In honor of GrrlMonth, GrrlPunch decided to reach out to fellow grrls doing exceptional work in their communities. GrrlPunch has long admired Grlsplain from afar and thought it was time to collaborate and celebrate our respective works.
If you have heard of them yet, you will. Grlsplain is a blog that, like GrrlPunch, celebrates the importance of what grrls have to say. Started by Knoxville students Rrita Hashani and Zoe Evans, the blog focuses on female musicians and empowerment.
I had the distinct opportunity to talk with these two about Grlsplain, their inspiration and goals. If you love empowerment and music, keep reading. Be sure to bookmark their site and follow them on Instagram to keep up with their endeavors!
Emily: Tell me about yourselves. Who are Rrita and Zoe?
Rrita: Journalism student. 20. Libra. Cute.
Zoe: Friend-lovin’, art-makin’, sleepy, goofy, girl, who cries a lot.
Emily: What inspired you to create Grlsplain? I read a little about “Sad Girls” and your initial inspiration, but what was it that really encouraged you to buy a website and get started?
Rrita: I was inspired by other peer publications like Grrlpunch, Mild Mag of Nashville and Messy Heads magazine because it made the idea seem possible.
Zoe: “Sad Girls” was our first playlist, and Rrita and I started making a bunch of different “___ Girls” playlists, and then she came up with the idea of starting a publication. I’ve always been interested in music journalism and recording my own feelings about music, but I think what was really the motivation for me was how limited I was feeling at the time (and I think Rrita felt this way too, from what we’ve talked about) (Yes!). I didn’t feel like there was really a public area that I could talk about the music I liked and how it made me felt and be taken seriously. Much of the conversation about music in Knoxville is dominated by men and is hard to permeate, especially in person. I never felt like what I had to say would be as intelligent or cool as what men had to say. Grlsplain was an opportunity to use the internet as a tool to uplift girls feeling this same way and actually get our words out there, even if they aren’t always perfectly professional and polished.
Emily: Going along with the previous question, walk me through the beginnings of Grlsplain. How did you two get organized and get posting? I know from experience that it is a tricky process. Walk me through all of that.
Rrita: I always wanted to write about music, so I just kinda said to myself, “Why don’t I just do it?” And that’s when Zoe and I started to seriously plan it out. I knew I had to make the website first or else the idea would’ve died within a week, so I got it up and a few days later we posted our first two stories.
Zoe: It was tricky, mostly because Rrita and I, like anyone else, have other full-time responsibilities and also try to have social lives. We really wanted to do it though, so here we are, moving at our own pace and trying to keep it light and exciting. Honestly, I feel like we are still in those beginning stages, which is totally okay with me, because I think there’s a lot of potential for what Grlsplain could become. But we have started, and I think people in Knoxville are starting to recognize us, and that’s a really cool thing to be happening.
Emily: The first year of any organization holds a lot of progress and firsts. What are you most proud of?
Rrita: I’m proud of being able to participate in the music scene. Rock critic goddess Jessica Hopper once said, “Journalism is a way of participating in the world,” and Grlsplain has allowed me to actively participate in music, instead of just listening to it.
Zoe: I’m most proud of actually starting anything. Oftentimes, ideas like this that my friends and I come up with seem too overwhelming to accomplish, so I’m proud that we came together and just started. I’m also really excited to be writing again and to have involved myself more in the music scene in order to contribute to Grlsplain.
Emily: Like Lucy and me, I know you two probably do a lot day-to-day. Tell me about your responsibilities and tasks.
Rrita: I study Journalism at UT, serve at the Stir Fry Cafe and just try to survive on a daily basis.
Zoe: In addition to Grlsplain, I go to UT full time as a Studio Art major and I work at Rala in the old city. Some of our main daily tasks for Grlsplain are just brainstorming, as well as telling people that we meet about us and what we do. Both of these are things we enjoy, so it’s easy to not get bogged down in feeling like Grlsplain is homework or another job.
Emily: Of all of those responsibilities, what’s your favorite?
Rrita: Surviving and sometimes thriving is what makes it all worth it.
Zoe: My favorite responsibility for Grlsplain is definitely forming ideas with other people. Sitting around with the boys from Taped Records or with other girls who want to contribute, or just me and Rrita, thinking of possibilities for articles, videos, art, social media stuff, all of it.
