Should you Changes Lyrics for a New Audience?

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

I’m a pretty wholesome mom, inside and out. Except when I write songs. When I sit down with my guitar at night and start strumming, the first lyrics that come to mind aren’t about dinosaurs and eating vegetables. I drift to another place — my mind drawn to more salacious topics, like sex and politics or even gay rights and gun ownership. I’ve been known to drop more F bombs than your average mom singer (is there an “average mom singer,” though?).  

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with songs about dinosaurs — kindie-rock performers like Laurie Berkner write some killer dinosaur tunes. But it’s not the way I’m wired. For this reason, I use a stage name that’s separate from my real identity so my guitar students will have a harder time finding my music online.

Here’s the problem: Unlike my contemporaries who are famous, I don’t have the luxury of playing whatever gig at whatever venue I want whenever I want. While I believe moms should be proud to be themselves — whether they want to write about dinosaurs or sexual fantasies — club promoters and bar managers don’t aways see it that way. So unless I’m playing a dive bar or indie-rock show in Brooklyn, I feel pressured to alter my lyrics considerably. Sometimes, I’ll have to completely gut a song, lyrically — which inevitably leaves me feeling a little empty. 

This happened at First Night Delaware about 15 years ago, with my D.C. band Grandma’s Mini. We were given $400 to play a New Year’s Eve gig for four hours, only to learn last minute that we would be playing four back-to-back sets in a library. Yes, a LIBRARY! Children would be coming to see us!! If you’ve ever heard Grandma’s Mini — whose most famous song, “Learn to Love Your Sh*t Job” was featured in the indie flick Washington Interns Gone Bad — you know that most of our songs aren’t meant for the ears of innocent children. So it was a mad, 20-minute scramble for me and Ann (my music partner) to come up with alternate lyrics.

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Playing “not so innocent” music with my band Grandma’s Mini

While I don’t mind playing cute songs like “Baby Shark” or “Shiny” when I’m playing a library gig or for my sons’ preschool, I hate watering down content like this. Sometimes I wonder if it’s better to turn down gigs altogether than change in the slightest, which can feel inauthentic. When money’s involved, the decision gets a little harder. Ann and I weren’t about to let go of $400 after we’d booked hotels and arrived on site. 

There are other considerations too. I’m a super-busy mom who rocks — but also works. I barely have time to market my band, or any musical project I’m involved in. I can’t be picky. If I get asked to play at any event, it’s an honor.

On the other hand, life is short: People shouldn’t have to compromise who they are in their hearts. Cardi B doesn’t!

What would you do if you were in my shoes? Take the gigs that require a change in lyrical content, or just be grateful for what you get and adapt as needed? 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor of Rockmommy.

‘Daddy Issues’: Why the 2019 Indie Film is Perfect for Mommy’s Next Date Night In

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Provider. Breadwinner. Jack-of-all-trades. These days, dads are so much more than these singular identities suggest. But the definition of “father figure” truly hits another level in the film “Daddy Issues,” available for download on April 19.

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Daddy Issues movie — ready to download, just in time for Easter.

A quick synopsis: When queer pixie Maya (Madison Lawlor) falls for social media starlet Jasmine (Montana Manning), her life is about to change in profound, unexpected ways. But little does Maya, who would do anything to escape her miserable, suburban upbringing, know that her Insta-crush has a secret: an illicit, ongoing love affair with a guy she calls Daddy (Andrew Pifko) who pays her bills but keeps her tied down (in more ways than one).

“Daddy Issues” isn’t the kind of Netflix flick you’d watch with your 6-year-old. It’s full of adults-only sexual explorations and powerful, jarring intersections that’ll stick with you long after the credits roll. But it is the kind of movie that makes you want to tuck in the kiddos and then race to the living room to snuggle up with your sweetie (or a bottle of Prosecco) for some intimate, grown-up screen time (just make sure they’re sleeping first, OK?).

Here we talk to award-winning director Amara Cash on parenting, love and inspiration – and why “Daddy Issues” is the best way to experience your next date night in.

Rockmommy: ‘Daddy Issues’ is a coming-of-age story. What was the inspiration for Maya’s character?

