Foreword, Interview, and Photos by Anjelica Hammond Rees
Missy Bauman has been called many things over the years; but today we’re calling her an Inspirational Songstress. Though she’s just started her career the impact she’s left on people will last a lifetime. Whether it’s from her song lyrics or her all around positivity, you can’t help but be drawn in by her infections personality. Fresh off of her first full length album release last month, “Don’t Fear The Dark” is a very raw personal side of Missy that many people don’t get to see. Missy takes you into her ever changing sublime world with tales of broken hearts, fears and friendships.
Missy started off her musical journey at a young age winning a Hamilton Music Award for Best New Artist followed by a slot at the former Greenbelt Music Festival. All when she was 17 years old. After graduating high school, Missy attended the Independent Music Production program, IMP for short, as well as the Independent Song Writing & Performance program both at Seneca College. She created the band Daedalus which toured parts of southern Ontario as well as playing the Greenbelt Music Festival. Now Missy is going full force into her solo endeavor, with her recent release as well as a month long tour across Canada.
I first met Missy Bauman while I was attending IMP. She was the cool girl with a leather jacket, bleached blonde hair, and a backpack full of buttons. I was blown away by her music and her personality, I knew I had to become her friend. 4 years later and she’s still one of my best friends. I’m sitting in her current home in Guelph Ontario, in her bedroom, listening to her favorite band Said the Whale.
Asking her these questions.
How would you describe your music?
I call it dreamy drug folk which is kind of how I describe folk that’s not about working on the rail road. Just like modern contemporarily young girl things that I sing in a kind of folky rocky way.
How would you define confidence & what does it mean to you?
I think confidence is just believing in your own power, and being secure enough in your own feelings and, what you like to share with the world. Confidence can come in so many different forms. It’s not always just this presented alpha female walking into the room kinda thing, it can be just bravery in being a shy person as long as that’s what you want to share and that’s who you are and being unafraid to share that. I think that’s just as much confidence as being secure as a ‘look at me’, kind of of situation. In a scenario where I would be 100% confident I would be entering the room sweaty, and late, and covered in glitter and maybe have had a glass of wine and just feeling like my work can speak for itself. I’m not really concerned with an appearance or a persona as far as confidence goes.
Do you feel more confident on stage or off?
It depends. I find that when I’m playing with a band or with Max (Bornstein, the drummer for Missy’s band) it’s a lot easier to be confident and I just kind of step into a different skin almost where I can yell at people. It’s very very unnatural, but I find when I’m playing by myself I kind of realize how unnatural it is and it just seems so strange to me to like sing such personal stuff with all these people staring at me. So it’s a 50/50 kind of thing.
Where does your strength come from to share your art?
I think that, this is kind of like almost an oxymoron, but I’m so extremely private in my real life and really really shy. Like even talking about that (the miscarriage Missy suffered that inspired the song Her off of her EP "Girlhood") none of my friends or my family even knew that but I just can, I feel like when I need to express myself or share something music is always the first channel. I feel so much more assured in my own art as opposed to even a conversation with someone I love. I just feel way more comfortable and confident I guess, through my art sharing what I wanna share.
What is your first memory of feeling musically confident?
It was one of my first times performing, it was for a talent show in grade 8 and my sister and I were performing in it. I remember practicing ‘Blackbird’ by The Beatles constantly, 20 times a day and my family was so sick of it. I got up and played this thing and my family was like ‘Aw ya great we’ve heard this a zillion times.’ I remember that night just thinking ‘I’m an actual musician now. I just played and sang in front of people, this is real and this is a musical moment.’ It was really really cool for me.
Why did you pick this location? What about it is special to you?
I picked my house because, I move around a lot and it’s hard for me to pick one solid place just because I don’t really have a capital H, home. I moved around a lot as a kid and I’ve moved probably, I’ve moved like 10 or 11 times in the past 5 years which is just insane. Their all different city’s too, so the places that I get attached to in city’s aren’t like what I’m attached to now. Right now it’s just the place where I come home and I write my music and I relax, which is my room.
Originally we wanted to do this interview at the Central, (a bar in Toronto that closed with the rest of Mirvish Village) which is now unfortunately closed. So if we would have done this at the Central, why is that place so special to you?
So IMP, was my pivotal year in music, where i became really serious about being a professional musician. Which was just monumental in itself but it was also the year where I met my very best friend and I fell in love and I played my first show in Toronto. It was all just kind of like scary big moments and they all kinda revolved around having beers at the Central, and seeing shitty bands play at the Central.
It was such an artist freedom space and it was a corner of our world and for it to get destroyed
It breaks my heart
Even if it would have been moved it wouldn’t have been the same.
It was this majestic place that you could go to any time and know that you were just, like it was our home base for so long. There was a point in my life when I lived close by there too, when I was living on Harbor (Street), and whenever I was lonely I could just go down there and just feel the energy and feel the memories still sit there.
What’s your biggest battle in keeping the confidence and the battle to keep it growing?
I have a lot of problems like a lotta ‘Mental Health’, like the big scary word. I have kind of like a mood disorder that’s passed down in my family where it’s just extreme one way or another. So I’m not just happy I’m extremely elated and I spend all my money and, I sleep with random people or, you know just rash decisions. When it’s low it’s just extremely low, can’t even watch TV just have to stare at the wall and feel sorry for myself kind of stuff. So a lot of those times, it’s not on a schedule or anything and, a lot of the times I’ll go into a show in a very low place. There’s nothing I can do I just have to get up there and try to communicate and try to be myself when I feel like I’m almost wearing like, a blanket of sadness. Trying to break threw and trying to shine threw that, and that’s a huge huge challenge for me.
