Monday, June 10, 2019

"This is actually the first all-girl band I've had on here": Interview with the Cannibal Girls

Cannibal Girls on  the steps by Seashipsailing,
before Saturday's show at the crab shack
we eat men and also make music🕷☠️💕
book us baby

Two sisters and two of three Cannibal  Girls on the way to see Bikini Kill.  
by Seashipsailing,
Cannibal Girls 
before Saturday's show at the crab shack
Sisters and two of three Cannibal Girls after Bikini Kill

Cannibal Girls rehearsing in Brooklyn.  
Canniabal Girls early rehearsal in Garrison, New York, 2018. 

Viv and Mick above, 
Viv and  Ari  UP middle. 
Viv below.

Clit Kat performing  Steve Buscemi. 

  Steve Buscemi in 1986 Parting Glances.

Lately, my favorite band has been the Cannibal Girls, a high school punk band
 formed in the fall of 2018.
And played an experimental set on Saturday at the Crab Shack.
They didn't play the Vampire Song.
Instead, they debuted their cover of the Clit Kat's Steve Buscemi song.
"Everyone loved it..." 
The next band improvised, 'The Cannibal Girls are so cool...'"
A few weeks before the show, they sat to talk about music and influences with Sam on RFB.
Here is the transcript.

RFB: Hey, thanks for tuning into RFB. We're live. My name is Sam, I'm here every Wednesday at 7:00. I'm here with Cannibal Girls. This is pretty crazy. Say hi, guys.

CG: Hi! Thank you so much for having us.

S: I'm so excited. This is actually the first all-girl band I've had on here which is kind of upsetting since the show has been going on for almost a year and I've had a lot of bands come on for interviews but I'm so excited that you guys are here and I'm so happy to talk with you now.

CG: Yeah we're super excited. Thank you.

S: So you guys don't have any recordings unfortunately but we're working on that, right?

CG: Yeah we are.

S: So we're thinking we'll just talk a little and play some songs at the end. Do you want to go around and introduce yourselves and say what instruments you play?

J: Sure, I'm Josie, I'm the drummer.

D: I'm Dodi. I play bass and guitar.

M: I'm Maya. I also play the bass and guitar and I sing.

S: Nice. Alright. I'm so so excited you guys are here. So I wanted to start out by going into... I always think it's interesting to find out how everyone got into music in the first place.

M: I started playing piano before elementary school. That was the very start of it. I did that for two years. Then I did violin for seven. It was for orchestra and recitals and all that. Then I quit in 7th grade and I picked up the guitar and I started teaching myself and then I started taking bass lessons. So that's where I got to where I am now.

D: I have kind of a different story where I kind of started more recently, like two years ago. I think it really all started when I started reading about more of a female music scene. I read the book Clothes Music Boys, which you've definitely read too and that kind of blew my mind. I was like, "Holy shit, girls are so cool. I want to do this." So I started playing guitar and exploring more music and taking more things in and I prefer the bass now, honestly. But that's how it started for me.

J: I think my story is more similar to Maya's where I started playing classic flute as pushed on to me by Jewish parents when I was like 7. So I've been doing that for literally a decade now and it's still I think I love. I had a period where I quit in the middle like, "This isn't to me. It's too regimented," and then I picked it back up to figure out if I could adapt the type of music I wanted to play, the type of music I was personally interested in, expanding the repertoire of stuff I was playing. I was also in a song-writing ensemble in school and I was like, "I'd like to be more actively involved in the composing of music." Because in a rock song-writing group, you don't really have a lot to do on the flute. So I started playing the drums. I'm pretty much totally self taught. I've had two-odd-ish lessons and I've only been playing a little less than a year now, but these guys have been super supportive. The classical music background helps.

M: Since we're all a little newer to our instruments, it helps because we don't have this pressure where someone is going to be like soloing for five minutes. Dodi and I switch off on instruments all the time, like in the middle of the set. And we all song write. So we'll mix and match and help each other.

J: It's also like, with what Dodi was saying, I think it's kind of nice for us sometimes that we're all sort of novices because one, [inaudible], two, it's a really good way to connect with your audience and three, I think it's a thing that makes sense for us as a band and as women, almost. I think what Dotie was saying about five minute solos where men treat their instruments as extensions of their dicks a lot of the time. It's so much showing off of technical prowess instead of creating --

M: This stuff has happened so many times. Men who are so amazing at their guitar but there's so many people [inaudible]. I think for us, the most important thing is creating a kind of new sound. One that we like, but we haven't heard a thousand times.

