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Girlyman: Queer as folk (music)

This article shared 3661 times since Wed Apr 15, 2009
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Chances are if you're into folk music, you're into Girlyman. Spontaneous and goofy, the obvious pleasure Girlyman members Doris Muramatsu, Nate Borofsky and Ty Greenstein take in their friendship is as heart-warming as their enthusiasm for performing is infectious. Talented lyricists and versatile musicians with four albums under their collective belt and another on the way, Girlyman will hit Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, on Friday, April 24, in support of its live album, Somewhere Different Now. Recently, Greenstein sat down to discuss everything from Girlyman's stage antics to her vegetable garden.

Windy City Times: How long has Girlyman been together?

Ty Greenstein: Officially, since 2001.

WCT: How has your music evolved over that time?

TG: I guess there are two ways to talk about it: the CDs we've made and our live performance. Our live performance hasn't changed all that much. Ninety nine percent of the time it's just the three of us, but we all play a lot of different instruments and we try to add new ones just to keep the sound fresh. As for our CDs, each one has a different sound. We try to steer ourselves away from a formula of any kind. I do think we're evolving, but it's hard to put your finger on exactly how.

WCT: Do you write every day?

TG: When I'm in my groove, it's a daily practice, which just creates more of a momentum. I find that more of my life gets incorporated into the writing, things I heard during the day, little details. It just becomes a richer experience, so that's what I've been doing more and more.

WCT: Each member of Girlyman writes his or her own songs and then the band collaborates on arrangements. What's your favorite song of Doris' and of Nate's?

TG: Nobody's ever asked me that before. That's a really hard question. I guess my current favorite of Doris's is a new one called "Trees Still Bend." It's gonna be on the next studio album which we're recording right now. For Nate … it changes a lot. I don't really listen to our albums that much, but for some reason I was listening to Joyful Sign, and "St. Peter's Bones" came on and I was like, "I really like that song." So, right now that's my favorite, but if you asked me tomorrow it might be different.

WCT: How did you go about choosing tracks for Somewhere Different Now?

TG: Over a couple of months, we recorded basically every show that we played. Then each of us decided for ourselves which of our songs we wanted to put on the CD. A lot of what we do live is the stuff that happens in between the songs; people have said it's kind of like a stand-up routine, but it's completely spontaneous. It was fun to pick out our favorite jokes and interactions, and cobble together a good representation of what a Girlyman show is like.

WCT: Speaking of live shows, Girlyman seems unique in that you almost create a dialogue with your fans. You're receptive in a way most performers aren't.

TG: For us it's more of an exchange. Our career is mostly about our live shows. We like to go out and talk to the fans and sign CDs and try to meet the people we were singing for. If I thought of myself as being onstage and separate from the audience I would probably run away screaming out of fear.

WCT: After living in New York City for years, Girlyman recently made Atlanta it's new HQ. What prompted the move?

TG: From the very beginning, whenever we toured to Atlanta we just felt something. It felt really easy to be here, so I think it was always on our minds. Even though I love New York, we wanted something a little quieter, something that felt like a nice rest after tours. Atlanta is sizeable, but compared to New York, it's tiny. It feels like everybody knows each other. I have a vegetable garden and a dog, and it's just a really different way to live.

WCT: Speaking of lifestyle choices, what three activities could you not live without?

TG: I'm an exerciser so I would need to do yoga. I'm also a big meditator. I would need to do something musical, play my guitar or sing. I also really like to cook. Oh, and if I didn't get to play with my dog, I would be really upset.

WCT: What kind of dog do you have?

TG: She's a rescue. Nobody really knows what she is, maybe some kind of lab mix. She's the best.

WCT: How does the life you're living compare to the vision you had for your life growing up?

TG: God, you ask really deep questions. I think it's pretty close. The gay thing, I wasn't hip to that till it happened, but I always saw myself with somebody blond and my partner is blond. [ Laughs ] And I always saw myself as a musician, so that worked out pretty well.

This article shared 3661 times since Wed Apr 15, 2009
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