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/INTERVIEW: The Hum Ends 2018 Series with Breanna Barbara, Katie Von Schleicher, Mickey Vershbow & More

INTERVIEW: The Hum Ends 2018 Series with Breanna Barbara, Katie Von Schleicher, Mickey Vershbow & More

The final show of the 2018 The Hum series will be this Wednesday at Bushwick’s House of Yes, and curator Rachael Pazdan is closing the series out with a bang. Known for its continuously potent female lineup, the closeout not only showcases some of the most promising women in Brooklyn’s music scene, but also includes indie favorites Thao Nguyen of Get Down Stay Down fame and Mirah as the headlining act. Together, they’ll perform songs from their solo catalogs, as well as their beautifully constructed collaborative album from 2001, Thao & Mirah.

As The Hum series comes to a close for the year, AudioFemme took this time to talk to musicians about where they saw the future of female representation in music. Throughout this past month The Hum artists have often mentioned the double-edged sword of highlighting women with a showcase like this. On the one hand, heightened visibility for women in music is still necessary; on the other, a series like The Hum shouldn’t be treated as a novelty, since an all male lineup would never be promoted as such. While The Hum brings a much needed platform for representation, there is a hope among many of the women we’ve talked to that the need for these showcases will be less dire as the music industry becomes more balanced and open in terms of gender, that perhaps finding this balance will usher in a new era of artists presenting something beyond the current binary.

AudioFemme spoke this week with singer/songwriters Breanna Barbara and Katie Von Schleicher, and drummer Mickey Vershbow, about what The Hum brings to the Brooklyn music community, and their dreams for the future of women in music.

Breanna Barbara

AudioFemme: How did you first find out about The Hum, and how did you get involved?

Breanna Barbara: Rachel and I have been in touch for some years now. I used to work at Le Poisson Rouge as a server and I think she started booking there shortly after I left. But it felt like a full circle when she reached out about the Hum.
AF: What musical projects are you currently working on?
BB: Right now I am taking my time, soaking up some life and working on new material for my next record, possibly to record this fall/winter.
AF: Who will you be collaborating with for your performance at The Hum?
BB: We’ve got Alix Brown on the bass, Dida Pelled on lead guitar, Lyla Vander on drums and Lida Fox on the keys. They are all badasses.
AF: What has the collaboration process been like?
BB: It’s been really good so far – every one has their own style and it’s been fun playing each other’s songs.
 
AF: How does a showcase like The Hum affect your musical process?
BB: It’s definitely been expanding the way I write. I think playing with new people and their music makes you a better musician all around.
 
AF: How do you see the musical community of Brooklyn affected by The Hum?
BB: There is such a strong community of musicians here in Brooklyn and The Hum really shows that. All of the women I am playing with are bosses, front women, hustlers; it’s really inspiring to be in the same room with them and just hang out. And the Hum has brought us together. That’s really cool to think about.
AF: In the future how do you hope to see women in music represented differently? 

BB: All I can hope for – and not just in music but in general – is for any/all shame or insecurities that society/patriarchy has ingrained in any of us will continue to disintegrate. Because to me there is nothing more powerful than a woman being vulnerable and speaking their truth. And I think what the planet needs more than anything right now is more femininity.

Katie Von Schleicher

AudioFemme: How did you first find out about The Hum, and how did you get involved?

Katie Von Schleicher: I knew Rachael from playing at Manhattan Inn quite a bit while I was just starting out. I was asked to do the Hum a couple of years ago, then, and have followed it since because it was a really incredible experience, doing a one-off set with new collaborators who have since become my good friends.

AF: What musical projects are you currently working on?

KVS: I have my project, Katie Von Schleicher, which takes up most of my time at the moment. I’m in a band called Wilder Maker who have an album out this July. I play in a band called Coffee and just played a few dates in the UK in Sam Evian’s band. I’m also working on producing some things for friends of mine.

AF: Who will you be collaborating with for your performance at The Hum?

KVS: I’ll be playing with Julie Byrne, whose music is so beautiful that I feel a bit intimidated. 

AF: How does a showcase like The Hum affect your musical process?

