It’s Sunday night, and I’m sitting on the ground of the Long Lane Farm parking lot with the members of the Wesleyan band Girltype Behaviors: lead vocalist and keyboardist May Klug ‘19, vocalist and drummer Shea Fitzpatrick ‘18, guitarist Sallie Fullerton ‘18, and bassist Gemma Shay ‘18. An orange light pours down on us from a nearby streetlamp, and what could generously be called a bonfire sits in the center of our circle. The light and fire give the setting a post-apocalyptic vibe that the packets of Capri Sun Roarin-Waters being passed around soften with their sweetness and nostalgia.
This mixture of lightheartedness and edge could also describe the music of my interviewees whose sound on their latest EP, Live at WESU 88.1 FM, juxtaposes low-fi, riot grrrl vibes with humorous or absurd subject matters. The band cites plants, worms, objects, skateboarding, the internet, failure, presents, nice things that exist, and anxiety as sources of inspiration. Klug explains that they ultimately “just try to take things and elaborate on them or figure out how [they] feel about [them].”
The band describes their songwriting process as a collaborative effort. Klug usually comes up with the lyrics and structure of the song, and then the rest of the band arranges their parts. These roles, however, aren’t set in stone, and the band welcomes song ideas from any of its members.
Once a song is written and arranged, the band picks it up quickly. “Sometimes we get through a song in one practice and then clean it up in the next practice,” notes Shay. “It works out though, weirdly well,” adds Klug. “[Our songs] are complex but play into exactly what we’re good at and what we do as a group.”
The product of this process is an effect that Fitzpatrick calls “snack punk.” She attributes this phrase to their music because of the amount of lyrical specificity they compact into concise tracks. “Our songs are short and dense,” she says, “which is what a good snack is.”
This density and energy is equally apparent at their shows. Playing live gives performers the opportunity to convey the depth and dimension of a song through their physicality, which Klug takes full advantage of. “What I try to do on stage a lot is perform the meaning of the lyrics even if you can’t necessarily hear them perfectly,” Klug notes. “It becomes part of the overall texture of the thing instead of just words to listen to.”
The band agrees their sound wasn’t intentionally constructed, but emerged organically from playing together. “We’ve found a way to play music together that doesn’t seem as stressful and is fun,” says Fullerton. “So it’s like why fuck with that?”
Girltype Behaviors’ origin is as organic as their sound. Before Girltype Behaviors, the band members knew each other through other music projects. However, it wasn’t until Frankie Cosmos came to Wes last December and needed an opening act that they decided to form a group together. Their first shows went so well that they decided to keep the band going after they opened for Frankie.
When it came time to choose a name for the band, they found Girltype Behaviors in Kathleen Hanna’s riot grrrl manifesto. The “girltype behaviors” the manifesto references are linked with girl on girl jealousy and self-defeat, but the band insists that that’s not what they’re about. Openness and friendship are built into the foundation of their relationships, which in turn drives their desire to create.
“When it comes to playing the music, it can feel alienating if there’s one person who will intermittently call you up and be like ‘hey here’s this thing and you do it’.” Klug explains, “I feel like we have no one like that which really helps the sense of commitment. I think we all feel really connected to what we’re making. We have a sense of ownership.”