Artist Spotlight

Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes Talks of Feminism Today

Le Butcherettes are the brain child of Teri Gender Bender formed in 2007. Teri Gender Bender, from Guadalajara, made the move to the US and is currently working on Le Butcherettes’ fourth studio album due out later this year. Here are some questions I had for Teri on breaking gender norms and being a feminist musician.

Izzi Krombholz: How did you get your start playing music?

Teri Gender Bender: It started with an uncontrollable urge to want to play an instrument in kindergarten. We were all (all of the kids) sitting on the carpet while the substitute teacher specifically brought in her home piano into the classroom, she said we could all play it. We all formed a line. As I waited, sudden anticipation sprawled over me with ideas. Never having played or touched an instrument I felt like I already knew how to. By the time it was my turn to hit the key of the teacher’s piano, I didn’t do anything incredible, as a matter a fact I only hit the key and looked at it in amazement…. this is going to be much harder than I thought… I said to myself…. and the wonder duplicated in effect.

IK: Who were your favorite musicians growing up?

TGB: Going far back in the days of my childhood, I was around 4 years old, I remember feeling very turned on and intrigued by Queen to a point of feeling disgust because I felt….. confused. It turned out that I sneaked into parents room, they were watching Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (the rape scene) and I felt fear and found myself running out of there. A short time passed by and my father put Queen on the loud speakers in the living room (Bicycle) and I loved it but somehow sonically and satirically the music fit the rape scene like a glove on a hand, and that made me feel guilty and sick and very dirty, I felt like an old man in the body of a little girl. Years later while growing up I was finally able to see Queen for their brilliant musicality and static essence.

IK: I know you use props to emphasize female inequality, what’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done for a show?

TGB: I used to place mannequin heads/torsos, type writers, feather dusters, broom sticks, kitchen ovens, meat, as symbology being tied into the soul of a woman being mutilated and placed within myth and fantasy, slowly erasing the human element all within itself. Each item represents something totally colosal and catastrophic that has occurred in my life, yet my life is not unique, because my story is not just my own. I think being on a stage or in front of a group of strangers is outrageous in and out of itself, everything else is just a blur.

Photo by Emily Maxwell-WCPO

IK: To you, what is the importance of breaking gender norms?

TGB: Equal opportunity based solely on craft and talent…. this may not be good for every one though. The inner workings of humans rely heavily on politics of the whole skittle roo skittle doc, it is scary to even think about, but one has to be true to their true self regardless of the fear; self doubt is a bigger enemy.

IK: What do you think about feminism today?

TGB: I’m very proud of feminism because the movement itself has inspired a lot out of me but I feel that with the Internet, everything and I mean EVERYTHING is getting diluted. Culture on a whole is being transformed into a hybrid beast of uncertainty. Feminism is also a giant warehouse that roofs other sub-genres of feminism, some that I feel strongly about and others that I don’t agree with, but I’m just so grateful that there is even a dialogue of half the race and the benefits we all would be getting if both halves of the human race were good to each other.  Feminism is also divided into cultures, it is universally different, and that is great, sometimes some individuals seem to forget this. In many cultures feminism has progressed incredibly but in others it needs work but then we fall into the debate of wanting to re-mold a culture that has been in motion for thousands of years, in other words, every movement takes TIME to develop and it requires focus and TIME…

IK: How have you developed your sound over the years?

TGB: Certain limitations open doors to find new creative forms of making a wheel roll out of mud.

IK: What is your favorite thing about being in a band?

TGB: Being able to forget about my inherited sadness.

IK: Will you tell me a little bit about the new album?

TGB: We just got home from tour, and me and the producer (can’t wait to say who it is… wish I could but I can’t) are sitting down with the songs that I’ve written over the course of the year. We are set to record with the whole band in August for a month. I’m very, very excited. Can’t wait to get a lot of new found feelings off my chest.

IK: How do you think women can use music to break down barriers?

TGB: Firstly, because it feeds their souls and if they can’t make music period, then they’ll go mad. If anyone, regardless of their background, makes something out of an idea that originates from a genuine intention, it will, regardless how long it takes, break down barriers. Determination, intention, quality, and persistance.

IK: How did you decide to move to the US?

TGB: Life made that decision for me and by life I mean my mother. She is my life. My neurosis, my discomforts, angst, rebellion are characteristics that I unconsciously have had ingrained in my roots. I used to flee from people all the time, maybe I still do without sight.

An avid rock musician and enthusiast as well as a rock history buff.

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