I’ve wanted to ask Annie these questions for awhile about her experience of being a woman musician, and how she sets up her sound with her band, Hysterical Injury. I thought it would be a good idea to whack these answers on the blog, so others too can benefit from this lady’s wisdom. Thanks Annie for answering! Here it goes…
Please introduce yourself and your projects…
My name is Annie Gardiner, I am one half or the noise-pop duo Hysterical Injury I play bass and sing. I also sometimes do solo shows with my own set of songs. It is still noisy with the same bass set up but i use
pre-programmed sounds on my laptop to break up the sound live. I also do
a bit or recording of bands and producing.
Can you give us some background to your experience of playing music.
What got your started? Where there any barriers that you faced as a
woman and what strategies did you use to overcome them?
I come from a musical background and so music is in my blood. I played
violin, I played clarinet as a teenager also but i wavered with interest
in these instruments…they seem stayed and uninteresting, maybe that’s
a teaching fault at school or whatever particularly as I was subjected
to things like John Cage, Glenn Gould and Eric Satie as a very young
child at home. I kind of wanted to explore stuff that wasn’t obvious. I
dont know if rock and punk music constitutes ‘non-obvious’ for my
generation maybe for the /actual/ punks but not second/third generation.
I was certainly into sound and noise and I like the way bands like Sonic
Youth interpreted that in a song format. My father had alot of guitars
at home and I was complaining I was bored one day so he gave me a bass
guitar which he bought from Woolworths before I was born and said ‘If
your bored you’ll learn that!’ He provided no lessons as he was
self-taught and was a firm believer in your own exploration of an
instrument and sound, however, he was on hand for all sorts of valuable
info which was extremely lucky!
[photo by Peter Dickinson]
Once I started in bands it was suddenly a boys world and they weren’t as
accommodating or encouraging as my father which I found stifling and
couldn’t understand why..for years!!! I was ready and serious about
music from about the age of 14 and found it very hard to be taken
seriously in bands, perhaps it was the age group, prehaps gender its
hard to say, but it was a surprise to me because I hadn’t experienced
these things in classical music when I was in orchestra’s etc. I didn’t
make the link that it may be because I was female for a LONG time
because I simply thought that was absurd! I dealt with it by moving and
searching for people -boys and girls- that were serious about art and
music. When I went to University to do Fine Art I met some amazing
people there who I am still in touch with and it was like i was
released! People who just knew what you were talking about and were
‘lets do it’! Girls who knew more about music, guitars, gigging than any
man I’d ever been in a band with previously! I also met incredible men
who were just into the creative process and didn’t care about gender –
it was all about making something – art/music together – and that was
the point! Hysterical Injury is me and Lee and it works just fine.
Do you ever feel intimidated by the terminology that is used in
describing musical processes in male dominated music scenes?
No, I dont feel intimidated. I have learned to be equiped with facts and
Please can you describe your sound set up on stage and how you came to
set it up like that?
Well, currently with Hysterical Injury I have two amps – one lovely
Ashdown transistor 150 watt bass amp combo and a very old (41 years)
Ampeg gemini valve guitar amp. I run my bass guitar through these amps
simultaneously via a loop I make through different pedals. Just over a
year ago we had a guitarist who left and Lee and I were faced with
either quitting or getting another guitarist. We chose neither. I
borrowed a Zvex Fuzz Factory pedal from a friend because Rob (our old
guitarist) had used one and I loved the sound. It turned out I could get
incredible dynamics with it especially if it effected the guitar amp
only! Lee and I went through practise after practise trying different
things. I wanted to have a really gorgeous clean dancey type bass sound
that I could sing over that could then be boosted to hike the intensity
of the song using different noisy pedals. It is exciting to explore
making the songs sound full with just two people.
Could you talk in detail about the pedals you use.
I use two pedals at the moment – Zvex Fuzz Factory and a Tech 21 SansAmp
Bass Drive. The fuzz factory is an analogue, hand made pedal by Zachery
Vex who lives in New York and is famous for making boutique obscure
sounding pedals. There is a Gate control and a Compressor control on the
pedal which help create some really broken up sounds that I’ve never
heard anywhere else. Check out the demo here:
I actually wrote a piece of music called ‘Airport’ for Attack!!!!
magazine using just this pedal and its incredible oscillation facility –
i used it in 3 part harmonies of fuzz! Listen here.
The Tech 21 pedal I use for bass boost and overdrive for my bass amp, it
is also an analogue pedal and from New York, and can turn a guitar into
a live wire or keep a deep warm bass tone. It has amazing eq on it as it
is from Tech 21’s character series. Here is a cool video about the PARA
driver – I have the Bass Driver which is slightly different but i saw
this and its very close :
Do you have any advice for women wanting to get a bit teccy with their
set up, but don’t know where to start?
Just get experimenting! Research a little on the web – there are
hundreds of demo’s of pedals on youtube. If your into bands for a
certain sound find out what they use. I prefer analogue stuff because it
sounds wilder and my experience with digital fx is that they tend to
have a restraint on the amount of unruly noise you can get. You want
something with a bit of wildness…maybe?! And if you get funny looks in
the guitar shop cos you’re not what the metallers expect then take it as
a compliment and get empowered by it!