Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Local Band Black Girls Mix Smooth Music with Controversial Name

Listen to audio here

Black Girls was one of 94 bands performing at this year's Mid-Atlantic College Radio Conference, better known as MACRoCk. The event, in its 14th year, was held this past April 1st and 2nd in Harrisonburg, Virginia and hopes to promote and support college radio, independent artists and labels, as well as their fans. Last year's event hosted big names like Animal Collective, but this year the spotlight returned to up-and-coming Virginia bands like Black Girls.

After their performance at MACRoCk, Black Girls band members, Mike Bryant – piano and lead guitar, Fletcher – rhythm guitar and background vocals, Stephen Ferris IV – drums and background vocals, sat down with Richmond Independent Radio News to discuss their unique sound and upcoming plans. Right now, Black Girls have a CD collection of songs available for listeners and the band is in the process of recording their first EP. Although Black Girls formed two years ago, many of the band have played together since their college days.

“We put together a band of like, it was called River City Choir and it was just like whiskey drinking americana music, and it wasn’t really anything.”

It wasn’t much. We played some backyard parties and stuff.”

We just enjoyed each other’s company so much, we were like you know what let’s plug in the instruments and start a real band.”

We kept going got some electric guitars and blah blah blah.”

Since those early days, Black Girls have traveled light-years musically from “whiskey drinking americana” to “snuff rock” a mix of surf, psychedelic, glam and soul. Snuff rock isn't just a sound or a tongue-in-cheek reference to substance abuse, it's a movement according to the Black Girl's record label, Worthless Junk Records. The band says its funk-infused snuff rock is influenced by T.Rex, The Dream, Sly and the Family Stone, R.Kelly as well as Steely Dan.

Steely Dan is probably the hugest of them all, and that's not a joke.”

With a musical style all their own and a controversial name, Black Girls are getting noticed by Richmond concert-goers as well as the local press. However, the media reviews are a mixed bag. While Style Weekly named Black Girls the “The Best Band of 2011,” RVA magazine editor Andrew Necci was not so kind.

Put it on the record that RVA magazine is not supporters of Black Girls ('the editor of RVA magazine') yea, he called us hipster, racist douche bags blah blah blah the whole nine yards. Never seen the show, never heard the music. No, but we enjoy it. I think any press is good press.”

The name “Black Girls” was not chosen to stir up trouble, it is meant to coincide with the band's unique sound. While all six members of the band are white, male, self-proclaimed hipsters, their music is melodic, soulful and distinctly southern.

We think it’s a funny thing that people come up and one of the first things they say to us after they see our music they say to us, ‘That’s not what we expected’ and that’s kind of what we go for. The music’s like a little smoother. It’s not…I dunno. It’s a different kind of thing and you would think a bunch of hipster douche-bag looking guys like us ('racist hipster douche-bags, laughs') to make music like that, and so we think the name fits.”

When Style Weekly voted Black Girls “The Best Band of 2011”, the band told Style that it owes its accelerated ascension on the local music scene to “hard work and the support from fans.”

We play Richmond a lot. We have a good fan-base there. People are really supportive of us in Richmond”.

While the band has a number of Richmond shows scheduled for the near future, Black Girls plans to refocus its energy towards song-writing and national recognition.

We’re going to do a Southern kind of thing this summer (in Georgia right?) Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, whatever. (And then West Virginia) Oh yea, we’re playing Camp Barefoot in West Virginia it’s a festival (a hippy festival) a hippy jam band festival which should be awesome…I guess.”

Keep an eye out for this up-and-coming Richmond band with a smooth snuff rock sound. Although their name offends some their fan-base continues to grow. So let's settle this once and for all, are the Black Girls a bunch of racist hipsters?

Yea, obviously. Wait but, no should be in there for the edit. But, for the edit 'no.' A few seconds of silence…No.”

-Annie Brown


  1. Proud people of Richmond Virginia,

    I implore you all to come together and support this group and their great contributions to the music community. Cast aside issues of race and white privilege. The history of oppression in the United States of America has always stood in the way of greater things, such as a good fan base of educated and informed individuals that have experienced what it is to be treated like a lesser human being because of the color of their skin. Do not allow yourselves to distracted by your better angels, forgo the whispers that would stand against us daring to be a minority voice. How could anyone lend such opinions gravity when there are so many more of us that agree in unity that we enjoy the music that these noble worldly men perform? Let us cast aside such doubt that the band name “Black Girls” has offended anyone of color. And what would it matter if we have added just one more to the many daily reminders of how it is to be an oppressed person of color. In fact I have spoken to one of them and they have informed me that they have no problem with it at all. So there you have it.