Lady Hectic spins a Riot Grrrl Rock-Out with a night of pro-fem music in Scranton
Proceeds from the night will benefit the Women's Resource Center
Empowerment comes in many forms, and right now, Stephanie Hill has plenty of reasons to feel empowered.
When NEPA Scene last spoke with her and her husband, Kenny, about the growing force of original electronic musicians in Northeastern Pennsylvania almost a year ago, the movement was in its infancy, but now members of the NEPA Electrotribe, which include the Hills among their ranks as Lady Hectic and Quoth, are embedded in the local music scene and have even been recognized as nominees in this year’s Steamtown Music Awards and performers in the Electric City Music Conference. Their shows have become popular dance parties in various venues, particularly in Scranton, and the Riot Grrrl Rock-Out on Saturday, Sept. 12 at The Keys looks to be the next big hit on their hands.
Proceeds from the night will go towards the Women’s Resource Center in Scranton, so Stephanie will be spinning riot grrrl and pro-fem tunes to keep that theme of empowerment going. We wanted to know more about what the first female member of the Tribe has been up to and why she felt it was important to highlight and encourage women (and those who support them) with this event, so we caught up via e-mail.
NEPA SCENE: For those who aren’t familiar with your work, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your music?
STEPHANIE HILL: Where to begin? I’m an electronic musician, under the moniker Lady Hectic, and one of the founding members of the NEPA Electrotribe. My music is something that really has yet to be defined. I combine a lot of different elements of electronic sound into my tracks and am always looking for ways to mix it up. All of my albums can be found on Bandcamp, for those who may be interested.
While I’ve only lived in NEPA for about four years now, I’ve become grounded here and discovered my passion for making music and showcasing the talents of others under my promotion company, Hectic Management and Promotions. I am very passionate about making a presence here for not only electronic music, but for any musician who seems to be falling under the radar.
As far as me on a personal level, I have a wonderful husband and partner, Quoth, a.k.a. Kenny Hill, who is with me every step of this journey. I have an everyday job, which makes having a business of my own sometimes a struggle, but totally worth it. I have a great support system not only locally, but a little bit of everywhere. My mom is amazing, always saying how proud she is that I’m doing something to make a difference, even though she hates that I’m three hours away doing it. I couldn’t ask for a better circle of friends, which seems to grow on a daily basis.
I’m just a woman who is passionate about music and making a difference, and I am very lucky I get to combine the two.
NS: It has been almost a year since our first interview. When we last spoke, it seemed like electronic music was on the rise in NEPA. Has that trend continued?
SH: It has continued to rise – throughout the past year, the NEPA Electrotribe has welcomed some amazing new artists into our collective ranks. Each one has brought new enthusiasm and ideas into the fold, helping us all stay motivated and refreshed. We are always looking for new opportunities to play as a collective, as well as with other musicians as well.
NS: What headways has electronic music made in the area, and what challenges or setbacks have there been?
SH: We’ve noticed that there are more fans of electronic music in the area, and that’s helped us gain a little more notoriety. As it’s always been, we sometimes struggle to find the right venue to house the type of music we play. However, we have had amazing support from Jenn at The Keys, Peter at the Irish Wolf Pub in Scranton, and Stach, formerly of The Other Side. They are always willing to take chances on new music, and for the Tribe, that means the world.
NS: What have you been up to lately musically?
SH: That’s a loaded question. Producing my own music will always be my passion, and I’ve been focusing a lot on trying new sounds and experimenting. I had reached a point with my last album, “Spectral Midnight” (released last August), where I felt I had given all of myself into the album’s production. I’m taking it slow producing new tracks because I want them to sound different from previous releases, and that’s taking some time.
Outside of my own music, within the last year, I’ve also started my own promotion company called Hectic Management and Promotions. I organize and promote events with local musicians and occasionally do graphic design work. My two biggest achievements are my managing of DJ Quoth, ‘80s New Wave extraordinaire, with his hugely successful dance parties in venues all over the area, and Hectic’s Musical Mixers. Since January, every other month, I organize a mix of local musicians for an event at the Wolf called the Musical Mixer. It started as an effort to get the Tribe out into the public eye more by mixing with other types of music and has grown from there. I’ve featured many local acts, including Artificial Tears, Jung Bergo, Quoth, The Gary Goblins, Katie and Aaron, Blue Sugar Riot, new Tribe members The Toxic Shock Symphony and Greenfly, and even out-of-towners Ellicott City Ghost Tour. I even branched out on one event and did a mix of local DJs spinning their own brand of music, which included DJ McEvil, DJ Quoth, and Perfect Solution. It’s been an awesome experience getting to know all of these musicians and growing my business at the same time.