Emily: So, is it just you two right now? If not, tell me about your team.
Rrita: Basically it’s just us! A lot of our friends contribute whenever they can, but we’d love to put together a real team of writers, editors and artists soon.
Zoe: Like Rrita said, we have contributors, but [she] and I are the only “official” Grlsplain team members. We’d like to get to a point where we receive submissions frequently and where we can make those contributors more involved in ideas and making moves for Grlsplain.
Emily: How do you find contributors and inspiration?
Rrita: Many of our contributors are our friends, but we hope to engage writers from all over [and from] many different backgrounds.
Inspiration is easy with so much music out there; the trouble is finding new ways to write about it. Not every story should be a review or a feature.
Zoe: We want contributors to be really anyone – anyone who considers themselves a girl and into music. Right now though, it’s mainly a few of our friends. Finding inspiration is so, so fun, and that’s what I mean by loving to spitball ideas. And, like Rrita said, we want to make sure we keep it fresh and don’t just post written reviews. We want this to be a fun, dynamic publication for us and for our contributors, not just a straightforward music journal.
Emily: What has been the most difficult part of starting Grlsplain? Are there any challenges that really stand out?
Rrita: The hardest part is finding writers. People love music but don’t always want to write about it. There’s no right or wrong answer to or opinion on music, but many people can be pretentious about their tastes. So I think people are scared of being judged or seeming ignorant, when there is truly no wrong way to write about the music you love or what makes you dance, cry or scream.
Zoe: Probably for me, it’s been trying to find the right mode. I think at first I felt a lot of pressure (from myself) to be professional and write perfectly, and that’s just unrealistic. Once I got more into the idea of being able to express myself from my own voice, and not from a Perfect Journalist Voice, writing and posting became easier. Another challenge is just making time, because it is something that I want to do, but I’m a terrible procrastinator.
Emily: What changes have you noticed this year?
Rrita: I’ve noticed everyones reactions to Grlsplain changing. Ideas like this can be abandoned easily, so I don’t think many took us seriously at first. Now people are hitting us up about what we’ve written, potential story ideas and even submissions.
Zoe: Well, just as I am finding my voice in writing, I think Grlsplain as a whole is finding its voice and its role in the music scene, so it’s constantly changing in that way. Our first couple articles were about pretty well-known artists, but now it seems we are becoming more locally focused. That doesn’t mean we will limit ourselves and our contributors to local music and women only, but we do want to have a spotlight on the women in our community who deserve to be seen.
Emily: What additional changes do you want to see in 2018?
Rrita: We’re not just writing this year. We’re going to put together shows, a physical magazine and a lot more this year. I can hardly wait.
Zoe: We have a lot of ideas on the horizon. We would really like to start working with small Knoxville based organizations and studios. Grlsplain will become a lot more full fledged — more involved than occasional articles and instagram stories. I don’t want to say too much… that would kill the surprises.
Emily: If you had to encapsulate Grlsplain in a few sentences, what would you say?
Rrita: Mansplaining is past and Grlsplaining is present.
Zoe: Grlsplain is a place where girls can speak about the music or art they make and the music they love. Girls have a voice here.
Emily: What is your ultimate goal for Grlsplain? Not just for 2018, but for all of the coming years.
Rrita: The ultimate goal for Grlsplain is to inspire girls to rule the music industry. There are other music blogs/magazines like it, such as Gusher, The Le Sigh, Gal-dem, but hopefully Grlsplain will inspire many more. Grrls are just getting started.
Zoe: I’m not sure where we will end up, but as Rrita said, our main goal is to inspire and be available as a voice for women.
Emily: Where do you see yourselves in five years? Ten years?
Rrita: In five years I hope to be in either Nashville or Chicago, working with or writing about music. In ten, I’ll probably be married to Harry Styles and running a major publication. Idk tho.
Zoe: In five years, I don’t know where I’ll be, and in ten years, I really don’t know where I’ll be. Not to sound disorganized, but I just chose my major (studio art) and I’m still figuring out my passions. Hopefully, I’ll be continually involved in music, not only in Knoxville, but in various areas. I plan to keep writing, and of course supporting women in all their creative endeavors