FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Raw Art Works’ Teens Produce Music Video for Boston Indie Rock Artist and Activist Jen Grygiel
Contact:Shelby Morrison, Marketing and Communications Manager Shelby@rawartworks.org
Office: 781-593-5515 x204
Lynn, MA Monday June 5, 2012 – Teen filmmakers in Raw Art Works’ (RAW) Real to Reel film program took on the issues of bullying and teen suicide through the full production of a music video which they conceptualized, wrote, directed, and edited entirely on their own for Boston indie rock artist and activist Jen Grygiel (GRYGIEL). RAW’s teens worked to convey the stories of three gay teens as they support each other through the difficult reality of being gay in high school. Social isolation, bullying, family stress, and heartbreak are all explored within the hopeful stories of youth emerging positively from situations where there seems to be almost no end in sight; a striking visual accompaniment to the powerful words of GRYGIEL’s own “It Gets Better” story.
Woolly Mammoth Sound donated studio time for GRYGIEL’s upcoming single, “Make it Out,” which will be released as a follow up to her successful recent EP GRYGIEL. GRYGIEL partnered with New England-based music retailer Newbury Comics on her last EP to donate the proceeds to the “It Gets Better Project” which seeks to help LGBT youth envision a life worth living. Proceeds of her upcoming single will be split between the It Gets Better Project and Raw Art Works.
The single can be purchased at: http://grygiel.bandcamp.com/track/make-it-out
“I’m really inspired after working with the students at RAW,” says Grygiel on the collaboration. “They took my song “Make it Out” and made an amazing video that shows the power that youth have. We focus all this attention on getting adults to help kids but actually kids have all the skills they need when adults allow them to be themselves and have a voice. One important lesson that I learned from these students, and the program at RAW, is that it’s really important for kids to help each other and for adults to create safe, supportive, environments where they can thrive and be happy.”
Chris Gaines, director of the Real to Reel film program at RAW, says “It was cool watching my students, gay and straight, work together as professionals to tell stories that were close to their lives and experiences—stories that matter and that reflect the reality of their world. Jen couldn’t have been a cooler artist to collaborate with; she was trusting of their vision and gave them plenty of room to be honest in their storytelling.” While the video focuses on the stories of gay teens, it also focuses on the larger issue of bullying. “My students felt that they hadn’t seen or heard their own stories told from their perspective in the media. Our film school aims to have kids tell their stories in a really meaningful way, and it’s awesome to see this story played out in a music video.”
GRYGIEL’s video can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/a2M6WQ-PFWY
Founded in 1988 by art therapists, RAW has been highly recognized for their unique approach to merging arts education and youth development. RAW’s programs are designed to create a continuum of free arts programming to children and teens, aged 6-19, with increased challenge and responsibility at each developmental stage. RAW’s continuum culminates with Project Launch, a college access program in which volunteer mentors and RAW staff support students through the college application process. Over 90% of RAW’s graduating class of 2012 has applied to and been accepted to college. This year, RAW has partnered with Lesley University to offer three college credits to teens in its film program.
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Music makes it better. GRYGIEL, originally from upstate NY, learned this early on after her parents brought her back a guitar from a trip to Branson, Mo.
After playing under various band names (MEandJOANCOLLINS, Steel Poniez, and Yes, Sir), GRYGIEL is embracing who she is—an out musician who is proud of her name. Dan Savage and the It Gets Better Project are helping her story gain widespread attention after her offer to speak at her former high school as an out alumni was ignored. This experience inspired GRYGIEL to co-found an organization, No Gay Left Behind, to encourage high school alumni to form virtual gay-straight alliances.
GRYGIEL is performing under her last name as a rock four piece with fellow Boston musicians. She writes about love, painful experiences, and things that piss her off. The lead track on her latest EP, 5:30 am, is a result of nights spent lying awake prior to a break-up, while Drive Me is a hopeful track that captures those excited moments after finally meeting a “sweet girl.” With the help of Woolly Mammoth Sound, she released a single titled, Make it Out, which is a song-ified version of her It Gets Better story. She recently performed at CMJ 2012, Boston Pride, the Boston Dyke March and Wellesley College.
Hoping to make a name at CMJ
Boston-based rock ’n’ roll solo act Grygiel (a.k.a. Jennifer Grygiel, known for her earlier work with MEandJOANCOLLINS) says her primary goal for CMJ goes beyond promoting her music; instead, she’s focusing on spreading the message of the It Gets Better Project, a widespread Internet support campaign for LGBT youth. Grygiel is playing the Big Picture Media showcase at Sullivan Hall next Friday.
