hanging out enough. I know Melissa likes good music. Why not give it a shot?" One day he randomly asked me what my favorite instrument was. That was his sneaky way of deciding what instrument he'd teach me how to play. I gave it some thought and concluded that the bass was probably my favorite instrument. It's versatile and it can completely change the mood and feel of any song. The bass is an integral part of some of my favorite music. The next day, I came over to his house. There was a bass on the bed. Thomas said to me, "Here is a bass. You are going to sit here with me and I am going to teach you the basics of this instrument." I remember throwing my hands in the air and shouting quite a bit that day. I'd never even picked up a guitar in my life! I thought I was too old to learn and was resistant at first. But Thomas was an excellent teacher and I was able to pick up the instrument pretty quickly. It also helps to practice with other people.

Related Themes: The First Time