By Elizabeth Eaton
EDMONTON – Sugarwash is the epitome of riot grrrl. Bloody period. Four women struggling with personal demons have formed a band that sticks together through anything and everything. Although their music details their personal, often gendered struggles, the upbeat high energy songs explore universally relatable themes. Reminiscent of L7, Bikini Kill and Babes in Toyland, the band provides a fresh outlook on ‘90s era feminist punk music.
“You can be whoever the fuck you want,” states vocalist and co-founder Alyssa Kasha.
“While being respectful of course!” adds guitarist Rina Keichinger (also known as ‘Ribs’).
“Whenever anyone’s going through shit it’s like ‘hey, how can we help?’ What can we be doing together to fix this?”
Keichinger’s reference to the band’s cohesion within non-conformity exemplifies the spirit of Sugarwash and the ethos of punk music overall.
Their first EP Daddy Issues boldly showcases their empowering message in tracks like “Wild Girl,” encouraging everyone to stand up for their rights. The raucous, aggressive song was written about surviving an abusive relationship.
“Always stand up for what you believe in and don’t be molded by society into something you’re not,” asserts Kasha.
“I’ve been there a couple times and I just remember how alone I felt…when you’re in it, you can’t really see the picture for what it is, so I wrote that song because I want to help other men and women get through that, and let them know that they’re not alone in that situation.”
The response to their unknowingly anticipated arrival in the Edmonton scene provided everything they needed to be able to create Daddy Issues.
“Everyone knows someone,” says Keichinger. “If you go to a couple shows and support other bands you’re going to make connections. I need someone to record us: I know this person. I need someone to make us merch: I know this person.”
Through the support of punk bands from Edmonton and Calgary such as 5¢ Freakshow, the band has bolstered their visibility enormously in the past year. It’s not hard to see why – Sugarwash’s stage presence is powerful, passionate, and charismatic – and the Edmonton punk scene is eating it up.
“It kind of took me by surprise,” says Sugarwash’s newest member and drummer, Karlie Kray.
“Each show they go a little bit more nuts and I’m like, taken aback by it. People are responding well and we respond well to that.”
The release of the debut EP coincides with the start of their first tour taking them through Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Perhaps their most notable date is the Metalocalypstick Fest, which is a festival dedicated to supporting heavy genre bands with female-identifying members.
“I play these songs proud,” explains Kray, affirmatively.
“It’s just, I was an outsider and all these songs speak to me in a different way. That’s heavy because I know they’ll speak to other people too.”
Rage with Sugarwash on April 13 at Vern’s Tavern (Calgary), April 14 at The Vat Pub (Red Deer) and April 15 at The Forge (Edmonton). They’ll also perform at Metalocalypstick Fest, which runs from June 30 until July 1 (Lone Butte, B.C.)Metalocalypstick Fest, Sugarwash, the forge, The Vat Pub, Vern’s Tavern