NYC Rockmommy Rew Starr and Filmmaker Daughter Harlee Ludwig on Making the Perfect ‘Imperfect Girl’ Video

By Marisa Torrieri Bloom

ReW STaRR, one of New York City’s most beloved local singer-songwriters and off-Broadway actors, knows all about trying to be perfect. Whether she’s trying to adjust her wardrobe for TLC or meet songwriting deadlines, the pressure of achieving a certain standard is real for Rew. And her daughter Harlee Ludwig, a budding filmmaker, can identify, having come of age in the era of #metoo.

The twosome recently embarked on a fun, grueling and timely project – making the ‘Imperfect Girl’ video – which is exactly what the world needed on International Women’s Day. We recently caught up with Rew and Harlee to talk about the video’s significance. For those of you who couldn’t make the debut show at Branded Saloon in Brooklyn tonight, check out the video and Q&A.

Rockmommy: How did Imperfect Girl come about — the song & video and execution?  

Rew: I was actually asked to write a song called ‘Jewish girls.’ I literally couldn’t do it and ‘Imperfect girl’ was born… I don’t believe in organized religion just spirit but that explains some of the references in the song like ‘Jesus’ and ‘religion.’ Harlee heard the song one day on her Spotify and said “mom I know what song I want to make a video to … I think ‘imperfect girl’ has caught up to the time or the time has caught up to ‘imperfect girl.’

Harlee: The song was recorded years ago to a very almost chill and luau-type vibe definitely well produced. [For] the video we took a really low-fi approach because we wanted to really grasp the feeling that is sometimes achieved in Jim Jarmusch films where the focus isn’t supposed to be on some huge pay off or result, but more so the documentation of everyday occurrences that get taken for granted. This video specifically is set to show how much women go through every day without a necessary “pay off” or “appreciation” for it. But they do it all anyways because they have to.

IMG_9853
Rockmommy: Why do you think the song is so timely? 

Rew:Harlee thought with #metoo and all the significance to the women’s marching and movements happening these days this song is meant to finally to be heard.

Harlee:I think in the age of movements like #metoo, black feminism, gender fluidity, women fighting for equal pay and treatment, there is really no time like now for this song. So many of these movements have helped to show that women should not be held to this standard of “perfection” or whatever that means in a patriarchal society. We are all imperfect and for that reason we are all perfect. We do not need to be perfect to be respected. We just need to be people.

Rockmommy:What’s it like working together, mama and daughter?

Rew:Best best best… we got to spend so much time together filming all the inspirational people and I feel like being able to have this opportunity it was just the most beautiful thing in the world!!!

Harlee:It’s a fun experience because we can share the responsibilities. Since we both have different approaches to interacting with people and different tastes of what is powerful it left the door open for us taking and experimenting with various scenes and actions for all the beautiful actors and volunteers. It was also easy for us to almost telepathically communicate when anyone was running too long or if we had to stay on schedule with more shootings helping the entire thing go much more smoothly.

Rockmommy:Any challenges in making the video?

Rew:The challenges were mostly people wanting to be in it and too many conflicts with time. Other than that, none except for [an experience with an] Uber driver [on] one day — but I’m not sharing that skeleton!!!

Harlee:SCHEDULING!! When people are helping you on a volunteer bases it can become extremely difficult making a schedule and getting everyone to stick to it!

Rockmommy:What message or feeling do you hope people will get after seeing/experiencing “Imperfect Girl?”

Rew:That everyone is passionate and perfectly imperfect!!! Harlee really loves the idea of people being absolutely amazing just doing what they love to do … not the BIG GRANDIOSE things but the actual thing you do that gives you purpose and joy. That is the message I hope people will get … real is beautiful!

Harlee:I hope to find out 🙂 But in general I hope people realize how many little things they get done a day and how when you isolate those little moments you realize that even the days you feel you are wasting and not doing anything necessarily productive, you really are doing so much by just existing as an imperfect girl.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Playing a Rock Gig While Pregnant: Advice from Mamas Who’ve Done it

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Pregnancy, like playing a rock show, is physically demanding. Your body is expanding, you feel increasingly exhausted and uncomfortable, and simple tasks such as climbing a flight of stairs can cause you to break into a sweat.

But while there’s lots of guidance on whether to go to a loud rock show while you’re pregnant (spoiler alert: most docs think it’s totally fine), there isn’t a lot of advice circulating in cyberspace about playing a show while pregnant. Specifically, it’s hard to find advice on how to adapt to adjust for your changed physical and mental state.

