Pazz & Jop Comments: Ladies First

For these lists, I always gravitate toward music that says something about the year, whether it’s the world at large or simply my little place in it. Low’s Ones and Sixes helped me make sense of a chaotic 2015 that involved moving and the selling and buying of houses with two young kids in tow. A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service was the perfect antidote to a divisive election season in 2016. (If there’s one thing my friends and I can all agree on, it’s A Tribe Called Quest.) Julien Baker’s Turn Out the Lights was my window into one woman’s brutally/beautifully honest attempt at trying to figure it all out when you’re in your twenties. This year, Merrill Garbus’s work as Tune-Yards felt necessary and funky and brave, like both a response to, and soundtrack for, the kind of digital world we now can’t escape. And my kids loved singing along to “Heart Attack.”

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[Until this year] Pazz & Jop has awarded its Album of the Year designation to just two female artists, one of them being the woman who also happened to make my favorite record of 2018. Is this a fault specific to P&J? And maybe a fault specific to me, as one of its voters? (I’m a white guy about to turn forty, I should mention.) P&J is made up of hundreds of critics; it’s only as pure as its critics. (Atticus Finch, in To Kill a Mockingbird: “A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men” — men! — “who make it up.”) Pitchfork’s track record in giving female artists Album of the Year honors over the same time period is about the same (members of Arcade Fire in 2004; brother-sister duo the Knife in 2006; Solange in 2016; Mitski in 2018), while the Grammys — whose outgoing president last year told women to “step up” if they want more opportunities in the music business — actually fare much better in this category (Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones, Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss, Taylor Swift, Adele), as long as we don’t think too much about gender and race at the same time. So what to even make of a “best of” list anymore? What did I miss? What did I not hear? Did holding something up mean I was pushing something else down?
— Michael Pollock

The underdog but undeniable standout project from Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music’s summer rollout plan was this eye-opening project that proves Teyana Taylor has tons more to offer as a musician. Even after Pusha T declared Daytona the rap album of the year, he said Taylor’s K.T.S.E. was the best G.O.O.D. project in 2018.
— Jeff Benjamin

Taylor Swift, “Delicate”: When the fireworks of “Look What You Made Me Do,” “…Ready for It?,” and “End Game” fizzled, it was this low-key musing that gave her reputation its necessary jolt. A comforting companion on a rainy night that proves the depths of Swift’s palette are much more interesting than its flash.
— Trevor Anderson

Rosalía: Illuminating a 13th-century manuscript with beats and brains and root-chakra energy, this enrapturing 21st-century encounter with flamenco made my ears feel new the way nothing else did this year.
— Ann Powers

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Australian trio Camp Cope grab a fistful of garage punk, a fistful of bubblegum pop, and a fistful of folk and braid those strands together into a gloriously fun and endlessly catchy style. The second record from singer-guitarist Georgia McDonald, bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich, and drummer Sarah Thompson, How to Socialise & Make Friends is a jolt of energy, with sing-along anthems brimming with righteous anger, feminist critiques, and introspective determination.
— Eric Swedlund

Neko Case, Hell-OnAlmost too sprawling and impassioned for its own good, but a grand-scale reminder of Case’s skills as a vocalist, songwriter, and producer.
— Mark Deming

Conscious hip-hop (do people still say that?) with neo-soul touches. Compared to the other two woman-fronted hip-hop records on my list, this is less pop but more “musical” than Tierra Whack, and more immediate but arguably less interesting than the Jean Grae & Chris Quelle record. However, Noname can rap, and some of her verses were the most memorable things I heard in 2018. 

“Fucked the rapper homie, now his ass is making better music/My pussy teaches ninth-grade English/My pussy wrote a thesis on colonialism/In conversation with a marginal system in love with Jesus/Y’all still thought a bitch couldn’t rap, huh?”

“But I love you even though we’re not meant to be, I still love you/I hope you find everything that you want, and she loves you/Everything is everything just know that I love you.”

“And yes and yes, I’m problematic too.”