D: Content that actually expresses what we're trying to express in that moment.

S: So I haven't heard you guys live which I'm really sad about, but I'm going to your next show. But I've seen some of your videos. You guys -- we're not trying to go into genres here -- but it's kind of like punk, alternative...

CG: Yeah.

S: I had an interview with one of the first female punks in the 70s. Cynthia from the B-girls and -- you can find that in the archives -- she was talking about some of the exact same stuff that you're saying. You know, males with the solos.

CG: How much has the status quo of music really changed in terms of male behavior in 40 years?

S: She's still doing music stuff and she just went on a reunion tour with the B-girls to Japan. And she was saying that things have really not changed. In Japan, she said it was great, but you have to think about how much has changed. I hope you guys are having better luck.

D: Kind of, but I've seen so many bands -- and so have Josie and Maya -- with teen bands, and we haven't seen a single female band play. You hear about riot grrrl and you hear about all this stuff and you think things are progressing and things are going well, it's all basically better. But the fact that we -- we haven't played that many shows -- but we've never played with a female musician.

CG: Hello Mary, once.

D: It was an all female set but it was at the all female show, but it wasn't even all female.

S: I remember when I first got into teen music, that's what the show was kind of founded upon. Trying to expose teen artists. It was a lot of male musicians. But I think the first all-girl teen band that I found was pretty sick. They were amazing and I was like, "Oh my god, girls can do this." Just thinking about the fact that I've only interviewed boy bands.

J: Right, but even when you do see women in music, a lot of the time it's just limited to vocalists. And absolutely no shade to vocalists. I love our vocalist. But it's a really big problem that women aren't seen as being capable of doing things like literally outside of themselves a lot of the time. I think it very much perpetuated the idea that women are self-centered, or divas, or only want to perform when they're in the star role. I fucking love being a drummer.

S: Yeah. It's awesome.

D: What I like about the bass is that it's the background. It determines which way it's going to go. It's not in the front/center like a guitar soloist.

S: But it really determines the way the song goes. I used to be in a band like freshman year and they graduated a couple years before I did, so we just kind of tapered out. But I played bass in that band and we had two drummers in our band, which is pretty rare, but they would switch off. Being a girl band -- we were one of the only all girl bands. I had no idea how much pressure...

J: You feel like you're a spectacle almost a lot of the time. And it's also like, you were in an all-girl band. We don't want to be like, "Nobody has ever come before us. We are trailblazers." We owe a lot to other people in this scene and all the cool femme punk stuff that has come before us. But also, the fact that there is a history. It still underscores the fact that it is such a rarity.

D: On this topic, it even goes beyond performing in bands as a whole. Even in conversation, there is a lot of that sort of thing that you were discussing when you see a lot of male bands. There's a difference in the way and attitudes toward male musicians and female musicians. Just the interactions. I notice those things when I have a conversation.

CG: For sure.

CG: I get so much more, "You're so cute." Or "I love your energy." That's not complimenting us.

S: Being able to dress a certain way and create a certain image is important for a band and just because girls are dressing cool and creating that image, people only compliment... They see them for what they dress.

CG: Right, and I guess we do sort of plant the schtick with the name and everything, but it's also... we would like to be more than that.

CG: Even right now, we were talking about this on the way here. We're dressed differently. All of our images... we have common ground. That's the bottom line. We all look really cool.

S: You guys do.

CG: But we all have different energies.

S: I wanted to get into how you guys met each other and how the band formed, because like you said, you're fairly new.

D: We all met at shows. I met Josie at a show at ICE and I walked home with her and I remember she mentioned she played drums and I was like, "Be in my band, be in my band, be in my band." So I kept on talking to her and then I met Maya at a show and we hung out. She said she played guitar and I did the same thing and she was like, "Okay but where are we going to find a drummer?" So I DMed Josie and then three days later we were a band.

J: Maya and I go to school together, but we did not talk.

M: We were aware of each other's existence but beyond hallway stares, that was it.