Amara Cash: Well, from the onset, screenwriter Alex Bloom and I knew we wanted to do a movie with a queer protagonist. For the details of Maya, specifically, I was inspired by the beautiful artistry, makeup, and fashion of the subcultures Pastel emo, Lolita goth, and pixie that I found on Instagram, Pinterest, and BLOGS.

Rockmommy: Why is a film like ‘Daddy Issues’ resonating so well with filmgoers (especially millennials)?

Amara Cash: My approach often resonates with millennials because of the style and aesthetic. It’s fast-paced and explores sexuality and alternative lifestyle in an objective, non-judgmental way. Although love triangles are classic, I’ve never seen one from this angle!

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‘Daddy Issues’ Director Amara Cash on set.

Rockmommy: Our readers are often parents struggling with the pressure to be amazing parents. How do the parents in the movie struggle to do the same?

Amara Cash: This movie isn’t exactly stacked with model parents, but I think most parents, most of the time, are doing their best. In ‘Daddy Issues’ we spend a lot of time exploring why people are the way they are; how their past informs their present. This is especially true with the parents in the movie.

Rockmommy: Is ‘Daddy Issues’ more of a “let’s snuggle on the couch and watch this” movie or a “let’s have our friends over and get smashed” movie?

Amara Cash: I think it can be both. The film is equally romantic, exciting and disturbing and it’s quite a ride. So if you’re snuggling, hold on tight, and if you’re partying, just let go.

Rockmommy: If Daddy were to give parenting advice, what would it be?

Amara Cash: Encourage your children to be who they are and be there for them wherever they go.

Download ‘Daddy Issues’ on iTunes.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

Liz Phair, Proving that There isn’t an Age Cutoff for Wearing Miniskirts

Age shaming is a hot topic these days, mostly affecting women. There’s age discrimination in the workplace, in the arts and onstage. Collette McLafferty, author of Confessions of a Bad Ugly Singer, documented this experience succinctly, having spent every year since her 25th birthday being told she was too old to make it big in music.

[RELATED: Collette McLafferty Finds Her Most Powerful Voice in Wake of $10 Million Lawsuit]

One of the most insulting ways age discrimination manifests is through fashion. There are tons of videos on “what not to wear” when you’ve hit a certain milestone, like your 30th or 40th birthday. This Oprah magazine video, in which stylist Adam Glassman — #Adamsays — tries to convince a 48-year-old mom to swap her cute miniskirt for a pretty-but-boring turquoise sheath dress, encapsulates this attitude. You might look great and feel great in a miniskirt, but don’t you dare put one on unless you’re “a cougar” trying to attract young men. 

[RELATED: East Village Rocker Mama ReW Takes On ‘Mainstream’ Fashion in TLC Show]

But in an era when 40-year-old Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine can tear off his shirt during the Super Bowl and flaunt his perfect abs, I call BS on this double standard — and (probably) so does my rockmommy friend Rew, who was told on TLC’s “Love, Lust or Run” to drop her signature goth-dress-and-chunky-boot look for a more streamlined, body-hugging green dress that was supposedly more age appropriate.

And instead, I’d like to draw attention to the bold and badass Liz Phair, who recently told The Washington Post, “They’ll bury me in a miniskirt.” She was 51 at the time of the interview.

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Liz Phair

Seeing Liz Phair perform is inspiring. Exile in Guyville is one of the greatest records I’ve ever owned, and it pretty much captured all of my angsty, lusty, complicated emotions. I spent hours singing along to the CD in my car (as well as all follow-ups, including whitechocolatespaceegg and the self-titled Liz Phair). I’ve only seen Liz twice, but she commands her set like a pro. And she also does it while looking fantastic in a miniskirt! If she enjoys wearing one, why shouldn’t she? Why should some fashion “guru” create the rules of what we can and can’t wear?

Because Liz is a mom, she probably gets twice as much backlash. But again, motherhood should not dictate how a woman dresses, except that a mom should feel as comfortable and supported as possible when rearing young children. Motherhood does not mean a woman should stop wearing bikinis, miniskirts or whatever else makes her happy. 

