PET POLITICS: Amelia Bushell Talks Grim Streaker, Belle Mare, and her Extra Special Pup

Amelia with her punk band Grim Streaker.

Amelia Bushell is one of Brooklyn’s most versatile frontwomen. You can catch her powerful yelps and hollers in hardcore band Grim Streaker, surf some dream-pop vibes with her duo Belle Mare, or hear an intimate and melodic serenade from her latest project Extra Special.

After releasing the single “Gut” and an EP, Girl Minority, in 2017, Grim Streaker released their debut LP, No Vision, last year. Belle Mare most recently released their EP Liars in October 2018, following Heaven Forget (2016) and The Boat of the Fragile Mind in 2013. Extra Special has yet to make a debut release, but when it does, I’m sure it will be extra special indeed. Basically, Amelia Bushell is a very busy lady.

I have had the pleasure of catching Amelia in multiple projects in very different settings, from DIY venues in Brooklyn, to outdoor gigs in Austin, to stripped down pizza parlor acoustic gigs in the neighborhood. Whatever genre she tackles, she does it with heart and charisma. Along with a passion for music, Amelia shares another love with yours truly: animals. Amelia has one particular fluffy, pawed pal name Charlie. I had the opportunity to talk to Amelia about Charlie, her history of pets and music, and the scoop on her current musical projects!

Amelia Bushell (Photo Credit: Michael Lavine).

AF: Please introduce us to your furry friend.

AB: This is Charlie, my family dog.

Charlie the Precious Pup (Photo Credit: Amelia Bushell).

AF: How did you two come across each other?

AB: My mum brought him home from Kelowna in British Columbia after spotting him at an event. His old owner had a young daughter that used to shake him so they needed to give him up.

AF: Did you grow up with any pets?

AB: My first pet was Goldidania, the goldfish that we won at a fairground. He self-combusted (i’m not joking) in his tank about a year later. Then we had a rabbit whose teeth grew too long and he strangled himself. We also had two guinea pigs. One attacked the other and we think he had a heart attack from fear. Our first dog was an Old English Sheepdog called Oscar, and while Oscar was still alive we got Charlie. 

AF: When did you move to Brooklyn and what prompted the move?

AB: I moved in 2011 for University. 

AF: When did you start playing music and what was your first instrument?

AB: I was forced to play piano at age 4 and although I hated it, I’m very grateful my parents made me do it because it gave me the musical foundation that ended up sparking my future projects. 

AF: First band name?

AB: Beachtits.

AF: Tell us a bit about your current musical projects.

AB: My most recent is called Extra Special and it’s my first solo endeavour. I say solo because I wrote the songs, but I wouldn’t have been able to get it off the ground had I not had help from my very talented band including Sharif Mekawy, Louis Cozza and Ray McGale. The first EP, produced by Gary Atturio, is due out this year. Gary also plays in my other dream pop project called Belle Mare and has just produced our latest single that will come out soon. Grim Streaker is my punk band.

Extra Special (Photo Credit: Michelle Lobianco).

AF: How did you meet your bandmates?

AB: I met Thom, my co writer in Belle Mare, at an open mic night. The rest I just met through connections in the Brooklyn music community. 

Belle Mare.

AF: Which of your projects do you think your pet would be most likely to play in, and on what instrument would he accompany you?

AB: Probably Extra Special because he’s very lazy and a lot of my songs are about being lazy. He would play the triangle because it doesn’t require much effort.

AF: Have you ever written a song about a (non-human) animal?

AB: I haven’t but I will. 

AF: Favorite song about a (non-human) animal?

AB: “Goodbye Horses” by Q Lazzarus.

AF: What (non-human) animal do you think you’re most like?

AB: People have said a bird…

AF: What do you miss most about your pet when you are on tour?

AB: Fluffy cuddles.

Sweet, Snowy Charlie (Photo Credit: Amelia Bushell).

AF: How does your pet respond to your music? 

AB: Don’t think he gives a shit.

AF: Does he have a favorite band or genre?

AB: I think he’s deaf.

AF: Do you have a favorite city to play on tour?

AB: Montreal hands down. I love the enthusiasm of the people and the food.

AF: Any funny tour stories?

AB: The time we locked Bill out of the car because he bought a soggy tuna sandwich from a gas station somewhere in the South and we were NOT letting him bring that in the car.

AF: If your pet was a human, what career would s/he embark on?

AB: He would have that job where NASA pays you to lie in bed for months.

AF: What are your plans for the rest of 2020?

AB: I’m planning on releasing music with all three bands!

AF: Any upcoming tours?

AB: It’s in the works!