In the Blog

Erin Ross: Making Music in Nightwood

October 15th, 2009     by Desirée O     Comments

Every other Thursday I profile a new incredible woman, each from a different walk of life. Different professions, causes, backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, and anything/everything else!

So without further delay, let me introduce the awesome Erin Ross…

Erin Ross is responsible for half the singing, “guitaring” and songwriting in the Montreal band Nightwood. She also contributes regularly to the band’s art/style/music blog, where you can learn about their first full-length album coming out Oct. 1st on vinyl and mp3. With a BA in literature, Erin often finds musical inspiration in the classics. As this week’s Shameless Woman, she tells us about the precious aspects of being in a band and why choosing your “bandies” wisely is so important.

What drives you to do what you do?

There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment that follows writing a new riff or new melody that you really like, playing a good show, putting the finishing touches on a recording, or having a productive band practice, for example, that’s like no other. These moments are really precious, and since not all aspects of being in a band are easy or fun, I suppose the drive to keep at it springs from a desire to keep experiencing those little pleasures.

I love the collaborative aspect of writing music as well. It can get a bit trying to write on your own, and you’re more likely to get down on yourself, or not give an idea a chance when you don’t have someone around to keep you from being hasty. My bandmate, Amber Goodwyn and I have been writing together for over 10 years and while it’s still demanding on my risk-taking faculties, her support and gentle pushes keep me motivated.

How does being a woman empower / challenge you?

I struggle a little bit with the idea of being a woman in rock. On one hand, I wouldn’t want the band to be considered good “for a girl band”- I would rather it be valued simply as a rock band. But on the other, the fact that the band is female-fronted is absolutely part of its identity and one that we’re proud of. It’s undeniable that Amber and I write from a female perspective and I don’t think the songs would be the same without that. So, a “girl band” we may be, but do judge us next to the boys!

And, if we’re totally honest, I like that being a woman can sometimes get you out of carrying your gear. But I don’t like being ignored in gear stores.

What advice would you give to young women who want to follow in your footsteps?

Surround yourself with positive and supportive people, in and outside the band: I don’t know if my musical experience would be as enjoyable or even possible without the support and understanding of my loved ones. And you wind up spending a lot of time communicating, collaborating, compromising and traveling with your bandies, so choose them wisely!

Name one person, place, or thing every young woman should know about?

The book Taking Control of Your Fertility. I always considered myself pretty well informed, but when I read this, I was surprised how little I knew about my body from being on the Pill for over a decade. I found this new knowledge to be very empowering.

What is the most important thing we can do in order to change the world?

Be kind to others, accept them as they are, be open to changing your mind, forget all absolutes and accept that people make mistakes.

Check out Nightwood’s blog, where you can find out about their first full-length album released Oct. 1st on vinyl and mp3.

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