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Women of Rock Oral History Project oral histories, 2014-2017
188 Gigabytes 188 GB (157 files)
Collection number: SSC.MS.00756

Abstract:
The Women of Rock Oral History Project documents the lives and careers of women in rock who have been underrepresented or omitted from rock journalism and historical scholarship. The project, created and managed by Tanya Pearson, seeks to facilitate a more comprehensive cultural history, by women, for women and gender non-conforming individuals who have historically been silenced or overlooked as a result of their gender.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

Several of the oral histories in this series have restrictions on access to the full interview. Please see the notes attached to an individual interview for information about restrictions that apply to it.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to all interviews in this collection is held by Tanya Pearson until 2025. After 2025, copyright will pass to Smith College.

Sophia Smith Collection

Biographical / Historical

The Women of Rock Oral History Project began as an independent study project by Tanya Pearson while she was at Smith College. During that time, and since graduating, Pearson has collected the stories of musicians who rose to prominence before the advent of modern web-based tools for documenting their lives and work. This project is ongoing.

Scope and Contents

This collection includes oral histories of women and gender non-conforming rock musicians prominent from the late twentieth century to the present. Interview narrators were chosen by Tanya Pearson. Interviews are available as videorecordings; transcripts will be available after 2025.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

Several of the oral histories in this series have restrictions on access to the full interview. Please see the notes attached to an individual interview for information about restrictions that apply to it.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to all interviews in this collection is held by Tanya Pearson until 2025. After 2025, copyright will pass to Smith College.

History of the Collection
Accruals:

Periodic additions to collection are expected.

Accruals:

This collection is comprised of the following accessions, some of which may not have accession records. Accession numbers: 15S-83; 2017-S-0065. Accessions were received on the following dates: 2015-10-14.; 2017.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: specialcollections@smith.edu
URL: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/special-collections
Language
English
Sponsor
The project was made possible with the support of a Helen Gurley Brown Magic Grant.

Contents List
Arthur, KatPearson, Tanya, Kat Arthur interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 October 9
1 oral histories(1 video file)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Kat Arthur discusses her childhood upbringing in Princeton, NJ, her family of origin, schooling, and teenage years. She details her early musical influences, friendships and social life, and how she decided to move to the Los Angeles to start a band, against her family's wishes. Arthur discusses the LA punk scene, her experience as a front woman within that scene, her careers outside of music, personal struggles and achievements. The interview closes with her thoughts on gender and the category of 'women in rock.'

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Arthur, Kat

Video interview of Kat Arthur



Bag, AlicePearson, Tanya, Alice Bag interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2015 July 8
1 oral histories(video and transcript)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Alice Bag discusses her upbringing in East L.A., her relationship with her parents and how those early experiences dictated her personality and musical output. She details the burgeoning punk scene in Los Angeles in the 1970s, the formation of The Bags, subsequent success within the scene and appearance in the cult documentary Decline of Western Civilization. She also discusses an influential trip to Nicaragua, her career in teaching, feelings about women's place in rock music, specifically women of color and their place within the historical rock narrative.

Biographical note:

Singer, musician, author, educator and feminist Alice Bag co-founded pioneering LA punk band, The Bags, one of the first wave of punk bands to form in the mid-1970s. She has remained active in music, performing in bands Castration Squad, Stay at Home Bomb, Cholita!, and has published two memoirs. Bag recorded her first full length album, Alice Bag, on Don Giovanni records in 2016.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Bag, Alice

Video interview of Alice Bag



Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this interview has been transferred to Smith College.Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Transcript of interview of Alice Bag



Sumner, KateBallance, Laura, Laura Ballance interviewed by Kate Sumner
2015 April 24
1 oral histories(Video and transcript)

Scope and content:

In this oral history Ballance discusses her childhood, the development of her interest in music, and the creation and history of Superchunk and Merge. Ballance describes her family's supernatural interests and the impact of a traumatic home invasion in Little Rock, Arkansas, in which her mother was raped when Ballance was eight years old. She reflects on the impact of gender and motherhood on her career as a musician and business owner. The interview also covers how living in the South affected the development of her musical career, and the challenge of being a musician with hyperacusis. The interview concludes with Ballance reflecting on her proudest moments.

