Bonnie Bloomgarden, who leads Los Angeles-based psych rockers the Death Valley Girls, describes her band’s sound as “space gospel with a hint of California doom boogie.” While there’s a lot going on in that sentence, it does capture the esoteric, danceable and eminently heavy vibe that they have going on.
The Death Valley Girls formed a decade ago, out of necessity. “Initially the mission was to be in a band or we could not live,” says Bloomgarden.
A noble cause indeed. Over those 10 years, the band has toured extensively and put out some wonderful albums, not least 2018’s Darkness Rains and 2020’s Breakthrough EP. Bloomgarden says that there have been many highlights.
“We get to tour, and make records, for a job,” she says. “We are very lucky to get to do that. But, highlight-highlights are having Iggy Pop in our music video, getting to tour with Roky Erickson (and Larry [Schemel]), Primal Scream, L7, the Distillers, Daniel Johnston, being on Suicide Squeeze [their label], Peaches doing a remix of our songs, one time Jim Jarmusch read our band name, our hero Mitch Horowitz came to a show, and mainly making so many friends and family!”
Bloomgarden says that she has an old-school view of the concept of DIY from a musical standpoint. “I think it means not having a manager or major label,” she says. “I think it means figuring it out as you go along and treating everyone equally! In DIY music there is no hierarchy! We have a lot of stuff maybe most new bands don’t have: a great label, great booking agents, a van. So, I don’t know if we are even DIY technically, but we take each day as it comes, and work together to make it work, like any family!”
Like all DIY musicians, the pandemic lockdowns were rough on Bloomgarden, but she thinks things are heading in the right direction again. “One thing I do notice is the young kids, and actually people of all ages that are experimenting with who they are, or who they want to be, finally getting to go out and be their true, new, or just for that day selves,” she says.