MILF & DILF: Brooklyn’s Most Charming Rock-n-Roll Duo

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

One of the greatest things about love is that it spurs creativity. Brooklynite and personal trainer Sharissa Reichert and her artist/musician hubby G.F. Newland (“Gerry”) embody the idealized vision of having a band with your lover. Shortly after falling in love five years ago, the single parents of grown sons created MILF & DILF — a cabaret-punk-style/keys-washboard duo that dispatches tons of blunt but beautiful music that is as eclectic as the New York City borough in which they dwell.

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MILF & DILF

We recently caught up with Sharissa (MILF) to find out what’s next for the band. Read on and feel inspired on Valentine’s Day — or any day, really:

Rockmommy: So. MILF & DILF’s been doing this cabaret mom-and-pop/antifolk thing for a while now. How would you describe the music you make with Gerry?

Sharissa Reichert: Screw Wave or Art by Misadventure. But, deep down our music really ’60s punk, because Gerry is into ’60s music and the Beatles and I am into punk. Some people compare us to the band Suicide, but that is way too flattering, although we may be as screwed up as those guys.

Rockmommy: Could you tell us about the songwriting process?

Sharissa Reichert: DILF is a brilliant songwriter. It is almost annoying that he writes a song about EVERYTHING. When we are at home I say to DILF (Gerry)  ‘Gee, honey I am glad you liked the dinner I made or the sex we just had — you wrote a song about it!” There are also many songs written about my butt. We both write the lyrics and come up with the song ideas, and I write a little bit of the music. “Rendalsham Forest,” our classic UFO hit, was created when I was just goofing off, banging on the washboard, and imitating Siouxie and singing about a famous UFO case. The rest of the song fell into place. “Charmless” was written when Gf and I had a big fight about an ex-boyfriend of mine being in town. We were so mad at each other in the Studio and wrote “Charmless” on the spot in 10 minutes. It was one of the Golden Moments in ROCK. The video of that songwriting moment is on our Facebook page. I wrote the song “VD” about Gf asking me to be in an exclusive relationship.

Rockmommy: What’s it like balancing a band with your partner, parenting your son and step son, and working as a personal trainer? What advice do you have? 

Sharissa Reichert: Only a sick mind would attempt such a feat LOL. I love my job — I am probably at the top of my field as a personal trainer for with a focus on seniors and special needs clients and recently expanded into selling exercises equipment online through a website called Plazah.

I have an online essential oils store though Young Living, and am sending out other trainers to clients and training an assistant.

Our Adult offspring live next door to us, they are roommates. Our kids and my son’s girlfriend are over all of the time. We have these big family dinners together where my son and I cook. It is very fun and cool to have the youngsters around.

Being a couple and in the band is fine, we each have a role. I do all of the promotion and booking and DILF does most of the songwriting and our fliers. Our very intense chemistry shows through on stage I think.

How do I get through this all? I am into Buddhist meditation with the SGI USA group. I got the advice from a Buddhist perspective to bring as much humanity as I can into everything I do. People ask how do I do it all, the answer is by Chanting and Buddhist meditation. You also need to take the time to refresh, take an occasional nap, get enough sleep, eat properly. I also have a wonderful Massage Therapist Lindai to help me with the physical stress of work. Being in good shape helps too. DILF is also my running partner. It’s kind of embarrassing though, because I am a professional exercise instructor but he kicks my ass at running!

Rockmommy: You and DILF married in October. Has anything changed, musically, as a result of going to the next level of commitment?

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Washboard player and singer Sharissa Reichert of MILF & DILF

Sharissa Reichert: There is really no difference now that we are married and the commitment and the officialness of us. We are getting older, I mean how many more people do you need to date at a certain point, I mean really? We have been together five years and we are such a good match.

Rockmommy: What are your plans for 2018? 

Sharissa Reichert: We are recording our first album “Live from the MILF-ferd Plaza” this year. I am hoping Dean Ripsler, who used to be in Karen Black and the Dictators, will produce us.

