Edge

TESTöKRA: The Miami Hurricane sits down with founder of alternative, feminist band

Junior Carolyn Helmers performs with her band at Churchills in August. The band, Testökra, maintains an alternative feminist style.

Carolyn Helmers, a UM junior majoring in history, spends more time writing about feminist history than reading about it in textbooks. Her all-girl, alternative-music band, Testökra, formed last winter as a means for Helmers and her two bandmates – bassist Anna Hart and drummer Ale Campos – to voice their opinions on women’s issues.

With an aggressive sound and politically charged lyrics, Testökra’s music shows women what it means to be a feminist today.

The Miami Hurricane spoke with Helmers about her musical inspiration and how she and her bandmates dispel rumors that feminists are man-haters.

The Miami Hurricane: Given the genre that your band is in, how do your studies at UM relate to the themes in your music?

Carolyn Helmers: I’ve been interested in feminism since I was about 12, because that’s when I started listening to feminist bands. But then it really kicked off at UM. Since I became a history major, I just got very, very into social thought and feminism and the civil rights movement.

TMH: Can you tell me a little bit about your involvement with WVUM?

CH: I got involved with the radio literally the day after I started at UM. I’m a big fan of hardcore punk. They needed a host for the hardcore punk show, so I filled out the application and everything, and they were super friendly and super supportive … Starting fall semester, my friend Morgan Coleman and I will be hosting a punk show, which is kind of the same thing but more varied, with subgenres. WVUM is the best thing I ever did because I got so much

more involved with the local music scene than I was, and that’s really what got me to go out and go to shows and meet people.

TMH: How did you get so involved in this genre in the first place? Most people don’t know it exists.

CH: It’s definitely a seemingly random genre. When I was 12, I started listening to Hole and Courtney Love. … It’s very relatable as a girl because all of the lyrics are about women’s issues and it’s all sung by women. As a result, I’ve always preferred girl-sound bands.

TMH: What are some bands out there that have inspired you?

CH: My two favorite bands that really changed my life are Hole and this other band, Babes in Toyland. … Heavens to Betsy is a really big influence because they’re very political and I’ve actually found myself writing songs that kind of sounded like Heavens to Betsy before I had even listened to Heavens to Besty … And Bikini Kill was probably the most famous Riotgrrrl band … It’s really cool to hear young women sing such heavy and angry music, especially because the mainstream today is Nicki Minaj and Regina Spektor, which is cool but it’s not really at all comparable to the ‘90s girl bands.

TMH: So what does the word ‘feminist’ mean to you?

CH: Feminism means wanting equal treatment, equal rights, social rights, economic rights and political rights between men and women. It’s not about hating men at all. We don’t hate men. It’s basically confronting the subtle sexism in today’s world because it’s definitely out there. Just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I read Cosmo and watch rom-coms. It’s about being a conscious individual and thinking about the way society treats us.

 

For more information, visit Facebook.com/Testokra.


September 5, 2012

Reporters

Lyssa Goldberg

Lyssa Goldberg is online editor of The Miami Hurricane. She is a senior majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in math. She has interned at Mashable and the Miami New Times, and her work has also been featured in The Huffington Post.


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

At 7:27 p.m Tuesday, University of Miami football coach Manny Diaz tweeted a GIF of a swirling Hurri ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday: ▪ As Miami awaits decisions from its potential 2019 qua ...

A six-pack of Canes notes on a Monday night: ▪ FIU has decided that its Nov. 23 football game agains ...

Dewan Hernandez hit another NCAA roadblock on Monday, but the University of Miami forward will take ...

Jeff Thomas will be joining the Illinois Fighting Illini after all. After a few days of discussion a ...

Grantees aim to eliminate opportunity gaps and biases in different realms and improve brain injury t ...

The film launches the 2019 film series for the UM Libraries Cuban Heritage Collection. ...

Here’s a go-to list of dates you should keep an eye on throughout the semester, along with some tidb ...

For more than 77 years, UM Hillel has provided a vibrant and diverse “home-away-from-home” that is f ...

University of Miami experts weigh in on the largest increase in carbon emissions in eight years. ...

The University of Miami football program has hired Dan Enos as its offensive coordinator and quarter ...

University of Miami head women's volleyball coach Jose "Keno" Gandara announced Monda ...

University of Miami Athletics announced Monday that it will host its fifth annual Celebration of Wom ...

After a weekend bye, the Miami women's basketball team resumes action Thursday evening at 7 p.m ...

Pictures from the No. 17 Miami women's tennis team's season-opening action in the Miami Sp ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.