The Coronavirus works hard, but Girl Friday works harder.
Los Angeles based members include Vera, Libby, Sierra, and Virginia who recently put out a music video for their latest single “This Is Not The Indie Rock Music I Signed Up For”. Their video features unique and candid moments from their last tour and gives us all the feels - similar to what you get when you pop through your stories archive on Instagram. On August 21st they will be releasing their highly anticipated full-length album Androgynous Mary just in time for listeners to sink their teeth into right as summer succumbs to the fall. Girl Friday has truly blended genres and pure emotions into this fantastic piece of work.
We got the chance to walk through some questions with them. We cover quite a range of topics such as their origins, album specifics, and the Black Lives Matter movement we passionately support. Their wit and perspectives will have you moving from question to question. There are a lot of delicious layers to peel back here so without further ado, let's jump into this.
Would you do my readers the honor of introducing yourselves and share what instrument you play in the group? How did the four of you meet? Was there a magic moment when you all knew Girl Friday needed to be a band?
Vera: Thank you, wonderful human person! We met on the dance floor as all lovers do. It was instant Magic. Hi, I’m Vera and I play guitar and use my vocal cords to create abnormal sound sometimes too.
Libby: My name is Libby and I play bass, sometimes guitar, and sing. We met because the invisible malevolent sirens within the deep dark universe whispered all of our names in our little ears and by happenstance, we found ourselves together with instruments in our hands.
Sierra: One time I answered the phone to a telemarketer who asked if Sierra was available, and my response was, “It is here.” I felt the same when we all played together for the first time. So, hey! I’m Sierra, and I play guitar and sing.
Virginia: I was taking a pleasant stroll outside on a cloudy day when all of a sudden I fell into a cavernous manhole. When I regained consciousness, the others were pulling me into the light and all I wanted to do was play the drums. That was also the first time I was late to band practice.
With artists putting out more genre-fluid music, the idea of “rock” is a spectrum that I’m truly fascinated with. How would you all describe your sound?
Libby: A boisterous bunch of toddlers playing with pots and pans in the kitchen when mom isn’t looking.
Sierra: I am genuinely surprised by how slippery a grasp I have on what our music sounds like when I hear people record our live set. I hope it sounds as confusing for everyone else.
Virginia: Someone once described us to me as a mix of Tenacious D and Sonic Youth. Someone also likened us to the Go-Gos. I’m sure they’re all correct. Always trust a music critic.
Los Angeles is a playground made up of legendary venues and scenes. Are there any special places you all love playing at or even just love attending?
Libby: House of Tomothy + Church of Fun + Non-Plus
Sierra: My knowledge of LA venues is actually quite sparse! I tend to end up at our gigs without really knowing how I came to be there, and I blame this on my critical lack of geographical awareness. But the best shows I’ve seen in LA have been at the Hollywood Palladium.
Virginia: I’ve played a lot of shows at places I would rather not remember, but after many of our gigs we would visit Swingers Diner in Hollywood to indulge in Stuffed Grilled Cheeses, Hardcore Soy Shakes, and delirious conversation. RIP Swingers.
Word on the street is you all have a full-length debut album coming out in August called Androgynous Mary. What are some themes we can expect from this new album?
Vera: I would trust the street more than the word itself. Expect nothing so when you get it you will be like “You know what, this is sufficient”.
Libby: Deep internal despair and then moments of pure joy.
Sierra: What a story it is. A tragic tale of romance, passion, and a murder most foul.
Virginia: A gas station snack fueled fever dream that sends you into a cold sweat.
Of all the albums you have collectively put out, what makes Androgynous Mary unique?
Vera: She is our firstborn so you always like them a bit more. Staring at a blank wall mostly.
Sierra: Young Mary feels like our first truly collective pile of parts, and we do love her for that.
The first single off the album “Amber’s Knees: A Matter of Concern” contains lyrics that feel relatable, especially in this current COVID-19 climate. What was the idea behind this song?