NS: Is this show you have coming up on Saturday a full DJ set? Will you be playing any of your own music?
SH: It is indeed a full DJ set. I will be DJing Riot Grrrl and pro-fem music starting at 9:30 and running through closing time. And I wouldn’t be much of a feminist if I didn’t play my own music, would I? But yes, some Lady Hectic tracks will be included in my set.
NS: What are DJ sets like for you as opposed to playing your own music? What is the difference in the crowds?
SH: DJ sets can be more fun because I have the opportunity to show what all is involved with the type of music I play. It’s not as stressful as playing my own because I don’t have to worry about hitting the right cues.
At the same time, the crowd’s reaction is just as important. As a DJ or a musician, you feed off the energy of the crowd. If they aren’t feeling it, you feel like you have to adjust. It’s easier to adjust with DJing (mostly because of the vast size of our music library), while playing my own music is kind of what I do, so if the crowd doesn’t like that, it’s more of a letdown.
NS: Have you done a benefit like this before?
SH: Yes, I did a similar benefit back in June of this year. It went well, but with having it in June, I did have a bit of a smaller crowd due to the summer recess and the fact there was a terrible thunderstorm that whole night. When talking to Jenn [Sekelsky, owner of The Keys] afterwards, we both agreed that it would be beneficial to hold the next one in September on a Saturday, when more people would be in town and interested. I’ve put a lot of promotion into this one because I want to be able to make a more sizable donation to the center. The setup will be primarily the same, but we definitely changed our promotion game up.
NS: Why is the Women’s Resource Center an important organization for you to support?
SH: The Women’s Resource Center is very important to me for a few reasons. On a personal level, I’ve been where a lot of the women have been that reach out to the center for help. I have experienced that trauma in past relationships that make one feel there is no way out and unsure of where to turn. The great work the center does is something I wish I had access to back then, so maybe it would not have been as difficult to cope.
On a more community-focused ideal, I feel it’s a cause that doesn’t get enough support. The government recently cut the majority of their federal funding, so the center runs mostly on donations from businesses and individuals. When I learned that, I knew I had to do something, no matter how small, to help out.
NS: How did you choose the music you will play?
SH: Riot grrrl music is all about causing a movement, so that part was easy. Bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Sleater Kinney, Le Tigre, and many others weren’t just musicians – they stood for the change that needed to happen in women’s rights and human rights. The pro-fem portion of it was a little more difficult. I wanted to mix up the night with different types of music, but wanted to make sure every musician I chose was one who stood for strong women everywhere. Choosing artists like Ani DiFranco, Madonna, and Queen Latifah not only mixed up the musical choices, but also reinforced that the movement is not over.
NS: Did the riot grrrl movement influence you at all personally?
SH: The riot grrrl movement has had a huge impact on me. As a matter of fact, it was a documentary about my idol, Kathleen Hanna, that spurned me to organize the first benefit. While she was, in my opinion, the largest driving force of the riot grrrl movement, she still volunteered at a women’s shelter. It was her time spent there that continued to push her forward into causing change. The riot grrrl movement was about empowerment, so many tend to think it was just a bunch of angry females screaming into microphones about injustice, but it was so much more. It was about empowering women to not just accept the status quo and challenge the ideals that society had set for them. It was about equality for all, not just some. I think that’s the most powerful thing I’ve ever seen.
SH: I think it’s important to highlight women and feminism because it’s still something that tends to get pushed to the wayside. Feminism is still very misunderstood as flagrant man-hating, while the majority of feminists have worked towards equality for everyone. Feminists don’t want anything but the same and equal opportunities as offered to our male counterparts. As a female musician myself, I sometimes get the “Aww, that’s cute” type of reaction – especially within the electronic community. Joan Jett has made similar comments about her music. A lot of female musicians don’t want to be regarded as such – they want to be recognized as a great musician who just happens to be female.
