House show venues come and go constantly in New Paltz. Some good, some bad, some AWESOME– the latter most accurately represents new venue BABY HELL, a house on Center Street run by the gals behind local girl power band Devotchkas.
Devotchkas consists of third-year SUNY New Paltz student Lexi Morano and her friend Olivia Levenstein. The two had the idea to create their own venue this semester, feeling like their message– one of inclusivity and diversity in the DIY scene, regardless of experience– was not one commonly shared by other DIY spaces in town.
Morano and I caught up at Commissary for some killer matcha and to talk about these two projects.
GW: Okay, what’s your name, year and major?
LM: I’m a junior, an art education major and my name is Alexis Morano. I prefer Lexi, though.
GW: Why did you want to create a new house show space? What does your vision behind it look like?
LM: So, basically, New Paltz is a big place for house shows and all that, of course. So Olivia and I are in our band, Devotchkas, and last year we had played a bunch of shows. However, we realized that we kept opening the shows, and that a lot of the bands and acts were… the same. They were all white men in punk bands, it was all the same sound; we were like, there are SO many house show places around– but where’s the diversity?
LM: So the two of us were looking to move, and a friend lived in Baby Hell when it was called Cheddar Bay– the people who lived there before also hosted house shows. We figured, let’s just move there with all of our friends and create a house show venue.
GW: So you were able to impart your own vision on the bones of Cheddar Bay?
LM: Yeah, and we’ve tried to make it a very welcoming space. We like to have people who play all over New Paltz, but we also welcome people who don’t have any formal experience making music or playing live shows.
GW: And inclusivity of all experience levels is really important to your vision, right?
LM: Yes! That’s a huge thing for us.
GW: Makes it much more authentically DIY, right?
LM: Yes, absolutely! When we were playing shows ourselves (as Devotchkas), people would be really rude to us. Like, when we’d set up equipment or whatever, and people would be so rude and unhelpful to us.
GW: Setting up for a show is already the worst.
LM: Yeah, right! So we just wanted to stress that at Baby Hell, you don’t need to be scared of us. This will be a warm, welcoming place to be– for everybody.
GW: That’s so cool, always need more of that. So, tell me more about Devotchkas!
LM: It’s just Olivia and I, we both sing and play guitar. Sometimes we’ll add somebody else for drums or bass. We don’t have a ton of music out right now, just a few things; but because we’re best friends, it’s really easy for us to create stuff together and has been super rewarding.
GW: Either in terms of your art-art or your DIY outlook, do you have any particular influences?
LM: Definitely. I love GirlPool and Frankie Cosmos, so I look to both of them for inspiration.
Morano and Levenstein are undoubtedly expanding New Paltz’s DIY scene for the better, creating a more inclusive environment for all.
The next Baby Hell show will be on Oct. 27. For more information on Baby Hell and Devotchkas, follow them on Instagram @BABYHELL4U and @devotchkasband.