PLAYING DETROIT: GIRL FIGHT Release Fiery Sophomore Album ‘She’s a Killer’

photo by Studio 29 Photos

Detroit feminist punk/noise band GIRL FIGHT released their sophomore record, She’s a Killer, last week – a politically charged twenty-minutes that barks and bites. Ellen Cope and Jacob Bloom fine-tune their brazen two-piece effort with tighter riffs and rhythms and lyrical prowess that breaks down complex topics and makes them digestible. The result is an album that begs for critical conversation as much as it does headbanging.

Back in 2017, Cope – who manages a team of web engineers by day – had never even touched a drum set, let alone taken to the stage with a microphone. “I have no musical background, I had never played an instrument or sung or done anything my entire life,” says Cope. It wasn’t until they saw British punk outfit Slaves live that the duo decided they were going to start a band. “They have a song called ‘Girl Fight,’” explains Bloom. “Right after the show, I went up to Ellen and I said, ‘We’re going to start a band, you’re going to play drums, and it’s going to be called GIRL FIGHT.”

It wasn’t long before Cope had purchased a children’s drum set from Craigslist and set it up on a Home Depot bucket and milk crates. She and Bloom started experimenting by playing covers of The Cramps. “We started writing our own songs and were like, these are actually pretty good,” remembers Bloom. After getting through their first live performance where the sound engineer asked them to leave the stage (they didn’t), they picked up a bi-weekly gig at a comedy show put on by local comedian and music enthusiast, Jason Brent. The group cut their teeth there and started to see their vision come to life.

A year after they started playing music together, they had a record – Fight Back, which Bloom views more as an EP or sample of what was to come. “Fight Back was like, ‘here is who we are and what we do, and She’s a Killer is like, ‘here is us making an album that sounds good.’” Their latest album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Paul Smith of The Strains and definitely shows a more polished version of the band.

While She’s a Killer is a bucket of water to the face sonically, it is just as hard-hitting lyrically, tackling things like race, gender, privilege and economic disparity. A few songs – “She’s a Killer” and “My Own God” – address personal empowerment and feeling strong and confident within, while “Ladder” is a plea for equality. “The song is about breaking down barriers and how we all have to help each other to get there,” says Cope. “You have to redistribute the power.”

Cope addresses her own privilege in “White Girl.” At first, she confronts white women who act as allies to minorities but end up abusing their power or turning a blind eye just the same. “White girl / think you’re so woke girl / your just a joke girl,” Cope shrieks in her cutting and powerful voice. Later, she turns the blame on herself. “I am a white girl / I am the problem / I am the oppressor.” She acknowledges that even having a platform from which to speak is a privilege. “As a white woman, being in front of a band yelling at people about stuff, I feel like it’s important to say, ‘Hey, I’m here yelling and you’re listening to me, but I’m not the only one you should be listening to.’” Both Cope and Bloom are conscious of their privilege and aim to use their platform as a way to encourage equality, power redistribution, and affecting change.

Listen to the full record and see tour dates below:

2/15 @ Bingle Mansion – Lansing, MI (w/ Rent Strike, she/her/hers, No Fun)
2/16 @ Charm School – Chicago, IL (w/ Pledge Drive, Wet Wallet, Sparkletears)
2/23 @ AIR: Artists Image Resource – Pittsburg, PA (w/ Dumplings, Princex, Jorts Season)

INTERVIEW: Hailey Wojcik

Hailey Wojcik

The title of Hailey Wojcik‘s single “XO Skeleton” presents an excellent opportunity to examine the artist as a whole. It’s cute yet creepy, with a wink of charm that rightly earned her the description “the Wednesday Addams of her genre,” a characterization I wish I had come up with myself.  Currently on tour with the Shondes, On March 3rd Hailey releases her upcoming EP Book of Beasts. The singer-songwriter described the five-track work as a “feminist album,” an empowering step in her career. She recorded the EP after a traumatic break-up, fleeing the country, then reclaiming her voice with the help of one of her best friends, fellow singer-songwriter Julie Peel. The result is a bold yet intimate look into a enchantingly wild mind. Hailey describes crushing a moth into powder in “XO Skeleton,” which has a clever music video chock-full of insects to accompany. As for all the animal references, after all, Hailey was raised by zookeepers.

