Expect some magic Friday night at Femm-EDM, the all-women musical and artistic showcase at Dantes in Portland featuring HOPSCOTCH, Acoustic Minds, Laura Ivancie and DJ Tracy. Vocalist and producer HOPSCOTCH, in town for the final stop on her latest tour, has received well-deserved national attention for her sound: a blend of raw but dreamy vocals, synth, trip hop and experimental electronic music. I talked to HOPSCOTCH and Acoustic Minds about their must-see show, their sounds and their experiences as women in the music industry.
Carrie Hamm: Tell me about your sound. How would you describe it?
HOPSCOTCH: It’s elctronic music, bass music, bass heavy. Some people have described it future bass, indie pop, witch trap–
C: Woah I’ve never heard that before.
H: It’s a self-made genre.
C: How has your music evolved?
H: It’s gone from being really instrumental heavy to indie pop. I’m all about creating music that is assimilable to the common pallet of the music world. Not full on pop, but something that the music world can handle.
I’ve been Hopscotch for 4 years, and in the last two years I’ve been having fun playing with the sounds of the West Coast, which was dubby then moved into trap. My music has trap elements, but it’s beautiful. You can dance to it, make love to it, listen to in the car or with friends…it’s all-occasion music.
C: Your music has been getting national attention lately. Do you feel extra responsibility as a female artist?
H: First and foremost I am a musician. I am also a woman in a male dominated industry. That fact is closer to me than I’d like it to be. EDM [Electronic dance music] is still so male. At Coachella and SXSW this year there were women headlining the indie stages, but at Coachella I was the only woman performing at the stage [I played at] all weekend. There is an inherent responsibility to that. It feels like women are 5 percent of the EDM world, but that will change, because people want it to. They want to hear female vocals mixed with electronic music.
I saw all the young ladies starry eyed at my Coachella show, and I told them: You can be up here, you can do this too. Here are your permission slips. Don’t be afraid to sing or perform or produce or dance or whatever.
C: Tell me about the show Friday.
H: It’s the last show on my West Coast tour–it’s a treat to come back to Portland and be a part of such a fun collaboration. I haven’t been back to Portland in years, and I just read that Portland recently broke the world record for most amount of people playing hopscotch at a time.
C: Magical. It’s a sign.
Acoustic Minds gives us catchy, emotion-rich songs but spares us the murky, cryptic lyrics so typical to Portland bands. Instead we are blessed with a wompy (yes that’s a word now), bright pop sound fitting of superstars. Fronted by the powerful voices of twin sisters Amanda and Jenni Price and rounded out by vocalist, producer and keyboardist Aaron Altemose and key bassist and producer Josh Lorenzen, the group could be a success story waiting to happen. Check them out.
Carrie Hamm: What are your intentions with this show?
Jenni Price: It’s a total female empowerment night. Anahata [HOPSCOTCH] was coming to town and she asked us to put together a show with strong female artists. We talked about how the Portland music scene has so many male dominated nights and festivals. All over the world the shows aren’t featuring the ladies in any significant way–women just aren’t given many slots at shows. We want to give shine to our ladies and show that we don’t need guys to produce a successful show.
Amanda Price: Beyond throwing shade to the dudes, the show is a night full of surprises! There’s a lot going on even beyond the fun music and the partying. The show is a spotlight on women artists of all kinds–there will be dancing, live painting, lot’s of stuff. We are calling it the babe squad.
C: Do you feel like things are changing for women in music in Portland?
J: Slowly…a lot has been happening here in the last year or so. This spring Laura [Ivancie] did an electronic all-women showcase. It’s really just the beginning for women in PDX. We are coming together and showing an appreciation for talent.
A: I believe there has been progress in Portland. It will always be a battle though. Women have to work twice as hard–or even more–to get their voices heard. Music, like so much in our world, has always been a guys game. It’s a clique really. The way we approach [music] is open arms to just about anyone. We like showing that there can be music that’s sexy as fuck but still thoughtful.
C: Tell me about the other artists on the bill.
A: We met Anahata [HOPSCOTCH] through the goddess community in the bay. There was a while we lived more in the bay than Portland…we are on a great friendship level [with her]. She’s standing strong in a male dominated industry. She’s making waves and has gotten a wonderful response nationally.
Laura Ivancie has been reshaping her sound from indie singer songwriter into the electronic genre. She embodies power and is absolutely enchanting. She casts a spell onstage. Laura is such a fierce but mindful, thoughtful person.
C: In talking with you both it sounds like you really have a global sense. I know you have a large following here in Portland. Do you have fans and listeners around the world?
A: We have definitely been home town level for a while, but we aren’t a band that’s for friends and family. We are for the world.
It does feel like we live in a bubble here in Portland. Some of us in the music industry say that Portland is an island with no plumbing. We don’t have the infrastructure that LA or Nashville or New York City has. But Portland and Oregon have been getting a lot of shine lately. It’s a beautiful state with talented artists and we all hype to connect. A lot of people here will say you have to get the fuck out of here and move to one of those big cities to make it in any real way, but [because of the internet] we have fans all over the world. And it’s a blast to communicate our music to a global audience.
C: What do fans relate to in your music?
A: Like a lot of people, we didn’t have an easy background. We have experienced tough stuff that make us unique, make us human.
J: Yeah our music is flirty, but we like to be transparent and genuine and raw. Creating music is an energy exchange, and we give ourselves completely with our music.
C: Tell me about the band:
A: Being a musician is incredibly exposing, but there’s something about the ease and comfort of working with a group that supports you. We are all passionate and have fun together. In the past we’ve had our walls up because maybe we were unsure about the collaboration, which hindered our growth as artists.
J: We’re very fortunate to work with these guys. With this group we are able to be gooier with each other and get to those sweet spots, those sweet sound spots.
C: Your band is Acoustic Minds, and while you have a large volume of work that is purely acoustic, you really have explored your electronic sides the last four years. How has the electronic piece developed for you two over the years?
J: We’ve always been interested in the electronic sound, even while we spent our years as contemporary R&B singers. In the past we’d try to introduce more of an electronic sound, but was met with resistance from our collaborators. Once we decided we were going out on our own we realized we had a chance to do what we had wanted to do for six or seven years, which was explore that electronic dance sound. When we felt we were ready, we put out a blast looking for like-minded souls who love lyrics and can get down to grimy beats and bass. We knew we wanted to do some genre blending, get into EDM and break some boundaries.
With Aaron and Josh the songs came so quickly. After a year with them we let go of our contemporary set and went into EDM.
A: Aaron is so talented, we come to him with a vision and within an hour he’ll have an amazing song for us. Josh has been writing new tracks too–the guys are coming up with masterpieces!
C: Who’s coming to the show on Friday?
A: People who want to give the backdoor to their bullshit and come flirt and drink and dance and see a great show they’ve never seen before.
Femm-EDM Showcase featuring LA’s HOPSCOTCH, Acoustic Minds, Laura Ivancie, DJ Tracy, September 19 at Dantes.