Local psychedelic pop band General Mojo’s wants its music to combat gender inequality. But not just in an inspirational sense.
On Dec. 27, the band will livestream an ambitious 24-hour performance to raise money for its new EP and awareness about one of their favorite charities. Half of the livestream’s proceeds will go to Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Employment for Women (ANEW), a nonprofit that sets women up with the training they need to get family wage careers in the non-traditional, male-dominated industries, especially in construction.
“Gender inequality and women’s rights kept coming up, but this [is] the first charity that we looked at that felt reallypractical as a means of increasing gender equality in the workplace,” said Mojo’s percussionist and singer Heather Thomas. “And ANEW stuck out to us because they provide apprenticeships and training for building jobs, construction, electricity; any job related to the construction industries.”
According to the United States Department of Labor, only about 9 percent of construction workers are women. ANEW hopes to change that by providing women with quality training, employment navigation and supportive services that can lead them to satisfying family-wage careers in the construction industry.
ANEW’s work strikes a chord with Thomas, and it makes sense. During college, she worked a summer job building fiberglass hydroplanes.
“I really loved working on the boats, it was super fulfilling, but I was the only woman,” she recalls. “It was the kind of thing where I felt like if more women knew about [it] and had access to those jobs they would really thrive. Instead, you have women working three restaurant jobs. But [with ANEW] they could invest in a single career that’s fulfilling and pays well.”
ANEW’s mission also mirrors Thomas’: finding ways to create more space and access for women in a male-dominated industry. For more than a decade, Thomas has worked to clear a path for herself and other women musicians in the Seattle music scene.
“People talk about music like it’s a man’s industry and they just assume there are not that many women, when really there are,” she says. “[We just need to] provide more space for women musicians. Personally, I do a lot to increase the visibility of women in the Seattle scene, both by performing a lot and bringing other women musicians on stage with me. But also in that I’ve taught drum lessons for the past 10 years and it’s a focus of mine to make sure that little girls and grown women have access to the type of instruction they need to thrive in the industry.”
Though General Mojo’s livestream will be primarily an improvised jam, the band plans to perform some of their new material from their not-yet-titled EP due out in early 2018. Thomas says it’s a bit of a departure from the group’s 2016 release, How Hollow a Heart, but “very fun and high energy.”
They also plan to feature special guests throughout the livestream, especially local women musicians that they want to support. So far, hard-hitting guitarist and singer Eva Walker from The Black Tones, versatile bassist Kelsey Mines and soulful R&B singer Caela Bailey are on board. Additionally, women intricately involved in ANEW may speak during the livestream.
“We are considering having the CEO of ANEW come in and give a breakdown of their program and how it works,” says Thomas. “And we’re also considering have a few people who’ve gone through the program come on and share how the program changed their life. If any of them are musicians we’d love to also have them come jam with us!”
General Mojo’s will broadcast the livestream from Mode Music Studios in West Seattle, the women-run music school where Thomas currently teaches drums. The school enthusiastically donated its space to the cause. A GoFundMe link for donors will display on the bottom of the screen throughout the livestream, accessible on General Mojo’s Facebook page and the band’s official website, www.generalmojos.com.