J: Now it's nice because we're kind of a unit. We like each other as human beings.

D: We really like each other.

S: That's honestly a rarity. But I'm so glad you guys got together because you seem so cool.

CG: Aw, thank you.

S: How are you scoring shows and stuff?

CG: Connecting. Knowing people, talking to people. Mostly through friends, really.

CG: We know a lot of people who are in other bands.

CG: But if anybody listening to this wants to book us... I think honestly, we haven't played a ton of shows yet. But we're interested in doing more. We're hoping more stuff comes up. We have a couple things upcoming. We're lucky to have friends who have tried to help us get into places.

S: Yeah. That's so great. I need to see you guys. I'm so excited now. So I want to ask you about your songwriting process. You guys write your own songs, which not many beginner bands do. It's all covers and whatnot.

CG: We started on that. Our first practice was mostly just talking about songs we wanted to cover, then Dodi... her grandparents have a house upstate, so she was like, "We should do a retreat thing" and we went there and we just played music in her grandpa's basement which has the fucking set up.

CG: It's tricked out.

S: Why does your grandpa have...?

D: Basically, he was a manager for a lot of bands during the 70s so he has all of these [inaudible]

S: What kind of bands?

D: Like Hall & Oates

S: Oh my god!

D: But yeah, so he also worked with [inaudible] so he has all this equipment.

CG: It's tricked the fuck out.

S: So you have a recording studio in your grandpa's basement?

D: Basically.

CG: So we went up, and because it's fucking upstate New York, we went on a hike and we just brought little notebooks...

CG: We went to record but then we went wandering down to the railroad...

CG: We were absorbing the nature. We have a song called "Basement Song" because we recorded there.

CG: Josie plays the flute on it and it's fire.

S: We need to talk about the flute. I was so excited about this one. So how are you... I play cello and when I was in my bands, they wanted so badly for me to incorporate it, but I was like, "Hell no." I felt so self conscious. I'd be the only one sitting down. Smack dab in the middle of the stage. But there are other bands that use...

CG: The only thing I think of in this genre is... I really don't want to make the comparison of us to Jethro Tull, but like...

S: There's a flute solo... I swear... something about a train...

CG: It's not coming to me...

S: I'm going to have to look it up.

CG: Yeah. I mean, I love Lizzo who's a hip hop artist who plays the flute. She's crazy. She's so great.

S: Does she beat box?

CG: Yeah, there's a video of her hitting a shoot while playing a flute and it's preposterous. It's so good. For them, they were like, "You have to!" I was a little hesitant, but I think specifically with "Basement Song"... I'm sitting at the drums which also makes me feel a little less awkward, and I'm playing the kick while I play.

CG: It always catches everybody off guard.

[All talk over each other]

CG: I'm so extra about it... I hide it behind the bass drum...

CG: We can hear people going, "What the fuck?" It's so good.

S: That's amazing. Even more reason to go to one of your shows. Do you have any coming up?

CG: Oh but now we spoiled it.

CG: We have a tentative thing March 23rd. There's another show that is possibly coming up that doesn't have a date yet at Maya's and my school that is for collaborative education. We will let people know. Oh yeah, and we just recorded a web series for Basement Generation. An episode for them. So that should be coming out in three-ish weeks.

S: Wait, what is this? I have no idea.

CG: It's a series of mini-episodes of different teen bands. I think it's a fairly new thing. But it's cool.

S: Exactly my type of [laughs]. How have I been missing this? Anyway. We'll play the first song that you guys liked. "Fairytale in the Supermarket"

CG: We cover it at every show.

[All talk over each other]

CG: This is our only consistent cover. We love this song.

S: It's a great song. Alright. Here we go.

[song plays]

S: Alright, we're back. Such a classic. So great and so fitting for you guys. So we were just talking during the break about some Brazilian, Latin American thing...

CG: That's a thing that's been of interest to me. I'm trying very hard to expand -- I think all of us are -- the types of music that we're listening to. The types of possible influences for us.

CG: What we want to play and incorporate.

