Caroline Paquita is an artist, zine writer, and musician. Her previous projects include forgetters, Bitchin’, Brazen Hussey and a bunch of writing, flyers, and album covers! She’s always doing a bunch of stuff, including Womanimalistic Press.
At the time of this interview, forgetters was Kevin Mahon, Blake Schwarzenbach and Caroline Paquita. They were in Olympia, WA on tour with Street Eaters and played that night at Le Voyeur. The interview was conducted at the studios of KAOS 89.3 fm on the campus of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. Bitchin’ was a band in Gainesville, FL that notably included Samantha Jones.
I’m Caroline Paquita. I play bass, currently in the band forgetters. Besides having played bass for about 12 years, I’m a visual artist and do zines and a lot of other visual art like painting, drawing, sewing… kind of everything. I’m originally from Miami. I grew up in Miami eighteen years… was there trying to get into punk. I was a difficult scene down there just because Miami is just so just terribly, terribly strange. I love it. I love it. But there’s not such a huge scene down there except for back in the day, like maybe Scam punks or other awesomeness like Los Canadiens.
I moved from Miami to Chattanooga, TN of all places. Because the punk rockers I knew in Miami, we were all migrating to this land where there was awesome shows. I was maybe supposed to move to Gainesville and I did not want to do it. But after a while, I kinda was forced to go to school in Gainesville. That’s where I began playing music with Samantha Jones. We started Bitchin’ – that was my first band. (We) were together for about five years or so and put out a couple 7 inches and a full length. All the records were on No Idea, except for one that was on a German label that seemed to fold pretty quickly.
While I lived in Gainesville I was involved with Wayward Council for a long time and did a lot of art there. Tried to do benefits and keep the space open… booked a lot of shows… toured with Bitchin’… was in school and I don’t know, all these all these different projects have been… a lot of them have been a labor of love we can put it that way.
It’s only now that I’m in my 30s that some of this work is coming back, just from having done art for so long or playing music that I can have a little Etsy store and people will say, “oh I’ve seen your work in this mural” or in a Slingshot cover or something like that. So it’s been a lot of work, but it’s something that I probably would have done. I mean, it’s something that drives me to make art and music.
There was a period of time when I had a really intense repetitive stress injury where I couldn’t really use my arms to draw or play music. It really drove me nuts. In the past couple years to be able to get back into everything full force has been really gratifying. It’s awesome.
What has been a continual inspiration to me as a musician has been bands like Mission of Burma. It’s a kind of music that you almost don’t even need to know the lyrics. Their music is so emotive it just retains all these qualities that really resonate with me. I would say a lot of my bass playing has been modeled on that kind of feeling that they seem to put out there. (Mission of Bumma) and probably Wipers. I know with Bitchin’, obviously a band like Bikini Kill would be really important just because were all women trying to deal with the sick society that really doesn’t care for women, actually.
It’s just been interesting, I mean it’s hard, for someone who plays music, I actually don’t know that much about other bands. Surprisingly enough, I’m kind of asked a lot if I know what’s going on and I don’t. Because I tend to stay at home a lot and only really go to shows up if we’re playing them. I’m a little bit of a Luddite in that sense and a little burned out from setting up shows for so long – where’s that you need some time to work on your own work.
For anyone who’s wondering how to do whatever it is you want to do… you have to first try it out. I’m often approached by younger women who are interested in playing bass or guitar and are wondering how you go about it. Seriously, it’s major practicing and playing with other people and trying to just get into the habit of using those muscles – whether that’s in your brain or your actual hand. So I would say, if I were to be giving out any advice, “Just keep doing it, even if you don’t think you’re very good at it. You will be good at it at some point.”