In a music scene dominated by men, female musicians prove they are not to be forgotten
A man finishes playing drums in his band’s set and packs up his equipment.
“Excuse me, coming through!” he yells as he carries his drums through the crowd. Everybody moves out of his way.
“That has never been my experience,” said frontwoman of local indie band Blood Hunny, Ariel Rose Fishkin.
This is one of the differences Fishkin experiences as a woman in the Humboldt Count music scene.
Fishkin started learning music around the age of five when she participated in a mommy and me piano class, and started teaching herself guitar at 14. Fishkin first started playing her songs as a solo project at open mics under the name Ariel Rose, but later started performing under the name Blood Hunny in the summer of 2017.
After being told by a concert booker that he would book her for shows if she had a backing band, Fishkin eventually recruited Julio Perdido on bass guitar and Jacob Partida on drums.
Fishkin believes the music scene here is tight knit but can be difficult to break into at times. She describes the scene as a group of musicians that know each other and ask each other play in each other’s shows.
Fishkin felt it was impossible for her to play anywhere other than open mic when she first started as a solo act. But as she has become more involved in the scene, Fishkin has seen that recently a lot of bands are open to having her play with them.
“You do kind of have to know somebody,” Fishkin said. “But once it happens I feel like it’s fairly easy to get shows.”
Fishkin is not a big fan of harassment at the bar scene, but she knows that that isn’t a problem specific to Arcata. Because the Arcata music scene is so small, when issues come up about other musician’s behavior it can be hard to motivate people to address them.
“There’s a sense that we don’t want to lose those musicians from the scene” Fishkin said. “Each band since there are so few, makes up a big portion of the scene. So it’s difficult to hold people accountable.”
Having personally experienced harassment from an audience member at an open mic, Fishkin now brings it upon herself to spread awareness during her performances.
“As shitty as that experience was,” Fishkin said. “I have the opportunity to use my platform there again to bring awareness to that.”
Jasmine Bigham, who goes by Jazzy Jane, has only been rapping publicly for a month and has already made a name for herself in the Humboldt music scene. She is one half of Indigo Soul, along with Raquel Peña who goes by Rocky Planet. Bigham and Peña are both Kinesiology students at Humboldt State University who met in dance class after Peña heard Bigham rap instead of dance as her solo performance at the end of the semester. After that, Peña approached Bigham and from that came Indigo Soul.
Even though Bigham is fresh to the music scene, she has already played at venues like The Jam multiple times and with local hip-hop staples such as Nada Crew, Ason and Rafi and with another female led band Tessoulation.
“It’s easy to do music here if you know your shit,” Bigham said. “If you really work at your craft, people will allow you into their circles. You’ve got to earn it.”
Bigham said women entering the music scene are starting to become more of a thing. With the induction of events like Ladies Night on Mondays at The Jam, women have had more opportunities to step into the spotlight.
Kyra Teevan started playing drums in high school after her Aunt’s drum set ended up at her house.
She took lessons and learned a lot of Nirvana songs from her teacher but initially stopped after graduating in 2013 before moving to Humboldt County for school. About a year ago, Teevan met Luke Aronie who encouraged her to start playing again, and after playing together they formed Frog, and recently recruited Wyatt Brenner to play Bass.
Teevan loves nature and studies Soil Science, which she said seeps into the music that Frog plays. Some of their songs are appropriately named like Swamped or Soil Witch, which is about Teevan.
She believes people should spend more time to appreciate nature.
“It’s really nice knowing that after I play a show and I don’t feel very strong about it, I’ll have people afterwards that’ll give me a hug,” Teevan said. “Even though I’m sweaty and probably smell like shit.”