This past Thursday, I had the incredible opportunity to interview Emily Schoonover of Bruise Violet, a Minneapolis based punk-rock “riot grrrl” inspired band. Bruise Violet is made up of members Emily Schoonover, guitarist and singer, Bella Dawson, bassist and singer, and Danielle Cusack, drummer and singer.
GMAT: How would you describe your music to someone who has never listened to you guys?'
ES: We are punk-rock with harmonies. Danielle and I were inspired by classic punk bands and riot grrrl bands. All three of us were in choir as well, so we kind of blended the two. We draw a lot of influence from riot grrrl, a movement in the 90s, and we owe a lot to them but we have come a long way since then. They have paved the way for us in music but there are a lot of exclusionary parts in it too. We want to expand past that as a group, so because of that we wouldn’t exclusively identify as riot grrrl.
GMAT: What brought you all together and how did you form?
ES: We were all in a program together called School of Rock and we met there, all respectfully doing things separately. Bella and I were 14 at the time and Danielle was 17. Danielle and I started a skaa band and then out of the ashes of that and knowing Bella from the music program, we formed Bruise Violet. We are very lucky we came of age the time we did in the music scene. Teenage girls doing music have put up a lot of shit, but it’s very worth it. I know for myself it makes me feel like I have a platform to speak on issues I am passionate about.
GMAT: What are your musical influences?
ES: All three of us have different music tastes. Bella is very into metal, Danielle is into classic punk, I’m into indie rock, but what we all all have in common is we all really like punk and generally harder music. Bands we bonded over are Babes in Toyland, Sleater-Kinney, Screaming Females, and Kitten Forever. We’ve been lucky enough to play with a few of them! We got to open for Babes in Toyland which was a huge huge honor. We have been influenced by them the most, and at first we tried to sound like them but we don’t anymore. We are compared to them because we are both all girl bands from Minnesota.
GMAT: What do you hope to achieve as a band?
ES: We had no specific agenda when we first started, we just wanted to see women in music. Now that we have gotten older and have seen the world go backwards we’re putting out more of an effort to actively use our voices in the political climate. We want to encourage people, young women, people of color, people who aren’t traditionally represented in harder music to just do it because I would rather listen to music from people who have passion rather than a bunch of straight white dudes hammering out something boring!
GMAT: You guys just released a music video for “Nightmare” off of your EP “Trophy Wife.” Why did you decide to release the video now?
ES: So, we’ve been kind of taking a break as a band because we’re all in school and trying to figure out a time that is politically relevant to release it has been tricky. But in the past week with Kavanaugh there has been a time where a lot of people feel powerless and I wanted to give other people something that makes them feel like they do have power. As soon as I heard about the Kavanaugh case, I wanted to post the video the day after.
GMAT: What is the meaning behind your newest music video?
ES: The director, Robyn Ehrlich, did a fantastic job and we are super thankful. The aesthetic we go for is soft and hard. We want the contrast of feminine and hard music. We all think it is important to not shy away from that aspect and embrace it. A lot of times women in harder music try to make themselves masculine to fit in and we try not to do that. In the video we have a lot of women smashing shit, which is comparable to the feminist agenda. We want to show women they are empowered!
GMAT: I hear this music video will be showing at the Milwaukee Film Festival.
ES: Yeah, that’s all Robyn, I’m very proud I get to be apart of that. Again, a huge shoutout to Robyn because she helped give us a crew of all incredibly talented women and it was exactly what we needed for that project.
GMAT: Do you have anything else you would like to add that we didn’t get to cover?
ES: PLEASE VOTE! Your voice does matter! Posting about how angry you are about politics only goes so far, so call your legislators, call your senators, vote, protest, if you don’t get out and do stuff nothing gets done! People don’t seem to be doing things. People talk a lot, post on Facebook about how upset they are, but I wish people would DO more. YOU have a voice and you can show it. Please register! You can register in Wisconsin up until November 6!
Check out their new music video “Nightmare” below, and please make sure to register to vote! Like Emily said, you have a voice and it matters.
(Voter Registration- https://turbovote.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5ZWt1JmB3gIVArXACh10uglqEAAYAiAAEgKe HPD_BwE )