Between the ages of 10 and 17, a lot happens to us. It’s mind-bending that teachers and parents expect us to have an idea what direction we want for our lives. At age 14, all I wanted to do was drink two-litre coolers, hang out in the parking lot with my friends and listen to music.
The New Black Centre, located in Inglewood, is a non-profit society whose focus is youth art and music in the community. It creates a hub for youth to play, experience and learn about music and art. It only seemed fitting for Nicola Lefebvre to put together Girls Rock Camp. Growing up playing bass in bands and loving music, she wants other girls to be able to have the option to experience music. Lefebvre started playing bass when she was 15 years old, inspired by the song “Sober,” by Tool, going as far as getting the same bass featured on that song, a Rickenbacker. It’s clear talking to her that she has a love for music that must be shared and Girls Rock Camp is just that.
Rock and roll is largely dominated by men: women tend to take a backseat. “It takes a special type of female at a younger age to get into this,” she rightly says. “You have to be able to play with big boys and be thick-skinned. But, I remember when I was in my earlier 20s, I saw The Donnas play in a pub, and walked out of that show thinking those girls rock harder than any guys I have ever seen.”
Girls Rock Camp isn’t just about playing music: you learn about the industry, labels, public relations, management and sound tech. Growing up, many look at music as more of a hobby, but, there are girls eager to pour their hearts into their music, learn about the genre’s history, read bios on Stevie Nicks, Courtney Love, Patti Smith and Joan Jett. They know that Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein was founder of a movement with Sleater-Kinney and is now in Wild Flag.
But, what do you do with it? Own it. Girls Rock Camp can give you the tools to be able to figure out the focus you need to end up doing something you love. “You don’t have to play an instrument ever. Maybe you have a favourite band, or you’re interested in learning more about music. When we get to the end of that week, I want everybody to be able to play three chords and can put together a basic song,” says Lefebvre. “Also they will learn about what it takes to book shows, set up a stage, come up with an image for yourself and make merch.” Lefebvre has lined up some of Calgary’s most talented women to help with this project, including Miesha Louie of Miesha & the Spanks, who will be helping out full time for the week. “She has tons of background, she knows how to book shows, write grants, go on tour and, as well, teach guitar.”
This is the perfect recipe to be inspired. “Being in music isn’t just about playing an instrument. For example, I met this girl, she is about 16, and she came along to Breakfast Television with Ten Cent Pistol. She is 100% their band manager, she is rad, she controls their social media and booking and that’s what she wants to do.” Girls Band Camp sounds like the best way to spend spring break if you’re a girl looking to get into the music industry. My 14-year-old self would kill to have an opportunity the New Black and Lefebvre are putting together.
Girls Rock Camp runs from March 25 to 30 at the New Black. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Danni Bauer
Photo: Nicola Lefebvre