It was months before the Weinstein effect and #metoo at the Wildflower Arts & Music Festival in Richardson last May. Clio Cadence, a teenage vocalist from Dallas, stood on a stage and talked about the importance of consent. Then she performed a song with lyrics written about her experiences with sexual harassment. The finished single, “No Means No,” was released last month.
At a time when powerful men all over the world are facing sexual abuse allegations, the song is certainly relevant. But “No Means No” is not about the behavior of adults in the workplace. It’s about a teenager facing sexual abuse in a public school.
Formed in 2016 and fronted by 16-year-old Cadence, Love Past Blue is a teenage indie pop rock band. At just 14, Jack Hickman is a stunning guitarist adding subtle layers of funk, classic rock, and jazz. Joining Cadence and Hickman are Logan Ellis Sheppard on drums and Joe Galate on bass. With a sound reminiscent of No Doubt, these young musicians cut their teeth playing local shows and high-profile gigs in New York City and even the Whiskey a Go Go in West Hollywood.
Their live shows impressed management consultant Vicky Hamilton, a music industry veteran known for her work with hundreds of bands, including platinum artists like Guns ’N Roses and Poison.
“They were so good,” Hamilton says. “They have great songs, they’re great showmen, and they had their visual effects together with screens telling the stories of their songs. I couldn’t believe they were so young. I started talking to the band and then I jumped in a van with all their parents. We went to dinner, and I’ve been working with them ever since.”
With Hamilton onboard, Love Past Blue is currently recording its sophomore album with Sylvia Massy, a producer who has worked with the likes of Johnny Cash, Tool, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Performing at festivals and famous nightspots, touring, and recording with a veteran producer, Cadence is a teenager living the life of a rock star.
Hamilton admits that sexual abuse is rampant in the music industry. “My first piece of advice to Clio was, ‘Don’t go anywhere alone.’ I tell young girls to be in tune with what’s going on around them and that they are allowed to say no.”
But Cadence says she was abused at a North Texas high school.
“It happened to me when I was 15,” Cadence says. “I was in school and I was groped twice by the same guy. The second time it happened I almost got into a fistfight with the guy, but some classmates held me back.
“Flirting is cool,” she continues. “Flirting is awesome if two people are into it. But there’s a difference between flirting and having someone objectify you.” She says other students catcalled her in hallways and made unrepeatable comments in classrooms.
“I went to my counselor and told her about,” Cadence says. “But nothing came out of it, so I wrote the song. The same things have happened to a few of my friends. It’s hard for girls to build up the courage to speak out about it and sometimes people don’t believe you or they think you are asking for it with the things you wear.”
“Clio called me and I told her to write a song about it,” Hamilton says. “They wrote it in March and it’s a big song that needs to be heard. Many women have suppressed the feelings they have about sexual harassment for a long time. People are coming forward about things that happened 10 or 20 years ago. I’m glad they are finally giving a voice to what they feel, and Clio has done that beautifully.”
Cadence decided to make a statement with the lyrics of “No Means No.” “Doesn’t matter what I’m wearing, doesn’t matter how I act,” she sings. “It doesn’t give you the right to put your hands on me if I never said yes.”
Now busy with touring and recording the album in Oregon, the band is homeschooled. Cadence says girls have approached her in tears after shows, grateful to hear her message in “No Means No.” But the song also has “haters” who respond in comment sections online.
“With a strong message there’s going to be lovers and haters,” Cadence says.
She seems unfazed by either reaction, but inspired by the massive cultural shift against tolerance for sexual harassment.
“We wrote this song and then all these people started coming out with their stories,” Cadence says. “It’s for the better. I want people to listen to my song and know that it’s OK speak out.”
Love Past Blue
Curtain Club, Dallas