Something’s Gotten Hold of my Heart: Ladies who Shred

St Vincent at Montreal's Jazz Festival Photo by Robyn Homeniuk St Vincent at Montreal's Jazz Festival Photo by Robyn Homeniuk

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity.”
-Hunter s. Thompson

First of all, my name is Ceilidh Michelle. I’m a musician, I’m a writer, and I’m a woman. I am telling you these three things about myself, because I am proud to be them.

My columns are going to be about music, sure, but they’re also going to be about humanity. Music as art. Ideas as music. Undiscovered musicians that deserve a little appreciation. Weird albums you never knew existed. And whatever else that gets me spouting fevered, angry, conflicted, passionate, reflective thought. Read it if you want.

Now, to really get things going, I wanna talk about SEXISM in the MUSIC INDUSTRY. Oh, fuck yes, you read that right. Let’s not waste our time here, boys. Let’s get right to it.

I’ll also let you behind the scenes into what inspired this (besides, obviously being a female and a musician):

So I went to this show at DRONES CLUB, right? And I had to review the band Play Guitar. I made the following statement: “…what can I say? I’m sexist. I love a female musician.”

Hoo, boy. I should have just said, “Fuck it, I hate woman!” Because the reaction that followed was a bit… shall we say… misguided?

Naturally, I got the comment, “Ugh, why do people always have to comment on the musician being female? They don’t do that with male musicians!”

Here’s why I did that, you twit:

Because men overpower women in the music industry 99 to one. (Nope, that’s not an actual statistic.)

60 percent of the time

Why did I specify the gender of the musician? Because it’s empowering to see a woman playing music, especially when she’s outnumbered in a male-based band.

Give me a break.

Yes, the flack I caught from FEMALES was a little bit embarrassing. It was just a lot of angry Internet ranting. Which is too bad, because what could have been an instigator of positive discussion and reflection on the current situation just became a cesspool of ignorance.

None of these trolls ever bothered to figure out that it was in fact a female musician writing about how she loved seeing a female musician onstage, and was making a joke about being a sexist, because obviously the music industry is completely dominated by males.

When I started asking my peers what they thought about a male-dominated music industry, a few of them said, no, that only happens in the pop star industry.

Alright, maybe that’s true. But let’s talk about Warpaint for a minute. All-female rock group from Los Angeles. Lead singer starts a relationship with John Frusciante and BAM, suddenly their album is produced, publicized and passed around. Is that a parallel of the movie industry’s casting couch? Or is that just two people in a relationship and in the music biz, helping each other out because the industry is brutal, gender notwithstanding?

Decide for yourself.

(But man, it sure must be nice to sleep with someone so successful in the music industry that you suddenly find yourself catapulted into musical popularity, whether or not you’re ready for it. And I’m going to have to put an emphasis on the NOT. Listen to Warpaint’s early stuff. Christ, that’s painful.)

Now, just because it’s a male-saturated industry doesn’t mean that females haven’t had an impact. I’m sure we can all list about… ten or fifteen really great female musicians who have risen to a place of artistic success and inspiration.

I’m going to sum up here, so that you can stop reading this column. (Who really reads anything on the Internet anyway? You probably haven’t even made it this far without fluttering off to check your Facebook anyway.)

In closing, the music industry is a male dominated biz. Females in the pop industry are strippers with an overpaid producer. And female musicians (I’m not talking about pop stars now, I’m talking about ARTISTS and MUSICIANS) are rare.

I’m not here to offer any solutions, except SHUT UP AND PLAY YOUR GUITAR.


Thank you.


(in absolutely no order whatsoever)

(And yes, I am calling them FEMALE MUSICIANS instead of just “musicians,” because they ARE females, you dipshits. And I LOVE female musicians.)

1. Kathleen Hannah. Outspoken, totally unafraid to offend weak-minded tools, honest, and a rad musician.

2. Kim Gordon. Duh

3. All the girls in Montreal band Towanda. Spirited, rowdy, amazing.

4. Clara Shandler. Not only does she volunteer in Cambodia, she also plays her cello as a busker in Vancouver. If you don’t know, now you know. Click HERE.

5. Zoe Keating. She is also a cellist. Sorry, are there too many cellists on this list? Do I care? Fuck no. Keating is a cinematic experience of loop pedal, cello madness.

6. Kendra Smith. Shit, she’s cool.

7. Cocorosie. Beatboxing, a harp, and a micro korg. That’s my idea of a fairy paradise, alright


9. Hua Li. Montreal does have crime fighting superheroes. They just make hip hop music, naturally.

10. Emma Ruth Rundle. The guitar player from Red Sparowes and Nocturnes. Dude.

Got a favorite lady musician that Ceilidh should check out? Give her a shout at [email protected]

1 Comment on Something’s Gotten Hold of my Heart: Ladies who Shred

  1. Well done C, go get them girl!

Comments are closed.

About Ceilidh Michelle

ceilidh michelle is a musician and novelist. She has contributed to CULT Montreal, Vancouver Weekly and Social Coast, among others, and also has a column with Band Mark called True Currency. More Posts