“As an out musician . . . playing things like CMJ is really just an opportunity to help the youth see that life does get better,’’ Grygiel says. “It’s kind of reinvigorating my music career.’’
Big Picture Media Showcase @ Sullivan Hall: October 21, 2011
GRYGIEL appears in the photo section…
BIG PICTURE MEDIA’S 3RD ANNUAL OFFICIAL CMJ SHOWCASE
Indie-rocker and LGBT activist, Jen Grygiel, will be kicking off this event. Additional performances by States, Lily & The Parlour Tricks, Mercies, Destry and The Hush Now. All proceeds from Grygiel’s self-titled EP are donated to the It Gets Better Project, which seeks to help LGBT youth envision a life worth living. The EP is being sold at music retailer, Newbury Comics’ 29 retail stores throughout New England.
ONE PART ACHEY, TWO PARTS BREAKY
Weekly Dig (Boston, MA)
It’s taken for granted that, in all forms of art, one thing has been done to death: love. The fact that so many artists have tackled the L-word (not that L-word—though Grygiel has that too) makes it that much harder to stand-out when writing about romance. It also makes it that much sweeter when someone manages to express those well-trodden feelings without coming off like a chump.
The new EP from Jen Grygiel (formerly of MEandJOANCOLLINS) strikes all the expected romantic chords. There’s the slow and strained cry of “5:30 AM,” the break-up track. “Drive Me,” with building guitars and relentless drum-beat, is a gushy declaration of love for “the sweetest girl,” while the halting “Reckless Woman” is the pained rant of an unrequited lover. “Just Say Maybe” rounds out the package as the bittersweet, yet optimistic, “one more chance” song.
There’s hurting in these songs, but it’s a dangerous hurting—the pain of a wounded tiger, and not some lovesick puppy.
Artist’s music supports ‘It Gets Better’, LGBT activism
In September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry to inspire hope for young people facing harassment because they’re gay. The message was simple, yes, it does get better after high school.
The campaign inspired, and continues to inspire a number of artists including indie rocker Jen Grygiel. In fact, the artist is donating all proceeds from her latest EP, Grygiel, to the It Gets Better Project. Already a selfless act in itself, Grygiel took it a step further by co-founding her own organization, No Gay Left Behind, after her former high school denied her offer to come back and give a speech as an openly gay Alumni.
Grygiel says that her “platform” as an artist enables her to support meaningful projects and the LGBT activism will provide gay students in middle school and high school with the thing they need most — support.
Like a lot of people last fall, Grygiel was devastated by the number of LGBT teen suicides and wanted to get involved. After the school denied her request to talk to students, Grygiel utilized the power of social media creating a local GSA Network (Gay-Straight Alliance).
She explained, “As a gay kid growing up, if I had known just one LGBT person I probably would have had a role model. Or somebody I could have turned to or someone I could have trusted. At least know someone that had gone through what I had gone through.”
Girls rule at Big Picture Media’s CMJ showcase
On October 21st, Big Picture Media held their CMJ showcase at Sullivan Hall. All of the bands that played (Grygiel, Mercies, Destry, The Hush Now, States, and Lily and the Parlour Tricks) were great, but most impressive were the female-led bands.
Grygiel started the night off right with her energetic indie rock. Headed by musician and LGBT advocate Jennifer Grygiel and backed by an all-female band, the set was both personal and loud. There was a great balance between the confessional nature of her songs, especially her latest single “5:30am,” which give her a singer/songwriter vibe, and the rock roots of songs like “Space Party,” which give her music the edge to make it entertaining and fun.
Newsflash: Jen Grygiel and Newbury Comics teaming up to benefit the It Gets Better Project
Boston Band Crush
Jen Grygiel has been an ardent supporter of the It Gets Better Project, speaking out about it whenever possible and even penning an open letter to the students of her former high school on the subject. She’s at it again, this time partnering with Newbury Comics to donate proceeds from her GRYGIEL EP to the cause. It’s good music that you’d enjoy anyway, but now you can revel in the added knowledge that by purchasing it, you’re helping a good cause and making a difference. It’s available on her Bandcamp page and at all 29 Newbury Comics locations.
