Rocket Shop 7/9/2014: Stickshift Recordings

Words by Kiera Magnetti. Photo by James Lockridge.

Kelly Riel and Alyssa Caparas are the brilliant duo behind Stickshift Recordings, a feminist punk record label focused on building a more inclusive community for female musicians in Vermont.

“We work mainly with women, queer and trans-identified punk musicians,” says Riel. “We want there to be more voices heard in a scene that has always been predominantly male.”

Both Riel and Caparas have been involved in Burlington’s punk scene for some time. Riel is a musician herself and has experience with audio production. Caparas has worked extensively within the industry on various design and print jobs. Together they have encountered their fill of sexism and nonsense.

“We went to a ska show around here and were just surrounded by creepy, grope-y guys,” recalls Caparas. “We’ve been at shows where, if there’s a female in a band that’s playing, people will just stand there with their arms crossed or leave and go outside for a cigarette. But if it’s an all-male band they’ll get really into it. Or, friends of ours who are musicians have had people tell them things like, 'you’re pretty good for a girl.'"

“There are a lot of uncomfortable things happening in these spaces,” adds Riel. “And we thought, ‘we don’t need this in the Burlington scene.’”

As a result, Riel and Caparas combined their skills to combat sexist, cissexist, anti-queer or racist sentiments within the scene. They have released two compilation albums featuring music by female punk bands, and are releasing a third, titled Weapons of Construction, during their upcoming “Stickshift Fest.” There will be a limited number of CDs and download cards at the show, and the following day the album will be available on their Bandcamp page.

“A lot of what we do is paid for out of pocket,” says Caparas. “Any money we make from shows or compilations goes right back into the project.”

Stickshift Fest is a “DIY Feminist Punk Extravaganza” that will take place on Saturday, August 2nd at The Monkey House in Winooski, VT.

“The bands playing are a mix of local and out of town,” says Riel. “They will be majority women, majority queer women, and there will be a large trans presence as well.”

The Facebook page for the event declares “Stickshift Fest will be a pro-queer, pro-trans, feminist, positive space. No hate and no bullshit, just people coming together to make a more positive, inclusive, and rocking scene.”

Check out the Stickshift Fest event page at and learn more about Stickshift Recordings at