A TOM TOM MAGAZINE & FEMALE : PRESSURE SHOWCASE / BENEFIT FOR SKATE LIKE A GIRL
article by Miro Justad
Cover illustration by Virginia Easthope
Tom Tom is proud to announce that it will be joining forces in Seattle with Female : Pressure, Hollow Earth Radio, and Skate Like A Girl to throw a benefit show for Skate Like A Girl October 6th! The show will feature Mommy Long Legs, Hoop, Kelli Frances-Corrado, and Sci Fi Sol at the Sunset Tavern. Bringing non cis-male skateboarders, musicians, and radio djs together gives us the unique and empowering opportunity to celebrate each other’s skills and art forms which can be overlooked in these particular fields. I chatted with Skate Like A Girl, Female : Pressure, and Hollow Earth Radio to learn about their personal journeys and involvement in the community.
Skate Like A Girl
photo by Marshall Reid
Tell us a little about your history of skating (when did you start/what drew you to it/what projects you are involved with) :
I started skateboarding when I was 12 years old. My girl friends at the time rode scooters around, and pulled pranks inspired by Jackass. But then Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater came out and it changed everything; we ditched the handle bars and all got skateboards. Not before long though, every one of the girls from the posse slowly quit to explore other sports or passions. Me, on the other hand, I just kept skating. I think at that point I was over playing competitive softball and other sports with coaches and practice times. I started listening to punk and it just fit. I liked that skateboarding was hard, and it took relentless practice and lots of falling.
Currently, my full time job is running Skate Like a Girl, which is a non-profit set on creating an inclusive community through skateboarding. Although non-male participants are still a minority in the sport, and the dominant culture is sexist, racist, homophobic, etc., at times, I believe skateboarding can be a positive vehicle for change. As far as projects go, I am the co-founder of the Skate Witches zine, along with my gal pal, Shari White, and I also play drums in Lowest Priority.
How have you personally seen Skate Like A Girl empower female skateboarders and youth?
First and foremost, I’ve seen it within myself. In high school, I was trying to be tough and was getting in trouble. I thought I had to uphold this badass image to be able to hang with the guys. At age 17, I “met” Skate Like a Girl, and my whole perspective changed. I learned that I didn’t have to be someone I’m not and I didn’t have to be ashamed of being a girl skateboarder, and most importantly that skateboarders can be a part of social justice and change in our community. I met several female mentors through Skate Like a Girl who inspired me as I grew older to continue to take on leadership and continue learning to do whatever I wanted to do. Because I live and breathe this organization, I see our impact every single day. I see teens learn to skate at their after school skate class, join our teen volunteer program (Youth Employment Skateboarding), and then become staff all within a matter of a year. I see kids who don’t like team sports or pressure finally find a sport they can do where they feel welcomed, comfortable, and successful. I see adult men go from skeptical to being extremely supportive advocates and volunteers. I see young girls too timid to share their name at circle time come back from an hour of skating at Ladies Night ready to proudly announce their shout out for the night. It’s crazy. Skateboarding is so cool, and I’m so lucky to have a front row seat to this amazing work every day.
photo by Dan Gonyea
Being a female skateboarder is similar to being a female drummer; we are still the minority gender in our fields which have classically been dominated by boys/men. How has this affected the choices that you have made in your skating career? How has it affected just every day skating for you?
