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Lo-Fi Revisited: Vivian Girls

The all-female Brooklyn trio may take their name from outsider artist Henry Darger’s mythical heroines but their sassy self-titled debut was rooted in the very real kick-ass harmonies of The Vaselines

As a female band, do you feel like you’ve had to fight certain stereotypes? Making music in quite a male-dominated field, do you feel  like you have to fight against sexism for example the furore over you guys doing the Uncensored videos in the bathtub?
Sexism in the music industry is something we try not to harp on too much, but what happened with the Uncensored Interview is a great example of how it exists. To break it down: in the first half of the interview the "normal people" we were talking about weren't people with jobs, it was drunken frat boys who harass girls in the street, and in the second half of the interview when joking about Applebee's we were referencing a David Cross comedy sketch. Yet somehow through the blogs that got turned into us hating everybody with a job, and furthermore because they made fun of the way we talk - the way pretty much every early twenties American girl talks - we've been painted as one-dimensional mean, dumb girls, because people want to hate and people want to stereotype. Not to mention we didn't think anyone would even watch those interviews yet people treat it like it's our mission statement! Nirvana did a lot of interviews with a similar feel to that one and somehow I doubt they got as much shit as we did.

With your first record selling out so quickly and so much attention from press and blogs, have you noticed any backlash or bitterness from the punk community which values obscurity?
No, we haven't. We still operate the band with DIY principles, go to house shows, and are adamant about playing with our friends' bands. I think those values are more important to the punk community than obscurity.

What do you make of this current resurgence of acts and labels making music and art on little-to-no budget? Do you feel any association with this so-called lo-fi movement?
Sure! Our records are obviously not very produced and we're friends with a lot of those bands.

With the new record do you feel like you’re going away from the DIY lo-fi feel? How are you stretching yourselves on the new record?
Not really; the new record has noticeably different production from the first but it still has a DIY, lo-fi feel. We've stretched ourselves in a number of ways, mainly in the songwriting, but we also experimented with different tones and effects, we took a few singing lessons prior to recording the album, etc. We also recorded on analog which was a great experience and one I hope we'll do again for our next record.

How was the experience of playing Woodsist/Captured Tracks festival?
It was great!! What a perfect way to spend the 4th of July. The bands were so good. We had a lot of fun playing too. It was great watching the train roll by from the stage, and our friends lit off fireworks behind us during our set.

If this lo-fi scene burns out, what do you hope young kids will take away from all this?
That if you are musically inclined you have the power to make almost any kind of music you want with little to no money, and if it's good it can get recognized without help from a label or management (thanks to the internet).

What do you think will be the future for independent music?
At some point CDs will become obscure, it'll just be records and the internet. I think the DIY spirit will thrive. I expect a lot of great independent music will be put out in the next few years.

What do you have coming up?
We're touring the US (including Hawaii and Puerto Rico), Australia, and Japan in the fall. That tour is going to take over 2 months! After that we're going to take it easy for the winter and then resume touring in the spring.

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