Biographical note:

Laura Ballance (b. 1968) is a musician and business owner in Durham, North Carolina. She is the bassist in the rock band Superchunk and co-founder, along with Mac McCaughan, of Merge Records. Superchunk began in 1989, and Merge grew up alongside it as a method to release small-scale recordings by Superchunk and other independent/local acts. In 1992, Merge released their first full-length album, Tossing Seeds by Superchunk, and in 2010, released Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, which won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2011. By 2012, the label had over 450 releases and had established itself as an indie-rock institution. In the summer of 2013, Ballance announced that she would no longer be touring with Superchunk as a result of her worsening hearing issues. She continues to record with the band and runs Merge.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Search Terms
Ballance, Laura

Video interview of Laura Ballance



Transcript of interview of Laura Ballance



Barber-Way, Mish, Mish Barber-Way interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 October 10
1 oral histories(1 video)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Mish Barber-Way discusses her upbringing in Vancouver, her relationship with her parents, siblings and friends, her experiences as a high school and college student and her involvement in the local music scene. She details the formation of White Lung, her relationship with her bandmates, the band's trajectory to success and her eventual move to the United States. Barber-Way also discusses her musical influences, feminism, sexism, and her experience as a working musician, journalist and writer.

Biographical note:

Mish Barber-Way is a singer, musician, writer and fronts the Candian punk band, White Lung. She is the sex and relationship columnist in the Vancouver newspaper, Westender, and is a writer and reporter for Broadly and Vice. She currently lives in the suburbs of Los Angeles with her husband.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Barber-Way, Mish

Video interview of Mish Barber-Way



Bonham, TracyPearson, Tanya, Tracy Bonham interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2017 May 6
1 oral histories(1 video)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Tracy Bonham discusses her childhood, upbringing, relationships with her parents and siblings, her early love of music, and her training as violinist and pianist. She details her high school and college years, a move the the east coast to study vocal performance at Berklee College of Music and how she began writing songs on guitar. She discusses her rise to fame with her debut album 'The Burdens of Being Upright,' the music industry, touring, her relationships with her bandmates and songwriting. Bonham talks openly about personal struggles, subsequent musical output, and her most recent project 'Modern Burdens.' The interview closes with her thoughts on ageism, gender, motherhood, and finding an art/ life balance.

Biographical note:

Tracy Bonham is classically trained violinist and pianist and a grammy nominated rock musician. She has recorded five albums and is currently working on 'Modern Burdens,' a collaborative follow up to her debut album 'The Burdens of Being Upright.' She lives in New York with her husband and son.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Bonham, Tracy

Video interview of Tracy Bonham



Pearson, TanyaBozulich, Carla, Carla Bozulich inteviewed by Tanya Pearson
2017 Aug 20
1 oral histories(1 video)

Restrictions on access:

Interview is closed pending receipt of release form.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Bozulich, Carla

Video interview of Carla Bozulich



Cafritz, Julie, Julie Cafritz interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2015 January 22
1 oral histories(video and transcript)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Julie Cafritz details her childhood, relationships with family members, and her upbringing in Washington, D.C. She describes her college career at Brown University, a traumatic event that occurred while she was a student, and the pivotal moment in which she decided to join a band without ever having played a musical instrument. Cafritz recounts notable relationships with bandmates in Pussy Galore, Free Kitten and STP, and candidly discusses musicianship, gender and personal relationships. The interview concludes with Cafritz reflecting on motherhood and work/life balance.

Biographical note:

Julie Cafritz is a guitarist/vocalist who started her career in the seminal garage noise band, Pussy Galore in NYC in the mid-1980s. She went on to form STP and later, Free Kitten, with Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth in the 1990s.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Cafritz, Julie

Video interview of Julie Cafritz



Transcript of interview of Julie Cafritz



Darling, Brie (Howard), Brie (Howard) Darling interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2017 August 24


Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Brie (Howard) Darling discusses her parents, siblings, and her upbringing in California. She details her interest in visual art, an accidental introduction to the drums, her experience as a working musician from a young age, and how she met June and Jean Millington and joined The Svelts as a teenager. Darling details her experience as a working, touring musician, and young mother to her daughter, and the trajectory of her career in the music business during the 1970s and 80s. She discusses notable collaborations, mentors and tours, as well as her work as an actress and cake decorator. The interview closes with her thoughts on the status of women in rock music and current work on the new Fanny album.