Musically, the tracks run the gamut from straight funk to string ballads to Caribbean faux-calypso groove, and if Noname’s not necessarily a virtuoso MC, she gets her point across with no strain. One to watch.
— Dominique Leone

Mitski, Be the CowboyEverything has gone to hell. The country, the relationship, the hope. It’s all just gone bad, and all we have is the memory, and the hope that it all gets better. Never has being sad sounded so lush and lovely.
— Jaime-Paul Falcon

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Tracey Thorn, alternative rock’s big sister in the Nineties, became a mother, yet the men who run it can’t deal with a mom who still loves to dance to the “same old shit” she calls it.
— Alfred Soto

“There is no resolution,” Robyn sings on Honey, dismantling the notion that her long-awaited full-length return will deliver answers that are easy to swallow. Still, Robyn makes the world go down smooth. In making Honey, the Swedish icon abandons many traditional structures while submerging in her club-kid roots, resurfacing through the filter of her life, loves, and losses. Robyn is still sexy without commercializing female sexuality, and still demonstrates her minimal-beat, major-chord-chorus dance pop that has been so influential on artists like Lorde, Carly Rae Jepsen, Troye Sivan, and more. Simultaneously happy and sad and something beyond, Honey holds truths both banal and complex — and makes them float.
— Katie Moulton

Tierra WhackWhen was the last time a brand-new artist made an opening statement this weird and lovable? We need her.
— Alex Frank

Soccer Mommy, “Your Dog”: In no uncertain terms, Sophie Allison turns the tables on Iggy Pop by kicking off the leash, pronouncing her independence, and biting the hand that presumably feeds her.
— Roy Trakin

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Kali Uchis , Isolation: As she shifts genres as effortlessly as she changes language, her obvious genius captures a mood that exists only at the yawning edges of a twilit Miami shoreline. And however real the power and sex at its core, they exist for you because she dreamt them up. She wants you to know that.
— Nick Farruggia

The Beths, Future Me Hates MePunkish pop-rock with a Nineties sheen that nonetheless totally inhabits the current moment, via sharp-as-nails songwriting and self-deprecating humor that rides an amped-up guitar-pop wave like nobody’s business.
— Dave Heaton

Lucy DacusThoroughly compelling, Historian is filled with excellent songwriting that is expertly supported by the music arrangement and production. The album also serves as a representative for her Boygenius project and her collaborators (Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker) and this whole generation of phenomenal singer-songwriters.
— Mike Berick

Pistol Annies, Interstate GospelIf a lot of modern country music is regurgitated Eagles, maybe we should start thinking of Miranda Lambert’s projects as the Stones revivified. Only since she’s not Mick, she’s not an asshole. Or at least not as much of an asshole.
— Rod Taylor

If only Boygenius was an album. If it was a full-length LP, it would be my album of the year. But it’s just a wee bit too short at six songs, its only flaw. But I’ll forgive Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus for keeping things short and sweet — they’re busy, and in high demand. And their collaborative album might just be their greatest work of all. These three women just get each other. They’ve had such parallel experiences, and their sisterly bond shines through the EP’s all-too-short 22 minutes.
— Ellen Johnson

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No album has so confidently and concisely chronicled the chaotic life of a twentysomething pop star — from a tragic bombing outside of a tour stop to a whirlwind romance and spontaneous engagement — more so than Ariana Grande’s Sweetener. And though such situations are entirely unique to Grande, she still emerged this year as one of music’s most relatable personalities. Her consistent presence on Instagram and Twitter aside, there was only one format on which her story could be perfectly packaged: the album. Despite debate over the format’s future, Grande, knowingly or not, became the poster child for its importance. (Even if she did claim on Twitter that she doesn’t want to conform to a routine or formula anymore). Sweetener gave fans the most intimate look at Grande’s life yet, one that even a selfie couldn’t capture, because it was a direct line into her heart and mind. It’s as if she tore a page straight from her diary with of-the-moment interlude “Pete Davidson,” and on closer “Get Well Soon” she gifted listeners with a swelling instructional ballad on self-care told from firsthand experience. And even though so much of Grande’s life has drastically changed in the five months since the album’s release, with some moments, like the untimely death of her friend and ex-boyfriend Mac Miller, being more bitter than others, that’s exactly what makes this album so special. Its sweetness will forever be preserved.
— Lyndsey Havens

Although you can find lots of bemused critical commentary about the fact that Cardi B’s pop crossover success was largely driven by cameo appearances on a cable television series, there has been less journalistic punditry on how big a push scripted TV dramas like Star and Insecure continue to give new singles and original soundtrack albums.

