By Madeline Higgins/ChicagoMusic.org
Local sounds have been molded by international influences - be they temporary visits or permanent relocations - for decades. In honor of that, we're highlighting 4 international female musicians you should see perform in Chicago throughout June.
Sunday, June 7 at Bottom Lounge
Legendary Japanese pop-punk trio Shonen Knife (literal translation: Boy Knife) return to Chicago's Bottom Lounge on June 7. Active in underground DIY scenes since 1981, Shonen Knife was a pioneering all-female punk rock band when female musicians were scarce in rock music scenes. Their presence has been crucial for both women hoping to "make it" as musicians and Japanese artists hoping to break into the "international pop underground" for the past 34 years.
Shonen Knife's music combines DIY aesthetic with absurdly flippant lyrics and a catchy pop sound; they have self-described as "oo-oo-ultra-eccentric-super-cult-punk-pop-band-shonen-knife!" As referenced in the self-description, Shonen Knife has developed a global cult following-with fans including Redd Kross, Nirvana, and Sonic Youth-over three decades of artistry.
Country of origin: Japan
Event information: Bottom Lounge, June 7, doors @ 8 p.m. (show at 9 p.m.)
Saturday, June 13 at Schubas
Born in Florence but raised in England, Olivia Chaney has been immersed in musical training since she was a child. Chaney grew up studying composition, cello, piano and voice before focusing on jazz at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Her stripped vocals and use of a harmonium create a uniquely haunting tension that sets her apart from other female singer-songwriters. Chaney has released a number of collaborative and solo projects since 2010 on labels including Jagjagwar, Nonesuch and Drag City.
Country of origin: Italy, England
Event information: Schubas, June 13 @ 7 p.m. (21+); $10 (doors $12)
Sunday, June 14 at Lincoln Hall
Nneka, 34, has been making an international name for herself in the world of hip-hop and soul since 2004, when she opened for Sean Paul in Hamburg, Germany. Nneka performs in both Igbo - a southeastern Nigerian language - and English, creating a distinct sound that has propelled her career ever onward. 2005's Victim of Truth, her first studio album, has been compared to Lauryn Hill's "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." Nneka both sings and raps about political and social issues like capitalist inequality, poverty and violence. She has toured with a slew of well-known artists, including Nas and Damien Marley in 2010 and Femi Kuti, son of government-assassinated afropunk pioneer Fela Kuti. Despite these collaborative achievements, we're grateful that her June 14th show at Lincoln Hall will allow her talents shine on their own.
Country of origin: Nigeria, Germany
Event information: Lincoln Hall, June 14 @ 8 p.m. (18+); $15 ($20 at the door)
Thursday, June 25 at Schubas
Born in Guadalajara, 29-year-old singer-songwriter Ximena Sariñana began her career as an actress in 1994. Her interest in music wasn't formally realized until somewhat recently; although she had plenty of experience with composition and performance from a young age, her debut album "Mediocre" wasn't released until 2008. Grammy-nominated "Mediocre" was followed by a sophomore self-titled release. Sariñana is currently working on her third album, "No Todo lo Puedes Dar," from which she has released one single. Her sound incorporates jazz and Latin influences into an overarching pop aesthetic.
Country of origin: Mexico
Event information: Schubas, June 25 @ 9 p.m. (18+); $15