San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

The rise of women in rock

Lucid Dream, Cherry Knot and Kocean’s lead-singers share their experiences as women musicians in the rock industry
Sam Hockaday
Cami Robertson plays a bass guitar and sings for Lucid Dream at The Look house show on March 5, 2023.

Music is one of the most unifying forms of human expression. However, prejudice within the music community, particularly in rock, favors male artists. 

The relative absence of women is apparent within the San Diego music scene, but around San Diego State University, women-fronted bands are on the rise. 

Lucid Dream, Cherry Knot and Kocean are three indicators of a promising future of women-fronted bands taking hold in the industry. However, Katie Thomas, the lead singer of Kocean, notes that there is still a long way to go.

“There’s simply not enough,” Thomas said. “If I can count the amount of women-led bands on one hand in San Diego, that’s a problem. There needs to be more.”

Meena Aspeytia, who plays guitar in Lucid Dream, noted that her band doesn’t explicitly describe their experiences as women in their songs, but their listeners enjoy the energy they bring to the stage.

“Sometimes you just gotta give them a woman scream,” Aspeytia said.

Kaitlyn Thomas sings for Kocean at Save Starlight on December 3, 2022. (Sam Hockaday)

Lucid Dream came together in their first year of high school. Cami Robertson, Lucid Dream’s other guitarist and vocalist, explained that their music has more to do with universal experiences than their experiences as women.

“(Our music is for) people who feel like they need it in their life,” Robertson said.

Jade Lewenhaupt, the drummer for Cherry Knot, also emphasized that her songwriting pertains to her experiences as a person.

“It’s really just about my experience as a person,” Lewenhaupt said. “As a woman, I’m sure that I have different experiences than men do, and so I’m sure that being a woman affects my songwriting in that way.”

Cherry Knot, Lucid Dream and Kocean all agree that being fronted by women has added to their influence, but it hasn’t hindered their ability to appeal to a wide audience. Most of their shows attract an equal amount of men and women – in fact, people often come to their performances to see bands fronted by women. Zen Yokel, the bass guitarist in Kocean, explained Thomas’ leadership as a factor in bringing in supportive crowds.

“I do think there is a cool part of having about having a female leader… that definitely draws people in,” Yokel said.

Women-fronted bands tend to pique popular interest, but layers of prejudice separate most women from forming bands in the first place.

Thomas noted that the popular perception of women as singer-songwriters has had a tangible impact on her rock career. Her music teachers assumed that she only wanted to play music in her room, rather than on stage in front of a crowd.

Brook Diebold, the lead singer of Cherry Knot, also acknowledged the negative impact of the narrative of male-domination within the rock industry.

“I think maybe sometimes they’re threatened by it, or maybe it’s not as believable because we’re women, or as badass because we’re women,” Diebold said.

Abby Donaldson, Cherry Knot’s guitarist, pointed out that the band’s ability to express themselves is restricted by male-dominance within the industry. Whenever they perform original music, Donaldson worries that people may not take it seriously because it was written by women. Kinsey Claudino, the bass guitarist for Cherry Knot, explained that men have more room to experiment with self-expression in their music. Female musicians feel extra pressure to make their music perfect, as their musical abilities are already more vulnerable to scrutiny.

Aspeytia recognized the same sense of discouragement plaguing women in music, which is why she always aims to rile up audiences at shows. Lucid Dream’s ability to get an audience moving and moshing is thanks in part to their unapologetic nature. Aspeytia has advice for other women who want to capture that energy.

Brook Diebold sings while Kinsey Claudino plays bass for Cherry Knot at the Aztec Music Group and Friends Show on December 9, 2022. (Sam Hockaday)

“Don’t be afraid to talk over people,” Aspeytia said. “Don’t feel like you have to apologize.”

Lewenhaupt’s message for women who feel deterred from entering the music industry is to confide in one another. She explained that many women want to join rock bands, but they might not feel like they are worthy of playing music. Working in a group assures that other people will always be encouraging you to pursue your ambitions.

Lucid Dream, Cherry Knot and Kocean signal a changing attitude within the music industry, and in the meantime, they’re gracing SDSU with some incredible sounds.

“I want to show anyone and everyone that women can lead a band,” Thomas said. “They can be funny. They can be rockstars.”

Lucid Dream and Kocean have music available to stream on Spotify, and Cherry Knot is working towards releasing their original songs. You can follow them on Instagram at @luciddreamband, @koceanlive and @cherryknotband.

About the Contributor
Sam Hockaday
Sam Hockaday, '23-24 Arts & Culture Editor
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
The rise of women in rock