Meet Girls Rock Camp, our Winter Artists in Residence!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Nicola:

Name is Nicola Lefevre.  I play bass and sing in a number of local bands (Night Committee, Chick Magnets, Sequicons), and have run Girls Rock Camp annually since 2013.  In my non-music life, I work for Alberta Health Services doing provincial policy and strategy, and finished my Masters degree in Critical Care medicine at U of C last year, studying ethics and psychological distress.  I’m also mom to an 8 year old daughter named Page.

Miesha:

My name is Miesha Louie, and I front Miesha & The Spanks, a touring two-piece garage rock band. After ten years with this project, and a bunch of years just playing music in bands, this is my full time gig now. I manage, book, write grants and of course, write music, you name it. All of my skills are self-taught, or learned from experience. I definitely come from a learn as you go background when it comes to music, both creatively and on the business end. Nicola brought me in to help run Girls Rock Camp Calgary right at the start in 2013, and I’ve been doing it ever since!

How did you get started?

Nicola:

I have played instruments since I was young, but I started playing bass in my first band in 1993 when I was in grade 10.  Two guys I met at Bishop Carroll High School had played together for a couple of years and wanted to start a band.  They needed a singer and a bass player; our other pal wanted to sing, so I picked up bass!  Plus, it was the nineties, perhaps the height of woman bass player in a band of dudes fashion.  We played our first show at the Black Lounge in June of 1994, and I’ve been playing ever since.

Miesha:

When I was a kid I was drawn to music right away, but stuff like musicals. And I was in ballet. So my interest was really more of a performance thing at the start. Then I was in a ukulele band in school from grades 4-7! I got into punk rock after that. In grade 9, I met a boy from Calgary who played in a band, and knew bands from Calgary, so we started putting on all ages punk shows at the community hall in Invermere BC, where I grew up. I sang in punk bands and messed around on acoustic guitar during that period. The first few years I lived in Calgary I had a few more successful bands before picking up an electric guitar and taking the reigns of my own project- Miesha & The Spanks.

What is Calgary’s music scene like for women?

Nicola:

I don’t think it’s any different than other local scenes, in that there is a whole lot of incredible non-men artists, but the visible representation and bias tends toward men.  You still see a line up of four bands where there are no non-men musicians, and the bar for representation, even in inclusive line ups, seems to be pretty low, keeping in mind of course that representation is not just about gender.  There’s sometimes a sense of “oh wow, I had no idea you felt that way” when women/trans/non-binary folks in the community talk about why they don’t feel welcome all the time. I don’t think it’s necessarily done on purpose, and the awesome news is that it is getting less common!  Promoters seem to be considering their shows more carefully, and recognizing that efforts need to be made to be inclusive and representation matters. There are some venues working with great organizations like the Society for the Advocacy of Safer Spaces. As well, women/trans/non-binary artists are actively advocating for and supporting each other, and taking up the space they should.

Miesha:

When I first moved here, Calgary’s rock and punk music scene was like most others’- only room for a few women. You had to know how to do everything, be better and stronger than any guys, to be taken seriously. There weren’t very many of us, and unless we organized the bill, there was only one girl band on a bill. Participating in that evolution has been pretty amazing. Today, I see a huge increase in female and non-binary musicians, and way less segregation on bills, or at least not intentionally. I was once kicked off a Horror Pops bill because they had a “no other female front-women” clause in their contract- isn’t that insane? My experience today is a strong push forward for female and non-binary inclusion that is starting to level out the playing field.

What can our city do better to support women in music?

Nicola:

Recognize and respect what’s happening and what needs to happen and keep doing the work.

Miesha:

I’m a big believer in leading by example. It’s one of the reasons I think Girls Rock Camps everywhere are so important. When you can see someone doing what you want to do, and you were scared, or felt discouraged before, it starts to feel empowering. I think showcasing the women in our music community encourages a younger generation. Femme Wave does a great job of that. There’s a lot of hard-working women in Calgary’s music scene!

What are you most excited about for your residency at the Women’s Centre?

Nicola:

We’re very excited to be associated with such a strong and dedicated group of advocates.  And we can’t wait to lead our workshop at the Girl’s Conference!

Miesha:

I am so excited for the networking opportunity between all the young women involved. Girl Up is such a cool program, and I love that they organized Girl Connect on their own. I want to see what grows from their shared experience!

Who is/was an influential woman in your life?

Nicola:

I saw a tweet recently (from @chickpeapatty) that said ” “Yr not like other girls.” My guy, I am the amalgamation of every single girl I ever thought was cool.”  And I think that about sums it up for me.

Miesha:

Therese Lanz was the first girl playing music that I looked up to- who I could meet in person and talk to and learn from. She was in an all girl band called Honeyrocket when I was still in high school in BC. I watched her kick ass and take her place in a music scene overrun with men. I saw that it was real, and that I could do it too.

What does feminism mean to you?

Nicola:

It means being intersectional in our approach to recognizing and fighting for equality.  Being clear in the expectation that inequality is not acceptable, and that the small things do matter.  Being willing to grow and learn and do better, and allowing space for others to do the same.

Miesha:

To me it’s about an equal playing field. Being acknowledged without the addition of “for a girl”… taking gender out of the equation altogether and looking at people and their personality and skillset instead. [But, for] today, it’s about supporting each other until it is [an equal playing field].

 

Nicola (left) on drums and Meisha (right) on bass.

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