Week in Pop: 2Mex, POW!, Religious Girls, Sheers

Sjimon Gompers

SF/LA;s everlasting champs POW! discuss their world of wow; photographed by Cara Robbins.

Religious Girls

Oakland’s own pious Religious Girls; photographed by James Rice & Harry Walker.

It’s been a while since we have heard from Oakland’s Religious Girls, roughly since about 2012. Since then much as changed about the East Bay landscape, not to mention the entirety of the Bay Area as a whole in that half-decade span of time. Both Oakland, San Francisco & countless surrounding communities have seen waves of gentrification, an epidemic of evictions, a rise in homeless communities across the board, the opiod crisis, social injustices, an economic disparity in wealth that will most likely never go away, and so forth. Yet despite all the adversity & bad press the Bay still has something special. SF still has it, (albeit it feels much more sporadic than it used to be when people were stuffing dozens of couch surfers into Mission apartments during the heyday of the Newsom administration), maybe not as prolific as it once was as say in the heady nineties/oughts, but The Fresh & Onlys remain there, King Woman, the legendary Different Fur Studios is still in high fashion (not to mention demand), Father/Daughter Records, Popgang Records, Empty Cellar Records, The She’s, Cool Ghouls, and many more. Oakland/East Bay has OIM (that’s Oakland Indie Mayhem for the uninitiated), Bells Atlas, SOB x RBE, Everyone is Dirty, PARENTZ, Gold Robot Records, home to Lil B, as well as statesman E-40 and many more that champion newcomers to the game of artistry & community development through creative advancements.

And in this half decade time the East Bay has never faltered in its rising wealth of being true innovative international leaders in possessing some of the pop art world’s greatest talents, collectives and industries of aesthetic evolution. Pop noise anomaly Religious Girls return with a sharpened and earth shattering precision approach to distortion with their upcoming fall slated album for Porch Party Records. The first offering “Respect” starts with vintage keys slowly surface while a ghostly other treated effect enters into the audio picture. And that is when Religious Girls’ Christopher Danko, Nicholas Cowman & Luis Gutiérrez kick-in the beat arrangements that course through the track at various tempos and styles throughout the five minute song’s different suite sections. The track is an anthem dedicated, if not committed, to expressing through imaginative electronic soundscapes a symbol of “Respect”; exhibiting an ambitious spin on even the most seemingly sophisticated electro-odyssey college EDM conceits, conventions & expectations are thrown to the wind as Religious Girls spin glimmering keys & rolling percussion into mind carousel that awakens the senses to a meditative like state. Join us after the following debut of “Respect” as we catch up with everything that has been happening with Religious Girls, Oakland, activism, and more.

Get us caught up to date on all the happenings since we’ve last talked.

Ayoo, we’ve been busy with human life things, grinding between work and the human struggle: everyone has really cool projects going on, Nick’s been making tons of art and screening tons of shirts as Shred Forever, Luis is working on new music with his cool, weirdo, Spanish-pop band 1988, Chris has a [plethora] of electronic musics under the monikers Witowmaker and Cel Genesis. In the meantime RG has been working crazy hard on this album for about two years [laughs]. We toured all the way Brooklyn to record it with Daniel Schlett at Strange Weather, and then took our time mixing it back in Oakland with Andy Oswald and Justin Divver at Secret Bathroom. We shot a wacky music video in the Kink.com dungeon, currently in post, and we recently returned from an amazing tour in Japan! Now we’re just working hard to make sure this new record release is awesome!

Tell us about the new singles you have been cooking up, such as the wild blazing “Respect”.

With this album we really wanted to explore themes surrounding our favorite genres, for example 2000s trance, pop music, and black metal [laughs]. We wrote this song as the introduction to our live performance, as a warm up to the rest of the set, sort of like a prologue, so this song felt right to share first. Writing this record allowed us to explore and experiment a lot more with technique; Nick and Luis also love playing this one because the first half is all a crazy double drummed pop buildup.

Interested in hearing more about how the creative synergy has grown between you all over the years.

We literally work together, write together, and spend too much time together. Family, for better and worse, helps with the extremely tedious and democratic way we write, mix, and, produce. We are growing older together [laughs]. Our current outlook though, is an attempt to do more with less, [such as] minimizing our wacky, noisy, gear set up, becoming more efficient to tour and perform/shred in the lesser amount of human-free-time we are granted [laughs]. We’ve always taken the time to try and do as much as we can ourselves, together, on production, media output, and all the DIY stuff, because of our non-normative musical setup/nature.

The mystic & ever changing world of Religious Girls; press photo courtesy of the band.

What is wonderful right now in Oakland?

A lot of shit is actually kind of complicated in Oakland right now, like displacement—evictions of artists/people from spaces—spacial/economic repercussions of being “NuBrooklyn”, and worst of all, the Terrible Fire(s). Aside from infinite bad things happening all the time, everywhere, there are a ton of amazing, supportive, beautiful, people/artists, strong political activism, and a handful of awesome platforms available for people to express themselves. We’ve lost a lot of special friends to various catastrophes and it’s hurt, but we think people are starting to come out and talk about it, express it, start supporting communities, and open new avenues for creative expression. Glad to see our friends and fam pulling through, grinding, and thriving!

Local Bay Area activism that people should care about?

SUPPORT Responsible Art/Artists, local mf business, pro-LGTBQIA and alternative spaces/support systems! Oakland Warehouse Coalition, Unity Mart, Octopus Lit, Eli’s, Qilombo, Oakland Secret, Creature Learning, CCWest, 411, Starline, Babelab, CTRL+SHIFT Collective, Popgang Records, Club Chai, Ratskin Records, to name and exclude a few, but there are obviously so many more!

Other artists you would like to recognize?

SBSM, Cube, Mall Walk, Piano Rain, Unity, Tiny Head, Spellling, Toner, Gestures, Finally Boys, Club Night, Diesel Dudes, Dingbat Superminx, Lofter, anything from Ratskin Records…oh my gah, there’s too many to recommend and that’s only bands not even all of the amazing other talented human individuals/artists..I’m sorry I cant keep working on syntax/grammar anymore I’m bored [laughs].

Future plans & projects we should know about?

West Coast release tour starts august 11- sept 4th, Canada to LA! Working on booking Mexico rn, hit us up!
Oh yeah, lets write a classical version of all our past work, classical artists hit us up, lol.

Parting advice & benedictions?

H.A.G.S.!

Religious Girls’ upcoming album will be available this fall via Porch Party Records.

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