by Michelle Bacon
Amy Farrand has been making music in Kansas City for almost 27 years as an accomplished songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She recently assembled a dynamic seven-piece band—Amy Farrand and the Like—which played its first live show in November. Though The Like has only played two more shows, it has earned a coveted spot on the Middle of the Map schedule.
How do you feel about being invited to play the fest, especially since your group is fairly new?
I’m excited for the new band to play this year. MOTM is one of my favorite things that happens in KC. Because we are so new, I was a bit surprised Chris asked us, but I’m glad he did. It will be the first time a few of my bandmates have played the fest. We’re all pretty stoked about it, and I’m looking forward to four days of fun.
Who do you most look forward to seeing this year?
Aimee Mann! I’ll try to see as much as I can. I’m planning on trying to see at least two bands an hour, unless someone is blowing my mind and I can’t pull myself away. It happens.
What value do you think MOTM has to Kansas City?
I have heard people call MOTM the Midwest’s answer to SXSW. It’s still a baby compared to that, but I believe it does shine light on the incredible things going on in this city. As it grows, so will we.
Do you think you’ve been able to inspire or pave the way for other LGBT artists in KC?
People have told me over time that seeing me play inspired them to pick up an instrument, or to be bold enough to get on a stage and play their own music. It’s flattering and humbling. A few of them were from the LGBT community, but most of them were other women.
When I was starting out, I did everything face first. I learned by failing. If someone learned something by watching me, even if it was what not to do, then I am happy to have been that inspiration.
What challenges do you think we still have in KC as LGBT artists? And what advantages have you observed through your years of making music?
I have never felt challenged because I was an LGBT artist in this city. I never tried to hide who I am, and I never felt that it was an issue. It certainly never had any effect on my ability to play my instruments, or to perform. I have had more direct opposition as a female artist. I think it’s because, especially in my earlier days, I was playing more aggressive music. Rock and roll was always a boy’s club. I mostly laughed it off. Their insecurities were never my problem.
Advantages? Keep an eye on your girlfriend, son.
How do you think our LGBT community can become more intertwined with the music community? What can we do?
I have never understood the chasm between the two. I mean, everyone likes music, right? It seems to be improving though. I’m not sure if it’s because there are more musicians who are out, or if there is just less of a stigma about it these days. When I was coming up, the gay community was all about club culture—dance music and partying. Live music wasn’t even on the radar. Trying to talk club kids into coming to live shows was futile, even if they were my friends. I wasn’t really interested in the club scene. I preferred loud bands to DJs. I hung out in “straight” bars to see shows (it’s amazing I ever got dates at all).
These days the club scene is gone, at least in KC. There used to be several huge dance clubs, with giant sound systems and light shows. They have all vanished. Obviously, there are not enough patrons to continue to support them these days. Hopefully that means tastes have changed, and maybe that crossover will finally happen. The LGBT community at live music shows would be great. We’ll see. Maybe?