By Tamara Syed
Move over boys — GIRLSCHOOL is setting the stage for a music festival packed to the brim with talented women who really rock.
The Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles will play host to GIRLSCHOOL’s second annual women-fronted festival January 27-29, with proceeds benefitting the Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA.
GIRLSCHOOL is an all-female led collective founded by musician Anna Bulbrook (Airborne Toxic Event/Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros/The Bulls) in response to the underwhelming amount of women in the alternative music industry.
“When the band (Airborne Toxic Event) first took off, I was just happy to be living the dream, if you will — but over 10 years, I became increasingly conscious of being one of very few women on stage in the alternative rock world,” Bulbrook told Music for Good. “It got a bit lonely, to be honest,” .
“Then two summers ago, I visited Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA, an all-female utopia that uses rock’ n’ roll as a foil to create a loving, girl-positive community. I had an experience so profoundly positive that it rewired my brain. I realized what I had been missing all the years I’d spent touring in this very male-dominated space,” she explained. “I like men and all, but it’s like the first time a kid tastes birthday cake — you don’t think about what you’ve been missing until you finally taste it.”
Bulbrook’s inspiration led to the creation of GIRLSCHOOL as an all-women fronted residency at a local club. “It sounds quaint to me today, but at the time, the idea felt a little risky. However, the response was so overwhelmingly positive that I realized that I wasn’t the only person hungry for a community like this to exist,” she said.
As the residency took on more artists, the GIRLSCHOOL collective began to take form and the original members put together its first three-day festival last year. “Now the community has grown to include more and more amazing women from across the music industry who volunteer for GIRLSCHOOL because they care about creating positive change, music, and supporting girls,” Bulbrook said.
This year’s festival features immense talent including Chelsea Wolfe, The Bird and The Bee, Deap Vally and many more female-led bands and artists. “I couldn’t be prouder of this year’s lineup,” Bulbrook said. “I love every single artist for a different reason, and I can’t wait to see everyone deliver onstage.”å
The three-day festival will also feature panel discussions and workshops led by Soundgirls.org, NBC Universal, Noisey and many other leaders paving the way for women in the music industry. “I can’t wait to hear what leaders and thinkers from different vantage points within the music space have to say,” Bulbrook said. “There is power in assembling so many brains — and so many women — in one space.”
Bulbrook and GIRLSCHOOL’s mission is simple: to create a girl-positive community in the world of rock. “I’d like girls who come to GIRLSCHOOL to see a utopia where a diverse community comes together around the revolutionary idea that women can be gifted, too,” she said.
“I’d like girls to see that a happy and respectful community that includes people of all genders can come together to celebrate women’s artistry, listen to women’s voices, and have a really good time at a f–ing great music festival,” she continued.
Proceeds from the festival go towards Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA, a non-profit that sets out to empower girls through music education. It strives to nurture self-esteem and self-expression in girls and foster connections among female musicians.
Check out highlights from last year’s GIRLSCHOOL Festival.