CG: Yeah, like in my second life as a classic flutist, I'm also doing a lot of Brazilian stuff. The genre "Choro." Which is very cool and has been very fun for me and very informative both as a song-writer and a drummer. The rhythms and the ways in which melodies are constructed is very interesting and very different. That's a thing both Maya and I have had a vested interest in the number of genres and the types of rhythms and the melodies that exist in the amalgam that is punk music, quote, unquote. Shout out to my dad, he's been trying to get me to convince them to let us do a cover in this song that's in Spanish which is so fire. It would be so cool to do a more punk twist on a song that's not punk and that's in Spanish. So yeah, shout out my father.

S: Covers are the best. The first song I played while we were setting up, that was MGMT's cover of a Bauhaus song, which is the weirdest combination but so good.

CG: Fitting somehow.

S: I love covers. Especially when you make it your own. So many bands, like the Lemonheads do so many great covers. They did a cover of Mrs. Robinson that's so different... It's great because it's a punk cover.

CG: I live for that type of thing. I think it's specifically important in that punk has been such -- in addition to being dude-dominated -- white-dominated. So aggressively.

S: Oh my god, totally.

CG: Almost exclusively for females because of how aggressive it has been in the past. Especially in its origins. Like the mosh pit.

CG: It's a very masculine energy. That's not to say that us as generally feminine people can't emulate that type of energy, but it is so...

CG: Dodi specifically goes hard as fuck.

CG: But it's just... it doesn't feel that great to just be drowned by that immediately when you enter that sort of environment.

CG: It's not supportive.

CG: Moshing is an art. Please don't just punch me for no reason.

S: Oh my god, mosh pits. I like to be right in the front at every concert I go to but then the mosh pit is right behind me.

CG: I fully got pushed onto the drum kit one time. I was like, "Okay, I'm splayed out on top of this random man. I love this."

S: A lot of shows or a lot of bands that I like, a lot of guys are in it so I'll go to the shows and it's all guys. There are people there in the mosh pit protecting you in their own --

[all talk over each other]

CG: I love when you're at a mosh and there is an outspoken kind of "Take care of each other." If you fall, everyone goes to help you up. That's the greatest feeling, honestly.

CG: It's interesting there's this culture of toxicity that in many ways is like, people really actively work against it. Not to toot our horn, but I feel like that's a thing we're trying to do. That's a thing that a lot of the shows, a lot of the bands we really love, it is that supportive type of mosh pit where they're literally trying to murder you.

CG: There are definitely murderous mosh pits out there, I have no doubt about that.

S: There are some metal core/heavy punk bands that are like... My friend showed me a video of this once. They go up on stage and literally punch the shit out of each other. They go around in the mosh pit and instead of slam dancing, just kicking in every direction.

CG: That's insane. But whatever rocks your boat...

S: Yeah. But be aware. That's not my thing.

CG: Especially like you're saying... The metal scene is very exclusive because you physically cannot be in that situation.

S: I go to a good amount of metal shows and I have friends that are really into it too. The smaller metal shows are so much fun because they're just a bunch of headbangers. I saw Behemoth and a bunch of... It's crazy, just a bunch of sweaty dudes with their shirts off.

CG: It's also a fine line specifically with metal that metal tends to be such a technically involved genre, just purely in terms of a lot of the theory knowledge and the skill on the guitar that it takes to write metal. We the band were talking about this a couple days ago that it's interesting to see how a lot of bands straddle that. There are so many elements in metal that I think are cool as shit. Splitting the interval and the incredibly weird sound and I'm obsessed with the history of it... Playing the exact middle of the interval which is like during medieval times, people thought you were summoning the devil and you could go to jail for playing that shit. I'm writing a thing right now that has a lot of interval splitting.

CG: There's so much weird shit with music theory history. I learned recently that the reason a lot of older classical, and even before classical, songs are in 3/4 is because it's the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

S: I didn't even know that.

CG: It's crazy. It's so weird.

S: I take a music history class at my music school and the shit that goes behind music is so crazy. Also you have to think about -- the classical music composers, they were the rockstars of their day. When Beethoven came out with new stuff, everyone was like, "Whoa!"

CG: Him specifically.

CG: Liszt and Chopin fucking hating each other's guts. They had this incredibly weird rivalry. There was a comic about them throwing down over who was really the Playboy of this musical era. Like, who was getting the most pussy?

CG: That's the question we should be asking. Which classical composer got the most pussy?

S: There's an answer to that. There definitely is. Classical music is such a crazy thing and not enough people appreciate it. I'm serious... Just think about, they came out with this new type of music.

