An interview with Carly Usdin and Nina Vakueva
New Jersey, 1998. Chris has just started the teen dream job: working at Vinyl Mayhem, the local record store. She’s prepared to deal with anything—misogynistic metalheads, grunge wannabes, even a crush on her wicked cute co-worker, Maggie. But when the staff’s favorite singer mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show in town, Chris finds out her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl…her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!
Hi-Fi Fight Club takes us back to the magical time of 1998—the year of Pokémon, Harry Potter, and The Parent Trap. What mischief were you getting up to in ’98?
Carly Usdin: In 1998 I was living in New Jersey, attending a magnet high school for nerds and spending most of my time on homework, basketball, trying to form a band, and hanging out at the local record store. I loved the Chicago Bulls, The X-Files, renting every indie film at our local Blockbuster and had The Cardigans’ Gran Turismo and Garbage’s Version 2.0 on repeat. So to answer your question: “none,” I was getting into none mischief.
Nina Vakueva: I was six years old and was playing a lead villain in my kindergarten’s performance. I was a fox who stole all the Christmas presents and was sincerely unhappy about this role.
What inspirations did you draw from for Hi-Fi Fight Club?
Usdin: The inspiration for the book is equal parts Empire Records, Sailor Moon and The Baby-Sitters Club, with a little D.E.B.S., Scott Pilgrim and Lumberjanes in there as well.
Vakueva: ‘90s fashion magazines!
Which character do you relate to the most?
Usdin: Oh, I am Chris for sure! She’s basically a mix of me and Kristy from The Baby-Sitters Club. An anxious mess with the markings of a leader, if she could ever get out of her own way. And we’re both afraid of bicycles and snakes.
Vakueva: Hmmm probably Dolores, the goth-est one.
How important is music to you?
Usdin: Music is one of the few constants in my life, over the years. Tastes change over time, but the role music has played has always been significant. It was a large part of figuring out who I was in my teens and early 20s. Whenever I have needed music it has always been there, helping me to re-invent and see myself over time. Carrie Brownstein talks about this a lot in the fantastic Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, especially where nostalgia is concerned; this book very much comes from a place of my own nostalgia.
Vakueva: Music is a great source of emotional support! You can always count on certain songs to cheer you up or share some sentiments.
What adventures await our Hi-Fi fighters?
Usdin: Lots of butt-kicking mischief, but that’s all I’m gonna say for now. 🙂