The Band Camp Benefit for Girls Rock! DC is this Saturday at the Black Cat. To preview the show we had Liz Yeljack from Glitterlust and Nikki Smith of Freeform Radio interview each other. The show will also feature Sister Ex, More AM Than FM and Frankie & Betty.
The two guitarists have known each other for years and know each other’s bands well. Yeljack can often be found front row at a Freeform Radio show yelling “Get Some!” In 2012, Yeljack unexpectedly had to back out of Glitterlust’s gig at Phase Fest at the last minute due to a family emergency. Smith learned all the guitar parts so she could fill in for her friend. They sat down at Freddie’s Beach Bar over the weekend to catch up and talk about their upcoming show at Black Cat.
Nikki Smith: So, Glitterlust has a new look. I seem to recall more leopard print and feather boas at some of your earlier shows. The last time I saw you play, I saw lasers beams and a smoke machine and black lights. It felt edgier.
Liz Yeljack: You could say the changes we’ve gone through are kinda like the awkward teen years where you’re trying to “find yourself,” – for us both musically and aesthetically. Our earlier shows were very glam-rock inspired, nowadays, we’ve modernized the look of Glitterlust with lighting effects, glowing costumes and makeup. It’s more Tron inspired.
At the same time, the subject matter in our songs has become deeper and more meaningful. We’re experimenting with new electronic beats, different arrangements, different guitar playing styles.
What is Freeform Radio up to?
NS: We have new music that we’ll be officially releasing in the near future. We’re playing a bit of catch- up because I was wandering around in Europe for three weeks in May. At the moment we’re focused on playing well at the Black Cat, but we will be booking more dates soon.
Band Camp Benefit is my baby, so it’s been my primary focus the past few weeks especially. I posted fliers in all the Jumbo Slices. You know a thing or two about what it takes to produce a show, don’t you?
LY: Yeah, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes. I book our shows and do a lot of networking with other bands and promoters. That includes managing the social media and our mailing list. It’s a lot of emails going back and forth, a lot of attention to detail.
You do all that kind of stuff for your band as well as the Ladies Rock This shows. Why did you decide to create Ladies Rock This and what are you hoping to accomplish?
NS: Initially I was managing the two shows separately. I thought it might be simpler to market them under one brand so to speak. It was Rob over at Chief Ike’s, who started referring to us as ladies of rock. The name Ladies Rock This was inspired by that.
We are a collective of women who play music in DC. Open mics, showcases, the occasional fundraiser like Band Camp Benefit. It feels like the women who participate are appreciative and supportive. I’d like to see us grow in terms of numbers, for more bands and artists to get involved. I’d like for people to associate Ladies Rock This with live shows powered by women who really rock.
We met back in 2011, just as I was creating Ladies Rock This. You reached out to me via Facebook about having Glitterlust stop by the open mic show. After hearing your music, I invited you on as the featured performer that month. Had you played in any bands before Glitterlust?
LY: The only band I played in was my school’s concert band. From the 4th grade to high school graduation, I played clarinet, trombone and the alto clarinet. I picked up the acoustic guitar at 16. Having a basic music background did help. I’ve jammed and played with other musicians sporadically since then but my first real band is Glitterlust.
Your band Freeform Radio has been together for a while. Is there any gig that is particularly memorable?
NS: I would say opening for Dan Croll last October at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue. The sound crew was awesome as was the crowd, which makes it all the more fun for us. At one point fans pushed through a velvet rope. And we got to sign the wall.
Speaking of gigs, we’re both playing Saturday night on the Black Cat Mainstage, at an event called Band Camp Benefit presented by Ladies Rock This to raise money for Girls Rock! DC.
LY: Yes! Girls Rock is great. I wish their summer camp existed when I was growing up. I’ve attended the camper showcase in the past that takes place at 9:30 Club, and it is just so cool to see these girls rock out and to see how much fun they are having. So I’m very excited about playing the show on Saturday at the Black Cat.
When you think about it, the Band Camp Benefit showcase itself ties in directly with the mission of Girls Rock! DC. Every band playing this Saturday night is either woman-fronted or has a woman in the band. It’s important that we represent for the ladies in the rock music scene. This Saturday we get to celebrate that.