By day, UNR graduate Courtney Mayer, 22, works two jobs while her band members and friends, Bijou Bell, 19, and Victoria Almanzan, 22, work toward their college degree. By night, the girls of Stirr Lightly collaboratively write music to prepare to record their first ever EP in Reno, Nevada.
Originally from Las Vegas, the three friends formed the band earlier this year. Almanzan and Mayer knew each other in high school but recruited Bell when they were all students at the University of Nevada, Reno.
The Las Vegas natives had always dreamed about performing and forming a band. Almanzan describes how she chased her dream through the creation of Stirr Lightly but had a slight obstacle along the way.
“[Being in a band] had always been something that I dreamt about, but I had pretty bad stage fright that was holding me back,” Almanzan said. “Frequently, going to Holland Project shows and seeing confident women on stage inspired me and I just decided to do it one day.”
For Bell, being in Stirr Lightly became a way for her to express herself authentically and meet new people. “I just really wanted to play music other than classical, to have more of an outlet. Also, I wanted to make new friends because I didn’t know Victoria or Courtney. There also aren’t a lot of females in the music scene so that was a cool aspect.”
The band started off with having a surf rock and alternative sound to it. Now, they are evolving into a sound with more progressive and math rock influences. “Overall, we still have a relatively soft sound,” Mayer said. “But we’re adding different layers. It will be interesting to see where things go from here.” Bell agreed with Mayer, adding, “We have a fuller sound now, I think. Our music becomes more complex the more time we have to write.”
In their music, Almanzan dominates, but vocals can be heard from all of the girls. The sound of Mayer’s bass and Almanzan’s guitar echo throughout their songs as Bell’s drum adds an easy beat. For the girls, writing songs has been an outlet for them to genuinely and freely express themselves. Mayer explains how there is not a focused message portrayed in their music but is inspired by different experiences and feminist attitudes.
“While certain songs may have stronger and more direct lyrics, most are just personal accounts and personal expressions more-so than having any set messages,” she described. “Though I think we can all agree as a band we are proud to be an all female group and hope to inspire others in a primarily male-dominated scene.”
The unique name of the edgy girl group was thought of by Almanzan, who saw the direction “stir lightly” in a recipe book while cooking and immediately knew that that was going to become their band’s identity.
“I was trying to think of band names that described our sound,” the guitarist said. “I was cooking and using a recipe that said to “stir lightly” and I was like ‘huh that’s weird, usually it says, ‘stir slowly’ or something like that.’ But I thought, that kind of represented our approach to things. Then, we added an extra r because we are edgy.”
Recently, Stirr Lightly opened up for Palehound, alongside Fine Motor, at Reno’s renowned artistic venue, the Holland Project. No upcoming gigs are set, but the band will be making a mark on the Northern Nevada soon.
Stay connected with Stirr Lightly on their Instagram and Facebook pages, @stirrlightly.