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Culture Shock

Live in the Living Room: Brenda's Friend



Right before finals week, we got to take a study break as Brenda's Friend took over the living room for a set on Dec. 12. The punk-rock duo performed a tight set for us, and then sat down for an interview where they talked about the best coffee in Bloomington, the best house shows, and who is the elusive Brenda's Friend.

Mixed: Nick Kinney

Recording and Editing: Brian Berger and WIUX Engineering Committee


Jessica Yarvin: Can you talk about what kind of music you play and how you started playing together?

Brenda's Friend: Punk-y, indie-rock background, grunge influence somewhere in there. We try to do a lot of harmonizing and vocal arrangements that don’t fit in necessarily with straight punk music. We started playing together about a year and a half ago after Amy (Oelsner, guitarist) moved to Bloomington.


JY: Is there a backstory behind the name Brenda’s Friend?

BF: Construct the story in your mind and that’s it.

JY: How did you start playing music?

BF: We both grew up singing, Amy played violin and I (Erin Tobey, drums) started teaching myself guitar in high school. Amy was in show choir, pop-punk band in high school.


JY: When did you both move to Bloomington? How did you meet?

BF: Both of us came here for friends, relationships music, I moved here 12 or 13 years ago, Amy moved her 2 years ago. We had mutual friends, we’ve been in the same circles for years and years. We originally met 8 or 9 years ago but this is the first time we were living in the same place.


JY: Do you have a favorite part of the Bloomington music scene?

BF: I like the creative communication that happens between different people, lots of collaborations. There’s so much talent and it pushes people, included myself to do better. There’s such a wide spectrum of ages, and you can age in the creative scene and there’s still a space for you. Always new venues, always new bands. People aren’t afraid to get weird, which I love.

Q: Where’s your favorite coffee in Bloomington?

A: Hopscotch coffee! My husband (Erin's husband) and my friend own it! And they have great coffee too.

Q: You released a cassette a few months ago, do you have any plans to record more music soon, or are you just focusing on touring?

A: We’re recording six more songs, working with Patrick Jennings. We’re touring in the spring, and releasing solo albums in the late winter. Brenda will get her time in the sun.


Q: Most bands consider touring a necessary, yet grueling part of being a musician? Do you feel the same way?

A: I love touring, it’s a great break from day-to-day life. We don’t tour often, just a few weeks and we try to keep them under 10-days. We both have a lot of friends across the country so it’s good to visit them.


Q: What has been your favorite show you’ve ever played as a band?

A: In town, we love playing at a house called Kroger Castle, we’ve played several really awesome shows there. It’s always really fun and they have a great basement.


Q: If you could share a stage with any 3 musicians, dead or alive, whom would you choose?

A: Jonathon Richmond, Patti Smith, Whitney Houston

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You can listen to more of our Live in the Living Room sessions right here.

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