This is perhaps the most San Francisco-esque project I’ve ever heard of. By which I mean: This is so incredibly cool.
Back in 2000, local writer and queer activist Michelle Tea published a memoir called Valencia. “It’s about being young and queer and poor and inspired at the start of the 90s in San Francisco’s Mission district,” she says. It’s been hailed as a “queer classic”.
Now Michelle is teaming up with filmmaker Hilary Goldberg to rework Valencia into a feature-length film. But it’s not just a feature-length film: It will actually be stitched together from a series of short films Michelle commissioned — one 5-7 minute film based on each of the book’s 21 chapters.
“Having 21 filmmakers each shoot a short sounded like an easier way to get the book made into a film than a single filmmaker shooting a feature,” Michelle explains. “And not only was it more feasible… but the more I thought about it the more I fell in love with the concept. 21 different visions, different Michelles, different casts and crews, different locales. Ultimately way more exciting and creative than a traditional feature!”
Jen Schande is not a filmmaker, so that’s not quite where she came in. But she is one of several musicians inspired, in turn, by the 21 short films created as part of the project. So while you read on, I thought you might like to enjoy the world exclusive premier of the most awesomely titled song on Jen’s new album, which was written as the soundtrack for the film based on chapter 19 of Valencia: “I Really Like Sonic Youth, And I Really Want to Have Sex With You”. (Actually, that might just be the most awesomely titled song EVER.)
Olivia Parriott was asked to make the film for chapter 19. She decided she needed some music to go with her film, and since the book is set in the 90s and the main character is a girl navigating the lesbian scene here in SF, Olivia knew exactly who to turn to. “Jen popped into my head and I immediately emailed her, even before I wrote the script!” Olivia says. “I knew she had to be a part of this.”
This is where Jen Schande comes in, at long last. Jen is the singer/guitarist/songwriter for local indie noise rock outfit Schande. She is also perhaps the most 90s-worshipping audiophile I’ve ever met. (Perhaps I should say the most 90s-worshipping audiowhore I’ve ever met.) “I’ve always admired the music Jen has made,” Olivia says. “And the one thing that I always hear tucked away in her sound is whispers of the 90s. Bands like The Pixies, The Breeders, and Sonic Youth… And this book and chapter take place in the 90s. How perfect!”
Olivia asked Jen for two songs, but those went so well that Jen ended up writing six more. “Initially, all I had to draw on were the words in chapter 19 themselves,” Jen says. “I hadn’t read Valencia prior to being asked to participate musically, so when I read the chapter everything just exploded in an inspired flurry. Michelle has such an intelligent, poetic grasp of words, meter and tone that the songs just kind of started writing themselves. The honesty with which she writes is so infectious it just compels you to let yourself go and create.”
Jen recorded half the songs herself in her apartment, where she also mixed the whole album. The rest of the songs were recorded at her practice studio here in SF and at a friend’s studio in Santa Cruz. Then they were all mastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. And voila: 19: Songs For and Inspired By Valencia Chapter 19 the album was born.
Want to win a copy? Be the first to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll have Jen send you a copy of the album on 12″ vinyl.
19: Songs For and Inspired By Valencia Chapter 19 officially comes out on July 17, and you can pre-order it right now via Bandcamp. There is a release party on July 10 at Hemlock Tavern featuring Schande, Pataha Hiss (from Portland), and Li Xi (from right here in SF, formerly known as Sleeptaks). My sources tell me that Schande will be playing a handful of songs from 19 at the show. (And my source is Jen, so that info is probably trustworthy.)
Jen’s is not the only music for and inspired by the Valencia short films. In fact, Michelle says that because she was very specific that all music had to be cleared for use, many of the filmmakers turned to their musician friends for help. The list of musical collaborators is impressive:
Hilary Goldberg‘s short has 2 amazing pieces from Jen Turner of Here We Go Magic; Aubree Berneir-Clarke was able to get the rights to one of my favorite songs from the 90s, Team Dresch‘s “Hand Grenade”, as well as additional music from Kaia Wilson; Dia Felix created original music for her chapter in collaboration with Ava Mendoza; Sarah Adams‘ cast Greta Jane Pedersen as Michelle and set the entire chapter to a song from her great band Romanteek, so it plays like a music video; and Jill Soloway wrote an original song with lyrics lifted from the novel and sung by Terra Naomi, a musician who also plays Michelle in that final chapter.
So when do you get to see the film(s)? Valencia: The Movie/s will be released some time in 2013. Stay tuned to the Facebook page for Valencia: The Movie/s to get the low down on the release, as well as the huge party at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts that Michelle is planning for next June and all related musical releases.
Schande, Pataha Hiss, Li Xi
July 10, 2012