Thursday, September 8, 2011

Star of Davida Interviews Care Bears on Fire

Women have always been important in music. In biblical times, women like Deborah and Hannah composed songs of thanks for God. In more recent times, women have consistently been a hugely important presence in the music industry (for the good and bad). Star of Davida had the honor of interviewing Sophie, the lead singer of Care Bears on Fire, a girl group that won't turn their music down. 

What first got you into music?
My mom was a musician when she was young. She’s not anymore, but that made it an option for me, being a musician just seemed really natural. I was always passionate about music.

How did you and bandmates Izzy and Jena first meet?
Izzy and I have known each other since kindergarten, and we made the band when we were nine. We met Jena two years ago, when we were in ninth grade.

Why did you decide to become a band, especially at such a young age?
We had similar taste in music that was unusual for nine-year-olds, so we sort of latched onto each other. Izzy went to Rock and Roll Camp for Girls in Portland and learned how to play the drums, and I was learning how to play the guitar, so we decided to make a band.

What inspired the name Care Bears on Fire?
We were nine when we decided on the name, and we were going for something different. As I get older and think about it, the names starts off sort of sweet and innocent and then defies the expectation of what’ll follow, just like young girls aren’t expected to make music.

Did you ever anticipate that you would sing professionally?
Not when we first started. It’s really exciting.

I understand that the three of you decided not to drop out of school, and instead balanced your careers with school. Why didn’t you just give up on education?
Education is important to us. I love to learn and enjoy school, as weird as that sounds. We’ve been lucky that we’ve had success, and I hope it carries me, but I have non-music aspirations too.

Like what?
Writing and journalism, and feminism.

So you consider yourself a feminist?
Totally. I always liked riot grrrl music, Bikini Kill and bands like that. My aha moment came when I was performing at a tribute show for Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of Bikini Kill, which was an amazing experience. I felt like I had finally found a community of people who were interested in riot grrrl and feminism, and who were supportive of me and of other female musicians. I had been interested in feminism and riot grrrl before, but finding out that I was far from the only person interested in these “dead” topics made me so much more confident in my opinions and in my ability to act on them. 

Do you find that a lot of people in the music industry have feminist leanings?
We’ve mostly been in the riot grrrl scene with people who were equally influenced by the movement, so we’ve been lucky. There are definitely a lot of feminists in music, but there have been musicians we’ve shared the stage with that aren’t.

Your music clearly contains strong girl-power themes. Do you view your music as part of the feminist movement?
I hope so! The riot grrrl movement was in the 90s, but if I can have a role in continuing the movement and being part of the legacy, that’s my dream come true. It’s not a dead movement, not gone, musicians and activists are still inspired by it.

You recently created Grrrl Beat, an online zine. What inspired it?
I had my feminism aha moment over the past year, and I wanted a place to find other people who are similar to me and share my opinions. I didn’t realize how many girls do similar things and create their own feminist blogs. I hadn’t found the community of people with similar interests until now, and it was cool for me to bump into that.

Are your friends feminists also?
I’m starting a feminist group at my school now, but people are mostly afraid of the f word. Some other students actually threatened to make a patriarchy club in response, which I thought was pretty funny.

Do your parents support all of your endeavors?
Definitely. As far as music, they’ve been driving me to shows for six years, they help so much. They’re really supportive of Grrrl Beat too, they’re really great people to talk to to form ideas.

Who are some of your musical influences?
Riot grrrl, definitely. Alex Turner’s lyrics are really beautiful. Conor Oberst and Patti Smith have really influenced me, too.

Do you have any idea what your next album will sound like?
I think it’s too early to say definitively, but I do think it will be different. I hope to experiment with new instrumentation, and see where that takes me. We write all of our own material, and I think I am more open to writing different types of songs than I was on previous albums, and being more direct about feminism and equality in my lyrics.

What inspires your style and fashion?
Vintage is cool, punk fashion has really inspired me. I go shopping in vintage stores like Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange. I like going shopping when we travel too, when we were in LA and shopping on Melrose like every other store is vintage. Looking over my clothes is like a chronicle of our journeys.

What advice do you have for aspiring female singers?
It’s important to get yourself heard. Don’t let people stand in the way of making whatever music inspires you, especially for girls.

Don't forget that the Star of Davida essay contest is offering copies of Care Bears on Fire's CD Get Over It! as the prize for the three winning essays! 

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