Nothing beats a blue Monday quite like a musical genre-bender, feminism and a cozy Greenpoint piano bar. Look no further than The Hum, a residency and weekly performance featuring female musicians working within genres as eclectic as R&B, art-rock, spectral pop, classical and punk.
The brainchild of curator Rachael Pazdan, who goes by her “superhero name” HYPNOCRAFT, the series began as an experiment in April, with a show at Greenpoint’s Manhattan Inn every week that month. On Monday night she kicked off a fall installment – a show for every week in October. By turns electronic, folksy, operatic and ethereal-sounding, the first collaboration featured Half Waif, White Prism, Tiny Hazard and Adrianne Lenker, among others.
Pazdan’s vision is to bring together a “dream list” of female musicians of different disciplines and styles, and juxtaposing them with each other in small groups or pairs. Each group is asked to work on at least six songs together – whether this means playing covers, live improvisation, new songs or each other’s songs. But even though this is a creative platform for women, Pazdan isn’t a fan of the term “female musician.” “I think that’s one direction I could have gone with it – really emphasizing the female aspect – as with Lilith Fest, for example. But I am actually trying not to talk about it. I think what the music scene needs is neutralization, so that we don’t automatically think of ‘female musicians’ as niche or different, and instead realize that women play all kinds of music.”
Working for Celebrate Brooklyn! and becoming more aware of the warped gender dynamics of the music industry, Pazdan was inspired to found the residency. “My background is in modern dance, where there were mainly women on stage, with a couple of guys here and there. As I got deeper into the music world I saw how male-dominated it was, and the weird attention women got. As soon as there was a girl in a band it would be talked about as a ‘female-fronted’ band. The term ‘female musician’ was used as though it was a genre or a way to describe style. Female musicians would be stereotyped or sexualized. I don’t think there’s a scarcity of women in music, but they often don’t have the opportunity to connect with each other. That’s what I wanted to explore.”
Having worked on curatorial projects like 3:1: An Artistic One Night Stand, which brought together a choreographer, video artist and musician in a hotel room for 24 hours, as well as Screen/Sounds: Cosmic A/V Collaborations, which combined filmmakers and musicians for live film scoring, Pazdan is naturally adept at connecting creative dots. “I try to make the musical combinations as challenging as possible. Sometimes I’d reach out to musicians and they would tell me who they’ve been dying to collaborate with. It ends up being really interesting; each performance is really different.”
Who is on Pazdan’s fantasy list for The Hum? “Karen O, Annie Clark, Jana Hunter, Lianne La Havas, the ladies of Savages, Chan Marshall of Cat Power, and Angel Olsen.” But with future lineups including Psychic Twin’s Rosana Caban, MIA’s Kiran Gandhi, Amy León and Kaki King, her confirmed set lists are no less illustrious.
The Hum, every Monday at 9pm at Manhattan Inn, 632 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint.