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  • Writer's picturezach frimmel

Local Music Spotlight for The Stranger

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

Eight PNW Bands Help Raise Funds for Rain City Rock Camp with New Comp, Switch Hits

Social equity is one of the most punk rock ethics of 2018. Fabi Reyna, founder of She Shreds Magazine—a publication dedicated to championing female musicians—probably summed it up best when she claimed, “There’s feminism in everything.”

Within that ubiquity, a faction of supporting she shredders is slowly amassing in Seattle’s punk rock and underground scene. One DIY compilation in particular that exemplifies this behavior is Switch Hits, which features eight PNW bands covering each other’s catchy crowd-pleasers to raise funds for Rain City Rock Camp, a Seattle non-profit “empowering girls, women, and gender non-conforming individuals to engage their creative potential through music.”

Community-driven superorganisms like Switch Hits are imperative for healthy music ecosystems, acting as effective tools that sharpen our cultural competency. Vanessa Moreno and Kayla Daly (of The Wednesdays) joined this project because it was “started by musicians, for musicians, to help a new generation of musicians. It’s awesome because it has a direct impact and is meaningful for everyone involved.”

“I was so excited when Mike Sampson reached out,” Natalie Walker, co-founder and Executive Director of Rain City Rock Camp, said.

“Collaboration and community are pillars of our work as an organization, so it really is a harmonious partnership. I am constantly impressed by how much this music community gives back.” – Natalie Walker

The result is a soundtrack by scene-mates lush with high-caliber charm and lo-fi jams presented in comp form (pre-order here), and on deck is an April 4 album release and benefit show at Vera Project. All proceeds from their bandcamp page, and sales of cassettes (Den Tapes), merch (Restless Prints), and tickets will be donated to the Rock Camp.

The screwball but stalwart musical switch-hitters involved are: Antonioni, Baywitch, Bobby’s Oar, Choke the Pope, Dusty, Happy Times Sad Times, The Screaming Multitudes, and The Wednesdays.

“The original idea started with Diego Medrano of Ramona and Greg Hughes of Bobby’s Oar/Restless Prints,” says Mike Sampson, frontman of Dusty, “but due to multiple time constraints and major life changes, I offered to help organize. I was very excited to use this as an opportunity to engage with our music community in a fresh way.”

As album audio engineer and The Screaming Multitudes drummer Jack McKool witnessed, “It was really inspiring to see how excited each group was to engage...and also how stoked everyone was when they heard their own music reinvented!” Mama Kay—who runs the Seattle indie label that put out the comp, Den Tapes—was also eager since “almost every band on Switch Hits has been associated with Den Tapes in some shape or form...and that makes it very exciting to get a bunch of supportive friends together to make something really neat.”

That said, there’s an alive-and-well-minded awareness of social equity stirring in the underground. “I can say from experience that growing up as a biracial girl, I never saw someone like myself at the front of the band,” Sarah Pasillas—a Washington native and leader of alt-rock outfit Antonioni—opined.

However, there are inexcusable behaviors that are in need of quelling. “There are still certain venues I refuse to play at in Seattle because of their misogynist values, or a bartender who asked me about my race, or negative experiences with men harassing me on and off stage,” Pasillas explained. “I want the music industry to feel DRENCHED in more people from a variety of backgrounds, abilities, and identities in the industry: from producers and engineers, to sound-people, bookers, and management.”

When asked what social equity in music meant to them, The Wednesdays declared, “mixed genre, gender, and race bills!!!! Every bill!!! It looks like carving out space for art that is made by those most affected by political and economic bullshit.”

"Representation is also really important,” insists Lila Burns of Baywitch. “It’s really easy to spiral into thinking, oh, this isn’t for someone like me if you can’t hear or see others like you.”

Sometimes you have to drag out the dregs of a scene and expose it for what it is. “It's unfortunate that historically many folks have not only been denied the spotlight, but even more often, were encouraged never to try,” McKool points out. “DIY spaces mobilize resources for this task.” And sometimes if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

“I think something that really binds people together beyond just creative efforts is the dedication to giving back to the community,” Walker says, “and the commitment to making sure the music scene is a better place than it was when we all arrived.”


You can pick up a Switch Hits cassette and support these Seattle bands on Den Tapes' bandcamp.


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