Friday, June 26, 2015

All-Alaskan version of the Rockabilly Lifestyle Interview

The last interview I did was with an international crowd (England, Australia, and Canada).  This time around it's an all Alaskan interview (same questions).  It's always interesting to see the various perspectives from people from all over the world.

I was asked to put in my two-cents on my own interview, so I am definitely doing that.

Just for the sake of the readers who may or may not know you, can you tell us who you are, where you’re from, and what you do?

Jessie: I'm Jessie Diamond from Fairbanks, Alaska.  When I'm not blogging here at the Lonely Hepkat, I am an office manager, paranormal investigator, artist, writer, and researcher.  You might catch an article of mine over at Ultra Swank, where I occasionally guest post.

Cherry: They call me Cherry Darling.  I live in Fairbanks, Alaska and have lived in Alaska most of my life.  I am currently a student and creator of She Knits in Pearls ( my blog where I write about all things knitting, sewing, treasure hunting, and general life, all with a vintage/retro flare.

How do you define rockabilly?

Jessie: There are two definitions of rockabilly that come to mind.  1. Rock n' roll with a bit of hillbilly, blues, and punk.  2. A subculture based on the 40s and 50s with a hint of alternative culture (punk, goth, etc) and vintage goodness.

Cherry: For me Rockabilly is a style based around the Rockabilly music with roots in the 50’s Rock and Roll, Swing, and Country music and fashion.  It is fun, light hearted, and rebellious.

What drew you to the rockabilly lifestyle?

Jessie: I grew up listening to 40s jazz and 50s rock n roll, watching old movies and tv shows, and I always seemed to gravitate towards the midcentury designs.  I was born in '82 and my cousins in high school did a lot of babysitting, so MTV gave me Stray Cats, The Cramps, and Rev. Horton Heat.  I ended up being a darkwave/goth/industrial type of chick to being more attracted to the pin-up/rockabilly look and now more of rockabilly/vintage combo. I didn't start wearing my rockabilly clothes all the time, like every day, until I went to Viva Las Vegas 2013.  Up to that point I was a "weekender".

Cherry: I was first introduced to the Reverend Horton Heat in my early 20’s and had never heard anything like it before.  I fell in love!  It slowly progressed from there.  At first, it was the music.  Later, it slowly invaded my wardrobe.  Interestingly enough, it was my start in Rockabilly that lead me to my newer love of all things vintage, including my vintage knitting and sewing.

A lot of people think that rockabilly is just about music, cars, and tattoos. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Jessie: I think music, cars, and tattoos are a big part of the subculture, but it's not all of it.  I think most people in the subculture have a deep appreciation for the ethics and morals of past times, design work (art, fashion, architectural, etc), and social/personal ideals of the 40s and 50s.

Cherry: I think people in general need these sort of definitions for any form of identity. It makes it easier to label things/people.  I think if, for you, it is about those things that’s fine.  However, I think it means different things for different people.  Sure it can be about those things or it can be about just one thing, or many, many more.

What are the top three misconceptions about the rockabilly lifestyle that you come across?

Jessie: 1. We dress in retro clothes because we want extra attention or are hipsters.  2. That we all wear poodle skirts or dress like greasers.  3. Rockabilly is just superficial and doesn't affect lifestyle.

Cherry: All rockabilly girls want to be pin-up models.  Sure, some do and that’s great, but because I wear a bandana most days and have a love affair with circle skirts doesn’t mean I secretly want to be a pinup model.  Rockabilly guys are all obsessed with cars.  Again, there are some but being a grease monkey is not a prerequisite to be a rockabilly guy.   We all wish we lived in the 50’s.  No way!!! I love my computer and iphone way too much for that.  Oh, and that little thing about gender inequality being rampant back then, I don’t think I’d enjoy that in the slightest.

What has been the greatest impact for you by living the rockabilly lifestyle?