Search Terms
Darling, Brie (Howard)

Video interview of Brie (Howard) Darling



de Buhr, Alice, Alice de Buhr interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 October 6
1 oral histories(1 video)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Alice de Buhr details growing up a tomboy in Mason City, Iowa, her relationship with her parents, siblings and friends, and her introduction to the drums in second grade. She details her parents divorce, her experience coming out as gay in 1967, subsequent hospitalization, and move to California. De Buhr details her early music career, the formation and eventual success of Fanny, and the events that led to the bands dissolution. She talks openly about her post-Fanny life and career and her feelings about the bands legacy and her place in rock history.

Biographical note:

Alice de Buhr was a founding member and the drummer of Fanny, the first all-woman rock band to release an album on a major label in the U.S. After leaving Fanny in 1973, she spent the next 11 years in the music business; first at an independent distributor of Motown, Mercury and A & M Records. In 1984 she left her position as Local Marketing Coordinator – Southern California A & M Records to pursue interests in the video industry. She currently represents MTI Home Video as a national key accounts representative and owns a small DVD/video distribution company. She resides in Tucson, AZ.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview have been closed by the narrator until 2032: 1:13:30-1:19:25, 1:21:10-1:21:26. A redacted version of the video is open for research.

Search Terms
de Buhr, Alice

Redacted video interview of Alice de Buhr



Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview have been closed by the narrator. This edited version of the video is open for research

Dorsey, Gail AnnPearson, Tanya, Gail Ann Dorsey interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 July 20
1 oral histories(1 video)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Gail Ann Dorsey discusses growing up in Philadelphia, her relationship with her mother and siblings, and her early interest in music and screenwriting. She talks about discovering the bass guitar, auditioning for her first band, her college career as a film major and her eventual move to London and New York to pursue music. She details her experience as an African American woman, bassist and and an artist working within multiple genres. Dorsey talks openly about her relationship with David Bowie, as a member of his band for twenty years, her career as a top session player and solo artist, and her experience with record labels. The interview concludes with her thoughts on the importance of the documentation of women in music and her greatest personal achievement.

Biographical note:

Gail Ann Dorsey is a musician, vocalist, bassist and top session musician, best known for her work with David Bowie, She has recorded three solo albums, and has supported Olivia Newton John, Tears for Fears, Lenny Kravitz, Boy George, Indigo Girls, Gang of Four and Gwen Stefani, among others. Dorsey continues to perform and tour.

Restrictions on access:

Interview is closed pending receipt of complete release form.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Dorsey, Gail Ann

Video interview of Gail Ann Dorsey



Gonzales, Michelle Cruz, Michelle Gonzales interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 August 20
1 oral histories

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Michelle Gonzales discusses her upbringing in Tuolumne, CA., with her mother and brother. She discusses early childhood events, experiences in school and with peers and her introduction to music, via the flute. Gonzales recounts her introduction to punk and the formation of her first band Girl Fight, and later Spitboy. She details the punk scene, her place within it as a young xicana woman, and as a drummer, in a working, touring, hardcore band. Gonzales also talks candidly about Spitboy's breakup, her personal relationships, sexuality, marriage, motherhood the about writing her memoir.

There are two corrections that the narrator has made to her interview. At 39:31, when she says, "marched up and down Haight Street," it should be Telegraph Avenue. "Paula and Karen" at 45:14 should be Adrienne and Karen.

