Resistance and Catharsis with Downtrodder

Interview by Marina Murayama Nir

Downtrodder summarizes their music as the “sound of the summer for girls in an industrial wasteland.” Facetious though this may be, it’s a fitting description of their timely blend of anti-capitalist feminism and hardcore aesthetics.  Seven explosively powerful, profoundly satisfying tracks comprise their recent release, Downtrodder II. Bleak, trenchant, and yet offering kernels of optimism, the album delivers searing political critiques along with an emotional release that leaves its listeners breathless and wide awake.

Tell me a bit about Downtrodder – How did you form? How do you function as a band (what is your writing process), do you have a particular mission? Have you settled into representing what you had wanted to represent from the beginning?

Downtrodder formed initially with Kate, Dave, and Brad with the goal of forming a feminism-minded punk band. After about 6 months of practice and songwriting, Amber joined, and we settled fully into our hardcore sound. Dave serves are our core songwriter, writing his guitar part first, then introducing the song to the rhythm section to finish composition, then finally the lyrics.

What are some of the main topics you write about?

Lyrically we tend to focus on the ways in which capitalism and Patriarchy harm people, and our own lived experienced being members of a society where people are marginalized on any number of axes of power- anything as simple as living daily as a woman under rape culture, to the encroaching fear of the one sided and weaponized rule of law and both the legislative and legitimized violence parts of the State under an increasingly regressive regime.

Has every moment of the Downtrodder experience been inspiring?

I don’t think every single moment of any project can be inspiring- being involved in a long term project that is politically centered with a sharp focus on injustices inflicted on people by Patriarchy and capitalism can often be really exhausting. But overall, Downtrodder has been an incredibly rewarding and valuable experience for all of us. Being part of Downtrodder has been a wonderful creative, artistic, and political experience.


6. Do you feel like artists and musicians have an obligation to use their work to respond to social issues?

I personally do not believe artists are under that requirement, but I do think for us personally, artistic expression and music are inseparably intertwined. If you have the ability to capture the attention of a room full of people, why not say something that matters???

How has your music impacted your community and surrounding communities?

has, both thru donation of our own profits and thru organization of benefit shows with lots of other wonderful local bands, have donated money to a number of causes and established, including but not limited to Planned Parenthood, The Mazzoni LGBT Center, Morris Home, Standing Rock Reservation, RAINN, NJ Abortion Access Fund, and the Council on American Islamic Relations.

How does your band fit into the hardcore scene in Philadelphia?

You know, we would like to think we would be the Elaine of the Philly hardcore scene, but we’re really more of the George Costanza.

To hear more of Downtrodder’s work, visit their page.

Photo credit: Reid Haithcock
Marina Murayama Nir organizes events for the DIY music and art scene in Philadelphia and helped establish the cross-disciplinary Bort Collective, with the mission of creating spaces that celebrate and embrace femme-identifying, trans, queer, gender-variant, POC, and other underrepresented groups. Marina writes and plays for the bands Secret Seahorse and the Snu Snu Dolls.