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Mixtape by Jaclyn Walsh and Sam Chaplin
Interview by Bree Allison

I met the two women behind the DIY booking collective Eternal Slumber Party in the summer of 2015, just after I had moved to Boston. It was a little startling to discover through the course of this interview that Sam Chaplin and Jaclyn Walsh have known each other for a shorter time than I have known both of them. It doesn’t seem possible, witnessing their enthusiastic, symbiotic conversational interplay; the way that they feed off of each other reminds me of the particularly deeply-engaged moments of my closest, most longstanding friendships. It feels like a space full of possibility, and given that a collaboration in its relative infancy already has such a distinct identity and is so active, I feel confident that a full calendar of stacked shows is the very least that can be expected from ESP for the foreseeable future.

You both booked shows before forming Eternal Slumber Party. What’s the advantage to having a named entity as a booking collective as opposed to doing stuff separately?

Jaclyn: As a person who can’t be around for loud shows a lot of the time...

Do you wanna explain that?

J: Oh yeah, I have tinnitus and hyperacusis, so my ears ring all the time and hurt when I’m in loud spaces, so I have to step out of loud shows or wear really big embarrassing headphones. For me it’s helpful because I have a booking partner in Sam, it helps us divide stuff up where Sam does sound and I do promotion.

Sam: There’s a lot I could say about why it’s so helpful to have Jaclyn as a booking partner and why it’s so helpful to not do shows on my own. We live in a really small area – there’s a small scene. There’s a lot of different pockets of that scene, but for me it felt like a good time to not have my own name alone attached to every single thing that I was doing. It feels like acknowledging that what I’m doing is something bigger than myself. I think it also helps me to distance myself in a way and remember that it’s about more than just my own capacity for what I can handle. The shows that we’re booking are not just about Sam’s vision for what is cool or what should come to Western Mass. I feel like it grounds me in a larger sense of what’s important and I’m really lucky that Jaclyn and me have a lot of shared values around that. We also have a lot of overlapping and complementary skills and we’re into the same shit.

J: We want to book the same bands, so that’s part of it. I never want to fall into some weird booking company type thing, though.

S: I actually think there’s less of a chance that we would fall into a booking company situation where we’re more legitimized because of various factors. The fact that we book at a DIY space, and the fact that we do everything ourselves; we’re doing all of the work, and so much of the time that type of labor, especially given other factors – like us being women – I feel like it’s likely that our work is going to be taken less seriously or less valued. Also, we’re not compensated for what we’re doing.

J: Yeah, we volunteer at Flywheel so that we can book shows.

S: Eternal Slumber Party feels like a weird kind of gift that we give ourselves to say, “we’re taking ourselves really seriously – we’re doing a lot of work." There’s no risk of us becoming a fucking “company", [the name] is just a small way to legitimize all the hard, really intense work that we do.

J: Yeah, and also a way for us to stand with each other.

Tell me about how ESP works – how you decide what shows to book, how you work collaboratively, etc.

S: It’s involved with how we met. It happened really naturally. I got a lot of requests to book shows, and I was doing all the work. I was doing sound, I was finding random people to help me do door. There weren’t a lot of Flywheel volunteers. This was this past summer, I had just moved back to Northampton after living in Boston for a bit.

J: And I was living in Boston for the summer. So we just missed each other.

S: I put out some kind of Facebook thing asking for help with shows at Flywheel. A mutual friend suggested Jaclyn. What I was struggling with was that I hate making flyers, I hate flyering the colleges, I don’t have time for that. I was finishing grad school. I was so busy, all I could handle was setting up the shows, being there and running sound – which I was just learning at the time – and I can host bands at my house. That felt like a lot. I was really struggling with the promotion piece and didn’t always have time to be thoughtful about how to attract a crowd.

J: It became hard for me because I still wanted to be involved in DIY but I had hearing issues so I couldn’t really do sound or do doors at shows. I go to Smith now so it’s really easy for me to flyer colleges or make Facebook events because I work in a library and sit there all day on a computer. There were shows that Sam wanted to do that she needed help with and shows that I wanted to book that I needed help with.

S: This kind of all started with Jaclyn being really supportive of the shows I was booking and wanting to help out. We realized very quickly that – you’re the only other person around here that I feel like has the exact same interests and I feel like we’re excited by the same things. You’d think that might limit us, but we’re both connected to different scenes, or different parts of the same scene. Jaclyn is younger than me, so I’ve been introduced to a whole different scene of really exciting projects. After a period of time, we realized that the bands we were each bringing in fit so well together. It’s just really cool to have a collaborator who is excited about similar things to you.

