Last year, The Linda Lindas shot to attention with their now-infamous performance of ‘Racist, Sexist Boy’ from a gig at the LA Public Library. The wider world was invited into an open secret the city’s DIY scene had long discovered – a young group connecting with the spirit of riot grrrl and punk and using it to share their own stories through thrilling songs.
Comprised of sisters Mila and Lucia de la Garza, their cousin Eloise Wong and friend Bela Salazar, The Linda Lindas seem set to shake up 2022. They’ve already proved they can make us think (‘Racist, Sexist Boy’, the democracy-focused ‘Vote!’) and that they know how to get silly (they have not one, but two tracks about Salazar’s cats in ‘Nino’ and ‘Monica’) when the mood warrants it. With a deal signed with legendary punk label Epitaph and a debut album on the way, big things are on the horizon for the teen band standing up for what’s right (and having some fun while doing so).
The Linda Lindas tell us about the meaning of punk, what to expect from their debut album, working with Best Coast and more.
Hello The Linda Lindas! You’re part of our Future Five for 2022. What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?
Mila: I am looking forward to getting to hang out with friends more, playing more shows, and hopefully travel if COVID-19 allows us to.
Lucia: There’s so much uncertainty this year, so I don’t want to get my hopes up. But playing more shows, meeting more people, and traveling out of L.A. sounds so fun. Not that we don’t love it here!
Eloise: Lunar New Year! I wanna get that red envelope money – and see my family and eat tasty food. Also, more practice and developing as a musician and human being.
You had quite a big 2021, from making your US TV debut to signing a deal with Epitaph. What was the biggest lesson you learned from those experiences that you’re bringing into 2022?
Lucia: The biggest lesson was that it’s really possible. There’s just so much out there, and now we’re trying to make it all happen and be ready for it. But I realise that our families and all the people who reached out to us after the video blew up will help us get through anything.
You’ve said that you didn’t have any expectations of the band turning into a career when you first started it. How has the attention you’ve received changed your approach to making music?
Bela: I think our approach to making music is the same. The only thing that has really changed is that more people can listen to our music now.
Mila: We’re still doing what we’ve always done: having fun and doing what we love.
Lucia: But now it’s become something that we can make a difference with, too. We’re writing songs about things that need to be said and now there are more people listening.
Eloise: It’s so awesome to see that our voices can actually affect change and we can’t wait to share more with our audience!
The Linda Lindas began life as a cover band before you began writing your own songs. What did playing other people’s songs first teach you about what makes a good song?
Lucia: I didn’t just learn about writing songs; I actually learned how to play the guitar by being in the band and playing covers of songs that we love! And those easy versions of songs taught us that it doesn’t need to be super fancy or difficult to be good. You can rock out to whatever, as long as you have an energy that connects to people. That being said, we’re still trying to get better as musicians and songwriters, and I hope that the LP, as well as other future music we put out, shows that.
Eloise: Learning other people’s songs gives you great ideas and exposes you to different fills, nuances, and techniques that you would’ve never thought of otherwise. Playing covers is also kind of like making a mixtape or playlist, exposing your audience to bands and scenes you love.
On the tracks you’ve shared so far, you’ve tackled important subjects like racism and sexism, and voting, and written about more fun topics like Bela’s cats. Why is it important to you to strike the balance between using your voice and platform, but also having moments of levity?
Bela: I think it is important for us to balance what we write about because it kind of shows who we really are. We write about what we like, what we see, and anything that’s going on in our lives as we are growing up.
Mila: It can be about something silly like cats or an important experience we are going through.
Eloise: Expressing myself through music is really crucial for me as a person. I love how music lets me be angry when I’m angry, or lets me be sad when I’m sad. It lets me speak about things that would be bottled up otherwise. I write whatever I need to get out, whether it’s related to political or social issues or not.
Congratulations on signing with such a storied label as Epitaph! What does the label mean to you?
Mila: I think it’s cool that we’re signed to Epitaph because we know they want to help artists like us. They’re just really great to work with.
Eloise: It’s surreal to be part of a label that has so many bands we love like Bad Religion, Descendents, Red Aunts, L7, and so many more. I’m stoked about Soul Glo and The Muslims signing to Epitaph, too!
What can you tell us about your debut album so far? Any themes you’ve been writing about or artists who’ve inspired the songs on it? What can we expect from it?
Lucia: It’s about this period in our lives
Bela: And there will be a song in Spanish!
Eloise: For the cover art, I made paper dolls of each of us that our friend Zen Sekizawa photographed! I was inspired by Nikki McClure’s paper cutouts, as well as Tae Won Yu’s paper sculptures. They’re punk musicians and visual artists that were in our video for ‘VOTE!’
You featured on Best Coast’s single ‘Leading’ last year. What was working on that song like? Who else is on your bucket list to work with in the future?
Lucia: Over the years, we’ve gotten to know Best Coast really well. We grew up listening to them, singing ‘The Only Place’ in the car. So I think it’s pretty amazing that we got to back them up on the song, which sounds incredible! I would love to work with Sleater-Kinney; we got to meet Carrie Brownstein over zoom!
Eloise: Recording that song was really fun! Bethany and Bobb attended our first shows and have been so supportive. Bethany gives us great advice about singing and life as an artist in general and Bobb is our guitar tech and honorary uncle! There are so many other cool artists it’d be awesome to work with including The Go-Go’s, Joan Jett, Redd Kross, and Blondie (ahh we’d have to get a lot tighter first). It would be amazing just to meet Faye Wong!
You’ve spoken about punk being anything you want it to be, so what is punk to The Linda Lindas?
Eloise: Punk is not just a sound or style. It’s doing what you love with people you love and doing stuff that matters to you. It’s doing it yourself if no one else will. It’s just being creative and having a blast.
What artists do you think people should be keeping an ear out for this year and why?
Bela: Biela, Depresión Sonora, Vera Fauna, Carrot, and Los Blenders.
Eloise: Our friends in Neighborhood Brats and Slaughterhouse rule. Generacion Suicida are great, especially the drummer Kiwi. I love Catenary Wires and Swansea Sound, bands that include members of Heavenly. And Bat Fangs with Besty from Ex Hex!
Mila: I heard Paramore are in the studio right now. I can’t wait to hear their new songs!
Any resolutions – musical or otherwise – for 2022?
Lucia: I just want us all to stick together: Keep practising more, keep writing more. And if I could procrastinate less, that’d be awesome too!
Eloise: Hanon [finger exercises for pianists] every day – like Oscar Peterson! More practice to build those calluses!! I also want to pay more attention to the tone and sound of my bass.
Mila: I did a project for school about Japan and would love to play a show there! I also want to do a cartwheel every day for the rest of the year.
Meet the rest of The Future Five for 2022 as they’re unveiled