By: Allison Lapinski
Girl Friday is a feminist collective that has taken the quarantine time to unwind, focus, and prepare for the release of their debut album, Androgynous Mary.
Following last summer’s release of their EP entitled Fashion Conman, under Hardly Art, the band shared the stage with The Beths, Marika Hackman, and Disq. Fashion Conman featured influences spanning from the 70s-90s, all with a modern lens and free of the restrictions of one singular genre.
Carrying over from the success of their EP, the first two singles on the LP continue to challenge systems of oppression and the norm. “This is Not the Indie Rock I Signed Up For” and “Amber’s Knees: A Matter of Concern” are packed with head-banging riffs and lyrics that evoke a greater consideration for their expression of frustration and sadness.
This week, WLUW zoomed with Vera, Virginia, Libby and Sierra to talk more about the new album and their experience touring so far:
WLUW: Everyone’s obviously in different places now, are you still near LA or not everyone?
Sierra: No. I’m currently in New York at my mom’s house by then.
Virginia: I’m in LA around.
Libby: I am also in LA Highland Park, baby.
Vera: And I’m in New Zealand
WLUW: Is everyone doing as well as you can be?
Virginia: I’m doing way better since the zoom started.
Sierra: Since I got home, I have pretty much made a concentrated effort not to tell anybody I know that I’m here. So I have just been sitting on my mom’s couch, doing very few things for the past two weeks. And it’s incredible for me. I feel better than I have in months.
WLUW: Sierra’s in an undisclosed location for everyone trying to get a hold of her.
Sierra : This is the only time, I’m hacking into the grid and then all my devices into the Hudson River
Libby: I’m good. I just had my Spanish lesson, so I’m slowly switching back into English.
Virginia: Are you taking actual lessons now or just Duolingo still?
Libby: Oh, I do like a combination of three different apps and then I have a tutor that I speak with every week. This is how I’ve been doing my quarantine.
WLUW: Just jumping into the album here, who is Androgynous Mary and how did you guys decide on that as the concept for the album?
Libby: Androgynous Mary is all of us in the whole universe. You are Mary.
Sierra: We have another document full of names we considered for the next 18 or so albums and they’re all pretty fantastic. It was originally going to be called Spiritual Cornhole, which would have been funny. But then Mary came to us in the dead of night. We all woke in a cold sweat and we thought, you know, it’s gotta be Androgynous Mary.
Libby: Really though, there’s this mural in Echo Park that looks like Jesus and also Mary at the same time. Yeah, she definitely has a mustache. And months later she was born.
WLUW: I was going to ask if there was any religious symbolism. Cause that’s kind of cool when people refer to god as a woman.
Vera: Well there’s definitely a lot of religious indications and symbolism in there. And the record, not to be completely obvious, but I think it’s definitely part of it. The words Androgynous Mary have some fun little ideas there.
WLUW: Was this LP a lot different than recording, writing and doing everything for Fashion Conman, your EP?
Virginia: Well, I guess for Fashion Conman, we had all that material from before we signed [to Hardly Art]. So that was stuff we were already playing and had written. And those are kind of the top picks we had that weren’t already out yet. We put them together because we had the opportunity to record. And then the album, I feel like some of it we had already started working on at the time of Fashion Conman, but a lot of it either came from just writing for shows or just people writing individually and then bringing it to abandon us, like transforming it into something else. Probably half of it came from a time crunch just needing to have an album done and being like ‘we’re writers, right?’ And then just kind of getting together and think-tanking it and putting something out there.
Sierra: I remember we were on tour a year ago, with a band called The Beths, and we were both about to record albums at the time. And do you remember when Liz said something? She said “I have maybe 30, 40 songs. So it’s just down to narrowing it down.” And we had written, maybe five and a half, and we were like, “oh totally.”
Virginia: I remember when they asked us, do you have enough for an album? Cuz that’d be great. We were like, “Oh yeah, we’ve got three full songs and then we’ve got three pretty like solid ideas. I feel like one is starting to develop inside my soul.”
Vera : I feel like we have this thing where we always jam and we’ll come up with ideas and instead of actually using that idea, we just put it into this song. That’s never been created. That’s just like got a million chunky parts to it. Like I don’t even know what it is. We haven’t even put any of those on the album.
Libby: We’re just putting it into Hot House. That’d be a release, an album but it’s just going to be an hour long experimental noise set.
Sierra: And then you’re going to hear all of us being way too confident about it. Like, “Oh, okay. This is the best song anyone’s ever heard.” And audio clips of us really believing in it for 40 seconds and then revisiting it the next day and realizing it’s not good.
Vera: In all seriousness, I do like that one Hot House riff though. Sometimes when I pick up a guitar I’ll just play it.
WLUW: Well, it sounds like you guys really streamlined everything, from what’s been released so far. It doesn’t sound all over the place.
