As high school stereotypes run, the coolest kid on any campus is recognizable from a distance and takes on a new dynamic up close. Kaitlyn Freed (12), AP Studio Art enthusiast and weekend bass-slapper for the band Seaswallow, is distinguished around school by her flippy skirts and flattering septum ring. Among rowdier crowds, she is recognized by her manipulation of her blue electric bass, which she used to woo over hard-rock music appreciators at the Teros Gallery in September, during her first live performance with Seaswallow.
“I was nervous out of my mind, but once I started playing with my band, it fit, it really fit,” Freed said.
Freed’s kineticism on stage drew musical admirers instantly.
“There were some guys praising me at the gallery. I was like, ‘Oh my god!’” Freed said.
Just as she is saying this, an apparent fan of Freed’s runs over and proceeds to exalt Freed’s staggering talent. Freed plays it cool, as a true rockstar would; she couldn’t imagine her life without music anyway.
“It feels like home when I play bass. Even guitar, too,” Freed said. “I’m meant to play music. It feels right to me.”
She has certainly dug her heels deep into the soul of rock, channeling a Joan Jett-esque spirit of defiance. Freed doesn’t seem to give a damn about her reputation, which has carried her far from the female norm.
“People think of rock bands, and they think of a whole bunch of guys, so a lot of girls think it’s not girly to play instruments,” Freed said. “Girls aren’t really encouraged to play instruments, for the most part. There aren’t enough girls playing instruments, not enough girls in bands.”
By channeling her feminine fervor for her art, Freed has not allowed the shortage of females in bands to scare her off of the music scene. Rather, she looks to the mighty few for further motivation. Freed’s favorite band, Mindless Self Indulgence, features the bone-chilling, fearless, female Lyn-Z Way on bass.
“What made me lean m
ore towards bass [than guitar] was probably being inspired by Lyn-Z Way. Seeing a kickass female woman playing instruments just really made me feel like I can do that too,” Freed said.
As the youngest and only female member of Seaswallow, Freed’s surefootedness is important to remembering that she belongs among her bandmates and in the rock community as a whole. From her steady tone, Freed seems to have never doubted her rightful stance in music from when she first struck a string four years ago.
“I thought, ‘I wanna play bass too,’ so I just kind of picked it up and it really fit with me,” Freed said. “It feels really great to be a girl playing bass and to be seen at the same level as the guys who are playing.”
The steely glint in Freed’s eyes shows that she is fully capable of someday surpassing that level. Verbally, she expresses her interest in Seaswallow’s future shows and album, as well as possibly starting a band of her own. Between band practices, Freed also dabbles in soft rock and ska, inviting the challenge of mastering different techniques.
For now, Freed focuses on school and her academic future, in which she hopes to become a “doctor by day, bassist by night”. A bass will always stand in some room of Freed’s abode.
“Music is my home,” Freed said.