Which are the biggest drivers of gender inequality in (rock) music? | Interview with Slow Down Molasses

Big, heavy, menacing guitar riffs, incredible stereo separation and anarchic vocal delivery. ‘Revisionists’ reflects the raw, pure energy of Slow Down Molasses. Read our discussion below!

Describe your sound in 3 words

Dissonant guitar rock

Tell us a few things about your album Minor Deaths. What is the main idea behind it?

Musically, we wanted to really push ourselves out of our comfort zone. The last album, 100% Sunshine, in many ways was the actualization of what we’d be working towards, so once we’d completed that thing that was really obvious and intuitive to us in a way that we were happy with, the next logical step was to push ourselves into uncomfortable new territory. That led to a much more aggressive musical approach. Lyrically, the album somewhat mirrored that idea of stepping beyond what was easy and obvious and taking a critical eye to one’s past. Calling it Minor Deaths was a slight joke in that it was somewhat mocking the idea of overdramatizing change. Inevitably as you get older you realize you’ve left parts of your personality behind, in some cases these changes seem very dramatic and significant at the moment, but in the grand scheme of things they are relatively minor.

Which are the biggest drivers of gender inequality in (rock) music?

Status quo lethargy? Petty attempts at maintaining status? A generous way of looking at it may be that many people are barely making it and are just so desperate to hang on to whatever bit of status they have. Historically it, like society, has been a very paternalistic, misogynistic industry, so the men in charge are just trying to hold on and a shift to a more equitable industry is disruptive to them.

Sadly, there is still also that myth or dream of the classic, shitty rock star that many people still aspire to and think is ok. Fortunately, a lot of people have done a lot of hard work to undermine that vision of the industry, but lots more needs to be done.

On a more macro, day to day level, the general infrastructure still is not set up as welcoming and safe. Most shows still happen in bars that have existed for decades and often have a culture that is not safe or welcoming to everyone. Fortunately, there is a wonderful grass-roots push to make change on this. Locally here in Saskatoon our best venue, Amigos Cantina, hired a rad friend of ours to take them through a community engagement process to assess how safe and welcoming the venue is and to develop a series of changes. That was a heartening thing to do and they made some pretty simple changes (i.e. shifting to gender-neutral washroom, having staff available to walk people to their cars at the end of the night), but they were immediately well-received by the community. As we see more of the good, community-oriented venues doing this, hopefully we see this approach become more the norm for all venues.

Can music have an impact on politics?

Of course. Politics and culture are forever intertwined and music is such a crucial driver of culture. I don’t know that an individual musical movement will ever drive a massive society-wide change, but to think that musicians can and do inspire people to get involved in politics, which is so crucial. Young people still don’t get out to vote in huge numbers, but rock the vote-type initiatives have been a great way to get people out, and musicians speaking their minds have gotten people reading about issues and finding their own ways to be involved, which is so crucial.

Favorite album of the past year?

Low – HEY WHAT

I’ve loved Low for 20+ years and it amazes me how they can be so far into their career to be at such an incredible, and often controversial, creative peak. Double Negative and HEY WHAT are such great, challenging albums that I personally love, but I also love that they’ve divided and challenged people with dear friends of mine, whose music taste I hold in very high regard, hating the albums, while others who typically haven’t been into Low being dumbfounded at how good these last couple albums are.

You have shared the stage with big names. Can you share something funny that happened during one of your gigs? And what would be your dream performance venue?

A personal highlight for completely weird and hilarious things for me was when we played Tilburg, Netherlands amazing Incubate festival in 2016. We were the artists in residence, so we played four shows in four days where tried to change our sets fairly significantly. For one set we did some Stooges covers with Levi (our guitar player and the mastermind behind The Pxrtals) singing. Suddenly left the stage right when we started I Wanna Be Your Dog, so we just when off a fairly krautrock-esque jam on that song, hoping. After a few minutes, he finally emerged from backstage with his pants off and a hood over his head. He proceeded to dive into the crowd while singing, then singled out one person to repeatedly aggressively scream right into his face “I wanna be your dog” over and over again. Turns out that this person was Vincent, who curated the festival, including choosing us as artists in residence. Fortunately Vincent ate it up and just loved it, but it seemed like one of those things that could really go sideways!

As for a dream performance venue, it’s hard for me not to just immediately think of End of the Road Festival in Dorset, England, particularly their Garden Stage. We’ve been very fortunate to play that festival twice, though not yet on the Garden Stage. It’s an unbelievably wonderful setting and the curation is as good as anywhere and the Garden Stage in particular is a perfectly idyllic space where I’ve now seen some unbelievable shows. Seeing Ezra Furman and Thee Oh Sees on that stage was a particularly highlight of the last time we played that festival in 2016.

Favorite music-related film?

Wilco – I am trying to break your heart or Nick Cave One More Time WIth Feeling

If your music was a movie soundtrack, which movie would that be?

Honestly, I don’t watch that many movies. The music on Minor Deaths plays a lot with tension and darkness, I’m sure it would sound great while someone anxiously runs down a dark, somewhat sketchy alleyway in a european city.

Thank you!

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