Girl Friday – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024  

Girl Friday – COVID-19 Quarantine Artist Check In

“We’re happy to have some time to rest our fragile little bodies before we tour every day for the next hundred years.”

Jun 11, 2020 Photography by Al Kalyk
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We are checking in with musicians during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to see how they are dealing with everything. What has their home quarantine experience been like so far and how is the crisis impacting both their career and art? Here we check in with all four members of Girl Friday.

We’re living in future history right now, unprecedented times that will define our era. At some point we will be living in a forever-changed post-COVID-19 timeline, but right now we’re deep in it. Many have had their livelihood interrupted by the pandemic and included are most musicians, who make a lot of their money by touring and performing, two things they can’t do right now. Most record stores are closed and vinyl factories are shut down, so album sales are depressed too. Our intention with this series is to highlight the challenges musicians are going through right now to hopefully encourage our readers and their fans to rally around and support each musician (financially if you can, but we know it’s tough out there for many people).

We’re all in this together, a whole planet united in this fight, and we hope these interviews will help illustrate that. We put together the same set of questions about the current crisis and emailed them to several musicians and will be posting their responses as they come in.

Girl Friday’s origin story is like that of a movie: a series of mingling at house shows that lead to the unique creation of a ferocious ’70s surf goth-rock combo. Those adjectives aren’t commonly used together, and they know that. On Facebook their style of music is listed as “?” On Bandcamp they’re self-described as “genre confused.” But this “confusion” works in their favor; the wide scope of sounds ironically make their music more accessible, which in turn, makes them more powerful.

After gaining traction as the finalists in the 2018 Vans Share the Stage competition. The band released 2019’s Fashion Conman EP, a tight post-punk project with catchy hooks and slashing guitars that deal with themes of being young, scared, but fully-charged. Their forthcoming LP, Androgynous Mary, out August 21 on Hardly Art, continues in the same direction, but this time they’re more explicit. They take a bird’s eye view of a normative society while at the same time flipping it on its head. There are flickers of optimism though. They find solace in the community of those that are accepting and open-minded, a community which all four members of Girl Friday are included in.

Despite their debut LP coming out, Girl Friday have halted much of their promotion. Because of the state of our current world, they find it more important to get involved in protests and organizing at the local level. It’s been an interesting quarantine, to say the least.

Read on as Girl Friday reflect on their COVID-19 experience so far.

Where are you spending the quarantine and who are you spending it with? If you’re spending it with other people, have you found that the quarantine has brought you closer together or caused tension?

Virginia Pettis (drums, vocals): Fortunately for us, we happened to relocate to the charming town of Derry, Maine right before things became dire.

Sierra Scott (guitar, vocals): Always erring on the side of caution, but feeling an unexplainable pull into the sewers. We quickly made our way down there to hunker down and get cozy. We hope nothing crazy happens next!

Is everyone in your family safe and healthy so far?

Vera Ellen (guitar, vocals): Thankfully yes.

What’s your daily routine been like? Have you spent much time outdoors? And since musicians spend so much time on the road, have you found it hard adjusting to so much time at home?

Libby Hsieh (bass, vocals): We each have vastly different routines. I wake the earliest, as I love to greet the sun with some David Foster Wallace and Coelho.

Vera: I will signal consciousness with a violent shriek, then shuffle off to the kitchen to pour a bowl of Sugar-o Daddies.

Virginia: I always awake as if I have just crashed after falling for hours, and immediately stumble towards the coffee machine in a desperate attempt to survive the day.

Sierra: I rise from my coffin anywhere between 12 and 2 p.m. and eat an eclectic series of things on toast.

What financial impact has COVID-19 had on you and your band? Have you had to cancel or postpone any tours or festival appearances or postpone an album release because of COVID-19 and how will that affect you in the long term?

Libby: Our lost souls are separated from each other and we have had to cancel some long musical journeys this year, but we’ve been lucky to have a lot of support. We’re happy to have some time to rest our fragile little bodies before we tour every day for the next hundred years.

If you also have a day job outside of music, how has that been impacted by COVID-19?

Virginia: Can you get paid to be angry?

Do you trust the government and our leaders (such as President Trump) to effectively deal with the pandemic? What most concerns you about the response of elected leaders at home and abroad?

Sierra: Hahaha of course not! Donald Trump is a barely sentient plastic hot dog from a children’s playset!

Vera: But on a more positive note, New Zeland’s Jacinda Ardern is handling it swimmingly. It’s such a failure on our government’s part that millions of people can’t afford to be alive now.

Libby: Donny T could not possibly do anything of substance!

How do you think the crisis will affect this November’s U.S. presidential election? Will it make it easier or harder to defeat Trump?

Sierra: Harder baby!!! He is not a good boy. In fact, he is quite evil and we would like to see him [REDACTED].

Which sources of news have you been turning to most during COVID-19 and which social media platform have you found most useful?

Libby: Instagram is great for resources, especially now that people are organizing and building power for Black justice and liberation.

Virginia: That’s been a great way for us to find out about protests and movements on a local level.

Sierra: For my fellow emos out there, Tumblr is also great for resources and can sometimes feel less performative because everyone is essentially anonymous.

What do you think will be the lasting effects on society of all this isolated time at home?

Libby: I’m a mere rock god and sadly cannot predict the future.

Sierra: Will give you a shout when my oracle cards arrive in the mail. We hope it involves more empathy and continued action to reform systems that brutalize Black people and other POC.

What other steps should record labels, music streaming platforms, and other music industry entities be taking to help struggling musicians through this time?

Virginia: Venues should pay musicians fair wages to play shows instead of beer! Streaming platforms should give artists more than $00.006 per/stream! Labels should sign more POC and queer artists!

What is the best way fans can support you financially right now? Buying vinyl and CDs, downloading and streaming your music, buying merch, supporting your Patreon page or other crowdsourcing platforms (if you use one), or some other?

Libby: Pre-order our upcoming album plz and maybe a seccy merch package ; )

Which albums, songs, films, TV shows, books, podcasts, live streams, video games, board games, etc, have been helping you get through the quarantine?

Libby: Jennifer’s Body (both the Hole song and the 2009 film) are very spiritually important to us.

Sierra: Also, Chris Fleming’s “Boba Manifesto” is a crucial tether to reality. If you couldn’t tell, I’m reading [Stephen King’s] It, which has somehow become a jovial escape from our waking reality.

Have you been doing any live-streamed concerts during COVID-19 or do you plan to? A lot of artists have been doing them, do you think it’s a challenge to make them original and interesting?

Vera: We may have some sneaky plans for the future, but at the moment we’re putting our album campaign on the backburner, as we’re currently thick in the midst of protesting four hundred400 years of systemic racism. We’re using our energy to be present at protests and have mostly been posting about ways to take action.

Virginia: If anyone reading this would like to enjoy a good live-stream, go here.

Is there something you’ve been putting off for a long time, but are now doing with this time at home?

Virginia: Heavily weeping and using my tears to start an organic garden in the backyard.

Has the quarantine been a fertile creative time (are you writing or recording new music, for example) or have you found it hard to focus on creative endeavors?

Vera: My brother and I did some very important work. We spent days getting into contact with a company called Eggplant, LLC in order to track down the wildly emphatic vocalist on the Super WHY! theme song. If that’s not a creative endeavor, then I simply don’t know what is.

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