Look Out, Boy DJs of Houston: Here Come the Girls
Photos courtesy of Here Come The Girls
At their first gig ever, a funny thing happened to Here Come The Girls.
The boys came running.
"It was a bit hectic getting all of the gear set up and we had guys coming up to us all night fixing our levels on the mixer," says co-founder Darenda Weaver. "We thought it was really funny because if it had been a male up there DJing, people would likely expect him to know what he was doing or tell him to fix the levels rather than touching his gear. It was just all in all a fun night, so we decide to book some more shows."
Since then, Houston's all-female DJ group has cut out the kinks and built up an audience from shows at MKT Bar, Eastdown Warehouse, Big Top Lounge and the like. This Sunday the group kicks off their second year together with a noon-5 p.m. showcase at Pop Shop Houston, 1657 Westheimer.
"We are a group of females who spin '60s music, all on vinyl," says the group's other co-founder, DJ Say Yes. "Mainly 45s, but a few LPs have been known to sneak in there at times."
"Yesenia used to do a vinyl night at East Side Social Center called Ambassadors of Soul and invited me out to an event," Weaver recalls. "She mentioned it would be really neat if, on Valentine's Day, we showcased female DJs because we knew there were a couple of other girls around town who collected vinyl. After she mentioned that, it got me thinking about an all-female DJ troupe and I asked if she would be interested and it kind of went from there."
"We'd see each other at A Fistful of Soul, which are friends of ours, and at other soul clubs around the state -- Alamo City Soul Club in San Antonio, Big Beat in Austin, Dallas with The Smoke Club," says Say Yes. "We eventually started carpooling together to these events, and just finding out we both love soul. We are definitely soul sisters! Then I met her sister through her and Abra came along later."
Abra is Abra Schnur, is one of the group's DJs and Weaver's bandmate in The Motion, which will perform Sunday following the showcase Schnur is also married to a DJ, so she's made an observation about those who spin music -- particularly music from the 1960s, which is her calling card.
"The '60s soul and R&B scene is definitely male-dominated," she says. "I mean, we could really get into why that is, but let's not. Maybe there's an anthropological field study on it somewhere.
"But when you start talking about '60s international stuff -- baroque pop, psych, garage, British Invasion -- that really gets me going. And, you notice that's where the females tend to be."
"Darenda and I were Facebook friends but we actually met at a Fistful of Soul night," says Schnur. "She liked what I was wearing and wanted me to join her band, The Motion. I said, well aside from my amazing fashion sense, I can actually sing! It was silly, but we've been collaborating since."
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Photo by Zack Dorsey/Courtesy of Here Come The Girls
Here Come the Girls is a truly collaborative effort, asserts Darendra Weaver, whose sister Cassandra and friend Krystal Roach round out the outfit.
"Yeah, there is a lot of preparation that goes into every gig," she says. "We don't like to over-play any single record, so we try to dig for something interesting every time we go to a record store or convention. Before every gig, we have to go through all of our records and find the ones we feel are suited to that event.
"Also, we try to bring a few tunes out that are recognizable to the audience, in hopes that we get their attention and then they learn about new artists when we pull out the more obscure records," she adds.
Every member of Here Come the Girls is a serious record collector. They seek out music on eBay and in local stores like Cactus, Sig's Lagoon, even Trader's Village. Wherever the music is, that's where The Girls are. It's the sort of devotion to music that can only come from a lifelong love affair with it, according to Say Yes.
"My parents listened to a lot of Motown in our house and that was something my sisters and I could agree on listening to in the car on road trips," she says. "My parents are Mexican so I feel that I have the best of both worlds as Latin music also abounded in our home.
"But my dad was the one with the more open mind as he took me to so many concerts as a child -- ZZ Top, Selena, Cafe Tacvba, and many more," adds Say Yes. "It wasn't until my teen years that I somehow heard 2-tone, and I fell in love with it instantly."
Schnur says her first love was 1980s New Wave, but her present focus on pop and international pop from the 1960s suits the group well.
"A lot of inspiration for the eclectic mix I like to do comes from Dallas' DJ Wild in the Streets and Baltimore's DJ Amanda Otto," she notes. "DJing live is something I've wanted to do for a long time. There is certainly a sort of rush that goes along with it. To me it's not about doing the perfect segue or getting the entire dance floor to scream when a 'hit' comes on.
"I like setting moods," she adds. "Making a soundtrack to your evening. If I make eye contact with just one person and they give me the nod, that's good enough for me."
Darenda Weaver says her first musical interest was punk rock. As she headed into high school, she found the 1960s sounds she's hooked on today by rummaging through her dad's record pile. She adds Here Come the Girls is developing a podcast and will be spinning at the Big Top on March 11, supporting bands Ketchy Shuby and The Traffik Jams.
"We started the group in hopes that females would get more interested in purchasing records, and have a place where they could come out and share their music with others," she says. "I thought we would just play a couple of gigs and have a few people come out and dance. It's been magical, though.
"We have had a lot of success in my opinion, and I hope any females reading this get inspired to do what they love to do," she adds, "because you never know where it might take you."
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