Sound Check: October 2008


Monthly news and reviews of queer women in music.

So often the word “original” is overused for new music, but there’s nothing truer to describe the sounds Ponytail makes. The Baltimore quartet is fronted by out vocalist Molly Siegel, who adds to the experimental nature of guitar rousing by calling and crying her way through choruses.

Calling me from tour, Siegel told me she was not offended by my choice of “Fly With Me, Lesbian Siegel” as a blog title. 

“Heckler boys used to sing that to me in middle school,” she said. “It’s funny. How you used it is funny!” 

I could already tell she was going to be a fun interview. 

Molly Siegel

“I haven’t played an instrument or done music before being in [Ponytail], but I knew I wanted to do something; I just thought it would be a solo thing, like electronic,” Siegel said. “I was inspired by Le Tigre in high school.” 

A girl after my own heart. Having met her male band mates in art school, Siegel started attending band practice and said she was talked into trying out singing. “I didn’t want the vocals to be the central part of the music,” she said. “We had a couple practices and jammed, and I started doing this weird stuff. I was self-conscious about it for a long time. I didn’t know what I was doing. It took me awhile to get comfortable.” 

Siegel’s signature howling and calling are based on narratives (“abstract” she calls them), so there is some emotion behind the sounds escaping her mouth. Given that Siegel is an out lesbian, I asked if there was anything inherently queer about Ponytail’s music. 

“I think I would consider it queer because I’m in it,” Siegel said with a laugh. “But it’s also experimental and fun and you can dance to it. It’s not Justin Timberlake or whatever, but I think that makes it more queer, just it being weird.” 

Siegel recently submitted her own list of the Top 10 Gayest and Greatest albums for an OUT Magazine poll, so I had to inquire about Siegel’s personal picks, which included a few surprises. 

“The Lil Wayne answer was a joke,” she said. “I think Lil’ Kim has definitely changed rap music for women. I mean Lil Wayne is a little more questionable, how revolutionary he is in the queer world. But his music is definitely enjoyed by a lot of queer people I know.” 

Siegel said she came out when she was 15, and she’s still not out to some of her family members (“cousins and technically my grandparents, although it’s obvious,” she said) but she was sure her sexuality would come up more as she does more press. 

“I’m excited to talk about it actually,” she said. “I think it was pretty much assumed. Our publicist sent me an email about the Out thing and kind of asked, ‘Is that OK? I’m just assuming.’ That was sort of the first offer, and now it’s out in the open. But I figure if things get crazy enough that my grandparents read about it, that will be the next awkward step.” 

Molly Siegel: She’s just like us, except almost famous. 


Last week, I found myself amid a sea of lesbians. While this isn’t completely unusual, it was a very large crowd, as I was attending my first-ever Ani DiFranco concert. I know this might make me less of a gay woman in some of your eyes, but to that I say, at least I experienced it once. 

My girlfriend made me a playlist so I would be familiar with some of Ani’s huge discography. Also, I had the new album, so I knew I’d be somewhat prepared. I envisioned everyone in attendance singing along to each song, but the new songs were so new, I wasn’t the lonely only one not moving her mouth. 

I actually know more of her stuff than I thought. One song I recognized from Lost and Delirious, and she actually played “32 Flavors,” arguably her best-known song that has since been covered by Alana Davis. And while the singer/songwriter was somewhat talkative about politics on the mic, it wasn’t nearly as righteous as I had expected.

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