Help Us Help Sayf!




Hello all!

We are excited to announce that from now until December 27th, 50% of the proceeds of Kill Matilda Bandcamp sales of ‘Songs of Survival’ will go to supporting the sponsorship of a Syrian Refugee by our friends Jenny and Trevor, via Rainbow Refugees. Jenny & Trevor have a goal of raising $20,000 by Dec 31st ($12,000 for the sponsorship and the rest to help with settlement and living costs).

Visit our Bandcamp page to purchase the album here 

The person they are sponsoring is Sayf. Sayf is a queer Syrian man currently living in Istanbul. He fled Syria after the Assad government tried to recruit him for the army but cannot join his family in Saudi Arabia because he is gay. Sayf has a degree in marketing, is currently learning English and is anxiously awaiting his sponsorship so that he can live in safety and freedom in Canada.

To support Sayf’s sponsorship, we decided to donate a portion of the proceeds of our online sales. Unfortunately iTunes takes 3 months to pay artists out, which is why we decided to set this fundraiser up through Kill Matilda Bandcamp for the fastest possible turnaround in order to meet the Dec 31st goal.

We know that many Kill Matilda fans have big hearts and care passionately about this cause, so we have made our new album, ‘Songs of Survival’ available by donation. Pay as much or as little as you like!


We are inspired to help someone else while we attempt to help ourselves after some van issues forced the cancellation of a part of our US tour.  We are also asking fans of Kill Matilda to help us with this fundraiser; the 50% of your funds that we keep will be going to helping us get our band back on the road in January to get to all the dates we have booked in 2016.

I (Dusty) am passionate about the plight of refugees, especially those displaced due to the civil war in Syria. As a fundraiser for international aid organizations for many years, I worked to educate the public about this growing crisis from the time it started. I have felt powerless as I watched the conflict begin, and continue, and the fact that it has continued to this day and to this magnitude has been heartbreaking.

Although a lot of people are aware of the refugee situation, they are not aware of the circumstances that led to it, or the truth of what it means to be a refugee. We are concerned with border security and with what it means to host refugees, but those who know the story of how these refugees came to be know how dire the situation is. A few statistics:

  • There are currently more than 50 million refugees worldwide
  • The average length a person lives in a refugee camp currently is 17 years – that means that many children have never known life outside a refugee camp!
  • More than 51% of refugees are under 18
  • Right now Lebanon is hosting 1 million Syrian refugees, but normally only has a population of 5 million. Syrian refugees currently make up 1/5th of the population!



But why should we care about what’s happening in Syria, and why is it happening? It started with a little boy named Hamza Ali Al-Khatib. In 2011, Hamza and some of his friends spray-painted words of protest on a wall and were arrested by the local police in Daraa, Syria. This was during the height of the Arab spring but the fascist Assad government of Syria has always maintained a serious crackdown on any political dissidents, even children.

Hamza was 13 years old. He was beaten, tortured and had his penis cut off. His body was then dumped on the front step of his parents house. People in Syria began openly protesting and thus the spark was lit for a civil war (of course, there are more issues that led up to this, including decades of oppression).

Hamza Al-Khatib

Hamza Al-Khatib

For years, the conflict in Syria has led normal, every day people to flee for their safety and their children’s safety. But governments around the world have closed their doors. Only a tiny trickle of the millions of refugees were absorbed by Western countries. Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, the three countries bordering Syria, were left to bear the brunt of the more than 6 million refugees looking for safety. Lebanon is a country of 5 million people, currently hosting 1 million Syrians! These countries cannot handle the strain of so many refugees. As a result, the conditions in the camps are dire. There isn’t enough of anything – clean drinking water, medicine, food, education.

The biggest struggle is for those with medical conditions. Simple to manage conditions like diabetes become a struggle for life and death in these conditions. Children and people injured in the fighting are not always able to get the care and rehabilitation they need.

When young people are displaced by violence, and they have no outlet for their trauma, and there is nowhere for them to go and nothing for them to do, are we really surprised when an organization like ISIS comes around offering them a release and they take it? By allowing these people to stew in a refugee camp with no future and no resources, we practically guarantee ISIS and other terrorist organizations more cannon fodder. Poverty is a huge motivator to join militia groups, and these groups prey on those who are in need. When you live in desperate circumstances and you don’t have enough to eat, and you’ve lost everything – the chance to get back at someone, to take the power back and the promise of a full belly can be enough. ISIS even offers to pay for the medical needs of some of these people’s families. By giving refugees a home and a future, we are fighting terrorism better than we can with drones and fighter jets.

Worldwide, the growing refugee crisis is a huge problem. We have the chance to do something about it now. Although the Canadian government has pledged to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in the next few months, many of these are just going to be the government matching funds raised for private sponsorship, such as in the case of Sayf.

We are doing this for Hamza. We are doing it for Aylan Kurdi. We are doing it for all the people hoping for a better life. We’re doing it for ourselves, too. And we’re doing it for Sayf. Pay what you want till Dec 27th and help out!

Read the statement from our friends Jenny & Trevor, who are organizing the fundraiser, here.

Purchase the album from Bandcamp (not iTunes!) here.


Books I Read on Tour: A Grownup Book Report


After we came back from a six-month long, very exhaustive DIY tour, I kept meaning to post a blog update. Time passed and I didn’t write it, or post it. It seemed impossible to summarize the experiences we had in those six long months across America and back, playing hundreds of shows, in some kind of small anecdotes. I couldn’t find the words to write about the experience in a way that really captured what we’d seen and what we’d been through.

The thing about being on tour every day is that it means you spend the equivalent amount of time that you’d spend at work just sitting in the van. It gets hard to stay active and to stay effective in that kind of environment, and it definitely takes creativity. I started teaching myself Italian, I wrote a lot of poetry, and I read a LOT of books. So I thought I’d do what all good nerd do – write a book report!


If you are like me, you have no concept of the amount of time it takes to actually do something. I loaded myself down with WAY more books than I could actually find the time to read. Here’s what I did manage to get to! I read so many books that I’m going to break this book report into a two parter;

My Inventions – Nikola Tesla
The Razor’s Edge – W. Somerset Maugham
Carry The One – Carol Anshaw
The Glass Menagerie – Tennessee Williams (actually a play)
New Lives For Old – Margaret Mead
The Wizard of Oz: the First Five Novels – L. Frank Baum (actually an anthology of 5 books)
Blye – Manic Quixotic & Blyku Pop
The Disorganized Mind – Coaching your ADHD Brain to Take Control of your Time, Tasks & Talents – Nancy A. Ratey
Duino Elegies – Rainer Maria Rilke
Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne
Journey to the Center of the Earth – Jules Verne

There you have it; this list is made up of two found/donated books, one biography, one book of poetry, one play, two anthologies (although I only read half the Jules Verne one), various fiction books, an anthropological study and a self-help book. On to the book report!

My Inventions – Nikola Tesla

We have a cultural hard-on for Nikola Tesla right now that isn’t hard to understand (no pun intended). In the age of nerd-dom, Nikola Tesla is the ultimate figurehead. He was eccentric, a loner, a genius, a brilliant inventor, and generally unappreciated in his lifetime. I already knew all of these things when I delved into his writing but told through his own words, I learned a few additional things about Mr. Tesla. For one, he was at once humble and ridiculously egotistical. He mentions that some of his ideas or work formed the framework of another scientist’s Nobel Peace Prize but didn’t seem to mind. On the same note, he seems at times almost vainly dismissive of others because of his superior intellect, of which he is keenly aware. There were times while reading his book that I felt like Nikola Tesla is that weird guy at the party who talks way too much about himself in a pompous fashion but has no idea that he’s being a bore; then again, maybe this is just the natural way a person who lived a fairly solitary life talks. He speaks with disdain of those who taint their bodies with addiction to coffee, alcohol and the like, and pats himself on the back for the rigorous discipline with which he leads his own life. A man with no vices doesn’t have a lot to talk about with the common folk, and this seemed to be the case for Nikola Tesla. It was fascinating to read about his personal history as well as get a glimpse into the inner workings of that aforementioned brilliant mind.

