Continuing with our coverage and celebration of Women's History month, staff writer Katrina Fraley sat down with the co-founders of a new femme+ artist collective, Grrl + Weapon, to learn more about group's mission to create a supportive platform for emerging femme+ artists in the Queen City.
A new femme+ collective of artists, poets, musicians, and creative types has formed in the Queen City. Grrl + Weapon is a recurring showcase of femme+ artists working toward calling forth and supporting emerging artists and making connections within an inclusive and connected environment.
The founders of the collective: MayaLou Banatwala, Sarah Dactyl, and Rachel Thode are hoping to foster a supportive and integrated femme+ artistic community through a monthly event spotlighting established acts as well as “newbies” to scene. Hosted in Northside at The Listing Loon, Grrl + Weapon will spend one evening a month as a stepping stone for emerging artists to develop their act whether it is a musical performance, poetry/spoken word, or even comedy sketch. Complemented with a more veteran poet and musical artist, these monthly events will offer a supportive space for femme+ artists to gather experience and constructive feedback.
For co-founder Rachel Thode, these events will offer not only a chance to perform, but also to help new artists learn the nuances and unspoken rules of performative etiquette. On her most recent musical endeavor, the three piece shoegaze group Slow Glows, she noted at the beginning, “We didn’t know a lot about band etiquette. We didn’t understand how a payout works, or that people get mad if you don’t break down your drums quickly between sets...weird stuff like that.” While the focus on the monthly events will be primarily performative, they are also to help new artists learn the ropes of the industry from soundchecks, to promotion, to managing social media.
Sarah Dactyl isn’t just a co-founder of the collective with MayaLou Banatwala, she’s also a bandmate in The Mynah Tones. When I met with her to discuss Grrl + Weapon, it was hours after the two had arrived back to Cincinnati having played shows over the weekend in Chicago. There is no road weariness or exhaustion on either of their faces and it’s clear as we discuss the collective and its goals that it is something for which they have a great amount of passion. For Sarah Dactyl, it’s about the tales of artists as they are developing, what she refers to as “becoming stories.” The vulnerability of not knowing how to do everything and hearing from more seasoned artists what their experiences were like when first starting out is a valuable part of the conversations within the industry.
Most certainly a seasoned musician in the Cincinnati music scene, MayaLou Banatwala knows the joys and frustrations of working as a woman in the creative industry. “There’s so many times I’ve been talked down to,” she recounts with a syrupy, condescending impersonation “‘Oh that’s real cute, real sweet. You have your ukulele.’” Then laughing she continues, “And I’m just like, ‘I will beat you with this ukulele, you know?!’” I jokingly ask if this is where the weapon part of Grrl + Weapon comes into play and Sarah Dactyl laughing responds, “That is in essence…. Pretty close to the sentiment.” Empowering other femme+ artists in an industry that tends to find the feminine diminutive is an ambitious goal and one that co-founders hope the monthly showcases will contribute toward.
The first Grrl + Weapon showcase will be held on March 19th beginning at 8 p.m. at the Listing Loon and will feature CEA nominated Indie/Soul musician Freedom Nicole Moore, “newbie” singer songwriter M. Page, and veteran poet Nicole Proulx.
When: Tuesday March 19, 2019 beginning at 8 p.m.
Where: The Listing Loon
Ages: 21 and older