Libby: There is a veneer of propriety. Your neighbors, dressed in red gingham and multi-pocketed cargo shorts, have thick-slat fences with non-biodiverse lawns. They bring you Betty Crocker cookies laced with some peculiar kind of sleeping agent. Big Brother is watching.
Sierra: Exploring the alternate universe that undoubtedly exists in which we are all contestants on Rock of Love.
How have you all stayed busy during these COVID q u a r a n t i m e s?
Libby: Yo he estudiado español todos los días. And have been working on a solo experimental album. Just for fun.
Sierra: I am deep in the throes of Stephen King’s It, and truly no one I know can hear the end of it. I resemble Pennywise more and more with each passing day.
Virginia: I built an island for my kitchen because I’m at that stage of papahood.
In May, the music video for “Amber’s Knees: A Matter of Concern” came out - serving us some Vintage Sims Axl Rose or dare I say...Joe Exotic?? What was the true inspiration behind this video?
Vera: Yikes! Bret Michaels! Rock of Love (the best season of it).
Libby: Season 2 baby.
Sierra: If anyone’s spidey senses tingle at the sight of our leather-clad protagonist, we will be thrilled to hear their theories.
Virginia: It’s all about those knees. Those haunting knees that have seen too much...
Changing topics for a sec - It has been really great to see the group using your social platform to speak up about the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s amazing to think that music and activism go hand in hand. How do you all plan to continue this fight against racism and injustice? Are there any resources or advice you have all found really helpful and would like to share with readers to keep them more informed about what they can do to help combat injustice against BIPOC?
Vera: Great question. It is our absolute duty to speak up about racial injustice. Certainly, nothing we should get a pat on the back for. For some people, it’s really brave to speak up but for me as a left-wing white person from New Zealand, it’s not particularly brave cause there isn’t really much risk. Some things we have been doing which we encourage others to do is, get involved in a local organization that is already doing this work, attend the protests if you can (bodies on the street is really powerful and effective but have a plan and check who is organizing it), email and call your local council members/mayors asking to invest funds back in communities and away from policing, sign the petitions asking for justice for those murdered at the hands of police, educate yourself, listen, talk to family/community members, think about your own personal skill set and industry and how you can best help the movement, donate to bail funds and organizations doing this on the groundwork if you can. As musicians we are also trying to look at our industry and our own part in it and how we can work to be better allies. There are so many great resources, honestly, I would just direct you to the BLM organization. They have been doing this work for quite a few years now and have all the resources and clear actions on their websites and socials. Also just listen to Dick Gregory interviews. I have had an absurd obsession with him upon returning to New Zealand after COVID and his voice is so comforting. He was just there next to every important person in history and has so much knowledge to impart. We are in a moment where people are waking up to their own power and I have faith it will only snowball, people power is infectious. We are not claiming to be perfect, we are always learning and I think what will really prove our solidarity and commitment is in the long rather than immediate term. The proof is in the pudding.
Libby: What Vera said. Read James Baldwin. Read Angela Davis. Read Bell Hooks. Read Claudia Rankine. Join my book club!
Sierra: I agree with what Vera and Libby have written! I also think it’s important as a white person to really listen to BIPOC leaders, educators, friends, what have you so that I can better fight to provide the support that they want for their communities and not the support I or we think they need.
Virginia: A strong yes to all of the above. I think it’s also vital to remember that all progress has to be intersectional. It can be easy to only get involved or be vocal about what you identify with, but if you want to bring about change you need to see how everyone’s struggles are connected. There is no gender equality when Black Trans Women continue to be murdered. There is no justice until the Prison Industrial Complex is acknowledged and dismantled. There is no peace until the police are defunded and communities are given the proper resources to thrive.
How would you like to see the music industry transform in the future to become more inclusive and representative?
Vera: It just needs to realize it’s own roots. Rock evolved from rhythm and blues, blues, and jazz… I mean hello! There is no rock n’ roll without Chuck Berry (as questionable as he was for other reasons). Also, there are so many queer artists who helped push the envelope in music Lou Reed, Freddie Mercury, Grace Jones, David Bowie, The B-52’s, Frank Ocean to name a few. Yeah just look at your history and digest who has and is producing the music that is constantly evolving and breaking the most boundaries and then give those music communities the love and recognition they deserve for their contributions.
