Girls Rock School Northern Ireland: Interview

The awesome Girls Rock School Northern Ireland are not going to let a little thing like a pandemic stop them from getting their voices heard. The group’s Autumn camp met online, and wrote a song called ‘Wild & Free (Play it Loud)’. They then recorded and released while in quarantine – a perfect 2020 story! It’s a song about, they tell us:

“the core message of Girls Rock School; empowering female identifying and non-binary youth!


We caught up with GRSNI’s Betsy for a quick chat about the project…

For anyone who doesn’t know, what is GRSNI?
GRSNI is the Northern Ireland branch of the global Girls Rock Camp movement. The Northern Ireland chapter was founded by the brilliant Shannon of Sister Ghost back in 2016 and has been growing ever since! GRSNI strives to teach young women and nonbinary youth how to riff, rock and roll, empowering young people to become more confident, to speak their minds and write killer music along the way! I first got involved as a participant in the 2019 summer camp where I learnt how to sing, and my love for music and performing has only grown since. I was invited back to the first ever Autumn 2020 Online Camp as an intern, so it was really interesting to be in a leadership position this time! I love working with GRS and what they stand for, so I was so excited for this opportunity! I also performed in Belfast City Hall with GRSNI as part of International Womens’ Day 2020 celebrations!

Tell us about the single – how did that come about?
The single came about as the result of the Autumn 2020 camp. It was all recorded at home, on phone mics and headphones, so we really embodied the punk and riot grrrl DIY spirit! We wanted to write a song about our lockdown experience, whilst still carrying through a theme of empowerment. Having a GRSNI event to take part in in such isolating times has definitely had a positive effect on both campers and leaders, it’s provided a sense of community even if we couldn’t meet up in person. It was so great to achieve something so big, the first ever single released on the GRS label, during a year as crazy as this one!!

What was recording in lockdown like?
I missed meeting up with people to record, but recording at home definitely made me very focused and gave me as much time as i needed to perfect my part! I also learnt from scratch how to use GarageBand, which was difficult at first but I eventually ended up having some real fun with it, and now I have lots of experience!

What impact do you think the events of 2020 will have on GRSNI?
I think the events of 2020 have really taught us how to adapt to these new circumstances, and has really expanded our horizons as to what we can do in the future with online events. This event has been such a success, so has really boosted our confidence and has shown us it is totally possible to release an AWESOME single even in the circumstances!

What’s next on the agenda?
The director and the team are working on another camp as well as an exciting project with a national charity right now!

What do you want for Christmas?
I’m a big fan of vinyl, so I’m hoping to get Nevermind by Nirvana and Be The Cowboy by Mitski! Also hoping for the new The Last of Us game, it’s got one of the best video game soundtracks I’ve heard!

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