Girlsville Records’ new compilation benefits anti-fascist, anti-racist activism and features The Pristeens, John Dwyer’s band Damaged Bug, Mr. Airplane Man, Atomic Suplex, UK Gold, Germhouse, among many others
Chicago-based DIY label, Girlsville Records is your cool best friend who inspires you to stand up for yourself and for others, and always makes you the best mixtapes with the hottest bands no one knows about. At least not yet. Our Voltage is Girlsville’s latest killer mixtape and its most revolutionary yet. We spoke with Courtney DelMar, Girlsville’s owner, about the new release.
PKM: Can you tell me a little about what inspired you to put together Our Voltage and a little about the causes the proceeds will benefit?
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The events in Charlottesville were weighing heavily on my mind, and we also discussed the Salt Lake City case that went down around the same time where Patrick Harmon was shot in the back and killed while he was running away, unarmed. He was, in my mind, murdered and the reason Salt Lake City PD gave for even pulling him over was because of a broken taillight on his bike. So these events were the impetus for the compilation, and John [Dwyer] hopped on board early, which was a boon to the compilation in general. So I’m very grateful to him for getting involved on the ground floor.
The proceeds for the compilation will benefit the Haymaker Gym in Chicago which is a free community self-defense gym in Chicago that eschews the whole hetero-normative macho gym culture. It made sense to me that marginalized POC and gender non-conforming folks could get into action in a comfortable and supportive space and strength-build and learn self-defense techniques. It felt solution-based. I was riddled with anger and anxiety, and desperate for real solutions. This felt like that solution.
A portion of the proceeds will also benefit legal aid funds for anti-racist, anti-fascist activists, and citizen livestreamers like Reb Z. They are on the front lines bringing these stories to the people. You can’t always trust what you see in the media with regard to political uprisings and protest. Their MO is to show you what I call “broken window porn” and to relay the direct narrative from the police. And that’s the end of it. It’s propaganda. People like Reb Z. are out there with the people bringing you the real story. Their work is currently being used in two cases against the St. Louis Police Department, including a case brought by the ACLU. They aren’t highly paid journalists, but they are some of the most important eyes and ears on the ground that we’ve got. If you don’t feel like buying the comp, send them some gas and food money.
PKM: What can we expect to hear on Our Voltage in terms of the bands and music?
Courtney DelMar: I distinctly wanted to go with a slightly darker and angrier vibe for the comp partially because of the subject matter but partially because that’s where I’m at right now. I mean let’s face it, it’s Girlsville… it’s still a good time! But I wanted to err towards a more post-punk vibe and I threw a Dark Wave track on there as well. I wanted it to be a little angrier, a little darker, a little weirder, but still maintaining that strong Girlsville aesthetic.
The UK Gold song on there is one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever been able to release on anything ever.
UK Gold “Off Duty Nuns”
Germ House are friggin’ brilliant. The Bummers Eve song is some nice garage/beat but it’s actually a mournful murder ballad (and true story) about a 3-year old autistic boy who was brutally murdered by his parents. Having a Jim Diamond-produced Buzzards track was an absolute dream come true for me. Virvon Varvon captured the claustrophobic and paranoid vibe that I thought was so fitting, I’m incredibly proud of this comp, and it’s hard to pick faves but I think this compilation is my favorite.
Germ House “7 Into 7”
Bummer’s Eve “Marcus”
The Buzzards “Tennessee”
Virvon Varvon “What Did You Say?”
PKM: Can you tell us a little about “Stupid Nothing” from The Prissteens?
Courtney DelMar: What I can tell you about The Prissteens’ track is that it was a big favorite of Lori Lindsay’s. When Lori FINALLY handed me the music they’d been demo’ing post ‘Scandal, Controversy, & Romance’ in 2013, this was one of those songs. It’s kind of a psych-fuzz jammer that didn’t feel right on either edition of “Demos & Rarities” and I finally found a home for it on this comp. It’s a little woozier and psychedelic. I say FINALLY because it took me a decade of wearing Lori down before she handed this material over to me. I think she’d decided she could trust me to do their legacy justice. She also once said to me that she did it because she knew how much it meant to me. (Excuse me while a tear up!).
PKM: Can you tell me a little about John Dwyer’s band, Damaged Bug, and their track “Pilot’s Pipe”?
Courtney DelMar: So I’ve been working with John since 2002 when I released “Get Yer Body Next Ta Mine” on my first label Show & Tell Recordings as well as “Hands on the Controls” and the Coachwhips/Trin Tran split 7“. John’s bands have largely floated both of my labels. He’s very loyal and has great DIY ethos. So me and him go waaaay back and there are salacious stories I could recount, but the bottom line is John is a genius and is as humble as can be. So with Damaged Bug, John has begun to tinker around with synths and it’s experimental and exciting. When I asked if he’d be involved in this comp, he said he had just the right song for it.
He says his contribution was “inspired by King Crimson as far as the mellotron goes, and guitorgan pulling on the sleeve of Eddie Harris…a sci-fi picture painted in these lyrics, a sort of post-technology wasteland where veterans of the last war are still fighting over things and ideas that don’t exist anymore in a semi-hallucinatory state, unsure of what is reality anymore…”
PKM: Can you tell me about Mr. Airplane Man’s track “Believe”?
Courtney DelMar: So with Mr. Airplane Man’s track I dug through the session they did with Justin Hubbard of Germ House. I’d already used one song from the session (“Never Break”) on a previous comp I’d put out, and so I dug through that session and found “Believe” and I was like “I gotta have this one”. It’s a little unique because Tara is on lead vocals! I asked Margaret about the song and she said,
“’Believe’ is hands down one of my favorite songs on the new record and one of the best to play live. The lyrics are so good, and the feel is just so exciting. Like being jet propelled through the skies. The song is, in my opinion, a most relevant anthem for the women of our times. It’s indicative of the turning tides. We believe in our own soul, over being beholden to romantic love as women of past generations were programmed to ‘believe’. I am also seeing it as the turning point of our band, in that Tara McManus is a phenomenal singer and songwriter, and it’s just the beginning of more songs to come that she will take the lead on.
Here’s what Atomic Suplex’s Jim Suplex had to say about their killer cover of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?”
Jim Suplex: The track was recorded in a couple of hours at my home in Croydon, London way back in 2012. I have always loved the Diddly beat and the lyrics are sublimely nuts, Bo walks on barbed wire for miles, in a tie made out of a rattle snake, bragging about his new ‘human skull’ chimney. Ha. Some of the ‘instruments’ are just grinding machines and engine noise, in fact I think there is more of that in the mix than guitars. Covers have never featured on Atomic Suplex records or live sets, but I was glad to have a decent track waiting in the wings when the GirlsvilleOur Voltage compilation came up. I know its only a very small gesture but I feel its important to make anti-racist / anti-fascist views visible whenever possible. If we all shut up and the only people making noise are the racists, then that background noise begins to sound normal. An ignorant, intolerant, hateful world is not a world I want to live in. (CJDelMar, 50thirdand3rd.com, 20 Feb. 2018)
“This has gotta be the best label I’ve never heard of til now (…) Most reminds me of low fi mid 80’s bands experimenting with punk, garage, new wave and (fill in the blank) using low fi equipment, cassette quality. John Dwyer (Castle Face Records, Thee Oh Sees) has his hand in at least one of these bands. (…) Every track completely awesome”
-KZSU 90.1FM Stanford (Girlsville, Mar 2018)
OUR VOLTAGE from Girlsville Records is available on CD and Digital Download at Bandcamp. The proceeds will benefit legal aid for anti-racist activists and a new community self-defense gym in Chicago called Haymaker.