We are gigging at Arlene’s Grocery with wonderful YOU, ROCKMOMMY, on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Even Twice is also on the bill for that night. We want to expand to out of town gigs too.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy

Why my Goals Are Better than Serious Rock-n-Roll Resolutions

by Marisa Torrieri

New Year’s Resolutions have become a bit of a cliche. Overly ambitious declarations destined to fail most of the time.

Still, I start every year thinking, “OK, this is it! This is the year I play guitar for an hour a day every single day no matter what. And if I don’t, then I’m lazy. Now GO!”

And then life happens. This week, two unexpected life events threw off my post-NYE ambitions:

1.) I cut my pinky finger while slicing vegetables for dinner, an event that led to lots of gushing blood, panicked cries of “Oh my God, Oh my God,” and a trip to my local urgent care center. By the end of the night, I was banned from washing my kids or doing anything that would get my now-surgically-glued-together pinky.

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The finger I sliced open on Jan. 2. Two hours later, it was surgically glued back together. Yay!

2.) The weather decided to move up its plans to deliver four inches a foot of snow and an obnoxious amount of post-apocalyptic winds to New England. This led to school cancellations, which forced me to cancel my highlights appointment (my biggest, and very occasional, indulgence), and start to fret about spending a whole day at home (did I mention I didn’t exercise Wednesday? Now I’m missing two days of exercise this week! UGH! I hate that!).

Then I look at the broader picture. I’m a mom and a wife, a skilled musician and freelance writer who gets regular gigs. I teach guitar, I tutor writers, I help my older son with his homework. I’m also an aunt and a granddaughter, a sister-in-law. I have more friends than I can count.

In 2017, I played five original shows (including one with Grandma’s Mini, my band in DC, plus three solo shows and one cover-band gig). I got an article published in Guitar World magazine. I posed for a zillion photos, looking like a 20-something. We expanded our house. My family’s health is good. I have so much to be grateful for.

By setting goals that are reasonable, not forced like resolutions, we can accomplish so many things. Better than that, we can accomplish these things without feeling bad, like we failed.

So today as I sit in my house, and the blizzard whirls around outside, I’d like to try to make 2018 the year of patience: I’d like to be more patient with my children, more patient with circumstances I can’t control (like the weather), more patient with my spouse, and more patient with my progress — not just as a person, but as a musician, writer, runner and traveler. I’d like to think that things we are putting off this year (like a trip to Disney World) will come later, so I needn’t be envious of my peers.

Perhaps I can channel my energy into gratitude, instead.

Marisa Torrieri is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

5 Heavy Metal Artists I Wish would Make a Children’s Record

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

In 2016, I interviewed a ton of rock mamas who made children’s music — from big name rockers like Amy Lee of Evanescence and Priscilla Ahn to kid-music-genre mainstays like Laurie Berkner.

But I couldn’t help but wonder, as my kids and I jammed out to each of these ladies’ records, what would an Axl Rose children’s album sound like? Or one by Ozzy Osborne?

And so I arrive at this list: The five heavy metal artists whom I wish would make a children’s record:

1. Alice Cooper. The shock rocker and “Trash” talker in eyeliner (and dad) would definitely have my attention if he wrote an alternate version of “Poison” with lyrics that touched on the dangers of drinking tonics in the medicine cabinet (or breaking into Dad’s pillbox and downing his cholesterol medication).

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Rockmommy Lita Ford

2. Slash. The lead guitar virtuoso with the killer black hair would bring legions of toddlers to the Hair Metal Nation station if he recorded an electric-guitar version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and planted a face-melting spider-solo (whereupon his fingers crawled down the neck of the guitar) at the end of the song. No doubt his sons would be jamming out to this tune, too.

3. Lita Ford. The mother of metal (and two grown boys) shreds with the best of them, and sings with the best of them, too. Who wouldn’t love to hear “Kiss me Deadly” reimagined with PG-rated lyrics that 4-year-olds could enjoy? Let’s see … “I went to the play date last Saturday Night … didn’t get to play, got in a fight. Oh no! It ain’t no big thing!” 

4. Glenn Danzig. Deep down, Mr. D. is definitely a mama’s boy (I mean, c’mon, he has a song called “Mother,” right?). I’d love him to turn that “Mother” song into a kid-friendly version so 5th graders everywhere could sing, “mama? Do you wanna bang heads with me?” Or maybe he could try rewriting the lyrics to Lucifuge’s “Long way Back from Hell” so kids would hear his big voice atop a cool, dive-bomb guitar tune?

