In mid-2017, I was asked to be a judge on 3 separate evenings for Canadian Indie Music Week at 3 different venues across Toronto. It was absolutely my pleasure to be a part of and I had the great pleasure of seeing some really excellent bands.
One of the venues I was assigned to on this 3 day stretch was the Baby G on Dundas Street West, which is a pretty new venue in our city, but is already building a reputation of hosting some really great bands.
They have a fairly small stage, but are equipped with an awesome sound system and a professional lighting rig that really makes the show come alive.
On this night in the fall of 2017, the venue was packed and the stage was overflowing with gear. I was excited for what was to come.
I believe we saw 4 bands that evening, all with unmistakable talent, however for me, there was one stand out of the night and that was Blood & Glass of Montreal. The band consists of front woman Lisa Iwanycki Moore, Morgan Moore on bass, Robbie Kuster on drums, and Melanie Belair on violin.
It was one of those scenarios where you could tell before they even played a note that they would either be really great or totally bad. I was not disappointed. I’ve lived in Toronto for the past 8 years and to date, Blood & Glass was one of the most entertaining shows that I have been to in that entire time.. and I see live music on a very regular basis.
Unfortunately, my co-judge was late showing up that evening and he missed their set, therefore the band came in second for the evening. Highway robbery if you ask me.
I got front woman Lisa’s information and we had a great conversation about her background in performance and music, sexism in the industry, and her professional goals for the band.
Here is a little bit of that conversation:
SZ :: Your live show is so dramatic and eccentric. Do you have any sort of performance background beyond music?
LIM :: I studied Opera at age 14 until I was 19. My parents were hardcore rockers. My dad’s band in the ‘60s was called ‘The Haunted’ and my mother was their go-go dancer. The only way for me to rebel as a teenager was to sing Opera. It destroyed them. When I started playing in punk bands they were very, very pleased.
SZ :: Are there other females in music that have influenced your performance style?
LIM :: Definitely! I love Peaches, Karen O, Kathleen Hanna, Bjork and Siouxsie Sioux. I like female performers who really take their place on stage, flex every muscle and move to every corner — adding a wee bit of danger to the mix. When I’m singing introverted ballads I try to channel Ella or Arethra and their ability to stand still yet be so commanding. It’s like their singing comes from their feet and resonates in every cell of their body. For theatricality I really look at a lot of men as my heroes and I think my feminism comes in feeling I can do what they do: Alice Cooper, David Bowie, Nick Cave… provocative, iconic and in full control.
SZ :: Your music is very feminine, not in an exclusionary way, but in the sexuality of the performance and the groove. Is there a feminist message that you are trying to convey? Do you want to leave your female audience members with a certain feeling?
LIM :: Absolutely. I hate anything to do with ‘pretty.’ Pretty is not sexy. It is formulaic and unoriginal. I love Madonna’s ability in the 80s and 90s to really point out that sexuality is about feeling hot in yourself and not needing anyone’s approval. Sexual attraction is often animal… it is someone’s smell… it is the space in someone’s front teeth. It is in the hair on someone’s arms… and what one person finds incredibly sexy another finds repulsive. I approach my music and my persona in this way: make sure it is not attractive to everyone. It has to be you, truly you. If everyone likes it I failed. Only appeal to a special few and you will be making art that is true.
SZ :: If money were no option and you could put on whatever kind of show you wanted, at any venue, with whatever theatrics, costumes, etc.. what would that look like?
LIM :: My dream Blood and Glass concert would take place in a church. There would be fake dark clouds and lightening inside the church and I would wear a cape and disappear at the alter then reappear upstairs to play the church organ. There would be a string quartet of ladies dressed in black lace and fake tears accompanying Blood and Glass and it would have 5.1 surround sound with scary whispers coming alive between songs. Next album is brewing I guess…
SZ :: You are a young band with a sound and quality to the music that is almost “ahead of its time”. Has this been a positive/negative for you?
LIM :: We’ve been lucky and have been playing to really open-minded audiences. We toured across the US and Canada opening for Patrick Watson and have done two huge tours all across Italy where we were incredibly well received. I appreciate that you say the music is ahead of its time! I see it as pop! Hahahahha. Of course not all shows are winners and some people don’t like it, but I believe strong art evokes feelings of love or hate… If someone came up to me and said, “I hate your music” I would prefer it over, “Your music is so chill…” The last thing I want to be is forgettable. I want to make a statement. And not everyone likes it when a woman makes a strong statement. But honestly, most of our concerts have ended with the room dancing. This pleases me.
SZ :: Have you encountered sexism in music? In what way(s)?
LIM :: I’ve battled with major labels and people in my past who’ve asked me to be “more sexy” on stage suggesting I wear high heels and show cleavage. I always find this so boring. Yet another female in show business showing her stomach or her bra, moving her hips in a mini skirt… It’s not my style. If I wear a mini skirt, it’s for me, not for them, and I’ll probably offset it with scary makeup, you know? I’ve had many men fall in love with me but no one has ever come to me out of no where to tell me I’m hot. And that’s how I’d like to keep it. My sense of validation doesn’t come from strangers telling me I’m attractive. It comes from making people laugh by telling really dorky jokes on tour and by making art I believe in.
SZ :: Do you have a feminist statement/message/sentiment that you would like to end with? If not, that’s totally cool.
LIM :: I think the most powerful thing a woman can do is stop being jealous of other women. We will all achieve more on a personal level and at large if we see ourselves as in this together.