Sontag brings punk, feminism and cassettes to Sled Island

By Liv Ingram

With influences such as Sonic Youth, Unwound and the riot grrrl movement, it’s fitting that Vancouver band Sontag played the Kathleen Hanna curated showcase at Sled Island this year. Between raucous guitars and commanding lyrics, Sontag is a band who wears their influences on their sleeves.

“We’re named after Susan Sontag. She’s a feminist philosopher, literary critic and activist,” says guitarist / vocalist Jaclyn. “We liked [the name] in part to recognize and acknowledge the feminist leanings of the band and some of the political places that we come from.”

The band — whose members Jaclyn, Jonelle and Stephe go by first names only — describe their sound as “punk / math rock.” Drummer Stephe says this is characterized by the band’s unique time signatures.

“Most punk stuff is in 4-4 and we play in odd meters,” says Stephe. “There are times when we actually have to count other than 1-2-3-4.”

The band recently finished a four-song self-titled EP, which they are releasing on cassette this summer. The decision to release the EP on tape came from wanting to have something memorable, as well as physical, to sell at shows, says Jaclyn.

“A lot of bands are doing cassette releases again and I think digital streaming, downloading and file sharing has made the cd completely irrelevant,” says Stephe. “The cassette is an analog form. It’s not redundant, but it’s maybe a little retro.”

Sontag will have a cassette release party later this summer in Vancouver, before a mini-tour in the fall.

One tour stop they are particularly excited about is Girls Rock Camp, a summer-camp that encourages young girls to play music.

“It’s about raising empowered, awesome women and building a community in the music scene. Just trying to put more women in the musical world,” says Jonelle. “I feel like since the camp started there are way more girl bands in Vancouver.”

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