Omaha has no shortage of artists who are women. There are plenty of
places to play/show, and many supporters to bolster a young artist’s hopes and dreams. Rachel Tomlinson Dick is one young woman who is striving, and
succeeding at getting her voice heard.
I first became aware of Tomlinson Dick years ago, while booking a series of talent shows. I ended up on her Tumblr site, which had pieces of her writing, her food, images of her apartment, her clothing, all very personal. While reading it, I thought that she was bold to share as she did, and was pushing limits, seeing what would stick. It seems that now, some of what she’s been putting out is sticking.
The young feminist is active with Omaha Girls Rock Summer Camp, and has
spearheaded the record label Club No Quiet, a feminist record label. She
has been described as a Tomboy, and she approaches fashion with a
menswear aesthetic at times, and at other times, embraces her feminine
The late twenty-something Tomlinson-Dick has a liberal arts degree, and
says that she is interested in art as resistance. She sews, her mother
was a home-ec teacher.
Lately, Tomlinson-Dick has been getting attention nationally with the band Hers, which is a Portland based quartet comprised of Melissa L Amstutz of Honeybee, Cody Peterson, Ellen Wilde and Tomlinson-Dick. Their new album is Youth Revisited, you can preview it at their Bandcamp site.
The sound is Lo-Fi, raw, sweet, distorted and harmonic. I’ve always loved Amstutz’s voice from her Honeybee days. Tomlinson Dick & Co. adds some spice to Amstutz’s sugar and makes it all come alive.
Here, Rachel gives her thoughtful answers to FIVE QUESTIONS.
1) How do you think it is different for girls in music than boys?
RTD – This is a question that I ponder regularly. I don’t think the act of
playing music is in any way innately different for people of different
genders, however I am constantly aware of how I have to negotiate space
differently as a woman. A few things that I’ve noticed is that most of
the time people tend to comment on appearance before, or rather than
music. Although, this is often well-intentioned, it is incredibly
frustrating and diminishing. I am here to play music, period. There’s
also a tendency toward comments like “You are a pretty good _______ for
a girl” or things along those lines. There has been a great deal of
progress made by women in music, however it is still a very
male-dominated industry and riddled by microaggressions toward anyone
who identifies differently. There are so many subtle things that one has
to think about when negotiating that: is what I’m wearing to play this
show going to “invite” (because, really, no one’s clothing is EVER
inviting unwanted behaviors from others) comments about my appearance,
or harassment? Are any of the members in the bands on this bill people
who have harassed or assaulted any members of my band, or any of our
friends? (Many people would be surprised how often I and other musicians
I play with have had to consider this.) Is this venue a safe space?
Honestly, it can feel endless and exhausting, especially for something
that doesn’t seem like it should still be a struggle. But I love playing
music, and in a sense, the ability to express myself honestly that I
derive from music empowers me to deal with the bullshit that often comes
along with it. Also I feel a dedication for continuing to work for a
world when the next generation of female musicians can just be
2) How is it COLLAB-ing w/ your peeps in Oregon? What are the logistics of your budding national career?
RTD – Living in a different state from your bandmates is
difficult, there is no way around that. It can be cool in ways too
because it forces you to approach writing and playing music together
differently, more intentionally, which can open you up to greater
creativity and productivity in the times when you are together. We’re
still figuring out all of the logistics and how it will look in the
future, but currently as we are starting to write our second album,
technology helps immensely. I will also be traveling out there in the
next few months so we can finish the writing process all together and
3) What inspires you to create? Do you like writing words or music better?
RTD – So many different things inspire me, and I often draw on
different elements depending on the band or project. In HERS, Melissa
Amstutz is the songwriter and my contribution is playing lead guitar. In
that project I try to connect to and draw from what Melissa is saying in
the lyrics and express that musically. Tension, dissonance, power —
those are things that kind of drive me in that project. In my other
band, Manic Pixie Dream Girls, I am one of two songwriters who switch
off on bass and guitar. It is probably best described as a political
garage punk band, so most of the instrumentation is fairly
straightforward and our focus is the message of our lyrics. I tend to be
inspired to write about things that I have experienced, like street
harassment, or societal pressures regarding beauty norms or how I should
be living my life as a woman in my late twenties. In my solo project,
called Miniature Horse, I tend to write slightly more musically
intricate and lyrically vulnerable songs. I am often inspired by books
that I’m reading, or my own weird, subtle emotional experiences, or
shared human experience; moments of connection with the self or with
4) Are you currently in a relationship? How does that inform your art?
RTD – I am. We actually just moved in together, which has been
really nice. It forces me to schedule my creativity a little more, which
at moments is frustrating but also gets me over myself and to just write
and play guitar even if I’m not necessarily feeling it right in that
present moment. I think being in a partnership also forces you to be
more honest with yourself. Like, it’s all laid out there in front of
someone else; all of the bad and all of the good; there’s no hiding it
from them or from yourself. And like most things, it is terrifying and
great because it forces you open, and the best and most meaningful acts
of creation come from a place of resolute and unflinching truth.
5) Goals for this project and personally?
RTD – Some of my upcoming musical goals are to release an album with Manic Pixie
Dream Girls (it’s getting mixed currently), to record and release a new
Miniature Horse album, and to write, record, and release the second
album with HERS. I have been tentatively planning tours in 2015 with all
three projects as well. Before all of that though, I am really looking
forward to a fall/winter where I stay home a lot and practice guitar,
work on recording my solo songs, and hopefully making a quilt. And of
course, talking to my cat. Like, way too much. Some personal goals are
to learn better how to avoid burn out and to practice being kind.