Q&A: Amy Klein On The Blue Star Band, Talking Back On Tumblr, And Patti Smith's Message To The Kids

The last time we checked in with Amy Klein, the Titus Andronicus guitarist/violinist told us about the genesis of the Brooklyn-based activist group Permanent Wave, which has since put on protests, panel discussions, and concerts. Between organizing benefit concerts and playing with both Titus and her other side project Hilly Eye, Klein found the time to release a solo album, I Know What You Want, in March. Tonight, she plays at the Knitting Factory with Vivian Girls and Widowspeak; Klein filled us in on her recently assembled Blue Star Band, the protests her organization helped put on, and reading Patti Smith's Just Kids.

What has Permanent Wave been up to lately?

We did a lot of things over the summer. We organized three political events. We had a protest about the acquittal of the rape cops and that was working with a lot of different feminist groups that put together it together.

What other groups?

It was people from the website Feministing. People from Planned Parenthood. There were independent activists. That was a success for everyone who attended. I think it was really important that women in NYC got together and made a public statement that we were not OK with the acquittal of the officers. We did another event on the day that the officers were sentenced. We had another protest and finally we had a press conference that we helped organize with the office of NYC Councilwoman Letitia James where women spoke out about their support for the victim in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn trial.

Did you personally speak at that press conference?

I didn't make my own statement. I had contacted different leaders of different women's organizations around New York City and New York state to make statements. I emailed them to come read their statements, but I ended up reading the statements from the people who weren't able to attend in person. I was more behind the scenes on that one.

We have monthly benefit shows that we've been doing all summer where we donate the proceeds from the shows to different women's organizations. We choose one organization that we want to benefit every month. We had a really successful one over the summer to raise money for the Willie Mae Rock Camp For Girls, and at our shows we always have female focused bands and performers. This show was really awesome because we had two teenage bands, and we also had three adult bands. Women and girls of all ages were here having this awesome girls mosh pit.

That's a very effective approach to feminist activism—bringing women from all different backgrounds and ages together.

Yeah it was really cool; I hadn't been at a show like that ever. Before the show we had a panel discussion that was organized by a teenager who is involved in Permanent Wave, and she wanted to organize an intergenerational panel on women in music. So, we had a teenager, a twenty something and a thirty something woman who are all involved in different aspects of music to talk about their experience, and we had questions from the audience. It was such an awesome community feeling to have girls of all ages and women of all ages talking with the panelists and them having these different responses. I just felt really good about that particular event so it was an amazing show for me.

Did you perform?

Oh no, I didn't perform. Although I was on the panel. But the performers at that show were really cool. One of the bands was Care Bears on Fire, which is like a teenage girl punk band. We brought in a band from Massachusetts called Big Nils, which is the band of the daughter of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. They're a really noisy live band [made up] of teenagers. We had a band called Sadie Hawkins that is a Riot Grrl-inspired band, and we also had a band called Bad Credit, No Credit, which is more experimental and I'd say jazz influenced.

So there was definitely a big mix of different kinds of women making music?

Yeah. We always try to have our shows be really diverse and open. We don't just want people of one age or all white performers, and we don't even want one genre of music. When you reach out into different genres of music you bring in different people to the show, which makes for a much better audience.

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