So I’d like to raise a glass (of coffee) to Liz Phair, my idol in music and in fashion, an inspiring rocker and rock mama. Keep strutting your stuff, girl. Redefine what it means to be a fifty-something gal. All of us thirty- and forty-somethings are looking up to you. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy. 

NYC Rockmommy Rew Starr and Filmmaker Daughter Harlee Ludwig on Making the Perfect ‘Imperfect Girl’ Video

By Marisa Torrieri Bloom

ReW STaRR, one of New York City’s most beloved local singer-songwriters and off-Broadway actors, knows all about trying to be perfect. Whether she’s trying to adjust her wardrobe for TLC or meet songwriting deadlines, the pressure of achieving a certain standard is real for Rew. And her daughter Harlee Ludwig, a budding filmmaker, can identify, having come of age in the era of #metoo.

The twosome recently embarked on a fun, grueling and timely project – making the ‘Imperfect Girl’ video – which is exactly what the world needed on International Women’s Day. We recently caught up with Rew and Harlee to talk about the video’s significance. For those of you who couldn’t make the debut show at Branded Saloon in Brooklyn tonight, check out the video and Q&A.

Rockmommy: How did Imperfect Girl come about — the song & video and execution?  

Rew: I was actually asked to write a song called ‘Jewish girls.’ I literally couldn’t do it and ‘Imperfect girl’ was born… I don’t believe in organized religion just spirit but that explains some of the references in the song like ‘Jesus’ and ‘religion.’ Harlee heard the song one day on her Spotify and said “mom I know what song I want to make a video to … I think ‘imperfect girl’ has caught up to the time or the time has caught up to ‘imperfect girl.’

Harlee: The song was recorded years ago to a very almost chill and luau-type vibe definitely well produced. [For] the video we took a really low-fi approach because we wanted to really grasp the feeling that is sometimes achieved in Jim Jarmusch films where the focus isn’t supposed to be on some huge pay off or result, but more so the documentation of everyday occurrences that get taken for granted. This video specifically is set to show how much women go through every day without a necessary “pay off” or “appreciation” for it. But they do it all anyways because they have to.

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Rockmommy: Why do you think the song is so timely? 

Rew:Harlee thought with #metoo and all the significance to the women’s marching and movements happening these days this song is meant to finally to be heard.

Harlee:I think in the age of movements like #metoo, black feminism, gender fluidity, women fighting for equal pay and treatment, there is really no time like now for this song. So many of these movements have helped to show that women should not be held to this standard of “perfection” or whatever that means in a patriarchal society. We are all imperfect and for that reason we are all perfect. We do not need to be perfect to be respected. We just need to be people.

Rockmommy:What’s it like working together, mama and daughter?

Rew:Best best best… we got to spend so much time together filming all the inspirational people and I feel like being able to have this opportunity it was just the most beautiful thing in the world!!!

Harlee:It’s a fun experience because we can share the responsibilities. Since we both have different approaches to interacting with people and different tastes of what is powerful it left the door open for us taking and experimenting with various scenes and actions for all the beautiful actors and volunteers. It was also easy for us to almost telepathically communicate when anyone was running too long or if we had to stay on schedule with more shootings helping the entire thing go much more smoothly.

Rockmommy:Any challenges in making the video?

Rew:The challenges were mostly people wanting to be in it and too many conflicts with time. Other than that, none except for [an experience with an] Uber driver [on] one day — but I’m not sharing that skeleton!!!

Harlee:SCHEDULING!! When people are helping you on a volunteer bases it can become extremely difficult making a schedule and getting everyone to stick to it!

Rockmommy:What message or feeling do you hope people will get after seeing/experiencing “Imperfect Girl?”

Rew:That everyone is passionate and perfectly imperfect!!! Harlee really loves the idea of people being absolutely amazing just doing what they love to do … not the BIG GRANDIOSE things but the actual thing you do that gives you purpose and joy. That is the message I hope people will get … real is beautiful!

