Punk Icon Alice Bag on Finding Confidence and Feeling Beautiful
Alice Bag isn’t only one of the coolest punk musicians around: This LA rocker (who rose to fame in the ‘70s with her band the Bags) also happens to be an author, former teacher, and inspiring feminist. Whether she’s discussing rape culture in “No Means No” or unrealistic beauty standards in “Modern Day Virgin Sacrifice”—both off her new self-titled album—she makes music with a seriously important message.
Get to know your new girl power icon (and all-around amazing lady) below. Then get a first look at her insanely awesome new music video for “Modern Day Virgin Sacrifice,” directed by Jennifer Juniper Stratford and starring a rad group of women, here!
You’re a total badass now; were you the same way as a teen? When I was growing up, I was so unhappy with my appearance. But it’s funny, because when I look back at old photos now, I’m like, “Well, that wasn’t so bad!” [Laughs]. I was so hard on myself. I think we get so many messages on what beauty is, that it really messed me up. I couldn’t find a magazine that had models with braces, or glasses, or skin the color of my skin. So I automatically thought I was ugly.
Which is something that a lot of young people go through, even today.
Exactly. But my dad made me feel like I could be anything I wanted—he told me I could be the first woman president!—and this positive brainwashing, in a sense, helped. I was opinionated and would speak my mind, yet I had this really negative image about how I looked and how people would judge me. So much of being attractive has to do with things like confidence, being articulate, and knowing what you believe in. I eventually stopped seeing myself as an ugly, buck-toothed, eyeglass-wearing, chubby girl. All I could see were my faults. Once I figured out the relationship between who we are, and how we see ourselves, and how society sees us, I started to feel different.
How did music help with your confidence?
I think I had to actually find the strength to get onstage and start creating music. That took confidence. I had received compliments from my music teacher growing up, and that helped me finally get onstage and perform with a band. I found I had a voice, and I had power—it was something that started off with just one teacher telling me, “Your voice is important.” It kind of snowballed once I was onstage.
Your new music video for “He’s So Sorry” deals with domestic abuse. Can you talk a little about the inspiration?
I was talking to a friend of mine from Los Angeles. She had been getting herself into relationships that she didn’t recognize as abusive. The one she was in at the time actually extended to physical abuse. We were talking about the complications—I think sometimes women don’t see how they can get out of the relationship. Sometimes there are emotional and financial considerations, and things can get really complicated.
What advice do you have for girls who want to get into music?
Try and get your hands on an instrument. Or create an instrument, because it’s really helpful to be able to accompany yourself. Even if you don’t know how to play, the important thing to remember is you don’t need to master an instrument to create music that expresses what you have to say. You don’t have to be a virtuoso. The important thing is to have something to say. Say it in your own words, and say it in a way that feels natural to you. Don’t worry about being a perfectionist. Just jump in.
Get Alice Bag's new album here. Thanks to Melanie Nissen for the killer photo above.