Firecracker Female Guitarist: Alyse from EULA

20 01 2012

I went to go cover another band at the Music Hall of Williamsburg last night and stuck around for the next act.  EULA is a 3 peice band found in Brooklyn and Alyse is their lead vocalist and guitar player.    She’s definitely an out of the box type of guitarist. She opened up the set using a beer can on her guitar instead of a pick.  I love the way she has her own way of playing and breaks many rules while still delivering catchy songs and a contagious style of  rock — all her own! Her bandmates bring the heavy to fill out the sound that much more! They opened for Mission of Burma last night.  Check the pics.

Alyse from EULA

Alyse from EULA using a beer can instead of a pick on her guitar.

Alyse from EULA

While opening for Mission of Burma


Female Bassist Notable: Ego Sensation

11 01 2012

While on assignment for Feast of Music, I was thrilled to have seen, heard and met Ego Sensation — the bassist for White Hills.  A powerful presence, without words, Ego also has lots of powerful things to share from her approach to life, her love of comedy, solo album, film productions and overall empowering nature.  I want you to meet her too. Read on… (also some great video of her on tour)

Ego Sensation, Bassist

Sky Disco: When did you start playing bass and how did your journey as a musician begin?

Ego Sensation: I started playing bass about 8 years ago but had previously played guitar for many years. As an 8 year old I took piano lessons and picked it up fairly easily. I learned to read music but usually playing by ear. At 16 I was really into Led Zeppelin and decided to borrow a friend’s nylon string guitar and teach myself to play their songs. From there I branched out into writing my own songs.

Describe your rig (amp/cab/effects/axe)

Ego: I love my bass! It’s an Ampeg Dan Armstrong reissue. The fret board is perfect for a petite-handed player like myself (it’s not short-scale but it isn’t your standard long-scale either) and it’s clear plexiglass which looks dynamite on stage. I have an Acoustic b600h amp head that I play through an Acoustic 4×10 cab and also a Musicman 1×15. I use several effects: Homebrew Electronics Hematoma Overdrive/Preamp, Ibanez Tube Screamer, Boss RV-5 Digital Reverb, Boss DD3 Digital Delay, Electro Harmonix Freeze (sustain pedal), and the Moogerfooger Bass Murf.

Have you played in several bands? Approximately how many would you say?

EgoI’ve played in 4 different bands- one as sole guitar player/singer, another as lead guitar, the third as drummer, and my most current White Hills as bass and backing vocals. I work on my own solo material in addition to the band.

How did you become part of  White Hills?

EgoDave W. (guitar and vocals) and I have been friends/collaborators for years. About 6 years ago, he produced a solo album under the moniker White Hills using drum/bass samples. When he decided to build a band around the project I was the first to sign on. Since then we’ve put out 5 full-length albums and a slew of limited-edition cdrs and EPs.

What is life like touring with mostly men?

Ego: It’s fun most of the time! I like hanging out with men and for the most part the men I come in contact with are great. I’ve had a handful of ridiculous, sexist-type incidents (for instance, in one european country a promoter refused to pay the band’s fee to me because as he said “I don’t do business with women.”) That kind of thing pisses me off but at the same time I find it too absurd to get upset about. I do wish that there were more women out there in the stoner-rock world but there are some and they hold their own.  One thing i’ve learned from touring is that rock is still basically a boys club: I’ll never understand why because women have the same capacity and desire to play music, but that’s just how it seems to be. I don’t worry about it. I’m doing what I love and if I show up backstage and the guys feel like i’m breaking up their party- get over it! Toughen up and pass me a beer.

How many hats do you wear in life? (family, career, personal projects, hobbies)

Ego: At this point in my life, I’m living it up! I work at the band (which can be full time during spring and fall touring seasons) and I also work on my films.

What inspires you?

Ego: Bands like the Flaming Lips. They started in 1983 and have been performing consistently since then. Though they only had one hit single in 1993, they have a tremendously large, loyal following. Their albums, collaborations and live shows continue to evolve and they seem to stay quite true to their principles as artists.

Comedy! Most of my favorite funny people happen to be women: Amy Sedaris, Amy Poehler, Cheri Oteri. Molly Shannon, Gilda Radner, Madeline Kahn, Maya Rudolph, Jennifer Saunders, the list goes on. Comedy is a great subversive arena for women to be able to defy the usual object role in popular culture and redefine themselves as empathetic subjects.

Anyone I see working hard at what they do: other artists in NYC, the postal clerk that remains friendly with a line out the door during the holidays, Iggy Pop who at 64 still gives an amazing live show, a documentary I saw on the loggerhead turtle- the list goes on. I’ve learned to find inspiration in many places and as often as possible. You need it in NYC.

What type of advice would you offer to women that would like to follow in your footsteps?

Ego: Focus, Discipline, Strength. That’s my mantra. For anything you want in life, large or small, you must commit yourself to your goal and hold yourself accountable. There are obvious struggles for a woman going into the music business. Your skills need to be twice as good to receive any kind of notice otherwise you may find yourself the token “chick” in the band. But regardless of whether you find yourself being judged on your looks or having your abilities belittled by small minds- you must avoid a victim mentality. Stay focused on the positive: work on your musicianship, connect with other musicians/artists, and set small goals that you can diligently conquer to build your confidence. And whenever you think it can’t be done, think of all the women that have done it and are doing it like Esperanza Spalding, St Vincent, Cat Power, Joan Jett, Lady Gaga, Kim Gordon, Joni Mitchell, Madonna, Karen O, Erykah Badu, Sheila E, Tori Amos, Chrissie Hynde, Lauryn Hill, Aimee Mann, Lita Ford, etc…………..

