Interview with Female Trouble

Female Trouble is the name of a radio show put on by two awesome ladies named Meredith Kite and Lara Lookabaugh. I originally met Meredith and Lara when I lived in Gainesville, Florida through the music and activist scene there. This is where they broadcast their show from, which you can catch every first and third Monday of the month on GROW RADIO at 10pm EST here! Twice a month you can stream their show, which celebrates women musicians and spotlights great music by great ladies. I got to ask Meredith and Lara some more questions about their program, their own music, and women role models in their lives. Check out what they had to say below!

“Then she reminded me of the thing that Patti Smith said, and that Rimbaud said a really long time ago, you know about new sight, sounds and visions created by women. And suddenly it seemed like everything was possible for us, in that moment in time when we listened to the headphones and heard Patti Smith say, ‘Alright then, let’s get to it!’”

— Kathleen Hanna

What is Female Trouble all about, and how did it start?

Lara: It’s a radio show about women musicians. Meredith and I were asked by our friend Travis (who formerly did the GROW RADIO show CULTURE WARS) to guest DJ one night two years ago, and we thought it was really cool and fun and decided to start our own show. Talking about and sharing music was how we became friends initially years and years and years ago, so it seemed like the perfect project for us to work on together. I had kind of gotten the vibe that there weren't a lot of women DJs on GROW RADIO and since I’ve been involved in punk basically my entire life, I was really aware of how women are underrepresented at shows and in bands and wanted to do something to counteract that. 

What's behind the name "Female Trouble"? 

Lara: We love John Waters. He is quite possibly my favorite living human. It’s the name of a great John Waters movie, and you know, it also kind of describes the show. We play Divine’s theme song from the movie as our theme song. 

How do you pick and order the songs you play for your shows every month? 

Lara: We do the show two or three times a month, and we usually pick the songs based on a theme or on certain things we've been listening to a lot or really want to share with people. So, for the theme shows (Girl groups, Riot Grrrl, Back-up Singers, Carol Kaye, etc.) we do research and ask friends and pool our stores of music to come up with the playlist. We try to order them according to a theme within the larger theme and to avoid any super harsh transitions (although that can be cool sometimes). We also often have stuff we want to talk about between songs, so we try to order them to accommodate that too. When we aren’t doing a theme show, we just come up with songs or musicians we want to play on our own and then bring them to each other to try to make the whole thing work. 

Lara and Meredith with bandmate, Arlington, make up the trio Soda. (www.sodagainesville.bandcamp.com)

I know you both are musicians as well, can you talk a little bit about what it's like being a female musician, playing shows, going on tour, etc. - are there any experiences either of you have had where your gender comes directly into play?

Lara: Oh yeah, it can be so bad—from people directly insulting me after shows or trying to give me “advice” about how to set up my amp, play my instrument, etc. Meredith gets asked if she plays drums by a cashier every time she buys drum sticks. It’s amazing. It took me a really long time to ever start playing music. I was 23 I think before I had enough confidence to believe being in a band was something I could do despite constantly dating guys in bands and having been going to shows since I was 11 and even being really into riot grrrl and all that. I think that perception that I couldn’t do it was definitely tied to my gender and how I was socialized even within punk. There just weren’t any girl bands for me to go see when I was growing up and there weren’t a lot of girls around me who were into music the same way I was. 

Meredith: Like Lara, I didn't start playing music until I was in my mid 20's. Most of my guy friends had been playing music since they were 15 or 16, which was intimidating, and I didn't know many women in town who played punk music. The whole idea of being in a band seemed out of reach. I started playing drums when a good friend of mine moved to town and asked me to join a band with her and some other women. It was a good environment to work through my fears and learn skills from more experienced musicians. Since then I've been in two other bands. There have been a number of times after shows when I've gotten unsolicited advice about how to play drums. As Lara mentioned, I've been asked if I play drums every single time I've purchased drum equipment at Guitar Center. One time I jokingly said, "No, I'm just buying these for my cool drummer boyfriend." The cashier didn't get the joke, and he said, "Aw, you're a good girlfriend!" Our current bandmate has been in a few popular local bands, and people have actually asked us if we're intimidated to play music with him. We usually just laugh it off or pretend like we don't understand what they're saying. 

Who are some of each of your female role models and why?

Lara: Probably like Kim Gordon and Toodie Cole, and definitely my grandma.

Meredith: I'll second Lara and say Kim Gordon and Toodie Cole. Both of them are cool and talented Rock 'n' Roll lifers. The entire Riot Grrrl movement is a big inspiration for both of us. It created a space in which women could start bands and make art. It challenged sexism in punk music, and those of us making music today really benefit from that. That's a long way of saying that riot grrrls are my role models.  

What's one of the best shows you've each been to?

Lara: I’m really bad at answering questions like this. I saw the Breeders last year, and that was really cool. Our current band played this benefit show for a new all-ages punk space in May - that was probably one of the best shows I’ve been to in recent memory. It was just like all friends’ bands, and everyone there was really positive about creating this new space and the future of punk in Gainesville and all that, and an all-girl punk band played their first show! Grommet! They killed it. 

Meredith: That's a tough one. I've been to a number of bigger shows to see bands that I idolize or whatever, like The Slits, and it's often kind of a let down in the way that seeing a band decades after their prime can be. Most of my favorite show experiences have been seeing friends' touring bands play. Recently we've played shows with Patsy, The Ukiah Drag, and Ivy, and they've all hit it out of the ball park. 

 What are three things that inspire each of you creatively?

Meredith: I watch a lot of music docs and YouTube videos of live performances. Watching really good drummers inspires me to practice more. There are a lot of great bands playing out in Gainesville right now. Going to those shows inspires me. 

Lara: Just seeing my friends (and others) making art and music really inspires me, like when I see someone really going for it—I love that. Like Meredith said, seeing videos or photos or listening to great bands or seeing great movies can be really inspiring for me too.

What or who can always make you laugh?

Meredith: My bandmates, my roommate, South Park.

Lara: Oh, I dunnooooo, I really like animals a lot. My sister and I laugh a lot together too.  

Can you ladies share three of your favorite spots in Gainesville that visitors should check out? 

Lara: Video Rodeo, Arrow’s Aim Records, and El Indio.

Meredith: Reggae Shack, Paynes Prairie, and the Ichetucknee River (not exactly Gainesville, but close enough and well worth the trip out of town).