The musical protagonists in Lee Daniels properties like Empire and Star might chew the scenery more than many would like, but these extra shenanigans don’t stop them from putting out some mighty fine singles. Making songs available right after viewing seems to have replaced radio rotation as the most effective way to “break” new recordings. With both Star and Issa Rae’s Insecure having successfully wrapped their third seasons, it seems imprudent not to critically address how such female-centered and music-driven shows (created and/or directed by black talent) came to enjoy repeated commercial success. It is, after all, an intriguing phenomenon.

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I suspect the teen-to–late-twenties demographic is slowly shifting established paradigms for nighttime soap operas, daytime talk shows, and reality TV. That’s why, for me, 2018 begged the musical question: “What will post-ratched pop culture look and sound like?”

This query pivots around the fact that (contrary to the online Urban Dictionary) the terms “ratched” and “wretched” aren’t really synonyms. Neither term glibly equates poverty with stupidity, or having money with intelligence. But being genuinely ratched can also be a cynical, deliberate pose, whereas being genuinely wretched cannot. Class determines the state of being wretched in ways it can neither define nor determine the fluid, deceptive role of being ratched.

Entertainers like Wendy Williams and Cardi B — despite a vast difference in their ages and backgrounds — deliberately adopted media personalities that straddle the line between being “low-class” and being streetwise. This shrewdly includes making an audience want to behave (vicariously) like them.

When performing, Cardi B currently does this better than Williams (or Nicki Minaj, or Remy Ma, or almost all her musical competition) because the emotionally complex, contemplative candor of songs like “Be Careful” steers slyly away from where the old ratched formulas of diss and shady brags have gotten stale. In her melodic and lyrical choices, Cardi B attempts a significant shift in the way the ratched meme presents and interprets itself.

Years of Jerry Springer Showstyle cat fights on various networks, plus Bravo’s Grand Guignol Housewives franchise, have addicted Americans to consuming embarrassment theater in great quantity. There is nothing morally elevated about it. Instead, the performers and themes of embarrassment theater too often earn fans by making audiences feel superior to who and what entertains them.

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Accordingly, rap stars, actors, and talk show hosts alike have become masters of snarky condescension and schadenfreude. But every major pop trend eventually starts to wane, including the unwholesome celebration of embarrassing or scandalous behavior.

2018’s ill-advised attempt to turn one of Dr. Phil’s attitudinal teen guests into a rapper named Bhad Bhabie proves it takes more than televising a laughably undercivilized demeanor to attract enough attention to launch a recording career. Appealing to people’s voyeuristic curiosity alone won’t work.

I wish Bhad Bhabie well, but even she should be wary of anyone trying to run a Kesha con on her by marketing a borderline personality disorder as comedy or as ratched wigger chic.

If Cardi B’s best tunes are any indication, she presages a new type of ratched pop star who is not content to make bank off of burlesquing herself or some train wreck of a life. Hopefully those fans looking to feel better about themselves by laughing at the ratched will develop better taste once they find a shrewd court jester has replaced the geek in the carnival.

Perhaps the popularity of embarrassment theater developed as a counterbalance to the increasingly fascist tone of politically correct rhetoric. Sneering at the whole human race became acceptable as soon as scapegoating specific individuals or groups was not. But that trend has touched the bottom of the pool and is already heading back up to the light and air. The world of music and topics to sing or rap about is wide. And if the ratched take advantage of all the opportunities this world can offer, they will transcend — not just take over — the pop chart.
— Carol Cooper


Camp Cope Aren’t the Openers Anymore

On an early summer afternoon in Greenpoint, Georgia Maq and Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich of the Australian rock trio Camp Cope are talking about confidence, or, more specifically, the lack thereof that defined their coming-of-age in punk. “I was involved in music for such a long time, but there were so many things I believed I couldn’t do,” says Hellmrich, who plays bass in the band. “I’m still learning. I still have to remind myself, ‘You can do that.’ ”

“I’d always be the acoustic female opener on a bill of dudes,” deadpans Maq, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, who started playing solo at eighteen. “That was the norm. I thought, ‘This is just how shows are, I guess.’ And I was so much better than all of them.”

“She played with some pretty shit bands,” confirms drummer Sarah Thompson, who they all call Thomo.

