Musician Interview: Nicole Schneit of Air Waves!

Please read below for an interview with Nicole of Air Waves. For more info about Air Waves, please check out:

When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician? What was that process like?

When I was 14 I saw a sign at the record shop I frequented, that said “guitar lessons by Eugene.”  I asked my mom if I could take guitar and she said yes. Before that I had been writing a lot and wanted to make the words I was writing into songs. Still to this day, I can’t really read music but use my little ears to figure it out. Playing and performing has always felt like the most natural part of my existence

What is the creative process like for you? How are you inspired?

I’m inspired by people and the lives around me. There’s so much going on in NYC, every subway car, every street there’s all these stories. I was just talking to a friend of mine about how in every single subway car on every day, there’s something weird happening. Whether it’s a dude picking his nose or eye contact made with a stranger.  My songs are sometimes made up stories about people I see. For this album coming up, the songs were written as a group mostly. I used to always write the songs in my room and then bring them to the band. I still write the lyrics but am definitely open to having the guys add their own. We also got some help from JB Townsend from Crystal Stilts and some backing vocals from Jana Hunter.

How is your music feminist? In what ways is your work gendered (i.e., affected by norms connected to femininity and/or masculinity?)

Honestly, I’m not sure my music is feminist. I don’t write about being a lady or politics. But I do consider myself a feminist, so maybe there’s a hidden reflection there. I’m openly out as gay and my relationship songs are in reference to women, so I hope they are empowering in that sense. I also don’t think I necessarily fit into the stereotypes of the ideal woman, mostly in regards to my fashion, if ya know what I mean. You won’t see me in stilettos anytime soon.

A friend and I were recently lamenting the lack of attention in the commercial press to female artists making indie rock (and especially rock more generally). What do you make of that lack of press? Has there been progress?

I think the lack of press on female musicians is largely in part due to the lack of female writers on music. But also there’s just more men making music. It’s like that in all fields of life though. Women also get compared to like the same 5 other women musicians all the time. That infuriates me the most. Does she sound like Cat power or PJ Harvey?!!!!?!

It’s a dudes world out there. I’ve tried pretty damn hard to find women to play music with and it’s more difficult than you would think. When we play shows with women in the bands, it’s a wonderful feeling. I play with wonderful men in my band and never felt like oh shit I’m a girl, I’m inferior. They are my best friends for sure. That only happens when I enter guitar center and the guy asks if I’m looking for a starter kit. No joke this happened.
Unfortunately, no I haven’t seen any progress in the press. I’ve actually seen it get a little worse, because there are trends where making fun of women is deemed as cool. That needs to stop.

Airwaves’ music has been described as ranging from pop to punk. How would you describe your style?

I like to dance and feel happy, so I want my music to evoke the same feeling. My biggest influences right now are Cocteau Twins, The Clean, Velvet Underground, and Suicide. I’m not sure what genre we are in. People may be surprised by the new album and how full sounding it is. I wanted it to sound fuller, without it sounding over produced. There’s definitely going to be more pop and punk than the previous ones.

What feedback do you have for aspiring musicians?

Ha, for aspiring musicians I say don’t expect to make any money from this! It’s definitely a labor of love. But I encourage musicians to stick with the music they love making and to ignore trends. Bands that ignore trends last the longest and if you get a bad review now from press in 20 years your record might be considered the best thing that ever happened. Also if you want to make a buck or two make a shit ton of merchandise. Shirts, totes, buttons….

What future projects are you planning?

We are working hard on the new record. I’m really excited for it, it’s the most time and energy I’ve put into a project. So that is the new project, and I’m super proud of it.


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