Interview – Death Valley Girls

“Death Valley Girls for 2024, Friendship Alliance”

An interview with Bonnie Bloomgarden

By Isobel Mcleod

Hiya, what have you been up to? I imagine a lot of staying in!

  • Yeah, I actually have been staying in, when you go outside it’s like being on the sun. It doesn’t seem real. It’s the hottest it’s been in like 200,000 years, so it’s almost Jurassic. We have a lot of stuff that we can’t do, like my job, I don’t know what it is anymore, but there’s always stuff we can do. I’ve been trying to make stuff, and think of things to make to keep people involved. We did this live show thing a couple of days ago and I just forgot that my favourite part of shows aside from loving playing music physically is talking to everyone after and talking to people about what they’re excited about. Like what they’re into and that energy. It felt so good to talk to our friends, and connect with people. I guess that’s my favourite part of my job.

How did you do the live show?

  • You know Levitation? It’s like psychedelic, it used to be called Austin Psych fest, and they’re really cool people that run that festival. Like everyone else they were like what are we gonna do when we aren’t allowed to have concerts. They decided that they were gonna do these series of sessions with bands. I think the next one is with Thee Oh Sees.
  • It was cool, and we kinda wanted to make it a show that was like the intro of it is where you learn how to astral project, and then the show is meant to be where we all meet up in the sky, and it’s like we’re all together again, so the show is in the astral plain. So yeah it was fun, wasn’t so hot up there I’ll tell ya!

So you’ve got the new album coming out soon, how are you feeling about it?

  • I’m so excited about it! I’m super excited for everyone to hear all the songs, we made them for everybody and then you just have to wait and hold it. That’s what this job is. Like I can’t imagine being an actor where you just do work and then they add everything on top. Feels like we’re kinda at the end. It’s like we made it for everyone else, it’s not for us, but I’m super excited for people to hear it.

I’ve been sent a copy and it’s brilliant, I think people are gonna love it

  • The way we write everything, now time is not even relative, like somehow, we magically concocted this weird thing by using our minds and just praying which is weird. Just praying like please bring us songs and it actually happened. And now, there’s just so much and I’m just so grateful because just as easily there would be no songs as there are any. It’s just a simple twist of almost manifesting and praying. And then it’s just so crazy and I’m just so grateful. If it happened a week later then it wouldn’t have happened and if it happened a week earlier then it wouldn’t have happened.

You’ve touched on it there, but what inspired the new album?

  • I’m learning about it more now, usually we try and be like channels for whatever it is. We’re not very sure what it is. There’s like a hook and we pull it down and songs are gonna exist, and we’re just lucky when we pull one. But this one, I knew that that would happen, but I really needed to become a better person to find the right songs. So instead of just being like ‘oh I’m gonna find them I’ll put a hook up there’. Having to believe I’m gonna be a strong person to find strong songs to make people feel strong, including me which sounds weird. But we knew we weren’t gonna tour for like 3 months or so, because we were gonna record and you don’t really tour until the record comes out, but we had no idea it was gonna be this long!  So the process was kinda like a spiritual record, like when we sing a song we have the opportunity to use intent, words or physicalness, energy, excitement, like aligning forces of people we have the power to make this. Do what people have been doing for as long as there have been people, be storytellers, and bring magic and energy towards it. Some people do yoga, some people do chanting, like church is so many people’s favourite place in the world, like Sunday is fun day for some people. Like I want that, I want that feeling of singing so loud to my best friend every Sunday, I think it could be more than just Sunday.
  • We didn’t write anything, we just thought like what do we need to be better? And then just trying to like walk in silence and learn for a few months. And then when we went into the studio it was just like there was a little bit worked out, but we didn’t have one full song. It just came, it’s so scary but it’s better than being super produced or super rehearsed, like ‘ah that note doesn’t go there, start over’. We had a kids chorus that came in and sang, and they didn’t know the songs before. We had a girl gang chorus, and they didn’t know the songs before. We had a saxophone, and really nobody had heard anything in advance.
  • And now we have the bizarre task of like can we play this song? This always happens and there have been a couple of songs where like we just cannot figure it out, like for no reason, but it could have been just a cool funny glitch while records. But yeah for the most part we can figure it out but there have been 2, on the last 2 records, 1 on each, that we’ll never be able to figure out. It’s like rock’n’roll!
  • I don’t know what it is, but it’s like the only way we know how to do it, and it makes us feel good in the end, not during or before. But that day I’m always like ‘Don’t talk to me I gotta write lyrics’.
Death Valley Girls © David Fearn

You spoke about it being a ‘space-gospel’ like album, if there was a ‘space-gospel’ place of worship what would it look like in your head?

  • Wow, yeah I think it would have to be out of like 2001, some place that’s like a huge living room that’s like got plants, red carpet, shaggy carpet, then you go down another level and its like black carpet, but it’s all a circle, and windows all around it. Lots of plants, super 70s, and some like 70s utopian kinda place. Very comfy, very cosy.

If there was a uniform or dress code what would it be?

  • There would definitely be a uniform or dress code, I would want there to be a very strict like Edwardian or Victorian like full covered thing, for some people. Then I’d want there to be like the rebels or punks, the kids that would have like vinyl black patent leather, sad faces, like they could only find one fabric that they could make there clothes out of.

