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Photo by Juan R. Govea
Jennifer Zooki Sturges: “Riot Grrrl music isn’t a genre to me. It’s a movement.”
Photo by Juan R. Govea

A hallmark genre and ethos of the ’90s, Riot Grrrl punk has not gone anywhere — as Ex-Regrets proves.

“It’s against femicide and [for] a fight for sexual equality,” said frontwoman Jennifer Zooki Sturges. “Riot Grrrl music isn’t a genre to me. It’s a movement.”

Now joined by guitarist Mikey Branton, bassist Andres Cifuentes, and drummer Jon Rose, the 38-year-old Sturges has been participating in and promoting all things Riot Grrrl for the past decade. The queer singer-songwriter also served as an original board member of Foundation 45, a nonprofit for North Texas creatives contemplating suicide, suffering from addiction, or needing any other kind of mental health help. Ex-Regrets is Sturges’ third band, and she started it with Branton because she said their songwriting is “excellent” together.

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Most of Ex-Regrets’ material is pretty dark. They wrote their upcoming single “Keeping Up with the Joneses” as a reminder to not get caught up in vanity and commercialism, and “Duh Almighty” is about Sturges’ rape in 2020.

“I feel it’s the most honest thing I’ve ever written,” she said. “It’s a look into one of the darkest experiences of my life. Performing that song allows me to speak my truth again and again to a captivated audience. It heals me every time.”

Ex-Regrets have been playing steadily around North Texas at venues like The Cicada, Caves Lounge, and Andy’s Bar. The band has written nearly 30 songs and has released only a handful with the intention of compiling at least a dozen for an album soon.

Drummer Rose said, “I feel like we’re creating a living discography, and it’s a tension release getting your music out there and to be able to share music. Artists express something and share it with the world and get something out there the way we want to get our music out there.”

Ex-Regrets’ next show is Fri, Jun 14, at Growl Records in Arlington. After that, they’ll headline Riot Girl Fest on Sat, Jun 22, at Andy’s. The event, now in its fifth year, was started by Sturges to empower feminine, queer, and transgender people across North Texas. Also featuring Mz. Bossy, Rosae, and Side Chicks, this year’s festival will benefit two North Texas nonprofits: DoGood Denton, which provides microgrants to trans/queer organizations and projects, and Finn’s Place, a brick-and-mortar space in Fort Worth for trans and gender-diverse people.

Last Riot Girl Fest raised more than $600 for its beneficiaries, Sturges said, and she expects this year’s concert to be even bigger.

“For these small, grassroots nonprofits, every dollar counts,” she said. “Riot Girl Fest started because I often found myself as the only female musician on a bill. I wanted to help build a community for other people like me. I knew I wanted to create a benefit event because of my previous work in [helping start] a nonprofit. I knew firsthand the struggle of funding such efforts.”

 

Ex-Regrets
7pm Fri, Jun 14, at Growl Records, 511 E Abram St, Arlington. $10. All ages. • 7pm Sat, Jun 22, as part of Riot Girl Fest w/Mz. Bossy, Rosae, and Side Chicks at Andy’s Bar, 122 N Locust St, Denton. $10. 940-301-3535.
Ex-Regrets have been playing steadily around North Texas and intend to compile at least a dozen released singles for an album soon.
Art by Clay Stinnett

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