Libby: Not to mention that Sister Rosetta Tharpe was the one that inspired Chuck Berry + Elvis to play guitar. Rock n’ Roll was started by a black woman!!!!!!! She is the true King of Rock and Roll. Even take a look at where the genres are going. Punk has evolved into hip-hop and grime. Rock isn’t the most punk thing anymore. Hip-hop is. The way I see it is that the genres of guitar-based punk are just nods to the past. What Vera said, if you think you’re making a completely new sound, I bet your ass that your music was inspired by a black person’s music. Hire more black A&R’s. Hire more POC trans A&R’s. And another thing, genres are fake. Also, another side note, the “world music” genre is fake and diminishing.
Sierra: Again, all true. We’re committed to recognizing and learning how to combat our own parts in a system that was built around denying BIPOC power, recognition, and resources for making music at all. For one thing, we’re actively trying to diversify the groups of people we work with so white voices are not the only ones heard. And even that step comes from being willing to listen to and learn from people who bring our attention to often discomfiting notions that, no, we have not been doing all we need in order to secure representation for BIPOC in the music industry around us.
Virginia: The other day I was driving around LA and I saw a billboard for a radio station that read something along the lines of “Diverse, New Sounds.” Who was featured? Three white artists whose vanilla pudding songs have been playing on the radio for 10+ years on repeat. When more Queer and BIPOC are allowed the opportunities to become DJs, publicists, A&R reps, venue owners, promoters, engineers, and label execs, then those billboards will start to recognize artists that are “diverse” and create “new sounds.”
As far as live performances go, it would be great to see venues taking part in their communities beyond just shows. Offering up spaces for people to use is really important, especially in big cities where rent makes access to facilities cost-prohibitive to smaller organizations. I would also love to see more venues that are welcoming to minors.
Where do you all see your music taking you in the next year or so?
Vera: Hopefully a tour???
Libby: Explore every sound under the sun.
Sierra: A selection of very sweaty stages!!! And o boy o boy, if we dream big enough, I might even have a chance to start up the ol’ tour blog again.
Virginia: There are so many diners I need to experience all across the USA.
Thank you again for taking the time to answer these questions! Before we wrap up are there any last words you would like to share for the readers?
Vera: Defund the police, invest in communities, support the people's budget (Los Angeles). Even if you're feeling apathetic about democracy and the state of politics in America, please use your VOTE to get that racist egoist out of office.
Libby: Let me be absolutely clear. We want total abolition, not reform. We want restorative justice. We want communities to be dependent on each other, not some malevolent entity that dictates the future for our black and brown neighbors. Get involved in your local community. Start a community fridge. Start a book club. Start a safe music space. Volunteer. Call your representatives (if you live in the U.S.) and tell them you’re unhappy with the police budgets. Don’t be tricked into being apathetic and narcissistic. Be a good friend to yourself.
Sierra: We can all agree on the above, my chickens!! As Stan Uris’s dad once said, “More baths and less bullets, that’s my motto.”
Virginia: Listening and actually hearing others takes practice. Having hard conversations and establishing understanding takes practice. A lot of internet social justice can make it seem like change is something that happens after canceling one person or winning one victory. Demanding change should absolutely always carry urgency, but keep in mind that progress is something that happens over time and requires perseverance. Once you take the first steps towards getting involved, you might be surprised to find that you’re more resilient than you imagined.
If you would like a good place to start we recommend the following…
Follow your local chapter online as well.
(which is also a fantastic resource that explains and supports #defundpolice even if you’re not living in Los Angeles)
Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay's examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country's history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America. Available for free in its entirety on YouTube.
Order from Eso Won Books in LA - not Amazon*
Check out the latest music video for "This Is Not the Indie Rock I Signed Up For" out now and keep an eye out for Androgynous Mary out August 21st, 2020.