Soulmates!

PicMonkey Collage

Dusty & Mykel as “just friends” – Feb/Mar 2006

Ten years ago today my friend Adrienne and I decided to go downtown in Vancouver for some Friday-night busking. Little did I know that night would change the course of my life. While we were playing music a friendly fellow stopped to listen to our music, gave us some money and I invited him to hang out. He told us that he also made music and lived in the same area of town as me. Adrienne and I had plans to go back to my place and watch an Ed Wood movie. At the tender age of 19 I lived in a party house where people came and went and stayed over often so it was natural to invite a new friend along to watch movies with us and stay for breakfast the next morning. That weekend was the Super Bowl and he had plans to watch it, but later that same day I received a text that said he was bored and asked if I wanted to hang out. I wasn’t doing much and I thought he was a pretty cool guy so I said yes. And if you haven’t guessed by now, that fella’s name was Mykel Exner!

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later in 2006

Mykel and I were inseparable friends from the day we met. By the late spring we were dating and by the summer of that same year we were living together. I had never felt as understood or comfortable around anyone as I did around Mykel. I loved everything about him – his music, his attitude, and just passing the time with him. I had never felt so endeared to anyone as I did to Mykel; something about him just drew me to him and made me want to make him happy.

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Dusty & Mykel 2007

Every week Mykel would read the Georgia Straight to see if anyone in the “I Saw You” column had mentioned him. He was a hopeless romantic, and that part of him called out to me. More than anything Mykel wanted someone to see him and it broke my heart a little that he seemed to be always waiting to be noticed, because I noticed him. When I decided to place an ad in the I Saw You’s, my original motivation was just to put a smile on my good friend’s face, nothing more. I was working as a fundraiser in Vancouver and often my crew would be sent to the corner of Davie and Granville. Mykel worked only a block away and we once bumped into each other while he was on his way for lunch. After that, whenever I’d work at Davie and Granville I’d wonder if I’d see him. On that Thursday, I worked at the corner and I was so excited all day long wondering if he’d seen my I Saw You ad and if it had made him feel happy. It’s funny, because it’s not like in the I Saw You I was professing any kind of deep romantic love – more just a love note as a friend from the heart. Finally at the very end of my shift, I saw Mykel come into the coffee shop where I was finishing up my day and my heart was almost bursting. It was in that moment that I realized that there was something more between us and that if it made me this happy and excited to make someone else happy, that there was something special going on.

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Dusty & Mykel Halloween 2008 – Dressed as Butlertron & Principal Scudworth from Clone High

When I fell in love with Mykel, I decided to trust my heart. I’ve always been the kind of person who has second-guessed myself, been easily persuaded or confused by others, or doubted myself or what I’m doing. I had never felt so clearly or strongly that being with Mykel was the right path for me. Since that time, we’ve had many challenges, both external and internal. A lot of people tell me that they admire our relationship because we’re so close. The truth is that in some aspects the “honeymoon phase” of our relationship has never ended because we’re just as in love as the day we met, but on the other hand we are both strong personalities with a dramatic flair – so fighting happens!

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Dusty & Mykel 2009

One of the things that drew us together was our mutual love of music and our ambition. It’s because of the strength of our relationship that we were able to turn Kill Matilda into the beast that it is today; because we loved our music and our band almost as much as we loved each other and we were to sacrifice and work as hard as we could to see our dreams through. Many bands fail because it’s a hard road and you lose people; people burn out or they have other priorities. One of the most challenging aspects is the partners of your bandmates; frankly, most of them only want to put up with indulging their partner’s rockstar dreams for so long. Once that dream means that your girlfriend or boyfriend is off gallivanting around on tour and quitting their job while you hold down the fort at home, I can see how that would put a serious strain on any relationship. In this aspect, Mykel and I have always considered ourselves very lucky because we were each just as crazy as the other for a life of excitement, adventure and passion.

