Best of 2020: Girl Friday Was Obsessed with Cate Le Bon in 2020

Libby Hsieh talks self-actualization and Here It Comes Again.

There was so much good shit that came out this year, but the thing I came back to the most was Cate Le Bon’s reworking of her Reward album, Here It Comes Again with Group Listening. It’s kind of an ambient take on the songs she’d already done. I have no idea why I was so drawn to it, because I listened to parts of Reward before and was floored by them. This one feels like such a completely different process. To me, Reward feels so wondrous and magnificent, and this EP is a lot more simple and dreamy.  

My friend made me this playlist when she moved all the way across the country and one of the songs from that EP was on it. It blew my mind. I didn’t even realize it was a reworking until recently, after I’d been listening to it for so long. I’m obsessed with anything Cate Le Bon does.

I only just started listening to ambient, electronic music this year. Just the nature of being stuck in my house and sitting at my desk most of the time — as much as I could listen to something really heavy and more upbeat, this has been my year to dig into really dreamy soundscapes. This one really fit that. I went on a lot of beach trips and car rides, and I’d just sit there very peacefully listening to this whole thing. 

There was so much anxiety this year, and so many things to be unsure of, and so many things the whole world was trying to figure out. Every day felt really tumultuous. It was really wonderful to listen to this EP. Just thinking about it as going back to something simpler — if you listen to the originals, they’re a lot grander and have bigger instrumentation, and then this one feels like a realization of the beautiful melodies that already existed, and cementing them in a different way. I feel like this year was a lot about that. A lot of people have been self-actualizing, I guess, and coming back to the roots of why we make music or why we write. What are the things we can grasp onto in times that are tumultuous and scary?

Cate Le Bon’s Here It Comes Again is out now, as is Girl Friday’s Androgynous Mary.

As told to Annie Fell.

The seeds of Girl Friday were first planted when guitarist Vera Ellen walked into a friend’s house at UCLA and saw Libby Hsieh playing bass on the couch. Drawn by her unique playing style, Ellen introduced herself, and the two musicians immediately bonded. After a year of playing together, they decided to grow their collaboration into a full band. Drummer Virginia Pettis and guitarist Sierra Scott caught wind of the project from friends of friends, and quickly jumped on board. The fledgling group’s chemistry was undeniable; writing and playing together felt generative and thrilling.

Burning deep in Girl Friday’s music is an unquenchable will to survive. The band doesn’t blunt the impact of the themes they work through in their ferocious, knotty rock songs, but they don’t let the more harrowing aspects of being alive and young in the 21st century daunt them, either. Taking full advantage of the dystopian shades of post-punk and noise rock palettes on their arresting debut LP, Androgynous Mary, Girl Friday nevertheless suffuse their music with abundant optimism. The world is a hellscape, but the four of them are in it together.

(Photo Credit: Al Kalyk)