By Troy Hasselman, April 23 2019 —
Girls Rock Camp is set for another year in Calgary. Since its inception in 2013, the camp has served as a space for young female-identifying individuals who share a passion for music and are looking to become more involved with it, be it through recording, touring or participating in the city’s music scene.
“The whole idea of it is just to have a safe and encouraging space for cis and trans girls and non-binary youth to explore music and be a part of the Calgary music community,” says camp co-boss Nicola Lefevre.
While the dates for this year’s camp are not yet set in stone, it’s looking to be around the same time and to follow a similar format as previous editions.
“It looks like, concerning location, it’s going to be August 12–17,” she says. “Monday to Thursday we’re doing camp business with workshops, playing and writing. Friday we go to OCL Studios and do recording and Saturday we do the afternoon showcase at The Ship & Anchor pub.”
This year’s edition of the camp promises new things, as the camp is looking at possibly moving from its current location on the University of Calgary campus. The camp is looking to add new elements while staying true to the form that has made it popular.
“We might be in a new location this year, we haven’t quite got that figured out yet,” Lefevre says. “The university has been kind enough to accommodate us for the last number of years in the trailers by the Math Sciences building so we can make as much noise as we want. As things progress, we have been looking for a new space and that’s not for sure yet. We always try and mix things up a bit every year in how we present information and the guests we get to come in and talk about things. We also get a lot of kids that come back year after year, so we want to make sure we’re giving them new information but also doing all of those things that they’ve always loved in years past.”
Despite its name, genres other than rock are explored at the camp, with the material accommodating diverse musical backgrounds.
“It’s a funny thing, we have a really awesome and diverse group of mentors that teach at camp, Lefevre says. “They come from different backgrounds musically. While it’s called Girls Rock Camp and everyone chooses an instrument out of guitars, bass, drums, vocals and keyboards, we do often end up with different genres being represented. One of our mentors and vocal coaches, a woman by the name of Lisette Xavier, is much more in the pop realm of songwriting and you can also see that influence in the groups she coaches.”
Lefevre has noticed a strong change in how female-identifying people are welcomed into the music scene between now and when she was the age of the students in the camp. She thinks the camp has had an impact on this visibility.
“I have been playing music in and around Calgary for the last 25 years,” she says. “I definitely see a difference from me being a youth. It’s mostly in that there’s an expectation now that women are just part of the scene. It’s getting towards the point where’s it less of a novelty and somebody might refer to me as being a bass player rather than a female bass player. As far as since camp was founded, I’d say it definitely has an impact but I’d say the impact comes mostly from the kids that actually get involved in the camp. They tell me, and their parents tell me, that it has an impact on them and makes them want to do something that maybe they’d be more intimidated by if they had not gone to camp. It’s sort of a small and slow change but it definitely is one.”
There are also new events associated with the camp, such as last November’s weekend recording workshops at the National Music Centre. The camp hopes to bring these back next year and Lefevre is excited about the results that can come from these workshops.
“It’s actually the first time we got to do this,” she says. “We wanted to get these weekend workshops going for quite some time and we just hadn’t had the time and resources to get it done. We were finally able to work with NMC thanks to some generous funding from Beatroute Magazine and Long & McQuade. We do recording during the camp at OCL Studios, this fancy studio in what is basically a mansion outside of Calgary. that’s quite a time and it’s not the average first-time recording experience that musicians would have. We did our first one last November at NMC and it was great. We didn’t have a ton of people coming out but we did lots of recording and one of our campers who is actually coming to the camp to be a mentor this year has just finished recording and I think she put it up on Bandcamp.”
The camp is involved in the community and recently had a fundraising table at a concert put on by Toronto band PUP at their show at Commonwealth Bar + Stage on March 26. The camp hopes to do more fundraising like this in the future.
“That was actually the first time that we had ever done a fundraising thing and it was super great,” Lefevre says. “PUP had this thing where they wanted to have a different charity represented at shows around the tour and so they asked if Girls Rock Camp would like to be that one for the first night of their tour in Calgary. It was wonderful, we didn’t know what to expect and it was super great to be there with our signage and talk to people and we did end up making a decent amount of funds that night. If anybody else wants to invite us to do that thing we’d be happy to.”
For more information on Girls Rock Camp Calgary and how to register, visit girlsrockcampcalgary.com.