The all-girl band rockin’ stereotypes awayita eng
When they play, their eyes sparkle, just as they should — for they are the Diamonds. This all-girl band rocks the time away in Aparan, a town about 60 kilometres north of Yerevan which does not shine with opportunities for teenagers, especially girls. By Inna Mkhitaryan
Alla, Elida, Hripsime, and Marika got their chance in 2014, and since then the four teens have shaken off that stereotype. It all started at the local music school when their late guitar teacher, Artsvi Kocharyan, picked out the best students and created two rock groups in the Culture House — an all-boy band, The Basilic, and an all-girl one, The Diamonds. The mastermind passed away in early 2017, but his legacy remained and the young musicians continue to play together — with different results.
While the all-boys group study in the capital and have landed offers to play live music in several bars, the girls have performed just five concerts in three years, all of them in the town’s Culture House, which also houses their rehearsal room and the instruments they play. Opportunities to play live rock are rare for teenage girls living in rural areas, and when they do come, they often slip away.
When in 2016 the Diamonds were invited to perform at Loft, a multifunctional leisure center in Yerevan, their families refused to let them go — it was too far away to return late in the evening.
“In August 2017 Aparan hosted a music festival, but the organizers didn’t let us participate, they claimed we do not play well enough, and the festival was no place for girls,” says Marika, the band’s guitarist. “It was only after a performance by a band of mostly girls from Yerevan that we approached the organizers again and got the chance to play one song. We were cheered by an ocean of applaus.”
The Diamonds depend on the Culture House, a public community centre common across the country, where they meet regularly to rehearse as they have access to its music room and instruments. In early summer, the director appointed his son, a player in the boy-band Basilic, as the Diamonds’ manager. The decision was dropped on the girls, who had no voice in it and were not consulted.
"We were surprised,” explains Elida, at the keyboard. “We need professional support, but we don't get it. We realize that the future of our group and our career depends solely on ourselves."
Despite the challenges, they persisted. Refusing to abide by rural customs and adamant that they would pursue their passion, the teen rockers stand by their music and their right to play it.
Originally published by Chai Khana