By: Candace Hansen
Julie Edwards is the bad-ass drummer you wish would have played in your garage rock band in high school. Her cool, Bonham influenced grooves make up ½ of the DIY feminist blues-rock duo Deap Vally, but don't think she's just a drummer. Edwards is a songwriter, knitter, and part of the Moon Block collective that's bringing Desert Daze to Southern California this weekend.
Edwards has always been a musician; she played violin and piano as a kid, sang in musical theater, and even belted out some serious vocals as an alto in her school choir. Eleven years ago, Edwards picked up sticks for the first time after beating a friend to the drum kit in a rented rehearsal studio. She forged her drumming style while playing in the LA based 2-piece band The Pity Party, where she played keys and drums at the same time. "I learned to play drums 3-limbed," Edwards says, "I played keyboard with my left hand, and played drums with my right arm and legs; that informs a lot of my style [now], including my weak left arm." Since then, Edwards has developed into a dynamic, soulful, percussive artist. Her simple-yet-intentional, musical, and often linear grooves have the aesthetic of 1960's shuffles on acid.
After meeting Lindsey Troy in 2011 at a knitting shop in LA, the two formed Deap Vally and have been hitting the road hard since the release of their debut full-length Sistronix in 2013. Their songwriting is collaborative and Edwards' drumming and vocals reflect that process. "We write pretty much everything together, whatever that entails," says Edwards, "I could never not be a critical part of the creative process."
They write whatever they want, and their relatable songs range from experiences, to anecdotes, to sage advice. "Walk of Shame" is a self-explanatory tale, "Gonna Make my Own Money" is about abandoning the outdated idea that women need a rich man, insisting that women get rich themselves. "Creeplife" describes a nefarious character most have met: the "cool" older man waiting around to pick up underage girls at shows. The chorus screams "Don't cha dare, don't cha dare show up- You're gonna get what's coming to you creeper." Deap Vally's songs sound like a conversation between two friends: they're inspirational and authorial, but lack pretension.
When she's not touring or shredding drum tracks for Deap Vally's new release due this fall, Edwards is part of the Moon Block collective which organizes Desert Daze, Moon Block Party, and other events including the official Desert Daze pre-party at Pappy and Harriet's. "Somebody has to put on decent, vibey festivals with flawless lineups." Says Edwards. "We do it all together. It's really inspiring and fun and A LOT of insanely hard work and impossible odds."
Not only is Desert Daze's lineup musically diverse, its conscious. Feminism influence's Edwards' music and festival organizing, and its apparent in the representation of women on this years Desert Daze line up. Thirty percent of the acts feature women, and although that implies room to grow, it's a far cry from recent trends in music festivals. Women are underrepresented at established events like Coachella (17 percent) and Warped Tour (13 percent), and dismally underrepresented at some events like New Jersey's Skate and Surf Fest (0 percent). Desert Daze has no shortage of amazing bands featuring folks of all genders, and with performances lined up from bands like White Lung, Minus the Bear, Sister Crayon, Failure, Feels, Chelsea Wolfe, and Warpaint, there should be something for everyone.
For young women who want to play music or organize festivals, Edwards says, "Listen to yourself. Do your thing and don't let anybody get in your way or intimidate you."
At Desert Daze, Edwards and company are doing it their own way. She hopes people fall in love, start new bands, create art, and feel recharged, and suggests that it may be "the most inspiring and fun night of your life."
Desert Daze will be held Saturday May 2nd at 3 p.m. at Sunset Ranch Oasis in Mecca, CA located at 69-520 South Lincoln Street, Mecca, CA 92254 and will feature Warpaint, Failure, RJD2, Minus The Bear, The Budos Band, Dan Deacon, Chelsea Wolfe, DIIV, Psychic Ills, Deap Vally, Bass Drum of Death, White Lung and more.
General Admission tickets are $55 and camping tickets start at $75. They are available at www.desertdaze.org or in person in Orange County at Port of Sound Records in Costa Mesa 1500 Adams Ave #102, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 (714) 444-2337. Presale tickets purchased in person this week are eligible for a $10 discount.
The Official Desert Daze Pre-Party featuring The Coathangers, Tomorrow's Tulips, The Creation Factory, and Thelma and the Sleaze, will be held Friday May 1st at Pappy & Harriets Pioneertown Palace 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown, CA, 92268, 7p.m.