Girls Rock Camp

An interview with Halle Pollay and Beth Kille from Madison's Girls Rock Camp!
by Mike Huberty
February 2014

Two of the campers at a Girls Rock Camp Showcase

Two of the campers at a Girls Rock Camp Showcase

Girls Rock Camp has become an institution in Madison over the past few years and has become a positive way for young and aspiring female artists to meet established artists in the Madison music scene. It’s a week long day camp where young women from the ages of 8 to 18 spend time learning about the basics of performing in a rock band situation, a sampling of how to record in a music studio, and a final showcase where everyone gets to play in a live showcase. We talked to the Madison camp founder, longtime local musician Halle Pollay (currently performing in Fishwife with musicians that she works with at the Girls Rock Camp) , as well as their music director, well-established Madison singer-songwriter, Beth Kille about their upcoming fundraiser March 1st at High Noon Saloon.

Maximum Ink: What got you interested in Girls Rock Camp in the first place?
Halle Pollay:
I wanted to start a program in Madison that would give girls the opportunity to build positive self-esteem through music. It has become so much more than I ever dreamed. We have created a music program for both girls and women, a mentorship program, a web of connections between the women in the Madison music community, and more.

MI: What’s been your favorite event so far?
By far, my favorite event is the Girls Rock Camp Showcase at the end of each camp session. I love seeing the campers (including the adult campers from Ladies Rock Camp) bring out their inner rock stars. It has been 5 years and I still cry with joy at every showcase!

MI: What kind of music are you seeing girls interested in most? Is there a generational element to it?
There is a huge spectrum of music the girls bring to camp. I’ve learned a lot from the campers about artists and music that I would have never found on my own. The staff also brings in many different styles of music, so there is truly a rainbow of genres at camp, from many many generations.
Beth Kille: I’m always surprised by the musical tastes of the campers.  You’d expect them all to be into Taylor Swift (and a lot of them are) but so many of them like to explore different genres. They’re into everything from heavy metal to folk.  We’re also finding that the campers and their families have become super supportive of the local music scene because of all the amazing instructors we have at camp that are in local bands. When we ask campers to list their “influences” on their applications, we see a lot of local musician names pop up!

MI: What’s your personal favorite aspect of the camp?
Every session there are campers who seem insecure, or just not so sure of themselves. I remember being like this as a kid, well, sometimes I still feel this way, but I’ve seen these campers go from not knowing who they are to having an identity to start building a life from. Before camp, a camper might be feeling alone or lost and by the end of camp there is a voice that shouts out to the world “I am a drummer!” I just love that…love love love.

MI: What part of the camp do the girls seem to respond to most quickly?
Band Practice! This is when creativity is really let loose and they can form tight bonds with their bandmates and band coaches.
BK: Ha! I was going to say lunch.  Kidding, I agree with Halle but I am also amazed to see how well the campers do when we take them to Paradyme Productions for the professional recording of each band’s song at the end of the week.  They have about a 25 minute slot to record and they all do great. I’ve seen professional musicians take that long to adjust their microphone stands in the studio! These girls go in and knock out their recordings like pros.

MI: How do you find such awesome instructors?
Let me introduce you to the most awesome Music Director in the universe: Beth Kille!
BK: Aw shucks.  Thanks, Halle.  It’s really not that hard to be honest. Madison is bursting at the seams with awesome female musicians and the whole idea really sells itself to potential staffers.  We are also one of the few camps around the country that pays it’s staffers, which really helps us ensure quality education for our campers.  We have several instructors build their tour schedules around camp dates.  These kids are learning from instructors who are truly “the real deal.”

On Saturday March 1st at 1:30pm at the High Noon in Madison, you can see the real deal in action featuring Beth Kille, Dana Perry, Sexy Ester, Anna Vogelzang, Super Villain Fire Drill, and The “GRC Staff Cover Band” is an all-star group who will be performing all songs written by the campers themselves!

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