Less than a year and a half ago, I reviewed an Antigone Rising concert at a folk festival in downtown St. Petersburg. What I said back then about this veteran New York-based female foursome offering a sound that has a modern country feel without the twang still holds true.
RELATED ARTICLE: Jayne Kelli and Antigone Rising at Folk Fest in St. Petersburg, FL.
So when I found out that Antigone Rising have made it their goal to produce a music video for every song on their forthcoming EP’s, I thought this would be a good time to do an interview with them, and get their views on the videos they plan to do, as well as one they have already done.
I also asked the women of AR [lead guitarist Cathy Henderson, bassist Kristen Ellis-Henderson, rhythm guitarist and lead singer Nini Camps, and drummer Dena Tauriello] for their views on how music video play has evolved from MTV to YouTube. Plus, among other topics, I also asked about their current experience with Joan Jett’s record label, as well as how two of the members are faring as “rockin’ moms.”
GGM: First, as last year ended, you capped your show at New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall by letting your fans use their smartphones to shoot the video for “Everything Changes.” Besides cost, what advantage did this “crowd shoot” offer versus what would now seem like the old-fashioned Way of hiring a professional?
Kristen: We love involving our fans in the creative process, so whenever we can, we do. The idea to do the smartphone shoot was actually my good friend Val Lasser’s. She is a really talented video editor and she just started brainstorming creative ways for us to make music videos. This was just one of her ideas. We will be implementing a few more of them over the course of this year! So everyone can look forward to that!
GGM: Since you’re going to be shooting a video for every song on your forthcoming EP’s, Whiskey & Wine, Volume 1 coming out March 25, and Whiskey & Wine, Volume 2 to be released in October, will any of those be “crowd shoots” like with “Everything Changes”?
Kristen: We may do another “crowd shoot” similar to “Everything Changes” for another song. Now that we’ve done it once, we are realizing there were so many little things we wish we did for that shoot! So maybe we will do another one similar to it. But we do plan to shoot videos that will include fans in them. For example, on our PledgeMusic page you can pledge to be part of the cast of our “Weed & Wine” video shoot taking place later this spring.
GGM: I’m sure you all grew up on MTV, but what do you think of its place as a music video source having been superseded by the Internet in general and YouTube in particular?
Cathy: MTV will always be near and dear to my heart. It was absolutely the first source for not only music video, but MTV really dictated who the “hot” artists were. It was MTV and radio. Over the years, MTV really abandoned its core purpose as truly being “music television” and a relevant source for music / music videos – allowing an obvious opportunity for other platforms to emerge and fill the void. The Internet is naturally a place where we search for information and engage with content that interests us “on demand.” To me, sites like YouTube and Vevo are really the “interactive” MTVs of today, where we can experience the music we choose to as well as discover the latest new artists others are talking about.
GGM: Last year, the CMT cable channel picked up your video for “That Was the Whiskey” and posted it online. More recently, Billboard quoted a female CMT executive as saying that country music, “as an industry, needs to change the mentality of ‘a female slot’ or ‘female releases’.” That remark was countered by a radio programmer who says that female artists need to win over female listeners beyond just being pretty faces with beautiful voices. Has AR’s strong, alt-country approach, in your own opinion, already won over female fans without the benefit of radio airplay?
Cathy: Yes, I do believe that we continually “win” over female fans. The majority of our audience is female, and many we speak with enjoy coming to see us play because we inspire them to follow their passions – whether that be playing the guitar, singing, or any other interests they are passionate about. That said, from a broader perspective, it is time for female musicians and artists to break through these confining “stereotypical” barriers if we expect to be as respected as the boys. The music industry as a whole has tended to put female artists in their own “genre” based on gender, which really amazes me.
We feel we as a band we are stretching to transcend the traditional opinions by being one of a few self-contained all-female bands. We write, record, perform, tour and market our music on our own… and we play all of our instruments as good as, if not better than the boys do. People need to see more women stepping out of their comfort zones and rocking out on the guitar, or drums, etc. That aspect is still pretty much untapped. These girls are out there, they just need more of us to break down the barriers. And the industry will follow.
GGM: This next one is for Cathy & Kristen, since you are the founding members. How does being part of Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records compare to AR’s major-label days [and such benefits as multiple national TV guest shots] less than a decade ago?
