Kathy, Nadirah, and I all grew up wanting to write and perform our own music, and we assumed being in a band was part of that natural progression. We came together out of necessity then, when the timing was right.
Through roommates and friends from school, we were introduced to the Minneapolis do-it-yourself (DIY) music scene. I saw a local all-women band, Tony Peachka, play at the DIY venue Licorice Beach. It struck me then: “Okay, time to do this.”
Kathy and I were roommates. She met Nadirah while they were working at Ragstock. Since Nadirah was learning to play the drums, and I had received a bass guitar at Christmas, we had the basic elements. With no knowledge of what we were doing, or what we were in for, we set to work.
In retrospect, we had no idea how serendipitous our meeting was. Personally, I don’t know that I could have done this with anyone else.
We bonded over the lack of representation in the music scene. Especially when we started playing live, we were the only non-men on the bill at most shows. Nadirah was, and often still is, the only person of color on stage, and sometimes at the entire gig. We recognized that this lack of genuine diversity was something we grew up with. Most of my childhood idols were male musicians.
This was not an accident. I attribute it to my own deep-seated internalized misogyny. Dismantling these ideas has been a lot more work than simply subscribing to a belief in girl power.
Reckoning with our identities plays a big role in our music. While sometimes that results in high-energy power anthems, it also means a common theme of our work is our struggle with authenticity. We often feel uncertain of our worth as musicians and the validity of the worth bestowed on us by our community.
The biggest change I see as we have progressed is that the insecurity has us looking more inward instead of out. We are mostly past the stage-fright — Nadi and Kathy rarely throw up before shows anymore, which used to happen every time. We have gotten enough good feedback over the past two years to believe that our audiences do not see us as completely clueless. We now believe that others believe in us.
Believing in ourselves is another story.
Our first album, “Not So Brave,” was loud and raucous, with surging tempos. It was our attempt to prove to the world that we could be bigger than we actually felt on stage. On our latest release, “Phony,” we are still trying to prove our abilities, but this time to ourselves. If we strip back the yelling and the noise, when we shoot for nuance, would we still be proud of ourselves?
The lyrics to these songs cut a little deeper for us. The song “Like Me Now” is my favorite example of this. Like me now? Just think if I really got me…”
None of us feel fully formed. Maybe that is why the internal imposter syndrome feels so hard to overcome. It still feels like we have a long way to go.
For “Phony,” it was the first time I figured out how to channel something I was going through into my songwriting process. I was successful not because the songs are catchy, but because they make me feel something big when I sing them.
Minneapolis needs more diversity in our local music scene, and so does the rest of the world. To the women, BIPOC, and queer folks who have interest in starting a band, please do. Find a couple of like-minded people to work with to help it feel less daunting.
We had no idea four years ago that we would still be working this much, and playing the type of gigs we play now. Our journey has shown us that the key to success is not technical talent — it is passion and dedication. A sense of camaraderie with your bandmates helps, too.
Natalie Klemond (she/her) lives and works in Minneapolis. She is the bassist in Gully Boys, as well as a songwriter and visual artist.