Female Songwriter Circle Vol. 4 featuring Laura Hickli, Holly Clark, and Bebe Buckskin

Story by Kendall Bistretzan

On Monday, May 7, Koi will be hosting their fourth monthly Female Songwriter Circle. The event will feature Laura Hickli, Holly Clark, and Bebe Buckskin. Local Drop reporter Kendall Bistretzan caught up with these artists to talk about their style as musicians, experiences in Calgary, adversity in the industry, and plans for the future.

 

Laura Hickli 

How would you describe your music style?

I write and sing emotionally-charged dark-folk music accompanied by piano and classical guitar. I am influenced by ancient hymns and my classical music training, and am inspired by Radiohead, Daughter, and Andy Shauf. I am an advocate for mental health and frequently discuss vulnerable topics at my shows, often expressing and releasing my personal experience of depression and anxiety through my emotive vocals and honest lyrics.

How do you find the Calgary music scene for up-and-coming musicians?

There’s a great deal of acceptance and local opportunities to play if you put yourself out there and look for friends in the music community. Plenty of the musicians I’ve met so far have a great deal of passion and work hard to pave careers for themselves, and have been offered opportunities due to their perseverance and love of music. There are several venues in Calgary that understand the importance of paying and treating their musicians and sound technicians well, providing safe-space Calgary venues to both established and up and coming artists alike. 

What sort of adversity or challenges have you faced stemming from being a female in the industry? 

Though there are several safe-space venues, there are still many who have not yet adopted the standards that should be widespread in the treatment of musicians, and in my experience, the treatment of females in the music industry. My biggest hindrance to my performances are often directly caused by the blatant sexism I am frequently challenged with from various male sound technicians, photographers, venue staff, audience members, and unfortunately, even fellow musicians. I am often made to feel as though I do not understand what I have done for a living for the past 12 years and am reduced to merely a student to the infinite knowledge of many ‘mansplainers’ in the music scene.

It’s sad to say that I am speaking for many women when I share my experience with being ignored or spoken very slowly to when playing as the only female in my band. I am frequently explained musical concepts I did not ask for a lesson in. I am met with shock upon stating my equal position as songwriter and creator in my band. I am objectified, cat-called, and labeled a ‘manic pixie dream girl.’ There have been several gigs I left being undermined, disrespected, and emotionally and financially stolen from. 

Unfortunately, the mistreatment of female musicians is not confined to any venue, or city. This injustice is all over the world. Thankfully, people everywhere are speaking up and making waves in changing the way venues operate. Feminist communities gather in masses and celebrate women in safe-spaces. Good venues hang posters that list the various types of abuse and behaviors that will not be tolerated in their establishment. Good venues make an effort to increase the amount of female presence on their stages and in their sound booths. Good venues treat all musicians with equal respect and celebration.

What’s next for you for the remainder of the year?  

I am happy to be performing various festivals in Alberta this year as a solo artist and in my band, Time Boy. I am releasing several bodies of work including Time Boy’s second EP and multiple cross-continental collaboration singles with various bands from my UK tour earlier this year with Carla Easton (TeenCanteen.) Several Calgarian collaboration albums and singles will be released this year as well, including my appearance as guest musician and co-producer on Eric Jessee’s debut EP. I am also currently recording my second solo studio LP with hopes to be accepted into the Banff Centre for final touches and review, and plans to release it internationally followed by two album release tours in Canada and the UK. 

 

Holly Clark

How would you describe your music style?

I would say sincere. Each song being an effort to be painfully truthful about the state of my emotions or life or life in general.  Hopefully they retain the comedy in my tragedy. 

How do you find the Calgary music scene for up-and-coming musicians?

The Calgary scene has been amazing to me. I’m constantly encountering people who are enthusiastic about what I do, and want to encourage it through tangible action. I notice that as long as I believe in myself, others want to believe in me too. 

What sort of adversity or challenges have you faced stemming from being a female in the industry? 

I think people are hungry for female artists in our current social climate.  In my experience, my gender is less a detriment and more an asset.  

What’s next for you for the remainder of the year? 

I’m planning an EP soon. The goal is to have it finished by fall. I want it to feel raw and full of life. I’ve been playing with these songs for a while, so it’s about time to get them down. After that, I’ll be hitting the road for a music-centered adventure.  It’s going to take me from BC to Montreal. I’m highly excited. 

 

Bebe Buckskin

How would you describe your music style?

It is a fusion of roots/blues and good old rock ‘n’ roll. My sound has currently evolved into a heavier, dirtier, nostalgic quality. I’m perpetually evolving as an artist. It feeds my fire. 

How do you find the Calgary music scene for up and coming musicians?

I feel like the YYC music scene is pretty supportive and encouraging to the up-and-comers for the most part. We have great open mics/jams every day of the week, facilitated by amazing people. I got my start busking and playing at open mics years ago and still, to this day, go to at least one jam a week. It’s a tight-knit community. We also have Rockin’ For Dollars, which has been an amazing tool for local musicians to come together to create, network and just have a good fuckin’ time. 

What sort of adversity or challenges have you faced stemming from being a female in the industry?

The classic shit. Not being taken as seriously as my male counterparts, especially now being a rock artist, which is a realm heavily dominated by male musicians. I feel like I am expected to be soft, folky, airy, breezy, etc. when I walk into a room with my guitar, and, sure, sometimes I am when the mood calls for it … but now that I have transitioned to a heavier/blusier sound with my band. I tend to have more of an aggressive stage presence. It has been an interesting comparison to my solo act. Also, the fact that I’m an Indigenous Woman does further the complexity of challenges. At times, it can be difficult to find my footing in a white/hipster/indie band-dominated scene. What has carried me through it all is my desire to help create a platform for my people within my craft. One of my biggest influences in my career is Buffy Sainte Marie. When I think about her getting black listed in the U.S. because she had a powerful message to share, it only drives me further into bridging gaps within our society. Our days of being silenced is over. 

What’s next for you for the rest of the year?

I am currently recording my second EP, Flowers. It’s a blusier, more raw sound than the folk/pop sound of my debut EP, Flight (released in 2015). I’m aiming for the release date to be sometime in April. I’m also involved in a separate project called “The Levee Breakers.” It is a Led Zeppelin cover band in which I’ll be creating my own rendition of Robert Plant. My summer is looking to be a busy one! I have a few festivals lined up and will also be travelling back to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to finish recording my full-length album, Muddy Tracks, at Fame Studios. This is the year I dive wholeheartedly into my craft.