By Cam LindsayCults aren't the best outlets for discovering new music. Just ask Christopher Owens, one half of San Francisco's Girls. Growing up in the Children of God community, Owens was prohibited from hearing secular music and forced to grow his obsession through whatever means he could find.
"I was not allowed to listen to any radio or records ― the only music we knew was what was written within the group," Owens admits over the phone. "But it made me obsessed with music in a way."
Thanks to a weekly movie night for the younger members that was heavily monitored by an adult, Owens learned to feed his addiction. "It was very controlled, but what they didn't realize was there was always a soundtrack and that was huge for me," he says. "That's how I found out about Queen, by watching Highlander and Guns N' Roses by watching Lean On Me."
Understanding the oppression he faced as a youngster, it makes complete sense that Owens and musical partner Chet "JR" White completely indulged when it came to the scope of Girls' music. For their debut album, simply titled Album, the two chose not to set any boundaries. The result is a wealth of wild, sun-kissed melodies spread across a capricious selection of styles, from Hawaiian surf and '50s rock'n'roll, to noisy shoegaze and wasted country.
"We discussed it and were comfortable jumping around and doing whatever we wanted to do," says Owens. "My main influence for writing is Ariel Pink. If he feels like doing a funky or weird psychedelic song, he just does it, and that made me more comfortable just making whatever music we wanted."
Still, it's hard to discount the formative years spent within the cult. Adds Owens, "I also think the inspirational vibe of the Children of God's music is still subconsciously in my songwriting, like the simple chords, lyrics and sing-along choruses."