The Brazilian/Irish Dublin-Based Grunge-Inspired Band, Green Gurl, Discuss Their Debut Single “Monsters”

For about a decade, the Brazilian musician Dessa Vanuci had performed in various cover bands in her hometown of São Paulo since she was fifteen years old, but never had the opportunity to do what she really wanted, which was to release her own originals.

“People want different things,” Dessa tells Post-Burnout. “So, I never got to have a band with original music. When the pandemic happened and everyone was stuck at home and completely heartbroken, I decided that it was time for me to stop waiting for the right band – because I’d been writing since I was thirteen – and just release the songs on my own.”

Dessa began working with some local musicians to create music under her name. In a creative move, however, Dessa decided to write her music in English, as opposed to her native Portuguese. “To me, it just sounds right,” says Dessa on writing in English.

Photo by Dylan Scully
Courtesy of Green Gurl

 “Because all of my influences are in English, even though Brazil is such a rich country for music – we have so many genres and brilliant musicians, even from our time. Like, I’ve played with bands and I have very talented friends  – but I, myself, when it comes to the lyrics, I have always been inspired by music written in English.

“I read poetry in English, so the repertoire is in English. So, it’s not only about maybe going straight to the point, because Portuguese is a language with a lot of words, so we can be more diverse. With English – to me, in my personal opinion – it’s a very straight-to-the-point language, and I think that’s a really good thing. It’s not a bad thing, for songwriting.”

It was actually this linguistic creative choice which led Dessa from Brazil’s largest city to Ireland’s best city, Dublin, where she currently resides. “I wanted to start a band, but I write music in English, so I might as well move 10,000 kilometres and come to Ireland!” laughs Dessa. “So, when I arrived, I was trying to get into the music scene and meet everybody, since I didn’t really know anybody here, and I decided to start by busking, and I went to [the music shop] XMusic, which is where he works!”

The “he” was Steven Kennedy, a known and established musician in the Dublin scene. “We were both interested in the same kind of music and influenced by ‘90s bands,” tells Steven. “We would’ve grown up being interested in, like, Soundgarden, and Foo Fighters, and all that stuff. So, I would’ve not really been writing anything for the genre, because I was in…like, I’m still in other projects at the moment, but they’re much more pop-based, and much more indie pop.

“And, at my heart, I’m a guitarist first of all, but I play bass in those projects, and, on guitar, I love playing really, like, grungey riffs and stuff that’s kind of a bit more leftfield and oddly phrased. My obsession is just weird riffs and chunky choruses and stuff. So, I showed what I had been writing on guitar to Dessa, and she was like, ‘That’s really cool!’ [Laughs] So, we just started writing.”

With the germ of a project established, the two began looking for other members, which fell on Steven, as he was more connected. Talking about the other members of the band, Steven says, “So, from another project that I’ve been playing with – and I’ve stood in for, with other bands that I play with – this guy, Colm Geraghty, our lovely drummer. He’s really talented, and anybody who sees him play – no matter what he’s doing – they always come away, saying, ‘God, that was tight drumming.’ And he’s really got some interesting techniques and stuff. He’s not afraid to use every part of the kit, you know? [Dessa laughs] He’s great.

“I was playing in another band with him, called Oh Ryan, and we really gelled. Because I was playing bass in that project, so, you know, drummer and bassist, obviously best friends. So, from that, I was like, ‘Yeah, I think I lock in well with this guy.’ […] I was delighted to get Colm in, and he was totally happy to join. And then Sammy, our bassist, is a longtime friend of Colm, and he’s also mainly a guitarist, I guess, but we had a couple of people that we were thinking about and then, when Colm mentioned Sammy and they already get along so well, it’s like, that’s the most important relationship in the band already, isn’t it? The drummer and bassist? So, that was a huge shoo-in.”

Since forming last summer, the band have been honing their songs and live shows. With the project established, they needed a name before they could book a show, and there was a long enough decision process until Dessa landed on something she really liked. “We had a few things we wanted for the name, right?” she says. “So, I wanted a name that was easy for people to understand, because when you’re gigging – especially in the beginning – you don’t get a big banner, doing it. [Laughs]

“So, I wanted to be able to present the band to people. So, I wanted it to be either one word that was easy to say or something that made sense, so I really like that we have ‘Green,’ because it’s a colour, and I love that we chose not to go with ‘Green Girl’ with an ‘I’ because we’re not…I’m vegetarian, but we’re not a vegan, [plant-loving] band or anything, so we just went with Green Gurl. It’s supposed to sound like one word: Greengurl.”

She continues, “Again, easy name, we could tell it to people, they would be able to google us or whatever. […] So, I was like, ‘Green Gurl!’ Because I was saying colours, I was saying girls’ [names], I was saying…[Laughs] He was like, ‘Why is that good? Why do you like that? Why do you have a “eureka!” face?’

“And it’s because it sounds like ‘gringo,’ which is what I am and what they are to me, and I thought it was a good pun without actually using the word ‘gringo,’ so Green Gurl! There ya go!” Steven adds, “It just means ‘foreigner,’ because Dessa has become the foreigner and she’s with the foreigners, now, in the band.” “Yeah!” says Dessa. “How I sold it to the guys, I was like, ‘We’re going to play all over the world, so we’re going to be gringos to the world!’”

In the interim between announcing the project to releasing any tracks, the band focused on growing their social media accounts and have since gained a substantial following, in preparation for their first single, “Monsters,” which was released today. It’s an emotionally vulnerable track with honest lyrics penned by Dessa accompanied by a thematically synchronised, raucous and disjointed instrumental from the band.

Photo by Dylan Scully
Courtesy of Green Gurl

“I always like focusing on a feeling rather than storytelling. I’m more of, ‘I have something that’s bursting out of my chest and I need to write it,’ and this song is very deep and special to me,” Dessa says of “Monsters.” “Because it’s a song I would say is about toxic relationships, in a nutshell. It talks about how you feel and how inviting it can be when you’re starting it, because what people… – well, not “people,” me! – usually don’t understand about toxic relationships is that they do not start out bad; they start out inviting, and they are really interesting.

“So, that’s the whole thing about the verse, I’m talking about, ‘Oooohhh! Someone is inviting me to something that seems interesting. But then, when you’re in it – really in it – you feel like you cannot get out, and that’s why the song is so explosive in the choruses, as you were mentioning, and why it is quiet. Everything is well thought through about it being here and then it explodes, not only in the chorus but also in the bridge.”

For Dessa, the honesty and exposure of writing personal lyrics as she does is something which comes naturally and without much second thought. But, for this release, there is more intent behind it. “I hope for everyone that listens to ‘Monsters,’ that they find it to be comforting and to be helpful if they’re going through toxic relationships,” she says. “They’re everywhere. They’re not just romantic relationships; they can be a work thing, they can be a family thing. And it’s a very difficult thing to [traverse]. […] We really hope ‘Monsters’ can be that.”

Green Gurl’s debut single, “Monsters” is available from today. The band will play Whelan’s Upstairs tonight at 20:00, with special guests Speakers and The Psychs. Tickets are available from Whelan’s website. You can keep up to date with the band’s music, social media accounts, and live dates here.

To hear this interview in full –  where we go into further depth about what was discussed in this article, as well as the Irish music scene and how it compares to Brazil’s, Dessa’s relationship with her lyrics, Steven’s experience of working in a music shop, how they grew their social media accounts with no songs released, and much more – tune into today’s episode of POSTBURNOUT.COM Interviews… at 14:00 (IST) on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Music Podcasts.

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