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ATP! Interview: Jess Bowen and Meg Frampton 'Speak Up' with Up Close and Personal Speaking Tour

After giving drum lessons through Band Happy on Warped Tour 2014, Jess Bowen of The Summer Set had a major epiphany.

“Out of the people who signed up, a majority really just wanted to have a conversation with me,” Bowen said. “A lot of them would come to me with struggles they were having.”
Photo Credit: Rachel Ann Cauilan

When The Summer Set’s manager, Michael Kaminksy, heard about Bowen’s experience, he immediately put her in touch with Meg & Dia’s Meg Frampton.

“We thought there was a need to encourage girls to start a conversation,” Bowen said. “I have a lot of girls that come to shows and tell me different things, like not feeling brave enough to be a female in the music industry.

“There should be a conversation happening,” Frampton added, “so we hopped on board.”

Bowen and Frampton quickly went to work, setting up an “intimate” speaking panel called “Speak Up” in three different locations throughout California. The pair wanted the event to be less like a Q&A, and more like a discussion among small groups.

Hearing the personal, often emotional, stories of near-strangers, can “sometimes be challenging,” Frampton said, “because I don’t have all the answers.”

But people come to Frampton and Bowen anyway, so the two musicians try to share something of their own personal experience and, most importantly, listen.

“I feel like I have no right to tell people what’s right or wrong,” Bowen said. “I’m just a drummer! But I really want to discuss these things and I want to be honest.”

Bowen and Frampton both expect the majority of the audience at “Speak Up” to be female, because today’s society often lacks “that close connection with a group of girls where we can share our feelings,” Frampton said.

Though Bowen “hates using the word,” the drummer said that other girls often look up to her as a role model.

“Meg and I were joking around, because it’s kind of funny – I still don’t feel like I have anything figured out. But that’s kind of the beauty of life,” Bowen said. “You don’t have to have it all figured out.”

Specifically, Bowen feels girls are looking up to both herself and Frampton as role models in the music industry, where there aren’t many other strong females to take cues from. Frampton and Bowen both dealt with gender-related issues at many different points in their careers, and are willing to share those stories with other women.

“The first part of my music career, I was wearing guy’s sneakers and chopped my hair off,” Frampton said, because she was not comfortable with her femininity.

“I felt like I had to put up walls, or had to be tough, because I was the only girl in the band or even on the tour,” Bowen added. “I didn’t want to be that. I wanted to fit in with the guys. I didn’t want to be treated differently.”

Both women tried to be “tougher” than they actually were, afraid of being perceived as vulnerable.

“Eventually,” Frampton said, “you kind of settle into being comfortable and realize what you are. I started to wear heels on stage, and even dresses, but that moment only came after I went through some tougher things.”

Frampton and Bowen hope that people feel inspired by their speaking tour, “to go out there and do what they want to do, and be a little less afraid,” Frampton said. Both musicians said that they want people to feel more comfortable with who they are.

“I get a lot of females who seem to be ashamed to be who they are,” Bowen said. “They’re not comfortable in their own skin. They’re hiding their true selves. But at the end of the day, you’re not going to live a happy life unless you’re true to yourself. So I hope everyone walks away from “Speak Up” feeling comfortable in their skin.”

Words by Tori Mier

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