Kristen: Well, we actually get checks in the mail since being distributed by Blackheart, for starters! Don’t get me wrong, we loved the people who worked at our major label. But working with Blackheart is like family. National TV spots are not a guarantee when on a major label either. We knew that was a special time and we’re happy to have had the experience. And you can never rule out more TV appearances in our future!
Cathy: While there is no denying that the kind of whirlwind we encountered in the mid-2000’s was truly an amazing ride, as a band right now we are very happy being aligned with Blackheart Records. We’ve known the Blackheart group for quite some time (even throughout the Lava / Atlantic years) and they have always supported us. So not only is it amazing to be able to work with such great people who really love us and want to see the project succeed, but it also allows us to flourish in an environment that’s transparent and one where we have control. It’s a true partnership which isn’t usually the case with the major labels.
GGM: Following up on that, if you were still on a major label, would they have approved of letting your fans fund either your upcoming EP’s or your 2011 album 23 Red, so as to save them the trouble of “advances” and you the trouble of “recoupable expenses”?
Cathy: No. They would have paid for it so they could own the masters. Not to mention that I’m sure they couldn’t have been bothered with keeping up such a campaign. You have to really put in a lot of time and effort to keep the messaging and content fresh. We are currently running a crowd funding campaign on pledgemusic.com to support our upcoming EP release (March 25th) and 2014 Tour, and it’s a “round the clock” job if you really want to do it well.
“This female foursome offers a sound
that has a modern country feel without the twang!”
GGM: Here’s a fun question for all four: What was the first major rock concert each of you ever went to?
Kristen: My first concert was either Elvis Presley or Shaun Cassidy….and I think both are equally worth mentioning!
Nini: My very first show was either Springsteen at the Orange Bowl in Miami for the Born in the USA tour or The Police for their Syncronicity tour – also at the Orange Bowl.
Dena: The Who with the Clash & David Johansen at Shea Stadium. AMAZING!
Cathy: Elvis Presley at the Nassau Coliseum. Shaun Cassidy was second. Ironically, the same two concerts Kristen attended.
GGM: Another one for each of you: Of all the instruments you have played or are currently playing, which one[s] have been your favorite[s]?
Kristen: I can’t really pick a favorite. I really love playing bass guitar in the band now, stretching myself to learn something new. But I have such a deep love of acoustic guitar – finger picking, and blues. I really love guitar. Nini: I still love playing guitar, but I also really enjoy playing drums. I’m absolutely horrible but still love it. Dena: While I have taught myself a little guitar & am also now learning piano, I am a drummer. It was, is and always will be my favorite. Cathy: Guitar and piano. Band Members: Kristen-Ellis Henderson, Nini Camps, Dana Tauriello and Cathy Henderson
GGM: Kristen, you have juggled being part of a rock band with being a mother to twins who are now going on five years old. Is being a “rockin’ mom” as difficult for you as some would say it is?
Kristen: I guess it’s difficult in the sense that I come in and out a lot, and that’s tough on everyone. I’m either completely home and keeping a schedule for the kids, or I am completely gone and sometimes totally off the grid (like while we traveled in the Middle East and were recently aboard an Olivia cruise ship). Transitioning in and out can be pretty exhausting!
GGM: And Nini, since you’re also a mother, has it been that difficult for you in being a “rockin’ mom”?
Nini: The only difficult part is balancing home time with music/band time. It’s hard to leave them for tours so there is an emotional struggle there as well but the alternative wouldn’t really be an alternative either.
GGM: My final question is another fun one. You named your vehicle “Vanna White,” but has Vanna herself, who’s made a living these many years next to that big board on Wheel of Fortune, ever found out about it?
Cathy: You know, we have wondered that ourselves. So, no, not that we know of. Maybe it’s time we just reach out directly to her….. Vanna, are you listening??
Well, let’s see, Wheel of Fortune has its own official Facebook and Twitter, so what’s to say they haven’t known about this already?
In the meantime, as they mentioned earlier, to find out how you can pledge toward Antigone Rising’s video shoots, as well as their EP’s and upcoming tour, visit www.pledgemusic.com/artists/antigonerising between now and March 19.
As also mentioned earlier, Antigone Rising’s Whiskey & Wine EP’s are scheduled to be available on March 25 [Volume 1] and October 28 [Volume 2] on iTunes, and wherever digital music is sold.
You can find other AR merchandise on their website, www.antigonerising.com, as well as like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/antigonerising, and follow them on Twitter @AntigoneRising. Also, you can check out Kristen’s blog a www.hanginwithhendo.com.