Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Christine Ely of She Craves!

Happy Earth Day and welcome to Women Who Rock Wednesday! As usual I will kick it off by announcing last week's winner: Acme Cleanser from MySpace! Send me a myspace message with your address so I can pass it on to Sarah Quigley and you can get your copy of TMI!

This week's guest, Christine Ely of the band She Craves, is someone I met through MySpace. I honestly don't like or go on MySpace as much anymore, but the one thing I do enjoy about it is discovering new bands. Christine messaged me because someone had told her that she reminded them of a character in a book named Emily Black of a band called She Laughs.... That has to be one of the most bizarre things that has happened involving my book so far: someone telling a real life rock star that they remind them of my fictional character. But anyway, I was excited because it inspired me to check out Christine's band's page and guess what? They really freakin' good! So go to their myspace page and listen while you read... At the end, as usual you will have the opportunity to win stuff. And Christine is extra cool because she is offering a lot of stuff!

Q: Tell us about your early years as a musician. When did you start? Were you self taught or did you take lessons? Who are some of your influences and inspirations? Since it is Women Who Rock Wednesday, we are particularly interested in hearing about the women who influenced you.

Christine: I did have some lessons growing up, some piano and guitar. I basically took in as much of a variety of music as I could get my hands on and studied it by singing along and attempting to play it on the guitar and piano. I think when you listen to a variety of music, you start to hear the patterns in it and get a sense of what feels "right". I listened to everything from Broadway music to rap to pop to rock and everything in between. I know some people will laugh, but one of my biggest influences growing up was George Michael. I know a lot of people think of him as the guy in the public bathroom, but that doesn't matter to me. What matters is that he is an incredible singer, songwriter, musician and performer. I figured if I could imitate his voice I could sing anything. My biggest female influences growing up would have to be some of the 90's alt rock/pop artists like The Breeders, Concrete Blonde, Throwing Muses, and Alison Moyet. Performance wise I would say that Gwen Stefani in No Doubt is my biggest female influence. A lot of the energy and movement I bring to the stage I learned from watching her. I learned that you can be "just a singer" and entertain without doing fancy dance moves. Sure I would have loved to be able to be a Madonna, but I've always known in my heart that rock music is what I personally want to write and perform. And I've always known I wanted to be part of a band. I love the idea of putting 4 different people's influences together and creating a new sound out of it. I'll close this out with my biggest inspiration, Jeff Buckley. There will never be anyone that can touch what he did. People imitate, and they are great, but he was a musical genius and had the voice of an angel.

Q: Tell us about She Craves. How did you guys get your start and what is going on with you guys right now?

Christine: Ben (drummer) and I were in a side project together, and decided we wanted to do something full-time. We wanted the band to include a bassist and guitarist who would work as hard as we did. Ben suggested a bassist he played with in another band, Tim. We asked around town about guitarists, and we heard the same name from multiple sources, Matt Cole. It turns out that the band he was in had literally just broken up 15 minutes before we called him. So poor Matt had all of 15 minutes to sit around and wonder what was next for him in his life musically. After a year or so, Tim decided to leave the band to focus more on his personal life, so when he left, we all knew we were going to ask Roger, who was a good friend, and in Matt's old band. He said yes and it's been a great fit.

Right now we're in the middle of touring Texas and Louisiana, building up a regional following. We're also writing new songs and will head back into the studio before the end of the year. We released our 3rd CD in October of last year, Static. It's a 5 song EP with an interactive adventure, which we did in order to entice people to buy the actual CD at shows. Of course it's up online, but if you want the true adventure, you have to order the actual disk. That's all I'll tell you. It's fun!

Q: Tell us a bit about your sound. What bands inspire you? Which of the songs on your myspace player is your favorite or would you recommend people listen to first to get the best sense of your sound?

Christine: I, personally listen to a lot of different music these days, but I'm not sure how much of it shows up in my song writing. For instance I went through a jazz period for a while, but I'm pretty sure someone listening to She Craves wouldn't hear any of that influence in me. Of course the 4 of us all have different taste, but there is some commonality. I'm going to say the core of my influences is rock and theirs too. I love Muse and Kings of Leon. Morningwood is a band that Matt loves to play on the road and we all love it. Imogen Heap has definitely been a female artist I've listened to for the last couple of years. Though it's not "rock" per se, she is a great song writer and composer and very inspiring. Tegan and Sara are high on my list. They have a very unique sound and are great to watch live. And you know, if someone would put a real rock band behind Kelly Clarkson, I'm pretty sure she'd rock. You can hear it wanting to bust out of her.

It's hard to say which one song sums up She Craves, but maybe "Do You Remember" would get closest. It's got the rock sound but still holds on to the sentimentality and sincerity that I like to put through in my lyrics. My personal favorite is the last song on Static, "Change."

Q: As a female musician, have you ever had to deal with sexism either at your gigs or from people in the industry who were judging you based on your gender? If so, how did you deal with these situations?

Christine: I've had to deal with ignorant people here and there. I'd say the number one thing is usually the door guys at clubs who assume I'm a groupie. It happens a lot. I usually get talked down to and told I don't get a wristband because I'm not in the band or whatever. Then when I tell them I'm the singer they usually look surprised and sheepish. I like to get out there and show people something they aren't use to seeing. If I can show one door guy that not every girl who hangs out with the band is just a groupie, then I feel like I've accomplished something. I always try to have a sense of humor about it though because it reflects well on the band. I think for the most part things that I use to get offended by, like the sound guy treating me like I have no idea what I'm talking about, also happens to the guys sometimes too. I try to not automatically assume the reaction is because I'm a girl. Of course I know sometimes it is, but I just keep doing my thing and try not to let it get me down.

