At Canadian Music Week, an event that brings together hundreds of musicians in Toronto for concerts at venues across town, several all-women bands showcased their musicianship.On Thursday night, Mis-en-Scene and No Joy emerged onstage at Velvet Underground to deliver impressive performances. Mis-en-Scene, founded by vocalist/guitarist Stefanie Blondal Johnson and drummer Jodi Dunlap, powered through each song with uninhibited grittiness.No Joy gave a similarly rapturous live performance, replicating the thick walls of fuzz heard on their album More Faithful. The heady, buzzing rendition of their song “Moon in My Mouth” enabled the entire band to get into a groove where the sound took centre stage.
We weren’t inspired to do it. We were forced to do it. We really had no choice. It was a bright flash of light and I felt a tickling sensation somewhere I won’t even mention.
Death Valley Girls is a garage rock band from Los Angeles that confounds audiences and shatters critics’ misperceptions about women in rock; its members are Bonnie, Larry, Nicole, and Laura (aka “The Kid”). The band’s sludgy, psychedelic riffs combined with the Riot grrrl attitude of Bonnie’s onstage asides made like a poison-dipped arrow aimed at the rock establishment’s heart.During our interview, the band opened up about their musical inspirations, and the pressure of being women on the rock scene. The Varsity: What inspired you to make music together? Death Valley Girls: We weren’t inspired to do it. We were forced to do it. We really had no choice. It was a bright flash of light and I felt a tickling sensation somewhere I won’t even mention.Bonnie: Then we woke up in my room all together holding hands.TV: Since you’re from LA, I was wondering if anything about the musical history of that city or the scenes located there influenced your sound starting out?DVG: Rodney’s English Disco has a huge impact on our sound. Larry: All the LA sixties punk scene, it’s all in there.
TV: What do you think is the biggest challenge of being a band right now? Would it be social media or managing fan relationships?Bonnie: I think the worst thing is knowing that warp speed is something that’s about to happen but we can’t have it right now. Also a challenge is not being in the band and any time we’re not playing shows. We could be in a band all the time.TV: Do you think things are getting better for women in rock and roll, or do you there’s still a lot of sexism in the industry?Bonnie: I’d like to plead the fifth here because I was perfectly fine on the women train, everything was fine until last night. Last night we had our most sexist situation of all where someone tried telling us ‘how cute we were’ and they tried giving us constructive criticism — a very big band — on how we could be better if only we played up the ‘girl thing.’ And usually we don’t like to talk about this topic. TV: Right, I didn’t even want to bring it up first. Bonnie: We believe in equality, we don’t care about who or what you are. We believe that everyone shouldn’t worry about their gender. Last night, something happened, and we might take this to the top. We’re not fighters, but we may have to fight.