Biographical note:

Michelle Gonzales is a musician, author and teacher. She played drums and wrote lyrics for three bands during the 1980s and 1990s: Bitch Fight, Spitboy, and Instant Girl. In 2001 and 2003, she earned degrees in English/creative writing from Mills College, where she also minored in ethnic studies. Michelle has published in anthologies, literary journals, and Hip Mama magazine. She teaches English and creative writing at Las Positas College, and lectures at colleges and art spaces around the country. She released her memoir, Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band in 2016. She lives with her husband, son, and their three Mexican dogs in Oakland, California.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Gonzales, Michelle Cruz

Video interview of Michelle Gonzales



Hansen, Bibbe, Bibbe Hansen interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 December 31
1 oral histories(1 video)

Restrictions on access:

Interview is closed pending receipt of release form.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Hansen, Bibbe

Video interview with Bibbe Hansen



Hersh, KristinPearson, Tanya, Kristin Hersh interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2014 December 14
1 oral histories(1 video)

Scope and content:

In this oral history Kristin Hersh describes her childhood in Rhode Island and how her musical inclination was dictated by her long undiagnosed synesthesia. She a traumatic bicycle accident and its effect on her personal life and songwriting. The interview details her work, musical output and role as wife, mother, and rock icon.

Biographical note:

Kristin Hersh (b. 1966) was born in Atlanta and raised in Newport, Rhode Island. She learned guitar from her father and quickly developed her own unique style of playing. She formed Throwing Muses with her stepsister, Tanya Donnelly, and some high school friends in 1981, playing shows with bands like Talking Heads and eventually touring with the Pixies. Hersh continued performing as Throwing Muses until 1997 when she went on to continue her successful solo career. She formed power-rock trio 50 Foot Wave in 2003 and founded CASH Music [Coalition of Artists and Stakeholders], a collection of tools for artists and labels to sell, share, and promote music directly to their fans. In 2010 she released her memoir, Rat Girl, detailing her teenage years in Newport, Rhode Island. Throwing Muses re-formed in 2003 and the original lineup toured the U.S. in 2014.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Hersh, Kristin

Video interview of Kristen Hersh



Transcript of interview of Kristen Hersh



Lunch, LydiaPearson, Tanya, Lydia Lunch interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2014 December 6
1 oral histories(1 video and 1 transcript)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Lydia Lunch details her teenage years in Rochester, New York and her move to New York City as a 14 year-old runaway with aspirations of becoming a spoken word artist. She recounts her early experiences and relationships in New York in the mid 1970s and details her notable musical and artistic projects and significant collaborations. She discusses her motivations, reputation and sexuality as well as her immense output of physical work and her plans for the future.

Biographical note:

Lydia Lunch (b. 1959) moved to New York City from Rochester in her early teens, intent on performing spoken word. She spawned the No Wave movement with her band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks who appeared on the Brian Eno produced No New York compilation and performed in Eight Eyed Spy and Beirut Slump before embarking on a solo career. Lunch has collaborated and performed with countless writers, musicians and artists, most notably: J.G. Thirlwell, Thurston Moore and Sonic Youth, Nick Cave and The Birthday Party, No Trend, Rowland S. Howard, Richard Kern, Exene Cervenka, Henry Rollins, Donita Sparks, Jerry Stahl, Hubert Selby and William S. Burroughs. She was a key player in the Cinema of Transgression movement, acting in a series of short films directed by Richard Kern. She is a critically acclaimed author and tireless spoken word performer, continuing to define underground music, art and literature with her distinct confrontationalist approach.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Lunch, Lydia

Video interview of Lydia Lunch



Transcript of interview of Lydia Lunch



Miss Guy, Miss Guy interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 October 28
1 oral histories(1 video)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Miss Guy discusses his upbringing in Southern California, his relationship with his parents and siblings, and his experience at school and with his peers. He discusses his early interest in music, fashion, and how these things afforded him the freedom to express himself and overcome his shyness. Guy details his move to New York City in the late 1980s, his introduction to the drag club scene, work as a performer and DJ, the formation of Toilet Boys and their ensuing career, as well as notable shows and collaborations. The interview closes with his thoughts on gender, femininity and being an honorary 'woman of rock.'

