Death Valley Girls/ Bonnie Bloomgarden

magic powers album cover

LA’s Death Valley Girls are one part punk, one part mysticism, and all rock. Death Valley Girls is Bonnie Bloomgarden, Larry Schemel, Sammy Westervelt & Rikki Styxx. They just released their new album Islands in the Sky. The album is a letter to the future and a message to the present.

It features singles “What Are the Odds”, “Magic Powers” and the title track “Islands In the Sky.”

About the track, lead-member Bonnie Bloomgarden offers: “We wrote ‘Islands in the Sky ‘for our future selves, hoping that if we can share the secrets we have learned from this life, and all our past lives, we wouldn’t have to suffer or feel alone again in our next carnations!

You are not becoming the best version of yourself, you are and always have been, the highest and best you, eternally! You may have forgotten from societal programming, how you were raised, trauma, or ancestral circumstances, but as you grow, try to remember that the highest version of you, is cheering you on! Sending you messages to pay attention to your intuition and trust yourself. To love yourself. And to never forget…

“You’re in charge of

Your perception of your life

You can choose what you keep

And what you leave behind

No one gets to choose for you

What you need to keep.

All that lasts is all that matters

And what you want to think”

From director, Dylan Greenberg on the video: “When Bonnie approached me about making a video for this song, I was excited because the song connected with me immediately. The music and lyrics have a beautiful, melancholy optimism that called to mind a certain timelessness found in work by the Sherman Brothers and the late Burt Bacharach, with a rock/punk edge.

The video was made remotely, so I wanted to put together an immersive digital environment for the band and the ghosts to be able to move in. My partner and I dressed in all black and wore ghost costumes they made and double exposed them into the video. It’s an effect that’s been done since the dawn of special effects by pioneers like George Melies, but with the benefit of digital effects allowing me to control them with a virtual camera. I wanted to make sure the movement, tone and visuals all matched the “spirit” (no pun intended) of the song and had a flowing, optimistic energy that I felt emanated from the music.”

Death Valley Girls are a band to see live like we did last year. They are finishing up a European tour and are starting the US tour:

FEMMUSIC was able to e-mail with Bonnie Bloomgarden about the album. Here is what she had to say.

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest challenge making the Islands in the Sky album?

BB: To be honest, the biggest challenge was realizing that I had been numbing and avoiding having feelings since I was a kid. And that if I wanted to move past trauma, ptsd, and other issues I had to feel them, and face them. I honestly did not know you had to feel feelings, and move them through you to process them. And I found myself as an adult, hiding from, and terrified of feeling feelings I had as a kid. This record is the realization of that, and  a reaction to that. A message to myself, my future self, to you, and everyone, to move your feelings! Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, and it will hurt, but storing them and dragging them around for years is not worth it!! It’s too risky, and is no way to live.

FEMMUSIC:  What was the biggest difference making Islands in the Sky vs Under the Spell of Joy?

BB: I think the biggest difference aside from having a kid’s choir on Under the Spell of Joy 🙂 is the message! When we wrote Under the Spell of Joy, we wrote songs we thought we were gonna sing every night for the next few years. So we tried to make the songs spells, chants, and incantations of joy, manifestation, and luck! We thought if you said affirmation/positive thinking type things, passionately and daily, luck and magic were bound to follow!!

(Funny enough, we finished that record the day before lock down in March 2020, and didn’t get to sing any of those songs live until much later:)

Now, with Islands in the Sky, we realize there’s probably more to “it” than just chanting! That we are actually infinite beings, capable of so much amazing magic, and that to be magical, you must be true to yourself. Be kind to yourself, love yourself, listen to yourself, and then you will be in the highest, most lucky place to be in the universe. You can’t skip that step! Grateful and growing, always. Not simply wishing and hoping! Learning to love the journey, not the outcome!

FEMMUSIC:  Tell me about “Journey to a Dog Star?” How did that song come about?

BB: That’s so cool that you ask about that song!! That was the first song we wrote for this album! It was the first song where I told Rikki, I think we are supposed to make songs for the island! I didn’t (and still don’t) know what the island is, but we were compelled to write for the island! This record is literally a record for our future selves, filled with messages and reminders so we don’t have to go through the same things in our future lives we went through in this life! We really followed our intuition most strongly on this song, and I believe the name is something only our future selves will understand. Dog Star, or Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, but aside from that I don’t know what it means! Super excited to find out.

FEMMUSIC:  What are your goals for the album?

BB: As strange as this may sound to some, this record is for our future selves, our next incarnation, and anyone it can help along the way. I spent so much of this life hiding, feeling shame, and being so mean to myself. I always felt so alone, and I don’t want my future self, or anyone to feel that way ever if I can help it. If these songs reach people before then, that would be my biggest goal!

FEMMUSIC:  Can you describe your songwriting technique? Both alone and bringing the songs to the band?

BB: Ya!! Usually when I am walking a melody will strike! I believe I am channeling when I get messages of songs. I think it’s because of the rhythm of the steps, and a sort of hypnosis I go into when I walk. I will feel compelled to record it immediately. I will sing it over and over until I am able to get it down, for fear of losing it! Then, and particularly for this album, I will bring the melody and mini structure to Rikki, and we will hash it out! If she gets lost on the drums while I’m singing, I know we got something good! Then the magic gets sprinkled on by Larry’s guitar, Sammy’s singing, Gregg’s organ/synth/Wurlitzer, Gabe’s sax, and tons of backing vocals! Our recordings are pretty improvised. We basically only write the melody and vague structure before we go into the studio to record. Our parts, the words, the length, and actual structure are invented on the spot! That’s why it sounds wild, and unhinged! The way we like it!

I also would really like to add that for the first 4 records I was so mad at myself for waiting until we got to the studio to write the words to the songs. I wrote them all down at once the day we record the vocals and it’s really stressful!! This time however I had the ability to realize that is just my process. Being mad at myself is a waste of time! Clearly I like, or at the very least am able to wait til the last second, and this time I did it worry free! I highly recommend everyone look at the way they typically do things, and consider, is that your process? Does it work? Do you like it? Change if you don’t, but if you like it, be proud you found something that works! Don’t judge yourself !!

FEMMUSIC:  As a woman in the music industry how have you faced dissemination and overcome it?

BB: I think the exact same way I face it in every other part of life!! I have to constantly prove myself, it sucks! Having to prove you are worthy of what you inherently are, what you were born to be/do, instead of it being assumed, is so frustrating. The idea that you are less capable or professional because of your gender is insane. We are treated like a child or small animal. In all parts of life and it sucks!!

FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?

BB: Oh wow! What an amazing question! I have so many !! But, if I’m being honest “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath, their first song on that record has impacted my life more than just about anything else. Until I heard that record, I had basically only listened to soft music, oldies, and show tunes! When I first heard this hard, heavy, super tough sounding guitar music, my mind was legit blown! The rain, the bells, and then that guitar! Oh my goodness, I honestly get chills just thinking about it!!

FEMMUSIC:  What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

BB: I don’t think I would change anything! That industry is really weird, and insular, and  busted, and I think it always has been ! I don’t think it’s ever been virtuous or fair. It would be cool to unionize, or get government funding like in other countries, or some other magical way to be paid fairly. But, I don’t think that’s the industry, I think that’s something different.

I just feel really lucky to be on the label we are on, Suicide Squeeze! It would not be possible to have this band, our job without David, and Suicide Squeeze 🙂