Skip to content

The Women Behind the Music — Stories of Resilience from Female Artists

We share the challenges and narratives of female indie musicians who continue to break through the barriers on a daily basis. In the photo: Lenian Gaspar-Cariño of Irrevocable riles up the crowd with her unwavering brand of punk rock.

A feature by TJ Delima

The local music scene is a dynamic landscape, full of pulsating energy from talented and diverse musicians. And as we celebrate Women’s Month, it’s essential to highlight female artists who, from breaking stereotypes to navigating misconceptions, have carved their paths in the local music scene. Here, we delve into their insights and showcase their inspiring narratives, celebrating their invaluable contributions to the rich fabric of our musical community.

We talk to local indie music heroes, Niqi Souix (Queen Atia), Arkyoo Quirante (Annalogue), Diane Tungol (Alice Who, Sugarkiss), Lenian Gaspar-Cariño (Irrevocable), KC Salazar (KRNA), Kim Trinidad (Loop), and Noodle Pereze (Irrevocable, Thirds), who share their stories of destroying barriers on a day-to-day basis.

Niqi Souix (Queen Atia)

Breaking Stereotypes with Unapologetic Authenticity

Niqi Souix, from Queen Atia, hails from Cagayan de Oro and reflects on the challenges of being a female musician in the early 2000s. “People would stereotype you for being unlady-like if you’re in a band,” she recalls. “I thank myself and all the other female artists who deviated from the norm and showed no remorse for being themselves and doing what they love.” Niqi persevered, breaking free from societal norms and embracing her passion for music. 

Overcoming the stigma against female-fronted bands, she found strength in being herself, from people who supported her, and doing what she loves. “You don’t really have to be strong all the time. Sometimes, asking for support and being humble helps. Pride will ruin you if that’s all you have.” Niqi’s journey serves as a testament to the power of authenticity in defying unfair expectations.

The latest release from Queen Atia, “Massive Scare“.

Arkyoo Quirante (Annalogue)

Challenging Misconceptions

From the same vibrant music scene in Cagayan de Oro, Arkyoo Quirante of Annalogue confronts misconceptions head-on. She remarks, “your credibility as a songwriter and musician may sometimes be questioned.” The stereotype was that she was merely ‘hired’ to enhance the image of an all-male band. These are common hurdles women in music often encounter, as shared by Arkyoo. 

Nevertheless, amidst these challenges, Arkyoo draws strength from her community, underscoring the significance of surrounding oneself with supportive individuals who value creativity and talent over stereotypes. “I’ve learned to get back up when I’m at my lowest and get better not just in my approach to music but in life as well,” Arkyoo shared. Her advice to fellow female musicians echoes this sentiment. “Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who inspire you to excel. A strong support system is essential for navigating these obstacles, celebrating victories, and, most importantly, enjoying the journey.”

Annalogue performs the track “Bones” in the recent Melt Weekend Vol. II in Cebu.

Diane Tungol (Alice Who, SUGARKISS)

Creating Safe Spaces for Artistic Expression

Diane Tungol, hailing from Cebu, shares her experience of overcoming objectification and finding her voice in the music industry. “I had to fight my way through unfortunate experiences in order to build a safe space where I could thrive freely,” she reflects. Despite grappling with inner struggles along her musical path, Diane’s resolve only intensified, especially witnessing the success of fellow female artists who made their mark on the charts. “Female visibility plays a huge role in inspiring me to be the artist that I want to be,” Diane shares. “I always tell myself, ‘they could do it so I could do it too’.” 

In imparting her wisdom, she emphasizes the importance of surrounding oneself with the right collaborators who nurture growth and synergy. “Find the right people who can help your grow into the artist that you want to be,” Diane advises. “Collaborating will feel easy and almost natural.” Diane’s journey underscores the significance of creating inclusive environments where female artists can flourish and express themselves authentically.

“Touch Me” by Alice Who

Lenian Gaspar-Cariño (Irrevocable)

Navigating Gender Bias

From Metro Manila, Lenian Gaspar-Cariño of Irrevocable shares her journey as a female musician, highlighting the challenges she faces. “Some people don’t take you seriously,” she remarks, recalling instances where she was mistaken for a guest at her own band’s venues. Gender bias among technical crews is another hurdle, with Lenian noting how she’s been ignored or undermined by male crew members. 

Despite these obstacles, Lenian finds support in her female friends in the punk/hardcore scene and her husband. “I’m thankful to work with a community of musicians and friends who are very progressive, so I don’t think I’ve had any difficulty working with our usual circle.” Reflecting on her experiences, Lenian acknowledges the presence of misogyny and harassment in certain circles but remains grateful for her progressive community. “I’ve become more open-minded, compassionate, and understanding to others,” she shares, emphasizing the importance of maintaining safe spaces for everyone.