My particularly favourite part was when he discussed the concept of world peace; his strategy to achieve world peace was that he thought he’d invent a kind of blimp with long electric cables that could be lowered to about a hundred feet or so above the ground, which would electrify everything underneath it. Theoretically this blimp could be flown over cities, killing everyone and everything in it as the blimp flew overhead with the cables cooking everything they touched. Tesla figured that it didn’t matter which country invented or embraced this technology first; whoever did would unequivocally be powerful enough to bend all other nations to its will – and voila! world peace!

Seriously, I’m not kidding. His solution was that whoever has the most force should just control the world, and under a one-world governance, peace would be inevitable.

Overall, a challenging but interesting read. I’m glad I took the time to learn about an important historical figure and his mostly crazy ideas.

 The Razor’s Edge – W. Somerset Maugham

I’ve been a Maugham fan since I first read The Moon and Sixpence. You’ll think I’m crazy, but I love the slow pace and formal tone of Maugham’s writing. If you’re a Stephen King fan, you probably won’t dig it. The pace of these novels gives the author the opportunity to weave complex characters, dialogue and situations, so that when the action does come to a resolution, it’s perfect. I love the formality of the style of writing as well.

in the Razor’s Edge, the story is told in a reflexive way through Maugham’s eyes (at least, Maugham as a fictional writer, perhaps). The writer-narrator chronicles the life of his family-friends; the society-obsessed uncle, his dowdy dowager sister, her eternally-youthful daughter, and her lover. Each character is constructed with care and given time to flesh out throughout the story, but the real main character is the lover, Larry. A young man who was a fighter pilot in the war and an adoptee into proper American upper-class society, Larry is looking for something more, although he can’t put his finger on what. The story is essentially Larry’s existential search for the meaning of life as told through the interactions he has with the writer-narrator. Set against an 1800s or early 1900s upper-class American and British background, this is a story about self-discovery and rebellion against society. A super, super, super good read that I would recommend to anyone who can tolerate very formal and stiffly-written literature (my fave!)

Carry the One – Carol Anshaw

This book was pretty much the opposite of how I felt about the Razor’s Edge. I found this book in one of those community neighbourhood take-a-book-leave-a-book cupboard things that you see around, so I didn’t know what to expect. The story is about some siblings and their friends/lovers who hit and kill a child while driving one night, and what happens to them after that. The story follows two sisters and one brother and their respective partners, as well as a friend who was in the car, but who serves only as a footnote at group functions.

I found this book to be lacking in substance. The subject matter could have led to a richly-woven story that drew the events of that fateful night all together for all the characters, but the author instead chose to use it as a launching-pad for the life story of these three siblings, whose lives weren’t really all that affected by the girl dying. The dead girl is utterly unimportant in the events that follow, which stretch from the immediate aftermath all the way up into the character’s middle age. It’s essentially a loose collection of random events that happen to three siblings that starts the night they kill the kid, but the book never really comes around to bring all the events back together again. As a novel, it feels kind of pointless. There is a halfhearted attempt by the author to make one of the sisters (the artist) have a kind of epiphany through artwork she’s made about the dead girl, but the girl herself, and her family, basically play no role from the moment she gets hit. Aside from a few mentions throughout the book, it isn’t clear what role the death even plays in the life of the characters. They get married, get divorced, do drugs, get sober, get promotions, become successful.. and then the book ends. There are also a lot of lesbian sex scenes for no reason. The only reason I can think for the number of sexy lesby scenes are that it’s a cheap attempt at keeping the reader entertained through the boring subject matter. Unlike W. Somerset Maugham, who can take a story with hardly any action at all and turn it into a breathtaking piece of art about the meaning of life, Carol Anshaw can’t seem to muster deeper meaning out the literal life and death of innocence. I recommend you give this book a pass and read something with more substance.

The Glass Menagerie – Tennessee Williams

I don’t have a lot to say about this book, which was actually a play. I was excited to read something by Tennessee Williams because I’m a pretty big buff for historical literature/writing, but this play didn’t do it for me. Maybe it would be different if I actually saw it on the stage but I wasn’t invested in any of the characters, all of whom I found annoying and stressful. The eventual end to the book was anticlimactic for me because it didn’t resolve anything. It’s a story about a guy who lives under his mother’s thumb and who has to provide for his widowed mother and unmarried sister, presumably in an era before women could work. The play centers around this guy trying to help his mom find someone for his sister to marry, and eventually just getting fed up and running away. Although I know this play is partially autobiographical, it irritated my feminist sensibilities. Why couldn’t the mother and the sister just get a job? And if there WAS some concrete, real reason that they HAD to depend on this guy to survive, then it was pretty shitty of him to just run off and leave them without any means to support themselves (although I also kinda can’t blame him). I don’t know. I feel like this is a piece of literature/art I would apprecaiate more if I had taken some kind of theatre or lit class where we analyzed it, but from an outsider perspective of just reading it, I don’t really get why it’s a famous piece.

New Lives For Old – Margaret Mead

I got about three-quarters of the way through this ethnography, or anthropological study, of the people of Manus. It was really the sequel to the book Growing Up in New Guinea. If you’re not familiar with Mead’s work, she’s an important historical figure in the world of anthropology, right up there with Franz Boas in terms of her work’s significance around refuting racist notions about indigenous and “primitive” peoples. But I’ll resist the urge to glorify her as any kind of a saint, because there are still a lot of inherently problematic things about white American and European people studying these so-called primitives. Although the field of anthropology has come a long way and has moved out of the realm of belonging only to white people studying the “other”, this book was written when anthropology was still a very new and more simplistic field of study.

The book was actually quite interesting because it chronicalled a really sudden social change in the Manus society. Mead had travelled to New Guinea years before and spent time with the kids from the Manus culture and was now returning to visit them as adults, and was surprised to find that there had been a very distinctive cultural shift, partially due to the presence of (French?) imperialist forces. Ethnographies are always pretty dry, so I’m sure a few of the details are blurry. It’s interesting to read about any culture you’ve never heard of and knew nothing about but I thought there were some interesting insights from Mead that might be portrayed differently by someone who wasn’t a white westerner; for example, she pretty much had nothing nice to say about the Manus people at all. According to her experience, they were petty, sullen, and generally glum. She didn’t seem to find a lot of positive aspects to their culture at all, aside from the childhood aspects of it (the children, in contrast to their sullen, stressed, and ever-offended parents, have a carefree and happy existance). I wonder if that’s truly the way the culture is or if this is Western eyes  looking for, and not seeing, what we would value and recognize as happiness or pleasantness. At any rate, it was a huge, huge tomb of a book that I couldn’t finish. Only read this book if you’ve read Growing Up in Guinea and have some reason to be reading an ethnography.

The Wizard of Oz: The First Five Novels – L. Frank Baum

So, I actually read five Wizard of Oz books, which included the Wonderful Wizard of Oz (the story we all know and love), The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, and the Road to Oz. Not all of these books featured Dorothy as a main character, or even at all, so I was surprised to learn that the world of Oz was bigger than the characters I was familiar with. I think the only character who was consistently in all the books was actually the Tin Man, who is a way more important character than he seems to be in the movie.

L. Frank Baum is sometimes credited with writing the first-ever children’s story; the Wizard of Oz. It was written in an exceedingly simplistic, but not unenjoyable way. The book was definitely written for young children. Throughout all five books I was struck by how rich L. Frank Baum’s imagination was, and how big the world he created was when he created Oz. That being said, not all the books were equal in their quality. In at least two it felt a bit like Baum was grasping at straws to draw out the story into another book. Wizard of Oz was pretty much how we remember it from the movie, with only a few variations that don’t match up, but none of which I would say make the book any better than the movie. One interesting detail is that in Baum’s book, the emerald city is only emerald because everyone who enters it is forced to put on emerald-colored goggles, which they can’t take off for the duration of their stay inside the city. We also learn that there are four witches in total (well, three if you don’t count the one that Dorothy killed).

