“It’s impossible to tell. We have never made music as men. I wish I knew,” jokes Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls, responding to the (non)issue of making music in an all-female band. This may be exactly what we like so much about Vivian Girls: although they are of course a band of all women, this isn’t how they identify as musicians. If it’s not common practice for a band of all dudes to reflect on how their music is influenced by their gender, why should it be with women? So, moving on from our futile questions about playing music as girls, we talked about something Vivian Girls do identify with: 60s rock and doo wop. Some classic standouts for them include: “The Chantels, Patience and Prudence, the Shirelles, Lou Christie, the Four Seasons, the Beach Girls, Lesley Gore, and the Shangri-Las.” Aside from the more noticeable influences, Cassie stresses her love for disco and 80s dance music.
Cassie and Katy Goodman first met in high school, and the two would later meet the rest of the Vivian Girls in Brooklyn. “We decided to jam together and it sounded good so we kept going,” Cassie explains, “Fiona came into the mix after Ali left in spring 2010. We also knew her through mutual friends in Brooklyn and had been huge fans of her drumming for years, so it was a thrill to hear that she wanted to play with us.” Ali Koehler is now playing drums with Best Coast. Like many Brooklyn bands, Vivian Girls give credit to the venues that helped them get off the ground. One venue in particular is the collective called Death By Audio, which opened its doors to live shows in 2007. “Death By Audio was pretty important for us—we’d play there maybe once a month the first year and a half we were a band.” Reflecting on the Brooklyn community, Cassie says, “As a 7-year Brooklyn resident, I will say that the scene has a total musical turnover every two years – which is great because it keeps the place from feeling stale.” Though one constant that Cassie pins down is that “the vibe has always been very similar: always really supportive and genuine.”
Although they remained loyal to certain places and venues, Cassie acknowledges that, “every show was important. We tried to play as many different places as possible, to reach out to different areas of the community.” This is no exaggeration either, since the band started, it seems that you could pretty much find them on any given weekend, playing to the crowded and sweaty show-going masses. Although they now play well beyond Kings County, their emphasis on playing shows remains. When I asked Cassie what the future holds for Vivian Girls, she responded simply, “More touring, and then more touring.”—Annick Mayer