I’m going to be honest, I expected to see more women and femmes at this show, but it was still amazing nonetheless. Patrick Hintz, Good Luck Finding Iris’s guitarist, put together this event to support and showcase women and femmes in music and visual art. Many statements were made about how much the girls in the scene have to offer and how much more they should be recognized not as “female musicians” but just as “musicians”.
I am in love with every band that played Saturday night and had been looking forward to it for weeks. But I was also really interested to see some of the visual art installations that Patrick was telling me would be there. Visual artists included Grace Kunkel, Ndolo Elate, Natalie Ganzalez, Beatrix Del Carmen, Rachel Lawrence, Sophie Mcgrill, Marie Claire Rassier, Nastassja Frampton, Moriah Young, Teresa Junge, Emily Knisley, Liz Bunce, and Destiny Noel Bilges. (I tried to get photos of the artists by their work, but couldn’t track everyone down, ALSO I apologize to the folks who had their work on display outside and I didn’t get photos – I didn’t know there was anything out there until I had left 😦 )
First on the bill was famed local songbird Lydia Liza with her beautiful, vulnerable songs and voice that could kill. I got to see her perform her own work for the first time back in February and it was life changing having been a fan since I saw her with Toki Wright and The Big Cats in the summer of 2014 at a Music in Mears performance. Lydia effectively gave me full body chills during the fifth or sixth song in her set when she was singing, “Should’ve known by now!” At the very end of her set, Joey C. Hays, drummer for Ayvah, came on stage and played, picking up the pace a little bit.
Next up was the lovely, lovely Ayvah. Lead singer Ava Diedrich McFarlane introduced the neo-soul, jazz-funk band to an excited crowd that had about doubled in size since the event started. Ava has such a happy, effortless vibe about her when she’s on stage and it’s so so inviting – I can’t stop smiling and dancing every time I see Ayvah. They began with some fan favorites, “Lay Down” and “My Type” to which Ava dedicated to the women in the crowd: “This one’s for the ladies, not the men”. The band played three new songs, one of which I recognized from the acoustic set they did a few weeks back at Can Can Wonderland that she said was called “Red Vans” after guitarist Andy Schupp’s shoes!
Headlining the night was one of my absolute favorite local bands, Good Luck Finding Iris. The band is a mysterious being that gives me major shoegazey, Dido vibes. Lead singer and guitarist Michaela Stein’s voice still blows me away every. single. time. The band played some of their most recognizable songs in front of a big projector screen that was playing an art video with anime clips and flashes of flowers. About halfway throuh the set, Michaela introduced a new song, “Quite”, which started out with their same established sound, but then there were these heavy drums and I let out an audible “holy shit!” because of how good it sounded. Good Luck Finding Iris closed their set like they always do with the beloved “Christopher Robin” and an amped up light show.
The night was beautiful and that’s all I have left to say. Support local grrrls.
I spoke with Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman of Diet Cig after their Ft. Lauderdale show last week. The young band talked about their music and collaborative writing process, Tuscan, Arizona, crafting while not on tour, and how plain corn chips are the best.
Maia Jacobson: How long have you guys been making music? You know, where did you start?
Alex Luciano: Um we’ve been making music as Diet Cig together since August 2014. So a little over a year, about a year and a half now, and we started playing together in upstate New York.
MJ: I saw that you guys met in college, correct?
AL: Yeah, oh, I was in college and Noah actually wasn’t anymore. His band was traveling up to my college to play a show, and so we actually met at a show that Noah’s other band was playing at my friend’s house.
MJ: And did you have any background in music, did you grow up playing or anything?
AL: Um, Noah did!
Noah Bowman: Yeah I played in bands a lot, and my dad was a drummer and I kind of grew up in a musical family and so I kind of had some background before Diet Cig was a thing.
MJ: Okay, that’s cool. Do you think the music your parents played while you were growing up, or what you listened to growing up has influenced what you’re writing now?
NB: Um…yeah I guess so, I’m trying to think, like what pops up in my head is my dad is a big jazz fan and my mom likes Cat Stevens, so…
NB: So I guess, a little bit. I appreciated it growing up because it gave me a wider range of music in different genres. I’m going to say yes, but it’s not like exactly what they were listening to when I was growing up.