5. Sepultura. We need more gravelly death metal vocals in children’s music, because they pay homage to Cookie Monster. And they help children who aren’t aspiring to be Adele have more realistic goals (e.g., to sound like Cookie Monster). Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura, who wrote one of my favorite records (Chaos A.D.) and has another tour coming up (how they’ve managed to survive with all those lineup changes is beyond me) is well positioned for this kind of project.

Did I miss any good ones? I’d love to hear any other ideas for a heavy metal children’s album, so please post in the comments and thoughts below.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Finding Gratitude in Playing Solo Shows When You Don’t Have Time for a Band

By necessity — for lack of time and resources — I’ve defaulted to the category of “solo” artist. And in November, I’ll bring my one-woman act (Marisa Mini) to two venues: Branded Saloon in Brooklyn, and The Lumberyard in Redding, CT.

In some ways, this is a blessing. It’s also the way I started, and the way many (if not most) of us start playing music. Flying solo, I have the ultimate flexibility in my set list: If I feel like playing an old tune from 2003, I can pay it. If I want to play the tune with a cool reverb effect, I don’t have to run this by anyone. Ultimately, it’s my decision to go with the reverb. Or with the flanger, etc.

I have complete creative control over wardrobe, too: I can’t tell a bassist to wear a sexy leotard (I wouldn’t do that anyway, but still!). If I’m feeling like a leotard, I’ll put one on. Or if I’m just in an Vans-and-jeans mood, that works, too.

Yet as thrilling as it is to play a set that I control, there’s something lonely about the prospect of playing a solo show. Especially because I know how wonderful and fun it is to collaborate with other musicians.

If I have more time by myself, I can get into a self-critical mode, second guessing my song choices or even whether or not I can hit notes in my head voice. Also, without the live sounding board of a band, I don’t know if the set arrangement I’ve considered represents the right choice.

The vibe of a solo show is different from the vibe of a full-band show — and this kind of sucks sometimes. I don’t want to be a “coffeehouse girl” — I want to be a full-fledged rock and roller! But the sole act of playing guitar all by myself, only accompanied by a microphone and an amp, screams “coffeehouse girl.”

There’s also something terrifying too. When you’re playing with a band, the entire team shares the blame when a mistake is made. Because if you sound shitty, it doesn’t matter if it’s because the guitar is out of tune or the drums are ill-timed with the bass.

When you’re solo, you are the one who is credited for your amazing pipes or clever lyrics. But you’re also the one who is frowned upon when you play the wrong note.

I can no longer blame “the drummer” if there isn’t a drummer to blame!

The bottom line is that I simply don’t have time for anything else but a solo show. I don’t have time to search high and low for musicians, or to even drive to a rehearsal space that’s more than 10 miles in from my home. I don’t have time to argue with bandmates about how a set should or shouldn’t be arranged. I only have time to finesse my guitar chops in the comfort of my own home, and to sing when no one is listening.

But I can promise you this: I play an engaging and sonically inspiring set at both my Brooklyn and Redding shows this month. I know this because I’m practicing my tail off, sneaking in guitar-fingering exercises ever hour or so, while my kids are in preschool.

So I hope to see some of you there!

Saturday, November 5

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Branded Saloon, Brooklyn, CT (with the Girls Rock & Girls Rule Crew)

Saturday, November 19,

8 p.m.

The Lumberyard, Redding, CT (with Catalina Shortwave, Fuzzqueen, and others)

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

‘I Started a Band with my Toddler’: The Nap Skippers’ Julie Rustad on Life and Gigging with a Wee One

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Lots of musician parents dream of their offspring rocking the stage one day, perhaps after their kid finishes high school. But for drummer mom Julie Rustad and her guitarist husband Jon, their son Syver hadn’t even hit kindergarten before he started showing an interest in the big stage!

Today, the Tucson, Ariz.-based Rustads — Julie, Jon, and 5-year-old son Syver — rock out, family style, at all-ages events across the country with their band The Nap Skippers.