12671868_1683287455292796_3096027642904846612_o

Rockmommy founder Marisa Torrieri Bloom, at Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn, plays a gig at six months pregnant in 2012

Fortunately, plenty of moms — including me! — have played while expecting I’ve seen more than a few of moms-to-be armed with guitars, drum parts, and the like play some pretty amazing rock and roll shows. In fact, a couple of moms I know went on tour during their second or third trimester.

Whether you’re thinking about hitting the road for a five-week tour, or playing a couple of gigs before bunkering down for a year of sleepless nights with babes, pregnancy doesn’t have to hold you back from experiencing your rockstar moment.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you feel uncertain about anything, you should talk to your doctor. Since I’m a pretty athletic person, wielding a guitar while standing and singing wasn’t a huge physically exhausting feat during either of my pregnancies — but I definitely needed to make some major adjustments (see #2). But for some people, particularly those with high-risk pregnancies or physical limitations, playing a gig while expecting isn’t going to work.

For those of you expecting mamas who want to play a show or several, here are six tips to follow:

1. Focus on fun first. If you’re reading this blog, you probably LOVE playing live music and rocking out on stage. But depending on the kind of pregnancy you’re having, you may or may not feel like doing much of anything right now. If you’ve decided to play a show because you really really want to play one, try to stay positive as you practice and plan — don’t get tripped up about not being able to do cool backbends or wild acrobatics (if that was your thing pre-pregnancy), or about others judging you for putting on a few pounds. Just focus on delivering a kick-ass show with your bandmates, and the rest will follow.

2. Scale back as needed. Whether you play three-hour sets that rival those of the Grateful Dead, or you play drums, fast and furious, for a punk band, you may be surprised at how exhausted you are after doing something pregnant that you’ve done a million times before with no problem. If you find yourself tiring easily, consider trimming down your set (or skipping the physically demanding songs) so it feels more manageable.

3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you’re knocked up, you need to drink more water than usual (The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink about ten 8-ounce cups). And if you’re knocked up while playing an instrument in a hot, sweaty nightclub or bar underneath bright lights, you definitely need to drink more. But water isn’t the only way to quench your thirst. Rockmommy Trish Naudon Thomas, mother of 6-year-old Myla Sol and drummer for The NATCH! and The Fantastic Partnerz, swears by green juice smoothies. “Drinking green smoothies every day not only helped with getting my fill of folic acid, it helped with my energy levels for practice and gigs which was about 5+ times a week,” says Thomas. “I still drink my cherished green smoothies to keep up with my extremely energetic 6-year-old.”

fullsizerender-2

New York City musician Rew Starr sings on stage while pregnant in 1993. 

4. Try to adjust or control your environment as much as possible. You can’t control everything, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t adjust your practice or gigging space to suit your pregnant state. Rockmommy Katy Otto, drummer for the band Trophy Wife and mother to a young toddler, suggests planning in advance to make sure you’ll have the things you need, such as access to a bathroom that you can use, again and again, throughout the duration of your gig. “If you have certain things you will need in a venue, such as a non smoking space, make sure to think them through and ask about them ahead of time and don’t feel bad asking,” says Otto. “Don’t feel guilty doing things like getting a hotel room to be more comfortable even if you’ve crashed on floors and couches all your touring life — do what you need to do to feel healthy and good.”

5. When it comes to lugging equipment, don’t be a hero. If you’re used to hauling around heavy amps and carrying string instruments to and from rehearsal, being told to you need to slow down might bruise your ego. However, most physicians believe that the longer a woman is pregnant, the more her ability to safely lift a load decreases, mostly because her center of gravity and balance have changed (plus, the hormones of pregnancy cause a woman’s connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons to soften). New York City mom of two and singer-guitarist Rew Starr says she “gigged pretty much up until delivery,” but had the benefit of only having to tote around a microphone. But for others, such as bass-playing moms with the heaviest of amps, it’s not so easy. If you don’t have other bandmates who volunteer to carry your stuff, ask the venue’s staff to lend a hand: Call ahead to make sure someone will be available to load, unload, and reload your car with your equipment before and after you play. “Asking for help and knowing your limits is OK,” says Starr. “Don’t be afraid to say, ‘no I just can’t lug gear.’”

6. Talk to your fans about social media photos. While some women love showing off their baby bumps, others (myself included) would rather keep their pregnancies private, from the moment of conception to the moment after delivery. So if you’re a social media maven who doesn’t feel uncomfortable having photos of your protruding belly all over the Internet, step up to the mic and ask your fans to withhold from snapping pics while you play.

Playing a rock show is a cathartic experience, pregnant or not. By keeping some of these suggestions in mind, you’ll feel great at rehearsals and on stage. Plus, your tiny fetus will probably be bouncing along to the beat, enjoying every moment with you.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.