Singing sisters REYNA are ready to start shaking the table – again.
Victoriah and Hannah Gabriela had an exciting debut as Vic & Gab way back in 2011, when their song ‘So Long So Tired’ landed a spot on the soundtrack for Skins. After banging out the debut Vic & Gab LP Love of Mine during support slots for the likes of CHVRCHES, Bleachers and Death Cab For Cutie, the girls later found themselves in the studio with Drew Pearson (who scored seven production slots under his belt for Kesha‘s massive comeback album Rainbow, including the triumphant ‘Praying’). Inspired by this new sound, the sister act ditched the Vic & Gab name and rebranded as REYNA: a powerful new name for some powerful new bops.
Ahead of their touring slot with Kesha in August, the sisters have introduced REYNA with two new tracks this year. ‘Cool With It’ sports some vibesy 80s aesthetics, whereas their latest ‘Baby Forget It’ merges the cool, radio friendly sassiness of Gwen Stefani with the singalong, storytelling sensibility of MUNA. Of ‘Baby Forget It’, Vic explains that:
“The song is about a former love who kept something of mine after a dramatic breakup. I wasn’t the best version of myself in this relationship and I can admit that I really messed up. That’s why I was so surprised when I saw that she would wear my jacket, I was like hmm maybe it wasn’t so bad, maybe every time she puts the jacket on she thinks about the good times instead of the bad. This song is for everyone who has had their heart-broken then somehow muster the courage to put their hearts out there again. It’s learning from those sour episodes in your life and making them part of who you are like a scar you’re proud of.”
We celebrated those scars by diving into personal musical memories and spoke more about REYNA‘s “indie pop explosion” sound, as well as why the girls believe there’s “a ton of work to do for gender equality in music festivals/tour lineups.”
How accurate is Urban Dictionary’s definition for ‘reyna’? Did it influence your band name at all?
Gab: That definition is hilarious! I don’t think the ‘reyna’ that they are describing exists, our hair does not “run the heart of man wild” nor do we want it to. We named our band REYNA, which means queen in Spanish, because we wanted something related to our culture and something that represented a strong woman.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
Vic: We were hanging out with our little cousin – she’s around 7 years old – and she was listening to our song ‘Ink on My Skin’ and she says “this song is weird…” and I say “why?” and she goes “why are you saying I wish you would wrinkle my skin?” We couldn’t stop laughing and now every time we play it I think “wrinkle my skin.”
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. Which color would you be and why?
Vic: Millennial Pink because pink is associated with softness and femininity just like our music simply because we are women. But I feel like the definition of femininity is changing: you can be soft and delicate but you can also be a badass in pink.
You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?
Vic: I would name her Tuna and she would become my Uber driver because I would ride her everywhere so we never have to be alone ever again.
What got you into music?
Vic: We grew up around music; our grandmother was a mariachi singer, she used to drag us along to her gigs and make us sing with her. As we got older we got into bands like Rush, Blink 182 and The Killers and we just fell in love with the idea of being in a band. Our dad bought us a guitar and bass when we were 11 and we started writing songs and performing in our living room. Music has always been our thing.
Tell us about one significant experience from your lives so far which influences your music.
Gab: Growing up we did a lot of road trips with our parents. Vic was in a super competitive soccer team and we drove across the country to tournaments. Our dad would play music in the car and was always like “Listen to this bass part and how the drums come in” or “Did you hear that melody and guitar riff?” Paying attention to those details made us aware of song structures and song writing from a young age.
How do you describe your musical style?
Vic: Our music is like an indie pop explosion. We love the bass to be in your face and captivating melodies with bouncy beats.
Do you have a favorite lyric from your newest bop ‘Baby Forget It’?
Vic: “Why do you do it to yourself?” is my favorite lyric because it makes me think of all the things we willingly put ourselves through knowing that we are going to get hurt.
How does ‘Baby Forget It’ fit in with the rest of the songs on your upcoming debut EP?
Gab: The EP feels like a scrapbook of a relationship. ‘Baby Forget It’ would be on the last page where you put that last little momento you’ve been holding onto and you’re finally ready to live your best life.
What was it about your songwriting process that changed after working with producer Drew Pearson?
Vic: Before collaborating with Drew, Gab and I would write our songs separately then we would come to each other with a “finished” idea for a song. So when we got together with Drew it was our first time collaborating with someone outside the two of us. The biggest challenge was getting comfortable with opening up emotionally and lyrically to a complete stranger. I know we became better songwriters for it because we became unafraid to say things out loud.
You guys have had some great opening slots (CHVRCHES, Bleachers, Death Cab for Cutie and soon Kesha), but is there anything in your career that you feel like you are still learning?
Vic: We have been so lucky with opportunities to play with bands we love and admire. We’ve learned so much just watching these bands put on a show and seeing everything that goes into the production of a show in a large-scale. It’s given us a lot of experience.
Which female musicians would you like to collaborate with?
Gab: There are so many amazing female musicians right now. I would love to collaborate with Tennis, Santigold, Ella Vos, Grimes to list a few. I would love to write a crazy sad love song with Lana Del Rey. That would just make my life.
Are there any female artists who have inspired you in your life?
Gab: Selena Quintanilla. I remember the first time I saw her on TV singing and dancing and I was just in awe. I wanted to be just like her, I would put on Selena concerts and use our fireplace as a stage when I was 5 years old. She is still a huge inspiration to me; she was from Texas and Mexican American just like we are and she was such a trailblazer for Latinos and women in music.
As women, is there anything about the music industry that frustrates you?
Vic: The inequality in the music industry can be frustrating. I wish there were more women running venues and studios. We have collaborated with at least ten producers in the past two years and only one has been a woman. That’s pretty crazy. It would be amazing to collaborate with more women.
How do you feel about the representation of female musicians? Is there anything that you’d like to change?
Gab: There is a major lack of representation of female musicians and in the industry in general. Women want to hear their point of view in songs and see women like them on stage. I think the best thing we can do as women is support each other, work together and demand change. Women can write as good a BOP as any man out there!
What issues do you think female musicians are facing today?
Gab: I really think there is a ton of work to do for gender equality in music festivals/tour lineups. I read an article saying that forty-five international (no U.S.A.) festivals pledged to bring gender equality in festivals to 50/50 by 2022! Which completely blew my mind! It shouldn’t take that long, there are so many amazing female artists out there who deserve to play in these big festivals – all they have to do is give them a chance. I’m hopeful that soon this will be a thing of the past and there will be women headlining and playing bigger festivals around the world.
Vic – being an openly LGBT artist, do you think LGBT artists are facing any issues? What do you think would help to change those issues?
Vic: The music industry is tough no matter what minority groups you belong to. Gabby and I play music because we love it and we see the diversity in our band as our super power! Yes, there are challenges and stigmas but we come from a place of love and inclusivity and that’s the message we want to spread.
Is there a quote you consider to be your life motto?
“I believe that my life is going to see the love I give return to me.”
What’s left to come from REYNA this year?
Gab: We will be releasing the rest of our EP in the upcoming months, play a bunch of shows and somewhere in between find the time to write a full album!
Do you stan LOOΠΔ?
Gab: Honestly I had to Google them BUT I love Grimes and ‘love4eva’ is amazing. I want to wear a Clueless inspired school girl outfit and dance around that mansion with them.