The confidence gap is a plague on society — the cultural reality that makes women more likely to underestimate their abilities, while men overestimate, get more opportunities, and earn higher pay. In 2018, “carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man” is a line so commonly told to women that an Etsy search yields more than a dozen results, with cute items like tote bags and cross-stitch kits. In her Melbourne music community, Maq knew things were unfair. “I didn’t have a lot of confidence,” she says.

“People around you kind of make you feel like that’s what you deserve as well. They kind of put you in your place,” says Hellmrich, turning to Maq. “You played first, and had the biggest crowd.”

That kept happening. “I kept having the biggest crowds,” clarifies Maq, “and getting paid less than all of them.”

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Camp Cope’s latest record, How to Socialise and Make Friends, sounds like a revelation. Not because three women playing in a band in 2018 is novel, or because women are saving rock music. But because of its clarity and bravery and emotional scope. Over its 38-minute running time, you can hear a band that’s been through the ringer and come out stronger on the other side.

“The Opener” is its grand entrance, an epic, searing anthem that tells the story of the band’s year leading up to its genesis. Its verses detail what women in music still deal with on a regular basis: unsolicited advice, backhanded compliments, the near-constant mansplaining. In her lyrics, Maq takes some of these off-the-cuff comments verbatim and pieces together a constellation of reality.

“Almost everything in that song is a quote,” says Maq — things the band was told over the course of a year by specific people. “That’s why I was so impressed the first time I heard it,” says Thompson, laughing. “I was like, ‘Georgia literally rhymed all these things.’”

The song is the album’s opener, but it sounds like it should be playing as the credits roll. In some ways, for them, it is: if the entirety of the male-dominated music world that they came up in was actually just one long, bad movie of sexist cliches, mansplaining and constant one-upping — maybe this is point where it stops.

“You worked so hard but we were ‘just lucky’
To ride those coattails into infinity
And all my success has got nothing to do with me
Yeah, tell me again how there just aren’t that many girls in the music scene!”
— The Opener”

Lately, when I think about the hatred for women that seemed to hang in the air in the emo and pop-punk music spaces I came up in — similar to the scenes members of Camp Cope came up in, they tell me — I am consumed by thoughts about those women who were most failed by the deep-rooted sexism there: the women who just stopped, who endured enough, said “fuck it,” and never went to another show again, who ceased playing, booking, or writing about music at the whim of men who wanted to stomp them out. Who could blame them? That’s partially why, speaking to the women of Camp Cope, their existence feels like such a victory.

Hellmrich says she had all but given up playing music before Camp Cope. In high school, she played in metal and shoegaze bands, but was always the token woman, playing with men who belittled her and would rewrite her bass-lines. At seventeen, she moved into an apartment above the now-defunct all-ages Sydney venue Black Wire Records, where she helped run shows. “I knew that venue in and out,” she says, but still, men would regularly speak down to her, “as if they deserved the space more than me.” She eventually met women musicians there, and joined a band dubbed “suburban feminist screamo,” an experience she describes as “infinitely better” than those other bands. But when they broke up, she just stopped: “I moved to Melbourne and I was like, ‘I give up on music. I only liked that one band. I’m never playing in a band again.’ ” 

Thompson had also given up playing music for seven years before Camp Cope. A self-described Hole-loving ten-year-old in the mid-1990s, by age twelve she had found some other girls who liked Nirvana and started a band in her family’s garage. She played in bands for years despite the challenges (“It was either be one of the boys or just go away”), but ultimately decided to stop: “I always played in bands, but I also always worked in music.” (Thompson works at Australia’s Poison City Records, who have released Camp Cope records, as well as the likes of Cable Ties, Iron Chic, Pity Sex, and a long roster of others.) “I couldn’t do both,” Thompson says. “You get treated like shit in one and you get treated like shit in the other. I was like, ‘I’m gonna lose my fucking mind…it’s one or the other.’ So I quit playing music for seven years.”

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Then they each met Maq. Georgia Maq describes herself as a lifelong singer and feminist. As a child, growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne, her musician father (Hugh McDonald of the chart-topping political folk-rock group Redgum) would teach her Green Day covers on guitar. When she was about ten, she organized a wage-gap protest at school. She loved playing piano, too, but ultimately dropped out of music lessons (“I hated the bureaucracy of it”) and studied nursing in college. All the while, she began playing shows, just an acoustic guitar and her maximalist, folk punk–tinged songs on topics ranging from dumpster-diving to “white male propagandists on the outskirts of the truth.”