Q: A lot of my readers are teen girls, can you tell us a bit about what you were like as a teenager and give my readers some advice on how to survive the rough patches and come out rockin'?

Christine: When I was a teenager, the most important thing for me was music, listening to it and creating it. My teenage years consisted of a lot of late nights by myself creating things, poems, music, paintings. I was sort of an introvert, so I looked to music and art to be my best friend. I would relate to what was being said in a song or use the music to put myself in a certain mood or accompany a certain mood. I worked a job at a movie theater, and all of the money I earned went towards buying new music and experimenting with different sounds. I loved just picking out something completely random and buying it. Of course now you can preview anything on the internet, so it makes it a little less adventuresome I think. As I began to write songs, I started to learn that I express myself best through songwriting and I learned to use my emotions to write. That sort of validated a lot of the things that I was feeling at the time. I think that is why most of my material is about relationships between people. I like politics and probably would write about it more, but writing about things I experience personally seems to work better for me. Of course then you look at a song like "Radio Days", and it's me getting fired up over music itself, so there are exceptions.

The rough patches...yes there are many, many, many of them. My advice to anyone whether with their personal life, musical ambitions,or just life in general is to never give up. There are so many times things sucked and I couldn't envision the future going well and I wanted to just give up, but I never did. No matter how many bands broke up or disagreements we had, I never stopped trying, and now I have a band I love with three people I love (don't tell them I said something that sappy) who work hard and are true musicians to their core. I think a lot of times we let ourselves stay in bad situations because we think we can't do better, whether a friendship, a band, or a job. You should realize if you want to, and don't engage in self destructive behaviors, you can do better. Of course the biggest thing is to learn to do your part to make the relationship work. It's easy to blame someone else, but a little bit of self reflection can go a long way sometimes. And if you're really ambitious, and just don't get along with others because you're always right, become a solo artist from the beginning. You'll save yourself and your bandmates a lot of headaches.

Q: I have two standard questions for my Women Who Rock. The first is a two-parter: What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge.

Christine: Oh boy...well if you guys judge, I would think you would have stopped reading when I wrote that I like George Michael, so I'll just keep going on with the truth. My first album... I was super young and with my dad at the store, and I decided I wanted to be cool like my big sister and buy my own music, so I took my allowance and picked out the first record by the first band that I came across that I had heard of. So my very first musical purchase was Huey Lewis and the News, Sports. The funny thing is that I still like that album. If you just want some fun rock with good melodies, it's pretty timeless.

My first concert was the Jackson Victory tour at Dodger's stadium in LA. My mom took me a few of my friends and we were just in heaven. Oh yeah, Michael Jackson, say what you want about him, but Thriller is an amazing album.

Q: Please dish about the moment where you felt most like a rock star. Maybe it was a moment of big success in your career, an "I'm Not Worthy!" Wayne's World type moment where you met someone cool, or a time where you just got the rock star treatment.

Christine: I feel most like a rock star at our shows when the place is packed and the whole crowd is into our performance and singing along. It's sort of like a religious experience to be at the center of that. Then after the show, if a young kid comes up to me and looks at me with awe, like I'm actually someone famous or something, that is a great feeling. Kids are so honest about what they think, so to impress a kid is a good thing because you know it's 100% sincere. Another good memory is when we were opening a show, and the headliner's fans loved us so much they started giving me their jewelry, etc. as you see here:

Lastly, I asked Christine if she was willing to give out a prize and she was extremely generous saying,  "Yes I would be super glad to give away some stuff. We have CDs and T-shirts, so how about one of each and a handful of stickers they can place all over their town and bug people? It's the She Craves way... :) Thanks so much for having me Stephanie! You rock!"

Yeah, Christine is too awesome and I really wish She Craves would come to Chicago. Those of you in Texas and Louisana are really lucky right now! I hope you'll go see them live!

I will announce the She Craves winner next week when Melissa Walker is here to tell us all about her new book Lovestruck Summer, which is all about a music internship in Texas. Geez, I didn't even plan that. I love it when things transition so nicely. Anyway I'm off to listen to more She Craves, how about you?


Justine K said...

Christine seems like such a cool person. :)
i can't wait to give She Craves a good listen.
i would be stoked to get some gear from them.

Erika Lynn said...

i love learning about new bands and this one seems like something i would really like. great interview!

crazywomyn said...

Christine is an amazing singer and performer as is the whole band. She is truly down to earth and cares for her fans.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion the only female singer from the U.K. that is a credible Rock Singer is Elkie Brooks.

Liviania said...

Yay, they're doing Austin and Houston a couple of times each. Hopefully I'll be able to catch at least one of the performances. (I know I'll be in Austin May 8, but that's right before finals week . . . I'll be in Houston June 8 for a Les Claypool/Matishayu concert, so maybe I can stay through the 18th? Need to look up whether Emo's and Fitzgerald's are only 21+)

Anyway, excellent interview. Christine is very interesting and I love a lot of the music she's into. (Plus the stuff I've listened to on MySpace so far is great.)

E :) said...

I heart SHE CRAVES & Christine!!!

Vote for She Craves @ http://www.trcoa.com/uac/uac2009_vote.html The Recording Conservatory of Austin is offering up a show at Stubb's BBQ and a free recording session at Stinson Studios. It's really easy and you don't have to sign up to a website. FYI They will not spam you or sell your email address. You can only vote once per email account that you enter so make it count!! (Vote with all your email accounts too) Don't forget to vote for SHE CRAVES!!