drawingWe sat down with Kaija and Samantha from the local punk band- Tuff Shet.  Tuff Shet is Kaija on Vocals, Kat on Guitar, Samantha on Bass and Aarron on drums.  Tuff Shet was formed in 2014, but has recently revamped with a new line up for 2015.  Their first show with their new members will be March 7th at the Benbow Room in West Seattle. If you dig what you hear below, be sure to also show your support for Tuff Shet HERE

SSL: The reason we brought you together is because March is woman’s history month and you’re kickass women in a band and we want to know what that experience is like. 

SSL: Each of you has been active in and around the Seattle Music Scene for the last decade, give or take. How did you all meet and decide to make music together as Tuff Shet?

Kaija: Kat and I met working at the old Crocodile back in 2007, where we discovered our similar music interests. I was in a band called Death to Our Friends and my guitarist wanted to play drums so I asked Kat to come play guitar. We’ve kind of always been right to play together. I left Seattle for six years and when I came back it was only a couple months before we started playing together again and created Tuff Shet.  Aaron, who also plays drums for Headswell,  joined in October of last year.  Samantha, who also plays bass for the metal band Princess, joined us this year.

SSL: You have this kind of garage punk rock sound going on which is actually gaining a lot of popularity in the Seattle Scene. Why did you decide to play the genre?

Kaija:  I’ve always related more to artists in this genre than any other.  Once I found women in this genre speaking from a female standpoint, I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do. I love that it is fast and full of angst.  I can mash up being girly and being a dirty punk all at once. I get to be me!

SSL: Does it ever feel as if you are being judged or critiqued based on gender rather than the music you produce? 

Kaija: I’ve been asked before why I play punk music instead of being an acoustic, melodic, singer/songwriter type.  I take that as asking me to be more lady­like, which is garbage! I think the scene has gotten better though, because of so many more women taking the stage. I also feel that I have to work harder to be taken seriously as a musician and artist.  I feel like I’ve gotten condescending comments like “oh, good for you…..”  To that I say “Bite me!”

Sam:  I used to hate when people would say “you are a great bassist- for a girl.”  I feel like I hear that less now- and just hear “you are a great bassist”, which is nice.  I don’t want to feel like there is a separate category for women. Back stage or at music stores is probably the place where I have felt different treatment the most.   I have been asked if I was backstage for my boyfriend and I have been asked in music stores if I was buying bass strings for my son.  This was infuriating on a few levels 1) I don’t have kids and 2) if I did- it would it only be for a boy that I would buy music gear?  I move forward from these situations by politely correcting what was said, in hopes of helping that person evolve past being a caveman.

SSL: Do you find yourself getting compared almost exclusively to female musicians? 

Kaija: I’ve been compared to Courtney Love a lot, Joan Jett, Debbie Harry of Blondie, Poly Styrene of X Ray Spex but I totally don’t mind because these ladies rule my world and they make rad music, so….it’s cool.

Sam:  I’ve been compared to Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth a lot.  I don’t mind though, because she kicks ass.

SSL: What would you say is the biggest upside to having 3 strong minded, artistic females and one male collaborating together to make music? What is the downside?

Kaija: We have great communication, we blend really well musically, and our diverse musical backgrounds make way for new and unique sounds. There are no downsides, we’re musicians first.

Sam:  The biggest upside is working with great musicians.  We just happen to be 3 women and one dude. (:

SSL: What’s your outlook on the record industry today? Do you think it is harder for women to break big?

Sam:  Now is a great time for women.  Women are supported now more than ever locally and nationally.  There is still a long way to go- as women musicians still seem to be looked at as a “novelty”- especially multiple women in a band.   However, since there are more and more of us supporting each other to succeed, that will continue to get better.

Kaija: I agree with Sam, women are breaking out in all sorts of musical genres and are taking the radio waves by storm. I’m happy to be a part of it, even in the small little world I live in. We live in a time where objectifying woman still happens.  Speaking up about equality and empowerment through music is a way to fight back.

SSL: What would you say are the biggest obstacles for DIY bands?

Kaija: Getting people to come out to support local bands and new music. Having everything be at our fingertips is seriously hurting the scene because people get too apathetic to venture out to see live music.  This effects musicians, but also impacts the venues that support the underground music scene.  They are being shut down and turned into swanky themed cocktail bars for pretentious numbskulls. Ugh.

Sam:  Money and people crushing the DIY spirit.  A lot of great venues are gone, which makes it harder to play whatever type of music you want.  Genres like metal and punk have never been a way to make money, but it takes money to record, rent a practice space, buy instruments, etc.  Without people supporting bands by coming to shows or buying music- it makes it harder to keep things going.

SSL: If you could share the stage with one band or person who would it be and why?

Kaija: so many….Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, seeing her live when I was 17and didn’t know squat about…anything really…she turned me on to weird music, getting real weird on stage, and not being afraid of yourself or anyone else. I wanna be like her when I grown up.

Sam:  There are so many.  I’m not even sure where to start.

SSL: What advice would you give young girls who want to start bands? 

Kaija: Learn a real instrument, get your friends together and play, learn the classics and apply it to whatever you’re in to. I used to work at Mode Music Studios in West Seattle and they offer amazing rock band camps and rock band for girls. They start you as young as four! These girls rotate instruments, pick the songs they play, and have shows at The Skylark Cafe every few months, its amazing and inspiring.

Sam:  I have taught bass for the Rain City Rock Camp for Girls and the Ladies Rock Camp for the past five years.  This is a great place for women that are absolute beginners to start.  They provide a very supportive atmosphere for learning.  If girls or women feel more comfortable venturing out in their own way (like most of us had to do before rock camps) I suggest getting a cheap instrument and playing as much as you can with as many different kinds of musicians as you can.  Don’t limit yourself to only jamming with women.  Play with people who know more than you and people that know less.  Everyone has great ideas you can learn from.   Play at home and play out as often as you can!

SSL: You next, or first show as Tuff Shet is March 7th at the BenBow Room in West Seattle. Tell us what we can expect.

March 7 is our first show since November and since we’ve completed our line up!! You can expect loud, aggressive punk rock from four high energy musicians plus some surprises.  Come rage with us!! Check out the rest of our shows on Facebook and stay tuned for so much more awesomeness!

Look us up on our facebook page and give us a “like” at www.facebook.com/TuffShet

SSL: Anyone you would like to thank?

Kaija: Kathleen Hanna and my Mom.

Sam: our great local radio stations, our local music blogs, local record stores, venues and YOU for supporting music and local bands like us!

So there you have it folks. Tuff Shet is primed and ready rage on the local music scene. If you are down with hard hitting punk with an edge then you are down with Tuff Shet.




Christian Hamilton

Christian Hamilton

Christian is the founder and Editor of Rock Paper Rock as well as a freelance concert and event photographer serving the Pacific Northwest and Beyond. He is a certified member of the PPA and Gold Level member of the CPS. He has recently began working with Mental Itch Records and has launched his own Photography website.

Related Articles

Canon U.S.A. Introduces New Super-Telephoto Zoom Lens

Canon U.S.A. Introduces New Super-Telephoto Zoom Lens, The Compact And Highly Mobile Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM