Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Small Chat With Dandy Warhol's Zia McCabe!

Photo Credit: Xaime Cortizo (

KA: Hey Zia! Thanks for joining me! You have a lot going on, so I appreciate the time for a small chat. 

KA: So where to begin with you, my dear... a new Dandy Warhol's album "Distortland", a Us/Canada tour , and now you are touring Europe?

ZM: Yep, we’re out here keeping busy on the road promoting the fuck out of our new album.

KA: You also DJ and are in a country band, Brush Praire. How do you make time for all your projects?

ZM: Brush Prairie has really suffered lately. Luckily (or maybe unlucky) all the member of BP have other projects and families to keep them busy. 

It was always meant to do in my down time and well, I don’t have any down time lately. So I’ll have to come back to that once promo for Distorland settles down. 

DJ’ing goes along with tour, as in I do all the after parties so the ball continues to roll with that. Enough so, that I’ve been able to tour as DJ Rescue when time permits...

KA: You are a mother, too! How does that fit in the equation? Are you a hands on mom?

ZM: My ex and I share Tildy Time 50/50 which means during extra busy times like this, I’m basically a single mom when I’m home. 

It can get really tricky juggling it all but it’s important to me that I am with Matilda as much as possible. They grow up so fast!

KA: Your birth name was Aimee Springer, what inspired the name Zia Mccabe?

ZM: Actually it was Amy Springer and I changed the spelling when changing my name entirely proved too difficult. There where at least three Amy’s in every class. It drove me nut being Amy S. or Brown Eyed Amy or Amy 1. I wanted my own name! I didn’t want to share.

So as soon as I started college I decided it was my once chance to find a new name. It took a couple weeks of going around school with no name. Finally a classmate suggested Zia to me and I knew it was my name instantly. McCabe is my mother’s maiden name. I just like that name better. 

KA: I feel you. I was "Kim H" in a class of Kim, Kimiya, and Kimberly in 2nd grade!

KA: You have been in a very male dominated band since the mid nineties. What is touring like when you are dealing with very girly feelings or issues, I.E cramps, sensitivities, or even being pregnant back in the day?

ZM: I’m pretty open about all that stuff so I guess it was more about them dealing with me. I got knocked up a couple times, that was quite inconvenient while touring. Who wants to get an abortion while their in NYC? Not my idea of fun at all. But shit happens. I’m only recently really comfortable and thriving in my relationships with women. I get guys, they get me. It’s always been pretty easy. 

KA: I won't even bother with the abortion question...

KA: Has there ever been any more-than -friend experiences with you and the boys in the past?

ZM: Peter (holmström) and I dated the first year I was in the band. Then we bickered for the second year and barely spoke the third. Or something like that. Now I’d consider him my best friend in the band. 

KA: He's lovely, I had a chance to speak with him as well.

KA: I think it was you who posted that you guys were the last band to open for David Bowie. What kind of feeling does that give you, and what was opening for him like for you?

ZM: I just shared an article that came out in England. To be completely accurate Polyphonic Spree was the last band to open for Bowie but that was in USA following our tour with in Europe/UK with Bowie. It was two long months of playing in enormo-domes, far from city centers. We where kind of trapped in these giant locker rooms as dressing rooms all day. It was awesome to open for Bowie of course but the days where long and kind of lonely out there. It was really neat to get to watch a Bowie show every night from a different seat. I liked that part!

KA: If you were to dump out your purse/bag right now, what would we find ?

ZM: Vinyl Factory shades, ear buds, phone charger, lip gloss, chap stick, lip stick, lip liner, swiss dark chocolate drink mix (I nicked from breakfast this morning), hair clips, glasses cleaner, band tour laminate, eye drops, doTerra essential oils, wallet, panty liners, Icy Hot patches, pot infused mints, dental floss, rolling papers, little bag of weed, Clinique touch up concealer stick, sharpie, a Telegram official merchandise lighter and more hair clips…. 

KA: You have a very natural, hippie-like beauty about you. But do you have any go to beauty products that you don't leave home without? I always have my foundation with me, for example

ZM: I can red under my nose so I like to have a touch up stick in case we’re doing photos I wasn’t planning on. I don’t go anywhere w/o chapstick or lipgloss.