In the Marvelous Land of Oz, Dorothy had returned home and we are introduced to an entirely new set of characters; Tip, a young boy raised by a cruel witch, Jack Pumpkinhead, his pumpkinhead companion brought to life through magic dust; the Sawhorse (my personal favourite character), another creature brought to life through said dust; and the Woggle-Bug, an oversized, somewhat pompous insect. We are also joined by a few of our old friends, the Scarecrow and the Tinman, as they battle an army of little girls led by General Jinjur, who takes over the emerald city and turns it upside-down by making all the husbands do the cooking and cleaning while the wives run amok. It’s surprisingly forward-thinking for the times and with a cute feminist twist. I feel like Baum enjoyed a bit of mischief in his writing; characters are often saying sarcastic and even snide things to one another.

In Ozma of Oz, Baum goes next-level with a full on gender-bender as the boy character Tip becomes Princess Ozma, rightful heir to the throne of the emerald city and true ruler of Oz. Ozma and Dorothy meet and the book is a fun story of their adventures together with their gaggle of nonhuman friends, including Dorothy’s pet chicken Billina (it was a female chicken named Bill, but Dorothy thought it should be more feminine) and Tik-Tok the mechanical man.

Things start to drag a little in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. We are introduced to even more characters including Dorothy’s cousin Zeb, his talking horse Jim, Dorothy’s kitten Eureka (for some reason Toto is the only animal companion of Dorothy’s who never gains the ability to speak upon entering Oz). The story follows pretty much the same plot of the first three novels; the group of unlikely companions has to get from point A to point B and have many adventures along the way, but wind up safely at their final destination. While the first novel has an air of urgency around it (Dorothy is trapped and has to get back to her home) which makes the journey necessary, the rest of the books don’t have the same kind of urgency and the whole “group on an adventure” plot starts to get a little tiresome. In the Wizard of Oz, the various and sundry adventures they have along the way are all somehow connected to their greater goal and journey, but in the later books, Baum just starts shoving whatever random thing comes to mind without any foreshadowing or plot. I did, however, like the part where they meet a man who manufactures the sound of ruffles for dresses.

In The Road to Oz, we meet still more characters including the Shaggy Man, Button Bright and Polychrome, the daughter of the rainbow. In the first two novels, the characters like the Scarecrow and the Sawhorse were so well-developed, even for a children’s book, but by the last novel it seemed like Baum had given up trying to actually develop his characters and just started shoving more and more stuff in there in a desperate attempt to just crank out pages and words. I never really felt like I understood the mysterious Shaggy Man or his motivations, and the equally-mysterious genesis of the character of Button Bright, a lost little boy who doesn’t know where he came from, is never resolved. The last novel follows the pattern of the others; Dorothy, the Shaggy Man, Button Bright, Polychrome, and Toto (who makes a comeback) must journey to the Emerald City for Ozma’s birthday, but will they get there in time? (spoiler: they do). One nice twist is that Baum wraps up the epic set of novels and characters with a giant birthday party that features not only all the minor and major characters from the previous four novels, but also various and sundry imaginary beings such as gingerbread people and even Santa Claus himself. You know you’re pretty important when Santa Claus comes to your birthday party!

All in all, the novels were enjoyable even for an adult, but I think Baum could have cut it short after Ozma in Oz, as the characters and stories that followed didn’t really add anything to the overall franchise. The cheeky but intelligent Sawhorse, who no one really gives much mind to, was definitely my favourite, because he reminded me of Mykel. Recommended for the young at heart and those with kids. Enjoyable all these years later.

Stick around for part 2, in which I review:

Blye – Manic Quixotic & Blyku Pop
The Disorganized Mind – Coaching your ADHD Brain to Take Control of your Time, Tasks & Talents – Nancy A. Ratey
Duino Elegies – Rainer Maria Rilke
Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne
Journey to the Center of the Earth – Jules Verne

February 14th Isn’t Just Valentine’s Day in Vancouver

Last night in New Jersey before playing “Geisha With A Switchblade” I remembered that Feb 14th isn’t just Valentine’s day, but also the day of the Missing and Murdered Women’s March in Vancouver, our hometown. Geisha With A Switchblade was written about this topic and so I shared the story of these women and what happened with Robert Pickton at the end of the song and talked about the women’s memorial march. As I spoke about the amazing solidarity and strength displayed during these marches, which I would attend when we lived in Vancouver, I started crying onstage! The strength of the community, the families of these women and the call for justice for these women that have gone missing is something beautiful and amazing to behold.

Aboriginal women are still three times as likely to die a violent death than any other women in Canada. They are less likely to be seen as valued citizens who deserve police and government protection and more likely to be brushed aside. Young (and often rural) First Nations women are under intense scrutiny as mothers by children and family services simply because they are young and First Nations. One in every four First Nations child lives in poverty. Aboriginal men are overrepresented in prisons. The fight for equality for First Nations people is far from over.

I miss you Vancouver and I miss being a part of something so special! I hope you guys had an amazing march this year and I hope things are getting better. If you are interested in helping in the fight for justice visit Amnesty International’s No More Stolen Sisters campaign or donate to the Aboriginal Nutrition Program through Canadian Feed the Children.


Listen up.

This year has been crazy for bands. Not just my bands, but the music industry and the larger arts industry as a whole. Only one album went platinum – Taylor Swift’s 1989. Scandals abounded with Lena Dunham and Oprah asking artists and entertainers to provide their services for free at their events(while ticket prices for these events were very high). Rumours abound that Katy Perry had to buy on to perform at the Superbowl halftime.

Making a living in the arts is next to impossible right now; I know, I’m a musician on constant tour. Constantly touring is the only way our band can generate income and we can continue to build a fanbase, however we still lose money. Our way of life is not sustainable, even with sleeping on floors (that whole Pomplamoose scandal notwithstanding). We’ve been on our US tour for four months now and it’s hard not to get downtrodden sometimes. Even at our most successful we’re still scraping by. Even video games and movies just use the same tired old songs that belong to the already rich. Nobody wants to take a chance on an unknown artist and help them make a few dollars. Profit? What’s that?

I’m writing this post because as a person who works in the industry (as a booking agent) and also as an artist trying to make a go of it, myself and many of my friends who are managers, agents, promoters and artists are getting to the point of feeling like giving up. Many times I’ve asked myself on this tour, “whats the point?” Where do we go from here? I know I’m not alone in this feeling; in an era where mega-famous people are making pennies from Spotify and Pandora, what hope does an independent band like us have to sell 10,000+ albums? And until we sell that many albums (who can even afford to have that many albums manufactured?!), no label or “greater power” who can help us in our journey to become recognized artists are interested. We, like many other bands, seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Despite our years of touring, self-releasing albums and self-producing videos, gaining a social media following slowly but surely, it’s never enough.

This is the climate that has got so many of my amazing friends who work in all aspects of the industry down. Promoters are losing money hand over fist; it’s harder and harder to get people to find value in paying $5-10 for a live show when the weather’s nasty and you can just stay home and watch Netflix. This doesn’t even take into account that in 1992, the cost of a live show was $5; in 2014, its still $5. The cost of everything, the VALUE of everything else has gone up, but not art/music.  Without the ability to pack a room, bands don’t gain much of a following, they have nothing to offer labels, venues and bars have no incentive to pay bands because simply having live music has no value in itself to a business. I know; I’m a booking agent. Many times have I spoken to a venue that doesn’t do live music because why spend the money if not necessary? The result is that artists and musicians like myself are fighting harder and harder for a smaller piece of the pie – for scraps. Not only money-wise, but even in trying to get the public’s attention. Agents like myself fight harder and harder to get fewer and fewer worthwhile gigs for great artists who SHOULD be heard and valued.

