Screaming Females: Doodledrag, A Punk Rock Art Experiment

“I’ve always wished that art could attract the same kind of crowd and procure the same sort of enthusiasm [as punk rock basement shows], so we birthed DoodleDrag.” — Marissa P

The last time you heard about New Brunswick, New Jersey’s burgeoning art and music scene may have been never. Regardless of New Jersey’s reputation as the stinky “armpit” of America, there is creative life in the New York suburb that runs long and deep, rooted in DIY mentalities and marked by an underground network of rotating, quasi-legal basement venues.

The scene’s notable players have included punk rock heavy-hitters The Bouncing Souls and Lifetime, and more recently, three-piece band, Screaming Females.

In 2011, Screaming Females began a collaborative drawing experiment called DoodleDrag. Band member Marissa P and street artist LNY, who attended the Mason Gross School Of The Arts in New Brunswick together, were frustrated by a lack of connection between the music and art communities.

“Marissa and I were shooting emails back and forth about doing a house show, like an art show or something somewhere in New Jersey,” explains LNY. “After a while, it mutated into this because we didn’t want to make anything tediously traditional; we were more into trying out something different or newish. I mentioned Sketch Tuesdays and Marissa put me on to what a Comic Jam is, so now we are on that vibe.”

“I’ve always wished that art could attract the same kind of crowd and procure the same sort of enthusiasm [as punk rock basement shows], so we birthed DoodleDrag. It’s kinda like punk rock drawing, hanging out with friends, being a smart-ass, having drinks together, and making great art that the mainstream wouldn’t consider great art!” Marissa adds.

DoodleDrag manifests a public space for anyone interested in art — seasoned artist or not — to gather with like-minded folks in a non-threatening environment, where musicians and showgoers create together.

“With the first DoodleDrag,” recalls LNY, “we kind of just let it happen, and it was very chaotic with tons of people just drawing on these big pieces of paper… there wasn’t much of a division between participants and performers; you just had to pick up a marker and draw between the confusion.”

“I’m just really keen on the idea of art being accessible to everyone,” Marissa says. “I’m also keen on the idea of art getting in your face and impeding on your personal space… I’ve pretty much always particpated in ‘musical practice’ with other people. Drawing is a solitary activity for me. That’s why DoodleDrag is so neat; it brings me into a practice I’ve never dabbled in before – drawing with other people…”

LNY explains the appeal for him, saying, “Part of what attacts me so much to drawing is the fact that it is marginalized and generally thought of as less deserving than other mediums, hence why I stopped painting altogether. Doodling is too punk to handle.”

For Screaming Females’ March 30th show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey, the band played alongside a slideshow which featured art submissions from their artistic friends. Various artists, including but not limited to LNY, Rachel Hays, Tiffany Cheng, Reid Bingham, Renae Jacquelyn Moore, Perry Shall, and Delia Kovac, were invited to illustrate the band’s songs. According to Marissa, the original idea was inspired by cartoonist and musician Jeffery Lewis, who illustrates his tracks and projects the illustrations when he performs live.

“We took that idea and ran with it in a more abstract direction, giving the participants a lot more freedom to do what they will, especially since Screaming Females songs would be difficult to translate literally and lack narrative. Powerful visuals can add an entirely new dimension to music… they make the listener think, ‘What would I make to represent what I’m hearing right now?'”

As DoodleDrag is a still a young and ongoing project, the two artists are practically exploding with ideas, involving everything from interior design and greeting cards to t-shirts. And, of course, in the nature of the project, your direct involvement is encouraged, even if it simply involves brainstorming.


Written by
Vivian Hua 華婷婷

Vivian Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer. As the Executive Director of Northwest Film Forum in Seattle and Editor-in-Chief of the interdisciplinary arts publication, REDEFINE, much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. Vivian regularly shares human-centered stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE! In 2021, they will begin production on a BIPOC metaphysical comedy film entitled RECKLESS SPIRITS. They are passionate about cultural spaces, sustainable practices, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. YEAH!

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10 years ago

wonderful on so many levels

Written by Vivian Hua 華婷婷
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