Living

'A girl space'

Olympia girl group The Awnings wrote and recorded its first song last week - all in less than a week after the group formed.

This week, the girls make their first video. And Friday, the video will be featured in a screening at the Capitol Theater.

Even by Olympia's do-it-yourself indie music standards, this is one quick trio.

How did Soleya Rea, 10, Cleo Smith, 13, and Ariel Hugill, 10, learn to harmonize so quickly?

They're part of Loop Girls, a summer workshop designed to teach girls ages 9-14 about making music and videos. And no experience is necessary.

"A lot of them don't have any music experience," said workshop leader Anna Oxygen of Los Angeles. "The camp is really based on giving them a playground to feel comfortable trying things out."

The Awnings - including Soleya, in fifth grade at Little Rock Elementary - all do vocals. Ariel, in fifth grade at Geiger Elementary in University Place, plays keyboards.

Cleo, in eighth grade at Reeves Middle School, plays the ukelele. She's been in a band before and looks the part in funky glasses and horns that stick up out of her hair.

The girls - or "ladies," as Oxygen frequently addressed them - chattered, squabbled and screwed up just like their older counterparts.

Their as-yet-untitled song has, appropriately enough, a real girl-group feel, beginning with a clapped rhythm. It then morphs into more of an electronic pop song.

The Awnings even had their own photographer at their recording session last Friday: Soleya's mom, Holly Jones of Olympia, who is enthusiastic about what her daughter is learning.

"She's coming home and playing music instead of going into her electronic boxes," Jones said. "It's giving her permission. It's a gateway for girls."

Oxygen, whose real name is Anna Huff, started Loop Girls three years ago at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle. The Olympia music workshop was added last year, and the video component is new this year. Now that Oxygen has moved to Los Angeles, she's not certain whether Loop Girls will continue in the Northwest next year.

Oxygen, who makes electronic music, attended The Evergreen State College and is now working on a master's degree in experimental sound at California Institute of the Arts. She started Loop Girls to show girls just how simple making music can be - even when it's high-tech.

"The way I started was just how the girls in the camp are starting," she said. "Someone gave me an old Casio keyboard in Olympia and asked me to write a song. The focus was never on quality. It doesn't have to be perfect."

The workshop, co-taught by Jane (Janet Pants) Paik of Olympia, is a complete multimedia experience. The girls can bring instruments from home, but they also learn to use drum machines and four-track tape machines, make their own CD covers, write about their experiences, dance and watch guest artists perform.

Oxygen was motivated, she said, not by any great feminist concern but by her observation that sometimes girls feel freer to experiment when boys aren't around.

"Often there's a real separation between girls and boys around 11, 12," she said. "It's scarier for them to do creative things around each other.

"It's a girl space," she added. "It's a space for them to feel like they can take that risk and program a drum machine. From what I've experienced, it's still rare for women to be the ones who are making electronic music."

If you go

What: A mini film festival of videos and animations put on by the Olympia Loop Girls, girls ages 9-14 who participated in a two-week workshop in which they recorded songs and made videos.

When: 1:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. E., Olympia

Tickets: Free

Information: For details on the screening, call 360-754-5378 or go to www.olyfilm.org. For more on the Loop Girls, e-mail anna@annaoxygen.com.

  Comments