By: Katrina Nattress
The Jezebelles are not your traditional choir. In fact, the Southern California all-girl rock 'n' roll choir has never even competed in a choral competition. Conversely, most of the ladies in the 17-member group have pasts in rock bands, and two years ago Kelsey Dyer formed The Jezebelles in hopes of creating something original. The collective currently performs covers from genres ranging from doo-wop to punk and everything in between, so it's safe to say she succeeded in her mission.
Though The Jezebelles do not compete against choirs, they do participate in battle of the band competitions and are gearing up for a show at the House of Blues Anaheim on July 3rd, which is the final round for a slot on this year's Hootenanny festival in Orange County. Amidst rehearsing for their show next week, the girls chatted with the Weekly about their unique, kick-ass set of singers.
OC Weekly (Katrina Nattress) : So apparently you ladies are America's only all girl rock 'n' roll choir. When and how did The Jezebelles come to be?
Kelsey Dyer: I came up with the concept for the Jezebelles after my band Tatonka broke up 2 years ago, and doing the same formula of starting a band again and going through the heartache of playing bars to people who constantly overlooked what we were doing didn't sit well with me. I wanted to separate from the pack and do something completely original. So I convinced several friends and Craiglist ad readers to go along with this crazy little seedling of an idea. Truthfully, I didn't know if it would work, but two years into this project we are a well-oiled machine and having the absolute best time with our little band of sisters.
What made you decide to sing rock 'n' roll songs instead of conventional choral arrangements?
Erica Nunez: We actually consider ourselves to be more of a rock band than a choir. Most of the Jezebelles have much more experience with live rock 'n' roll music and performance than we do choral. It never occurred to us to try and do traditional choral arrangements.
Do you ever feel like other choirs look at you differently because you do not perform classical arrangements?
Crystal Carrera: You aren't going to believe this, but we don't know any other choirs. We really aren't apart of that world. Our place has always been in sweaty rock 'n' roll venues and playing with other underground artists. We aren't exactly a choir, but we aren't exactly a rock band. We are somewhere in between.
Are you ladies planning on releasing an album of your covers?
Gabby Marin: Actually the next big thing we have planned is releasing original music. Several of the members are songwriters and our next step is to incorporate their talents into recordings. People should keep checking www.GirlRockChoir.com for updates.
Which female musicians do you look to for inspiration?
Dyer: We draw inspiration from all of our female predecessors that stepped outside of the box and did something completely original, women like Kathleen Hanna, Patti Smith, Joan Jett, the Go Go's, Courtney Love, Brody Dalle, Grace Slick, Beth Ditto, Stevie Nicks, and Karen O just to name a few.
You live in Orange County. How do you feel this has affected your work (if at all)?
Doreen Cameron: I think [for] all of us girls–although we come from different parts of the nation and have been heavily influenced by lots of genres of music–the '90s Southern California punk and ska scene shaped a lot of our musical Identities growing up. We are all direct products of that rich music scene.
You are always wearing really cute, coordinated outfits. Is costume an important part of your performances?
Kristina Vasquez: Thank you. We are all a bit theatrical and love to dress up. Crystal, one of our featured soloists, owns a vintage store called Atomic Closet and she always hooks us up with really awesome clothes.
What can we expect at your House of Blues performance?
Cameron: You are going to see not one, not four, not 10, but 17 performers on stage singing anthemic and powerful rock music from all eras and genres.
Where is your favorite place to perform?
Carrera: I should tell you that we also double as a flash mob, and one of our absolute favorite things to do is go to crowded places and sing punk songs arranged for a choir. It's an odd sight to see.