NS: What can people expect if they come to this show?
SH: People can expect to hear a lot of loud music. Riot grrrl music tends to be boisterous, so be prepared for that. Also, I don’t want anyone to think this a women’s only event – far from it. Everyone is welcome. My husband, Quoth, is one of the biggest feminists I know. Yes, men can be feminists too!
Outside of the music, there will be a 50/50 drawing – who doesn’t love a chance to win money? I have also had several local artists donate some pieces to sell for additional donations. They are amazing selections, so I would highly recommend checking them out. I’ve been tempted to buy them all myself.
NS: On Sept. 19, you’ll be managing the stage at the Irish Wolf Pub at the Electric City Music Conference. Tell us more about that show.
SH: Yes, I am very excited about this opportunity to showcase Hectic Management and Promotions! While I’m still getting details as we speak, I do know it will be an amazing night of music. The Wolf will be showcasing the talents of Grant Williams, Adam Bailey, Katie Evans, Condition Oakland, Blue Sugar Riot, and Quoth. As a fan, I can’t wait to see them all. As a stage manager, I know that these musicians bring a level of professionalism and respect that guarantee it to be a great night!
NS: It seems the electronic music was well represented in the Steamtown Music Awards and the Electric City Music Conference this year. Do you see that as a step forward in terms of its exposure or popularity in NEPA?
SH: I definitely do consider it a big step forward. At last year’s awards, electronic music and DJ of the year were one category. Within that category, there was only one electronic nominee – Hypnotik Infekted Bloodline. I think it speaks loudly of the work we have put in this year to not only have the categories split this year, but to have four of the electronic nominees call the NEPA Electrotribe home. I am extremely proud of my Tribe members Quoth, The Gary Goblins, Peter Kenna D, and Hypnotik (nominated second year in a row) for their nominations. The amazing thing is, no matter who wins, we all win as a collective because without each other, we would all still be sitting and wishing something would happen.
As far as the conference itself, last year no electronic acts were included. This year, again, is different. Nominee ISOBE is playing at The Keys, and Quoth will be playing at the Irish Wolf Pub. While it doesn’t seem like much, to go from nothing to two acts is a huge step for us. Peter Kenna D was also originally scheduled to play, so to have three considered is even better.
NS: What’s next for you after that? Do you have any other shows coming up?
SH: The fall will be very busy for me and my business. While I am taking a break from the mixers for this month (due to the benefit and some personal events), they will shortly begin with renewed force. October will be a management focus for me, with two DJ Quoth ‘80s dance parties (Oct. 10 at The Keys and Oct. 24 at the Brickhouse Tavern in Dupont). Both will be costume parties in honor of Halloween, complete with prizes!
Nov. 14 will be a huge NEPA Electrotribe showcase held at The Keys. Jenn has graciously allowed us to plan an all-night event, with music starting at 8 p.m. in order to have five Tribe members share the stage. The event is called Statik Elektricity, and Vinz, The Gary Goblins, Quoth, Notwhatsopeople, and myself, Lady Hectic, will be playing. It has been a big undertaking, and we are hoping to gain more exposure from having it at one of the greatest local establishments.
NS: What do you think the next year holds for electronic music in the area?
SH: I’m hoping more positive exposure and venue opportunities. The new members of the Tribe (Toxic Shock Symphony, Greenfly, and Dr. Epidemic) have all come in swinging and ready to work. The rest of us have felt revitalized with their induction, and I only see good things in our future. Hectic’s Musical Mixers will continue to include at least one electronic act in each show, which will only continue to grow the recognition that electronic music does exist and belong in NEPA.
NS: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
SH: I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me and the projects I’m involved with. It’s been a very exciting and busy year for both Lady Hectic and Hectic Management and Promotions. Without the love and involvement from my fellow Tribe members, my husband, and my close friends, none of this could have ever happened.
I also want to say to the music community – never give up. We all face struggles that daily challenge our music, but how we face those struggles and grow is what really proves we have the right to do our thing. I have met such fantastic people over the past two years. We’re all in this together!
by Rich Howells
Rich is an award-winning journalist, longtime blogger, photographer, and podcast host. He is the founder and editor of NEPA Scene.