“I always wanted to start a band but nothing ever felt right,” Maq says. “I was too self-conscious to do anything with boys. They didn’t get me or what I wanted to do.”

In 2015, she formed Camp Cope, recruiting Thompson, whom she knew through the local punk scene, and Hellmrich, whom she met while getting a tattoo. Though the band is still relatively new, when the trio came together, they brought collective decades of experience playing and booking, working at labels and venues. They knew what they did and did not want to deal with as a group. By 2016, Camp Cope released a debut, self-titled record, and on the strength of those songs, they’d soon be opening up tours for the likes of Against Me!, Modern Baseball, the Hotelier, AJJ, and Waxahatchee.

How to Socialise and Make Friends is a louder and more collaborative record than their first record. It’s an album that contains multitudes: blunt criticism of sexism in music, but also slow burners on love and death and friendship, ripping pop songs on anxiety and empathy. Maq’s songs tell stories, and within them there are women who have agency, sleazy men who get left behind, images of herself out at night alone. “I can see myself living without you,” she shouts on the title track. “And being fine! For the rest of my life!”

Like their debut, How to Socialise… is an emotional roller coaster, where Maq’s bandmates’ dynamism makes her all-caps poetry all the more potent. Among its most devastating moments is “The Face of God,” in which Maq recounts a sexual assault by another musician, an encounter in which she had to say “no” too many times, where boundaries were crossed. “Could it be true? You don’t seem like that kind of guy,” she sings from the perspective of the subsequent skeptics, drawing out every word. “Not you, you’ve got that one song that I like…”

The album “just depicts the year we had,” says Hellmrich. “The anger is in that album.” Performing the songs now is cathartic, she adds: “Even the quiet songs have loud messages. It’s unforgiving.… Playing these songs, even though I’m not shouting, I can feel the same things as Georgia and I’m getting them out too. We always talk about how amazing playing ‘The Opener’ is. It’s this huge relief. Of all that shit we went through. And finally getting to let it out.”

It’s equally cathartic to listen to. Maq’s raw, booming voice makes each line feel visceral. “I’ve always been very loud and emotional. That’s my whole thing,” she says. “When I first started playing shows, I was very loud, very unapologetic. Then there was maybe like a year where the boys’ club slowly ate away at me, so I started writing songs that were quieter, where I didn’t yell as much. Then I started yelling more.”

“It’s another all-male tour preaching equality
It’s another straight cis man who knows more about this than me
It’s another man telling us we’re missing a frequency
Show ’em Kelly!”
— The Opener”

When we meet up in mid-June, the band is passing a few days before taking off on a six-week, full U.S. tour with fellow pop-punk-adjacent indie rock band Petal (a tour that wrapped up last weekend in NYC). While they wait for the tour to start, Camp Cope have been crashing in Brooklyn on the floor of their previous tourmate Jeff Rosenstock. Today they spent their day off getting manicures with Jeff’s wife, Christine, who is also their good friend; Maq and Hellmrich flash their newly painted nails for me to check out — baby blue, highlighter orange. Maq sips water from a bottle donned with a sticker reading MEN ARE TRASH.

“I remember when you sent it to me,” Kelly says, reflecting on the first time she heard “The Opener.” “I put it on in my kitchen. I was living with a bunch of people, and they were sitting at the table, and I was cooking. And we all had to just stop. Almost every sentence, we were like… OK! Yeah! OK! We’re gonna do this!”

“I had that too,” says Thompson. “I was at work. I sit at a desk with my boss, and he’s putting the record out. I put the phone down and I press played. And I’m like…,” she continues with a big smile and a sarcastic shrug. “Sorry, Andy!”

Although Camp Cope has only existed for three years, they seem like sisters — a tight-knit unit, the type of support system necessary when doing the sort of work Camp Cope has taken on. Together, the band has been unafraid to call out gender inequity in music at a time when on the surface level it seems that things have changed. Their approach seems to be: just uncovering the truth. Earlier this year, for example, they played Australia’s Falls Festival, and onstage they sang, “It’s another man telling us we can’t fill up a tent/It’s another fucking festival only booking nine women,” swapping some lyrics on “The Opener” to criticize their surroundings. Their commentary made headlines. “It was weird. People said it was a controversy when all it was was the truth,” Thompson said in an interview earlier this year.