Jen Grygiel – s/t EP
Poets, philosophers, psychologists, and theologians have been writing about love since the dawn of time, but there’s something about its multi-faceted complexities that continues to intrigue us. It would be fair to assume that without amour as a subject, the film and music industries would’ve collapsed ages ago. Indeed, love – be it passion, adoration, infatuation, affection, or otherwise – continues to be a draw for artists in all forms of media. Unsurprisingly, the topic has always been a pervasive one in music, whether manifested in the hormonal swooning of the Beatles’ earliest hits or in the sexual heat of the Black Eyed Peas’ perverse pop.
Love as an overarching theme is something with which Boston’s Jen Grygiel is intimately acquainted. Having sung such songs as “All the Cowards in Her Path” and “Typical Asshole” in her time with glam/punk group MEandJOANCOLLINS, the topic of spurned paramours came up time and again. It should also be mentioned that the band – fronted by Grygiel’s husband Bo Barringer, no less – chose Love. Trust. Faith. Lust. as the title for its debut LP. Until the sophomore album arrives sometime this fall, Grygiel has chosen to focus her attention on a solo EP, a 14-minute set of scrappy rock that trades in the sordid debauchery and playful snark of her other outfit for an aesthetic which highlights the veritable emotions that arise when a serious relationship goes awry. The immediate melancholy, frantic disbelief, and lingering anger of a broken romance is prime territory for songwriters, and Grygiel seizes on the well-chronicled scenario with a succinct candidness that manages to feel bracing rather than banal.
Grygiel brings all the bleary-eyed intensity of an early morning split to life on opening cut “5:30 AM,” which, against a midtempo waltz groove, finds our protagonist pointing out the elephant in the room: “I’m tired / I can’t sleep / you’re awake right next to me.” The standard-issue rock instrumentation and Grygiel’s plaintive vocals lend the track a timeless bluesy quality that any fan of Jack White’s many bands would find appealing. From here, the next stop is “Drive Me,” a throbbing rock tune whose urgency is felt in both the incessant drive of the rhythm section and in the pleading lyrics (“When did we both lose our minds / I want to stay here / trapped in time”).
“Reckless Woman,” which recasts the wronged lover as a vengeance-seeking fireball, is both the EP’s most entertaining and impressive song, its punchy drum and bass combination providing a fitting backdrop for Grygiel’s vitriol. Things come to an expeditious close with “Just Say Maybe,” in which despondent requests are made (“Love me / give it a second chance / take another look”) while an acoustic guitar strums in isolation. Coming on the heels of “Reckless Woman,” the song is notable for its modest presentation and folksy bent.
Though the topic is certainly well-worn, it’s no less refreshing to hear Jen Grygiel explore love with a sense of intimacy and vulnerability. MEandJOANCOLLINS was all about lusty swagger; this first solo record strips away the glam rock spectacle and goes instead for substance.
Good Music for a Good Cause
The Backstage Beat
Back in April, Jen Grygiel penned a beautiful letter to her former high school, encouraging closeted students not to give up hope when they feel like they’re trapped and cannot speak up. Jen’s efforts continue with her EP Grygiel, this time with the help of New England’s music and comic vendor Newbury Comics.
The partnership between Grygiel and Newbury Comics supports the It Gets Better Project, with the chain’s 29 stores selling the charity EP. All proceeds from the album go to the cause, rallying behind LBGT youth and aiming to help kids feel comfortable with their sexuality amidst the pressures of peer bullying.
The indie-rock EP features four tracks that span the ups and downs of relationships—opening with “5:30 AM;” Jen captures the sickening early-morning gnaws and restlessness with a tick-tocking guitar, zoning in on break-up anxieties.
“Drive Me” speeds things up, as Jen sings the praises of a beautiful girl in a guitar driven, rock-soaked track that suggests the feel of the flurried spell of new love. “Reckless Woman” goes the other direction lyrically with more riotous rock sounds—a wild and flighty girl gets trashed as Grygiel insists “I never loved you”—the melody is tense and dark.
The EP closes with “Just Say Maybe,” a plea to the pretty girl to resuscitate the relationship that went south. Folk acoustics and pretty harmonies end this EP’s story on a bittersweet note, but the track is warm enough to insinuate better times to come.
Jen Grygiel opens the CMJ Showcase on October 21st. Help support the It Gets Better Project by picking up this beautiful EP. Grygiel can be purchased at Newbury Comics retail or online.
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