Meschiya Lake

Bandleader, Vocalist, Songwriter

October 18, 2016


How old are you?


How long have you been in New Orleans?

About 17 years on and off.

What brought you here?

A circus.

Can you elaborate on that?

It was a traveling circus that would winter for six months in New Orleans and tour the other six. I hooked up with them in Atlanta in 2006 and packed everything into my van and hit the road and have been here ever since.

How did you come to be a part of the circus?

I am fascinated with the nomadic lifestyle because that’s kind of what my family is like. My grandfather was a forest ranger so they moved around all over. It’s in blood. My mom and dad worked for a carnival. He put the Ferris wheels together and she worked at a corn dog stand. I’m a carny. I’m fascinated with circus freaks and the gypsy lifestyle. And then I ran away with them.

Why are you still in New Orleans now?

It’s home. I was captivated by its charm and then the music sucked me in. The individuality of everybody’s differences are nurtured. Being raised in a small town in South Dakota, differences were very much not celebrated. But here? You think you’re weird but there’s someone down the street that’s got you beat.

When you were growing up, do you remember being told or taught anything regarding the behavioral expectations of being girl?

From outside sources, yes. You get that everywhere you look. If you don’t look like an anorexic supermodel then you’re not attractive and I still struggle with that daily. I’m having a baby girl and everyday I’m thinking about how I’m not going to pass that onto her and keep her from being insecure and having as many body issues as I do. It’s just not fair that a person should have to grow up like that. You don’t give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You don’t see yourself as a special beautiful individual. You look in the mirror and see faults before you see the good things. I think that is very much engrained in our society and I was extremely affected by that as a child. It’s everywhere. The few times that I do look at a fashion magazine I feel like shit afterwards. I don’t look like these women. That’s not realistic and it’s not fair.

Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?

It’s a lack of freedom and a struggle to be seen as a human being. I guess that’s really it. In a patriarchal society, women are seen as less than human. It’s as simple as that.

What would be your response to someone that says we don’t live in a patriarchal society?

I would clearly be talking to a man. That said, I’ve seen a lot of fucked up Trump videos with ladies saying some shit. I would point out the facts. Our leaders are men. We didn’t get the right to vote until not that long ago. It’s pretty obvious we live in a male dominated society so if somebody had to ask me that I would try to be as factual as possible and abstain from judging.

How does being treated in sexist way make you feel?

Incensed. It makes me feel angry because I don’t see myself as less than anybody because of my gender. I think that the things that are special about women should be celebrated. I’m making a fucking human being in my stomach right now. That’s cool, man! Sorry dudes, you can’t do that. I’m not trying to be sexist against you. I’m for equality but unfortunately there’s a certain amount of fighting that has to be done for that to be realized. I’m pissed off and sad because I think we should have gotten past that by now. Just the fact that we’re still living in a racist and sexist society blows my fucking mind. Really? What year is it? And people still think like this? I’m really sad that’s still an issue. Humanity has gone through some great leaps in the last few years. We’ve come a long way as a society and to be made to feel that way is so retroactive.

Do you always notice when individuals are acting in a sexist way?

I notice it a lot more now than I used to.

What do you think changed to make you notice more often?

I’m growing older and realizing that the things that I was taught to ignore and to think were just the way things were or were ok are not. Women don’t treat men that way, men don’t treat other men that way. Something as simple as calling somebody sweetheart can be extremely degrading in a conversation. It’s so engrained in these people and the way that they were raised and also the way I was raised. So much happens every day so you don’t notice it. My males friends don’t walk to the car with keys in between their hands thinking that somebody may attack them. My male friends don’t ignore pass sexual assault in fear of losing their job.

Do you have any specific experiences of sexism against you that may have stuck with you?

Just recently my vehicle was damaged by a tow truck and when the two truck driver came to look at the estimate from the damage, he started screaming at me at the top of his lungs. I’m a good two feet smaller than him and pregnant and he’s screaming in my face and calling me sweetheart and saying really demeaning things and trying to intimidate me out of getting my damages paid for that he caused. He would not do that to a man. He assumed that because I am a woman that I would back down, that I would be scared by the way I was being treated, that I wouldn’t know what’s going on with my vehicle because I’m a girl and how the fuck could I know anything about cars? It’s pretty disgusting. But that’s just one instance. That’s the most recent one that stands out in my mind but there’s a lot. Every lady has a lot.

Are there any particular stereotypes of men or of women that drive you insane?

The assumption that women don’t have the intelligence or the ability to do what men can do. And for men, not really realizing it’s going on because they have the privilege of not experiencing it.