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Miss Guy

Video interview of Miss Guy



PhrancPearson, Tanya, Phranc interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 September 16
1 oral histories(video)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Phranc discusses her upbringing in Mara Vista, CA, her introduction to the guitar at age 9, knowing that she was a lesbian from a young age, and how she dropped out of high school to pursue art, music, and the pivotal moment she discovered The Women's Center, the lesbian feminist movement and her subsequent activist work. She details her introduction to the Los Angeles punk scene and her involvement in it, and how she transitioned to performing as Phranc. She discusses notable tours, collaborations and her experience with the music industry, as well as her career in the Tupperware industry. She closes with her thoughts on the visibility of women in rock history and musicians who have been particularly important to her.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Search Terms
Phranc

Video interview of Phranc



Roessler, KiraPearson, Tanya, Kira Roessler interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 October 7
1 oral histories(1 video)

Scope and content:

In this oral history Kira Roessler discusses her childhood, her relationship with her parents and brother, the development of her interest in music, and her involvement in the early punk scene in Los Angeles. Roessler discusses her experiences joining and forming bands and how she came to join Black Flag at the height of their career. She details her time with the band while a college student at UCLA, and her eventual firing. She also discusses her thirty year collaboration with Minutemen founder, Mike Watt. The interview also covers Roessler's current career as a dialogue editor.

Biographical note:

Kira Roessler (b. 1962) is a musician, bassist, singer, and Emmy award winning dialogue editor. She was the bass player for Black Flag from 1983-1985 and co-founded the two-bass duo, Dos, with Mike Watt from Minutemen. She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA and works as a dialogue editor on theatrical films.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Roessler, Kira

Video interview of Kira Roessler



Ross, Cynthia, Cynthia Ross interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 December 27
1 oral histories(1 video)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Cynthia Ross details her childhood and adolescence, growing up in Toronto. She discusses her artistic nature, relationship with her sisters and parents, particularly her mother. Ross talks about the music scene in Toronto, the formation of the B-Girls and eventual move to New York City. She discusses personal and professional relationships with punk icons, and how the B-Girls helped shape the New York scene with their unique sound. Ross details the B-Girls break up, motherhood, marriage, education, her careers, and passion for human rights and social justice.The interview concludes with her thoughts on aging, the history of women in rock and her return to New York to pursue music once again.

Biographical note:

Cynthia Ross is a bass player and founding member of the hugely influential punk band The B-Girls. She has shared the stage with Blondie, the B-52's, the Dead Boys and the Clash, among others. Ross has pursued several careers, always with a focus on social justice and human rights. She is a mother, a writer, an artist and currently plays bass in New York Junk.

Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview have been closed by the narrator. An edited version of the video is available for research.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Ross, Cynthia

Redacted video interview of Cynthia Ross



Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview have been closed by the narrator. This edited version of the video is open for research.

Samson, JD, 1978-Pearson, Tanya, JD Samson interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2015 January 6
1 oral histories(video and transcript)

Scope and content:

In this oral history JD Samson describes her upbringing and experiences as a gay teenager and activist in small town Ohio and the pivotal moment that fostered her interest in film and visual arts. She discusses her time in New York City at Sarah Lawrence College, her involvement in the local music scene and joining her first band, Le Tigre, with Riot Grrrl figurehead, Kathleen Hanna. Samson details her experience within the music business as a female identified "gender-outlaw" and how this experience diverges from the "women of rock" category.

Biographical note:

JD Samson (b. 1978) grew up in Pepper Pike Ohio where she came out as a lesbian at age 15. A visual artist, she went on to attend Sarah Lawrence College where she majored in experimental film and graduated in 2000. Samson joined electro-feminist band, Le Tigre with Kathleen Hanna and Johanna Fateman as projectionist, producer and then full-fledged band member. Samson founded DJ project MEN after Le Tigre disbanded and toured with Peaches and Gossip. She has a songwriting and publishing deal through Universal Music Publishing Group and has written songs for Christina Aguilera and Pussy Riot.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Samson, JD, 1978-