And for moms like me, who play guitar and sing, it’s pretty inspirational to watch.

Recently, mama Julie Rustad chatted with Rockmommy about what it’s like to start a band with your musically inclined toddler — from practicing to playing a gig in front of lots of other families and little ones. While creating a family band might not make sense for every rocker mom — especially if your child, like mine, hates performing — it’s pretty neat to see how the Rustads make it work.

(And if you want to listen while you read, check out their new single “I’m a Desert Dweller” on iTunes or Spotify). Or, check out our video page to catch a glimpse of the three-piece family band!

Rockmommy: How did you get started as a musician? 

Julie Rustad: When I lived in Philly I would play [drums] on cardboard boxes, and took one basic drumming class at Drexel. My first kit was a digital Yamaha kit because I lived in an apartment.

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The Nap Skippers with Syver Rustad on guitar and lead vocals, and Julie Rusted on drums. Photo credit: SpryTime (Tucson Festival of Books)

My first band started when I moved to Tucson about 13 years ago and it was an all-girl rock band. It got started because the band, a three-piece, they needed a drummer. We called it Sara Bellum. I was out one night, and mentioned I was a self-taught drummer, and this guy I knew mentioned the band, and said, ‘these girls I know are looking for a female drummer. You should hook up with them.’ When I got in the band, I got an acoustic kit.

Rockmommy: How did things change when you became a mom?

JR: My son will be six in September, so he’s over five and a half and he’s my only child. Before I had him, I was in a band called Mozart Sister, and the HypnoGogs with my husband, Jon, and up until 8 months pregnant I was playing shows. Once I had my son, I realized it’s really hard to have an adult band with your spouse — you’ve got to get a sitter, because you’re going to be out, and practice is really hard because of the baby. The family band came as a natural way to do music. So things really shifted from “rock and roll” to family friendly music.

Rockmommy: How did that make you feel? 

JR: It’s really fun because our son’s a natural, to see him thrive is really fun. As for me, I do miss rocking out and that kind of thing. So it’s a balance of feelings.

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The Rustads (with Jon on guitar and Syver on vocals) play Tucson Festival of Books. Photo by SpryTime

Rockmommy: How old was he when you got started? 

JR: He was 2 or 3. He’s the lead singer, and so … I think it was his second birthday we had a party at the Children’s Museum, and we said, ‘hey, let’s just play some music, some kids’ songs.’ Everyone loved it and that’s how our band was formed. If you go on napskippers.com, you’ll see live videos — he’s the lead and he sings all the songs, and plays different instruments — none obviously, he’s super proficient in — but he’ll strum guitar, or play harmonica. And the first song he wrote was when he was about 3 was called, “Cowboy Kitty.”

Rockmommy: How do you sit down and write a song with a three year old?

JR: I credit Jon, who would kind of sit with Syver, and make a tune while Syver would talk about the words, [like] about this cowboy kitty who’s riding a horse. Jon would come up with the melody and they would come up with it together. It’s almost like normal band practice when you’re writing music when you’re older and doing it too. He’s really humorous!

Rockmommy: Can you tell us about the name ‘Nap Skippers’?

JR: The funny part is he took naps up until the beginning of summer because he started camp, so he had been an awesome napper until he was five, so it’s kind of a joke. But the play on the name is that it sounds a little rebellious [like rock and roll].

Rockmommy: How often do you practice, and play gigs? 

JR: We practice maybe every two weeks. When we have a show, we’ll practice more. We play shows, and we’ve played for our county fairs. Why it took off is that there’s all these family-friendly venues that love having entertainment but family-friendly entertainment. Kids can relate to Syver because he’s a kid! And because he’s a kid, no two shows are ever the same. Sometimes he’ll come up with a weird joke, or do some new move.

Rockmommy: Does he have stage fright?

JR: He does not have any stage fright. We once played for 500 people in North Dakota. The more the better for him. That’s what I mean about him being a natural. I’d be such a shitty parent if I forced him to ‘do it’ or ‘go out there.’ But he loves it!

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The Nap Skippers. Photo credit: Trish Winter

Rockmommy: Don’t you have to have structure at shows? 

