Today is the 2012 deadline for submissions to Fort Reno, the annual summer concert series for D.C.-area bands. Each applicant is required to write a statement explaining who they are and why they want to play the Fort Reno stage. Here’s what I came up with.
My name is Daoud Tyler-Ameen. I’m a 27-year-old New York native, and a resident of the District of Columbia as of early 2011. Art Sorority for Girls is the name I’ve written songs under for close to ten years. In that time, the project has taken many shapes: a boy-girl duo with keyboards and harmonies, a trio that featured a baritone guitar, a classic-rock-style quartet and a shambling collective with half a dozen rotating members.
These days it’s back to two: myself and drummer Josh Gottesman, 23. Josh and I met at a record fair in Arlington last year, each of us thumbing through the same vendor’s used hip-hop singles. We struck up a conversation, and when I’d learned a little about him—nearsighted, raised in New York by separated parents, slightly awkward but weirdly confident when engaged on the right level—I figured we could get along.
Since Josh and I haven’t recorded together yet, I’ll briefly explain what you’ll find in the envelope. There are two CDs enclosed. The one with the liner card and printed disc is Slow Dance, the first Art Sorority full-length, released online just weeks before Josh and I met. I’ll get to the other one in a minute.
Even though it’s only been out a few months, Slow Dance already feels old to me. Parts of it are: The first drum tracks were recorded in the spring of 2008 and built upon steadily, over the course of what stretched into three years. And the oldest of the ten songs, “Victoria,” I wrote several years before that, when I was a sophomore in college. Listening to it now has the effect of reading an old journal: a document of early adulthood, beginning with the title track (about wishing high school could last forever) and concluding with “Tree of Sympathy” (about finally leaving your hometown, written as I was planning to do so myself).
As it stands right now, Art Sorority for Girls doesn’t sound like Slow Dance. We still play a lot of the same songs, but the big, layered arrangements have been stripped down to the barest elements of rhythm, melody and harmony, as represented by a drum kit, a voice and an amplified acoustic guitar. To illustrate that, I’m including an ancient, no-frills demo of the song “Norma Jean,” which predicts pretty well how we would come to perform it today.
In all this time, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Art Sorority for Girls’ music is and has always been about young people, their desires and their anxieties. My priorities have shifted: These days I’m writing less about meeting girls, finding work and making friends, and more about managing relationships responsibly, doing work that matters, and staying true to the friends who will be there when it all falls down. But in essence, the song remains the same.
We’d be thrilled to play at Fort Reno this summer. We’ll see you there either way.
Daoud Tyler-Ameen and Art Sorority for Girls