sidebody and the joy of creating
Photos by Julia Norkus
By Julia Norkus
While the world seemed to stop moving at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the members of sidebody were just getting the ball rolling.
The band—then only made up of high school pals vocalist Hava Horowitz (she/her), and multifaceted instrumentalists Lena Warnke (she/her) and Martha Schnee (she/her)—began to practice in Horowitz’s garage in Boston, MA, as an outlet of self-expression during the gray cloud that was 2020.
In their originating months, something about their story felt touched with cosmic influence. All members happened to be in the right place at the right time…several times. Not only that, but Horowitz described the possibility of her father having a premonition about coming into contact with musicians before the band even formed, having everything that they would need to perform.
“My dad collected many, many things in excess, and one of the things he had was instruments,” Horowitz said. “The instruments that we play with were his and it’s been a real gift.”
After a year of jamming together in the Horowitz family garage, the fourth piece of this badass punk girl-band was introduced— guitarist and bassist, Cara Giaimo (she/her).
“The legend is that Hava found her in the basement,” Schnee said laughing.
Giaimo and Horowitz had been acquainted for about two weeks when Horowitz was invited to attend Giaimo’s backyard wedding. While exploring inside the house, Horowitz found herself drawn to the basement where she heard, in the pitch black, the gentle sounds of a xylophone.
“And I see Cara, at her own wedding, playing—in the pitch black—the xylophone,” Horowitz shared. “We needed to meet, clearly.”
“Apparently I said, ‘I can tell you’re someone who really loves music,” something that Hava said she doesn’t remember saying, but is grateful that she did.
After Warnke wasn’t able to attend a performance, Giaimo happily filled in. The quartet have been together ever since.
While their origins as a group feel cosmically determined, it wasn’t until early adulthood that many of them realized just how important music was.
Warnke and Giaimo both describe themselves as entirely self taught, cultivating their own musical experiences through individual practice. Warnke described her early love and commitment to playing, but said she stopped once she got to high school.
“It wasn’t until sometime through college that my friend James actually was like, ‘Hey, do you wanna play bass in my band at this one gig?’ And I didn’t know how to play bass,” said Warnke “It was the first time that I had played music together with people and made music with friends, and it changed my whole experience with music because I feel like I was always only doing it in this very classical, traditional, individual way. Then after that, I started learning the bass.”
Horowitz and Schnee both had early experiences with music in the spiritual sense. Schnee described her experiences singing at temple and Horowitz discussing her experience with prayers and chants that helped her to find her voice again.
“I grew up my whole life singing and performing, and when I was in college I had a really fucked up experience,” said Horowitz. “I was very isolated, very addicted to Adderall, just really in my own world, and I wasn’t singing or performing or making any art during that entire time, and then I found my voice again through spiritual community.”
After having the chance to grow through college experiences and rediscover their musical voices, the band formation came at a time when everyone needed some amount of hope. In creating music together, they found that it was something that was not only something to look forward to, but allowed for moments of much needed contemplation and release.
Warnke described the practice of bringing a “seed” to rehearsals—something that each band member could present to the others and “grow” into an idea for a song. Sometimes it’s a voice memo, an item, or even one’s inner monologue on a walk, as described by Schnee.
Schnee emphasized the idea of not going in with the intention of writing a song, but the need to immortalize a moment.
“It’s rare that we go in wanting to write a song about ‘x’ thing, it’s like we’re playing and we end up wanting to capture that moment, so we try to do it again to improve certain aspects to create a structure,” she said.
By capturing and avoiding the pressures of creating, sidebody finds joy in the songwriting process and even the unexpected mishaps that show up along the way. Overall, the important aspects of being in this band lay in getting to play together and being able to create with no pressure.
“A lot of what we do is very improvised,” Warnke said. “Hava often improvises lyrics. We don’t know when the song will end.”
But an audience would never be able to tell. At their sidebody album release show on Oct. 3, Horowitz’s confidence mixed with the genuine joy on the rest of the band’s faces made everything appear as though it was going perfectly, despite Horowitz admitting later on that she forgot the words to two of the songs.
By leaning into the joy of playing music and emphasizing what feels right, sidebody stands out against the jaded background of mainstream music. Creating with those that you love, and cultivating a loving environment where sharing a “seed” or a thought can be inspiring, speaks to sidebody not only as a collective of genuine musicians, but people who understand that the human experience is sometimes just hard.
In their new album, these pieces of inspiration, whether it be an old poem or voice memo, assisted well in distilling the human experience into eight songs. With a different sound to each song, some being a capella or just the thoughts we have while walking, sidebody has created an album that showcases each member’s personality while also clearly showing off the personality of the band as a unit.
From growing up as teenagers to growing together as musicians, sidebody is on a quest for joy in the music they perform in basements, bars, and wherever the road takes them. They shared their story with laughter while recollecting the past, and are celebrating each other as they enter this new era.