For the past nine years in Orange County, Grrl Fair has ensured that the flames of riot grrrl feminist-punk ethos popularized in the 1990s never extinguish. Organizers of this year's event have even issued a manifesto of their own describing it as "a time for all grrrl bands to take back the music we were told we could not play." Aptly taking place in March (Women's History Month), the celebration of women's contributions in music and art Saturday is an excellent way to observe International Women's Day (March 8) a little early while enjoying the often overlooked talents of female fronted acts.
This year's gathering promises, as always, to be an eclectic mix of music genres. Grrl Fair will be featuring acts ranging from the gothic rock sounds of Bad Form to the punk blues of dynamic duo Sydney Ward and Brian Rodriguez who together form the Anus Kings. Another youthful tandem, Chelsea (guitar/vocals) and Justine (drums/vocals) Brown of Riverside's Summer Twins, provide the event with subtle yet insatiable garage rock grooves with just the right hint of pop sensibilities. The Weekly recently caught up with singer-guitarist Chelsea Brown of Summer Twins.
OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): Are you really 'Summer Twin' sisters? Or do you just really look alike?
Chelsea Brown: We're actually not twins, but we are sisters! We're only a year and a half apart and very close, so sometimes it feels like we're twins.
How and when did you and your sister start collaborating on music and when did you form Summer Twins?
Justine and I have been playing together in different girl bands since our early teenage years. We were in a three-piece rock & roll band, the Scandells, for most of our experience, and once we broke up, I started writing music that was a little different from what we were doing before. I felt that I had the freedom to write whatever I wanted without having to fit into some kind of mold. Justine and I are also really close musically, so she always backs me up. Once I had written a couple of songs we realized we had something going, so we recruited some friends to play guitar and bass. We've been playing as the Summer Twins for a little over a year now and have had a couple lineup changes, but Justine and I will always stick together. I can't imagine playing with any other drummer.
Did you all grow up in Riverside? How does being from the Inland Empire play into your music? Has the scene out there been receptive and supportive of the band?
We were born and raised in Riverside. The music scene here is small and there are very few venues to play. As a result, there is a kind of community with music where everyone knows each other and we all do our best to work with what we have and set up our own shows. It's fun playing here and people are so supportive, but you kind of have to get out of Riverside to get any attention as a band. Luckily, we aren't too far from Orange County or LA. Riverside doesn't have the best reputation, but from working in Orange County I've learned that a lot of people don't know much about it. We're proud of our hometown and want people to see that there are a lot of talented artists and musicians here.
How would you describe the sound of Summer Twins?
I think our sound is the result of everything we have listened to throughout our lives. We owe a lot to our parents for exposing us to all kinds of rock 'n roll growing up. We learned to play our instruments by copying '70s punk bands while '60 music taught us to harmonize. Fifties music has influenced my songwriting and guitar style and lots of contemporary indie/experimental bands have taught me to challenge traditional songwriting a bit. When it comes down to it, I like a well-written pop song with a good melody and a nice groove, but I like to add in little surprises here and there to try to keep it interesting.
What's in the mix for Summer Twins in 2010?
Our first EP will be coming out soon, hopefully sometime in March. We made one music video and plan on making more for that EP. I've also been writing a lot of new material lately, so I'm already thinking about a second EP. We want to branch out a bit and focus on playing shows outside of Riverside.
How did you all hook up with Grrl Fair? Are you excited to play the event spotlighting female fronted acts?
The ladies hosting Grrl Fair actually found us! I'm really excited and honored to play with other female musicians. There's also going to be a lot of really cool workshops and it should be a great time. Super excited.
Ninth Annual Grrl Fair, featuring performances by Summer Twins, Anus Kings, Stars at Night, Teen Rex and many more, at 511 E . Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana; www.myspace.com/grrlfair. Sat., 2-10 p.m. $5. All ages.