Vera: Thanks, I think we’re pretty good at working down to crunch time, you know? For us it’s always been like, “Oh, we’re just about to go on tour. Like we’ve got a week, like let’s do it.” We definitely put a lot of effort then towards the end there, we crossed craftsmanship.
WLUW: This is a terrible analogy, but it’s kind of like when you watch like Chopped or one of those cooking shows and last minute, it looks like it’s not going to come together. And then they make something that’s out of this world and they go through the next round.
Libby: They make like a shrimp patté with blueberries dressing. And you’re like, what the hell is that? But it also looks so good. Yeah.
WLUW: Anyways, I’ve been watching a lot of TV as you can tell.
Libby: Chopped is the best of them.
Sierra: My whole family has just been watching What We Do in the Shadows. First of all, I had only seen the movie and I was very hesitant to get into the show to fall in love with four new vampires. But I’m deep in season two now and it is truly changing me in a lot of ways.
WLUW: So what about this first song on the album? It’s called “This is Not the Indie Rock I Signed Up For” Currently, there’s a lot of stuff coming up about, women in indie rock and People of Color in indie rock, standing up and saying that they are sick of being the token on the label. Was that any of the deeper meaning to the song? Or was it more playful?
Libby: It was mainly just a response to how people always put us into different genres. People will say that [Girl Friday] reminds them of the Go-Go’s. People say that we’re poppy and I feel like our live show is very not that. So I guess it was like a ‘Nope. Sorry. We’re not the Go-Go’s.’
Sierra: I mean we were really saying that we’ve heard so many different comparisons. Someone called us similar to Motorhead once, but then the next day someone will say we sound like The Bangles and it’s just very confusing. And I remember the first time we played for Jason who signed us to Hardly Art. He had never seen us play when he signed us. So the first show he came to, we were kind of stressed that he was going to think that our live show was like the music we’d put out on the EP, which it’s not really, it’s a lot more insane. So we were kind of stressed that he would think this is not the indie rock for us. So it was kind of a joke of a lot of those things, but that’s not to say that what you were saying, isn’t completely true. And if people take that to mean what you were saying, I think we’re also fine with that. Just kind of tongue in cheek, I guess.
Vera: And also to add to all that, a lot of the lyrics for this album were written on tour. So I think to myself as well, I always think of this added meaning of this idea that you finally get to do what you want to do. And then you’re still for some reason not happy and not content. So it’s really this idea of, hang on a minute, this is not, you know, this isn’t what I signed up for, but then you find solace in the people around you. Definitely a lot of different meanings to that one song. I think that the, the, the idea initially was just that it’s kind of tongue in cheek, but I think it’s sort of morphed its way into some other meanings.
WLUW: You didn’t even plan on releasing this album probably during a pandemic on top of all of the current call for action. You have all been talking about touring, what is something that you do miss about it or something that makes you think that you’re glad you’re not touring right now?
Vera: I feel like you always want what you can’t have. And I definitely miss the hell out of touring and I just think I was a little brat that I didn’t enjoy every second of it now. Damn you. But I think it’s pretty grueling, you know, it’s hard on the old body and on the mind. So you kind of have to go into it and try to stay in a good headspace.
Libby: I feel like I definitely miss playing live and I miss the energy and that side of making music. I feel like that’s just half of it, you write and then you play, and you get all the energy from the crowd and from your band mates. But I think the rest of the tour, I’m happy that I have a bed, that I can sleep in a stable mindset all the time. And the tour is really stressful aside from shows.
Sierra: I miss it. I do think it’s really fun and on a less intense note, I do love organizing the merch as a main personality trait of mine. So, I can’t run my numbers right now, which is a little upsetting, but I’m finding other ways.. I think it’s been nice. I haven’t been able to spend an extended period of time with my family in a while. So it’s just nice to come home and hang with them and make music here with my brother and stuff. So it’s been quite nice. Relaxing.
Virginia: I miss different places and getting out of LA.
WLUW: Did you do any of those Instagram live streams or anything like that?
Sierra: We did one briefly. We were in at the very beginning of the quarantine. So we had tried to go on tour. We were on our way to play South By and then we played one show in Phoenix and then immediately turned around and came back to LA and it was a very sad pilgrimage. Libby’s family has a cabin North of LA. And so we went up there for a little while and tried to figure out what on earth was going on and what this pandemic was and what was happening. And we did a recorded live show. My alarm was going off at the end for several minutes and I was convinced it was somebody else’s alarm, even though nobody else had any reason for their alarm to be going off. So you can probably just fear that for a couple of minutes at the end, which was cool.
WLUW: Adds to it. Extra elements.
Listen to the full interview on WLUW’s Lakeshore Lady: Relocated on 7/17 at 11am-12pm CT. Androgynous Mary is out Aug 21 on all platforms.