INTERVIEW: A Chat with Grrrl Fest Organizers

Here at AudioFemme, we’re all about making spaces for women in the music industry, whether that’s as music makers or behind the scenes – booking and promoting shows, running sound, shooting bands, and, of course, bringing you top-notch journalism reviews. So we got super excited when we found out about Grrrl Fest, a day-long celebration of women in the creative arts. Organized by an inspiring group of young feminists, it features performances from a dozen or so up-and-coming bands that feature female musicians, short films, spoken word performances, zine-writing workshops, button making, a book sale and a silent auction, and that’s to say nothing of getting your tarot cards read and covering yourself in “glitter tattoos.” Not only are we pumped for Grrrl Fest to take over Silent Barn on June 14th, we were also so impressed with the scope of the event that we just had to learn more from two of its organizers, Ebun Nazon-Power and Bridget Malloy.

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AudioFemme: In your words, what is the mission of Grrrl Fest?

Ebun Nazon-Power: Grrrl Fest is about supporting and empowering females (girls and women and anyone who identifies as such) in whatever it is that they do. However, Grrrl Fest is mainly focused on the creative fields such as music, bands, dance, spoken word and art. I think our mission is to reveal to all those young women out there that it is totally okay to be creative and self-expressive in an environment where people (not just females) are being supportive and helpful. We wanted to show girls that there is no one way of being a feminist–there are tons of different kinds and ways. So being in a place where people are coming from all over the city and elsewhere and are all about equality and feminism, it can be a life changing experience and hopefully have a positive effect.

AF: Who makes up the core group of organizers? How do you work together to organize the event?

Ebun: The “core” group I guess would be myself and my other classmates: Christopher Gambino, Savannah Galvin, and Clare Burden, Esme Ahsley-White, Abbie Hornburg and of course my art teacher Bridget Malloy. However, we have plenty of volunteers from different schools who are working with us. The core group organizes at The Beacon School and all the other volunteers are organized through social media like Facebook.

AF: How long have you been doing this?

Ebun: This is the very first year that we are doing this. We honestly began this enormous project like two months ago!!

AF: What inspired you to put Grrrl Fest together?

Bridget Malloy: Some students and I were hanging out in the art room during a free period and Ebun put on her band T-Rextasy. It was such a cool sound. It reminded me of some of the 90’s girl bands. At the same time, I was looking at Savannah’s artwork on the wall. It was this really cool text piece. It reminded me of writing on a bathroom wall. So then somewhere along the way I said, “We should do a ‘Girl Fest!’” Next thing you know we are planning, making calls, getting sponsors and the rest is history. People got right on board too. It was really great how it all just formed so naturally. It really felt like it was the right time for something like this and that many people wanted to see it happen.

AF: You’ve got tons of performers scheduled. What did you look for in terms of artists who you wanted to book?

Ebun: In terms of artists, we automatically knew who was going to play – She Monster, Petal War, and T-Rextasy (in fact, they were kind of the main reason grrrl fest started) which are all teenage girl bands. And then a lot of the people volunteering had some other artists they knew of that could possibly play. We also held auditions at The Beacon School for anyone who wanted to perform whether it be spoken word, dance, or music. We of course wanted mostly female artists, but since Grrrl Fest is not about excluding anybody, we also had several males in mind that were really excited to get involved such as Granted, Yabadum, The Backup Sticks, and Shemp. The only requirement is that every band performing has to do a cover of a female musician/band. We are really excited about this!

Bridget: Petal War, an all-girl band with some of the members being Beacon students and Willie Mae members, had played a show at SXSW and it just seemed like the right time to support all of these amazing young women!

AF: Besides great music, what else will be happening at Grrrl Fest?

Ebun: We will have activities (weather permitting) out in the garden of Silent Barn earlier in the day, from noon to 6pm. There will be tables with hands-on activities: button making, zine making, glitter tattoos, tarot card readings and more. The activities will teach and allow people to really participate in the event. Our sponsors will be in attendance to connect with the crowd too and get them involved in their organizations. There’s a silent auction which will help us to raise money for art in schools. And there will be art for sale benefiting young entrepreneurs with a portion of their sales going to various organizations at Grrrl.

AF: How did you go about getting sponsors for the event? Can you tell us a little bit about them?

Bridget: The sponsors for the event really happened so easily. First I have to say The Beacon School has truly supported this from the start. In addition, the people over at Silent Barn were behind this idea from the beginning. Nat Roe has been a dream to work with. He has been with us every step of the way and has supported pretty much anything we sent his way. He was the one that suggested we take the event into the night and have Pottymouth and the rest of the bands play later on in the evening. Originally it was going to be a six-hour event but now it’s about a twelve-hour event! As for the rest, we literally got on the phone and made calls or emailed people we thought could add to the event. BUST Magazine and Tom Tom Magazine were some of the first to back us up. Then Bennington [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][College] came in with a generous donation. They really supported us from the minute this whole idea began. Libby Hux was a huge player at Bennington she literally got right on it and made calls and wrote to people to make that happen. As for Planned Parenthood, Lower East Side Girls Club, Bluestockings, Center for Arts Education, CHiPS, Willie Mae, Makers… we just reached out and asked if they would want to participate. They all said yes! We were thrilled! We even had some people contacting us once people got word of the event.

Ebun: Getting sponsors was not even on my mind when we first started this event actually. It was not until one of the magazines (Tom Tom) e-mailed me asking if they were sponsoring the event and I was like “Oh, duh!” I had some connections with some of the organizations such as WIllie Mae Rock Camp for Girls which is an organization that supports girls in doing music and Tom Tom which is a magazine dedicated to female percussionists.

AF: What aspect of Grrrl Fest excites you the most?

Ebun: I am excited about almost everything! I am excited to see how everything is going to be pulled together. A lot will be going on between these 11 hours and hopefully every bit will be exciting. All of the bands and performers are INCREDIBLE, the crafts should be really fun, and the t-shirts and tote bags (made by classmate and friend Clare Burden) are absolutely phenomenal. Hopefully it will continue to happen every year, and even on a larger scale![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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