AN INTERVIEW WITH THE BRALETTES
With the mantra “Be confident. Love yourself and your body. Start a band and take your shirt off in front of strangers. Do whatever you want,” The Bralettes are the band you needed growing up. Reincarnated Riot Grrrls Paulina Costilla (guitar/vocals), Molly Hernandez (bass), and Andy Cantu (drums), are inspiring a whole new generation of female musicians with their glitter-grunge. Proving you can mosh in a skirt and don’t need to be ‘one of the boys’ to make it in music, The Bralettes are all about bubblegum punk and girl power. Embracing all the angst, awkwardness, and empowerment that comes with being ‘a girl band’ in the 21st century, their debut album Cheers! expresses both vulnerability and bad-ass energy. Donning their matching pink jackets like the coolest friendship necklaces in the world, I caught up with them after their show in Charleston to discuss Kate Nash, self-confidence, and how to crush the patriarchy one gig at a time.
YOUR BANDCAMP BIO IS SO INSPIRING (“BE CONFIDENT. LOVE YOURSELF AND YOUR BODY. START A BAND AND TAKE YOUR SHIRT OFF IN FRONT OF STRANGERS. DO WHATEVER YOU WANT.”) CAN YOU SPEAK A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THAT AND WHERE IT COMES FROM?
ANDY: Be confident in what you’re doing and do whatever you want the way you want.
MOLLY: You have a gut, you have big boobs, small boobs, little bellies, big bellies. Pop them out, bring them out, wear a bralette. Do whatever’s comfortable. Bras aren’t comfortable.
PAULINA: We think bralettes are more comfortable, you can just wear them.
YOUR MUSIC IS SO EMPOWERING! “PARTY” ESPECIALLY STUCK OUT TO ME. WHERE DO YOU DERIVE THAT EMPOWERMENT FROM?
M: “Party” was really about no one. We made up a story about a girl that we would relate to, whenever she’s in a bad relationship and she just wants to go out and be fun.
A: I think what empowers me is seeing other girls do what I want to do. I think knowing that someone else out there is doing it makes me feel like I can do it, so I guess in that sense representation means a lot. Even for us when some girls tell us like dude I want to start a band now. It means a lot because it takes a lot of courage and we want to give other people that courage, it’s not about competition or girls trying to pit each other against each other. Everyone deserves their shot and we want more people to have a shot.
P: Yeah we were like let's start a band like The Coathangers, they’re all girls and it’s just fun seeing other girls do things. You want to go and follow their lead, don’t be scared.
A: It’s not just a group of boys.
P: Yeah, who cares about boys!
M: And you want to break that barrier between band and girl band.
A: The problem with a girl band, people are either really harsh on you because of it or they’re too easy on you.
M: Like oh they’re so cute..
P: Or they’re just good cause they’re girls whatever but dude they fucking suck.
M: There’s no inbetween.
WEIRDEST PLACE ON TOUR?
A: We’re from Texas so we never thought we’d be in the Carolinas, in Nebraska. I’m like what the hell am I doing here? We’re from down south, it’s crazy to think we’re even there.
M: I think Omaha was the most exciting for me cause I’ve been wanting to go just because it’s such a small town and you wouldn’t normally go on a vacation there but then everybody was so cool.
P: I didn’t know what to expect from each city, but I went to Philadelphia and I wasn’t expecting what I saw. It was really different, you just have a different picture in your mind but then sometimes you don’t so you’re just like I wasn’t expecting this so it’s cool either way. Everyone has been so nice to us, so sweet and we don’t have a lot of confidence so it helps us get to the next, okay I can conquer the next one.
M: Cause at the end of the day we’re girls just like everybody else we’re emotional, we’re vulnerable. We get down on ourselves but every show has been really sweet, really nice.
YOU GUYS DO A REALLY GOOD JOB OF HIDING IT, WHEN YOU’RE ON STAGE YOU ALL SEEM SO CONFIDENT.
P: I think we always say we’re nervous but sometimes we’re up there and like man why are we nervous? We’re supposed to be helping other girls, let's do this.