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Exner Wedding 2010

Things have recently changed for us and it’s been challenging over the last few weeks to adapt to a different pace. We pushed ourselves too hard for too long and really burned the candle at both ends. There was a certain point earlier this month where I realized that my role as a wife putting her husband’s mental health first was more important than being a band leader pushing her bandmate to keep his head up (and vice versa, because I was also really mentally worn out). Mykel and I realized that prioritizing what the band needed had taken our lives so hostage that our relationship was starting to be nothing more than that of caretakers of a big, big project. Frankly, it was too big for the two of us to manage and without more outside assistance we were being crushed under the weight of it all.

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Dusty & Mykel 2011

What we’ve decided to do now is change the pace down so that we don’t end up a) going crazy b) breaking up or c) generally hating our lives because of our band. It’s challenging because making music and playing in a band has been so central to the fabric of our relationship that it’s strange and new to explore what it means to be together without the frenetic pace of always having to deal with some piece of band drama or band homework. Our plan for the future is to continue to release new material and new content for our amazing fans who have supported us, but to focus more on the aspects of making music that cost us a little less financially and mentally. As much as we knew it was important to prioritize each other and our relationship, we also don’t want to “break up” with music because we are just so stressed out by what it’s done to us. Changing the pace of Kill Matilda will allow us to be the best musicians we can be; musicians who love each other, who love to make music together and who are happy making the best music that we can.

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Dusty & Mykel 2012

I feel so grateful and fortunate to have Mykel in my life now more than ever as we go through this strange transition of de-emphasizing touring at a breakneck pace. For the last ten years I have felt that Mykel understood me in a way that no one else could and as our lives began to take a very unique path, fewer and fewer of my friends could empathize or understand me, but since Mykel was always right there beside me I knew he knew what I was going through. Now that we’ve been “off” for the past few weeks and trying to adjust to this different pace, we’ve had to rely on each other and help each other work through a lot of emotions.

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Dusty & Mykel 2013

It’s fitting for our style that this change comes right around the ten-year anniversary of the day we’ve met, because in a way we’ve come full-circle, both geographically and lifestyle wise. We now have a chance to explore our lives in a way we haven’t done in the past ten years and to face new challenges and balance out our imbalances. Words can’t describe how lucky I feel to have been in the exact right place at the exact right time to have met my soulmate!

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Dusty & Mykel 2014 in New York City

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Dusty & Mykel 2015

Help Us Help Sayf!

 

 

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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!

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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!

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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).

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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.

 

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.

YEAR OF THE ARTIST

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, www.facebook.com/2015yearoftheartist 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.

TAKE THE 2015 YEAR OF THE ARTIST CHALLENGE!

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 etsy.com – 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!

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.

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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.

dustysnewtatt

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.

ULTRAFINAL

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! ❤

 

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April Shower Bring May Flowers

Hi all;

Just a quick update this time. I’m going to work on my consistency in the blogosphere and try to work on weekly blog updates for alll you KM hardcores out there. We are here in Toronto getting settled and setting up the rest of our year: we will be playing many shows in Quebec and Ontario and are planning a tour to the states for later this year. Who knows what else might happen?

We dropped in at CMW to see some of our friends in The Deadset and Gypsy Chief Goliath. It was so awesome to see so many music lovers out supporting rad bands. We look forward to our showcase at North By Northeast next month – keep an eye out for us!

Here are a list of our upcoming shows-

May 23 – the Cage, Toronto ON FB EVENT HERE

May 24 – Fitzy’s By the Bay, Barrie ON

May 30 – The Rockpile West (Etobicoke/Toronto) ON FB EVENT HERE

June 13 – CIDERFEST, St-Hyacinthe QC FB EVENT HERE

June 19 – Manik Mondays, Montreal QC

We will be coming to a town near you over the summer! If you think there are any festivals, shows, venues or events we should be playing, let us know! We want all the suggestions you have.

In other news, my guitar amp was stolen last month. It was upsetting and kind of a clusterfuck but it seems that there’s nothing we can do to get it, or any of my pedals, back. That’s about $600 or so worth of gear. Luckily, I found the amp of my dreams just sitting in Long & McQuade waiting for me! I am the proud new owner of a Mesaboogie Dual-Rectifier head. Now’s the hard part; paying for it. Keep an eye out over the next few weeks as I’ll be selling some hand-made art and putting deals on our merch to help cover the costs.