Harlee:I hope to find out 🙂 But in general I hope people realize how many little things they get done a day and how when you isolate those little moments you realize that even the days you feel you are wasting and not doing anything necessarily productive, you really are doing so much by just existing as an imperfect girl.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Bohemian Rhapsody: The Rockstar Movie That Caught Me By Surprise

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Bohemian Rhapsody — the biopic about Freddie Mercury, which celebrates Queen’s music — was not what I expected it to be. It was better. 

But I almost didn’t see it. With so much Oscar buzz around Lady Gaga and A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody was not at the top of my “must view” list. 

I love Queen’s songs: “We will Rock You,” “Another One Bites the Dust” and “We Are the Champions” are regulars on my iTunes playlists. But time is limited when you’re a parent of young children. Going to the movies typically means seeing a cartoon with a Disney princess, angry bird or Lego ninja. 

Also, I already knew the story of Freddie Mercury — or at least I thought I knew it. I’d heard the songs, and read articles from time to time about the lead singer of Queen who wrote epic rock n’ roll anthems and eventually died because of AIDS-related complications. But as it turned out, what I knew barely scratched the surface of who Mercury was, or his profound legacy. Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie, digs much deeper. 

Fortunately, life often has a way of giving me what I need. And last week, as I settled into my seat for a flight to Orlando, there it was, in the Delta movie queue. Ready to watch. 

I was hooked on the sweet, charismatic Mercury (Rami Malek) within the first few opening scenes, watching him slinging suitcases onto a truck at Heathrow and bicker with his dad before heading out to the local club to see an up-and-coming band. 

Malek did a tremendous job portraying Mercury in his transformation into the person he was “meant to be”: from the lonely, sweet, shy, conflicted 20 something,  into the dazzling performer with the multidimensional voice who wielded his microphone stand like a scepter. The portrayal was far from “boring” — Mercury’s favorite term for anything that didn’t push, or challenge, artistic boundaries. Gwilym Lee and Ben Hardy, who played band members Brian May and Roger Taylor, respectively, also delivered spectacular performances, as did Lucy Boynton as Freddie’s love — and best friend — Mary Austin. It definitely helped that the real-life May and Taylor served as creative consultants for the movie. 

At 2+ hours, the movie is a longer one (I was cut off as my plane landed, so I ended up watching it again on the return flight). But it’s worth watching, start to finish, again and again. While Rhapsody has endured criticism for a few supposed historical inaccuracies, anyone who plays music in band should not miss this gem of a movie.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

On Taking Chances and Embarking on New Adventures Post-Kids

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

From the moment I set foot on my first airplane at age 4, I’ve always loved traveling — from exploring Disney World as a little girl to setting foot in Amsterdam, Rome, London, Paris, Belize and countless other places as an adult.img_3850

I’ve slept on floors of friends’ ramshackle houses, exhausted from playing back-to-back rock shows. I’ve enjoyed plush hotel beds in foreign cities and quaint countrysides with my family — especially my grandmother Mary, who would take me wherever she wanted to go, regardless of my age. One of my fondest memories is of the time she took me to a casino on Paradise Island (the Bahamas) and insisted that I was 18 (I was 12, maybe 13 at the time).

These days, I spend more time envying my friends’ travel pics on Instagram — especially my parent friends — than I do actually traveling. I’m not a touring musician by any stretch of the word, and taking kids anywhere is expensive. As a result, I’m grounded most of the time. I have a bucket list, of course — it includes Greece, Hawaii, Croatia, among other destinations — but it’s not something I’m actively checking off.

So when my husband surprised me on our anniversary with a trip to Jamaica, I was ecstatic — but a little less enthusiastic than I would have been 10 years ago. My adventure “muscle” is out of shape. Could I really bring myself to go to another country for a few days? Sure, we’d gone to Nashville for two nights in 2015, and a honeymoon in 2010 in Belize, but times have changed. We’re in the middle of a government shutdown and the current political climate is anxiety-inducing.

