After spending the last ten years onstage performing with bands like Edward Sharpe and The Airborne Toxic Event (work which nabbed the violinist/musician a Grammy, hello) GIRLSCHOOL founder Anna Bulbrook noticed a lack of women on-stage with “increasing urgency.”
GIRLSCHOOL, an LA-based music and arts festival that celebrates and connects female-identified artists, leaders, and voices in an inclusive, action-oriented, and forward-thinking way launched one year ago, with its first annual weekend-long festival. It was dubbed FIELD DAY WEEKEND, hosted at the Bootleg Theater in LA.
As someone who has been playing music nearly her entire life, the multi-instrumentalist knew she had to find the answers to questions she couldn't stop asking herself: "How can we generate the positive force to change this dynamic? How can we celebrate and lift talented women past the local level? How can we flip the script and make it cool to be a talented woman in rock?"
The festival was the first part of the puzzle and this month marks GIRLSCHOOL’s second festival. “For me,” explains Anna, “it has become an amazing reason to intentionally connect with other women doing cool things in the space of music and intersectional feminism.” She can’t imagine her life without the community she's building and continues to learn from other powerful women along her journey.
Her favorite life advice comes from Fabi Reyna, who started She Shreds, the women’s first guitar magazine who told her, “Get a little better every time.”
"It's scary to do something new, especially in public, and you can't skip steps," shares Anna. "But the beautiful thing is that action begets action begets more action."
Older for Anna doesn’t necessarily mean wiser: “I have a major professional crush on Tavi Gevinson, for being unabashedly precocious, and for celebrating her diverse talents.” But she will admit there has been plenty of self growth since running away with a band at 23. “I'm so glad I drank the rock'n'roll Kool-Aid” she laughs, “and I'm glad it worked out. I've had so many wild experiences from being in a band!” But she’s also “grateful to be growing into this next phase of life, and to be getting to build something for my community.”
That means she’s more intentional in her choices. “I used to make life decisions in an instinctive or reactive way.” With GIRLSCHOOL she says she has a “clearer picture of where I want to go, and the kinds of people I want to share that process with, and am working to create those opportunities instead of 'catching' them.” Along this journey she says she's getting more patient, exercises daily with few exceptions, is taking on modern dance, and "has one excellent cup of coffee per day," that she likes to make herself.
“There is power in knowing and loving each other in person,” explains the musician. "And when it comes to creating change, there is magic in critical mass. So, I love our frighteningly talented artists. I love the brilliant and dynamic team of women who are assembling behind-the-scenes to make GIRLSCHOOL better and better, and who bring my level up as a person in the world every day. I love the magic that happens when everyone gets together. I love feeling part of something bigger than myself. And I love learning how to be better as person, friend, artist, leader.”
As for what's next? "I want to raise a million dollars for charity. And I want to meet Michelle Obama."