Video interview of JD Samson



Transcript of interview of JD Samson



Schemel, Patty, 1967-, Patty Schemel interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 August 17
1 oral histories(1 video)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Patty Schemel discusses her upbringing in Marysville, WA., her relationship with her parents and siblings, her early musical influences and interest in the drums. She details her experience in school, with her peers, and how she came out to her mother. Schemel offers insight into the Seattle music scene and discusses her single minded approach to turning drums into a career. She discusses her move to CA, where she joined Hole, and her trajectory to rock stardom, descent into drug addiction, and how she eventually overcame those obstacles. Schemel also talks at length about women's place in rock history, her involvement in Girls Rock camps, relationships with friends and colleagues, becoming a parent, and coming to terms with her her identity as a gay woman and recovering addict.

Biographical note:

Patty Schemel is a musician, drummer, who rose to prominence as a member of the rock band Hole. Schemel continues to play music in the band Upset, volunteers at Girls Rock Camp and gives drum lessons, in addition to owning a dog daycare/boarding business. She lives in Los Angeles with her wife and daughter.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Schemel, Patty, 1967-

Video interview of Patty Schemel



Snail, AzaliaPearson, Tanya, Azalia Snail interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2017 August 25


Scope and content:

In this oral history, Azalia Snail discusses her childhood and upbringing in Newark, NJ, her beatnik parents, early musical influences and the pivotal moment when she discovered electric guitar. She details her difficult teenage years, being an outcast, and her eventual move to NYC. Snail talks about her writing process, touring, the recording process, relationships, and how she became the "Queen of LoFi" in the 1990s. The interview closes with her thoughts on gender and the visibility of women in rock history.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Snail, Azalia

Video interview of Azalia Snail



Sparks, Donita, Donita Sparks interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2015 July 21
1 oral histories(video and transcript)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Donita Sparks discusses her upbringing in Chicago, including hobbies, interests, family and her introduction to rock music. She speaks candidly about her move to Los Angeles after high school, the music scene there and the space she occupied within it. Sparks details the formation of L7, the bands success, subsequent dissolution and current reunion. She addresses her feminism, women's contributions to rock music and her opinion regarding the Women of Rock category.

Restrictions on access:

This interview is currently not available for research.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Sparks, Donita

Video interview of Donita Sparks



Transcript of interview of Donita Sparks



Timony, MaryPearson, Tanya, Mary Timony interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2014 December 28
1 oral histories(video and transcript)

Scope and content:

In this oral history, Mary Timony discusses her childhood in Washington, D.C. and her interest in music from a young age. She details her high school and college experience, including the music scene in Washington, D.C. in the early 1990s and how her participation in the musical community helped to curb her social anxiety. Timony recalls her college career, the formation of her band, Helium, and what led to their disbandment. She discusses her musical output, collaborations, relationships and some of the double standards that women rock musicians face.

Biographical note:

Mary Timony (b. 1970) is a multi-instrumentalist who founded the band Autoclave in Washington D.C. and gained greater recognition as singer and guitarist in the Boston, Massachusetts band, Helium in the mid 1990s. Timony has released two solo albums and collaborated with a number of musicians on outside projects throughout her career. In 2011, she formed Wild Flag with members of Sleater Kinney and released an album before forming the critically acclaimed Ex Hex in 2014. When she's not touring, Timony teaches guitar lessons in Washington, D.C.

Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview have been closed by the narrator until 2055: .52-1:44; 19:54-20:50; 52:50-53.44. Edited versions of the transcript and video are available for research use. This interview may not be placed online.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Timony, Mary

Unredacted video interview of Mary Timony



Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview are restricted by the narrator. A redacted version is available for research use in-house only.

Redacted video interview of Mary Timony



Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview are restricted by the narrator. This redacted version is available for research use in-house only.

Unredacted transcript of interview of Mary Timony



Restrictions on access:

The unredacted version of this interview is closed. A redacted version is available for research use.

Redacted transcript of interview of Mary Timony



Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview are restricted by the narrator. This redacted version is available for research use in-house only.

