Whilst growing up, I guess you could say that my younger self had role models. People who I looked up to and adored because they were famous and successful (and were most probably a Disney Channel star). It wasn’t until I was scrolling through Netflix one night at 3.00am, stumbling across an IFC show named ‘Portlandia’, that I learnt the true definition of ‘role model’, and what it felt like to idolise and relate to someone so strongly. I’d finally found someone who was literally everything that I wanted to be and more. I don’t think I moved from my bed for 10 hours after pressing play. Carrie Brownstein.
I first picked up a guitar when I was around 11 years old. Seven years down the line, I can safely confirm that it was one of the best decisions of my entire life. I spent hours locked in my room, completely murdering Nirvana, The Clash, The Smashing Pumpkins. My cheap, glittery pink nylon guitar horrendously clashing with my style of black band shirts, black jeans, black chucks. I picked up drum sticks when I was around 13 years old, practicing endlessly until I earned the titles of ‘School Choir Drummer’ and ‘Concert Band Drummer’. It was around the time that I started publicly playing for school bands that my confidence dropped. I’d forgotten that if you happened to be a girl, of course, it was completely unnatural to sit behind a drum kit or have an electric guitar in your hands. At least, that’s what my fellow peers believed, and were more than happy to share with me, whilst giggling away at the end of term performances. Slowly but surely, I felt myself beginning to lose faith in my love for playing music.
Fast forward a few years. I’ve just finished watching the first few seasons of Portlandia. I Google “Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen” and quickly discover that Carrie is in fact a real. life. rock. star. The first Sleater-Kinney song I ever heard was ‘Entertain’ (from 2005’s ‘The Woods’) and it still remains my favourite. Immediately, I wondered what on earth I’d been doing with my life before I’d discovered these three women absoloutley KILLING it. They simply screamed ‘GIRL POWER’ to me, creating a voice for girls everywhere and proving that there is a place for female musicians, especially of the rock genre, in the music industry. Shortly after discovering the band (and studying every single S-K tab I could find on the Internet), I played with so much more meaning, so much more hope for the future. Carrie, Janet and Corin showed me that girls can rock too, and I’ll be forever grateful to them all for allowing me to dream a little bit bigger again.
It’s a rare moment when you can say that your idol not only plays in an incredible band, but also writes and performs for a living.
I watch a lot of television. And by ‘a lot’, I mean ‘All day, every day’. I’m yet to come across a show which is as memorable, hilarious and relatable as Portlandia. I dream of being both a successful writer and musician in the future, and not only is Carrie a perfect combination of the two, but so is Portlandia, which includes SO many musical references which all deserve awards simply on their own.
“Who’s to say a kid can’t appreciate a guitar solo in a Dinosaur Jr. song?”
In case you need more evidence as to why Portlandia is the greatest thing since Sleater-Kinney, look no further.
I recently discovered that Carrie is due to release a memoir in late October – “Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl” with Riverhead Books, so, until then, I’ll be playing my S-K vinyls on repeat and learning every Portlandia episode word for word.
Thank you Carrie (and Janet & Corin), for showing that my dreams can in fact become a reality.