Wow, the parallels are so insane here. I’ll start with a quick story. When I was 16 I worked by buns off to film a “sponsor me” tape to send out to companies. Essentially it was a montage of my best tricks filmed in the streets (not skate parks) and I edited it to The Doors’ “Love Me Two Times”. I was so amped on it and thought my prospects were pretty good for getting hooked up with some free stuff. I eagerly turned it in to one company, who already had a girl on the team. When I didn’t hear back, I inquired. I found out through a friend that the team manager told them I just wasn’t pretty enough. After that, I questioned what I wore, how I acted, if I was “girly enough” and things like that. I felt super awkward and judged, because before that time, I didn’t think what I looked like mattered to anyone. After this experience, everything was different in my mind. I had super bad internalized sexism too, and judged other girls for being too girly and not being a “real skateboarder” if they weren’t good enough to my standards. Beyond this single experience, I’ve learned through the years that mainstream (men’s) skateboarding isn’t for me. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for me there, unless I was one of the top 10 in the world. And even if I was one of the top female athletes, I would still have to hold down a full time job. There just aren’t any real professional opportunities for us. But I don’t waste my time complaining or begging for a crumb. This environment is difficult, but it’s also inspiring. It feels good to be a part of something on the grassroots level. It’s made me motivated to build the scene in Seattle for girls, instead of waiting for guy skateboarders to care and support what I’m doing. With SLAG, we’re getting thousands of women each year on skateboards to grow the participation. Skate Witches is providing an outlet for women to get coverage in skateboarding. The board company I ride for, Meow, is an all girls team started by Lisa Whitaker who is an OG filmer and skater. Basically, I’ve learned it’s on us. We need to build it. We can’t wait for someone to do it for us. As far as every day skateboarding, I still feel like I have something to prove when I skate up to the park. I need to prove that I can be there. Guys still are impressed when I drop in on a ramp, which is not a trick any male skateboarder would ever get props for. It’s annoying, but if I complained about every ounce of sexism I encountered daily I would explode. Instead, I just make fun of it. Skate Witches is a big outlet for that.
We are excited to throw this show with you guys, what can people expect from SLAG’s side of things during the evening?
We are amped too! Last time we went to the Sunset we had some tracksuits, so I think we might need to do some coordinating outfits again. Aside from wardrobe, we are going to have a booth with a “Wheel of Fortune” mini wheel with some epic wisdom and prizes, along with some info and big smiles. Our Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, and other community members will be in the house! We are super excited!
“For the girls, scare the boys!” – Kristin Ebeling
Female : Pressure
As a Female : Pressure artist yourself, what kinds of connections have you gained from the database that other emerging artists might find enriching and useful? Can you tell us how you joined the database?
I had been searching for a like minded artistic group and found out about Female:Pressure through a Fact Magazine article. I contacted them, they interviewed me and discovered we were a good match, so I joined. Female:Pressure has a wide definition for electronic music and for artists like myself, who use a wide range of instruments (Autoharp to Pattern Beat making), sometimes genres can feel pretty segregated. So Female:Pressure is great for any artist dedicated to their craft and who has an electronic aspect to their music. It’s a powerful resource for sharing technical information about gear, shows and other music business. It’s also a been a pretty amazing way to meet other artists. For example- Last October, I played the first NYC Female:Pressure showcase co-presented by Tom Tom Magazine and Discwoman, curated by Female:Pressure member Leah King. Through this one show I connected with so many incredible people that I will be going back to perform in Brooklyn this September for the third time.
The teaser for your new album “Book of Echoes” shows strong symbolism like crescent moons, shades of purple/blue, candles, flowers, and female skate boarders. How are these symbols important to this project and to yourself?
I want to express strength and courage using feminine symbols. Not just being ‘pretty’ but vulnerable and fierce. The crescent moon is a symbol of mystery, intuition and femininity.For the promo video, jeweler, The Small Beast lent me her ‘Prophecy’ moon necklaces which are rough hammered silver. They represent a raw strength to me and I find the fearlessness of skateboarders inspiring. I am also grateful to my friend and artist Allyce Andrew whose unique eye helps me to bring these visuals to life. Stylist Isabela Garcia also lent her dreamy sensibilities.
Tell us about what it is like to create a concept album :
Creating Book of Echoes has been the most challenging and empowering body of work I have ever created. Technically, it was the first time I wrote all the beats by myself using electronic apps, live percussionists and hours in the studio manipulating sounds with engineer Jeffery Mcnulty. I also wrote each song in the key (according to the lore) of the Arc angel. For example- song, The Roses Courage is connected to the Arc angel Michael and is written in the key of G. Personally, the songs are chapters to a two year time span which tells the story of 7 healing lessons: losing my cat of 12 years, letting go of old friendships, being taken advantage of professionally. Lessons on learning on how to be strong in moments of vulnerability.
