Women, POC and non-cisgendered musicians took over the year-end lists in 2018, but the arts community still has a ways to go in regards to proportional representation and recognition of those who have long been overlooked. It’s far too common for a band’s sound to solely be judged based on the members’ identities, which, while important to shaping musical perspectives and lyrical narratives, a creator’s gender, orientation and lifestyle doesn’t have an end-all effect on the quality of their art. It should go without saying, but female-fronted isn’t a damn genre.
Atlanta’s Chick Wallace describes itself as “salty girl pop,” which rejects the boxing in of marginalized artists. Catchy vocal melodies, punctuated by Melanie Paulos’ vibrato, and fuzzy guitar riffs bring a distinctive grit to the band’s fitful sound. “I want to write about experiences we all face through the lens of femme and queer perspectives, without being lumped into the artistic sad girl, manic pixie dream girl category right off the bat,” Paulos (vocals, guitar) says.
Chick Wallace’s musical and social perspective is informed by the inclusivity and diversity of the East Atlanta Village music scene. Artists who frequent the smokey, hallowed stages of the Earl and 529 have created an eclectic subculture that champions intersectionality, tenacity and getting rowdy. Chick Wallace embodies this community by supporting the artists around them and crafting sharp sonic commentary.
The band made their debut in 2017, with The Chick Wallace EP, a five-song exploration of briny pop-punk. The band has undergone a few lineup changes, but believes that Chick Wallace has finally settled into a groove with its current roster: Paulos, Ryan York (drums), Tim Sherrill (guitar) and Alex Glick (bass). Part of that cohesion is due to the group switching up their writing process. Paulos used to bring complete songs to the table, but Chick Wallace now writes as a group, introducing a sense of congruity to their signature sound.
Chick Wallace will continue to push the bounds of its songwriting this year, with a new EP on the horizon and a handful of upcoming live dates. The quartet demonstrates the truly progressive nature of the EAV community, by supporting and highlighting the queer art and diversity that make Atlanta’s arts scene invaluable.