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I WAS OVERWEIGHT AND SHORT AND VERY SOCIALLY AWKWARD AND THE OTHER MEMBERS WERE ALL FAR MORE COOL AND TECHNICALLY PROFICIENT THAN I WAS.

Charlie Kerr, JPNSGRLS

Photograph by Fiona Garden

Charlie Kerr
Vancouver, British Columbia.

JPNSGRLS is a garage pop four piece from the great white north. They’ve got just enough explosive attitude and catchy hooks to get your leather-clad self out on the dance floor. But in a super cool way that doesn’t disrespect the metal studs in your jacket. Charlie is the lead singer and has worked his ass off to get to the badass status he now holds. JPNSGRLS released their sophomore album Divorce earlier in 2016. 

I remember playing guitar in a Beatles-tribute band as a kid, I was 11 and the other members were thirteen and fourteen years old. One was my brother and the other three were his best friends. I was overweight and short and very socially awkward and the other members were all far more cool and technically proficient than I was. I couldn’t really play guitar all that well and I was tone-deaf. So my purpose in the band perplexed me. They already had two great guitar players. I felt useless. So, one day, in tears, I asked my guitar teacher why would they even keep me in the band. I was bringing nothing to it. He then explained to me that, while I couldn’t sing or play all that well, that I was a “performer.” And that has an incredible value that not many are gifted with. So with that in mind I obsessively geeked out and began to imitate my favorite performers. The way kids in the 80’s learned the entire choreography to thriller, I learned Kurt Cobain’s exact, disheveled, guitar playing stance and headbanging in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video. I was completely meticulous, I adjusted my strap to make sure my guitar hung in roughly the same place. After I had that down-pat I studied some other greats: imitating Mick Jagger, Kurt Cobain, Julian Casablancas, James Brown, Iggy Pop, Karen O, you-name-it, and I tried to Frankenstein a persona that combined them all. And I was always writing my own songs and after a few years I garnered the reputation of being a decent frontman of a few bands (even though my brother drummed for all of them and one of them was a two piece.) I was still tone-deaf and couldn’t play guitar well, but I could hold an audience’s attention and talk to them and tell them stories. At a certain point, I stopped trying to Frankenstein personas and just did and said whatever was natural to me at the time on stage, which is an incredibly liberating experience every night.  I’ve always been an obsessive person but I feel like performance and music are pretty healthy obsessions. I spent my teenage years, writing songs and watching live videos of all my favorite musicians, constantly and I am happy I did. And then at one point I heard “Channel Orange” by Frank Ocean and it made me want to be a better singer and songwriter so I have been working on that ever since.

FAVORITE RECORD STORE

Vinyl records in vancouver and Amoeba records in San Francisco

FAVORITE CONCERT VENUE

The Commodore Ballroom, in Vancouver. The Hawley Arms in London

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