16th Annual Artist Survey: Guerilla Toss | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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16th Annual Artist Survey: Guerilla Toss

Kassie Carlson on #MeToo, the Midterm Elections, Climate Change, Artificial Intelligence, and Mental Health in the Music Industry

Feb 07, 2019 16th Annual Artist Survey Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar‘s 16th Annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year, plus some fun personal questions. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2018 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Kassie Carlson of Guerilla Toss. The New York five-piece released a new album, Twisted Crystal, back in September 2018 via DFA.

For our annual Artist Survey we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the midterm elections, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, Kanye West visiting the White House, the #MeToo movement a year later, mental health conditions in the music industry, whether or not they have Flossed, childhood birthday parties and vacations, which Muppets character they are most like, whether or not they are going to The Good Place after death, and much more.

Top 10 Albums of 2018

In no particular order:

Grateful Dead: Pacific’ Northwest ‘73-‘74: Believe It If You Need It

Lily and Horn Horse: Next To Me

Ava Luna: Moon 2

Jake Tobin: 1 3 5

SOPHIE: Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides

MSHR: Phased Trance Constructions

Foodman: Moriyama

Lolina: The Smoke

die Reihe: Vocoder

Erica Eso: 129 Dreamless GMG

What was the highlight of 2018 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

A highlight of 2018 for Guerilla Toss was our six-week tour cross country. We met so many wonderful people and were even able to visit a few national parks! This year, we purchased a new van. It’s an old Sheraton Ford Econoline 350 with a turtle top. We modified the inside so we have a bed, table, and more. It’s super comfortable and spacious. A low point of that tour was when one of our radiator hoses broke and was spilling green liquid everywhere. Luckily we had a day off and were able to get it fixed promptly, even if it was for a hefty fee.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. midterm elections have played out? What do you think the results mean for the Democrats’ chances of taking back the White House in 2020?

There were a lot of firsts for this election, which I think is great. Jahana Hayes, a nationally recognized teacher, became the first black woman to represent Connecticut. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, became the country’s first Latina Democratic Governor. Angie Craig is now both the first lesbian mom to serve in Congress, as well as the first out LGBTQ person to be elected to Congress from Minnesota, and Chris Pappas is New Hampshire’s first openly gay man to be elected to Congress. Other firsts include Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland in Kansas and New Mexico, the first ever Native American women elected to Congress. We also have the first-ever Muslim women in Congress, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abby Finkenauer became youngest women to be elected to Congress. I think with everything the United States has been through these past few years with our current president, it is pretty much guaranteed that the Democrats will take back the White House in 2020.

Despite compelling testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and sexual assault allegations from other women, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in a Supreme Court Justice and many Republican women didn’t believe Ford’s story. What does this tell you about the general state of the #MeToo movement in 2018?

I believe the #MeToo movement has been overall effective, but feminists are still experiencing a great deal of backlash. The majority of the U.S. government is made up of old white men whom are very stuck in their ways and are unable to believe that a woman experiences sexual harassment, sexual assault, and misogyny at varying degrees throughout their whole life. Some people didn’t believe her because she waited so long to report. According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center (NSVRC), more than 90% of college victims do not report their assault and 20-25% of college women are victims of forced sex during their time in college. Statistics like these are staggeringly depressing.

As far as the Republican women that didn’t believe Ford’s story, I don’t know exactly what was going on. Perhaps it was some sort of “cool girl syndrome,” where one has come so far as to being one of the few female representatives, that they don’t want to make waves. As twisted as it seems, there have been times in my life where I have experienced this phenomenon. In the name of chillness, I have watched myself shoulder guilt, swallow discomfort, and contort myself into an outside idealism. Many times when I wanted to yell “Stop! This is not okay!” I could not. I am upset Kavanaugh was sworn in and many Republican women weren’t able to stand up for Christine Blasey Ford. No one likes to think about it, but we still have to talk about it. A serial rapist was appointed to a panel that makes decisions regarding women’s health.

A year after the #MeToo movement, do you feel things gotten better or worse in terms of issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and misogyny in the music industry?

