Ladies We Love

Ladies We Love: Catching Up with Emily Lee

Representation matters. We’ve certainly discussed it before on the site, and I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon. And if you don’t believe me, or even the experts, take it from Dinner Party’s Ladies We Love alumna Emily Lee. Even after touring the world as a musician, as well as working on the music for an Oscar-nominated documentary, she still finds herself moved, and perhaps a bit spellbound, by fellow rocker Mitski’s success—so much so that she requested if I could maybe not print the exact number of how many times she’s seen—and cried at—Mitski’s shows.

Along with my friend and fellow Asian American feminist Willa Zhang, I caught up with Emily in Los Angeles on one of her first stops on tour with new band Loma. Read on for more about New York vs. Los Angeles, post-election politics, and three Asians unapologetically geeking out over getting a taste of representation.

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Ladies We Love

Ladies We Love: Bea Troxel

Full disclosure: I’ve known folk songstress Bea Troxel since she was a high school junior, when we met at a Laura Marling show in Nashville under awkward and somewhat uncomfortable circumstances. As these things tend to go, we became friends shortly after, which likely makes my assessment of her music somewhat biased. However, as a veteran of countless live shows—seriously, I lost count after 200—I’d like to think I’ve got a pretty decent ear at this point for what’s good. And Bea Troxel, in my opinion, continues to be one of the best. I chatted with Bea while she was on tour promoting her debut full length album, The Way That It Feels, about the record, musical influences, and life on the road.

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Ladies We Love

Ladies We Love: Emily Lee

When I was an undergraduate, I had a crazy idea to try and interview one of my favorite musicians, Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater. We had both attended the same small liberal arts college, tucked away in the deep forests of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, and as a senior and editor-in-chief of our college newspaper (which he once ran himself), my thought was, “Why the hell not?” Little did I know that a few years and a handful of Shearwater shows later, that conversation would not only lead to a new friendship, but even more opportunities to get to know some absolutely amazing folks.

Emily Lee currently plays the keyboard and provides backup vocals for Shearwater. After witnessing her hypnotic on-stage presence (and being inspired by her killer vintage style) at the Roxy in Los Angeles, I had a feeling she’d be a perfect interview for this column. Lee was kind enough to take some time from her Shearwater duties—which currently involve a cover of David Bowie’s Lodger (in its entirety) for A.V. Club’s Undercover series—to talk music, mentors, and being one of two badass minority ladies in the band.

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Ladies We Love

Ladies We Love: Roxane Gay

I owe a lot to Roxane Gay. Her thoughtful pieces on current events and pop culture allow me to think more clearly about my own feelings on these topics in the news. I can’t tell you how many times her Salon.com articles have saved me from being an inarticulate rage monster on social media, spewing incoherent, vitriolic babble against public figures who turn out to be misogynists and racist jerks. Though I don’t always agree with Gay’s opinions, I’ve got mad respect for what she has to say. Her writing is always carefully considered, with nuanced opinions that provide you with an argument to consider, rather than a pedantic play-by-play on how you should think.

Gay was kind enough to answer some questions for Dinner Party about writing, celebrities, and being a “bad feminist” (Bad Feminist, her new collection of essays, drops August 5th). 

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Ladies We Love

Ladies We Love: Emmy the Great

About six years ago, a friend gave me a mix CD (remember those?) with recordings of SXSW performances, including tracks from a set by Emmy the Great (the stage name of London-based songstress Emma-Lee Moss). Ten seconds into the first song, “We Almost Had a Baby,” I had chills running down my spine. “Well you didn’t stop / When I told you to stop / And there was a month / When I wasn’t sure,” Moss softly crooned over a simple, doo-wop melody. For those of you unfamiliar with the tune, the rest of it is just as catchy, heartbreaking, unsentimental, and beautiful as you can imagine. With a penchant for the literary and a natural gift for storytelling, Moss has crafted a small but formidable discography of songs about love and loss—minus the sickeningly saccharine nostalgia of your standard pop ditty.

Despite being busy writing new music, working on her book blog, and covering ComicCon, the lovely Miss Moss found the time to speak with Dinner Party about her recent endeavors.

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Ladies We Love

Ladies We Love: Brett Day Windham

With a portfolio as varied and expansive as the collection of items she uses for her installations, artist Brett Day Windham never ceases to amaze me with her creations. You may be familiar with her work with the Bergdorf Goodman windows—or the corresponding documentary, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’sbut this lady’s got so much more to her than sparkly crocodiles or glittering, mosaiced sea life (Not that I’m trying to discredit either of these stunning projects. In fact, her window displays helped lead me to the rest of her work.) Most recently, Windham spent the month of April as the artist-in-residence for the Select Fair at Industry City. Windham was kind enough to speak with us about her day job, her more mobile and experimental personal work, and her plans to incorporate the lesser-known female Dada poets into her projects.

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Ladies We Love

Ladies We Love: Jane Borden

As a small-town-raised, Greek-life-affiliated southern transplant living in the big city, I could certainly relate to Jane Borden’s laugh-out-loud memoir, I Totally Meant to Do That, which her website describes as the musings of “a Cerberus, a griffin or one of those joints near Port Authority that’s both a Pizza Hut and a Taco Bell…a hybrid too horrifying to exist: a hipster-debutante.” From paying too much money for too little apartment to milking sorority connections in the urban jungle, the book hit a little too close to home—in the best way possible. I’ve gotten to know Jane over the past few years, and, if you can believe it, she’s even funnier IRL (her Twitter account comes as a close second though). As weird as it is to interview a friend, I wanted to feature her since a) she’s been writing these delightful TV recaps as of late; b) it was a good way to catch up since we live on opposite coasts now; and c) I really look up to her and wanted to do a piece on a woman in my life that inspires me. And now that I’ve embarrassed myself with this outpouring of sentiment, I’m going to shut up and let the interview do the talking.

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