Camp Cope recognizes that visibility doesn’t always equate to support — that although this is indeed a moment where more women artists are being given wider platforms, there is still a great disparity in terms of the scope of opportunities provided to underrepresented artists, not to mention the persistence of day-to-day sexism. And sometimes shallow industry “support” can actually be a means of exploitation that serves to benefit the appearances of the festivals and the publications more than it helps the artists. “It may appear that there’s all of this diversity in music, but so many of our friends are in the industry and we can see the people who are suffering,” says Hellmrich. “The ones that aren’t getting by, the ones that are getting exhausted, the ones that are burning out the most are women and queer people. It gets incredibly personal and frustrating. They may be getting a spot on a bill because people are trying to champion diversity, but they still can’t afford to live. It’s not working.”

After her seven years away from playing music, Thompson feels like not much has changed — not enough to celebrate, at least. “Coming back to the music scene, it was literally the same,” she says. “There’d been no progression in seven fucking years. Men are still being pieces of shit, sound guys are still fucked, other bands are still fucked. It’s all still fucking the same. I got so mad. I was like, ‘No, fuck it, I’m going to just do it, and I’m going to rip all of your heads off if you’re being cunts.’”

“It’s another man telling us we can’t fill up the room
It’s another man telling us to book a smaller venue
‘Nah, hey, c’mon girls we’re only thinking about you’
Well, see how far we’ve come not listening to you!
“‘Yeah, just get a female opener, that’ll fill the quota.'”
— The Opener”

Thompson is a bit like the tough mom of the group. (Her bandmates sing her praises and also say lots of people are “scared of her.”) About a decade older than Maq, who just turned 24, Thompson is a long-time employee of their label, which puts them in the empowering position of not needing a manager or agent. Instead, Thompson is the manager. On tour, she does everything: playing, managing the band, advancing shows. “And people will still come in and be like, ‘you should do this, you need someone to do this, you need someone to do that,’” says Hellmrich.

With Thompson’s expertise, they’ve stayed staunchly independent even as they gain mainstream attention in Australia: from airplay on major radio stations to attention at national award ceremonies — winning Best Emerging Act at the Age Music Victoria Awards and the Heatseeker Award at the NLMAs, and nominations for the J Awards and the Australian Music Prize.

“We’re in a super lucky position,” Thompson says. “We’re a fully independent band. We’ve never had a cent of debt. We’re in a much better position than most people we know. They appear to be doing so well, but they probably owe fucking $50,000 to somebody. In ten years time, when they’re still paying off their debt, I’ll be like, ‘Oh, well, I’m glad that you tried to tell me what to do.…’”

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The band is critical of music business in general. “The way the industry works is backwards,” says Hellmrich. “Art isn’t valued, artists aren’t making money.” But mostly they want to exemplify that artists have choice — that quickly signing away 20 percent of your income to a manager “doesn’t have to be the only way.” 

“It was super important for me to see people like me playing music in order to make me feel like I could do it,” says Hellmrich, who last year was inspired to release some solo music of her own, under her nickname, Kelso. It’s a collection of dreamy guitar-pop, self-described “cute weird songs for cute weird people.”

We carved our own path of what we wanted and what we wouldn’t accept from people,” says Maq, who these days also fronts a more aggressive five-piece rock band called Würst Nürse, harkening back to her nursing school days. (First single: “Dedication Doesn’t Pay the Rent”.)

“I feel like this is meant to happen in our lives. We were put on this Earth for each other,” Maq says, looking at her bandmates. “We’re soulmates. We were meant to start this band. We were meant to change this little bit of the music scene.”

January of this year, Camp Cope filmed a session playing “The Opener” at the Sydney Opera House. As Maq belts out her lines about not listening to shitty music industry men, the ones who worked so hard while her band was just “lucky,” her expression says it all: she scrunches her face, rolls her eyes and screams it all out. This week, the band returned to the Opera House to play its iconic, 2679-capacity venue. And they weren’t the openers — they were headlining.