Dot Matrix hosts The Girlie Show, a weekly broadcast dedicated to the voices of female-identifying artists from Austin and around the world. We spoke on November 17.
Michael A. Brown: Talk about your history with KOOP and The Girlie Show.
Dot Matrix: I started listening to KOOP in 2009, began volunteering in 2013, and debuted The Girlie Show in 2015. I had been working in the tech industry and got burned out and left. But I got restless not working and wanted to volunteer for something and connect with the Austin community. In my hometown, Salt Lake City, I had volunteered at alternative radio KRCL 90.9 and loved it. So in Austin I got in touch with KOOP. It was so cool to find out that I could apprentice and maybe get a show. At that time, KOOP had no shows dedicated to female artists. I proposed a full hour every week to feature female voices, calling it The Girlie Show, after Madonna’s concert tour of the same name. The Programming Committee liked the concept and approved it and that’s what I do!
MAB: Your show page at the KOOP website says, “We’re stylistically broad with an emphasis on (x)wave, (x)pop, and a dash of disco hedonism.” What does the “x” mean and can you share some examples of each?
DM: The “x” means the genre is variable, such as new wave, dark wave, synth pop, Euro pop, or dance pop. For example, the Boy Harsher band is dark wave or synth wave, Altered Images and ‘80s singer Lene Lovich are new wave, and Ladytron is synth pop.
MAB: In getting recorded and on the air, what gender-related opportunities do female artists enjoy and what challenges do they face?
DM: When I was growing up, there were no female-oriented radio shows. Some stations even had rules against playing two female artists back-to-back. And as recently as two years ago, there was a country station in Michigan that still had that rule. KOOP’s Rush Evans told me that station bosses feared that too much female music would chase away advertisers and listeners. I can’t speak to opportunities and obstacles in the recording industry at large, but we do see news stories from time to time about female victories in getting music produced and on the air.
MAB: We sometimes hear about supposed “overnight success” singers who actually took many years to achieve success … talk about some of them.
DM: Madonna and Janet Jackson are two. I remember seeing Madonna for the first time on the Solid Gold tv program, dancing around on stage in a pink wig. But before that, she was a musician in her own right. She played with a new wave band and was a backup singer before reaching fame as a solo act. It took from the late ‘70’s until 1984 for Madonna to really break through into stardom. Janet performed in the shadow of her Jackson Five brothers until her 1986 breakout hit “When I Think of You.”
MAB: How can it happen that one performer, Taylor Swift, could have all ten of the top ten Billboard Hot 100 hits in one week, as she did recently?
DM: Years ago, it would have been impossible because female artists simply were not releasing enough music to come anywhere near that number. And that was with much less competition. Now, there are many more female artists and fewer barriers. So it’s likely the biggest reason is streaming via the Internet. Fans can hear the music whenever and wherever they want … there’s no music director cycling through a Top 40 radio play list.
MAB: There are lesser-known but really good female artists you have featured. Tell us about some of your favorites.
DM: I play mostly underground, emerging, and independent artists like Primo the Alien, who does pure, 100%, wonderful pop. I play Bragglights, who sings and performs very cool electronic music. Also, Lazy Suzanne, who has a bratty, rowdy kind of aesthetic, plus rapping. Austin has these and many other strong and inventive female artists.
MAB: Besides The Girlie Show, what other sorts of musical and community things are you involved in?
DM: Musically, I like to DJ at KOOP events and others. In the community, I’m the volunteer coordinator for the PTA at my son’s elementary school and I’m really passionate about public education.
You can enjoy The Girlie Show with Dot Matrix on KOOP every Saturday from 4-5pm.
Interview by Michael A. Brown