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Punk rockers squashing stereotypes

Female-fronted band faces unique challenges in male-dominated genre.
After nearly seven months of touring

When Dusty Exner takes to the stage each night with her punk-rock band Kill Matilda, she wants to be viewed no differently than her male counterparts.

Unfortunately, that usually isn’t the case.

“There is a lot more focus on a female’s looks than on their talent and that is a challenge,” Exner told the News Bulletin. “You want to be taken seriously outside of your looks.”

On Saturday (Dec. 27) the female-fronted band will perform at the Cambie. Their performance in the Harbour City is one of the final stops on a North American tour that has lasted nearly seven months.

“We knew that the only way we could break into the market was by doing a really big tour,” Exner said.

Kill Matilda was born in Vancouver in 2008 and has released a number of records including I Want Revenge and #Punk#Zombie#RockNRoll. Their sound has been described as cross between My Chemical Romance, Pat Benatar and The Misfits.

“Our sound is sort of like sexy dance punk,” Exner said.

Unlike some genres, such as country, where there is a decent mix of both genders, the punk-rock genre is still predominately male centric.

Exner explained that because punk-rock is a male-dominated genre, people don’t take her as seriously right away.

“People are always a little surprised when I play the guitar well. There is an element of sexuality that is present,”  she said. “It’s like, ‘oh, how hot is this lead singer? How much skin is this person showing?”

The British Columbian points out that it is extremely rare to find a band that is more females than males, especially in her genre.

“You never see a band that is mostly women and one dude,” she said. “The crowd is predominantly men. You might get some women and some men, but you’ll never see a crowd that is two thirds women and one third men.”

Earlier this year, Kill Matilda released a music video for its song, I Want Revenge, which features only women.

“What I wanted to do was make a sexy cool video that wasn’t objectifying women in all of the conventional ways,” Exner explained. “I wanted to have only women that were strong and rock ’n’ roll, but was very female centric and sexy without being compromising. We just contacted all these really cool women that we knew who were doing all these really cool things and got them all involved.”

The basis behind the video was to go against the stereotypical rock videos, which predominately feature men, or women in roles that are more objectified.

“We’re flipping that script. We’re presenting men with an image that is somewhat challenging because you don’t see any dudes in that video, but it is still awesome. It is something that you can still get into,” Exner said. “All women or a ton of women in the rock scene is something that can be normal and not threatening to sort of the old boys club of rock ’n’ roll. It can be inclusive and awesome. It doesn’t have to be weird or gross.”

Although the video has received positive comments on YouTube, Exner explained that following the video’s release, Kill Matilda received hate mail.

“As soon as we put it out we got a ton of internet hate,” Exner said. “We actually think that it has to do with the fact that punk rock dudes and metal dudes and rock ’n’ roll dudes watch this video, they don’t see themselves represented in it and they don’t like it. There was actually backlash from dudes about this video, saying that we were not punk rock at all.”

As a band that lives mostly on the road, Kill Matilda is grateful for every little moment of success.

“It’s a thankless job,” Exner said. “For every single moment of glory there is an hour of shit and work and pain and people not valuing you.”

Kill Matilda performs at the Cambie, 63 Victoria Cres., on Dec. 27. For more information visit

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