“Boogeyman” by Irrevocable, from the EP “Generational Curses“.

KC Salazar (KRNA)

Pioneering Equality from the Heart of Mindanao

Hailing from Cagayan de Oro City, KC Salazar advocates for gender equality within the music industry. Reflecting on her journey, she recalls facing the dismissal of her insights, noting that “physical attributes are constantly judged, and there weren’t many spaces where a woman was at the helm.” She also confronted misconceptions that their success is attributed to appearance or image rather than skills, talents and creative merit. “Being belittled and dismissed, especially as female and as someone coming from a ‘provincial’ city in Mindanao, I was motivated to push further, learn and improve,” KC shares. 

The challenges didn’t deter KC; instead, she found strength in creating her own community and engaging with others, which significantly aided her progress. “Right now, it has made me tough; I no longer tolerate disrespectful and rude behavior. And it has made me trust my intuition, and be confident expressing my ideas.” Her resilience serves as a driving force to empower emerging female artists and dismantle unnecessary barriers in their paths. She encourages aspiring musicians to not hesitate in seeking guidance from experienced female artists who have navigated similar challenges. 

Right now, it has made me tough; I no longer tolerate disrespectful and rude behavior.

KC Salazar, KRNA
The latest release from KRNA, “I’m Wrong“.

Kim Trinidad (Loop)

Embracing Individuality and Self-Growth

Kim Trinidad of indie rock band Loop is also familiar with the misconceptions faced by female musicians in the Philippines. “Challenges I’ve faced as a female musician in the Philippines is the objectification, stereotyping and social expectations associated to being a woman,” she reveals. She emphasizes the bewildering nature of the double standards prevalent in society. In her artistic journey, Kim underscores the significance of self-discovery and personal growth. “My circle of friends, who value individuality, has been my strongest support system,” she asserts. 

Kim’s experiences as a woman have profoundly influenced her identity and evolution as an artist. Her unwavering commitment to authenticity serves as a beacon of guidance for aspiring female artists. “It’s so cliche, but if you’re someone like me who writes songs as an expression and not as a profession, BE YOURSELF,” Kim advises. “Some people will hate your shit, some people will love it. If you’re doing it for yourself, you’re on the right track.” Kim’s journey epitomizes resilience and self-assurance, urging others to embrace their unique voices despite societal pressures.

The comeback release from Loop, “Heroine and Solitude“.

Noodle Perez (Irrevocable, Thirds)

Drawing Strength from Community

From Pasig City, Noodle Perez of Irrevocable and Thirds boldly challenges stereotypes and affirms her worth as a female musician with Irrevocable. She sheds light on the subtle yet impactful biases she faces, such as assumptions about her technical prowess based on her gender. “They always thought I didn’t know how to adjust the volume or tone, when my own amp’s knob was being adjusted because they thought I didn’t know how to use it because I’m a girl. It’s a petty thing but it has a big impact on how you feel,” she reflects. 

Recognizing the resilience of other female artists and witnessing their unwavering dedication to their craft amidst the music industry’s instability serves as a profound source of inspiration for Noodle and others like her. “Hanggang masaya pa rin tumugtog, walang rason para huminto kahit mabigat yung amp at guitars, basta kaya pa buhatin, tuloy pa rin (For as long as you enjoy playing, there’s no reason to stop regardless of how heavy those amps and guitars are. For as long as you can carry them, keep going),” she asserts.

“They always thought I didn’t know how to adjust the volume or tone… It’s a petty thing but it has a big impact on how you feel.”

Noodle Perez, Irrevocable

Amidst the judgment and misconceptions, Noodle draws strength from her supportive community. “Remember your worth and stand your ground. Surround yourself with a supportive community. You should always remember that your determination inspires others,” she advises. Noodle emphasizes the ripple effect of one’s determination and its role in inspiring others along the way.

As Women’s Month comes to a close, we reflect on the powerful narratives of resilience and determination shared by these remarkable female artists. From Cagayan de Oro to Cebu, from Pasig to Iligan City, their stories echo a common thread. These women have confronted stereotypes, challenged societal expectations, and shattered barriers. Through their journeys, we are reminded of the importance of authenticity, community, and self-discovery in pursuing one’s passion. Despite the challenges and setbacks, staying true to oneself and surrounding oneself with supportive allies can lead to transformative growth and empowerment.

As we celebrate these stories of strength and resilience, let us continue to uplift and amplify the voices of women in music, ensuring that their contributions are recognized and celebrated year-round.

Stream awesome music from these and more female indie heroes in our updated Women’s Month playlist!