Doe are a three-piece band from London who describe themselves as liking "feminism, horror films and brown beer." If that doesn't sell you on them, I don't know what will!
This is an interview I did a while ago with their frontwoman Nicola Leel.
First of all, how did you all meet and when was Doe formed?
Jake and I met in August 2012 when he put up an ad, he was playing in hardcore bands and I was playing guitar in my bedroom and we were both looking for something else. We started writing together then Doe started properly in early 2013 when we met Alex who used to play guitar. After about a year Alex decided to leave which was a shame cos he was a great human being, but we found Matt not long after and threw ourselves into writing new stuff and touring as we had loads planned.
Who/what would you say your biggest influences are?
When we first met we instantly bonded over Weezer and had a shared love of solid power chords and harmonies, which they use to such wonderful effect on the Blue Album. 90s indie rock and bands like Helium, Pavement, Sleater Kinney were also bonding points. Matt’s really into midwest emo and bands like Cap’n Jazz, which influences some of the guitar parts he brought to the mix. That’s certainly not to say we sound anything like any of those, we just write what comes naturally but as people we have preferences of writing and playing styles, which are probably in some part at least thanks to aforementioned bands.
I’m currently obsessed with your song “Julia Survived”. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired that song?
Thanks! Jake actually wrote that song a few years prior to us meeting, with the intention of using it in a band with a female voice. He sent it to me when we first started playing together and I loved it but it kind of got forgotten, then it popped into my head one day so I sought out the email and suggested we give it a go. Jake had recorded a demo of it but we played around with the structure and all put our touch on it and it ended up sounding quite a bit different to the original. Maybe one day that will resurface and everyone will prefer it. The lyrics were more of a stream of consciousness than having any tied down meaning, but I guess the lyrics loosely pertain to a post-relationship analysis. We actually re-visited them recently and had the realisation that it could be about a wasp.
What are your thoughts on the lack of female musicians that is still an issue when it comes to festival line-ups?
There’s an argument that says we shouldn’t consciously include female musicians just because they’re females and that they should be there of their own merit which is a wonderful premise in theory, but in reality there are endless amounts of excellent bands with female members in who should be there due to their own merit, but they’re not being selected because there’s a belief that they’re not as marketable. This super awesome girl Phoebe did a mock up poster of an alternate line-up for Reading Festival which was doing the rounds on the internet and wrote a piece to go with it that made a lot of sense. I posted it online and a guy shared my post (so obviously I’m going to see it) and essentially argued about it being culturally relevant to its target audience, adding ‘I wouldn’t go to an EDL march’ or something equally stupid. But it’s not one festival, it’s the vast majority. I’d like to think 90% of popular music festivals aren’t consciously excluding half of the population from their target audience based on gender, so I would expect, as a woman, to have more representation.
Realistically, we need to make a conscious effort to acknowledge the gender gap and make steps to even it out, so that promoters and bookers realise there’s a plethora of musicians that represent something other than white straight males, who are fucking good at what they do and appeal to a lot of people.
Has sexism been an issue for you at all, as a band?
It’s not been an issue but it’s something we’re constantly aware of. Sound guys are a classic for most girls in bands I know, I’ve had them come up to me and start showing me how to use the house amp whereas they won’t go over to Matt, or mansplain their way through soundchecks. It’s often internalised too, though - I feel under scrutiny and get a bit anxious because I feel that I have to prove I’m not totally clueless around tech. It usually transpires they know less than you do, they’re just more versed in pretending they do. Even with well meaning people, they’ll get us confused with another band on the bill because we’re the only two bands with a female member in, or if you have any overt opinion or are a little bit pissed off at something they’ll take it the wrong way, whereas guys throw their weight around and can just ‘be’ without being judged for it. There are higher behavioural standards for women. Thankfully Jake and Matt are awesome, they pick up on things and are supportive if I’m pissed off.
You seem to take a DIY approach to everything that you do. Is this an approach you’d recommend to other bands who are just starting out?
Definitely, although I think it’s easy to say that when you know the right people and way in - it takes a bit of effort to find the right channels. A lot of young musicians are sold this idea that you have to be on a label and have management and people around you that know what they’re doing, but the misinformation can get in the way of people just going out there and playing music. If you eradicate preconceptions about what it means to be a successful musician, you’ll open up opportunities and end up being a part of something more fulfilling and substantial. You don’t need external forces to make what you’re doing worthwhile, you just need to be a bit fearless and put yourself out there in the first instance.
You recently played some shows in New York. How did that go?
It was bloody great. We met so many nice folk who were keen to help and support us. We managed to fit in a handful of shows, a couple of radio sessions and also make it a wee holiday and it just felt really worthwhile. We’d only really thought it would be a bit of fun to save up and go out and maybe play a few shows if we were lucky, but because of Old Flame putting out the tape and getting behind us it took on a new life. I was very expectant that everyone would be like ‘who the fuck are these?’ but people at the shows and in the bands we played with were so so nice. Hopefully we can go back out soon!
And finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?I think I’ve probably spoken quite enough. Thanks for asking us to answer some questions!
Thank you so much to Nicola for answering these questions! You can check out Doe for yourselves here.