JR: He reads the order of the songs we play on paper. We’ve really kept the set kind of the same for a long time. He does like knowing the order of stuff, and we keep it pretty consistent, so if I try to switch the order he knows.

Practice is disjointed, but when there are people there, he feels like it’s a performance [and takes it seriously]. That’s what does it for him — having an audience. Once, when were going to audition for “America’s Got Talent,” one of the talent guys said, ‘send us a good video,’ so we kept recording us playing songs. But when I saw the videos I realized something was missing. Syver seemed kind of ‘blah’ so I asked one of his classmates and her family to come to our studio …  and that’s the video I ended up sending to “America’s Got Talent” — it was better when he had someone to play to. That’s what does it for him. He loves having an audience.

Rockmommy: Does he want to play any instruments?

JR: He says he wants to learn guitar. He’s five and a half, so now we think he’s ready to learn some of the chords.

Rockmommy: If someone wants to play music with their kids, what advice do you have? 

JR: Jon always has a guitar in the living room. I would say, definitely, keep your instruments out and allow for jamming and being spontaneous. Keep them accessible. And make it fun. Band practice is so random, it’s short and he’s all over the place. He’ll jump from the banjo to the ukulele — and Jon and I will hold down the guitar and drum parts — but, you know, he’s a kid. You’ve got to treat it loosely.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

Reflections on the Christina Grimmie Tragedy: Why it Hits Home for Musician Moms

— by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

It’s been a crazy month. Between processing heaps of terrible news while balancing motherhood and life, I haven’t had much time to mull over a particularly disturbing incident that has rattled me since Newtown: the shooting death of up-and-coming Voice singer Christina Grimmie at age 22.

Obviously, I felt numb and stunned after I heard the news of her June 10, 2016, passing. I’d gotten to “know” her as a contestant on The Voice, which I watch pretty regularly. She had a perfect voice, and a sunny, bubbly disposition that made her an easy favorite.

Unfortunately, I barely had time to dwell on the sadness over her passing when another, bigger Orlando-area tragedy struck the next night, which ended with the death of 49 innocent club-goers.

The Pulse tragedy overshadowed Grimmie’s death, understandably because of its magnitude, but it didn’t lessen its impact. Now that a couple of weeks have passed, and the reality of what happened to Grimmie has “settled” in, I’ve had some time to think about why her death affected me so much.

As a female musician who’s fronted several bands, I am familiar with fan obsession (albeit to a lesser degree). I’ve never been famous — my biggest accomplishments in the performance/songwriter realm never amounted to a fraction of what Grimmie amassed — but I’ve had a handful of fans (mostly men) who’ve made me uncomfortable at one time or another. Usually, these creepy dudes would leave me alone after I made it clear that their e-mails/Myspace messages/proposals of love were unrequited.

Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones who never “made it.” The more famous a musician gets, the more likely it becomes that he or she will encounter some truly psychologically “off” fans and/or obsessive types. While my heart goes out to those individuals whose dispositions stray far from “normal” (any of us could have been born with, or developed, a stigmatizing mental illness), I feel more sorry for those who achieve any degree of fame at the expense of safety.

Former Voice winner Craig Wayne Boyd encapsulated my feelings — and those of several musicians — when he told Taste of Country, “Any artist will tell you, the meet and greets, and the personal connection to the fans, that’s a lot of why we do what we do … for that time and intimate moment to be violated like it was in this instance is devastating.”

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Christina Grimmie

The Grimmie tragedy has impacted bigger-name acts as well. Singer Meghan Trainor freaked out so much that she told Page Six she planned to beef up security. “I go out all the time without security, and you just never know,” she told the publication. “You have no idea who’s out there obsessed with you to the point that they would do something like that.”

Beyond being a musician, I’m also a mom in an era of instant fame and YouTube sensations. It’s easier than ever for crazed fans from all over the world to encounter and become obsessed with an up-and-coming entertainer. Today, my oldest child is closer in age to 22-year-old Grimmie than I am. It’s a sobering reminder that what happened to Grimmie could happen to my son(s), or any of my friends’ children should they decide to pursue music and become reasonably successful.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.

