GRRRL PRTY to bring empowering 'ballsiness' to First Ave reopening



Lizzo, La Manchita, and Sophia Eris will combine forces yet again as GRRRL PRTY this Friday for First Avenue's first Mainroom show since the venue's ceiling collapsed August 12.

Recently, GRRRL PRTY dropped a pair of new songs — "Can I Live" and "GRRRL Anthem" — that highlight why they've made such a distinctive impact. Delivering the slick, gritty, and high-energy sound that's propelled their powerful performances since landing on Picked To Click in 2013, the individual artists come through with likeminded attitudes to create a blistering whole.

The aforementioned tracks come in preparation for a Mainroom show Friday that touts the crew's other major strengths: curation and collaboration. GRRRL PRTY was built on the foundation of female camaraderie and creative independence, and the stellar and diverse opening lineup — BdotCroc, Mina Moore, Aby Wolf, others — speaks to their range of influences.

Coming on the heels of a string of Lizzo festival performances, Sophia Eris DJ sets, and La Manchita solo slots, this party promises to be one of the group's most massive. We sat down with the crew to talk about this Friday's show.

City Pages: What's the status on a GRRRL PRTY record?

Lizzo: What's a record? [laughs]. Here's the thing: We've always said this from the beginning, we are a collective, we are a crew, and people are just really gonna have to wait. We don't wanna just put something out for no reason.

We're all super busy, we all have things we're working on as individuals, and when the crew records comes, you're all gonna be glad ya'll waited. We don't wanna be like, oh here's a rough draft ... naw, we wanna make it right.

La Manchita: We've had a lot of obstacles. None of us are producers, so it's about finding the right people and building the right relationships.

Sophia Eris: We've been really trying to find that true, right connection to build the album with. A producer we've been working with lately is Bionik. He's going to be opening up on Friday for us. He's fantastic. We'll be premiering new stuff that we've made with him at the show. It's the best relationship that we have now.

CP: What is it about Bionik that appeals to what you're tryin' to do?

La Manchita: He makes shit bang. He's super pro and easy to work with. He has a good energy in the studio. We all are really comfortable with him.

Lizzo: It's important to have somebody that can vibe with us, because we're a lot of high-energy. Even when we work with Spyder Baybie, him and [2%] Muck were like, "Ahhh! Turn it down a couple!"

I feel like it's important to have a good vibe with someone, and Bionik is seriously the most chill human being. We have high voices that sit in a really interesting register, and we rap really fast, and we need somebody that can produce music that helps that shine. It's not boring, it's forward-thinking. He's a G.

CP: He's good at a number of different styles too, which seems like it would be appealing to you guys because there isn't really one GRRRL PRTY sound.

La Manchita: Yeah, we haven't really pigeonholed ourselves. We're still kind of experimenting too. We've tried a lot of different things.

Lizzo: That's another reason why it's taking the time that it's taking, is because if we had come out with the first idea we had about us, it would be like trap only. We're all such different types of artists, it takes time to mold the actual sound of three people who are doing three different things that want to do one thing together.

Sophia Eris: When we started this two years ago, everything was bleeding out so seamlessly. We were like, we're together, let's go: boom, boom, boom. As time went on, as we kept working solo as well, it was [about] honing it in.

Lizzo: It started off as just wanting to rap really hard, and after we outgrew that it's like, "OK, now that we've done that, let's make music."

La Manchita: We've definitely got enough material for an album or two, it's just, like, doing it right.

CP: In what ways have you been inspired by the local rap scene, and in what ways have you been trying to work beyond it?

Sophia Eris: Obviously [Doomtree are] going to be an influence to everyone that raps here, because they've been at it for 10-plus years have the stamina to continue to grow. When I go to their show, it's like an experience. It's always high-energy, high-everything, and I feel like everyone's influenced that raps here and that's in a collective here.

You also have the Stand4rd, that has producers in-house. They're able to cultivate whatever they want at that point. What we want to do, we started wanting to rap, and that's it; now, we want to be more musical. We want to have more input, which is why the home we make it in is so important.

Lizzo: There's this one specific thing, I want to say Mike Mictlan specifically. There was a moment in Tha Clerb, I was very safe. All my raps were very safe, because I rap as if my great-grandmother, Mama Kirkwood, would hear it.

I just remember [Mike Mictlan saying], "Yo, I need to talk to you about something. You have to stop giving a fuck. You just need to rap like you want to rap. Rap like you're listening, don't rap like your great-grandmother's listening, because she's probably not."

I was like ... huh. And It was scary, but I remember that was when my rapping went to the next level, and I feel like I bring that into GRRRL PRTY. Just the grit and the ballsiness of it all came from that moment. And that's Doomtree. We push [the envelope] in different ways too.

If you think about it, some people are scared of being too pop, or being too safe, or dabbling with that. There's people that are afraid of the things that we're comfortable within each other. I think it is rare to have people who got your back in that kind of way.

Shannon Blowtorch: The thing I notice about GRRRL PRTY for sure, within this group of women, is that there's so much support among everybody. Even Pride weekend, when I didn't sleep, you guys were at all my events, pretty much. I was like, "Awww, my sisters are here! You guys wanna pop up and do a song?" And everybody pops up. The crowd freaks out.

That was huge support; that meant a lot to me personally. Sophia's got a show, everybody wants to go support, Lizzo's got a show, 'Chita's doing something, we go and support. There's a lot of support amongst this crew of women, where women are taught to hate each other and fight each other and bring each other down.

La Manchita: That's the true beauty of GRRRL PRTY, I think.

Shannon Blowtorch: It's empowering each other.

La Manchita: Empowering each other, but empowering women to seek refuge in each other as well. Band together, instead of separate and compete. People are still gonna do, oh so and so's my favorite, or she's the prettiest, or she's my favorite dancer, or whatever.

They're gonna do that, but they see that we're not doing that. That's the message that's important, is that we're together. That in itself, even if the music was shitty, that will be something that is beautiful.

Sophia Eris: Wherever GRRRL PRTY goes musically, we are the crew that's the homebase, safe space, that if you ever needed anything, if any of us need anything, we all have each other's back. That's the core of it all.

La Manchita: In terms of local rap inspiring us, I think for me, I just saw a hole. I saw a gap. There's no female rap crew.

Shannon Blowtorch: That's a gap in the world, girl [laughs].

La Manchita: Tha Clerb was my first refuge, because it was a place to let loose. When I started I wasn't cussing. That whole verse where we started on together where we met each other after we tracked on that one song, "Rugged and Raw," I didn't have any cussing, it was super fast, I sounded like a little kid, but nobody was doing that. Nobody was rapping about fun. It was all like, "My mental! Fuckin' lyrical miracle!"

Lizzo: There was definitely a little bit of contrivance [to Tha Clerb], cuz we were coming out and [intentionally] not conscious ... you know what I mean? Because I didn't live here long before I started actually doing stuff, little did I know it was not the norm.

When you don't know of any rules, it's hard to know you're breaking them. When you're just yourself so hard, and people accept it, not knowing that it's taboo, you're just going to keep going with it. We kind of set a norm within ourselves of, this is going to be fun. That's what we've always been.

CP: One of your real strengths as a group, though, is that you keep it fun while maintaining a personal and honest side to the lyrics. They're not just dance songs.

La Manchita: That's the subtlety of [GRRRL PRTY], is that we are making turn up music that's actually about her family, or a house burning down, or what have you. Sometimes you might not even know that you're rocking out to some death shit.


With: BdotCroc, Mina Moore, Aby Wolf, others

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: First Avenue 

Tickets: $10-$12; click here for more info.