KA: So, you have the Dandies, which are very alternative with a dreampop after taste, but then you also have a country flair. Tell us about Brush Prairie

ZM: I wanted to do a little singing, so I started singing country covers at Karaoke From Hell which is live band karaoke. I got asked to sing the songs I’d been doing at a party and it grew from there. I was born in Brush Prairie so it seemed a good fit for a country band title. I grew up on country music and psychedelic music so now I feel more complete when it comes to what I perform. Man it’s fun having an old fashioned Honky Tonk country band!

KA: And your DJing...What is that sort of change in music like for you, and what fan base does it bring to your gigs?

ZM: I just can’t trust hardly anybody else to be in charge of the music. So I started saving good parties from bad music in 2001. I love it!

Dandy fans and music lovers in general come to my DJ gigs. People who like to have a good time on the dance floor.

KA: Do you ever struggle with the presumed inequality in the music scene being that you are a woman?

ZM: I ignore that shit. 


KA: What about self image and self esteem? I know you were a bad ass, and posed pregnant for suicide girls in 2005, but do you ever have "I feel ugly" days? And if so, how do you push through it?

ZM: Of course! I have plenty of wake up ugly days and then either stay that way or pull it together at some point. Nothing wrong with surrendering to an ugly day. Of course I always hope they don’t coincide with a photo shoot day. 

KA: I saw you introduce Bernie Sanders and give a very inspirational speech in Oregon. I voted for Bernie as well. What do you think about what's going on politically with Trump being the front runner, and what about all these #bernieorbust activists? Would you vote for Hilary Clinton if you had to?

ZM: I’m hoping Bernie will decide to run independent if he doesn’t get the democratic nomination. #bernieorbust

KA: Whats your opinion on things like Climate change and Black Lives Matter? do you think the fight can be won?

ZM: Well we either work hard to reverse the damage we’ve done, work to heal the planet or suffer the consequences. Black Lives Matter is catching on but not as fast as I’d like. I kind of live in a bubble though. I’d like to think things are improving faster than they probably are. 

KA: Thanks for your time, I know you were on tour during this, and unable to have time to answer the other questions :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Interview With Julia Vidal of The Salt Riot

KA: Hey Julia! Thanks for this opportunity to chat! 

JV: My pleasure, Kim!

KA: You three are a Seattle based band. Growing up, were you a Seattle music scene fan in the 90s, and does being in the Pacific Northwest have an impact on your sound?

JV: I think it would be nearly impossible to live in Seattle or the PNW and not feel the tremendous impact that bands from what I'll call Seattle’s now romanticized and epitomized golden era of grunge. Fans are die hard here and in many ways no time has passed between 2016 and 1992 in terms of every day Seattleites perspective on grunge and how often they listen to it, the stations play it, etc.
In many ways this sense of pride provides the backdrop for which many musicians and bands in Seattle are compared to. It's also the music that people are still striving to recreate in many ways. We didn't necessarily set out to do that with The Salt Riot but our last EP and LP definitely pays homage to the roots in the city's rock/grunge scene, as well as gave us the necessary backdrop to bring the sound to 2016. 
To involve further in the PNW sound we would like to continue to explore the native communities and their rich culture and music. We recently were a part of a teepee lifting and drum circle and it has engaged us with the pacific northwest sound, that’s been around for thousands of years. It's amazing to explore what was going on before Seattle was even a city, and the native roots we have here in the Pac Northwest are strong and quite inspiring culturally especially in terms of how resilient the native spirit and music really is.

KA: I was born and raised here, Seattle is very magical!

KA: There are a lot of bands doing the NU Folk thing up here these days,like Fleet Foxes, but you guys are pretty rock driven,is that how you would you describe your sound to readers?

JV: Yes I mean rock is the most basic way to describe the format of the music.  Distorted guitars a lot of heavy bass and drums, although we have some pop takeaways and some melodic ones as well.  I particularly was attracted to this sound as a female vocalist, being that even now It still isn't a common tone you hear, female vocals pitted against heavier sounds. A lot of music I write acoustically and when I play that for close friends or family It is super accessible music but when you bring it into the Rock arena it asks a little bit more of the listener. They might ask “how do I categorize this?” it might not be so easy on the ear and perception. That’s a great place to be as an artist. Get people asking questions. Challenging assumptions and categories.
To me personally I love playing so many different types of music that overall I find the categories challenging. Ultimately we have these 7 notes, and we have to find new ways to create and discover sounds. I’ve gotten to the point where I can write in my electronica project “Culture Cops” or I can write acoustic or The Salt Riot will rock out the same song and it all has different nuance but I’m hearing that melody. In that way I will always be writing different types of music and I will always be a fan of them as well.