I need only look at photos from my youth to realize that I miss my old, whimsical self. The one who wasn’t afraid of plane flights or long security lines. The one who favored grit, not glamour. The one who could be wowed by a flock of dirty pigeons in Venice, Italy, or muscled Gods in Venice, California. This girl is still inside me, I just need to dig her out. Yeah, the one who tried Haggis in Scotland while her distressed parents looked on. I want that girl back! img_3851

I guess my message is this: Try not to let life and parenthood make you forget who you are. Sure, you’re older and wiser (and likely more considerate and careful), but you don’t need to forget how to be curious, and embrace the unknown. I write this to myself as much as anyone else, hoping the words will sink in if I push hard enough on the computer keys. Maybe they will.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy. 

Camp Crush’s Jennifer Deale Gets Real About Politics and Relationships with ‘Run’ EP

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

Camp Crush, the Portland, Ore.-based wife-husband duo of Jennifer Deale (synths, keys, vocals) and Chris Spicer (drums, vocals), is known for embedding important social messages into sonically luscious New Wave pop.

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Camp Crush: Parents and partners Chris Spicer and Jennifer Deale.

Onstage and on screen, Camp Crush aims to stimulate conversation, as evidenced by band’s deeply moving May 2018 EP She’s Got It, or the single “Take Me Back.” 

[RELATED: Camp Crush’s Jennifer Deale on Parenthood, Music, Feminism and Carving Out a New Sound]

In their downtime, they’re just regular parents, trying to give their two young children the best, most balanced life possible in a progressive-leaning town. But over the past two years, under the eye of a Conservative-leaning legislative and executive branch, new and unexpected challenges have arisen. Specifically, the political divisiveness has wielded significant impact on interpersonal relationships, and challenged the deepest of friendships.  

Camp Crush’s new EP Run, out Feb. 1, is the culmination of these challenges, a set of songs about the divisiveness that dealt huge personal blows. It’s an album about human connection, but also the tragedy of human disconnection. But Deale also wants it to be a record about hope. 

Rockmommy caught up with Deale to talk about parenting her son and daughter, making music with her partner (and coparent) Spicer, and navigating political differences in the quest for a peaceful world. 

Rockmommy: What’s the backstory for this record? How did it come about? 

Jennifer Deale: With this whole new societal landscape we’re all living in, all of a sudden everything is divisive, and every single issue is incredibly important to everyone you know. It’s true the stakes are very high for everyone involved. And one thing I didn’t expect when this happened was the fallout between my family, my friends, my neighbors. I think the world is experiencing this wariness of human connection, they’re afraid of being attacked, saying the wrong thing. As musicians, we’ve seen that people aren’t going out as much. Or if you know you’re on a different side than someone, there’s distancing that happens. But a huge part of being a musician is building community — with your fans, with venues … and from a musician standpoint, we’ve seen the impact of [this distancing]. It really led to us writing these songs. Human connection is the answer. If we can get face to face with people, we can see them as human. 

Rockmommy: Is your music community political? 

Jennifer Deale: Obviously Portland [Oregon] is a very progressive city, but even within that there are these sub-genres that divide. Maybe you’re progressive, but you’re not progressive enough. Or it’s Bernie bros verses Clinton voters. And then you start subdividing. And we’re just like, ‘hey, let’s find some humanity. Let’s do the good that inspires you.’ If we can focus less on some differences, the world would be so much better. 

Rockmommy: With so many divisive issues, how is that possible to come together? 

Jennifer Deale: If you listen to our music, you know we don’t back down from our stances. There are some base issues we care about — like our safety and about equal rights. But at Thanksgiving, do you not attend because you’ll be around family who feels different? I’m not about meeting in the middle, but I can show a decent amount of respect.

Rockmommy: So let’s talk about the album. 

Jennifer Deale: ‘Run,’ the first song we released, is featured with an animated music video that Chris made. That song is about that human connection. I say, ‘I want to run away’ … I don’t want to deal with the complications of society the way it is.’ But instead of running away, we should run to each other. Find community. ‘Vicious Life’ I wrote about losing friendships after this political divide happened.

Rockmommy: Why is this music important to your children, the next generation?

Jennifer Deale: It’s important to show we can still learn and grow. We want to show our kids that we’re not making blanket decisions. It’s important that we teach our kids to have an open mind.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.