Future plans?

Ego: White Hills has a new album being released in March 2012. We’ll be doing a lot of touring in Europe and the US around that time. I’m finishing up some songs for a solo record to release later in the Spring.

Links for Ego Sensation!

Follow her Blog Here

Ego’s Youtube 

White Hills Online

Ego on Facebook


Female Guitarist Feature: Valerie Mize

3 01 2012

During an audition process in 2011, I met the lovely Valerie Mize.  The situation we were in at the time called for some serious cahones and I must say, Ms. Mize is not lacking in that department.  A powerful presence, who knows how and when to hold her ground.  I’d hang with her anytime.  I’m glad to have had the chance to learn more about her journey. I’d love for you to meet her too. Read on.

Sky Disco: When did you start playing guitar and how did your journey as a musician begin?

Valerie: My musical journey began with a tiny keyboard when I was four, teaching myself to play it, and singing in church, school, and professional choirs for many years. I was a late bloomer on the guitar, first picking it up in 2003 while studying abroad in the Netherlands. I bought the cheapest guitar in the village (a Chinese-manufactured nylon string for 90 Euros) and a chord encyclopedia, and spent countless hours in my room figuring out how to transfer my basic piano knowledge to this new instrument. Every time I learned new chords, I would write a song with them to immediately work them into my repertoire, and consequently I became a song writer.

Sky Disco: Describe your own personal rig (amp/cab/effects/axe)

Valerie: I have a few options to choose from, depending on the song/setting. I use an Eastman Archtop for jazz shows (Uptown Series Model AR 803), and I have an Eastman acoustic (AC722CE with built-in Fishman pickup). Both have a really fat mellow tone. They’re gorgeous instruments, hand made by a company in Beijing that began as a violin/viola/cello/bass manufacturer before expanding into really nice mandolins and guitars. On the road, I’m most likely to be seen with my red Ibanez Artcore Hollow Body. It’s sturdy and pretty versatile (and less expensive to replace if something happened to it). Pedal-wise I keep it simple: a Korg tuner and a Boss Equalizer G-7. When playing in NYC I used whatever amp was part of the house backline (heavy equipment and subways do not mix); on the road I bring a Fender Princeton Reverb amp.

Sky Disco: Have you played in several bands? Approximately how many would you say?

Valerie: When I moved to New York City, I founded a band under my name and produced my debut “Auspices” album with them. Before moving to the city, I had a brief all-girl project called Shyleaux (“Shy-Low”). I also fronted a 9 piece swing band, played around Tulsa in a couple jazz duos, and sang with a combo in college while getting my degree in jazz vocals. I recently moved from New York City to Nashville, so it’s back to solo shows until I build or join another band.

Sky Disco: What has been your favorite or most exciting parts of your experience with you NYC band?

Valerie : Recording my debut “Auspices” album with my New York band was such an awesome experience. The quality of musicianship and sound engineering on that record is top-notch (Antar Goodwin, Tomo Kanno, Greg Mayo, Ward Williams, Craig Dreyer, Jason Rosen, and Robert L. Smith). I love that when I listen to the songs I not only hear great musicians, I also am flooded with gratitude for the friends who worked with me to make it happen, and happy memories of the whole record coming together.

Sky Disco: What does your practice regimen look like and what motivates you to practice?

Valerie: Having a show in the near future and teaching other guitarists are two great motivators. Since I’m a vocalist as well as a guitarist, I have multiple chops that need to be up to par simultaneously. After warming up my vocals (using mp3s from Cari Cole), I like to practice my whole set plugged in, standing at the microphone, in front of a mirror, to make sure that I’m communicating the emotion of the lyric instead of staring at my hand or moving my head around too much while I’m supposed to be singing into the mic. I’ll frequently hit up the Internet for guitar lessons ( is a veritable gold mine of free and donation-based lessons), and get cover song chords and tabs at or somewhere similar.

Sky Disco: How many hats do you wear in life? (family, career, personal projects, hobbies, school)

Valerie: In addition to working as a vocalists (front person, backing vocals, session & demo work) and songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and producer; and aside from occasionally feeling like a professional mover (I grew up in Oklahoma and have lived in Texas, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, the Netherlands, New Jersey, New York City, and now Nashville); I’ve also spent various parts of my life as a gas station clerk, cocktail waitress, Texas Hold ‘Em dealer for an underground poker ring, National Merit Scholar, opera and jazz student, business major, volunteer clown, camp counselor, sidewalk and subway busker, sister-in-law, best friend, ex-wife, guitar/piano/voice instructor, Academic All-State alumna, interior designer, web designer, unlicensed masseuse, and amateur sushi chef.

Sky Disco: What inspires you?

Valerie: Authenticity.

Sky Disco:  Future plans?

Valerie: Mentoring young women. Recording more albums. Hosting the GRAMMYs. Traveling the world. Helping people. Starring in a movie. Starting a video blog. Eating lots of vegetables.

You can begin cyber-stalking Valerie at her website — and she has many links to from there.

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