Los Angeles’ long standing history of embracing both the dark and the femme has been deeply integrated in the queer communities of the city, perhaps since the beginning of the arts and culture industries of Hollywood. More than any other American abode, we’re seeing more and more a-brew in the cauldron of witchy women of the West Coast.
And if any city raises queer musicians who are also a touch theatrical, it is no surprise that the new group, Girlfiend, would be formed in the mecca of Shangri-LA. Around September 2018, drag queen Comet was introduced to soon-to-be fellow bandmate Violet of the band Miss 45 (named after the iconic rape-revenge B-movie). This happenstance through mutual friends found them immediately bonding over their similar taste in music and visuals. Most uncanny of all, these true psychic hearts had both been thinking about starting a band called Girlfiend long before they met!
“There is definitely a lot of queer representation in the Los Angeles underground music scene, one of my favorite people right now is Celeste XXX and her band Princest!”, Comet says. “The reason I’ve taken on a darker and harder sound is because that’s what I listen to and there isn’t a lot of new stuff like that coming out right now, especially within the queer/drag world. Every song written is a song I would want to listen to myself.”
Elfin vamp Comet, who we featured last month, frequently collabs with photographers and models for brands like Sav Noir, but there is much much more up her black lace sleeves than goth glamour. Comet’s delve into guitar and vocals with Violet as bass player and co-songwriter makes for an emotive lo-fi dirge, a comparison to the sea of electro sounds that infiltrate much of the drag community. Perfected with production by POMPOM’s Audrey Bagley, Girlfiend finds a jumping point with their first song “Garden of Ache”, which may remind some of a bygone era long awaiting proper revival.
“I love the riot grrrl sound of bands like Heavens to Betsy, Bratmobile, and even the more experimental rock sound of Sonic Youth,” Comet says. “Feminine imagery inspires us both. We identify as a girl band.”
While the aesthetic of the “Garden of Ache” video is raw, the song is centralized on a series of failed relationships with bittersweet wishes of what could have been sewn into the lyrics. What first appears as a rogue horror movie, Comet’s blood-covered escape down a night-soaked street signifies the flee from a failed romance, cutting to Violet who is seen throughout with many of the dead “victims” of love. The loose narrative of random others appearing and disappearing again seems to note some cyclical sequence of what is it to go through one lover after another, all to the same end.
For those old enough to remember the lo-fi angst of DIY groups like Excuse Seventeen, the “kinderwhore” of Hole and metal-stained Babes of Toyland, and spooky Manson kids with their lunchboxes and Wednesday Addams dresses, Girlfiend is well-worth the follow. With proper atonement to the dark femme fantasies of 90s juvenilia, Girlfiend’s torrid tea party of blood and smeared mascara gives a queer-cool edge to the demented and deranged girl grunge missing in today’s indie terrain.