CG: That's also a thing... Another genre that women were written out of. Mendelsohn had a sister Fanny. Her shit goes hard as fuck.

S: Clara Schumann wrote the best piano trios and no one even...

CG: This is so good. I love this.

S: Bach's cello suites... the prelude to the first suite is not Bach, 100%.

CG: That's insane.

S: There are a lot of studies on it and people don't believe it. Anyway...

[all laugh]

S: The next song you guys chose is Ping Pong Affair by the Slits.

CG: The Slits is another band that we were really inspired by. I talked about it briefly when I was getting into music... I read the lead guitarist's autobiography and I think they're completely different because they're in a different time period and punk was just coming to the front, but again, they were just a group of girls. Young adults. Aria, the lead singer, was only 15 at the time, so she was really young. They were a group of girls that didn't know what the fuck they were doing. Before Viv started in the band, she had been playing for three months. Her boyfriend bought the guitar for her because she didn't know how to play. Kind of a similar situation where we're all learning from each other.

S: Well punk is a great genre.

CG: What I love about the Slits is that their music is kind of weird. It's a sound you haven't really heard over and over again. It's a literal raw energy.

[Song plays]

S: Alright we're back. That was Ping Pong Affair by the Slits. So you guys had a show recently that apparently -- we were just talking about this... You guys played a show recently with Cleo.

CG: A different Cleo.

S: Anyway, you guys played the show and apprently it got shut down?

CG: It was an all-female house show, which is one of the first all female shows I've ever seen, considering it was --

CG: Female lineup.

CG: Yeah. Us, Hello Mary, which are fire. It was really cool, but we'd never been to a show where it was all female and we were like, "This is going to be a really great thing" and after us and halfway through the next band, it got shut down. The neighbors shut everything down, which was really disappointing considering it was the one opportunity where girls got the platform to show their music.

CG: Specifically it was an issue that so many of the people who came gave absolutely no shits. People who came to listen to our music were smashing cans on the street and smoking

CG: People pulled up for the sites outside. We had a suggested donation. For the amount of people who were there, there's no way even half of them even paid attention to that, which is so disrespectful.

S: That's so rude.

CG: It's such a difficult thing because you want to have a suggested donation because we really want the shows to be accessible. That's a thing that's important to us as a group, to the people who helped us organize the show. There's also the issue for some people where like "suggested" means "I don't ever have to give anybody my money." The devaluation of women's creative capital is really shitty. It sucks that people feel enough entitled to the stuff you're making that they're going to come in, spend their night listening to you, but it wasn't good enough to actually feel the need to say to anybody --

[all talk over each other]

CG: There were some people there who actually donated and bought things and were there for more than just the social factor.

CG: We're hoping to organize a redo of a girl show soon. That would give me a lot of joy.

CG: It was one of these opportunities -- like playing with male bands... It's kind of intimidating because they have so much of a different thing going and there are so many expectations put onto you. But having this judgment-free zone where no one expects what you're going to do, they just don't know what you're going to do... It was so much of a better vibe and energy to play.

CG: But like, I'm very much aware a lot of the time when we've been at shows, especially shows where one member of a longer lineup where most of the members of the lineup are male, that's been a thing that especially... I think I get the most shit as the drummer because there are so few other female drummers.

S: That's so true.

CG: I know that also probably with more of a disparity with these guys are, I'm less technically accomplished as a drummer than these guys are at their respective instruments. The band that was supposed to go on after us one time, their drummer was standing to my left and just looking at me and smirking.

S: That's so disrespectful.

CG: It just makes you feel like shit. Honestly, women never do that.

CG: That's why the idea of a female show was so great. We could showcase what we've been working on and we wouldn't get shit from guys who think they're better than us.

CG: It's really frustrating that that particular show got shut down because not only was it an all female show, but within the lineup of musical artists and visual artists, there were women of color included too. It was such a diverse array of femme-creatives and it got shut down really fucking early. It sucks.

CG: Stay tuned for part two.

S: Alright, we can go into a song now. It's "Monstro" by...

CG: Downtown Boys. I saw a couple months ago, I love them. This is a thing... they're a punk band from Providence with a Latina woman as lead singer. I really want to support the diversification of punk and of womanhood and the representations of womanhood that exist in punk.