J: I feel like there’s a lot of overlap, but not so much that it’s limiting. If one of us wants to book a show, the other pretty much just has their back.

S: Yeah, we consult each other about lineups. We’re very intentional about them. Everything we do as a booking collective, we spend so much time being careful about; what are lineups like, what local bands are we bringing in, what bands from New England are we bringing in, how are we highlighting newer musicians. We connect with all the other local bookers to make sure we’re not oversaturating and not stepping on other people’s toes.

J: Also because Western Mass is so small, you have to be very intentional.

S: We spend a lot of time throughout the day texting and messaging each other. We discuss everything together and we definitely share the booking choices. We do not create lineups around bands that don’t have women in them. We center women, queer folks and POC musicians. That’s how we figure out our bills. There might once in a blue moon be one band on a bill that is all white dudes.

J: I think there’s one in all of our upcoming shows.

S: Bands will contact me all the time about booking them, and Jaclyn and I are really specific. If there aren’t women, queer people, or people of color, we’re not going to build a show around you.

J: Because that happens way too often. And personally, I don’t really care [about those bands].

S: Starting this booking collective was a way for me to become way less apologetic about making sure that bands with women, queers, and people of color take up more space. I would much rather book an unknown artist rather than a big popular band of all cis het white dudes. That’s what we do.

J: We’re also trying to not book bands that have fucked up lyrics, or that make people feel unsafe in the space.

S: I’ve been living in Western Mass for a long time, and I’ve noticed that a lot of my friends who are punks, a lot of people I went to Smith with, were often saying to me “I’m not into going to shows here. These shows don’t feel cool for me, they don’t feel safe for me." And it’s not perfect, it’s still a work in progress, but I think the only place to start is to create space that’s all ages, that’s accessible, that’s sober, and that’s centering bands that people want to see when they don’t feel comfortable going to the straight white dude punk show.

J: And that’s like a “duh" thing for me because I don’t feel comfortable in straight white dude spaces. I’ve been going to shows since early high school in Boston, and mostly going to spaces with queer bands. Going to Smash It Dead fest was very important for me. Centering younger folks, women, poc, and queer folks is very important to me, and just a given when booking shows.

S: We’re pretty misandrist. Unapologetically so. I don’t really spend a lot of time on men.

J: I think the reason the music we listen to and the stuff we like overlaps so much is because it follows those principles too. Everything about ESP is about those underlying principles, and it can work into whatever [pursuits other than booking shows].

S: We are excited for what the future holds. We welcome collaboration. We want to branch out from booking shows. We want more help booking shows.

Talk about Flywheel for people who don’t know what it is. J: Flywheel is a completely volunteer-run DIY space that we both volunteer at.

S: I’ve lived in Western Mass for 10 years with short stints elsewhere and I’ve been involved in Flywheel for most of that time; playing shows there, I booked some shows there in 2011, helped with a Ladyfest there. I moved back to the area in May and have been booking shows steadily since.

J: My first show there was last year, which I co-booked with someone and was basically an accident. I hit up a band on tour and Flywheel had a space and someone trained me there. That’s how I got involved, but I knew it existed for a really long time from going to shows in Boston and Massachusetts generally.

S: I feel like the reasons why it’s important for us to book at Flywheel is that the shows are all-ages, we’re able to pay the bands well, it’s a sober space.

J: It’s accessible too.

S: It’s such a valuable part of our community. There’s a lot of bookers and show-goers and bands in the area who have not been too psyched on Flywheel, because they’re not crazy house shows, or there’s no drinking there. It at times can have a high school auditorium vibe, but not when you create nice lighting and have intention about how you’re setting up the space. It’s an institution in the community that’s been there for a long time, and the way it sustains itself is by people setting up shows. I also love doing sound there. Probably because I learned how to do sound there, I feel really confident and really in my element. That’s a skill that I’ve been building for a few months, and I’ve gotten really good feedback from bands. It’s kind of my domain, I feel like I can walk in there and know what I’m doing.

J: And there is other cool stuff going on here, I don’t want to make it sound like we hate it.