For people who have not had the pleasure of seeing you live, what sort of set up do you have on stage?
My set up is a combination of Autoharp, hand percussion, floor tom, effects pedals, iPad, lace fabrics and an old sewing machine table. And a live violinist. I try to create an atmosphere that you can disappear into through your eyes and ears.
How did you initially hear of Skate Like A Girl and what has been your involvement with female skate boarders?
I first heard about Skate Like A Girl through Youngstown Cultural Arts Center director David Bestock. He introduce me to Nancy Chang who use to be the director of Skate Like a Girl and she helped me to find skaters for my music video, The Roses Courage.
The benefit show will be special not only because you will be coming home from tour, but also because you will be premiering a music video for us all! Can you give us a sneak peak of what to expect from the song/video?
The Promo Video for Book of Echoes, use visual samples from the up coming video, The Roses Courage. Take a peak..
Carly, Sophia, Jaimie
HOLLOW EARTH RADIO (HER)
What is HER?
Hollow Earth Radio is a magical temple of skill sharing with a magnet for community members who want to support underground musicians, artists, storytellers, journalists and activists. The non-profit station and public meeting space located in Seattle’s Central District is completely operated by volunteers and funded by outreach efforts. Our listeners tune in online, but soon, they’ll also be able to listen on the FM dial thanks to a Low Power FM license from the FCC. Hollow Earth is an anti-oppressive space that deeply cares about media justice.
Yonic Boom is an awesome program at the station because the djs are all female-identifying. How did this come to fruition and how do you see it empower the people around you?
Mondays at Hollow Earth Radio have been programmed by female-identifying and non-binary groups for more than a year, and it’s hands down my favorite day at the station. Yonic Boom was initially founded as a ladies skill share group and has since transformed into a rotating cast of DJs. Having the opportunity to talk to so many badass people every Monday has certainly made a big impression on me and I’ve appreciated learning more about issues facing these groups. There aren’t many places where people can get media training– there are even opportunities to learn about running sound for live shows.
What is your involvement with GNAR BABES?
The friends of Yonic Boom will be interviewing bands, participants, skaters and the like leading up to and during the Gnar Babes show. Coming from a roller derby background, when I heard Yonic Boom was asked to partner on this event, I couldn’t wait to help broadcast the unique perspectives associated with this show. I’m hoping we can wear quad skates and mosh around a bit– just sayin’.
What makes you particularly stoked about this conjoining of forces to raise money for female skateboarders?
Skateboarding is traditionally seen as a cis male activity to which I object. Some of the best skaters I’ve ever met have been women– it probably has something to do with how naturally tough we are. Skating is serious business. It’s dangerous and the gear is expensive. I hope part of the proceeds will help ladies who have been injured or need helping purchasing the proper equipment– especially safety equipment.
MOMMY LONG LEGS
With high energy drums and raging vocals this band lets you know exactly how they feel about current mainstream society (perhaps the one that is currently invading Seattle as we know it) in their strong and infectious EP Assholes.
photo by Allyce Andrew
“Quiet distortion, anti-metallica, alt-rock gold”
Hoop has a nostalgic garage feel to their music with lyrics that strike home about the intimate feelings we experience throughout every day life and in relationships by way of fuzzy guitars and beautiful melodies. Expect to be swooned over by this playful but serious band.
photo by Conner Lyons
Kelli’s echoing and entrancing vocals are powerful over the dreamscape she creates with drums, synths, strings, and more. This music surprised me happily with a tinge of new age vibes that you do not hear often locally and a hint of Portishead as well but entirely unique to her own sound.
SCI FI SOL
Sci Fi Sol makes ambient dark electronic soundscapes that will make the hair raise on your arms. This music could be the backdrop for an artistic science fiction movie like Blade Runner especially when she brings in the steady throbbing drums using old school house drum sounds.
Where: Sunset Tavern (Seattle)
When: October 6th
Facebook event : https://www.facebook.com/events/631807543650329/
Ticket link :http://www.ticketweb.com/fb/6837695/sunset