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!

RSVP HERE: The So So Glos Play Farewell Show at Brooklyn Bazaar + MORE

Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.

The So So Glos are the quintessential New York City punk rock band. Formed in 2007 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn by brothers Alex and Ryan Levine with drummer Zach Staggers (who they met in pre-school), The So So Glos have shaped the DIY music scene first hand over the past decade. They co-founded and resided in the venues Market Hotel and Shea Stadium, have released three full length records, gone on countless DIY tours and toured in support of Titus Andronicus,  Diarrhea Planet, Desaparecidos, and more. In anticipation of The So So Glos playing one of the final shows at Brooklyn Bazaar Friday 11/29, we talked with Alex and Zach about how the DIY scene has developed over the past decade, their favorite records to listen to on the road, and where to get the best slice in and outside of NYC…

AF: How is the state of the DIY scene different now than when you first started So So Glos in 2007? How do you think things will progress going into the next decade?

Alexander Orange Drink: It’s been quite a trip to see the DIY scene transform over the past decade. When we started out, it seemed like there were very few DIY spaces where rock ‘n’ roll was welcome. It was way more of a noise rock, (dare I say pretentious) – artsy scene. Despite so many venues closing and an ever changing NYC, I think some aspects of the underground have become way more inclusive for all types of people and artists. If we were in any way a part of helping that move forward I feel grateful.

AF: You’ve toured extensively over the years, what was your favorite band to tour with? Favorite city/non-NYC DIY show space? What’s your favorite tour story?

AOD: There’s been so many friends and extended family who we’ve toured with. It’s impossible to pick a favorite! So many hospitable venues and staff that have welcomed us. The Bottle Tree in Birmingham, AL was always a great place to roll through. They’ve got really cool trailers backstage. One time we got assaulted by the Britney Spears entourage, another time we got strip searched at the border and once my medicine was confiscated in Germany.

AF: What are your favorite records to listen to on the road?

AOD: Modern Lovers, She’s So Unusual, 2Pacalypse Now, The Specials (first album), The Idle Wheel, Songs of Leonard Cohen, too many more…

AF: Where’s the best place to get a slice of pizza in NYC? Where’s the best place to get a slice of pizza outside of NYC?

Zach Staggers: This is a much debated topic for any New Yorker and there are many exemplary spots to get a slice. That said, any pizza experience has as much to do with the environmental factors surrounding the slice. For instance, if you stop at New Park for a slice after a idyllic day in Rockaway, then, at that very moment that is the best slice in the world. Or, say if you are in the godforsaken hell zone of the low to mid 30’s on the west side of Manhattan — Pizza Suprema becomes your messiah. Perhaps, it’s just a beautiful day in the neighborhood, where Rosa’s of Ridgewood provides my staple, comfort pizza. But all this said for the record I like to rep the Margherita slice with the infamous sesame seed crust at Ciccio’s on Avenue U. It’s a little known pizzeria and doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Outside of New York? While there are good slices in Philly and some other select cities I will plead the 5th.

AF: What are your plans for 2020?

AOD: New music coming. Also… pizza!

RSVP HERE for The So So Glos, Wild Yaks, Cumgirl8, Knucklehead & SUO (DJ set) @ Brooklyn Bazaar. All Ages / $13.50

More great shows this week:

11/29 Darkwing, Sleep Leans, Shadow Monster @ Our Wicked Lady. 21+ / $10 RSVP HERE

11/29 Beach Rats, Speedy Ortiz, Restorations, American Trappist, Well WisherHouse of Independents (4-year anniversary). All Ages / $4-$10 RSVP HERE

11/30 Hank Wood and The Hammerheads, Warthog, Subversive Rite, Dollhouse @ Brooklyn Bazaar (last show!). All Ages / $15 RSVP HERE

12/3 New Myths, Katya Lee + Special Guests @ Berlin. 21+ / $12 RSVP HERE

12/3 + 12/4 The Rapture @ Music Hall of Williamsburg. 18 + / $30 RSVP HERE

12/3 Sloppy Jane, Sweet Baby Jesus, Water From Your Eyes @ The Dance. 18+ / $10 RSVP HERE

12/5 Tallies, Honey Cutt @ Alphaville. / 21+ $10 RSVP HERE

12/5 Grim Streaker, A Deer A Horse, Luggage, Shop Talk @ Trans-Pecos. $10 / All Ages RSVP HERE

VIDEO PREMIERE: Shybaby “When You Were Here”

Brooklyn punk quartet Shybaby add a personal touch to everything they do – and their raw, DIY aesthetic makes their live shows a must-see. That’s why we’ve invited them to play our AudioFemme Holiday Party alongside Grim Streaker and PC Worship. It happens tonight at Alphaville in Bushwick, but to get the festivities started early, we’re pleased to premiere the video for Shybaby’s newest track, “When You Were Here.”