A bit of a fuck you in an outfit

  • Like pointy shoes, they’d look scary, id like to be part of both teams for sure.
Death Valley Girls © David Fearn

I saw you spoke to Damien Echols earlier this year, from the West Memphis 3, how did that come about? It was really interesting

  • It’s pretty funny actually, so we recorded this song for him while we were on tour when we were really obsessed with true crime. We would listen to true crime for like 8 hours a day, and at some point, like we realised we’re not getting better as people. It’s fun and scintillating and good and its entertainment and that’s fine, but when you’re doing something for 8 hours a day it’s no longer entertainment, it’s a lost opportunity. We were like okay, we’re obsessed with the depravity of minds, and the worst, most evil people, I bet we’d be as interested in the greatest of minds and like wonderful thinkers. Obviously, we’re addicted, so let’s get addicted on this other side of it. So we started listening to the Duncan Trussel podcast actually, the DTFH, and we did exclusively for one tour we just listened to that. It blew our minds, we listened to this one guy on it, Mitch Horlitz, the best dude ever. He does a 10-day miracle challenge, and we did it. Even with what’s going on now, my mind has completely altered, like the way you look at things and every day’s potential. What is in your power. Don’t forget that, and I didn’t even think of that.
  • So we were listening to that, and one of his guests was Damien Echols, and we were listening and I think it was also a Nigerian psych compilation. It had this band The Funkees and this song Break Through. It was so cool and we were just having this idea of having like 10 voices on each of our new songs. The words about this ‘invisible prison’ and ‘I cannot be free/ cuz there isn’t a guard/ the jailor is me’. It’s all about how you’re your own guard and you’ve got to break through. And then after that we listened to the Damien Echols podcast, like oh my god, he learned astral projection in prison. The harder the guards beat him the further and better he got at everything. He was just such a master magician and cool guy. Also being wrongfully convicted. I’m very very against the prison system, so all of these things coming together at this time.
  • It’s funny, we got his book and we were practicing magick, and things like that. Our lives before like we didn’t have much, just as far as if you’re on the road every other month, you don’t need anything. You just need a bed and food once a day or whatever. Once you start adding stuff you need a lot more, so he taught us little things you have to do for magick. One of the things I’d been learning on the side was if I want something my mind had to be 100% focused on that topic/person/thing whatever it is, so extremely. My mind also had to actually feel the power of me achieving that thing I wanted.

  • I spent the first 2 months of quarantine, obsessed with Damien Echols. We recorded this song for him ‘Break Through’ and I just wanted him to know like we recorded it and maybe I could interview him. That would be rad. So I practiced Magick and meditation and everything he said. Practicing like the way it would feel for him to finally write me an email back and I wrote him a few emails and all that stuff. I was like practicing and flooding my brain with ‘Damien Echols Damien Echols Damien Echols’ and everything. Then reaching out to people. I realised one day, on my internet thing, hahah my internet thing called twitter, that he could answer questions for $20 through this like app. He sends you a video. I had been practicing all these ways, obviously more natural than that, but I can’t poo-poo the way this has come to me. My dream was to get in touch with Damien, I open up my phone there’s this way to get in touch with him. He answered our questions, it’s really cool. But in fairness I wouldn’t say I spoke with him.

You had some contact, that’s what matters.

  • That thing is so cool though you can ask almost anybody. They have like so many people on there, I think like PeeWee Herman, he can sing you happy birthday and stuff.
  • I asked Damien regular questions about energy and meditation. He answered really really well. I jut took me a while to think about like whether or not that was weird, and then I realised like it is. I got what I wanted, and I worked hard to get what I got. At least something happened. That was a fun way to spend like 3 months of quarantine.

Especially during quarantine when it was so difficult, being able to give yourself a goal and then actually achieve it, it gives you a bit of purpose.

Revolver Mag Feature

Are you still involved in magick?

  • I am, but I’m not. The kind of magick that they all do and do so well, is a daily, hourly practice, I mean he probably works on magick like 6 hours a day minimum. Or some thing to make magick stronger. It’s not a commitment that I can make or would make. I can’t even commit to drinking enough water a day. I love magick I think its cool, and I love what it does for people. I think one of the things is just about intention, bringing like the idea of ‘I want this change’ then bringing it to a place of intention is the most important thing in the world.

So you have the new album coming, is there anything else coming up with the band?

  • I think so, but I don’t know! I mean we’re supposed to go on tour in a month. I think they’re about to really shut everything down again.

Yeah that’s what I think they’re going to do here

  • Yeah, it really sucks but is probably for the best. I just wish it wasn’t political, it shouldn’t be. But if we had all just maybe chilled, then I would have a job next year. Everyday its just kinda confusing, like you don’t usually think what your leaders are for, until now, ‘like how does the president or prime minister affect things’, maybe not that much, but now like every single thing. Leadership is important. Death Valley Girls for 2024, friendship alliance.

Then you’ll be getting the nobel peace prize nomination

  • Probably I should get it! I mean I bring so much peace and joy to my dog like every day, all day make her happy.

Thanks so much for chatting to me, it’s been really wonderful. Good luck with everything! I hope to see you on tour soon.

Look out for Death Valley Girls’ new album ‘Under the Spell of Joy’ coming out 2nd October on Suicide Squeeze Records.