GR!C: Day 4
Our song is nearly finished! Yay! We pretty much had the music down since day one, except for the last minute bass solo/bridge I added yesterday. The lyrics, on the other hand, were only finalized today. First we had no lyrics, then we had some really good lyrics, but also some doubts as to whether they would fit with the music. After that came some lyrics that fit with the music as far as rhythm and melody were concerned, but seemed to completely lack meaning—and not in the cool Talking Heads “Stop Making Sense” sort of way, more in the lack-of-feeling department. So, we decided to take the really good lyrics that Ruadhan wrote, change the melody and tempo, alter the phrasing a bit, and...Voilà! Great song. The transitions still need tightening — right now it sounds like we’re playing two different songs — so there’s still work to be done.
Band practice is one of my favorite parts of the day. Everyone is so happy to be there, so happy to be playing, that melodies and beats come quickly and easily. You play something you like, and if your mates like it, it’s in. If it doesn’t quite fit, you change it. Suggestions are freely given in a positive and enthusiastic way. This isn’t always the way songs come together at camp, though. It varies from year to year, from band to band. In fact, my very first year, our band decided two days before the show that we didn’t care for the direction our song was heading in, and rewrote it completely.
We had a music video workshop today. Larissa Zageris, the woman leading it, told us that some of the best music videos are made with little to no budget. She showed us some examples, one of which she directed and filmed herself, right here in the Wicker Park neighborhood. Pizza for the crew was their only expense! Here they are, for your viewing pleasure:
Larissa and her friends filmed this in just one day: Created by a 19 year old fan, with nothing more than time, sharpies, and a great idea: Again, time and ideas are really all you need. OK Go are the masters of this: A Million Ways Music Video (embedding was disabled)
And now for the promised interview with Jessica Hopper!
Could you start out by talking about yourself and your book?
My name is Jessica Hopper. I live in Chicago, where I am a music and culture critic. I write for the Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, and help pick the music for This American Life. I’m the author of The Girls’ Guide to Rocking, which is a book for girls and young women on how to start a band, play music, put on shows, buy instruments—with a lot of encouragement and women in rock history thrown in. I’m currently on tour with the book and two all-female bands, Katie Stelmanis and The Ghost Bees.
So, how did you acquire all of this useful information?
My whole life has been about music, making it, working with it, writing about it—so a lot of it was culled from my life, but I also have a lot of cool and resourceful musician friends and managers, agents, historians, enthusiasts, producers, sound engineers, etc., who helped fill it all in.
You mentioned that many places you visited during the book tour did not have girls rock camps. What was that like? Are girls' reactions to your book affected by the absence or presence of a rock camp in their town?
Towns with camps definitely have a community of younger musician girls who are tied together and know one another, which I think is so great. The reactions are about the same everywhere, but in the cities without rock camps girls often say they are the only girl they know who plays or is obsessed with music like they are.
Why do you think it's important for girls to rock out?
Making music and being in a band and touring are the most fun I have ever had, so I wrote the book to encourage women and girls to pursue it for themselves. And also, so that nothing stands in their way. I‘ve always wished more women were making music. It can give a sense of purpose and an outlet that can be incredibly fulfilling.
You've been covering GR!C since the beginning. How do you think the camp has evolved over the years, and what direction do you hope it to take in the future?
They have become bigger and more organized and widespread. I just hope there are more and more and more and more until every city that needs one has one. Or three.
I've had some people ask me why there isn't a rock camp for boys. Have you ever been asked this? If so, what did you say?
There are rock camps for boys, though not exclusively boys, but if you go to rock summer camps everywhere, boys are very much in the majority. I think it's really valuable for girls to have a supportive female environment, find peers, have something that is just for them. Boys don’t need that per se because they are rock’s/music’s/the world’s dominant paradigm—they already own it, so they don't need the same kind of permission and encouragement—they can simply continue with their existing privilege rights.
You're a rock critic; if you were reviewing the End-of-Camp Extravaganza, what would you have to say about it?
There is not a more inspiring show I’ve attended all year—I love being part of so many girls inaugural foray into the music scene.
What are you listening to right now? Are there any new acts that you think deserve some attention?
Well, I‘m on tour right now and so I listen to a lot of podcasts—Chance Dances mixes, cooking shows, NPR shows. I really love Screaming Females, Katie Stelmanis and Dominique Young Unique as new faves.
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