Interview of Lucy and Mya of ampON by Alice Fairweather
Hi there! Where do you guys call home?
LUCY: Home is probably Melbourne now for me, I feel really settled in this city! Also it basically feels like the city of Canberra (I lived in Canberra for a while) has just up and moved over here to Melbourne, so that’s also really great!
MYA: Melbourne is starting to feel like home for sure! It’s just so welcoming, and so now it’s very easy for it to feel like home. But I would probably also say that my hometown which is Braidwood in NSW, is a super special place for me. I think that is where my heart still is!
Tell us a bit about yourself!
MYA: I don’t really know! I just play drums, I work, and I really like music. I also like travelling! It’s really hard, because you never really think about describing yourself that way; it’s like writing a tinder bio or something!
LUCY: I am obsessed with music production; I am obsessed with music, like Mya! I’m really little and short, and I guess I like to play with that a little bit. Oh, I also cook a lot of noodles, and study Music Industry at RMIT!
MYA: Oh and I eat lots of beans on toast!
Why did you guys decide to move to Melbourne?
LUCY: I decided to move to Melbourne on my own to study about the music industry, and then I also just liked Melbourne’s appeal, you know? There was something about this place which just made me think ‘I have to live here”.
MYA: I actually decided super last minute to move. I was originally going to go to ANU (in Canberra), but then I got back from travelling overseas, and it’s always weird coming home after travelling! But for me, it kind of turned into ‘this city’s actually kind of boring’, and I guess I also got this feel for wanting to discover new things. I think the fact that Lucy was moving down here and I listen to a lot of Melbourne bands too really influenced me; Melbourne just has a really good music scene!
LUCY: There are also a lot of awesome female musicians down here! They’re a lot more like-minded which is awesome, and they’re also pushing for the same cause I think as us.
How would you describe ampON?
LUCY: I think ampON is about not taking any shit from anyone, and saying what you have to say, and being completely unapologetic for it.
MYA: That’s definitely what ampON is to me! When I’m in that rehearsal room with Lucy I feel like we can write about anything and not feel judged. When you’re on stage you don’t feel awkward about saying anything, you just feel as if you can give a big ‘fuck you’ to everyone!
LUCY: It’s so cathartic!
MYA: As soon as I’m on stage I feel completely in it. Although, I always look really sad when I’m on stage, but I can’t help it, it’s just my face! On the inside, when I’m performing, I feel really good, and really cool you know? Which I think is a really nice feeling! I think we all need to have something that makes us feel like that – truly confident.
LUCY: Another thing about ampON that is really great is that, neither of us can read music very well. When we both started we were pretty much musically illiterate, and so we were both more intuitive than anything else! We both just learnt to kind of understand how we both played, and then play off one another.
MYA: I think our music is really good because we don’t really know, or rather when we started, we didn’t know a lot of the specifics of music and songwriting. But I think that’s why some of our songs are really cool, because we don’t always follow a straightforward pattern. We’re still learning as we go.
How do you create your music? How do you express your creativity?
LUCY: I think it spawns out of banter most of the time!
MYA: Yeah most of our songs will just be us jamming together, and Lucy might play me something and I’ll think it’s cool, and I’ll just play along with it. Or vice versa! A lot of the time we write lyrics when we’re just hanging out and having dinner. One of us will say something, and we’ll be like ‘that sounds really cool!’ And then from there we’re in this weird zone where we just write everything down! Someone might even have to say just one sentence and we’ll turn it into something. We actually have a song called ‘Frank’s not great’ that was literally from us talking to my brother, and we were just talking about his friend Frank and he simply said ‘Frank’s not great’. And I thought it sounded like a song name so…
Who does what in the band?
MYA: So I play the drums.
LUCY: I play the guitar and do vocals. Singing is definitely the main obsession for me, there’s just something so beautiful about it! It feels really natural, and whether or not you think you’re good, there’s just no instrument like it! You’re literally producing something that comes straight from your body. And when you put passion and expression behind that as well, it really translates, it’s amazing. I also think it takes a lot of courage to get on stage with just your voice alone, and just sing to an audience, and deliver a message from you to them. It’s so exhilarating!
How would you classify your music genre and are you influenced by anything in particular?
MYA: We actually listen to really different music!
LUCY: Completely different!
MYA: Which is actually pretty cool in a way, because it means we bring different things to the band. I listen to a lot of punk and emo music and Lucy more…
LUCY: I just like pop music, electronic, and dance music. I also like a bit of punk and emo music, but that is mostly Mya.