I’ll get to the point quickly, but let me share with you a short personal story first. Many of you know that earlier this year, shortly before our Canadian tour, I suffered an ectopic pregnancy, causing me to be hospitalized and not to be able to keep the pregnancy. We found out later in the year that this would be my only natural pregnancy and that should I want to have a family, I would either have to go through the lengthy and VERY expensive process of in-vitro fertilization, or settle down with a regular job, get a house, attend training and set up my life in such a way as to be a suitable adoptive parent, subject to scrutiny by child and family services. Obviously, neither of these is possible in my current situation. My husband and bass player and I promised to take a break from the relentless, stressful exhaustion that is touring and take each other to Disneyland for Christmas (a rare indulgence). We had a great time. As the sun set and we watched the fireworks display, I turned to him and asked if he ever thought about the fact that if I hadn’t lost my pregnancy, that we would have a 3 month old baby by now? We looked around at all the happy families with disposable income and asked ourselves, what are we doing? Why are we doing this?

If I have to give up my dream to have a family, I have nothing to teach my children. I don’t want to raise kids in a world where dreams can’t come true. And I’m not alone. There are authors, actors, artists, painters, musicians and people working behind the scenes to make art happen who feel exactly as I do. But we currently live in a climate where art is not worth dollars. Sure we can share stuff on social media and give bland “online” support, but if your butt isn’t at the show, or the gallery, or buying the album or the book, you just aren’t helping enough. We need to remember that art is the heart of our culture. That our lives are boring and bland and meaningless without music, art, the written word.  That the things that bring us so much enjoyment ARE WORTH PAYING FOR.

Because of this, I declare 2015 the Year of the Artist.

I will not give into despair. I will not quit. I will not turn my back on my dream. I propose that we change our culture and our value toward art. We all have just as much disposable income as we ever did; we just choose to spend it differently. When you spend your money, what do you buy for yourself? How do you treat yourself? Why not make buying art, seeing art, supporting art, the way that you do that? You not only enrich your own life experience, but you help create our culture and allow the most creative minds the ability to keep doing what they do best.

By the end of 2015, I want people’s attitudes toward art of all kind to have shifted so much that artists CAN make a living plying their trade. Nobody is asking for hot tubs and BMWs. We just want to be able to make ends meet, and it’s not happening. It’s not going to happen if people don’t get off their butts. We can’t expect the “industry” to save us. Record labels, publishers, etc – these people don’t care and they can’t care. We have to save ourselves. Artists and creators have to come together to support each other and help build community, rather than fighting jealously over scraps. By the end of 2015, I want to see a reverse of what I’m seeing at the end of 2014. Rather than seeing an attitude of desperation and hopelessness in my arts community, I want the end of 2015 to be marked by excitement, opportunity, and prosperity. I believe it can happen.

What does this mean?

In 2015, I challenge you to make supporting art part of your life. I’ve created a few challenges that we can all participate in that will make a noticeable difference in our culture. Check out what I’ve written below, follow @yearoftheartist on Twitter, and share #yearoftheartist #savemusic #saveart. Turn this blog into a grassroots movement for art. Share, enjoy, pay for your art. Choose one of the following suggestions below and do one a month – just one a month! Make this year a fun amazing year of discovery in the arts and help us #saveart and #savemusic.


Pick one a month and do it!

1. Discover a new contemporary author or poet, buy their work, and share with your friends!

2. Go see a play. Tell your friends or bring your friends!

3. Go see a touring band. Buy their merch. Bring your friends, and tell your friends about it after!

4. Follow a music or art blog of your choice. Share it!

5. Go to your city’s International Film Festival. Bring your friends, or tell your friends!

6. Go to a smaller, local film festival in your city. Bring your friends, and tell your friends!

7. Go to a major music festival like NXNE or Sled Island. Tell your friends which artists you liked best!

8. Go to a smaller indie festival in your city like Music Waste in Vancouver or Fattal Fest in Montreal. Bring your friends. Tell your friends about the awesome bands you saw!

9. Go see a comedy show of local comedians. Bring your friends. Tell your friends!

10. Buy a piece of art for your home. Share about it online!

11. Discover a new graphic novel or comic. Buy it. Share it with your friends!

12. Go to an art gallery. Take your friends, and tell your friends!

On top of that, here are some more monthly challenges that I encourage you to do with your friends and tell your friends about:

APRIL is #CANADIANMUSICFORCOFFEE month. Instead of that $2-3 you spend every day on a cup of coffee, buy a track online of a Canadian musician (even if you’re American! We have amazing musicians too!). Canadian musicians NEED your support desperately! Create a whole new play list of 30 awesome songs. Share and compare your playlist with your friends and encourage them to take the challenge too!

CHRISTMAS/BIRTHDAYS: instead of spending your money at some corporate box store like Wal-Mart, buy all your gifts for your loved ones off – you can spend the same amount. You may get less/something smaller, but you’re getting something handmade, unique, valuable and something that actually creates a living for a hard working artist.

NOVEMBER IS NOVEL WRITING MONTH: art is for everyone! Participate in November Novel Writing month. Write a novel! Read your friend’s novels! Rediscover your passion for reading and then extend it to buying the works of contemporary authors.

TEACH A TEEN TO LOVE AND VALUE MUSIC. Teens more than anyone live in the social media world. It’s amazing. But when we were kids, we went to record stores and CD stores to buy pieces of plastic that cost $10-20. We read inserts, we looked at pictures. Teach a teen in your life that live music is something to go see, and worth buying. Some cities have amazing all ages scenes, but I’ve noticed that in Canada we really don’t have the same thing. All ages spaces and promoters are few and far between. Teenagers are the next generation of music lovers. Help create a better Canadian all ages scene by imbuing a love of music and a sense o the value of music in the lives of young people.

2015 is the Year of the Artist.

2015 is the Year of Creating Cultural Capital.

2015 is the Year of Community Among Artists.

2015 is the Year of Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

We can do this. We can make being an artist a liveable dream. We can enrich our own lives through art and music.

#yearoftheartist #saveart #savemusic make it happen!

How To Dye Your Hair (Discreetly) In A Mall Bathroom In 7 Easy Steps

Being a touring musician is always complicated when it comes to things like showering, staying fit, eating healthy, brushing your teeth, printing a document.. all the things that non-touring people with normal structure in their lives take for granted. But being a woman can sometimes add a few extra layers to the complexity of acting like a normal human being in public despite being essentially homeless.

Well, we are for real homeless on this tour, and since it’s such a long tour, there are certain aspects of grooming I can’t just put off “until I get home”. One of these is hair maintenance, and I have a LOT of hair. Luckily I was able to use the bathroom of one of our recent hosts to complete the hair bleaching process but I didn’t have any dye, so I had to wait for a day when we happened to be in a mall to find some. That day was yesterday. I present to you now, How To Dye Your Hair Discreetly In A Mall Bathroom – in 7 steps!


To pull this off,  you’ll need the following:

-your hair dye of choice
-a shower cap
-a hairbrush or comb
-travel-sized vaseline
-travel-sized shampoo and conditioner
-a towel
-a toque (or hat, as Americans like to call them – so confusing!)
-a backpack to put it all in (people will look at you weird if you just carry a towel around in the mall)


Step 1: Assemble items and find a private or semi-private washroom

To my benefit the mall I picked was pretty swanky and in the woman’s washroom there was ANOTHER WASHROOM, like a whole washroom for disabled people with a door that shut and locked. It had its own sink so that was perfect. I would also advise you to choose a time of day that is least busy. The best is on a weekday, AFTER the lunch rush but before the 3 pm school day ends. That way the fewest number of people are likely to even come and go from the bathroom and you will be left in blissful hair-dying peace.

Step 2: Cover your hairline and ears in Vaseline


If you’re lazy about dying your hair, like me, you usually skip this step. But damn, bitch, you on tour! You got a show tonight, you don’t have time to mess around with dye on your face and head! Slap that lube on there. I recommend using gloves to protect your hands from dye as well.

