Button: Pride 2020

She Keeps Bees Comes Home To The DIY Music Scene That Inspired Them

A boy walks into a bar in Brooklyn and strikes up a conversation with the bartender. Fast forward a bit and this duo is now an adorable couple-band, and is hitting the Black Cat on Wednesday night. She Keeps Bees, fronted by Wheaton, MD native Jessica Larrabee, is bringing its bluesy indie-rock sound (think The White Stripes or The Kills) back for their first hometown show in years. We caught up with her to find out what she misses and what she's looking forward to on this homecoming stop — plus, we dug into the major influence D.C.'s DIY ethos has had on her career.

When did the two of you meet and how did you come to be musical collaborators?
"We met in Brooklyn. I was Andy's bartender at the bar across the street from where he lived. He had just moved from New Orleans. He told me he was an engineer and we started to record together. After a while, I thought I needed a drummer, so I taught Andy how to do some basic stuff on the drums and we grew together into a rock band."

Did growing up in D.C. influence you becoming a musician?
"Growing up in Wheaton, I was surrounded by kids in bands trying to make and support the D.C. scene. We always hung out where we could absorb and learn — Kemp Mill Records, Phantasmagoria, Fort Reno shows, Black Cat, listening to WHFS, any money I had went to the local shows. It made me understand the power of a strong community of musicians -- together we didn't need mainstream avenues to do what we wanted to do.

I'm always proud to be from here because a real movement happened in D.C. It wasn't about bullshit — it was community and how the music fed that community — DIY bands, labels, zines and all-ages shows. We have been self-released and self-recorded since we started in 2006. I think I always had the courage to be DIY because of the D.C. scene. I will forever be grateful for that."

Who were some of your favorite bands to see back then?
"The Make-Up! Slant 6, Fugazi, Dismemberment Plan, Bluetip, Jawbox. What an incredible city to grow up in. I got to see these bands in high school!"


How did you first become immersed in that scene?
"Both my parents grew up in this area. They are amazing, beautiful, delightfully hysterical people — they'll be at the show, Bob and Rusty. My father was a drummer in a couple of local D.C. bands back in the '70s, like Mr. Henry's and Timberlake's. They met at [now-closed Dupont Circle venue] Childe Harold for an Original Fetish show."

Where to do always make time to go when you're in town on a tour stop?
"Joe's Record Paradise! That place is the BEST. It's huge and has great collections to dig into. Always a friendly place. Plus, we try and support the local business in Wheaton, like Pollo Rico. So damn good."

When: Wednesday, June 20. Doors at 8 p.m.
Where: Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW; 202-667-7960.

Photo: Courtesy of Wassaic Project

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