For Trophy Wife’s Katy Otto, Motherhood Inspires New Creative Endeavors — and an Appreciation for Free Time

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

As any new parent will tell you, having a baby shifts your world in unimaginable ways.

Yet there are some new moms, between diapers and deadlines and sleepless nights, who seem truly unstoppable in continuing their life’s journey, babe on their hip, embracing motherhood while strengthening their purpose, motivated to find new meaning in their life, work, and service.

Katy Otto is one of these women.

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Katy Otto with her son David, now 1.

When Otto, the drummer and singer of Trophy Wife, the band she shares with co-collaborator/musician friend Diane Foglizzo, isn’t busy raising her one-year-old son David with her partner, she’s busy creating art and continuing her activism for numerous issues — such as LGBT rights, gender equality, and a focus on parenting that is less about what you have and more about what you do and how you choose to live.

We interviewed Otto recently to learn more about her quest to balance working (at Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania!), music (she also has her own label, Exotic Fever), and motherhood.

Check out our full Q&A  — especially if you’re a rocker mom looking for some good, gritty inspiration on getting your groove back.

Rockmommy: You’ve been a mom for a little more than a year and recently you played your first show in a while. What was the experience like?

Katy Otto: The first show I played post-birth was with my band Trophy Wife in Durham, N.C., at the Pinhook on December 11. My son David was just over six months old. The show was a bit of a drive from where my band lives in Philly, so we took David with us and dropped him off on the way at my parents’ house in Bowie, Maryland. He stayed with my folks overnight for the evening of the show.

The Pinhook was celebrating its seventh anniversary. The space is a queer punk club in the south, and it means a great deal to our band. We were honored that they invited us to play, and while we had thought about waiting a bit more to get out and play a show, this seemed like the right time to do it. I was still nursing at the time, so I pumped in the club (with a cover on) basically just in the middle of the room. It was pretty intense but felt like one of the most punk things I’ve ever done, actually. The sound guy looked a little surprised but rolled with it. Everyone was very accommodating — I stored my milk under the bar by a keg.

The show itself was incredible. We were overwhelmed by the amount of support people in Durham showed us, some even knowing our lyrics. I think it had been the longest stretch in my life I had gone not playing music in front of people since I started as a teenager. I was very nervous, but once our set started, that all evaporated. I felt very whole and like myself being able to be in my element like that, particularly with my bandmate Diane.

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Katy and David

Rockmommy: Are you still creating new music with Trophy Wife, and Diane Foglizzo?

Katy Otto: Yup! Diane and I have written four songs since our last album: two while I was pregnant and two since David’s birth. We’ve been playing out and even traveling here and there for shows. It’s been great. I’ve also been grateful for the support of my partner, family, and friends in helping to provide childcare so I can rehearse and play out. I also play in a four-piece band in Philly called Callowhill that is finalizing songs for our first full length. We have a seven inch/digital EP out.

Rockmommy: Do you think it is more challenging to keep up with the Philly rock scene you were an active participant in now that you are a parent?

Katy Otto: I am not able to go out to shows I am not playing as much, but I still feel very connected to Philly’s underground music community. I moved to Philly six years ago after living in the D.C. metro area my whole life. I am so glad I made that decision. Philadelphia is extraordinary in terms of the music, art, and activism people are involved in. I also know a number of other creative parents and recently did a series of interviews while I was on maternity leave with people on balancing parenting and creative practice. If you are interested in reading them they are here: http://www.fvckthemedia.com/issue63/frontpage

Rockmommy: Do you think mom musicians, in general, have it harder than other musicians (e.g., single men, dads, etc.)? In what ways?

Katy Otto: I don’t think anything is that cut and dry. I don’t think gender is binary. I think there are many factors at play, including the support networks people have, as well as other resources such as money. I have been fortunate in weaving together a strong web of support to allow me to continue my musical practice. I also have very understanding band mates in both of my active bands. There are some aspects of societal gender roles that have meant that, in general, I think there are more challenges for a mother even just perceptually when she is away from her child and out in the world doing things. For example, I’ve had even “progressive” male friends ask me when I’ve been at a show I am about to play if my partner Chris is “babysitting.” It really is mind boggling. I think one time I said, “Who would he be babysitting?” Dads parent their children. They don’t babysit their own children. This is an annoying kind of question, but I also think any single parent is going to obviously have a host of different challenges that I don’t have as a co-parent managing childcare and an outside life, regardless of gender.