MYA: It’s cool when we get to bring different genres together, because you take different things for everything that you listen too, and then put it altogether.
Where did the band name come from?
MYA: Ah yes, so we were really drunk.
LUCY: Basically one day we were downstairs in Mya’s basement in Braidwood, and I yelled at Mya cross the room saying ‘did you turn the amp on?’ And she didn’t hear and just kept saying ‘what?’ So I kept yelling ‘did you turn the amp on?’ And Mya’s big brother was upstairs and just said ‘did somebody yell tampon?’ And we both looked at each other and went ‘amp-on, tampon’…
MYA: I actually had a friend come up to us after our first gig and say, ‘do you guys realise that your name sounds like tampon?’ And we said yes that’s the point. And she just went ‘oh cool that’s fucking sick!’
Because you do a lot of live gigs, do you feel like you are treated any differently or face discrimination?
MYA: One of the most common things I hear all the time, is guys coming up to us after a performance saying ‘oh that was actually really good, I was really surprised’. I use to kind of just shrug it off, but now I say ‘oh were you surprised that two girls can create really good music?’ Why should it be so surprising to you that we make good music? And why would we take that as a compliment?
LUCY: If the roles were reversed they would be SO offended! Another thing is showing up to a venue, and nobody’s aware of the fact that you’re playing! They never assume you’re the musicians. So when you’re hanging around the stage and trying to set up, people are looking at you and wondering what you’re doing there.
MYA: We played this house show one time, and the audience was all boys, there was pretty much only three girls at the show, and they weren’t performing. At the end of the performance we were introduced to these girls as the girlfriends of some of the other players, and these same guys then said to us ‘oh this is the first time I’ve seen girls perform at a show like this’. It was just a bit intimidating, and makes you realise it’s hard to break into that boys club vibe.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman?
MYA: I think that sisterhood is just so strong! The artist Grimes is just one of my favourite people, and she has this awesome quote which goes something like: as a woman you can’t actually be alone because you have woman kind behind you–which I think is really cool! And that’s probably my favourite part about being a woman, is that you can always feel connected to other women somehow. Through your struggles, and your ups and downs, you always have women which makes you feel like you’re part of some big, rad family.
LUCY: That is so fucking true! No matter how different you are as individuals, there’s always that defining link! And you can just feel that vibe as well, it’s definitely present even in just small conversations, small compliments with strangers.
And so what would you say is the biggest obstacle facing women today?
MYA: I think just not being taken seriously, and almost being babied a bit.
LUCY: I think being babied a bit. But also the limitation of females to a certain areas in the (music) industry. For example, you don’t get a lot of female producers at the moment; it’s mostly a male dominated industry. But there are a lot of female performers at the moment, but even within that, if you’re going to sign onto an industry grade label, chances are (I’m not saying this is with everyone), they are going to try and sexualize you. Or market you in some way that pertains to your gender, which is unfortunately a reality. But I mean if you want that then, you go girl, I’m all about it!
MYA: It’s also just not being taken seriously as actually being capable musicians. Being a drummer as well, the amount of comments about playing drums as a girl! My high school music teacher basically made me end up changing schools, which was a good thing in the end! But anyway I was going to study music but this teacher said ‘are you sure you should do that since there are so many boys that play drums?’
LUCY: Somebody once told me that Mya and I had to start gigging now while we were still young and pretty, and marketable.
Do you have a female artist you look up to?
MYA: Grimes, I love Grimes!
LUCY: We both love Grimes!
MYA: Even though she’s not necessarily the kind of music I would listen too, I just love her music and her as a person. And she also does everything as an artist herself! She is just so talented and doesn’t take any shit. She just does her thing!
LUCY: There’s also this really awesome R ‘n’ B artist called SZA, and she just put out her debut album, and it’s just a really different take on a very feminist focused album. Her voice is really beautiful and she’s just amazing!
What’s ampON’s next step?
LUCY: We’re going to be recording our first EP!
MYA: We are! I’m just really keen for us to having recordings to show and share with people, so that’s probably the next big step.
LUCY: Self-promotion is huge these days, so it’s good that you don’t necessarily have to go through any particular channel to get your music out there. But I think also just having hard copies of our music to sell to people at gigs and stuff like that! Definitely the next step forward for promoting ampON!
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