Lucinda Livingstone is half of a Riot Grrrl duo named Kamikaze Girls.
She sat down with us to tell us all about her DIY/punk scene music group, and the valuable messages they incorporate into their awesome tunes.
What is Kamikaze Girls, and why should our readers know about it?
Kamikaze Girls is a band. There are two of us (myself) and Conor and we play a moody mix of fuzzy riot girl music. We have a new record coming out on September 2nd, an EP titled “Sad.” The album is inspired by a lot of my past experiences and issues with mental health. The writing process behind the album helped me work through a lot of issues I had, as does playing it live now. Maybe some people in similar situations can relate, or maybe they will just enjoy the music. We’ve been sitting on it for a while so we’re pretty happy to finally be able to have it out soon.
What kind of music do you enjoy creating as a group? What message do you hope to spread through this medium?
Our music taste is a bit strange. When we come together, though, the music we make is mostly inspired by 90s Riot Grrl, a movement where girls started forming bands and speaking up a lot more about women’s rights, feminism, and issues with sexism in the music industry. It was a really empowering time for girls in bands, and it’s something that has (luckily) come back around in recent years.
What are your hopes for your future and the future of Kamikaze Girls?
Conor and myself have been playing music together for just over 6 years, however this is the first release we’ve done aside form singles. We spent the last year touring off the back of one song (Tonic Youth) and managed to get all over the place. After this release we’re touring solidly for 3 months; heading to Canada, America, Germany, Belgium, France and the UK. Hopes for the band’s future is that we start working on our full-length (finally!) and tour ourselves into the group. Hopes for my future are the same — I want to play music as much as I can. We both had careers that we gave up for the band this year and I think most people think we’re stupid, but if we can’t do it now then when can we?
What do you consider to be one of the most important aspects of your work?
For me it’s playing live, and it always will be. It’s our favorite thing and maybe the most fun aspect of this band. I also love the DIY/Punk scene at the moment. Everyone at the shows has a great attitude and is very supportive and encouraging of their local scene. Being able to get away from reality for a while and watch or play live music has always been my favorite thing, and I’m definitely not the only one. Live music is the best way to experience a band at their rawest. If you like a band, then escaping from the land of the internet and going to a show is the best thing you can do.
How do you find inspiration and hope in the face of discouragement?
That’s a tough one for me. I think the first time I was in a band that was getting press coverage and reviews online I was about 17 and singing in a pop punk band. That was eight years ago and I rarely ever shared a bill with another girl. I wasn’t a great singer or performer and I knew it. I was super nervous recording vocals and when my band put out a record at the time it got great reviews but the thing that always got slammed was my vocals. For me I couldn’t come back from that, and it really got me down reading about it. I was very insecure about how I sounded on stage, and what I looked like. I would get tagged in pictures online and on MySpace (yes, MySpace!) and I would hate what I saw. When you do anything creative and put it out into the world, especially online, you’re putting yourself out there to be criticized, but essentially these days you’re just throwing yourself to the wolves. There are a lot of internet trolls online that will make un-constructive comments about what you look like, or the fact you’re a girl in a male-dominated industry. It happens and it shouldn’t, but in the last two years when that’s happened we’ve been calling it out and making art out of it. We get told constantly that we should have a bassist, or that I’m a girl and I shouldn’t play guitar. It’s ridiculous because we are the way we are because we want to be. I can laugh it off a lot more now and Conor’s positive outlook is good for me in that sense.
What’s an important lesson that you’ve learned since you started this group?
Not to take myself too seriously. I definitely used to. I don’t know how anyone put up with me?! I chilled out a lot more in Kamikaze Girls, and let things happen the way they were meant to. I think I was way too controlling in previous bands. I started enjoying myself so much more and having a much better time and with that the band started doing better so I was happier. We talk about a lot of sensitive and serious issues in this band, but at the same time it’s important to enjoy our time in KG and enjoy sharing our music with a bunch of new faces every night.
Can you describe one of your proudest moments since starting Kamikaze Girls?
My proudest moment was last year in October when we played a festival in Florida called The Fest. We played on a Sunday and clashed with a really big band on the main stage and by the time we played, the room was packed and we were thrilled. 4 months prior to that I was very sick and was pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it out for our first US tour. It was a big turning point for me and I won’t ever forget that night.
What has it been like working as a group when tackling difficult issues such as mental health? How do you navigate that together and support one another?
At first I couldn’t talk about any issues I was having. It was tough. We used to have more members and talking to 4 young guys about the fact I had to take a bunch of pills to feel normal terrified me. I got pretty bad over the years and to cut a long story short, it wasn’t until I got better that I started being able to talk about it more openly. The feeling that I could do that amongst friends that made me feel a little more confident to start tackling some of these wider issues on stage at shows. I wasn’t sure how to go about it at first but every show I got a little more comfortable doing it, and more recently I have a lot of conversations with people after we play about mental health support systems. I want people to feel safe at a KG show, and if people are a bit anxious or come alone we want them to know that that’s okay. The DIY / Punk scene itself is there to support this, and we’re fixing it together slowly but surely.
Do you have any advice for young girls who are interested in fostering a talent in music?
If you want to do it, do it. Definitely do it. Go out there and prove everyone wrong while doing it. If you want to start a band but you don’t play an instrument, it’s totally cool, you can learn. If you have a friend that wants to be in your band but they don’t play an instrument and you do, teach them. There aren’t any obstacles standing in the way of taking up music anymore. You don’t even have to play an instrument; you can make music digitally if that’s your thing. All I would say is, if you have an interest in music and want to pursue it, don’t put it off. The best time to do it is when you’re young and free to travel.