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Music » Sound Stories & Interviews

No Bullies Allowed

Portland singer Sallie Ford lays down the law about gender roles

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One kick to the groin, two faces smacked by serving trays, four jabs to the jaw, four beer bottles smashed over heads, an elbow to the chest and, for good measure, a punch to the gut; that's how singer Sallie Ford handles a group of rowdy bullies in the video for "Party Kids" off her band's new album, Untamed Beast.

Ford says the video for "Party Kids"—a quaking, rebellious rock track—was nothing more than an idea conjured up by its director, Matthew Thomas Ross. Even so, it certainly embodies the frustrations people can feel when others treat them poorly.

"All people can be more humble," said Ford when asked about the video by the Source. "For me, [the video] represents girl power, which is a big theme on the album."

She's right. Much of Untamed Beast's vintage rock and roll is aimed at deconstructing stereotypes. Especially ones typically associated with women. That notion is summed up on "Party Kids," when Ford's bluesy Ella Fitzgerald-like voice reminds listeners that women can do more than they sometimes get credit for by repeatedly singing "Baby, I can handle this."

Ford pounds that drum even harder on the rambunctious "Bad Boys" when the singer declares—"I can fuck. I can drink. And I don't care what you think."

"I suppose there is still some sexism in the US," explains Ford. "My song is sort of a role reversal, saying that I can be tough, drink beer, be open about sex and be powerful as a woman."

The North Carolina transplant broke onto the Portland music scene in 2010 with her ultra-catchy 1950's-style rock and roll song "Danger," eventually signing a record deal with Partisan Records and releasing the band's debut album, Dirty Radio, in 2011.

Since then, Ford and her band, The Sound Outside, have appeared at the Sasquatch! Music Festival, performed on David Letterman and even opened for Jack White—major milestones that have Ford and company comfortable making bolder statements on their sophomore album. Almost every track on Untamed Beast resonates with unbridled bravery. Ford even devotes the song "Shivers" to her desire for sex.

Ford is a statuesque woman; strong and ladylike. She wears mid-thigh dresses almost all of the time and in person sports a fun-loving, almost dorky and affectionate demeanor. But when she's on stage holding a guitar, it's all business. She exemplifies the lyrics of her songs and showcases the diversity of her personality by performing driving rock and roll while flashing sweet smiles at the audience.

The last thing she wants is for people to peg her as a typical female musician. She'd much rather be known as a rock and roll performer.

"It's frustrating that women are sometimes separated in music, especially rock music," explained Ford. "In general, being more open-minded and realizing that every person has a masculine and feminine side could help men and women relate better and realize they're equals. A lot of woman I know embrace being sassy and wild. It's the way of the modern woman!"

Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside

2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 23

Les Schwab Amphitheater

344 S.W. Shevlin Hixon Dr.

FREE

About The Author

Ethan Maffey

Both a writer and a fan of vinyl records since age 5, it wasn't until nearly three decades later that Oregon Native Ethan Maffey derived a plan to marry the two passions by writing about music. From blogging on MySpace in 2007 and then Blogspot, to launching his own website, 83Music, and eventually freelancing...

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