Be Bad Weekend Organizer Talks Grit and Glory in RVA’s Music Scene

Rachel Sparkman has been brightening up Richmond every winter for a few years now. Gathering the best femme punk and hardcore bands, she’s highlighted the diversity and richness of RVA’s music scene since she started the annual gathering in January 2014. In it’s fourth year, Be Bad Weekend is just as raw and rambunctious as ever.

What’s the story behind the fest?

Originally it was called Bad Grrrl Revue (coined by Kasey Simcoe from Asylum) and had that name for the first three years. There weren’t as many heavy bands in Richmond with female vocals, so I thought it would be cool to have some of them play all together at one show. It was a lot of fun and felt very empowering, so I organized another one a year later. It was a one-day event until last year (2017) and so I decided to call it something else, and settled on Be Bad Weekend, keeping the “bad” theme. This year (2018) is the fifth event.

Harsh Surrender by BAD MAGIC

 

What’s your role with the fest?

I’m the event organizer, and my bands have played in the past. This year I’ve asked Julie Karr to help share in the organizing responsibilities with me, who plays in the band Bad Magic. There were some people who had to drop off this weekend so we’re both actually going to play — Bad Magic on Friday and Memory Loss on Saturday.

 

How did you decide on which bands to pick & why go all-female?

Although I hate the trope of “female-fronted” when it comes to band descriptions, I feel that it is important for an event like this to have female vocals as the focus. It’s important to me, but it’s also extremely powerful to watch and be a part of. One year I had the tagline of, “This is our night, these are our voices,” and I still feel how impactful this notion can be. Otherwise, it’s not strictly all-female. Finding bands to play has varied from year to year. For the first couple Bad Grrl years, there weren’t a whole lot of bands to choose from, but I definitely tried to pick heavier sounding bands, and I am also guilty of asking my personal favorite bands to play. This year, with Julie’s help, we chose a pretty diverse line-up of heavier bands, poppy sounds, solo-artists… various genres.

 

EXILE by Memory Loss

How does the fest embody RVAs ethos?

Richmond is becoming a hotbed for not only great music, but also for representation through diverse genres and inclusivity in our music scene. Everyone’s been putting in the work to head in this forward direction, and it’s only going to get better from here.

 

Shutting Down by Haircut

What are some of the bands you’re most excited to see?

Definitely Dazeases, they have played BBW in the past and they are seriously one of the best artists in Virginia right now. Otherwise I’m excited for everyone, probably Locker Room, Gumming, and Doll Baby the most.

the action starts tonight, 7pm at strange matter

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Spinnin’ A Soulful Stew: Sitting Down With DJ Soup

by Jerome Spencer

While hip-hop has always given shine and recognition to the producer, it’s only in recent years that instrumental hip-hop has risen to prominence. Certainly, my go-to when I’m trying to chill out and find my inner peace, I tend to go for the sample-based tranquil stuff I can nod out to and get lost in my thoughts; Sunday morning vibes all week.

Norfolk’s own Richard Soup has seemingly come out of nowhere to become the Sunday morning favorite of hip-hop heads everywhere. The son of Vietnamese refugees, Soup didn’t have the same musical upbringing that many of us take for granted.

“Up until I was like 6 or 7, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of English-speaking music,” he tells me via phone, “most of the music that I heard was either my parents singing old Vietnamese folk songs or they used to get these really cheesy variety show cassette tapes from Vietnam. Pretty much Vietnam was two decades behind, so whatever was going on musically in the late-80s/early-90s hadn’t caught on yet so they were featuring artists like Boney M. Disco was huge in Vietnam in the early-90s so my first exposure to English-speaking music was disco, which I still really love.” Soup’s musical palette soon branched out to whatever he could find at the thrift store; “The Carpenters, The Beatles…” (the guy talks real highly of The Carpenters).

Left Unspoken by Soup

It’s important to mention that Soup was taking music very seriously in high school.  He played viola in the orchestra and was taking courses in music theory and composition, but he also started getting really into hip hop. “De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets was my favorite stuff.” And while a lot of his friends were rapping and beat boxing, Soup had no interest in rapping and couldn’t beat box (who can beat box, really?) so he took to producing, naturally.

“I started using the software that we had in our music theory classes to write beats using sheet music and assigning instruments to make beats that way.” Let’s pause here because how cool does that sound?

In college, Soup was a music minor and got to study under a visiting professor who was really into electronic composition and specialized in arranging field recordings into more traditional sounding compositions.  This is also when Soup got his first MPC and started sampling. Soup can talk for hours about all of the great experimental things he learned and did with sound in college, but one of his beats tells the same story. His music is purposefully repetitive so that you can zone out and just catch the vibe, deceptively simple boom bap that comes from a deep understanding of what makes a song work.