Step 3: Partition up your hair using any hair ties or bobby pins at your disposal, otherwise just do it by tossing your hair to and fro and hope for the best


I gave up on gloves early on into the process.

PS, try not to make TOO much of a mess in the mall bathroom. I did this by mainly keeping everything in the sink, which is easy to clean.


Step 4: Cover your whole head in hair dye, and put any/all excess dye in there. 


Careful, well-planned and organized dying using a moderate or correct amount of dye is for people who have their own bathrooms. You, on the other hand, have clearly made some bad life choices and are frantically trying to get this done before the staff of the mall become concerned and start knocking on the door. You don’t have time for conserving dye – just squeeze it all onto your head and mush it around like shampoo. At least you’ll know that you probably won’t have any splotchy patches.

Step 5: Cover your hair with a shower cap, then cover the shower cap with a toque


This will keep the dye from getting everywhere, the toque will keep everyone from seeing what a weirdo you are, and it has the additional benefit of added heat for dye-setting

At this point you’ll need to wait however many minutes for the dye to take. I used this time to attend to other important hygienic processes that can sometime get neglected on tour. The mall I was in was so fancy they had a whole separate “Family Room” just off the bathroom, complete with more sinks, microwaves, chairs, a TV playing Thomas the Tank Engine, and another bathroom with a locking door that was specifically for people with small children (it had one big toilet and one little toilet, one big sink and one little sink).


Oh yeah, also MAKE SURE to clean up after yourself – don’t leave a mess!

Step 6: When the time comes, lock yourself in the bathroom again, jam your head under the tap and wash your hair out


This was definitely the most time-consuming step of the process because most taps in public bathrooms these days are automatic, and the one I was using didn’t have particularly high pressure. Plus my hair is SUPER thick, so it took a long time to rinse out the entire 2 tubes of sparks hair dye I put in there (normally I use manic panic but I couldn’t find my color anywhere! – dammit Manic Panic, that’s why you need to sponsor me!!). Then there’s the shampooing and the conditioning. Just stick with it, you’ll get ‘er done!

Step 7: Towel dry your hair, clean up your mess and get the heck out of there!


et voila! Before…



And after!


Zombie USA Tour Blog #1 -#Throwbackthursday: Tour Memories

Hi all

We’ve been so busy in the first two months of our tour I haven’t even had time to sit down and write this blog. Since the beginning of September we’ve been as far south as South Carolina, as far west as Tennessee, and all the way back up to New York State again. From there we went south to Philadelphia, and west through Cleveland, Louisville and Indianapolis. We’ve put about 8,000 miles on the van and played more than 80 shows this whole year across Canada, and on this tour, New York, Virginia, Baltimore, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. The van is holding up well though we’ve had a few fuel filter/fuel pump issues and a few leaky windows (which we fixed with caulking).

I remember our very first tour to Winnipeg and back in 2009. Dave Roberts, who later became our lead guitarist, came along as our opening act. Marlene Lau was our lead guitarist and Marcus had just joined the band on drums. Our first tour van was a super leaky, very uncomfortable white Econoline van. It had leaks all over the place and no interior lining or passenger windows. If you sat up front it was so creaky and loud you couldn’t hear anything and sitting in the back meant you were basically in a dark, leaky steel tube on a bench seat with two other people. VERY uncomfortable. I usually sat in the middle or directly behind the driver’s seat and I brought about seven books, which I crammed in the small space between the seat and the van wall. I called it “the Library” and I’ve always brought a library with me on tour ever since. So far on this tour I’ve made it through “My Inventions”, a collection of Nikola Tesla’s writings, and “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams. I’m going to try to blog a book report for all of you about every book I read while on tour :)

Our tour to Winnipeg and back was a bit like Joe Dick and Billy Talent’s tour in Hard Core Logo (minus the ending)- there were a lot of fuckups and hiccups. We drove into Calgary in a rainstorm, after which I lost my voice completely for three days, our show got cancelled in Saskatoon (but we begged the venue to let us play to no one anyway) and in Winnipeg a crazy MMA fighter smashed a bottle over his own head and bled all over the place. There was definitely a sense of adventure. Going on tour for the first time, no matter where, no matter how big or small a tour, gives one a sense of ultimate freedom- you’re bringing your art to new places and playing new stages. Of course, we mostly played tiny shows, but it was the sense of the thing that mattered.

Our next tour was in 2010, this time one-way to Montreal. This time we were escorted by our friend and videographer Nathan Skillen. I highly recommend any band that has a friend with a camera to bring them – being able to do tour blog updates was invaluable and a lot of them were hilarious and memorable, like the time we played in Sudbury or Marcus’s first time at La Banquise (the best poutinerie in Montreal – oh, you don’t know about poutine? THATS A WHOLE OTHER BLOG). Once again we faced our share of adversity, like rolling into Thunder Bay after a long-ass drive from Winnipeg only to discover our show had been cancelled. On the 2010 tour I think I only lost my voice for one or two shows, a vast improvement from the three day bout of laryngitis I suffered on the first tour (probably due in part to the leaks and crazy rain storms we faced in Calgary). Coming to Montreal was life-changing; Quebec is like a second home to us. People there really love and support live music and the city is so vibrant and full of culture. It’s also just dirty and broken down enough for the likes of us – when things are too clean and tiny I feel a bit out of place. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a trailer park.

2011 was our most epic tour to date – Dave Roberts had taken over on lead guitar and flew out from Vancouver to join us. Marcus had just returned from Hong Kong and also flew in for the one-way tour west. After not having seen each other for so long, things were sometimes tense; we all got on each other’s nerves. In fact I think it’s fair to say we’re all still a little traumatized from that tour. There was a lot of scrapping, to say the least. We had less shows cancelled but only a quarter of the way into the tour, our tour vehicle (this time a pontiac Aztec pulling a trailer) was totalled by a drunk driver in Montreal. Actually what happened was that he hit our car with his, basically drove up the rear passenger side door and flipped his car onto it’s side. Aside from a dented door we thought we had got away clean, but little did we know that the majority of the impact had been absorbed by the rear axle, which cracked. The body shop in Montreal that repaired the door didn’t bother to put the van on a lift so they never noticed. We drove all the way to Prince Edward Island and back on a cracked axle that could’ve given way at any time and probably would have killed us if we’d flipped on the highway with the trailer. Luckily it finally gave way in Toronto while we were travelling at a low speed. We all nearly lost our minds with stress, none more than Mykel and I. I remember Mykel sat in the parking lot near the dead Aztec for about three hours and just didn’t speak to anyone. We thought the tour was over before it began. It was easily one of the lowest points in my history in Kill Matilda. After a few hours of being totally upset we found a place to stay and got to work – I borrowed money off all my friends, got in touch with the insurance company, we found a van available to purchase on Craigslist within our budget and the next day we took a look at it, took it to a shop and hit the road again. We didn’t even miss a single date. If there’s one thing I can say about our band it’s that we weather some seriously crazy shit but we never give up. Through illness, mechanical problems, financial problems and anything else life throws at us we never let it stand in the way of us being able to rock out. The rest of the 2011 tour was definitely rocky, with a lot of tension between all the members, but the shows were great, the fans were amazing and in the end we all made it back alive.


After that tour, all the touring we’ve done this year has been a piece of cake. Even though I know we’ve already played 27 shows on this tour, which is almost as many as we did on the 2011 2-month long tour, it barely feels like we’ve gotten started. We haven’t been seriously sick like we’ve gotten on other tours, I haven’t lost my voice, we’ve all been getting along and having fun, though there has been a lot of work. It’s amazing to feel like we’ve “leveled up” in terms of our road experience. We’re a much tighter unit and we know what touring is really about. Rolling up to the venue, getting loaded in, loading out, the driving, the sleeping – everything is like clockwork now.