Of all her musical skills, her song-writing talents shine the brightest on Book of Beasts. Her songs draw on raw experience, and always come across original and darkly amusing, like smoking a lover to the filter in “Cigarette.”

I caught up with Hailey on the road to talk about growing up with zookeepers, inspirational friendship, and thrift store clothing.

AF: Do you enjoy life on the road?

HW: Yeah, well this will be the longest tour I’ve ever done so I guess we’ll see. But I really do like being on the road and traveling. It’s good to be moving. It’s just nice to have a change of scenery.

AF: Any cities in particular you’re looking forward to visiting?

HW: I’m glad we’re going to several warm places. I have never been to the Pacific Northwest, and we’re going to Seattle and Portland and I’m very excited to see those places. Portlandia.

AF: What is the inspiration behind the songs that are coming out?

HW: The record is called Book of Beasts. I feel like I always, not intentionally, but have some kind of animal theme. My parents were zookeepers, and we’ve always had a lot of animals around. They’re mostly about, well some of them do deal with animals like “XO Skeleton” and “Dog Vs. Man,” so I guess I should say that it does inform the content. I’m a singer-songwriter who writes about my own life. Some people sort of look down upon “confessional songwriting” but that’s pretty much what I do. It’s mostly based on my life and experience, and I recorded it myself. This is the first time that I’ve done that, that I’ve engineered everything, and I played everything except for the drums, which were played wonderfully by Brian Viglione of The Dresden Dolls. He’s obviously a genius, and I’m super happy to have a drummer on this. But yeah, everything else was me.

It was recorded in the wake of a traumatic breakup. I had fled the country sort of impulsively, and was in France to see one of my best friends, Julie Peel who is also a singer-songwriter. She has a studio set up in her room, it kind of felt like an empowering thing for me. And really like a record that’s about self-reliance and female friendship. She was the one who encouraged me and told me I could do it. I had gone a year without playing a show. I hadn’t recorded, I hadn’t done anything, I was really depressed. She was like, ‘You can just figure out how to use logic, and you can do this in your bedroom.’ I’ve never made something without a bunch of dudes, not that they were trying…I’ve just never been navigating the entire thing. That was really important to me. It feels like a feminist record in that sense.

AF: What was it like growing up with zookeepers for parents and how did you discover music as a child?

HW: Until I was in about fourth grade my parents were both zookeepers, and I would go to the zoo like pretty much every weekend. Then after that my dad continued to work with animals in another educational program where he would take animals around. We had monkeys sometime in the house, we had a beaver, dogs, birds, snakes, all over the place. I started writing…I still kind of consider myself more of a songwriter. That’s the thing I identify the most with. So I started trying to write songs when I was in like 7th grade or something like that. I moved to New York to kind of pursue music a few years ago. I’m not there now, I would like to go back at some point but I’m trying to just be on the road as much as possible.

AF: There’s been a lot of commentary on the darkness in your music. 

HW: I really identify with dark subject matters mixed with humor. Dark humor, I guess. I think that kind of shows in some of my stuff, like the video I made for the song “XO Skeleton.” I had insects that a lot of people are grossed out by moving around in a cute sort of way. Like jittery stop motion. I like to do stuff like that, I’ll have fake blood incorporated into videos and photo shoots as much as possible. The biggest compliment in the press I got is that was called ‘The Wednesday Addams’ of my genre. I identify with my inner-goth girl. She’s still there even though I don’t always look it on the outside.

AF: How would you describe your personal look?

HW: I do like things that are dark I guess. A dark wardrobe. Right now it’s so crappy because it’s so cold out; I feel like it’s the worst time of year for clothing. But yeah, I think I kind of have a little bit of a darkness. I like a lot of black clothes, and I obviously, well, music’s not particularly lucrative so a lot of my stuff is second hand.

AF: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

HW: So many people, but I love, I feel like everybody loves this person but I love John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats. Doing anything with him would be a dream. But I also love St. Vincent.

AF: Where would you see yourself if you weren’t working in music?

HW: Living under a bridge? That’s like the quarter-life crisis question, because music is not totally secure I guess. I would like to think I would be involved in writing in some capacity. I went to school for creative writing and that’s sort of have thought about trying to get things published. Short stories, non-fiction. I feel like I would be doing something writing related.