words: Marissa Lorusso
You know how Brian Eno said that while The Velvet Underground and Nico’s self-titled album didn’t exactly reach the top of the charts, everyone who bought a copy started a band? That’s kind of what happened with Mary Stankard, a Long Island-based booker and musician, when she first heard Waxahatchee (album sales notwithstanding). And after meeting other musicians both online and IRL, she realized many of these friends felt similarly passionate about — and inspired by — the bands of Katie and Allison Crutchfield (namely, Waxahatchee, Swearin’, and P.S. Eliot). Now, Stankard has compiled a compilation of covers of songs from the Crutchfield sisters’ various musical projects, called “Long Island Ladies #1.”
The compilation — named after Stankard’s booking collective — will be released October 31, and features contributions from Flower Housewife, Tall Friend, Dump Him, Judy Chong, and others. Stankard says the idea for the compilation came to her while booking the Up Yours festival at SUNY Purchase — inspired, in part, by some conversations with Jaclyn Walsh, of the band Dump Him and the booking collectives Eternal Slumber Party and Gender Meltdown. After the exhausting, overwhelming process of booking the fest was over, Stankard says she thought to herself: “I want to keep working with these people. I want to keep collaborating. And why not collaborate with artists that are held so dearly in everybody's hearts?” So she asked friends (and folks from the internet) to send her Crutchfield covers, and the process snowballed from there.
Stankard discovered Waxahatchee’s music through her brother. After she saw a Tegan and Sara show, her brother casually mentioned that his friends — Katie and Allison Crutchfield — had just opened for them. That piqued her interest. “I was like ‘... What. The Hell,’” she laughs. Hearing their music, Stankard says, inspired her to start playing music, too. Now, Stankard says, she appreciates their music even more because of the Crutchfields’ outspokenness on issues that matter to them. “They're very present online,” she says, “and they kind of utilize opportunities when they're literally given a mic to speak on — or to sing through — to speak out against things like scene sexism and rape culture.” Stankard says that witnessing the Crutchfields speaking out was new to her (though she recognizes that “obviously people have done it before”).
Some songs on the compilation — like Judy Chong’s cover of Waxahatchee’s “Blue Pt. II” — reflect the same essence of the original tracks; Judy Chong’s cover, like the original, is sparse, intimate and beautiful. Others, such as Boyscout Thriller’s version of “I Think I Love You” — premiering here ahead of the compilation’s release — are quite different. “I almost cried! It’s so good,” Stankard says of the Boyscout Thriller cover. The original, from Waxahatchee’s American Weekend, is scratchy and minimal, with vocals that hardly reach about a whisper. Boycott Thriller’s cover feels just as personal and moody, but is interspersed with melodic electric guitar riffs that ratchet up the song’s heartbroken energy.
Overall, Long Island Ladies #1 is a reminder of how the music scenes in which Waxahatchee, Swearin’ and P.S. Eliot find themselves can be a collaborative ecosystem of sorts between musicians and fans. The project feels like a communal effort to celebrate the artists that remind us why we love — and make — music in the first place.