Morgan Thielen

Bassist, Vocalist, Studio Owner

June 13, 2016


How old are you?


Where you from originally?

Lake Charles, Louisiana.

What brought you here?

I was playing in a band in Atlanta and was dating one of the guys in the band and we broke up and so I decided to leave the band and the town and everything else all at once. Right around the same time, my brother had come to New Orleans to go to Loyola and we had always planned on starting a project together so started our band The Kid Carsons.

Why are you still here?

First, because I want to be here. Second, we bought a house and run a recording studio out of it now. We have made an investment in this town. And I love it here. I feel like it’s the right place for what we’re doing.

What is your role within the music community of New Orleans?

I’m an owner of Bear America Records and a bass player. I do a lot of session work and all the visual arts we need at the studio. So I am the creative director as well. It’s hard to answer that question because I never quite know how.

Do you remember being told or taught anything growing up about your behavioral expectations as a girl?

I got it from a lot of people but never from my family. With the exception of things like, “You can’t get in cars with older boys,” because that’s dangerous. I definitely had more rules than my brothers but because they didn’t trust dudes, not me. But I was expected to act in a certain way in certain places. Actually I remember—this is a weird story—I went to a dance in the seventh grade and my mom bought me this really amazing dress that I was obsessed with. The dress was a halter and sort of backless but totally appropriate. It was also May in Louisiana so it was hot. And I remember getting a pink slip because of the dress because it was distracting to all the boys. My mom said “Excuse me? I just bought her that dress and it’s really lovely. She’s also in the seventh grade and it’s 95 degrees outside.”

Can you define sexism as it presents itself to you?

It is not being seen as a person. It is being seen as someone who exists for the benefit of others. As a musician, I would define it as anytime I’m made to feel like I am not welcome or that it’s a privilege that I even get to be a part of the industry or that I got there by sleeping with people. None of which is true.

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

I notice now more than ever and I hope that I recognize it all the time, every time it happens, but I feel like I probably don’t. I feel like I’m hyper aware and I’m also way more keen to bring it up and make sure it’s acknowledged and talked about.

Do you think some forms of sexism are so engrained in our upbringings that we can’t or don’t register it?

Yes definitely. But I think the important thing is that we’re talking about it. That is as important as trying to fix it. There is a conversation happening. People are acknowledging it including guys who have recently become more aware. Men are calling themselves feminists now which is great because the definition has changed so much in the media. You’re not a crazy man-hating woman any longer. That’s not what it means and I think that men and women are more aware of the things that are engrained in our society.

Do you react differently to those blatant sexism versus subtle sexism?

I’m more articulate about subtle sexism because it’s less scary. Usually when someone says something really fucked up to me, it’s someone I don’t want to confront because it might be dangerous to say something to him. In that case, I usually keep my mouth shut for safety purposes. But as soon as somebody says something subtle to me, I confront it in conversation. I can combat that easier and in a more mature way.

Can you recall any specific occasions when you experienced sexist behavior against you?

I have a lot of them. It’s happened probably about twenty or more times now that I walk into a venue carrying stuff and somebody says “Who are you dating in the band?” Then afterwards he tells me how good at bass I am, hits on me, and then tries to tell me about how he can play Freebird. You just assumed that I wasn’t a musician then hit on me because I am and then tried to describe how good of a guitar player you are. “Here’s my number, we should jam sometime.” No, you piece of shit. I’ve also had somebody tell me that no one ever hears what I play because they’re staring at my ass the whole time. That fucked me up for a long time. I used to dress way down on stage and never wear any makeup because I didn’t want to stand out in any way. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was getting jobs because I’m a girl. Then a few years ago, I finally said, “Fuck this. It makes me feel awesome to look hot, it makes me feel powerful, and gives me more confidence,” and I literally changed my look over night. Oh! And a couple of days ago I got the most unique catcall I’ve ever heard before. I was carrying my bass and an old man said, “Hey bass player. Let me put your fingers in my mouth.” I thought, “At least your creative…and disgusting.”

How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?

Awful. Helpless. Overwhelmed. Objectified. Like you don’t matter, like you’re not seen, like you’re not a person. It reminds you of how far we have left to go.