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Girl Friday Talks Quarantine, Activism, and Virtual Shows

"We were actually on tour going to South by Southwest right before the quarantine order kicked in. We played a show in Phoenix, spent a strange night in an apocalyptic motel, and turned right back around in the morning to drive back to LA in delirious hysterics."

Girl Friday represents the future in countless ways. Pulling influence from No Doubt to Chopin, this self described "genre confused" quartet of young musicians are grappling with the unprecedented reset of the world, as the excitement of touring and opportunity has been ripped from beneath them. Ranging from New York to New Zealand, the members' backgrounds are

widespread, but their music acts as a bonding unit between their differences. We were able to chat with the band about life in quarantine, music making, and the importance of using social media as a vessel of activism.

Where are you all from initially and how did you meet?

Libby: I’m from a little outside of LA. We met in Westwood and then started the band from there.

Sierra: I’m originally from New York. I moved to LA for college, and a friend who was in a failed band with me (and presumably felt guilty that it didn’t work out) pointed me in Girl Friday’s direction because they wanted another guitarist. Then I relearned how to play guitar and sweated my way through what I didn’t realize was a very casual audition.

Virginia: I’m from San Diego, CA. I heard Girl Friday was looking for a drummer so I sent a DM their way about auditioning. They all showed up to my apartment and we jammed in my room for an hour. After a few months I was still getting invited to rehearsals so I assumed that the audition was a success, and it was!

Vera: I’m from New Zealand. I grew up in Naenae, Lower Hutt and I always dreamed of hitting it big. So I packed my bags and I said “Mama, I’m going to LA and i’m never coming back. I’ll make you proud mama I swear I will.”

Who are your greatest musical influences?

Libby: I grew up listening to mainly motown artists and classical pianists so I would say my first ones were George Gershwin, the angelic Elton John, Rachmaninoff, Leonard Cohen, The Temptations. Later down the line, I got heavily into Joy Division, Beck, and Sonic Youth, amongst others. Now, I feel like I just want to be Brian Eno. Is that too much to ask for?

Sierra: I used to watch the VH1 music video countdown every weekend with my mom as a kid. That’s where I discovered My Chemical Romance, Panic! At the Disco, and Paramore. Then in high school and college I got really into bands like Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, and Placebo. I crave the drama! The starpower! The glitz!

Virginia: I grew up on musicals and classical piano, but in high school my best friend’s dad introduced me to the Ramones and my mind was blown. My first influences were probably The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, No Doubt, Paramore, St. Vincent, Tune-Yards, Cake, and the Strokes, but the list continues to grow everyday.

Vera: My mum loved Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell etc as well as Chopin and such. My sister would make me mixes which got me into punk like The Clash, Buzzcocks and local NZ hardcore and grunge. She also loved 80’s stuff like Television and Mission of Burma which was a big influence. I would hang out in my brother's room and he showed me Jeff Buckley and Elliot Smith and also hip hop like KRS-one and BDP. All of that helped me develop a pallet. On top of those I would say my pretty solid tops, Patti Smith, Nick Cave, Sonic Youth, Lou Reed, Brian Eno, Joni Mitchell, Replacements, John Cale, The Clean, Billy Brag and lots more bands.

You have used your Instagram platform as a vessel to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement. In what ways do you think social media in such an important medium for advocacy and activism?

Sierra: Social media can, at its best, provide BIPOC with platforms to share their experiences, so there’s an opportunity to listen to and support folks besides the same white people who make calls about everyone else’s lives every day. I also think it can be useful in providing resources for learning about movements’ histories and why they’re so crucial now. It’s not the end all be all of activism, but it’s something people look at all the time and can spread the word quickly.

What is your writing/production process? Do you each have a typical creative role or is it a generally collaborative experience?

Libby: It changes every time.

Virginia: When we’re writing a hit, usually burritos are involved.

Were you touring prior to quarantine or performing live gigs? How has pandemic affected you as artists?

Sierra: We were actually on tour going to South by Southwest right before the quarantine order kicked in. We played a show in Phoenix, spent a strange night in an apocalyptic motel, and turned right back around in the morning to drive back to LA in delirious hysterics.

How are you staying creative during quarantine?

Libby: I’ve started learning to paint, making little things with my hands, and writing a poetry book. Brain Fever by Kimiko Hahn is an excellent work.

Sierra: I’ve been reading a lot, which helps me as a writer. When I read something that punches me in the proverbial stomach, I keep track of it and try to morph it into something I can do myself. Also I’ve been listening to Songs from the Big Chair by Tears for Fears on a near constant loop. Maybe I’ll create the dramatic ‘80s piano pop album of my dreams.

Virginia: I’ve started to work on music again, but at the beginning I really wasn’t in a mood to work on anything in that realm. Since music was out I started exploring woodworking and so far I’ve found it to be a really satisfying craft.

Vera: Writing music I guess

Who are your favorite current artists - big or small?

Libby: To name a few... Helado Negro, Rosalia, Tim Presley.

Sierra: I love Alex Cameron, LOLAWOLF, Harry Styles (of course), and PVRIS. Plus Troye Sivan’s new single has made me cry on every listen.

Virginia: At the moment Soccer Mommy, Genevieve Artadi, SASAMI, Vagabon, and illuminati hotties.

Vera: Gracie Fields, DRINKS, Onda Vaga, Yoko Ono, Moondog.

What musical era are you most inspired by?

Libby: All of them together at once!

Sierra: I gotta go with mid-90s rock. If I could’ve seen Placebo playing Without You I’m Nothing in 1998, I would ascend to another realm of existence.

Virginia: Right now!

In songs like “Decoration/Currency” and “This is Not the Indie Rock I Signed Up For” I hear a lot of Hole meets The Cure influence. Are those bands that you have inspired your sound?

Sierra: What a compliment! Absolutely.

Have you been experimenting with digital shows and do you think digital shows will stick around after things return to normal, as they are such an accessible way to experience new art and music?

Libby: I dunno. I need sweaty bodies, people screaming too much, and getting too drunk.

Sierra: We’ve done one digital show thus far, but it’s been difficult to get it together when we’re all in different places. That sort of thing will never replace live experiences, but I think they can be fun. I certainly have a kind time tuning in when other artists do it.

Virginia: As long as they’re engaging or interactive I’m all for it, although it’s definitely not a replacement for live shows. I think the Beths have been creating some really fantastic stream gigs.

Vera: Not a fan but I’m one of those assholes who can’t deal with the present or the future.

You can follow Girl Friday on Instagram and Twitter @girlfridaytm to keep up with their musical endeavors.

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