When I began touring, I remember playing strings of shows that didn’t have a single woman or non-binary person on the bill. Now almost every show has all kinds of diversity. I remember having some sweaty guy come over to the merch table, most shows, for an unsolicited hug or a kiss on the cheek. That really messes with your head after awhile. These days, that hardly ever happens. The truth is, probably near every female you know has experienced some sort of explicitly unwanted sexual advance, most likely more than once. NSVRC states that one in three women have experienced some sort of sexual violence. So when someone you know thinks #MeToo might be overreacting, tell them that and say this literally just can’t happen anymore.

Be honest, did you Floss in 2018? (Meaning the dance craze, not the dental care.)

I had to look that one up, so I guess not!

Which Muppets character are you most like and why?

I am, like, literally the spitting image of Janice from The Muppets.

Are you less of a fan of Kanye West now that he’s visited the White House and has in other ways supported President Trump?

I was never really a huge fan of Kanye West. I tend to not trust the sincerity of major pop stars or tune into their drama. As far as Kanye West goes, I feel like he is suffering from some sort of mental break and it’s rude to dramatize the situation. Dude clearly needs help, not press. Both of them do for that matter.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit tragically took his own life this year. What should be done to improve mental health conditions for musicians?

The health of musicians is often something that is overlooked, especially in the United States. In Europe, the government funds the arts, including a lot of DIY spaces. You are provided a place to sleep and a full, healthy meal with your guarantee. Years of touring, sleeping on floors, and bad gas station food can really take a toll on your sanity. Drinking, doing drugs, and general partying can mask issues for years but in the end totally destroy you. The prevalence of heroin addiction in the world right now is insane, especially in the music industry. Addiction and mental health walk hand in hand and frankly I think people are afraid to talk about any of it, but we have to.

In 2018 there were more dire predictions about climate change and we witnessed some of its likely effects firsthand with various deadly storms and forest fires. What should touring musicians be doing to better offset their carbon footprint? How bad do you think it needs to get for governments and corporations to take stronger actions to fight climate change?

Ideally all bands could travel in energy efficient vehicles, but we aren’t there yet. In November Elon Musk unveiled an electric semi truck, and there are several other companies competing in the market against him. Hopefully the desire to compete will further the cause and open up the market for a trusty, electric Ford Econoline 350.

Are you ready for artificial intelligence and a more automated future? Some predict that it may come sooner than we think and will lead to massive job losses.

I believe that artificial intelligence and a more automated future is going to sneak up on us faster that we can imagine. Humans are already pretty psychologically attached to their phones, so much so that it almost acts like an external hard drive for their brain. How many times a day do you look something up on your phone? Have you ever wished you could skip the typing part? I am not against artificial intelligence, but I believe as a species we must take care not to lose focus on preserving our natural world. Using AI as a clean up crew, or think tank for ways to clean up pollution in our oceans, restore coral reefs, and improve air quality is a fantastic idea. AI, and robotics in general, also make a lot of disabled people’s lives easier. I don’t think we should be afraid of AI. We are evolving very quickly as humans.

What’s your favorite birthday party memory from childhood?

My mom worked at a place called Kids Connection for a few months when I was a little girl, which was basically like a gigantic McDonalds Playplace. I had a bunch of my friends over and we chilled in the ball pit for hours.

What was your favorite family vacation as a kid?

My grandparents took me to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. We got to go on a tour of the chocolate factory.

What’s been your most surreal experience in the music industry?

It was pretty surreal to hear my music in a movie trailer for the first time. A24 bought licensing for “Can I Get the Real Stuff?” and used it in their trailer for Never Goin’ Back, a story of two teen girls growing up.

When you die, do you think you’re going to the Good Place or the Bad Place?

I have known since I was a very small girl that when I die I will decompose and my dust will turn into other things. Like a tree perhaps, or a table, or maybe another human being. I am comfortable with the fact that everything we know has been recycled over and over for as long as time. That everything has existed as everything else, and might not ever exist like that again.


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