A: We’re supposed to be role models.
M: We’ve just learned to let go, you make a mistake you just move on and keep smiling. Or don’t smile you know, whatever.
P: Or cry.
A: Yeah just cry a little bit and move on.
YOU RECENTLY RELEASED YOUR EP CHEERS! WHAT WAS THAT PROCESS LIKE? WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
A: We were surprisingly getting a lot of shows and then they’d be like do you have any music? And we’d be like no oh my gosh I’m so sorry.
M: Everything happened so fast, like okay we’re getting a bunch of shows so everytime we got feedback they’d be like are you on Spotify? Are you on this? Do you have CD’s? And we’d be like no.
P: You just gotta come to the show!
A: And that can only last for so long..
WHAT INSPIRED YOU GUYS TO PICK UP YOUR INSTRUMENTS?
P: I love Kate Nash so much, she inspired me. She was just a singer-songwriter-ish at first and I really liked to watch her grow. She went from singer songwriter to more punk-ish pop-ish whatever she wanted to she was like who cares I do whatever I want. So I was like oh my gosh that’s amazing, so whenever I started I learned a few chords on the guitar, the basic ones and then I stopped and was like okay I don’t want to play anymore this is too hard. And then I just picked it up again with them.
A: Where we come from we didn’t know a lot of people with the same music taste as us and we bonded a lot over that. We started going to shows all the time, every night, and go to school the next day like it was nothing. You bond over it and you’re like dude all these people can do it, you feel emotional. You’re in the car with your friends leaving the show windows down listening to music happy! We wanted to give other people that and we wanted to have fun and do what they’re doing and if they can do it we can same thing if they can do it we can. And that’s when we started learning our instruments.
“IDK” IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE SONGS SO I HAVE TO ASK WHAT INSPIRED IT? WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD WHEN YOU WROTE IT?
P: I came up with the beginning and they helped me finished the rest. It was like you know sometimes you’re like what do I do with my life? Am I doing the right thing? I was in my dorm room like crying. But man I was like am I doing the right thing? Am I making the right decisions?
A: It’s very relatable.
I HAVE TO ASK WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO PLAY WITH HINDS!??
M: For me they were one of my biggest influences. It was really really awesome and they were really sweet. We hung out until like 6 in the morning. It was tight.
NO WAY! WHAT DID YOU GUYS DO?
P: Danced a lot.
M: Danced and drank.
P: They’re one of our biggest influences so we were like oh my gosh we’re opening up for Hinds, we were counting down the days like oh my gosh it’s getting closer it’s getting closer!
M: We practiced way more than we normally do
P: They where so sweet and so supportive! I was just like oh my gosh my heart!
YOU GUYS HAVE PLAYED SOME BENEFIT SHOWS FOR PLANNED PARENTHOOD AND SIMILAR ORGANIZATIONS! WHAT DOES PLAYING SHOWS LIKE THAT MEAN TO YOU?
A: It does mean a lot because we never keep any of the money we make, so it’s never like we’re stingy or angry about sharing it, it’s more like cool there's a cause. Normally the people that go to those shows are very empowering as well. They’re not judgy and they’re there for a cause and they make us feel good and we feel good giving to people.
P: It’s just good for everybody. I just always feel like oh my gosh thanks for letting us play! We’re happy to play for you and support your stuff and it’s cool that you think our stuff is good.
M: We support them and they support us, and it feels good.
YOU MET AND YOU PLAYED WITH THE COATHANGERS? CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THAT?
M: It was tight. It was our first show at a venue that we all go to often. It actually turned out really well cause a lot of our friends and family came. It was the day before we went on our first tour which was a West Coast tour so everybody bought a lot of merch. Everything was great. The Coathangers actually talked to us afterwards.
P: They told our tour manager you have to take care of them this is precious cargo. She put us on their instagram live and she recorded pretty much the whole thing. It meant so much. She was really genuine.
A: It was like bucket list.
Photograph by Stephanie Cortez