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The Scarlet & Black

Ella Williams ’18 and Victoria Park ’21 discuss recording over fall break

Ella Williams ’18 and Victoria Park ’21 have performed together as of late, and both recorded solo work over break. Contributed photo.
Ella Williams ’18 and Victoria Park ’21 have performed together as of late, and both recorded solo work over break. Contributed photo.

Victoria Park ’21 and Ella Williams ’18 have been collaborating since last winter, when Park began playing bass for Williams’s live shows. “She came with me on a tour over the summer just around the East Coast and then played some shows with me in Boston,” said Williams. Over fall break, they both completed significant recording projects.

Williams recorded her first full-length album at a studio in Brooklyn. “I’ve been working on it for a very long time,” Williams said, “but only in the past six months did I have a recording date and was I able to buckle down and make this an album and not just a bunch of random songs.” After coordinating with the producer over email and over phone to schedule a recording time over fall break, Williams says, “I booked a flight to New York and just did it.”

She is creating the album under the moniker Squirrel Flower, which she uses for most of her musical pursuits. “I came up with it as a kid,” explained Williams, “I would write songs and poems and it was the name I made up for it, so I just decided to stick with it.”

After working 11-hour days for the entire week, “the album is done being recorded but it’s not done with all of the mixing and production stuff,” Williams said. She added that, as a result, “there’s still room for it to evolve into something else.” The album will consist of 12 original songs, and the release date has not yet been set.

Park, on the other hand, remained in Grinnell for a few days to work on a musical project. “I spent Friday and Saturday recording bass for Erik Jarvis’s new album,” she explained. Jarvis ’12 works for the Grinnell Area Arts Council and the Stew, Grinnell’s downtown arts center.

After returning home for the rest of break, “I also released the first single of an EP that I recorded over the summer that I’m releasing with a friend’s EP as kind of a split album,” Park said. The entire album will be released Nov. 9, and Park is playing a release show at the Stew on Nov. 30, opening for Karen Meat.

Her single has already made it to college radio stations at Boston University and Skidmore College.

Williams will be graduating this December. In January, she plans to tour with Adrianne Lenker of the indie rock band Big Thief. Within eight days, Williams and Lenker will tour in Europe. Her plans do not end there, as Williams hopes to pursue music for as long as she can.

“The plan is to keep touring,” she explained. “[I’ll] probably do a bunch of U.S. stuff, maybe some more Europe touring, and at the same time, finish this record and talk to labels and find a label to put out the record, and then put it out and keep touring and then record another record.”

Park has similar aspirations, but is a bit more wary of depending on a future career in music. “I think that in an ideal world, I’d love to keep playing music and play bass for as long as I can,” Park said, “but I also know that it doesn’t always work out for everyone, so I’m also preparing for other things.”

Both Park and Williams have been involved in music since they were children, and expressed that, throughout their journeys, misogyny has been ever-present in their experience.

“Music everywhere, it’s just such a boy’s club,” Williams said. They both expressed that, as women, they have experienced far more condescension from the music industry than their male peers. “You just don’t experience that if you’re not a woman. You just don’t,” Williams said.

“So much of music, especially behind the scenes, is … mostly white men,” Park added, “so even if we have [women] that are more visible on the front [of the industry], the structure still needs to change before other things do.”

Williams explained the phenomenon of tokenization of women in the music industry as people point to the  existence of famous female musicians to insist that misogyny no longer exists in the music world.

Park expressed that, in the past, this was often her experience. “That was my role in high school,” she said, “I was the one girl that people would call for their bands, and it’s nice to not feel that way as much [at Grinnell]. In that way Ella’s been a really good role model too.”

When asked what advice they would give someone looking to get involved in music at Grinnell, they replied almost simultaneously: “Go to Freesound.” Freesound hour is held every Thursday night from 8 to 9 p.m. in Gardiner Lounge, and is a chance for student musicians of all levels to get together and collaborate.

“If you’re intimidated and afraid [to get involved with music at Grinnell], don’t be,” Williams said.

Park advised: “Just message people you want to collaborate with, go to Freesound, and play every song you write.”

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