Girls rock. Ali Koehler (Vivian Girls and Best Coast), Jennifer Prince (La Sera), and Patty Schemel (Hole), now make up the rock band Upset and prove just that. Upset definitely brings the house DOWN, and is a perfect example of girls making great DIY sound. Bitchtopia had the amazing opportunity to talk to Jenn and Ali about their experiences, inspirations, and aspirations.
Until Upset, I had honestly never heard of a band starting over Twitter. Does your digital start-up still play a role or have influence in where Upset’s sound might go?
Jenn: Ali and I had played together a bit and Patty and Ali connected over Twitter and then we all met together for the first Upset practice. That was a really happy accident… we’re so lucky to have Patty. Twitter itself does not influence our band… that would be weird!
It seems as though all three of you are girls-girls, making music with girls for girls. (Though, not always or exclusively.) How important is it that you continue making and promoting female-fronted bands? Or, is that a goal or a statement as female performers?
Ali: I like making music with other women. I’ve played with guys as well, but I just prefer the company of women.
Jenn: I’m with Ali on this one. I have found that playing with other women is a generally more relaxed, supportive atmosphere.
Ali, this is a band that you started and you front. Both Vivian Girls and Best Coast were projects that you joined after they were created. Is there a difference in being a front woman for your own band?
Ali: Yea it’s a lot more fun for me. When you play in a band you make a lot of sacrifices, and when you have more of a hand in your fate those sacrifices feel worth it.
Are there any parts of being a female in the music industry that you feel jaded about?
Ali: I try to surround myself with intelligent people who inspire me to avoid getting jaded. Jenn: Yeah, you can’t focus on that stuff too much. I feel thankful to travel and play fun shows with my friends.
If you could change one thing about the culture of the music industry, what would it be?
Jenn: I wish it was a little easier for any musician to make a living day-to-day.
What kind of stuff do you fan-girl over while you’re on tour or playing shows?
Ali: Mostly just other bands. It’s exciting when someone you’ve admired for years tells you they’re a fan.
Jenn: It’s always really cool to see someone brand new, who’s maybe not super well-known yet, but is totally amazing.
A lot of your other projects have generated 60s beach vibes or rock ‘n roll inspired sound. Upset has more of a 90s teen feel. What inspired you, and your bandmates, to make a more DIY influenced sound?
Ali: That’s always been more in my wheelhouse: 90s and pop punk. Even when I was playing in 60s inspired surfy girl group bands I didn’t really get the fuss over that sound. To me the songs were just great punk and pop songs, I didn’t care about the “wall of sound.”
Jenn: I like playing fast and loud. Our songs work well with that style. We all grew up listening to various types of punk so it makes sense that we would be more punk-sounding than 60s or surf-sounding.
I’ve seen your [Ali’s] blogs about picking outfits for shows and weeks away. What is your favorite thing about dressing up?
Ali: makeup. I’m a total makeup monster.
Who are your biggest female-identified inspirations?
Ali: mostly just my friends. There are a lot of rad inspiring young women making music today and we get to hang out and be friends and it rules.
Jenn: yeah same – my best friends inspire me a lot. Women who do art, curate great events, or make music are a huge inspiration.
If you could broadcast a message to all female musicians, both highly experienced and just starting out, what would it be?
Ali: text me
Jenn: be yourself