When you’re performing, what makes you feel most powerful?
I would have to say when everything clicks on stage, sound wise, like I can hear what everyone’s doing. Everything’s in tune, everything’s in time and I am singing an aggressive song making eye contact with someone. I feel like I can crush human beings with my toes in moments like that I feel so badass. I feel like my goal in those moments is being like a bad bitch and super cute but also, no one’s gonna touch me because I will kill them with my thighs or something. I can choose to murder you with this look I’m gonna give you, but I’ll let you live.
Who is your female inspiration? Musician or not.
I have so many I have a bucket full. I would say musically Hannah Georgas is at the top of my list. Because, all her accomplishments kind of line up with my goals and she does it in such a cool way without selling out. She has just stayed honest to herself and put out honest great music, and done all the things that I could ever hope to do.
What has been your biggest personal confidence set back? Did it help or hurt your music?
The year that IMP ended was so hard for me and I think it’s really common for people who finish the program. The whole time you’re actively doing things for your music career and there is kind of a path set out for you. It’s an extreme path it’s not even what a natural extremely hard working musician would necessarily do every day. When that ended it was really hard for me to get back into that, even half as intense as I was during IMP. All of a sudden I had no schedule and I was living in Stoufville so I had no friends and it was a really tricky time. I feel like eventually it helps but, it did take a long time for me to discipline myself into doing my own schedule and into working as hard as I did in school. I feel like I’m a natural student where it’s really easy for me to do assignments. If there was a musician school to last for my whole career I’d be like fucking Taylor Swift in 5 years, I swear to god. I’m just so obsessed with handing in something great. Where as with myself I’m still learning to value my own successes the same way.
We’re taught to get approval for something that we’ve done academically our whole lives. So you just get that feeling, it’s the same thing with work like traditional work. You hand something in and you want praise back you want achievement back; music isn’t always like that. It’s very much a give and take between you and an unknown person. You put out a piece of music and you don’t know what someone could be saying about it. You just have to hope and keep it in your own mind and be confident in yourself that this was a good piece of art, which is tough.
What do you think is the most important thing to remember as a female musician?
It’s important to call the boys in the boy club out, if that makes sense? Music along with many creative industry’s is run by old white guys and it can be tricky facing sexism all the time. I think the more we call it out and the more that we come with knowledge and arguments and experience and skill to back it up, the better it will be for us. There are lots of communities, even online and lots of community support because people want equality. It’s 2017 even the old white dudes, maybe they don’t want it with a fiery burning passion but, they don’t wanna be like hating women or excluding women from the music scene. I just think that it’s really important to preserve those spaces for women in music and to stick up for something when something’s wrong. To say don’t treat me this way or I’m not gonna play here again if that sexist sound guy is here or writing a letter to CMW, there was this panel for “Leading women in music” and it was run by guys, this year at CMW! It was ridiculous and even the festival line ups are coming out.
I love seeing when they take out all the men to see the lack of women in festivals. It’s kind of getting better now, that people are talking about it more.
Part of the reason that’s changed is because of infographics and because of the women posting it and being outraged. Which is why I think it’s really important to keep speaking up about those things and being upset about those things because it sucks! It sucks for people to be like ‘Oh there’s just not that many women doing it, there’s just more guys doing it’, which is complete bullshit! It can be so hard to be taken seriously, I think part of it has to do with being young, but I feel like a bigger part of it has to do with being a female who plays acoustic guitar. Which is sad, very sad.
If you could go back to a time where you felt taken back by whatever obstacle, what would you tell yourself knowing what you know now?
I’ve defiantly learned that music is almost always one extreme or the other. Meaning a show is rarely ever good. It’s either amazing or, you want to hide under your bed and eat a pizza and that it. It’s the same with money and with press, sometimes it happens and it’s amazing but a lot of the times it doesn’t and it’s just extreme and there’s not a lot of consistency in music. I feel like, a lot of the rejection that I faced in early days could have been better if I just understood that things will come later or you just have to get through this and it will happen again and you’ll have to get threw it than too and just be able to continue that way knowing that music is just a roller coaster of emotions.
Do you have a message you hope to send to people who see you live or listen to your recordings?
I have just a handful of messages but mostly it’s so cheesy but, I just want people to be genuine. Like be yourself. I love meeting people who get really flustered about talking about something they love or you know, just being super dorky and being just unafraid of people’s judgments so long as its done with love. If you’re a dick? You know be someone else but, if you are a kind person and you have passion and love to share and you share it truly? Thats what I would really love to encourage through my music. It’s funny cause a lot of my music is very sad, but I feel like all of my sad songs are about the journey to get over it. To be happy, and to be that true version of yourself.
What’s your advice for other women, young or old, who struggle with confidence?
This is kind of a token piece of advice not like a blanket. It comes from this article that I read. I am very very very shy but I dress kinda extreme. So I’ll wear a glittery crop top with a push up bra and, giant high heels and, put glitter all over my face with curly pinktales and I just dress kinda crazy. I never understood why I like to do that until I read this article, and it’s something called, it comes from one of those stupid pick up artist books...
YAAA. You know it?
I know it from 17 again with Zack Efron lol.
So it’s like that’s why I do it. It totally is what I would wear, I like to wear what I wear all the time even though it’s a little bit crazy or a little bit silly but maybe that’s part of the reason cause I’m shy. If you talk to me, love to talk love to meet cool people who are also a little bit crazy and sparkly in their hearts.
You’re trying to attract similar people in that way
Ya! Even if you’re not feeling confident put on something that makes you feel you. Even if it’s loud or crazy or it doesn’t match or whatever. As long as you own it, the confidence will come.