Mind the Gap Festival 2023: A Conversation with Boyish and 26fix
Music Festival Coverage
In an era where indie boy bands seem to appear out of thin air with thousands of supporters right from the start, a festival lineup of almost entirely women and nonbinary artists feels like a shining buoy in a sea of nearly identical fish. “Utah is ranked as the worst state for women’s equality, according to [personal finance website] WalletHub’s annual article,” says Samantha Smith, founder and director of Mind the Gap Festival. From that knowledge, the idea for the event was born. Smith hopes it will “help hardworking individuals find their place in industries that may be dominated by people who don’t represent their identities.”
In anticipation of the first annual Mind the Gap Festival, which will be held at The Gateway on Saturday, August 26, I sat down to talk with LA-based touring duo Boyish and local artist 26fix. In a joint interview with SLUG, the two indie-rock acts commiserate about facing disparagement as women in music, chat about their favorite trailblazing female artists, ask each other questions about the wild energy of Utah crowds and give advice about the best soda shops in town.
“It really feels like you’re going into a fight. You can’t show any signs of doubt or weakness, or even ask a question.”
“The gender gap shows up everywhere, from recording music to live sound,” says India Shore, lead vocalist of Boyish. “We’ve been really lucky because we started writing and producing ourselves, and having that knowledge base and level of autonomy … I feel a bit of an advantage going into a room of mostly men.” The band’s other half, guitarist Claire Altendahl, agrees: “Sound guys are just the worst,” she says. Feeling belittled seems to be a universal experience for female musicians, even if they have all the right technical vocabulary. “It really feels like you’re going into a fight. You can’t show any signs of doubt or weakness, or even ask a question,” she says.
“It’s cool to hear you guys say that, because it makes me feel less alone,” says Erika Goodwin, the sole mind behind 26fix. “I hate when I’m getting gear-talked to and quizzed on my pedal board.” Her latest single “Stone Killer,” released in April, embodies the unwaveringly confident, I-can-do-anything attitude of a man. “I was singing from the perspective of men using their power or religion to control others throughout history,” she says. To her, being a stone killer means “feeling pumped, like I’m tricking everyone. I got this. No one can mess with me.”
Despite the difficulties, Goodwin maintains that Utah was a great place to get her start making music. “The community is so supportive of live music and local music,” she says. “SLC and Provo are hubs for that. When someone succeeds, everyone is stoked, and the crowds are the best part.” Mind the Gap Festival will be the first time Boyish performs in Utah, and Altendahl has heard about the hype around Salt Lake City crowds. “We’ve heard the magic,” she says. “Everyone has said they’re the best crowds on Earth.” She’s also excited to try a regional cultural staple: soda shops. Goodwin recommends the Dr. McCreamy from Thirst Drinks, which Altendahl jots down on her phone.
“I feel lucky that there are a lot more women, nonbinary people and gay people in the scene now who are running the indie rock genre.”
In terms of other local inspirations, Goodwin cites The Aces and Jane Beeson as trailblazers for female musicians in Utah. Her dream collaboration, however, is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. “They’re all guys though, unfortunately,” she says with a laugh. In June, Boyish collaborated with King Princess on their newest song “Kill Your Pain” and subsequently supported her on a European tour. According to Shore, she “shredded on drums,” and her voice added a certain “eat-nails, gritty quality to it,” which Shore felt like the song needed. Boyish first met King Princess at a show five years ago where she gave the duo advice on breaking into the music industry. “I feel lucky that there are a lot more women, nonbinary people and gay people in the scene now who are running the indie rock genre,” Shore says.
Read more about Mind the Gap’s mission to bridge gender gaps (musical and otherwise) and get tickets to see Boyish and 26fix—alongside Beach Bunny, Yaeji, Hemlocke Springs and more—at mindthegapfest.com.