Daddy Issues: Music as a Safe Space
by Shaina Joy Machlus
Music is a physical space. It is.
Sometimes it is a space we inhabit in our innermost of cavernous depths and druthers. And sometimes it is a space we inhabit in our outermost of psychedelic planetary outerspaces. But it is a space, nonetheless. The space is palpable and it is powerful.
Daddy Issues, collectively Lo Davy, Lindsey Sprague, Maddie Putney, and Amethyst White hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina, has taken off quickly. After playing for only 10 months they are in venue spaces from New York to Georgia, their lo-fi surf pop tracks are being distributed in various spaces worldwide, record labels are scratching to fit them into glossy vinyl sleeve spaces, pinned up as ‘rock-goddesses’. But Daddy Issues isn’t concerned with the spaces everyone else wants them to occupy; most important for them is creating their own safe space as a ‘lady band’.
Like any categorization, identifying as a ‘lady band’ or ‘girl band’ comes with it’s ups and downs. Lo explains, “A lot of the bands I love are all girls, so I don’t mind being called a girl band. Because girl bands are creating amazing things, I don’t find that offensive at all. But when someone says ‘Oh you just get attention because you’re girls’, I wanna tell them to go away.”
Maybe it would be easy to call Daddy Issues ‘gimmicky’; a group of unarguably stunning ladies singing unabashedly about whatever they want. But if you called them ‘gimmicky’ for this, you’d be an asshole. A sexist, stupid, asshole.
Their lyrics center around enjoying their bodies and sex. Each member of the group identifies as queer. Maddie, the bassist is a trans woman. These details are simply Daddy Issues being themselves; an all lady, all queer band. It is not the reason to listen to them, but it is an important part of their music. In fact, it’s the reason they began playing together.
The band started as a break up band; Lindsey and Lo came together after failed relationships as a source of comfort to one another. The two confided in each other making simple songs focused on being honest and open about their physical and emotional well-being. They ran into Maddie at a show, who quickly confessed to a serious music/friend crush and offered to provide bass notes. To which Maddie recalls “‘[Lindsey and Lo said] We need a bassist… but you have to wear girls clothes.’ And I was like ‘I do wear girls clothes, because I’m a girl’”. When they’re first drummer quit to finish school, Amethyst jumped right in, picking up drumsticks for the first time ever and picking up the skill of drumming even quicker.
It’s the first band for each of the members except for Lindsey, who had previously only played with men. Lindsey talks about the tangible difference in making music with ladies, “I identify more with women so I think songwriting is a lot more free when it’s only with women. For this it feels like a safer, more collaborative experience.”
For Maddie this musical manifestation is physical as well, “Me being trans, this band has been so identity affirming–when we go places people know we are an all girl band so people automatically know how I identify. People automatically refer to me as female, which is incredible. You never know someone’s gender until you ask or are told– It’s great I don’t have to answer those questions constantly.”
People have always used music as a tool to express parts of themselves society, self, or both might otherwise suppress and Daddy Issues is carrying on this tradition with force. The guitar riffs are unapologetically twangy; full and fuzzy with distortion. The sometimes ‘crass’ lyrics perfectly juxtaposed with strong, lovely vocal harmonies. The straight forward drum beats make each track more danceable than the next. It’s garage rock, it’s surf indie pop, it’s punk; The Vaselines making out with The Slits to a Kleenex album, on a tropical beach, of course.
“Everyone is totally, naturally open to the suggestions everyone else has–there’s not a lot of ego. For the sake of the bigger idea, of making music with each other specifically, there’s cooperation.” Says Amethyst. Daddy Issues is defining themselves by the music they are making. You don’t have to believe they’re talented, they’re happy to show you on their own terms. And the truth is, the music is so good, people keep coming back for more.
“I’m so glad that no one in our band has to compromise themselves or fear for their personal or creative safety.” says Maddie. But Daddy Issues is creating a musical space that feels bigger than themselves, a place where everyone has the opportunity to feel safe. Where, if you’re invited in, you are grateful to be inside an experience that is authentic and brave–exactly how rock and roll should be.
Amethyst White’s Guide To Starting Drums:
Listen to songs you love and play along. If you can’t figure something out, youtube instructional videos are immensely helpful. I paid for one lesson and I regret it. If you spend enough time with your kit and really listen to what you love, you can figure it out.
Learning to play drums was magical because so much of it really is muscle memory, so once you get a trick in your body it’s in there, and you can only build on it. I just want the music to sound good and play what I hear in my brain.
Dream kit: No idea. I’ve been playing drums for about a year and I can’t afford anything other than what I have. I play a Yamaha Power “V” special from the 80’s. It was gifted to me after I put a rather un-serious request for a drum kit on Facebook. What a surprise that someone practically GAVE them to me, and an even bigger surprise that they belonged to my ex. When i got them they were tuned beautifully- they have a lot of bass, smooth and deep-sounding. I love them.
Favorite drum in her kit: My big boomy floor tom.
Can’t play without: Tambourine nearby, and a good kick pedal
Three words that describe your drumming: Surfy, impulsive, reserved
Inspired by: Bassists, Emily-Rose Epstein, garage rock
Drumming makes me feel: Better!
For all upcoming shows and to listen up: daddyissuesnc.bandcamp.com