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May 2021

Girl Friday: "Androgynous Mary is the patron saint of queer confidence"

The band's new album is out now.
Published: 10:27 am, September 01, 2020 Photos: Al Kalyk.
Girl Friday: "Androgynous Mary is the patron saint of queer confidence"

Los Angeles four-piece Girl Friday are hands-down the coolest bunch in the latest issue of Upset. (Sorry, everyone else.) Having spent 2019 on the road with the likes of The Beths and Marika Hackman, their new album 'Androgynous Mary' is a charming and relatable tribute to friendship and finding your place in the world. It deals with a lot of personal and difficult themes, but in a way that oozes camaraderie and fun. Libby Hsieh (bass/vocals), Vera Ellen (guitar/vocals), Sierra Scott (guitar/vocals) and Virginia Pettis (drums/vocals) fill us in.

Hi you lot, how's it going? What are you up to at the mo?

Libby: Hi hello hola bonjour. I just finished a 'zine I've been working on for a while now... whistle while you work, you know? All in a hard day's work.
Virginia: Oh hey, you know it's going. I'm just watching a livestream of the new illuminati hotties album, which is absolute fire.
Sierra: I'm pretty thrilled at the moment because I just got a new inhaler. Absolutely, tearing it up out here.
Vera: I like getting froggy.

How long have you lot been together? Has it been a long road to your debut album?

Libby: I want to say three years now? So, I guess in the music world, we're toddlers who have barely learned to talk. Doesn't stop us from screaming I guess…
Sierra: We started to write this album in 1977, so this is a big year for us.

What've been the highlights of your time together so far? Have you done much travelling and what not?

Virginia: Recording this album is definitely the thing I'm proudest of so far.
Sierra: I am pleased to report that touring is even more magical than I'd always dreamed it would be, blood, sweat, and tears included.

What inspires you, both musically and in life?

Libby: Nothing, I am dead inside.
Virginia: Fast songs in 7/4.
Sierra: Rickie Vasquez from My So-Called Life.
Vera: Bidz of Sonic Youth live, and Adam Sandler look-alikes.

How do you approach songwriting? Do songs find you, or do you usually have to find them?

Libby: They pop out like a baby out of a mother in labour. Sometimes that labour is really long, painful, and bloody. Other times, it's quick, and you come out glowing with a full face of makeup.
Sierra: And sometimes you feel a spectral hand atop yours, guiding you along in the process.

It feels like you are really adept at recognising and communicating complex emotions, is that something you've had to learn how to do, or does it come naturally?
Libby: It is absolutely something that is learned - and learned the hard way, too. Up to a certain point, generalising a feeling as "bad" just doesn't work anymore. It's also sometimes scary to figure that out too. Sometimes when you identify what certain feelings are and where they come from, it has the ability to rip apart your perception of different aspects of your life. But it's so healing too. It feels refreshing and regenerative when you've finished processing through it. Communicating those things are a different story, but alas, we all gotta learn at our own speed.
Sierra: That's very kind of you! It's a bit of both I think. On one hand, it's pretty natural for me to indulge in emotional situations that feel sort of horrible or shameful. But on the other hand, that shame often comes to the forefront when the time comes to communicate those thoughts to other people. That translation is what takes the most work.

Do you have a favourite song on 'Androgynous Mary'?

Libby: 'What We Do It For!' or 'This is Not The Indie Rock'. Those songs specifically have us singing the same melody in a unified voice that I feel really embody a certain universality. These songs have such a particular feeling of collective cognisance in them.
Virginia: Oof, I truly love every song on this record, but probably 'Eaten Thing' and 'Public Bodies'. They're both a wild ride, and I'm so excited to bring them to a live audience.
Sierra: 'Clotting' is a special baby for me. It's that catharsis of vomiting up everything you hate about yourself and realising that you're learning how to heal in the process.
Vera: Probably 'Eaten Thing' and 'Favorite Friend'.

Who is Androgynous Mary? Are they a real person?

Libby: I ask myself this question every time I wake up in the morning
Virginia: Androgynous Mary is the patron saint of queer confidence. They eat the gender binary for breakfast along with waffles, polenta scramble, and a heaping helping of spinach.

Did you hit upon any unexpected challenges when making the record?

Libby: We put off writing like a fourth of the album up until the very very last moment lol.

What's next for you lot?

Virginia: Pancakes, anyone?
Sierra: Someday, the children of Girl Friday will be in the same room and birth Mary's younger sibling. Until that day, my sister and I are going to continue ingesting every available version of Pride and Prejudice.
Vera: Monster Ma$h.

Taken from the September issue of Upset. Girl Friday's debut album 'Androgynous Mary' is out now.

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