Soup took an inadvertent break from music to go to law school and practice environmental litigation in New York, but started making music again when he moved back to Norfolk about three years ago.  He met other supportive hip hop producers, started doing “For the Record,” a producer event at The Groove that grew into family-friendly party/cypher, and has recently  collaborated with Better Beat Bureau’s Ologist and Thank You Gift Shop to organize Thanks For Listening, a “producer open-mic” at Selden Market.

But let’s not let his community contribution distract us from his tapes. His tapes are incredible. On the surface, 2016’s “Left Unspoken” and this year’s “Together” can simply come off as stellar beat tapes; just some head-nod beats with deep pockets to freestyle along with. And, honestly, that would be enough, but there’s so much more.

While the obvious influences are there (Pete Rock, Dilla, No I.D.), there’s a certain brightness and innovation that transcends a standard hip-hop instrumental album. But it’s not the kind of thing one can put into words. It’s kind of like how Picasso understood painting so well that he could no longer adhere to the rules and produce a traditional painting.

Soup paints soundscapes the way Pablo attacked a canvas, with ease and vibrant imagination. Perfect for cruising in your Jeep or watching the rain with a cup of tea, Soup has filled the void that was left when trip hop went mainstream and hip-hop found that sizzle pad on the drum machine. Whether you knew it or not, it’s something we all needed.

Daunting Realness: An Interview with Dazeases

by Jerome Spencer

I last interviewed London Perry – professionally known as Dazeases – in March of this year, directly on the heels of the then-latest release “Local Slut” before a combustible performance at Charlie’s American Café — a performance that left me more in awe of London’s raw talent and translucent emotion than I already had been.

So, I kept an eye on Dazeases’ career and in-touch via social media, so that when this moment came –- this moment when London will be performing again in Norfolk (to christen this very website, as a matter-of-fact) – I’d be ready. But what can I say that I haven’t already? I asked London a few pressing questions (or maybe really random, non-sequitur ones) to fill-in the blanks, but, before we dive into that, let’s have a refresher course on Dazeases:

Richmond’s Dazeases has been making music for about two-and-a-half years now. I hate labelling music, but it’s kind of Witchhouse-y, but sexier and kind of Ambient, but poppier yet definitely too gangsta to be pop. By fitting in nowhere, the music of Dazeases fits in everywhere. I don’t know what else you need to know; we already did the origin story so let’s jump right into the pressing matters.

What’s been going on with you musically since Local Slut?

I released Local Slut last winter and since then I released a very messy but loveable EP called Minneapolis that’s only available through download codes that I hand out at shows (if I remember to bring them). And since then it’s been silence, just simmering on ideas and putting attention to other aspects of my life.

So what’s next and when? And what’s inspiring you to create these days?

Your guess is as good as mine for the next project, but I look forward to its inevitability. I need more than inspiration to create and I need the inspiration to continue existing. I’ve been renewing it through the love of those close to me, who I think have more faith in me than I do myself.

Do you think all of these sexual-harassment related firings will really lead to a change in the balance of power or am I just getting my hopes up? (I told you they were non-sequitur, but you know we’re all thinking about this.)

Yes, I think these cases may create catalysts that will lead to that balance of power. With the proactive, I think it is also important to develop the preventative, but I’m not sure what that effectively looks like. It would be a complete change of culture I could only hope to see on the horizon before our generation dies.

(This is a really great fucking answer and you should read it twice.)

What’s your Myers-Briggs type and do you agree with it?

I’m an E-something, whatever Ron Weasley is on the Buzzfeed article. I agree with anything that classifies me as empathetic.

(I googled this, Ron is ESFP)

Who’s your current favorite rapper?

My fav current rapper is still Bones. He seems to be thriving and it’s cool to see the life he’s been able to build up with Sesh.

(This is interesting to me. Sonically, I see similarities between Dazeases and the emo-rapper Bones and I see the connection between Bones’ TeamSesh and Dazeases own Ice Cream Social Club, but Bones has put out 7 albums this year (over 50 in his six-year career), a stark contrast to Dazeases thoughtful, deliberate and calculated approach to releasing material. To that point, though, I prefer Dazeases to Bones. I also think one’s favorite rapper says more about them than a Myers-Briggs test.)

Do you think I’d look good with a mustache or is that only for serial killers?

 Decide for yourself.
Decide for yourself.

While there are some looks that flatter us more than others, I am ultimately of the opinion that if you enjoy it personally then anyone else’s opinion is nice but unnecessary. As someone who worries a lot, I know that I can be lost to speculation.

(I think London’s considerate response to a mustache question really sums up her personality, her sound and the general vibe you can expect from this Saturday’s show at Charlie’s. It’s thoughtful, deliberate, and you can’t help but enjoy it.)