AL: I haven’t really been in any bands before this one though, so this is all new for me.
MJ: You do most of the writing, correct?
AL: Um, I mean I write the lyrics and I write the chord progressions and stuff, but like the song structures and the drums and everything…Our songs are very collaborative. It’s a lot of writing together and figuring out the songs together, and like we’ll come together to write with an idea or some parts we have written, but like it’s a very collaborative thing for us.
MJ: So New York, are you guys both from New York originally?
AL and NB in unison: Yep!
NB: We grew up in the same area, upstate New York but in different places.
MJ: What’s the music scene like there? I’m from Minnesota, and our music scene there is a very supportive community, I don’t know what it’s like in New York.
AL: Oh Yeah, there’s a crazy scene in New York! There are so many emerging bands, everyone’s keeping their ears out for the next emerging bands, and so I think in that way it’s a good, nurturing place for up and coming bands.
NB: Yeah, yeah. And it’s cool because there’s a lot of colleges that are very close together, and you’re so close to the city too, and you kinda just can, in a couple of hours be at any one of those and there’s always a new band or a new thing forming and everyone’s just in the know at all times, it’s pretty cool.
MJ: The name Diet Cig, is there a story behind that?
NB: Um, we needed a name to put on a poster, and we threw that out there because we had a show booked before we even knew we were going to be a band. So we were kinda like “Alright, uh let’s just put that on there and just, you know, figure it out” I mean we didn’t think we were gonna play another show. And then we just started playing more and more, and the name kind of just stuck.
MJ: And Over Easy; is there a story behind that?
AL: That’s like the only thing I named. Like I write the lyrics for our songs, but Noah is a lot better at naming the songs because I just think too much about them. I have in my head like all these things that the songs are about, so I don’t usually name anything, but I named Over Easy and I was very proud of that one.
MJ: I like that one; I think it’s a good one.
MJ: So, I’m just curious about the photos of the kids you have as the cover art for “Sleep Talk” and “Dinner Date.” Is there a story? Are they you guys as kids?
AL: They’re not us, everyone thinks they’re us! *laughs* my sister is on the front, and my brother is on the back. I took those pictures right when the 7 inch came out, like they’re still kids. My sister is 12, and my brother is 9, and they were really excited to be on the album art. My sister went into middle school that year and told all her friends, and it was really cool. It was really cool to be able to like include them in some way.
MJ: I was at your show this past week and your music makes me want to dance around, but it was kind of extremely packed so there wasn’t a lot of room to move. But is there something you try to evoke in people with your music? Is dancing and just letting loose something you try and get people to do?
AL: We just want people to have fun! Like dancing and just not thinking about anything for a little while is just so cathartic, and we want people to be excited and just dance around and to be happy to be with their friends at our show. That’s like the most amazing thing, because life is hard and it sucks, but if you can take the time to have fun for no reason and dance around to a short song that makes you feel energized, then that’s great. That’s what we’re trying to do.
MJ: Now this one’s for Alex. I’ve talked to other bands that have a female lead and they’ve said this a lot too, but do you ever get compared to other bands with female leads just because you’re a female, whether or not the music is similar or even in the same genre?
AL: Oh yeah, people come up to me all the time and say “oh my g-d, you remind me so much of so-and-so!” or “you remind me a lot of so-and-so!” and I’m like that’s only because I’m a small girl. It is irritating, and I also think that promoters for shows, like when we were first starting, they would book other two piece bands, or other bands that had women in it just because they thought that would make the bill fit together. A lot of times like the genres and sounds didn’t mesh together well at all, but they just put us together because there was another girl or they were also a two piece. So, yeah I think a lot of people do compare me to other girls, just because we are girls in the indie rock scene, but honestly, a lot of times it’s women that I admire. So even though sometimes it’s kind of annoying, I’m also like “hell yeah!” cause these are also badass women.
MJ: That’s a good take on it.
MJ: So, switching gears, how has the tour been so far? Has there been any place that you haven’t been, or that surprised you?
