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Woman of the Week: Caitlin Dacey

Caitlin Dacey is not only a kick-ass musician, she also helps young girls in Toronto pursue their own dreams of being rock n’ roll queens. Chatting with the quasi punk and rock n’ roll singer/ musician, it becomes clear that she is a relaxed, extremely intelligent, and professional young woman who is a role model younger women in the world of music.  “It is weird looking at other bands where women aren’t very active. That is why Girl’s Rock Camp is so important to me. It is hard that there is such a disparity in the numbers of women in bands.”

In her 20’s, Dacey began her first band, Bella Clava, with her bandmate Steve. She wished she had started earlier, but chalks it up to societal stereotypes that influences young women to not get involved in rock n roll. “I got into music from listening to it and enjoying it. I never saw myself in a band. As a woman I didn’t know that was possible,” Dacey says.

Despite Dacey’s later start as a musician, she became the lead singer and guitarist with Bella Clava and toured the country. She later joined punk band Public Animal, playing keyboards and vocals with the local punk icon, Ian Burton. She also plays in an all-girls band called Overnight. Dacey is a natural singer with a smoky powerful voice and the sassy demeanour of a rock n’ roll queen, yet carries herself well with an honest and humble disposition.

Caitlin Dacey. Photo by Nic Pouliot.
Caitlin Dacey. Photo by Nic Pouliot.

Dacey is a high school teacher by day. She teaches biology, French, and most recently, audio production. Playing in three bands and teaching full-time, Dacey is definitely busy, but finds she needs both the kids and music to lead a happy life. “I did take a year off of teaching, but I was doing music full-time. I missed teaching and my students,” Dacey says. “It is how I need to live. I need to have different things on the go. The more active I am, the more productive I am.”

Dacey combines her passion of teaching and music by volunteering at Girl’s Rock camp Toronto, a non-profit organization that runs camps, workshops, and an after-school rock party. The initiative is run by female musicians who teach young girls how to make a band, choose a name and logo, and learn the musical instruments. The teachers help the girls to problem solve and work together and then there is a performance at the end of the camp.

Dacey says she is band camp coach and also helps with guitar. She teaches a group of five or six girls and helps them make a band. “There is a lot of emphasis on conflict resolution and how to navigate differences in opinion. It is teaching me lots of tools to apply in my own band,” Dacey says. “The kids teach you how to be positive. It re-inspires me to play music.” The fact that there are initiatives that exist such as Girl’s Rock Camp reflects that there is increasingly more support for girls who want to be musicians.”

Dacey points out that women are often placed in competition with each other, and it is initiatives like Girls Rock Camp that help to remove these barriers. “I absolutely want to be supportive. Not every interaction with other women is going to be positive. You want especially people who are trying things for the first time to have that positive experience. You want them to see other women as a network and allies. Unfortunately we are taught that we are in competition with one another and that there is only space for one woman,” Dacey says. “Working with my students and rock camp and my own interests, and trying to live my life where I’m in control of what I’m doing makes me feel like I’m doing my part in a small way.”

Dacey is also an avid reader and is working her way through the complex and fascinating, Elegance of a Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. She also likes to go rollerblading while on tour so that she can actually see the towns and cities that her bands visit with a limited time scope. If you get a chance to see Dacey perform or have a daughter who has dreams of being a musician, Dacey is a true music inspiration with the classic grace of a true rock n’ roller.

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