Being a journalist is a funny thing. You can interview some of the world’s biggest stars, politicians and be on the front lines of major events as they unfold — but for the most part, nobody knows who you are. That is not the case for feminist music journalist Jessica Hopper.
Hopper’s role as the 16-year-old spokeswoman for Riot Grrrl in an infamous Newsweek article in 1992 may have gotten her name out, but it’s her writing that made her a well-known fixture in the independent music scene, especially among female bands trying to break out.
Thankfully, Hopper used her years of knowledge to write her new book, Girls’ Guide to Rocking. The book is the ultimate guide to starting a band — from choosing instruments and a decent name to publicity and booking. Hopper’s years of music writing, playing and general involvement in the music world not enough? Well, maybe Joan Jett’s take on the book will convince you: “A great read, full of really useful info — the perfect took for anyone looking to dive in.”
To be honest, when I heard about the book, I thought “Yes! Maybe this will get more young women interested in real rock music, not manufactured Disney bubble gum pop!”, which has (sort of) been what many of the books reviewers were saying. But Hopper was quick to clarify on the book’s site that one thing she does not want her book to do is discourage any girl from playing the music that she wants to play:
This little write up on Entertainment Weekly’s Popwatch blog suggested that the book is the antidote to Miley or Disney’s rock ladies. I just want to be clear that the book is for any girl whether she loves Camp Rock and Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez or whether she’s into Bon Iver or Radiohead or Australian black metal–if you want to know how to turn your fandom into something bigger, to be the one on the stage rather than the audience–that is what the book is about, that is what it explains and encourages and suggests and wants for all girls. AJ & Aly, Demi Lovato and Miley are all Disney stars and they all play guitar. AJ & Aly write/co-write their own songs and Aly is starring in a movie about a girl band, Demi & Selena’s new single and video is about being best friends, rocking together, being rock stars and being successful together — not competing with each other. SRSLY. Their whole thing is girl friendship.
You said it, girl. Hopper hits on a point that has been lost over the years in the battle of feminist rock versus bubble gum pop: Why aren’t we, as women in music or women who love music, supporting one another?
She touches on this again in the book, when she discusses how to stay both friends and bandmates with your fellow rockers. She also discusses it in one of several hilarious infomercials featuring an array of musicians. This one features Hopper along with Monika Bukowska of Brilliant Pebbles and Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene and Heart Shaped Hate:
Hopper embarks on a book tour next month, and I would seriously consider picking up the book for any young girl in your life that is ready to rock. Also, to read more about what Hopper is up to or her thoughts on just about anything (including bands to check out), you should read her blog.