Toni Mastrota of 'Pleasant Peasant' on Being a Woman in Music

Name: Antonietta (Toni) Mastrota

Year: Junior

Age: 21

Hometown: Palm Harbor, FL

Major: Communication Science Disorders

Her Campus (HC): Let’s jump right into it! When did your love for music first begin?

Toni Mastrota (TM): Oh my gosh, that was so long ago. My brother started playing guitar and I thought, “I can do that.” So, I did! I started singing by myself and got guidance from my high school chorus teacher. I joined an acapella group my first year at FSU. Now I’m in a band called Pleasant Peasant!

HC: Tell me about Pleasant Peasant. How did you get involved?

TM: I actually met the lead guitarist out one night. He said that they were looking for a vocalist. I auditioned and that was it!

HC: What was the audition process like?

TM: It’s funny because I didn’t realize it was an actual audition. I was just singing and goofing around with them all, just being myself. I was really excited to be working with other musicians. Then, as I was leaving, the bassist Jake said, “Hey, that was a really great audition, one of the best we’ve had.” And I immediately thought, “Oh my gosh, what did I just do. That was really and audition?”

HC: Well, it seemed to work!  Who are all of the band members?

TM: I sing the vocals and play acoustic guitar. Nate Wattz also does vocals, plays rhythm guitar, and raps. Alec Alfaras plays lead guitar and sings. Jermaine Jacques plays drums. Then Jake Sacks plays bass. It’s just me and a lot of boys!

HC: Awesome! So, tell me about the band. What kind of music do you guys play?

TM: Rock, alternative, blues, and a few others. We have so many different things going on. Sometimes Nate raps. We are working on some jazzy stuff right now. I really love our band because I know that I can come to them with anything and they will at least try it.

HC: Does Pleasant Peasant get a lot of opportunities to perform?

TM: All the time! Gosh, this month we are playing almost every weekend. Our EP release party is at Pugs Live (on Tharpe Street) on March 6. We are really excited about that. We’ll also be playing at Burrito Border a couple of weekends in March. They just started doing live music, which is pretty crazy. Also, we just booked Proof at Railroad Square for April 17. You can check our Facebook page for all the information.

HC: How can people listen to your music if they can’t make it to these events?

TM: Well, we have our EP coming out on March 6. We’ll have hard copies. We’re also looking to put it up on Bandcamp, Spotify and iTunes. Again, all the information will be on Facebook.

HC: We are definitely excited to get our hands on that! What advice do you have for someone looking to get involved in the local music scene?

TM: Go for it! I wasted so much time trying to perfect my work and my talent before I ever showed it to anyone for fear of judgment. But, finally I realized the courage to expose yourself is empowering and the motivation that you have to improve your craft is a talent in itself.  And now I feel like I’ve gotten infinitely better by exposing myself and working with other musicians. If you want to pursue music and the opportunity presents itself, just go for it! A big part of it is exposing yourself to local music and net-working. If you want to be a good musician, you have to go out and listen to other great musicians.

HC: What is it like being a woman in music?

TM: Being a woman in music can be really hard sometimes, especially in the local scene. I see so few females involved.

HC: What makes it so difficult?

TM: I have been ignored at so many different gigs. People assuming I’m not part of the band because I’m a girl or the opposite will happen. Sometimes people will congratulate me and commend me for being a female musician without having listened to my music. It’s weird because I, by no means, contribute the most. People can just be very preferential.

HC: Have you done anything to combat this attitude?

TM: I just advocate for women who are trying to make it in music. I’m not sure what it is about local music that is so intimidating. I’ve met so many talented people that are afraid to expose their talents. I was that person at one point, but you just have to go out and do it!

HC: That’s great advice. You seem like the epitome of a well-rounded woman.  I noticed that you’re not even studying music in school.

HC: Why didn’t you choose to study music in college?

TM: Music wasn’t ever something I was interested in studying. I just really enjoy it. But, my studies are something that I’m also very passionate about. I think that keeps me well rounded. But, if the opportunity to perform professionally was ever to present itself—would I take it? Absolutely.