DEAR EXENE: I am a singer/songwriter searching for a way to expose my original songs. I am debating on whether to start an all-girl band in which I sing, or stick with the band I'm in, in which my songs are not being sung by me, or just start over and become a solo artist. Currently, I am working, booking shows and going to college. When there are so many options, how do you know what to do!?
DEAR MASHA: "When there are so many options, how do you know what to do!?"
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to email@example.com.
Option 1: Stick with the band you are in and keep having the songs you've worked hard on sung by someone else. Sounds to me like you are not valued or happy there.
Option 2: Strike out on your own with an acoustic guitar so you can sing and play your own songs. If playing coffeehouses to 10 people, booking shows, hyping yourself shamelessly and competing for a tiny audience with a million other people trying to get heard sounds fun, maybe this is your choice.
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Option 3: Start an all-girl band. Gotta find the exact right gals. Gotta be talented, supportive, creative, kind, smart, fun and kick-ass.
I have been the only girl in my bands, and I have also played a ton of solo shows to 14 people. It's amazingly hard to get people interested in music that isn't media-ordained. I have also been in bands with girls (women, actually, but . . .); my choice would definitely be Option 3! Make it a priority to work with all kinds of people, but the female band is the safest, most creatively satisfying way to go—especially when you are a young and impressionable performer or musician just starting out. I don't think, in our society, we have MANY options. We are very conditioned to settle for whatever we can get, and then we call it a choice.
But to answer your question: The right thing to do is whatever makes YOU stronger as a singer, writer, woman, person. We don't need any more cowards, and you don't need to start in on your list of future regrets.