Jax Musician Kennie Mason on ‘My Dog Ate My Patriotism,’ her noisy debut album as Siichaq

Already a veteran of Jax's indie scene, Kennie Mason released her first full length album as Siichaq in March | Brooke Jennings, courtesy of the artist

Kennie Mason, lead singer and founder of Jacksonville band Siichaq (pronounced sea-check), always felt like a fish out of water in the community she grew up in. Her music career began early, checking off the rite of passage of many a beach kid: singing in a rock band with a bunch of surfers. After a few years of growth and discovery, she shifted gears. With Siichaq, Mason draws on angst reminiscent of ‘90s grunge, riot grrrl bands and other countercultural sounds of the last decade of the 20th century.

On the Ides of March (March 15), she released her first full length album as Siichaq, My Dog Ate My Patriotism. When I first listened to the singles, “Drain” and “Female Rage,” I thought these were some of the best-produced works I’ve heard coming out of Jacksonville in some time, much of that is the work of Drew Portalatin, who Mason tapped to engineer the record, and whose praises she sang loudly during a recent conversation. 

When we talked, Mason shared a list of inspirations for Siichaq’s sound – from the soft-loud dynamism of bands like Nirvana and Pixies to some more contemporary dream pop and psych-rock fare from bands like Tame Impala and Melody’s Echo Chamber. Mason mentioned how she draws from bands like Rage Against the Machine in the way that they use their lyrics to talk about political issues. 

“There’s a lot of fear that stems from being a woman, and that fear has translated into anger for me over time,” says Kennie Mason of the writing of ‘My Dog Ate My Patriotism’ | Brooke Jennings, Courtesy of the artist

One of the album’s standout tracks is “Shame,” which features overlaid vocals that nod to the production qualities of Brooklyn indie-art-rock darlings, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. If you get the chance to catch a Siichaq show, you’ll hear Mason and Mary Belichis (sibling of Jax band GLAZED’s Justin Belichis) harmonizing to recreate that vocal effect. “Both ‘Female Rage’ and ‘Shame’ discuss the difficulty of existing in a body that you feel like you don’t have control over,” said Mason.

As she was writing the Siichaq record, Mason says the current debate over abortion rights, a beauty industry that pushes hyper-feminine standards in order to make money off of women and girls’ insecurities, and her personal experiences with sexual harassment, were all topics that were top of mind. 

“There’s a lot of fear that stems from being a woman, and that fear has translated into anger for me over time,” she said. That anger makes for the group’s most exhilarating live cut, “Milk Me,” a song perfect for moshing, dancing and shouting along to lyrics about the exploitation of women by the beauty industry: “Idiot girl believes corporate lies / buy the stupid sh** that nobody needs / The men get rich while the woman bleeds.”

Siichaq celebrates its debut album release on Saturday, April 13 at the Walrus in Murray Hill | Carissa Marques

“I’ve always been passionate about social advocacy, but can’t be a politician. I think music and art in general is a vehicle for societal change,” said Mason. “Art pushes society forward, and I wanted to make a project that centered around the social causes that I want to promote, not only as a musician, but as a person.” Throughout the album, Mason swaps her rage for the reclamation of dignity, self-respect and strength.

In making the demo “The Land of Propaganda,” Mason said she started to evaluate the way all people suffer from an unjust government. She’s adapted her Inupiaq name, Siichaq, as her band name in hopes of raising awareness of Indigenous Alaskan history. She says that a few people have told her that Siichaq might be too hard to pronounce or remember. Whether or not people are familiar with the name or her heritage, she hopes the band name can be a conversation starter for those topics at shows or wherever her music is shared. 

Mason is currently working on her second album, a music video, and planning concerts for early summer. Meantime, Siichaq celebrates the release of My Dog Ate My Patriotism on Saturday, April 13 at The Walrus in Murray Hill. Tickets can be purchased here

You can stream My Dog Ate My Patriotism on any major streaming platform.

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