[song plays]

S: Alright, that was "Monstro" by Downtown Boys. So good. I love that sax solo at the end.

CG: That's another represent type of thing. We got to look out for each other... I play a little saxophone. That's a bond for life.

S: I kept wanting to talk about this but then so much other stuff came up, I was so curious about your individual music tastes. As much as you can sum it up.

CG: I can start. I'm very lucky. My dad is a huge music nerd who has really done his best to expose me to a variety of stuff. He was a random sort of semi-punk dude in suburban Wisconsin, so he entertained himself by listening to everything. So I'm very lucky to have had that. I've never had that terrible a period. I had a period of "I reject all of this and all I'm going to do is listen to My Chemical Romance" which is just a sad and terrible thing to just exclusively be listening to MCR. Dodi didn't have that, she wants all of us to know that.

S: Not specifically MCR, but 100% Green Day.

[all talk over each other]

CG: During my Green Day phase, I saw Billie Joe Armstrong and I started crying. So that was a thing that really happened in my life as a person. Now, the three bands we've played so far, they've all been majorly influential on me. Through all of January, I've only listened to music by women.

S: That's difficult.

CG: It was difficult, but I asked for suggestions from people and I got a lot of great stuff that I wouldn't have otherwise encountered and then I got a lot of other stuff where it was like "Okay, a woman is singing this, but did a woman write this?" and so much of the time the answer is "no." I personally really like diversifying the supply chain of music, but when I associate the music with women, I ask "Is the drummer a woman? The bassist? The guitarist? People on the production chain? Her sound engineer?" We're underrepresented literally everywhere

CG: Similar to Josie, big fucking emo phase. So, so bad. I was huge into MCR, Panic! At the Disco, Fallout Boy (which was my very first concert), 21 Pilots, and Green Day

[all talk over each other]

CG: I taught myself how to play like three 21 Pilots songs on the fucking flute

S: I never did the whole Panic! At the Disco, 21 Pilots... I was like Green Day and I don't know if Weezer fits, but they were my first concert. I was obsessed. Now I'm -- I'm still obsessed, but ironically.

CG: I have this one playlist -- my very first Spotify playlist -- it's 17 hours long now and it's basically what I was into in 5th grade compiled all the way until now, so you see the phases. The first 8 songs are Imagine Dragons and Regina Spektor. The last two songs... they're not that great either. There's a Carseat Headrest song and "Cyber Stockholm Syndrome" by Rina Sawayama which my brother showed to me.

[all talk over each other]

CG: Dodi, what was your music evolution?

D: My first concert ever was when I was like two...

[all talk over each other]

D: Pete Seeger. Peter, Paul, and Mary. Very folky. Prospect Park March of 2003 I saw Belle & Sebastian live.

S: What year were you born?

D: 2003... So I think in middle school, instead of being emo it was just Belle & Sebastian 100% all the time. I fucking love them so much. I started with their... I went in chronological order of when they made their albums.

CG: "Write About Love" was my first Belle & Sebastian song...

D: They really got me into music. I talked about this already three or four times, but the Slits and the Raincoats and they all kind of overlap. I also discovered riot grrrl around then. I'm not as much of a fan of them now because of the specific music, but I think it was a really cool scene because it was one of the first completely all female scenes I had ever seen. There's not many you can really mention, so riot grrrl is this great example of this collective female energy, so I think those kind of helped me transition into a lot of music I'm into today.

CG: A lot of the music I listen to now is greatly influenced by you guys here. I mean it, just from band practice and giving each other song recommendations. A lot of the stuff I listened to now I didn't know existed and it's amazing. So, thank you, you guys.

S: Alright, so we only have seven minutes left, unfortunately. That went by so fast. Dodi, you wanted to play some songs, so this will be goodbye. I'll see you next week. I don't know what's going to happen here, but that would be cool.

CG: Thank you so much for having us!

S: I loved having you guys here. I'd love to have you back and you'll have recordings next time.

CG: Yeah, we hope so!

S: You're going to! Alright. I'll keep you guys updated on when they're playing so you can go to their concerts.

CG: Thank you so much!

we eat men and also make music🕷☠️💕
book us baby

No comments:

Post a Comment