We are excited to introduce to our community our first Artists in Residence, the co-founders of Femme Wave: Hayley Muir, Kaely Cormack, and Kenna Burima! We sat down with Hayley and Kaely to get to know a bit more about them, the music scene in Calgary, and what they are excited for during their residency at the Centre.
Hayley, Kaely, and Kenna will also be hosting a workshop on May 1. Click here to sign up.
If you aren’t able to play the track, read the transcript below.
Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Hayley: My name is Hayley Muir, I’m mostly born and raised in Calgary. I started going to shows – all ages rock n’ roll/punk rock shows – in high school and kind of just continued doing that, then, through post-secondary education and whatnot found myself working for Beat Route magazine which is a Calgary-based music/art/film culture magazine. Then, I just made a bunch of friends in the scene and, you know, years later ended up in a band and now, here we are! That’s the real compact version of that.
Kaely: My name’s Kaely Cormack. I grew up in Ontario – and was born in Ontario – I moved out here ten years ago now. I guess I had a bit of a background, I was in a concert band and a jazz band in high school so I always liked music – had a bit of a background in it that way – and then same a Hayley, moved out to Calgary, got involved in Beat Route magazine and that kind of projected me. I started meeting all these cool people that were making music in the city. I hadn’t been playing music at that point but started to get the itch for it where I wanted to get back in it. So, I started playing a bit of guitar, met Hayley – “Hey! Let’s start a band” – and we’ve been doing that for a few years now, so here we are!
What is Calgary’s music scene like?
Kaely: I would say, Calgary’s music scene is really wonderful and accepting and pretty inclusive for the most part. I was really surprised when I first moved here, I was meeting people and they were friendly and welcoming, but it wasn’t until I got into the music scene that I felt there was a real community of people. I did grow up in a small town and then moved to this city, so it wasn’t until I got into the music scene that I kind of felt that small community feeling again. So, it was really nice to be just able to go to places and see the same faces and see the same people; they’re all very welcoming and encouraging. As soon as Hayley and I started a band, we had people just being like, “Tell me when you’re ready, I’ve got a stage, you can come play shows!” There were all these people that were there really willing to let you do what you wanted to do and give you the platform to do it. I think it’s a really small, welcoming, really lovely community.
Hayley: The music community is really great – all of those great aspects –for sure, but, as with anything, there’s work always work to be done. As inclusive and warm and supporting as it can be, I think it can also not be. I think it can be alienating, not even necessarily on purpose but, because it’s very established and, you know, I’ve been around for a long time seeing a lot of the same faces. So you get a very established, tight knit group of people and it makes it hard to make any sort of shift. Especially in the last year or two with some more kind of social justice and equity and equality conversations that have been coming up often. Now that it’s starting to permeate into the music community and I think it’s really hard for people to identify that they’re not perfect, they need to work on themselves and their community and massage a few things here and there so that there’s even more people that say all those great things about the Calgary music scene.
Kaely: And, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing if we didn’t think it needed work.
What can our city do to better support women in music?
Hayley: I think the whole concept of supporting women in music, we think about all the time, that’s what really what all of our work is rooted in. I think the biggest thing is to just be aware of it. I see posters and shows that are being booked at different venues and look at these lineups and I’m like, “I don’t think that these bookers are intending to have all male bills, or all white male bills, or all-something bill[s], but I just don’t think that they’re thinking about it and once you kind of hit that spark and it goes in your brain, you can’t really shut it off. You’re always constantly really vigilant about that stuff so I think really the baseline is to just talk about it, especially as women to say, “Hey, actually things haven’t been super great for us this whole time and here’s why.” If, hopefully, the people on the other end listen and believe you and respect it, then hopefully they can take a look at their own actions and start to change how they’re doing things. The more women you see on stage, the more women there are going to be on stage. I think that’s where representation really comes into play and it’s just about being aware that representation isn’t great right now.
Kaely: I think there’s a lot programs that are happening now that are certainly helping women find their place in music: the Girl Up program that [the Women’s Centre] do[es] here; Girls Rock Camp; I would like to think Femme Wave and the work that we’re doing with that.
Hayley: Girls on Deck
Kaely: Girls on Deck – yeah! There’s some really great programs that are happening and they’re happening because they need to, because there’s not enough women in music. Some people saw that gap and figured, “I need to do something to fix this.” A lot of them are aimed at younger women too, which is really important because I think, like Hayley said, it took until your mid-20s to decide to finally be in a band. Same with me, I was 27. By that point, your decades behind most dudes. These teenage programs are really important that girls when they’re 15, 16, 14 – whatever – are told, “Hey, you can do this. Maybe you don’t see as many women on stage, but here’s the tools that you need. Here’s how you can get an instrument, here’s some skills – whatever – and they will hopefully just kind of grow up and do it. I hope that next generation will just be doing it…it will be easier for them. They won’t have to fight as much.
Which woman has had the most influence in your life?
Hayley: I always come back to my mom. She was sort of a single parent for most of our lives, even when she was married to my dad. She’s struggled with a lot of things. She’s struggled with poverty with kids, and she’s struggled with mental health issues, and she’s struggled with weight issues, and relat[ionships] – she’s had all the struggles. She’s just such a rock – she’s always been such a rock and that’s why I always say my mom.
Kaely: My mom for sure. I have to say my mom, I can’t not give her credit! My mom, my sister – I just have a really good community of women. Both my grandmothers, I have really great aunts. I feel like I had a lot of strong women around me which is really nice and really supportive.
Hayley: And you.
Kaely: And me…and you!
Both: And each other!
Hayley: Yeah, so my mom and you.
What are you most excited about for your residency at the Women’s Centre?
Hayley: We’ve been talking about it quite a bit and there’s some aspects of this that I think that are really outside of our comfort zones, the sort of “normal” stuff that we do. We haven’t been pushed out of our comfort zones together for awhile. We’ve each, individually, have done band mashup sort of events but, it’s really something brand new for us which is always really exciting. We love the Women’s Centre and all the wonderful work and programs so, to strengthen that relationship is great too but, really shoving us out of our comfort zones is scary but fun.
Kaely: I’m excited to collaborate with Kenna [Burima], the other Artist in Residence as well. She’s a good friend of ours and she’s an amazing musician and is someone that I knew about before I was even friends with her. I had heard of her and was like, “Whoa, Kenna Burima, she’s amazing!” I’m quite excited to collaborate with her and if I can pick up one, tiny, little piece of musical magic from her, then that would be great.
What does feminism mean to you?
Hayley: Feminism, for me, is this kind of combination of taking up space but, also staying in your lane. Really, just having a deep, empathetic understanding and respect of other people in general and then constantly fighting for equal rights and equal representation and breaking down all of the patriarchy barriers that are in place for so many folks; colonialist, patriarchal barriers.
Kaely: I would say feminism means a sense of community, again, for me – I keep going back to community. Everyone thinks it’s “us versus them” but feminism is just about building everyone up together, equally. I think that’s so important but, people don’t get that, to make space for someone else doesn’t mean that it’s taking away from you. It just means that it’s creating a better, more equal community and scene and, whatever, for everyone else. I think people just need to realize that a little bit of feminism goes a long way and it makes everything better for everyone.