Hervana’s creation story is largely one of serendipitous encounters. The concept was spurred by a now infamous tweet from a stranger: “Toronto needs an all-girl Nirvana cover band named Hervana.” Carly Beath (a.k.a “Skirt Cobain”) agreed, and a band was born. Later on, in an early band meeting at a bar, someone yelled out “Skirt Cobain!” Needless to say, the name stuck and the rest of the nicknames easily followed.
Lauded as the world’s first all-female Nirvana cover band, Hervana emerged on the scene amidst a growing trend of all-female bands covering the music of iconic all-male bands. “It’s all about the music for us,” says Michelle Turingan (“Pap Smear”). Still, Hervana recognizes the importance of their message and are happy to play the part of role-models to young female artists coming up on the music scene today. Carly (a proud lifelong feminist and former Ladyfest organizer) and the band are outspoken in their support of women in music.
In many ways, the band is a Tribute to Nirvana’s stance against intolerance, racism and homophobia. This past year, Hervana played the Alterna-Queer stage at World Pride in Toronto – which the band describes simply as “f*cking amazing!”
The girls of Hervana are busy, holding day jobs or juggling multiple musical projects. Erin Saunderson (aka Miss Novoselic) is in another band, the phenomenal Blue Cougars (opening for Hervana’s next Toronto show); Adrian Pasen (Dave Grrrl) has a number of bands under her belt; and Michelle and Carly have been known to dabble in electronic music, both individually and collaboratively (Editor’s note: Carly Beath also DJ’d my 25th birthday bash a few years back and it was friggin’ awesome).
Hervana’s Upcoming Toronto Show
Next up for the fabulous foursome is their much-anticipated 1st Annual December Blowout Bash at Hard Luck, December 13th. Their special “6 Degrees of Nirvana set” will feature songs by some of their favourite Nirvana-related acts (our fingers are crossed for Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age and maybe even Hole?). There will also be loot bags, prizes and confetti – who doesn’t love confetti?
Q: What are Hervana’s favourite Nirvana songs to perform?
Heart-Shaped Box, School and In Bloom
Michelle: Obviously it’s also fun to play Smells Like Teen Spirit and All Apologies – those are the ones that everyone knows and loves and sings along to and you just vibe off that energy.
Carly: Everyone has a different favourite Nirvana song so we end up getting a lot of different requests.
Q: What are some of the best venues you’ve played, as Hervana and as individual artists?
Drake Underground, Horseshoe Tavern, Sneaky Dees, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Michelle: Nothing’s quite like the first. The Underground is a fantastic venue – the sound and the space is just great to play in.
Adrian: I’ve also had some great shows in total non-traditional venues like cool gallery spaces in the middle of nowhere… once I played in the Revue Cinema, which was great.
Erin: The best (and most hilarious) venue I ever played was Swine-fest in a field outside Caledonia! Also, Ohsweken Speedway near Caledonia as well.
Q: What are some of Hervana’s favourite post/pre-practice eats?
La Cubana, Golden Turtle, The Atlantic, New York Subway
Michelle: Near our current practice spot (an undisclosed location in Parkdale) I always love going to Skyline Restaurant. I feel like it’s like a little hidden gem. It’s like a timewarp in there – it’s like going to a little diner in a small town. The food is good, big portions, great service.
Erin: Skyline ‘home burger’ all the way!
Q: Who are some of your favourite local Toronto artists to watch?
Hooded Fang, Phèdre, Trust, Doldrums, Austra, Nikki Fierce, HSY, Fresh Snow, METZ, Kontravoid
Carly: There’s a Toronto band I really love right now called Iris. Sort of a shoegaze rock band and their songs are so catchy.
All Hervana photos by the incredible Rannie Turingan aka PhotoJunkie.ca