For those about to rock, expect girls to share the stage.
A camp that helps young girls gain confidence through music is coming to Miami this summer.
The Miami Girls Rock Camp is part of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance. The first camp, Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls, originated in 2001 in Portland, Oregon. Several more camps soon followed with locations throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
Despite the rapid spread, there was no Miami camp -- until local musicians Steph Taylor and Emile Milgrim decided it was time.
Milgrim says she received an email from Taylor one night, coaxing her to help establish the camp in Miami.
“I thought about it for a little bit, and I was like, ‘Uhh, I have lot of things going on,’" Milgrim says. "But she’s right, this thing needs to happen here, so I said yes and we’ve been working consistently since about September of 2014."
Milgrim blames the delay on Florida’s geographical isolation, noting that even most touring bands don’t make it all the way down to Miami. She says finally having the camp here is good for girls as local musicians will be more accessible.
“At that impressionable age, it’s just so important for them to see that there are other women who can do this and do do this. And that way, they can learn about it and find out if they want to do it,” says Milgrim.
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Milgrim thinks having a rock camp just for girls is especially important because of what female musicians have to go through in the rock world.
The horror stories she has heard range from being mistaken for someone’s girlfriend or a band’s merchant to a sound guy resetting a left-handed drummer’s drum kit or receiving unwanted criticism while male bandmates are praised.
As the drummer for local band Quarter Horses, Milgrim says she has not personally experienced issues because she is a female musician. However, she admits she has felt tension in her other music roles such as managing partner of Sweat Records, the record store in Miami.
“I’ve had a few instances where even though I’m the person behind the counter and a guy asks me a question about a record or about something related, and he didn’t like the answer I had to say—there’d be a guy in the back who is pricing used records at a table in the corner and he’ll go walk over to the guy and ask him the same question and make sure that it was correct," said Milgrim.
"That’s happened a lot, and that's weird because I was the person there. I’m equipped to give you this answer. I have this job for a reason."
This tension resonates with many women in Miami’s music scene, several of which hope to volunteer for the camp.
Ana Farina Mackliff is a singer and bassist for the band Haochi Waves. The band performed at a benefit for the camp that was held at Churchill’s Pub on March 6. Mackliff thinks that anything women do in music is typically considered “cute” and feels that people can’t look past a female musician’s gender.
“A lot of people, they’ll like you, they’ll like your music, but at the same time they’ll feel like, ‘Oh wow, she’s a girl, she can play.’ It’s like what does it matter?,” says Mackliff.
KC Toimil is the drummer in the band Snakehole. Toimil attended the benefit and is a potential camp volunteer. She says she experiences uncertainty with her music because of her gender.
“Sometimes it gets weird. Do you really appreciate my music, or do you think it’s cute ‘cause I’m a girl?” Toimil questions.
Autumn Casey, the guitarist in Snakehole, feels women can unknowingly be isolated in music.
“I feel like sometimes getting booked for shows is a little challenging, and it seems like there’s a lot of these girl nights for girl bands to play. When I feel like that is something that can be improved as far as integration with the whole scene,” Casey says.
Rebecca Lima is in a band called Whorish Boorish and is interested in volunteering for the camp. What is holding her back is a challenge she says men don’t really face: motherhood. Lima says that women are pressured to choose one path and have their priorities questioned when they try to have it all, especially in music.
“They never consider that it’s hard to schedule things with other priorities and other duties. Just as women, we have to juggle so much more, multitask so much more,” says Lima.
It’s challenges like these why co-founder Milgrim felt Girls Rock Camp needed to finally come to Miami.
“To me overall, it seems like for a woman to be respected on stage or as a musician, she has to get up there and prove herself," Milgrim says. "A guy is already there. ‘Oh, yeah dude, you play guitar, oh yeah you play drums, that’s awesome, that’s great.’ But for a girl, it’s like, ‘Oh wow, she’s really good for a girl. Oh, she’s a great player for a girl.’"
"It’s weird because no one is saying ‘Oh, he’s a great player for a guy. That never happens. No one says, ‘That’s a great male guitarist.’ They say, ‘That’s a great female guitarist.’ It’s weird how that works," Milgrim says.
Overall, the women hope the camp helps girls with life lessons beyond music and that it starts a discussion about the many challenges female musicians face.
Toimil wants the girls to never let things bother them no matter how tough it might get.
“You just have to show them that you don’t care what they think…You cannot care what anyone thinks,” says Toimil.
Sofia Fuentes, a solo artist who goes by Sofilla and a potential volunteer, says the girls should not feel like they need to compare themselves to others.
“Just be happy with the person you are and you’re born with and the skills that you have and just shine. Cultivate them and let them grow and shine. Because that’s personally something I went through a lot. Not knowing is this ok, am I supposed to be doing this. If I would have had someone pushing me all that time, I would have been like 20 million times better at what I do,” says Fuentes.
Didi Aragon is the guitarist in Haochi Waves and another potential camp volunteer. She wants the girls to come out of the camp with the confidence she didn't have early on.
“Maybe they’re not gonna be virtuosos from learning from me but they’re definitely gonna feel like they can get on there and just do it," Aragon says. "Get that shyness out and just start picking up an instrument…I definitely didn’t have that as a kid."
Miami Girls Rock Camp starts this summer and will take place from July 20 to July 24. Girls ages eight to 17 will have a chance to experience what it’s like to be in a band with the assistance of band coaches. The girls will go through band practice, songwritingand workshops on various topics, all of which lead to the finale show on July 26 where the girls will play their original songs.