S: Especially other Flywheel bookers, like Feather And A Half friends, Meghan Minior [of Ampere/Longings/Siamese Twins] has been booking cool shows for years. Stuff at Flywheel ebbs and flows, and right now is a really exciting time. SALT is doing really cool things.

J: Which is the UMASS booking collective. Folks at Hampshire brought a lot of great bands there last year.

What’s in a name?

J: That was Sam, I don’t even know. I was down though.

S: It’s been a few different things. I was maybe going to do a dumb solo noise project and use that title, then I had an idea for a TV show where I would make episodes when bands stayed at my house where I interview them and it would be called “Eternal Slumber Party." I will be so sad if anyone steals that idea.

J: We’re taking it. We’re also hilarious, so we deserve it.

S: It’s just a dumb thing that popped into my head. I like the way it sounds, I like the way the words look together, I like that the acronym is ESP. There’s not really much of a story.

J: I also like that it’s called Eternal Slumber Party, because slumber parties are a thing that young girls do.

S: Yeah, there’s girl vibes. Femme vibes.

Your facebook page describes Eternal Slumber Party as “performance art" – is there any thought of branching out from booking shows?

J: Yeah!

S: Absolutely. Don’t get me wrong, we love booking shows, we love sick bands and listening to music and talking about music, but there’s a lot more to us as a duo.

J: We have so much! Sam’s an actress. We have a lot going on. Since the beginning we’ve talked about doing things that aren’t shows.

S: More multimedia stuff. We’ve done some stuff with the poetry community in Western Mass. We’d like to do more art stuff. I’d like to have some merch. We definitely want to be famous.

J: We’ve been in touch with people about doing stuff with the art community. Dance parties would be fun. We’ve talked about doing a screening of Cam Girls, which Sam is in.

S: Cam Girls is a film directed by Liz Walber who is a senior at Smith. It’s her thesis film. I starred in the movie.

J: I’ve seen some of it because I’m involved with it music-wise, and it’s sick. We talked about maybe doing some sort of showing of that. There’s a lot in the works that isn’t just music.

S: Yeah, a comedy web series about our lives.

J: We do just about anything, to be real with you.

J: Yeah, we just love each other and want to make each other famous. This interview is the first step.

What “L Word" character do each of you identify with most?

J: Sam called me a Dana sun, Shane rising, and a Helena moon, which is the most accurate thing anyone has ever said about me.

S: I’m a Shane sun, Alice rising, Cherie Jaffee moon.

J: We think about everything in terms of “L Word" and astrology. S: Eternal Slumber Party has an astrology chart.

J: It’s Libra sun, Gemini rising, Cancer moon. We have this ready. Sam’s new band Maxi’s World has some songs named after “L Word" characters. What are the songs?

S: They’re called “Alice 1980" and “Jenny’s A Ghost". What else?

J: [Jaclyn’s project] Dump Him is putting out a split with Boyscout Thriller this week I think.

S: What else do we want to say about each other?

J: We’re both hilarious, we’re great at music.

S: I love Jaclyn. I tell Jaclyn that I love her every day.

J: Yeah, Sam makes Facebook statuses about me pretty frequently.

S: I feel so supported by you. I feel so lucky. I couldn’t survive Western Mass without you.

J: I feel the same way. I think the mome[nt] that you were like “nice radio show playlist" really was the turning point in my time in Western Mass.

Is there one of the upcoming shows that you’re particularly looking forward to?

J: I’m personally stoked to play with Worriers . “Imaginary Life" is one of my favorite records from the last year. So there’s that Dump Him/Remnants/Worriers/Paper Bee show coming up that I’m really excited about.

S: I’m really excited for Try The Pie. Try the Pie and Great Hart are coming from San Jose and they are playing April 26 with Laika’s Orbit and Maxi’s World.

J: Yeah, Try The Pie is very important. Big Hush is sick too.

S: I’m excited about Crusher, a new Brooklyn band coming out on April 11th. And we really want to book Betty.

J: The “L Word" theme song creators.

S: Wait, can we tell you bands that we really want to book?

I didn’t ask it, so no.

J: Aye Nako.

S: Long Gone.

J: I’d love to book Sleater-Kinney, Tegan and Sara. [laughs]

S: I’d love to book Screaming Females.

J: What bands are even fucking good? I only like Aye Nako.

S: I don’t know, we’re booking Priests.

J: I wanted to book Worriers and Priests.

S: We’re basically living the dream.

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