KVS: I don’t feel immediately comfortable doing something off-the-cuff because I don’t have a history of improvisation, so the Hum takes me out of my shell a bit. It’s a gamble and you don’t know what will happen exactly, and that’s a good thing. It’s one night and a 25 minute set, but it informs so much of my thinking afterward. I’ve also played in mostly male-centric bands. In my experience with The Hum, I’ve found we have to get deeper with one another really fast, trying to get on the level of musical and interpersonal understanding without having years of previous chemistry built in. But my collaborators have been such excellent communicators that I’ve found a real bond with them, and realized how important it is to develop a rapport, even if there isn’t much time. When you do something so brief you rely on instinct, and this process has honed my instincts more, made me feel more confident about intuition, which is invaluable.

AF: How do you see the musical community of Brooklyn affected by The Hum?

KVS: Rachael developed this series at a pretty crucial time, and in the past few years I’ve seen the community here become so much more egalitarian in terms of representation. The Hum has been woven into that, and has probably bolstered it a lot. 

AF: In the future how do you hope to see women in music represented differently? 

KVS: I feel confident that everyone should and will be represented more. It’s already happening but we have much further to go, of course. In, say, rock music, men have a lineage intact, and they grow up knowing they can become a part of that, almost as a rite of passage. I want to see anyone who’s underrepresented grow up feeling that sense of belonging and then taking their place in it, too. It’ll take a generation to set that precedent.

Mickey Vershbow

 Audio Femme: How did you end up getting involved in The Hum?
Mickey Vershbow: I first played The Hum three years ago and I was at the time working for Tom Tom Magazine. Tom Tom got asked to play The Hum and do a percussion piece. So I was in a group of four people who put together a 20 minute percussion piece, that was really fun. Rachael Pazdan mentions this also, and I love it. But I actually ended up meeting my girlfriend Katrina at that show. So The Hum definitely occupies a special place for me. I’m really excited to play it again. Especially with Mirah, who has been one of my favorite singers since I was a teenager.
AF: Will you be playing any new songs with Mirah?
MV: Yeah! I know we are doing new stuff. I don’t know that she specifically wrote them for The Hum or not, but we have been working on new stuff that we want to play at The Hum. This is more just a group of people that don’t play together that much, coming together to play songs from Mirah and Thao’s catalog.
AF: What other projects are you working on right now?
MV: I just finished making a record with a band called Animal Planet. That record just came out on Ba Da Bing. My main full-time gig is with a band called Kat Cunning. That’s definitely my main gig right now, because I also tour manage for that band. I also play with this artist in New York named Miles Francis. There’s a parallel between both him and Kat, because they are real entertainers. They have a concept behind how they want to perform their music and for me as a drummer that’s really fun, because you kind of just sit back and know that everything up front is good.
AF: How does having access to an all-female based showcase like The Hum affect the Brooklyn, music community?
MV: I think it has a tremendously powerful impact on all of us who get to be a part of it. You just end up making connections that change your life. I mean obviously I can say that. But aside from whether it’s on the level of meeting your partner, and your future bandmate, or just meeting so many people that next time you need a guitarist you have a woman you can call. I feel like without people like Rachael, or Mindy at Tom Tom, who are out there creating this network for us to all find each other, it’s really hard, because you just randomly go to shows and you’re like oh cool the bass player is killing it and she’s a girl, and I would love to work with her, but that is so random and chance. Whereas to be able to network in an environment where you know you’re gonna meet women, there’s something empowering about just feeling like we all have this way that we can get connected with each other. So I’m really grateful to Rachael for continuing to do it. Also I’m getting to discover so many amazing musicians who I don’t think I would have discovered otherwise. Especially because women just don’t get the coverage in other outlets that men more easily do. I don’t necessarily want to make that statement, but I think it’s obviously kind of a thing that happens. So it feels like The Hum creates a platform for us to get more visibility to each other and to new audiences.
The Hum to me is really one of the best things happening in New York right now. It’s so community oriented. It has such a clear concept that benefits a community of musicians, that can do amazing things together. Especially as someone who very often forgets why I live in NY, when I get to play The Hum, I think, “Oh yeah, this happens here.”
By | 2018-05-29T17:27:31+00:00 May 29th, 2018|FEATURES, Interviews|0 Comments

About the Author:

Desdemona Dallas
Desdemona Dallas is a writer and photographer currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Through her work Dallas aims to highlight artists and activists engaged in changing social dialogue and igniting culture conversation. Currently looking for beauty in the belly of the beast. Follow her on Instgram @dily.daly and twitter @storiesbydallas