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Musical Misogyny

Earlier this week we premiered a video through Exclaim.ca’s website which has been garnering a really interesting response. This video was a triumph for me because unlike many other hard rock/punk music video you’ve ever seen, every major character and player in the video was a woman, none of whom were being objectified or sexualized. The theme of the video was a showcase of women’s aggression and athleticism, and an alternative idea of women being sexy that isn’t a bunch of girls in booty shorts shaking their shit. I wrote a blurb to that effect and I’ve been surprised since then the amount of vitriol that the video has faced from (male) haters all over the internet.

Could it be that this video is poorly produced or that the song sucks and that is where all the hate is coming from? Sure, but it’s unlikely; our 2010 video for “She’s A Killer” was arguably not very good and the song itself was a crappy recording that we did in our kitchen, yet in over 30,000 views in over 4 years we haven’t received the breadth of hate that we’ve gained in 4 days with ‘I Want Revenge’. So why is this video, and the commentary that went along with it, receiving so much negative attention?

In my opinion, the answer is simple. We have tons of awesome male fans who ‘get’ it, who support and find a woman who can rock as hard as a dude, hit as hard as a dude and be sweaty and up in your face totally awesome. But there is a very real ‘old boys club’ of rock and roll that feels VERY threatened by seeing a band fronted by a strong woman and a video full of strong aggressive women, with absolutely no tits and ass to be had. This very concept is so shocking, and so new to some people that it’s offensive and is inspiring hateful feelings. Deep down, these dudes are feeling threatened. There is a documented phenomena of men reacting angrily toward women trying to occupy what’s traditionally been men’s space in music. When women represent themselves as experts with regards to musical canon or knowledge, the reaction from this Old Boys Club isn’t just the typical internet shitty trolling – it often goes so far as to include sexualized insults and even threats of violence. Even blogs related to how to ‘get ahead’ with your band are written for men with male-gendered language; for men, by men. The possibility that a woman might be the one reading, engaging with or creating things in the music industry is such a stretch that many writers don’t even bother to consider that the people they’re writing about might be women and thus don’t even bother to hide their gendered use of language (note in this article, everyone the writer suggests you bring onto your team is a he – from the accountant to the booking agent. Apparently women don’t work in the music industry at all?). I believe this kind of territorialism extends to women performers as well. This video has provoked an angry response from these very dudes, who want rock and roll to stay a man’s game and for women to know their place, which isn’t being in front of a camera in anything other than a slutty outfit.
The commentary I made about this video talked about my desire to create a piece of media that featured how sexy women could be without overtly sexualizing and objectifying them (you know, like every other music video in the world) and the very first comment was “no one cares about this shit”. Well guess what guys… people do care. A lot of people. They’re called women, and they make up 50% of the population. Welcome to 2014. I was also called out on talking about women being sexy without being sexualized because I had posed for a VERY NOT risque, semi-clothed “sexy” photo which is on my facebook wall. Again, it seems that these men demand that women be either the Madonna or the whore; the idea that we can be both just does not compute. I personally am a big fan of girls being sexy, and I would never say that it’s a bad thing for a women to be sexual in media. I DO think it’s a bad thing if it is the ONLY way a woman can be represented and surely enough you almost never see women in the rock and roll industry who are fat or ugly or otherwise unkempt, unlike their male counterparts. One of the goals of this video was to create an alternative concept of what makes  a woman sexy, but it seems like that idea is very unwelcome to some. Keep us in the pin-up photos in bikinis holding guitars, but don’t dare let us in front of the camera screaming in your face. The truth is that I believe that a sexually empowered and powerful woman can be overtly sexual when she chooses and is also sexy and cool even if she’s dressed in a t-shirt and jeans; it’s all about attitude and intention, and to me the women in this video are so amazing. The video itself is groundbreaking for this reason and the backlash is an indicator of just how much misogynistic sentiment is still creeping in the cellars of the rock and roll industry. Who care about this shit? Only all the women who work in the music industry, make music, and buy music. So pay attention, haters.
See the video that’s causing such a stir here.