The shows have been small because we are breaking into all new markets. Audiences and fans have been amazing – the South really stood out to us, but every place has it’s own distinct charm (mostly in the form of places that serve food for $5 like Waffle House, Rally’s and Cookout). Definitely money has been tight and we need all the support we can get, especially because of a few hiccups (like how both my regular guitar and backup guitar broke on the same day, or how insuring this old van was about three times more expensive than we thought it would be). I know a lot of people wanted to help out with our indiegogo fundraiser and weren’t able to so if you still want to support us, some fans suggested we set up this gofundme site for fans to make donations towards gas and meals for us. Every little bit helps so please check it out and help out if you can!



Thank you!

Hi everyone

I write this while accessing free public wifi in Bryant Park, Manhattan, NYC just steps from Times Square. We made it! The first few dates of our tour have been great, no problem, although accessing reliable internet has been a bit tricky so we’ll try our best at keeping in touch with you all.

We wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the smashing success of our indiegogo campaign and everyone who supported us. It has been amazing to see so many people be so generous to help us continue making our music and following our hearts.


You! You did this you lovely people!!

You! You did this you lovely people!!

I first off want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. We had friends, fans, family and even strangers contributing to this fundraiser, and a lot of you put up with repeated requests for your hard-earned dollars from me! In the coming days we will be sending out messages to those of you who purchased things that need to be mailed, etc. For anyone who purchased vinyl please be aware that it will take a few months to get the vinyl to you as it’s a long process of pressing.

I need to  give credit to Mykel Exner taking charge and running a successful campaign He poured hours upon hours into setting it up creating content for youtube, When we first decided to launch the campaign, we had some doubts, and we had some doubters, even in our own “team”. There were those who said our ‘indiegogo perks’ were too expensive, or that we were asking for too much money. But I have to give credit to Mykel Exner for knowing our worth as a band and as  a product and believing that we could do it, even when others did not believe in us. For making sure that everything looked shiny and great and finding people to join our team  . Without his dedication to running a quality campaign I am sure that we would have fallen short, like so many other bands and Indiegogo hopefuls have before. With his hard work and your help we SMASHED our goal of $5,000 for a total of $5,607.

Because of all your love we have been able to get the van we needed to make this epic six-month journey possible. We got a 1979 GMC Vandura with beds and a stove in it… The van sat for a long time before the people we bought it off of got it in their hands and nursed it back into health with some know how, some TLC and a lot of money. We had friends and professionals look at the vehicle to make sure we weren’t going with something that would just breakdown and everyone who took a look in, around and underneath the van were astounded at its mint condition. HOWEVER… we nearly weren’t able to insure it! Something I learned about Ontario: insurance is private and many companies will straight up NOT insure a van over 20 years old. That was a nail-biter…I spent a day running around to brokerage after brokerage, panicking that I had poured all the money into a vehicle we wouldn’t be able to insure. Don’t worry, we got it sorted. Helga (the name given to our van by it’s previous owners) is safe, durable, roadworthy and will be our home until the end of February.


oh Helga my Helga

oh Helga my Helga

Kill Matilda fans have equipped us with the machine to keep our dreams alive and our tour a comfortable safe… Thank you so much for loving and believing in us and what we are doing out here!


Look how happy you made us!

Look how happy you made us!

I Only Got Here Because Of My Tits

I’ve been meaning to write a blog about women, sexuality and the music industry for awhile. I got a little sidetracked but there’s nothing like a bit of vitriol in the belly to get one motivated to do one’s blog housekeeping.

Let me tell you something about me; I’m a sexual person, like pretty much every other person on the planet. Not in a weird way like I’m stealing your dirty laundry, but in a way where I think sex, flirting, and sexuality is fun on many levels. Here’s the other thing: I’m a musician, and a music industry professional, a person who has worked with bands for a few years now coordinate tour after tour. And I’m a woman. And that puts me in a very precarious position. You see, there are sometimes that I’d like to express myself on social media in a flirty or sexy way. But I don’t, and I can’t. My musical integrity hinges completely on how I represent myself as a woman, and the amount that I am taken seriously as a professional and musician is in direct proportion to what percentage of my body is either covered/uncovered by clothing. It doesn’t matter how much I rehearse; it doesn’t matter how many songs I’ve written; it doesn’t matter how many shows I play – people out there will always discount and discredit me not because they don’t like my style of music or think my musicianship is poor, but specifically, these people will count me out because in their mind clearly, I have used my sexuality to get ahead. My modesty can and will trump my years of professional experience as a booking agent in the music industry, my investment and my skill as a musician earned through countless hours of practice.

This leads me back to some facebook/twitter drama last week.


Mykel and I had a little fun with an internet random who first admonished me after seeing this photo I posted on my personal Instagram which feeds to my personal facebook timeline.


Due to my choice to spend money on my first tattoo in 2 years rather than musical instruments this random person who knows nothing about me went out of their way to judge my music and value. I have more than enough instruments, thank you very MUCH… I happen to have some very pricey and rare ones!

I reinvest every penny I earn back into my music career and haven’t had much in the way of disposable income lately. Soooo… I can’t treat myself once? Am I not allowed to post pictures on my personal facebook timeline to share my life events with my friends (of who this fellow  is supposedly one)? He pulled the old “you don’t know who you’re talking to, little girl” (little girl?! I’m almost 30! the diminutization of women is one of the most common forms of sexist oppression that exists… when people call us “baby”, or “honey,” or “little girl”, it’s a way to let us know that we are not the equal of the person who wields that terms and clearly establishes them as the dominant/wiser/elder/more respected party in the conversation). Finally we got all the way to me being told that my band sucks and people only like me because I show my tits off.


aaaand.. this is why I DON’T show my tits off! Man… would I love to show my tits off. They are great tits. I am not ashamed of my body. I’m not exactly skinny, sure, I have some imperfections, but I love my body. It’s strong and healthy. I carry all my own gear, I lift weights, I ride a bike. And dammit, I’m sexy! But I know that once I cross that line, there’s no coming back. I’m not even anywhere close to the line and still the accusations of my sexuality being the only thing going for me come rolling in – this is not an isolated incident, but it is the perfect exemplification of my conundrum. In other words, this is what I’m fuckin’ talking about. My integrity as a musician, and the integrity of all female musicians, can be called into question at any time, trumped by sexuality. Insult us, tell us we suck, tell us our music is no good – but don’t dismiss our bodies of work, our mastery of our instruments, our power of composition, our artistry, simply because we are women who have tits. It is the epitome of insults, an implication that I don’t work as hard as anyone else and that I “get by” on my looks. Let me tell you something – looks only get you so far, and living on your looks is probably anything but easy (I imagine it takes a lot of work to look good enough that it can pay your way anywhere). But I digress.

If you’re a male-gendered or male-identified person who takes women in the music industry seriously completely apart from their sexuality, this article is not about you. And good on you. I just want to put that out there because by no means am I painting y’all with the same brush. Don’t feel defensive, but realize that what I say is true, and my experience is real. Sadly there are still a large percentage of menfolk out there who will simply not take female musicians seriously no matter what we do. No matter how good or how largely accepted we are, it will always boil down to – do we flaunt our sexuality?

This is where my dilemma comes in. I must tell you that I have, to this point, furtively guarded my sexuality like the good china you only bring out when company comes over, because I am aware of the system that I exist in. But I’m angry. Why SHOULD these two things be connected? We can accept that a person can be a talented artist as well as a father, or mother, or politician, or activist, or welder… whatever. You get it. People’s identities occupy multiple spaces at once. Your experiences as a father, mother, or sex trade worker might influence your material, but WHERE IS IT WRITTEN that a person can’t be an excellent performer, singer, guitarist – and a sexual being?