NB: Um, I think Tuscan, Arizona is the first thing that popped into my head. We’d like never been there at all and that show was great! We had a really good time, we had a really good response from the crowd and it’s kind of a cool little area. It’s kind of the last place we ever expected to be in this country, and we were there, and it was great!
AL: Yeah, that was really fun, and we had three dates in Texas and all three of them were so much fun. We just like to have a blast in Texas and it was so hot, and I think everyone just gets really weird, so yeah, it was really great in Texas.
MJ: Right on! Are you guys working on anything right now? Do you have any plans for the future, or are you just kinda playing it by ear?
NB: We, we’re working on it. It’s just that being on the road and trying to complete a record isn’t like difficult, but just kind of like, not easy. So as soon as this tour is done, and the UK little run, we have pretty much June and July where we are just gonna actually sit down and get in the studio and finish the full length and hopefully have it out by the beginning of next year.
AL: We played three songs off our upcoming album at the Ft. Lauderdale show. So we have a couple that we’re really already stoked on and just still trying to finish writing the rest.
MJ: So another tour after that album comes out?!
Both in unison: Yeah!
NB: definitely, definitely gonna tour in the summer and them um we’re gonna do a little run with Joyce Manor towards the end of the summer down to Wrecking Ball. Our whole thing is we’re just kinda getting up and seeing where we’re going the next day.
MJ: Cool! Okay, now here are a few questions just for fun! What’s the last concert you’ve been to, but didn’t play?
AL: Oh, that’s a hard one.
NB: That is a hard one…
AL: Well, we saw a bunch of shows at south by [SXSW]. We saw PWR BTTM at south by and they’re like some of our best friends, so it kinda felt like we were just hanging out with our friends.
MJ: They’re on the same label as you, correct?
NB: I don’t know it’s just been hard because we’ve been touring so much, it’s hard to get to a show.
AL: We’ve been on tour since January, and the longest we’ve been home is like ten days, and in the ten days that I’m home, that’s like the last thing I want to do! *laughs* But yeah, the one band I’ve seen twice in 2016 is PWR BTTM because they’re our friends and I like to go and see them when I’m not playing.
MJ: Have any authors or books that inspire creativity or your own writing?
AL: I don’t know that I’m too inspired by too many authors, but we did just watch Harry Potter in the van and I love those books, I’m pretty sure everyone does. Um, but we’re inspired by a lot of other artists like Hop Along and Bully and other song writers, for sure.
MJ: Do either of you dabble in any other art forms in your free time?
NB: I used to paint more, but not so much anymore. *laughs* Um, we’re doing so much now, it’s just really hard.
AL: Yeah! I do a lot of sewing and embroidering
MJ: That’s a little bit random, but very cool!
AL: Yeah! It’s really fun and I do it a lot more when I’m not on tour. I bring all my stuff with me on tour and I always tell myself I’m gonna do it, but I just like never have the energy to put like a whole ton of effort into a project on the road. It’s kind of a fun thing I like to do when we’re back from tour. We like crafts and stuff, and we like to cook, so yeah!
MJ: For my last and favorite, and favorite question to ask, what’s one thing your fans don’t know about you?
In unison: Uhhhhh…..*laughs*
NB: I feel like we’re pretty open about everything we do…um I have a twin.
NB: He actually flew down to Ft. Lauderdale show so he could ride with us back to New York.
AL: I don’t know what my fans don’t know about me! They don’t know that I’m only 20 years old, so when people are like “Let me buy you a drink!!!” I’m like “Okay, but it’s at your own risk!” Or um…
NB: I like dogs.
AL: Everybody likes dogs!
NB: I don’t know, nothing too secret, I guess.
AL: Everything I’m thinking of is probably too weird, nobody wants to know it. *laughs*
NB: I don’t know, we really like pickles.
AL: Yeah, our favorite foods are pickles and corn chips.
MJ: I think I heard a reference to the corn chips in your Q&A video you posted the other day!
AL: YES! *laughs*
AL: Plain corn chips…nothing on them…
You can catch Diet Cig on the tail end of their tour with The Front Bottoms on the east coast before they head across the pond, but don’t worry they’ll be back!