I will say that I know a number of cis men in hetero relationships who are musicians who I have seen have a very different experience than I have. They have said to me that becoming a parent didn’t vastly impact their ability to tour, etc., or the activity of their band, but in a lot of these cases I’ve seen that that is because their female partner bears the brunt of child rearing duties. When I did my interview series, I did interview men who play in bands, but I specifically chose to speak with men who I knew where playing a very active role in their children’s lives — including some single fathers. I think the question you pose is complex and I don’t think there is a clearcut answer.

Rockmommy: How has motherhood influenced your music, or creativity in general?

Katy Otto: I view the time I have to play music now as more precious than ever, and I value it as sacred. I feel drive to be out and present in the world, doing the thing that has meant the most to me since I was a teen. I want to have both – motherhood and a creative life. I think there are also all kinds of ways to be a mother, and we can challenge that definition all the time. My bandmate recently got me an awesome book called Revolutionary Mothering. It provides a lot of excellent conversations on motherhood as experienced by queer women, women of color, and low income women. It really has challenged a lot of stereotypes I’ve seen and absorbed in the dominant culture about motherhood since I was a child. I am incredibly grateful for this book and can’t recommend it enough.

I am also only just learning how motherhood will affect my creativity, since I am new to this. It’s been hard to eke out the same space and time to create, but again I feel so grateful when I have it that I think I pour a lot into it. I am interested in building networks and relationships with other mothers and parents so we can pitch in and help each other out with child care and support as we all continue to create in the world. I want my child to be part of a beloved community of mutuality, and working towards that also seems like its own kind of creative practice. I have always felt like community organizing and social justice work, indeed political imagination in general, were urgent forms of creative practice.

I also think my interest in heavy, dissonant music has only continued to grow the older I get. So far I think motherhood has only added to that.

Rockmommy: We always like to ask rockmommies about balance — have you found a way to balance your motherhood, work, and other endeavors? Or is it something you’re still working toward?

Katy Otto: This is a constant work in progress, and I know many other mothers know much more than I do. I have not been afraid to reach out and ask for support, and I’ve been humbled and lucky to receive it. I have a partner who is very committed to an equitable sharing of childcare and other domestic work. We both work full time too, so we’re continuing to negotiate what that looks like. He is very dedicated to jiu jitsu practice, and I try to make sure he has enough time out of the house for that, too. We check in about scheduling regularly. It’s a lot to balance work, creative life, parenting, and time for our relationship with each other. A key has been the help of friends and family. David, my son, has a beautiful array of other people in his life. This feels really positive to me and right for our family.

Recently Trophy Wife played a benefit show for Decarcerate PA in Pittsburgh that offered childcare on site, in a room with sound protection. That was an incredible experience — David’s first trip as a roadie. Part of how it worked was the combination of a supportive partner who understands my need to drive across the state and play music in DIY venues, a bandmate who is incredibly accommodating to a person with a child, and a community that actively supports and welcomes parents. The show was a release for the second edition of the zine “Women in Sound” by Madeleine Campbell. She is a phenomenal human being and you should definitely check her zine out here.

Rockmommy: What is the best motherhood advice you’ve received, which is worthy of being passed along?

Katy Otto: I hold on to something that Ian MacKaye of all people told me, when I had a lengthy conversation with him while pregnant. He basically shared the idea that the single best way for me to parent was to continue being my authentic self. It’s been important for me to know that when I am living in the world as the person I’ve worked hard to be, that will help me be who my child needs. The instinct to parent is in our bones. We can make the roads by walking, as the book I mentioned Revolutionary Mothering emphasizes. We can reject blueprints and paradigms that aren’t right for us, some of which reinforce dangerous binaries and stereotypes. I continue to be inspired by so many of my friends who parent and create with beauty, imagination, and courage — and I’m particularly grateful for all the folks who allowed me to interview them for the series I mentioned before. I hope to keep adding to it, and I hope it can be part of ongoing conversations.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy