As a part-time instructor at UNCW, I genuinely enjoy the youthful ambition that permeates the campus air. Sure, not all students are setting goals to cure the world’s ailments—hell, some aren’t setting so much as an alarm to be on time for class. But there are those who let curiosity and passion drive them forward. Pinky Verde, Wilmington’s latest indie-rock trio, represents that intoxicating ambition.
All under 20 years old, Sara Beck (vocals, guitar), Ashley Cauley (guitar, bass) and Heather Jensen (drums) make up the equally young band, which began only last spring. While Jensen, 19, studies film at UNCW, she’s also a videographer and savvy photographer. The latter of which drew attention from her soon-to-be bandmates.
“I met Heather through Facebook, actually,” Cauley remembers. “I was playing guitar for a few years. . . and reached out to her that I would love to jam sometime, which eventually led to me introducing Sara and Heather. . . . I switched to bass after Sara got on board.”
Beck, 17, and Cauley, 16, met at a summer concert right as they were both moving to Wilmington. They were instant friends. “Later, I found out she had an angelic voice,” Cauley adds.
The girls formed Pinky Verde in March 2016, after Jensen and Cauley went to a show at the now-closed Scrap Iron Bicycle Gallery. Jensen then came to realize the faint presence of female musicians locally onstage.
“I felt underrepresented in Wilmington’s music scene,” she details. “We wanted to make something people do not see a lot—and that was a band of teenage girls rocking out.”
Soon after forming, they held their first gig at Scrap Iron and a steady flow of requests came in from bands wanting to play with them. Though unexpected, Jensen credits the quick and positive response to the fun they have with the music. “We were unique, we had good music, and that, I think, caused a sort of demand for us,” she adds.
Pinky Verde’s raw sound is reflected in less than half-a-dozen recordings they’ve released throughout the summer via their Bandcamp site. Raw punk influences come through their somber tones and melodies. They’re well-developed in the work they have, but there’s a sense there’s more to be added to the foundation. Though they’ve all had a hand in writing, most tracks have been penned by Beck.
“Ashley and I have written together previously,” Jensen says, “but when Sara joined the band, she came with really good material and we just decided to go with her songs.”
“We all experiment and work together on more specific aspects of the song once we’ve decided what we’re basically going to play,” Beck adds. “There’s been one song, ‘Equinophobia,’ we all wrote as a collaborative effort, and that was really fun.”
Their work thus far is indicative of overlapping interests in indie and alt-rock, as well as influences by feminist rock culture. Cauley in particular discovered a generation of female artists of the riot grrrl political-punk movement of the ‘90s, and it changed how she thought about music and herself.
“Riot grrrl really helped pull me out a deep depression and realize that I was a strong, beautiful and powerful woman who’s capable of anything I put my mind to,” she details. “Seeing these girls who had messy hair, played good music and spoke their mind was so beautiful and moving for me. It really inspired me from my style of playing, writing, and even the way I dress.”
Though the girls and Pinky Verde are still getting their feet wet in this newfound passion, they’re not taking these brief months of experience for granted. Since starting the band, they’ve gelled through music, but more so are learning the ropes of the business of music. They do all their own marketing and PR, booking and management.
“Sometimes I think we have a harder time scheduling practices and things because of our jobs, family [and school] affairs,” Beck says. “Despite all that, I think we all balance everything pretty well. As long as we enjoy making music, we’ll be willing to make sacrifices for it.”
Nevertheless, these moments are fleeting. Pinky Verde will go on a short hiatus this fall while Jensen studies abroad in Scotland, and Beck and Cauley focus on school and apply to colleges. “We’ve had a great time working together and it’s taught me so many lessons,” Beck says, “not just about music but about commitment and time management. On top of that, it feels good to share something as personal as music with other people, even if you know it won’t be a permanent thing.”
Though there won’t be a full-length album in their near future, folks can download Pinky Verde tunes online or see them live at The Calico Room on September 3 with Slomo Dingo, alongside Nevernauts.
“I have enjoyed the feedback of people who listen to our music and who have watched us play live,” Jensen adds. “It has also been tremendously rewarding having people coming up to us and saying ‘good job,’ ‘I like your music/playing style,’ etc. . . [but] it is an honor to be in a band and to be collaborating with two very talented chicks.”