Sometimes an idea is all that’s needed to organize a music and art event that highlights female fronted bands and other female artists looking for a place to showcase their work. Of course it might take some work too. Melinda Torres has been organizing the event since she was inspired by a VH1 show highlighting women rockers and their contribution to music. “Why can’t we do that for the local scene too?,” she thought, and the idea was born. The fourth installment of the Women That Rock! event for women creatives features bands from different genres as well as opportunities to network and share a creative space between female artists.
Torres has been promoting local underground shows since 2003 and has even brought Victimas del Dr. Cerebro, a Mexican Spanish rock band, to Los Angeles with the sponsorship of Monster. She has not been able to find a big sponsor for the Women That Rock! Event, but she’s hopeful.
The roster for the show includes West Covina’s The Boss Beats, whose music mixes ska with the Southern California surf groove giving Two tone hues yet gently grounded on Jamaican ska. This is the second time they play at Women That Rock! “We had pretty good feedback from the first show, it’s exciting because we get to play with other bands with women and from different genres. It’s pretty cool to see in general women playing music,” Jacqueline Mendez, singer for the band, said.
Mendez described herself as initially shy when she started singing for The Boss Beats back in 2007, or was it 2008? “Time flies!” she enthusiastically recalled. She got over her shyness by “just doing it,” she said, “It took a long time, even though I wanted to, I just took it upon myself. It had a lot to do with the music I would hear. Inspiration, watching other people do it. Finally I just decided to do it. I took it upon myself, after going to shows. The nerves, they’re always gonna be there. Just doing it so much, it just helped take that away.”
She is the only female singer now, but before Natalie King sang as well, until she had to make the tough decision to leave and dedicate herself to her twin babies. Just as Anne-Marie said on The Atlantic that women still can’t have it all, the music scene also presents a challenge for women rockers who also want to be mothers. “She made the decision, because it’s hard and I understand” said Mendez of her cousin. Is it possible to play in a band and form a family? “I think it’s possible, but it’s a lot of work,” Mendez said.
Mendez represents a new era in music for women, who like her are just taking it upon themselves to succeed, even in the current atmosphere when labels, the music industry’s financial back bone, face uncertainty. “They are dying, but we still need them. They have the money, marketing and people working for them,” said Wonderfox’s frontwoman Isabel Valencia. Based in L.A., but born and raised in Colombia, Valencia infuses pop and rock into an alternative dialogue , collaborating with artists like Fernando Jaramillo, who’s been a drummer for Beto Cuevas, former leader of the Chilean group La Ley. Their EP “Judges Men tales” is in Spanish, but Valencia is looking to expand into the English market as well.
When asked if she’s looking to appeal to a specific label, Valencia said she’s open minded and would love to make a living playing music, but it’s not the only reason she is passionate about it. “I think I need it, it’s therapy for me, it heals my song, “ she said. About playing at the Women That Rock! event, she said she is “honored to be part of [an] event that shows that we are more than humans who clean the house, or have babies, we’re more than that. We can communicate what we feel, through music.”
Initially Valencia had no interest in music, despite her mother’s insistence. But one day a teacher offered her some free guitar classes and eventually she picked up the guitar and found the passion for music. Unlike Yalina Palomino of Stereopast, another alternative rock band playing the Sept. 1st show, who recalls one of her earliest music memories is singing La Sonora Dinamita in the kitchen at six years old.
She expressed excitement about this show because “I don’t really get the ability to play with other females who are in the industry.”
The fourth band playing is Kanvaz whose singer Stacy Tello will represent the female portion of her rock en espanol band with a pop twist. All bands have EPs and will have them available for the show, which will also include artwork from Ana Rangel, Tanya Rose, and Sonji Mariposa, body painting by Greeny Loks, booths for handmade jewelry by Oli Ramos and Melinda Torres is excited about a pink carpet, “like a red carpet but pink,” she said. “There will also be giveaways and surprises.”
Women That Rock! Will be on September 1st at Roberto’s Club, 686 N Spring St, Los Angeles, California 90012. Starts at 9pm. Pre-Sale Tickets are available on the show’s website: www.womenthatrock.org
For more info and songs from each band, check out their websites:
(All photos used with permission from bands)