The song and its accompanying video are both scrappy affairs, with a hint of glam thrown in for good measure. Dueling vocalsists Grace Eire and Tess Moreland howl back and forth over the raucous drumming of Charlie McGrath and the roiling bass of Ben Hansen. The clip itself takes on YouTube makeup tutorials, envisioned by writer/producer/videographer and friend of the band Molly Mary O’Brien. “[She] reached out with this idea and I was like, yeah! She wanted to mess with the whole beauty blogger thing, just with no mirrors and no plan,” explains Eire. Of course, it’s no simple feat to apply glitter and lipstick without the aid of a reflective surface, so the results are a mixed bag. “It was super fun!” Eire says. “The best part is how pretty Ben and Charlie are.”

No idea what look they’ll cop for the show tonight, but our party is a don’t miss! Check out Shybaby’s video below, and we’ll see you at Alphaville!

SXSW 2018: Rock or Die V with Little Dickman Records

Chris and Amy Dickman of Jersey Shore Indie label Little Dickman Records have been taking good care of bands in Austin for five years now. Their unofficial events showcase badass touring bands from all over the country as well as the bands with releases on their label. We talked to them about how the festival has changed over the years, the challenges of being a promoter at SXSW and why they keep coming back.

AF: Tell us about your showcases and some of the bands you’re most excited to see this year.

LD: This year is our 5th year in Austin throwing unofficial SXSW Rock or Die showcases and we can’t believe it! We have two unofficial showcases and six bands we have worked with are OFFICIAL SXSW showcasing artists this year!  That’s huge.

We are stoked for Wednesday 3/15, Hard Luck Lounge, nine bands, including Stuyedeyed, Grim Streaker, Pink Mexico, Ex-Girlfriends, Dentist, Gustaf, Old Lady, John Wesley Coleman III, and Shred Flinstone.

Saturday we are teaming up with our favorite friends over at CoolDad Music and Garden State Beardos to bring a killer Day party to Valhalla w/ The Gloomies, Dentist, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, BOYTOY, Kino Kimino, High Waisted, Sharkmuffin, Honduras & Fruit & Flowers.

AF: What’s your favorite food truck at SXSW?

LD: This is gonna sound very lazy, but every year I find one I like, and I either forget the name of it or I remember and when I come back the next year it’s in a totally different place (maybe ’cause its a food TRUCK?) so I don’t make it back. But at least we are finding a new one every year. Just a few I remember: Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, Tapas Bravas, the killer breakfast taco truck that used to be on East 6th but now I can’t find….

AF: How did you get started booking showcases at SXSW? Why do you keep coming back?

LD: We just decided to go for it and take the chance. Even though no one really knew us yet, we didn’t care – we wanted to get out and be a part of something, so we said F-it and it paid off! We met many wonderful people down there. If we hadn’t started going our lives would be much different.

AF: What are your favorite and least favorite SXSW memories? Does it get easier or more difficult booking and taking care of so many bands each year at SXSW?

LD: My least favorite memory is showing up to a venue and them not having a sound system when we were told they had a top of the line system, so the fall out that happened after that wasn’t my fav.

A great memory was asking INVSN with Dennis Lyxzen of Refused to play and they showed up and put on a  hell of a surprise show! Also, getting to meet the Mrs. Magician dudes. I think just getting to hang and see people we’ve worked with play great shows is the best feeling ever.

AF: How has the festival changed over the years and what would you like to see more or less of this year or in the future?

LD: The first year we were there it had HUGE acts – I think it was the year Lady Gaga, Kanye, etc. were there. I think it had gotten out of hand. There was also a bad accident that killed someone. Since then I have seen it become a little more more up-and-coming acts instead of trying to pack in the big names, which obviously feels better to us. It also gotten warmer each year….we will see what happens this year!

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TRACK REVIEW: Grim Streaker “Guts”

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Grim Streaker photo by Isobel Shirley

Grim Streaker is a new project formed by members of Dinowalrus, The Teen Age, Belle Mare, and Hiccup. Last week they released their first single, “Guts,” produced and recorded by Mike Kutchman (Parquet Courts, WALL and Sharon Van Etten). 

Though they’ve just released one song so far, the noisy punk track contains the energy of several. “Guts” races full speed ahead, brakes screeching just enough to not fully careen out of control. Like their name, Grim Streaker’s first single gives young angst some levity by injecting a dose of dark humor, in verses that mirror each other perfectly. “Oh, I hate your mom/ I hate her good, she’s such a slut,” it begins, only later to declare, “Oh, I hate your dad/ I hate him bad.” Amelia Bushell voices her fiery scorn over frantic flashes of guitars and a heavy, determined beat. There’s something particularly pleasing, especially now, about looking around and not just declaring that everything sucks, but yelling it as loud as you can. For those without a stage, “Guts” is the perfect catharsis.