KA: Oooh! tell me more about Culture Cops!

JV: Culture cops is an electronica project the bassist from The Salt Riot, Jack Machin and I also have been doing for quite some time. Jack primarily engineers percussive sounds and bass sounds and I typically do melodies and vocals. We have had a lot of fun with it and love to have it alongside The Salt Riot.  You can check out that music at or

KA: You've played benefits that were political in nature, like for supporters of Bernie Sanders. How do you feel about the #bernieorbust movement, will you vote for Hillary if it will keep Trump out?

JV: I think we are still in a period of mourning. The Salt Riot takes its name from some very direct historic happenings, many of which occurred when the elite or plutocracy took hold and controlled the common person through resource exploitation.
I think the worry is real. You have a Dynasty name like Clinton and a Brand name like Trump. I believe we are like a lot of Americans now asking, where is the democracy?

KA: You guys also played Hempfest in Seattle and in Portland. I used to go see gigs there in the 90s, what was the vibe like when you guys played?

JV: You know it was funny playing hempfest especially when you hear things like "everyday in Seattle is hempfest" which now that we are living in the legal era it's almost like people forget ( could be the weed? Lol) how truly hard we had to work to get here, not to mention how far we still need to go…. in just a few states over ... And of course nationally. Hempfest was in its 25th annual year and being able to play and feel that energy was amazing. There were some INCREDIBLE speakers, people who were incarcerated for many many years due to regressive marijuana legislation, people who have medically ill family members who couldn't and it’s still difficult to access medical marijuana. Those struggles aren't over. In many ways the festival is more important than ever. WA state is leading the nation in progressiveness and more progress still needs to come
We are going to be at Portland hempstalk this weekend and we are really pumped to see what kind of vibe Oregon has going on!

KA: What kind of fans do you typically attract when it comes to your sound and style?

JV: A lot of our fans are huge fans of classic rock. They also are fans of female singers! We really can't say we have one type of fan.  it could be any baby boomer who tells us most music from our generation is "crap" but they love that we are writing and playing. It could be our peers who are listening to what I am saying lyrically and connecting to it. It's great. My current favorite fan was a five year old girl at Fremont solstice who said she wants to play guitar after watching our set. That's the kind of thing that inspires me.

KA: At this point in your career, being a front woman, have you experienced any sexism in the business?

JV: It's apparent that, not just in the music industry but still rampant and toxic within as well, that the patriarchy has largely held the stake hold and the say so. Not only is this establishment not used to being challenged, when they are they can react in all sorts of outlandish ways. It goes without saying though that the conversation has been started and it's continuing. Equality in a society that has been historically and still is remarkable inequitable doesn't just appear overnight or by us proclaiming we are all equal. It's dissecting all these learned behaviors and perceptions and backing it up with policy!
These aren’t just men that have leaned perceptions of how women should behave, it also women’s own perceptions of this. We all have to fight our preconceived ideas of how we should act in accordance to gender. ( or any other category for that matter) How come when a man does something it's “brave” but if a women does the same thing it's “crazy”? Why are men who express an opinion “commanding” but the women who do the same are a “bitch”?
(At this point In my career I just take being called "crazy" "insane" and "exhausting" as compliments. ☺ )
For me personally of course I’ve experienced it. But all of us women have, in all types of businesses. This industry can be harsh, and unfortunately not everyone is going to be accepting of what it is I am trying to achieve as Musician, or as a woman, but it keeps me going every day when I just think “we need more women out there, in front, doing this.” we need more voices, not just the same one we hear every day. We need the diversity that exists, Not the homogenized status quo.

It's can be hard to stay positive in a society that seems to be content to bully and belittle one another instead of lift each other up with praise. Our social media world has truly allowed a different type of policing as people now no longer have to practice editing what they say to someone's face, they can simply press comment or send. We are not striving to understand each other's points of views or backgrounds. Every person has to be categorized and within each category we seem content to police the definitions of how someone can act or behave. Whether this to be socio economically, politically, sexually, racially, it's all there. People judging one another, not conversing or seeking to understand and accept. We also have a global media that is content on selling “stories” not always the actualities. We are in a unique place with our technology and online world. Are we going to use it as a place to further sexism, racism, etc? or can we harness the potential it gives us to have many voices now, many platforms?
I get into some of this in the song "Smoke Logs" with the lyrics " When stigma ties, it ties so tight, when stigma binds, it lies"
We are not one dimensional creatures. Life is complex. Human beings are complex. Our relations and emotional states come from various experiences leading to how we engage with one another. A stigma or a perception is always limited if it doesn't consider the entire spectrum from which we are tied to. 