Jessie: When I went to Viva Las Vegas 2013, I found (in those 4 days) that I was truly happy.  I loved being around all the rockabilly people, I was so excited to be wearing the clothes, I could talk to people about rockabilly music without them giving me a weird look, and I felt super confident.  I made a decision when I got on the plane to return to Portland (where I was living at the time) that I would fully emerse myself in the rockabilly lifestyle since it was so incredibly positive.  I started out by ditching bland office clothes for pencil skirts, blouses, cardigans, and victory rolls - most of the clothing I made myself.  I was happier, people wanted to talk more, and it felt like a great weight was lifted from my shoulders.

Cherry:  I don’t know that it was the “rockabilly lifestyle” but my roots in rockabilly have lead me to where I am today with my personal style, hobbies, general interest and an absolutely amazing community of other vintage (rockabilly and other) loving people.

Have you picked up any new skills or hobbies since your rockabilly immersion?

Jessie: I am better and faster with my hair.  I'm determined to eventually buy and renovate an old house from the 40s or 50s.  I've always been crafty and I've always sewn, but now my patterns are almost all retro or vintage.  My new hobby is to become more minimalist so I can have a more mid-century modern sleekness to my home instead of a post-modern clutter.

Cherry:  I make a mean circle skirt and the majority of the cute little cardigans in my closet were knit by me.  I have even tried my hand at making my own broaches and head scarves and wraps.  I think it’s safe to say that my love of vintage style has completely taken over all of my crafting and has expanded the list of crafts that I do.

Why do you think rockabilly is growing in popularity?

Jessie:  I think hipsters are partially responsible since they seem to like thrift stores and vintage clothing.  Zooey Deschanel comes to mind with her retro-hipster look.  Since tattoos are now en vogue people have been able to get a look at the type of people who get tattoos and who are interested in tattoos (tattoo artists, flash, enthusiasts, etc) - a lot of these people are into a pin-up look or car kulture.  Television and movies have also certainly helped out in exposing a more retro/vintage life like "Bomb Girls" (tv), "Walk The Line" (movie), "Roadracers" (movie), and "Grease" (movie).

Cherry: I don’t know if it is.  It could be growing in popularity or it could be that we are seeing it more because of our ability to connect on-line.  Thanks to social media we are now able to see and connect with a much larger community.  If it is growing, I’d like to think that it is because it is an amazingly supportive, non-judgmental community and a style that doesn’t discriminate.  It looks good on anyone.

What would you tell this new generation, based on your experience with rockabilly?

Jessie: Don't be afraid to take rockabilly to a whole new level for yourself.  Learn how to garden or sew or work on cars.  Watch old tv shows like "The Andy Griffith Show" or "Hitchcock Presents".  Take the time to appreciate listening to the radio.  Don't be afraid to live more minimally and to disconnect for a while.  Enjoy the music, enjoy the style, but really just enjoy what you're doing.  If you aren't happy with rockabilly, then go out and find something that makes you happy.

Cherry: Don’t worry about labels, if it makes you happy, then do it.  Don’t be afraid to be yourself.  Be kind and most importantly, HAVE FUN

Let's get some rockabilly recommendations from you, keep it to 3 each: Book. Movie. Music.

Jessie: Books - "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson, "Daisy Fay and The Miracle Man" by Fannie Flagg, and "It" by Stephen King.  Movies - Roadracers.  Wild At Heart.  The Wild One.  Music - Holy Roller album by Reverend Horton Heat, Rebel Rock album with a variety of artists, and The Exciting Sounds of Martin Denny album by Martin Denny.

Cherry: When people ask me about the rockabilly/vintage style and how they can get started I usually recommend some youtube channels.  Cherry Dollface is amazing.  She is so positive and uplifting and shares tons of hair, makeup and clothing videos that are educational and inspiring.  Also, A Vintage Vanity is great, her hair tutorials are fun and very helpful.  I can spend a whole day watching these ladies.  I also suggest radio apps like Pandora for music.  If you plug in 2 or 3 artists that you like, it opens up a door to so many other artists.  I have discovered a lot of ‘new to me’ artists that way.

1 comment:

  1. So fun! I really enjoy seeing more folks answer these questions, too, and smiled so big when I saw Cherry here. She's all kinds of fabulous!

    ♥ Jessica


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