Women’s sexuality in music is problematic because for a long time, we know that it was used as a marketing tool above and beyond the calibre or quality of the product. Yes, it is true. Sex sells. Big breasted beautiful women sell. In the past, I would argue that these women’s sexualities were packaged and sold in spite of their talents and autonomy, often against their will, because there was no other choice for them and because someone with more power said they had to – check out Charlotte Church’s experiences here. But we are living in 2014 and this is an age where I think we are all a little smarter and we can engage with these kinds of issues in a more critical way. Whether a woman’s sexuality is in the hands of the record label or the marketing firm, and it’s being used without her participation to sell records, or whether a woman disowns her sexual self because society at large will discredit her artistry if she embraces it, is the same side of the coin. The power over her sexuality, the control and the decision making lies in the hands of others, not in her hands. Let’s take for example Nicki Minaj and the whole “anaconda” scandal – this amazing article breaks down why you should think twice about judging Nicki’s sexual displays. What about Yo-Landi Vi$$er, the hypersexual rap machine from South Africa, once voted one of the “Top 10 Ugliest Celebrities“. She’s certainly not playing the tired old trope of big breasted blonde Pamela-Anderson type – yet she owns her sexuality, wears it proudly and is one hell of a rapper, regardless of being sexual or nonsexual.

It’s problematic when we forget that a person can be sexual and can be good at something. Wait, did I say person? Let me rephrase that – that a WOMAN can be sexual and be good at something. You know who was really openly sexual and slept around and even got naked and waved their genitalia around in public? Charles Bukowski. Pretty sure no one accused him of getting by on his sexuality. What if Miley Cyrus waved her genitalia around in public – might she lose some respect as an artist? (oh wait). How about Jim Morrison, Pablo Picasso? Did anyone ever accuse Jack Nicholson, who openly alleged that he slept with more than 2,000 women, of NOT being a good actor and of having slept his way to the top? Gene Simmons, Charlie Sheen.. I could do this all day. You get my point. Women don’t get to brag about how many people they’ve banged because other people will already be talking about how many people they’ve banged in a negative connotation. Maybe women want to reclaim their right to exist as sexual beings AS WELL AS being respected as experts in other professional fields. I know I do. I’m envious of those awesome suicide girls fillin’ up my instagram but far be it from me to be able to engage in any kind of empowered, consensual, provocative photography – I won’t even wear a skirt without tights underneath at our shows. Frankly I’m a bit of a pariah when it comes to this stuff and this is exactly why.

In conclusion; I would like to think that as a society we are enlightened and sex-positive enough to move foward realizing that identity is not black and white, nor is it a one-sided thing. We are musicians, businesspeople, punk rockers, mothers, fathers, kinksters, femme fatales, nerds, composers, athletes, activists, academics and deviants ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Expand your mind, please and thanks. If and when you see me showing off a bit of skin just appreciate it but don’t devalue my art because of it.


How To Play In A Band With Your Significant Other

People are often surprised to learn that my bass player for my band, Kill Matilda, is also my husband. I’ve seen and heard horror stories about bands breaking up and imploding because balancing your personal relationship dynamics with your band dynamics is next to impossible – personal issues become professional issues, personal time becomes work time, and so on and so forth. Through years of scrapping it out and relentless commitment both to our relationship and to our band, I’m pretty proud of what Mykel and I have, so I thought I’d throw out a few tips n’ tricks for all you love-bird musicians out there!


1. Realize that your personal relationship dynamics might not be the same as your band dynamics

Usually in most bands, each person has control over a certain aspect of making the band work. This could be divided up in various ways; one member might handle everything related to booking while another is in charge of songwriting, etc. In our band, Mykel is the brain when it comes to in-room jam space politics (he’s sort of our “music director”) as well as managing us in terms of “big picture” stuff. Me, I handle the day to day operations as well as things related to admin and booking. But since I’m the frontperson of the band and in our relationship I tend to take charge of details, it was hard at the beginning to ‘give up the reigns’ and not feel like I should be taking charge of the band just ’cause. This led to a lot of arguments and fighting between Mykel and I. He felt like his good ideas weren’t being heard and honored just because I had a need to make all the decisions. For my part, as a female rock musician I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about stepping back and letting my husband make all the more big picture decisions. It got to a point where I wanted to direct a music video for us, which had historically been something he’d taken the lead on. It ended up being a huge mess and we finally realized and agreed that a more clear separation of duties was needed,  but also that both parties had to defer to the judgement of the other and back each other up. The problem was, when we were undermining each other it often spilled over into self-esteem issues in our relationship. When I wanted to suggest a course of action and Mykel didn’t feel it was best, I took it personally, like my husband thought I was stupid or something. If I was messing around in the jamspace or hadn’t practiced my parts and he gave me heck, it would often turn into a fight. It took a while to realize that who did what and what the expectations of each person were differed from our private relationship to our band one. I had to accept that Mykel was going to hold me accountable to come prepared to band practices even though he’s normally much more forgiving and accepting of my disorganized, absentminded nature. He had to let go a bit and trust that I would get all our booking done right despite how he knew me privately (as a fairly scatterbrained person) and learn NOT to interfere. Now, I make all decisions regarding bookings and administrative needs, and Mykel trusts me. I trust his judgement on strategy and promotion/marketing and we back each other up with trust and respect, rather than undermining one another.


2. Have a clear definition between “band time” and “personal time”

I feel like the key to what makes us so successful as a band is that Mykel and I just obsessively work on and talk about band stuff almost all the time. We are always brewing new ideas, scheming and planning over our breakfast, over beers, and on walks. But, sometimes it can get a little intense. When one person is really enthused about an idea and the other person disagrees, and you’re supposed to be having a nice day together, it can quickly turn into an argument. You can’t help but feel a little resentful that on your day off you’re now embroiled in a stupid argument and you can’t help but take it personally. This is why it’s so important to sometimes make an effort NOT to talk about the band. Remind each other that you’re having personal time and don’t forget to keep your relationship fresh by having interests OTHER than your band!

On the flip side, the ability to always be working together on band projects can help your band get ahead more quickly and be able to do more. If you play in a band with your significant other, yet you never communicate about band stuff in your private time, you SHOULD be! Toss ideas around over a meal or on a walk or drive. Two people in a relationship are more on the same brainwave than two people who only meet up once a week to jam. Take advantage of the ability to put your heads together and discuss big-picture ideas, strategy and keep each other accountable on tasks such as getting new merch printed, updating your website, etc.


3. Don’t be jealous

Everyone likes a dude (or lady) who plays awesome music. Playing in bars means a lot of drunken hitting-on happens. Let’s face it; a person who plays in a band is sexy. If you don’t like attention and you don’t like playing the role of someone who has a bit of mystique and a bit of a “character”. Our onstage personas are either extensions and exaggerations of ourselves or even sometimes full-on characters. Part of enjoying a show isn’t just the musical aspect – if all you have going for your is your sound, and your live show doesn’t add anything extra, why should anyone come to your show rather than just rock your CD? You come to a show for the live entertainment, and part of that is the role that each band member plays. This obviously can lead to some affectionate attention, and frankly it’s something I think people should encourage. Rock and roll is sexy and fun, capitalize on that! If your parnter plays in your band, it’s necessary to understand that being a sex symbol or possibly being a little flirty now and then is your JOB. There needs to be ground rules about what’s allowed or how you and your partner represent each other to the public – you may choose to keep your relationship secret or you may choose to be open about it. You may choose to be REALLY open about, haha! Make sure both parties are on the same page regarding what’s OK and what’s not OK when receiving attention. Remember that it’s normal for people to be hitting on your significant other – wouldn’t you?

Most importantly, make sure to respect the frontperson/supporting band member dynamic. Since I’m the lead of my band, and a lady, I tend to get a lot of attention at shows. Mykel, being a fellow and more in the background, doesn’t always get as many accolades. It’s important for me to make sure that he knows he’s my rock star just as much as I’m everybody else’s and that he’s not being left hauling all the gear while I hog all the fame and glory. Although this dynamic might not always apply to regular bands, if your partner is in your band that means that their girlfriend/boyfriend isn’t the one in the front row jumping and screaming and singing their songs. That’s something that other people in bands DO get, and it’s important to honor that person and make them feel as sexy and important to you! Likewise, if you’re playing the supporting role, you have to remember that your partner and frontperson is doing their job by soaking up all the attention and being the social butterfly that they so often are after your set. Remember that you’re just as important and that you’re a team!