Gordon, Nina, 1967-Post, LouisePearson, Tanya, Veruca Salt (Nina Gordon and Louise Post) interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2015 January 12
1 oral histories(video and transcript)

Scope and content:

In this oral history Nina Gordon and Louise Post discuss their early lives and the fortuitous meeting that led to the formation of Veruca Salt. The interview focuses on their personal experiences within the band, as successful female musicians in the mid to late 1990s, the difficulties that led to their 17-year estrangement, and the events that led to their subsequent reunion.

Biographical note:

Nina Gordon (b. 1967) and Louise Post (b. 1966) are vocalists and guitarists of the rock band, Veruca Salt. Co-founded in 1993, the band reached critical and commercial success in 1994 with the release of their first album American Thighs. The band signed to Geffen Records and gained popularity when the single "Seether" became a hit. After releasing the EP Blow it Out Your Ass, It's Veruca Salt (1996) and a second full-length album, Eight Arms to Hold You (1997), Gordon left the band and embarked on a brief solo career and Post recorded two more albums and an EP under the Veruca Salt moniker. In 2014, the original lineup reunited and toured the United States and Australia. Their first album in 17 years, Ghost Notes, was released in July 2015.

Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview have been closed by the narrators: 46:45-47:10; 1:46:38-1:54:28. A redacted version is available for research use.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2040; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Gordon, Nina, 1967-

Post, Louise

Veruca Salt (Musical group)

Unredacted video interview of Veruca Salt



Restrictions on access:

The unredacted version of this interview is closed. A redacted version is available for research use in-house.

Redacted video interview of Veruca Salt



Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview are restricted by the narrators. This redacted version is available for research use in-house.

Unredacted transcript of interview with Veruca Salt



Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview are restricted by the narrator. A redacted version is available for research use in-house only.

Redacted transcript of interview of Veruca Salt



Restrictions on access:

Portions of this interview are restricted by the narrators. This redacted version is available for research use.

Wiggs, Josephine, 1963-, Josephine Wiggs interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2017 July 23
1 items(1 video file)

Restrictions on access:

This interview is available for research without restriction.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Wiggs, Josephine, 1963-

Video interview of Josephine Wiggs



Pearson, TanyaWolfe, Allison, Allison Wolfe interviewed by Tanya Pearson
2016 August 17
1 oral histories(1 video)

Restrictions on access:

Interview is closed pending receipt of release form.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to this oral history is owned by Tanya Pearson until 2025; after that time, copyright will transfer to Smith College.

Search Terms
Wolfe, Allison

Video interview of Allison Wolfe



2015-s-0083_part 02. "Righting the Wrongs of Rock History: Women, Gender and Rock" (panel discussion)
2015 Oct 22
1.38 Gigabytes1. 38 GB (26 images, 1 video)

A panel discussion held at Smith College, October, 22, 2015, introducing the first known oral history project about female rock & rollers. Panelists (from left): Julie Cafritz, JD Samson, Kristen Hersh, Alice Bag, Kim House, and June Millington; moderated by Tanya Pearson with an introduction by Kelly Anderson.

Tanya Pearson (Smith Class 2016) conducted the Women of Rock Oral History Project for her Archives Concentration Capstone Project and honors thesis. She has donated the interviews (video recordings and transcripts) to the Sophia Smith Collection.

Restrictions on access:

Video and images are open for research with no restrictions.

Video of Women of Rock panel



Images of Women of Rock panel




Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Arthur, Kat
  • Bag, Alice
  • Ballance, Laura
  • Barber-Way, Mish
  • Bonham, Tracy
  • Cafritz, Julie
  • Dorsey, Gail Ann
  • Feminists
  • Gonzales, Michelle Cruz
  • Gordon, Nina, 1967-
  • Hersh, Kristin
  • Lunch, Lydia
  • Musicians
  • Pearson, Tanya
  • Post, Louise
  • Roessler, Kira
  • Ross, Cynthia
  • Samson, JD, 1978-
  • Schemel, Patty, 1967-
  • Sparks, Donita
  • Sumner, Kate
  • Timony, Mary
  • Women musicians
  • Women rock musicians
  • de Buhr, Alice

Genre terms
  • Computer media
  • Digital files
  • Hard drive
  • Oral history


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