KA: Given that your band's lyrics are heavily about politics, capitalism, etc, you do have a few about love. What inspired those? “Giver” and  “Would You Walk?”

JV: "Giver" has many universal themes of love
It is the human experience, the gift of life we were given and the struggle to manifest it.
One of the lyrics I say " I am a seed.” And I think of this in terms of our evolution as humans as well as through my own life. We are seeds in the tapestry of evolution and in our own personal evolution that we go through day to day, year to year. It's a song about manifesting dreams , and the daily strife to becoming the most evolved you and the most evolved us and the constant and continual effort of working towards this.
The lyrics …

"I look because I'm blind,I anger because I'm kind,
I fight because I'm alive, I run because of time,
toil because of gift, I treasure because of pain, I’m lost because I look, I ask because I came. I’m the father of the time that I’ve not used, with it I awaken the dreams that I must use"

it's recognizing those innate paradoxes and limitations in life ( which paradoxically is also your freedom) , and striving to work within these realms to manifest our dream and ideals.
 Would you walk is a song about loss, and largely involves when a lover moves on and you feel the emptiness of all the ways you couldn't fill each others needs wants or desires . I also interchange pronouns “he” and “she” in this song to reflect a relationship between a man and women or a woman and a woman, etc. I've never myself been able to identify in a particular category but I have been in involved in intense relationships with both men and women. Sometimes they involved sex sometimes they didn't. They did involve love though. At the end of the song I turn the personal themes of heartbreak Into the universal. The end of the song is the end of the relationship where you realize that your lover or friend would betray you. Or use your love for their own gain. The universal “they” applies to how this happens in our social and international relationships which when reflected on, they can have strikingly similar themes.

KA: Is your voice an organic gift, or did you ever take vocal lessons?

JV: I was actually ruminating on this the other day and I proclaimed to the band that I am only truly satisfied with my vocal abilities because I literally didn't take any vocal lessons to make me think differently. *chuckle*
I studied classical violin most of my life and I still have flashbacks to the “rules”…(hold your bow this way, play with this tone, this is right, this is wrong)  and although these were essential elements to developing discipline and skill it is one of those things where you are always going to have that trained action. With vocals I don’t have those reminders circulating my head. I can let go and just sing/perform/be with the music. It’s quite a free place to be.

KA: That’s amazing to hear! Where have some of your best shows taken place, and how much do you guys actually tour right now?

JV: Bands for Bernie was such a fantastic show. We love combining music and performance with the social realm. How tied together they can be!  The benefit for Musicares was a great time, we had Marco Collins hosting, so many great bands doing covers of Soundgarden. The cause largely came about before Obama care but when you think of all the working musicians who need help with just basic medical bills, its quite contrary to the myth of the glamorous lifestyle, a glimpse of  what could really going on behind the curtain.
The NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) fundraiser was also a great time. We played right next to the walkers! These are family members carrying pictures of loved ones they have lost due to mental illness; these are community workers, nurses. Everyone is out there, and it’s this big feeling of love and support for each other. We have never felt so thanked and appreciated at a show before. What a fantastic organization.
Right now we are headed to Portland for Hemp Stalk but taking each show as it comes as we get ready to head back to the studio this winter. Really looking to put together a west coast tour soon, hopefully next summer, with some new material for fans.

KA: How is being the only female with two guys work for you. Do you butt heads?

JV: Honestly I don't think we butt heads anymore if I was a female or not as much as we are all opinionated musicians ☺ . My band is super supportive of being a female in a predominately male dominated arena. They get to see first hand how it really goes out there.
They also know that I don't get a free pass! I have to play and write up to snuff! This isn't the band where I get to wear a bikini and lip-sync stage... *chuckle* not that there is anything wrong with that type of entertainment; I just think they would kick me straight out of the practice room! LOL
I have to stay on top of my music game to play with accomplished musicians like Jack Machin and Valdemar Huguet. We have to be able to challenge each other and that means honing our own skills.

On the other hand, every now and then little things like " I love female vocalists" or" let's play with another female fronted band" ill push back in and say we'll do you also love "male vocalists?" It's those little things were we point out a female this or that when we are all just musicians. Some of the most feminine vocals I've heard are from men and some women can sounds very masculine.

KA: you grew up in Alaska, are all three of you Seattle transplants, and what attracted you to the city?