4. Make private time for just the two of you

You’re always surrounded by fans, friends, or your bandmates, especially on tour. It can be easy to forget that apart from being bandmates you’re also a couple. Make sure your bandmates understand that you two need some alone time occasionally. Ditch out of a party early and chill together, or go for a drive in a new city you’re on tour in. Just don’t neglect the relationship while you’re on tour. Every person needs a different amount of “down time”, or “personal time” with their partner. Introverted people may need a lot more quiet, one-on-one time, while extroverts might need more time to socialize with others. Recognizing these differences in what the other person needs is an important key to avoiding stress and fighting on the road.


That’s all I can really think of right now! Playing with your significant other can be a blessing or a total nightmare. If you can stick through it and be committed to working out the kinks it’s definitely amazing to be able to tour and play shows without having to be separated from your partner all the time. We love it! <3



An Open Letter to the UFC Fighter “Ragin” Kajan Johnson

An Open Letter to the UFC Fighter “Ragin” Kajan Johnson from Dusty Exner of Kill Matilda

**UPDATE: hey all – if you want to read Kajan’s awesome response and the comments from there, and you can’t see them, click on the title of this blog, and it will bring it up on a separate page. The comments are below. Thanks again to my amazing husband for encouraging me to come forward with this – its been a healing experience both for myself and for Kajan I believe (as he’s expressed to me). **

Hey Kajan,

I thought of you the other day while biking to work, and something weird happened. I remembered what it was like growing up the child of two same-sex parents in a small northern town. I remembered how your voice was the loudest, the harshest, the most hateful. I started feeling upset. By the time I got to work, I was in tears and having a full-on panic attack. I had to leave for an hour and just walk until I could clear my head.

It’s been about 10 years since we last saw each other and I know that people grow and change over time. I certainly have. From what I’ve see online, you’re someone who has followed their passion and now you are a UFC fighter, succeeding at something I have no doubt you’ve worked tirelessly for. You are training to fight in Vancouver on June 14th at UFC 174 – pretty amazing. It also looks like you’ve become a person who cares about “the little guy” and an outspoken advocate for oppressed peoples. I can’t help but wonder how you can post tweets like the one below about the LGBTQ community and forget the way that you directed homophobic hate toward me in our shared past.

does this include yourself as well?

does this include yourself as well?

I moved to your town of Burns Lake BC when I was about seven years old with my mom, her “best friend” and her best friend’s daughter. I immediately became the most hated and picked on kid in school. Kids were always saying something mean to me, something about my mom, a word I didn’t understand. Lesbian.  I didn’t know what it meant but I knew it was bad, derogatory. So before I even knew what the word lesbian meant, I was already defending my mother, and myself against these attacks. “No she isn’t!” I would cry, “no I’m not!” I remember the day I asked my mom if what all the kids were saying was true – if her and her best friend really were lesbians. When she told me yes, I cried and cried. I hated her. How could she be this awful things that kids beat me up and teased me about?

Our relationship suffered for many years after that. I couldn’t tolerate her showing any affection to her partner. I told her she wasn’t to touch, hug or kiss her partner around me. If I even heard the sound from the next room of them kissing I would feel sick to my stomach, I would get angry at her. The few friends I did have (and not many people chose to associate with me), I was embarrassed to bring around. I would warn her that my friends were coming over and I would beg her not to be in the same room with her partner in case anybody saw, or noticed. Our relationship was affected for many years. I resented my mother so much for being in a relationship that forced me to suffer through endless years of taunting and bullying, including being beaten up and physically abused several times.

I’ll never forget the first time you talked to me in the hallway. I didn’t know who you were, and I didn’t know how you knew me. You’d walk down the hall with a few friends and make sexual comments at me as you walked by and all your friends would laugh. I didn’t know how you knew my name or how to react, but it made me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed and I soon began to dread being alone in the hallway when you and your friends came by – I knew that I would be the butt of your sexual jokes. Soon after that you started making fun of me because my mom was a “dyke” and you started calling me homophobic slurs too. You called me a “dyke”. You called “lez”.  You said shit like “eugh, that’s fucking disgusting!”. And you laughed.

Mercifully, my family moved to Prince George just before grade 9. I spent a blissful year in a new crowd of kids who didn’t know my secret, but who also didn’t seem to care. By the end of grade 9 I had gone public with the fact that I had 2 moms, and people were actually pretty cool about it. I don’t know exactly when you transferred to my high school in Prince George but seeing you in the hall brought a feeling of dread. My past had followed me. But maybe you were a different person – we both left Burns Lake behind. I remember trying to say hi to you a couple of times – I was naive, I thought maybe you didn’t like me because you just didn’t know me, that I could win you over by being really friendly and cool.

The first time you called me a fucking dyke at our new high school in Prince George, I felt hopeless. I’ll never escape my past, I thought – even in a new city, the taunts and the hate had followed me.

I remember the time I screamed in your face. I finally had had enough – My mom had broken up with her partner, my grandmother had moved in with us and immediately had a stroke, and shortly after that my mom had a nervous breakdown. She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had to quit her job. We moved in to the trailer park, we lived off my mom’s small disability subsidy. We were the poorest of the poor white trash. I lived alone with my now-single parent. She cried a lot, and laid in bed. She wouldn’t answer the phone and when her friends came to the door she made us hide and turn off all the lights. I worked a part time job to help buy groceries. You made your homophobic remarks on the wrong day and I grabbed you by the shirt and shook you as hard as I could. I windmilled my arms and legs as my friend pulled me off you.  I laid in the sick room for an hour after our encounter, shaking and crying. I just kept saying to the counsellor who tried to talk to me that I didn’t understand why you hated me so much.

Where did those feelings of hatred come from? Why were you so threatened by someone you never met? Have you ever even met my mother? Because she’s a pretty lovely, beautiful person. Why were you so homophobic?

The social anxiety is something that’s never gone away.  Even writing this letter makes me feel afraid. While I’m glad to know that you’ve found discipline through your study of martial arts and your career in the UFC, just knowing that you are out there and that you can kick the crap out of anyone at any time for any reason makes me start to sweat and makes my heart pound.

When I realized in my teens that I didn’t identify as 100% straight, I hated myself, I felt disgust. I felt like I had betrayed myself after all the times that people had said I was a ‘fucking disgusting lez’. I engaged in high-risk behaviours with men because I felt like I had something to prove. I hated my mom for being “a dyke”. There was a wedge driven in our relationship and I feel shame when I think back to the contempt I treated her with, just for being with the person she loved. I couldn’t even begin to develop a relationship with the woman my mother loved – I could never see her as anything but a target for my angst. she was the woman who turned my mom into that hateful term – into a fucking dyke lez.

Sure, other bad things have happened in my life since then and I’ve dealt with them. Yet here I am, all these years later, still victimized by your attitude back then. I think it’s because I was a child and I didn’t know how to defend myself. As I became a teenager I tried to put on a tough face and say things like “fuck you!” to show that your words didn’t hurt me, but my little self-defenses felt so fucking pathetic.

I have a good life now that I have worked hard for. I have a wonderful husband, a strong First Nations man who coincidentally was also raised by two women. I live the life I want to live as a touring musician playing in my band, Kill Matilda. A few years ago, I wrote a song about the missing and murdered aboriginal women, which is an important issue you’ve talked, tweeted and hashtagged about too.  You’re a man who has experienced racism and small-town prejudice as a person of colour, and you’ve taken those hurts and become a successful fighter. I’m a woman who has experienced small-town homophobia and sexism and I’ve turned those experiences into anthems for strong women.

But when I see you post these tweets like you are so much on the side of LGBTQ people, it absolutely infuriates me and makes me shake to think that you could so brazenly take that stance without ever considering apologizing for all the hurt you caused me. My rage, my shame, and my memories make me feel crazy, even all these years later.

I just wanted you to know that I still think of you, and that as surely as you leave some real welts on your opponents in the ring, you’ve left a mark on me.