Since their release six years ago, Princess Dewclaw have been prowling the Denver music scene, blazing their own creative trail. Never locking themselves into a specific genre, narrative or image, Princess Dewclaw approaches their music in an unconventional way, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think when a lot of bands get started, it starts with, ‘I want to get really good at an instrument and I’m going to get better and better at my instrument playing with a band that’s really tight to their instrument’ .and the goal is to really bring that sound down. We’re not that. We’ve never been that, even though we’ve had previous musical experience and we practice our instruments and try to be as tight as we can. possible, I don’t think it was ever our goal to play the best we can on our instrument. I think our goal has always been to create something new and expressive to get our ideas out,said Princess Dewclaw guitarist and vocalist Amanda Baker.
As their quirky name suggests, Princess Dewclaw doesn’t care about band conventions. In every aspect of their writing and seeping into their group dynamics, their anomalous style produces results that set them apart. “We’re more willing to experiment and we’re more willing to change instruments and change sounds or styles,” singer Amanda Gostomski said. Jumping from one genre to another over the course of an album or an EP, while trying their hand at playing different instruments, the band continually discovers ways to explore the unknown.
In response to the dreaded question of what genre they describe their band, Baker pointed to alternative, punk, industrial, pop and electronic. Currently playing a 909 drum machine, the band emphasizes synth and electronic elements while incorporating these additional genres according to each member’s personal taste.
“Our sound was always influenced by the instruments we had and also a lot by how we learned from each other and what interested us,” Baker explained. Will Pelkey, who plays the 909 synth machine, resonated with Baker, explaining that everything each member explores musically influences the ever-changing sound of what they do collectively. “There’s so much good stuff out there, how are you going to stick to one sound and one taste?” Pelkey posed.
Possessing the ability to move between a variety of sound elements does not come by whim and chance. “There’s a lot of confidence that happens,” said guitarist Brandon Reyes. “We’re all going to write and improve each other’s parts, there’s a lot of confidence involved that I don’t think you really get with most bands.”
Attributing their mutual trust to years of living, playing and working together, Pelkey also noted the immense power of communication and working in the best interests of music. “It’s a lot of communication and hearing it in our heads and pushing it because even though we all have different tastes, we all want the best for the song and what there’s better music, so sometimes I have to let go, but it always sounds better when we listen to each other.
Princess Dewclaw not only displays her sonic but also lyrical individuality. Regarding the band’s approach to creating lyrics, Gostomski explained that they usually come up with an overarching narrative for an album or EP, and then the band works together to tell that story in its entirety. “We’ve kind of laid out what each song needs to be in order to tell the narrative and then we’ll talk about the genre, ‘Okay, this song should have this kind of influence or sound and then we’ll have an arc complete,” Gostomski said. Following the horror story of a teenage werewolf, Gostomski described how their debut EP, wild sugarcovered the themes of puberty and growing up through a creative lens. Working on their upcoming EP, the band are taking a more sci-fi approach to combating topics that concern the current state of our society.
Although telling fictional stories in their writing, the band’s music speaks the truth about their personal experiences. “I’m always going to write from the perspective of a woman and an angry woman, that’s just who I am and so that’s what the lyrics will be,” Gostomski said. As a woman, the group had its fair share of hurdles to overcome in order to achieve success.
Baker described their experience in a female-fronted band as being a double-edged sword with Princess Dewclaw’s desire to put female artists front and center while creating a label that towers above the band’s sound. “Most often we played tickets [at gigs] which are not necessarily matched appropriately in terms of sound or genre. We could play shows with more appropriate lineups, but maybe we don’t fit the look of this show because we’re the ‘girl group,'” Baker said.
Gostomski agreed with Baker’s outlook, adding that the ideal situation would be to have a music scene where everyone is on the same playing field, regardless of gender identity. Either way, Gostomski said that with the current situation in the industry, it’s important for female artists not to let their fears take over. “If we had any advice for anyone I would say the reason women need to go out and why they are afraid to do so is that often women want to be really good because we are held to a different standard.. But we should go and not be afraid to suck for a while.. There are more critics but who cares. You have to suck for two or three years. Just do it and get over it and everything will be fine.
Catch the highly entertaining Princess Dewclaw at Larimer Lounge on April 6th and stay tuned for their upcoming EP currently in the works.
All photographs of Jackson Davis