JV: Yes what an interesting place to grow up. I never did quite get accustomed to have more people surrounding me than massive amounts of uninhabited land. There is so much unbelievable beauty in untouched nature. How everything works together a complete cycle. It was not a place where you had to look hard to be visually inspired by the land and its beauty. I came here initially after I decided the mid-west was not culturally for me and I set out to Seattle to go to UW and find some musicians. Its great this city still has that reputation. People Move here for music. That’s a blessing. ( well this was ten years ago, perhaps before they moved just for amazon ☺ )
The bass player Jack Machin is a British transplant! We aren't even entirely sure of his legal status :) Between the looming threat of Trump and Brexit we hope he stays put but can’t promise anything.
Valdemar Huguet is a north washington boy born and bred. He hails from skagit county, a mystical land with all its own character and quirks.

KA: Is Dead Star your only album available at the moment? I know it's your first full length.

JV: Our EP that we recorded at London bridge studios in Seattle (also produced by the fantastic David Miner) is available on all our outlets. It was such a blast to make and really is the build up and beginning of the  foundation for “dead star.”

KA: What's next for Salt Riot?

JV: We are on our way to Portland this weekend to play hemp stalk! And then we are getting back to writing. So far we have been able to release something every two years and we don't plan on slowing down the momentum.

KA: What is one thing you always carry with you?

JV: My belief that music can unite us ( I don't have anything physical other than a water bottle) lol!

KA: Water is good to have around (laughs)

KA: I hate the question of "who are your influences" but, I have to ask, which female singers do you adore?

JV: Wow so many out there. I listened to a lot of Natalie King Cole growing up (my mom always playing it) Lorena Mckennitt, Enya, Stevie nicks, later on I got into Ani Difranco (wow what a powerhouse and one of the first renegades to really build it her own way, before the internet!) I was rocking out to Alanis Morissette by sixth grade. I was absolutely in love with Gwen stefani and No Doubt actually took the time to tour anchorage Alaska which a lot of bands didn't!! She did back flips on stage and I completely lost it. The poor guy I took as my date wanted to leave because he could tell who I actually had the hots for ;)
Bjork, the Wilsons of Heart, Janis Joplin, Shirley Manson, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie holiday, Donna Lewis, Geddy lee ( fine not a women but damn those high notes ) 
And Jewel released “Pieces of You” when I was about 9 and I was obsessed.  and she was a voice from the home state, really the only one.

KA: How do you balance your personal life with the band's schedule, what does your down time look like?

JV: What personal life? *laughing*
It is a labor of love and anytime I feel overwhelmed I remind myself what a privilege it is to be pursuing your art in any capacity.
My down time is playing music ( *lol*), or sometimes making homemade habanero sauce. My grandma is from panama and so far she has made the hottest one to date, but I’m trying to keep the spirit alive. Im convinced it’s the secret to longevity as she is in her 90’s and still hot Rodding around town in her car.

KA: You were originally a violinist, have you ever incorporated that into your current music?

JV: Yes actually, electric violin ( I layered about  three parts) on the song “Giver”
Live we have to program that stuff because I am not an octopus although I would gladly take a few more arms so I could play all the instruments!

KA: Wow! You also received a music scholarship to the University of Notre Dame. How important is education to you, and how much of music do you think it is a gift or a taught profession?

JV: It's so funny with music because people talk about talent and being born gifted and I think of all the hours musicians really put in before anyone would ever throw the talent word around. It's no different from a sport, you may be born with the right disposition but it takes the work ethic and the discipline to stay on top of your game and your instrument. For me vocally I have to take care of myself, rest, don't overuse. All of these things are crucial! Now for band yoga time :)

Education is crucial, but we have GOT to find ways to educate ( in music and outside) with the variety of histories,  stories and cultures out there. I strove to take the classes on west African music, native cultures, etc but these weren’t go-to’s for everyone, or required!. Education that is focused on the western European history/styles/philosophies/trades is missing so much and it is not truly comprehensive. Yes I love taking a class on Brahms, but we need the options to take classes on Umm Kulthum as well.

KA: podium time! go ahead and tell readers why they should check you guys out!

JV: We have fans that enjoy so many different types and different varieties of music and they all find something they love in The Salt Riot. Take a listen and more importantly get away from that television and come experience us live! No one leaves a show without a smile and a new energy to them!

KA: Thanks so much for your time. I'll come check you guys out sometime.

JV: Can't thank you enough Kim. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Listen to some Salt Riot!