Women In Music: Andrea Skoumbri

The guitarist for Melbourne’s The Beautiful Monument, Andrea Skoumbri’s love for music was originally inspired by anime. When she was 14, an anime called Naruto took up most of Andrea’s time. That appreciation for anime extended to watching fan-made anime music videos (AMV) on YouTube; where fans would edit an anime clip to music of their choosing.

Watching those videos introduced Andrea to songs from bands such as Sum 41, Papa Roach, and Three Days Grace. She says “If I liked a song, I’d go on LimeWire and download more songs by that artist. And so these bands ended up becoming the first bands I listened to and ultimately my favourites.”

 

Andrea’s grandfather had bought a guitar for her and her brother when they were very young. It was only when she was in her teens and thoroughly enjoying music that she picked up the then-old guitar (rusted strings and all) and asked one of her friends at school to teach her how to read guitar tab. “That’s where music started becoming a major part of my life.”

A pivotal moment for Andrea, which saw her become even more focused on playing guitar, came courtesy of Good Charlotte. The moment came on a 1.5 hour public transport journey to university, which she made five days a week. “There was a song that always stood out to me which was “Festival Song” by Good Charlotte. One day I decided that I didn’t want to spend my life doing something that wasn’t absolutely where my heart was. So from there I told one of my friends I was starting a band and asked if she wanted to sing. Then I reached out to two random people on Twitter that I knew played drums and guitar and told them the same thing. They were in! And so there started my first band. I didn’t know anything about being in or even running a band but just that I wanted to do it.”

 

When she was starting out, Andrea’s passion for music wasn’t shared by her friendship groups. And though she wasn’t able to gain encouragement from there, she considers it as ‘irrelevant’ on her journey. She was just going to do it regardless. And though she’s experienced some professional discouragement, she doesn’t see it as anything to do with gender at all. “I think I can confidently say that ALL bands struggle/go through things/have doubts/perils and hardships, whether they are made public or not. If you’re not discouraged at some point, I’m pretty sure you’re not a band.”

It’s the same ‘drive’ that kicked Andrea off on this path that keeps her going on it now, despite of any doubts or fears that show up along the way. “There’s a drive there that manages to always push through in the end. I’ve also got friends that I’m really appreciative of that have a really great perception of things and encourage me to see things differently if I’m ever caught up on anything or not letting something go.”

The drive to just do it regardless of any obstacles seems woven into Andrea’s experience along with The Beautiful Monument members, regardless of other peoples’ preconceptions of gender. Andrea feels sorry for (yet also unaffected by) people who take the mindset of gender being an issue, and looks to the positives instead. “I guess if it has happened it’s been behind closed doors and so it doesn’t really bother me. If that’s really the frame of mind for some people it’s sad but regardless we’re not going to stop doing what we’re doing because of it. I’m not going to focus on the possibility of people overlooking us, I’m stoked with the opportunities we’re receiving.”

While Andrea has had friends assaulted at gigs before, she’s never personally felt unsafe either as a performer or an attendee. Andrea says that venue staff, other bands and industry personnel that she’s engaged with have always been respectful and appropriate. But she’s also quick to add that this doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. “I don’t want to say I’ve been “lucky” enough not to have encountered anything like that because these sorts of things shouldn’t be based on luck, but I personally have never experienced it.”

“If it’s something that drives you or attracts you,
you should just do it.”

Andrea hopes that the industry fixation on gender won’t be part of music in the future, concerned that it’ll create unfounded fears or even hesitations in some. “I know it’s great to raise awareness and debate things, but with the amount they’re floating around these days I’m sure that there are some girls out there who had previously never thought about it or felt that way before and now after seeing it are thinking “Oh, is that a thing I need to worry about?” And then have that doubt play on their mind when they are trying to put themselves out there. I don’t remember this being a topic of discussion when we first started and I couldn’t imagine going to play our first show with that state of mind.”

She shares an air of determination toward those who aspire to be a musician, regardless of their gender. “There’s been a lot uproar and articles written around the whole gender diversity issue within the music industry lately, but honestly if it’s something that drives you or attracts you, you should just do it. Any fears or reasons you tell yourself for not doing it are mentalities that are easily carried over and applied to all aspects of your life and if that’s your approach, there’s a chance you’ll miss out on experiencing the things you want to in life. You can always try, and if it’s not what you hoped to get out of something you can stop. But if you cut yourself off from trying in the first place you’ll never know.”

As to the future for The Beautiful Monument, they’re busy behind the scenes with their follow up to their 2017 album I’m the Sin. Andrea shares “We’re in the middle of recording our second album! I’m really looking forward to sharing it and playing these new songs on stage when the time comes.”

 

Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it.

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