The Linda Lindas Are Growing Up And Making A Statement

The Linda Lindas Are Growing Up And Making A Statement

By Joshua Miller

Los Angeles-based The Linda Lindas are punk to the core. So once the Cypress Park branch of the Los Angeles Public Library asked the musical group if they wanted to perform there as piece of their Asian American Pacific Islander heritage programming, it was an easy decision. They saw it as a fun way to raise awareness of racial issues (the musical group members are Asian American and/or Latinx) and promote equality, plus a way to support one of their preference libraries.

“We immediately mentioned yes because we love the library!” Says 14-year-old bass player Eloise Wong.

The musical group also features Wong’s cousins, sisters Mila de la Garza, 11, on the drums and Lucia de la Garza, 15, who plays guitar. 17-year-old family member friend Bela Salazar also shreds on the guitar. On the cusp of releasing their debut album, Growing Up, they look back at the gig that made them a viral sensation.

“We routinely check out a lot of books anyway,” says Lucia, “but while in the pandemic, Eloise and I were reserving and picking up books stacks at a time.”

Throughout their efficiency, surrounded by some of those same novels, the musical group launched into a fiery version of their song "Racist, Sexist Boy,” which was inspired by a negative experience Mila had with a classmate.

“Mila and I wrote it because she was irritated at her classmate who mentioned something racist and I was fed up with all of the sexism I’d seen since I was in kindergarten,” says Wong. “It was a way to process our feelings, and the song came out really fast — just a couple of hours over Zoom.”

Mila says it was a “perfect possibility to play loud music in a place that is routinely quiet.” As an added bonus, they got to eat there.

None of those ever fathomed the video of the efficiency would go viral, less the sheer reach it would have worldwide. In the days and weeks ahead, it acquired over 4 million views on Instagram, Twitter and other social media. It also garnered praise from Hayley Williams, Questlove, Flea, and members of Rage Against the Machine and Sonic Youth.

“None of us expected the video to blow up,” says Salazar. “I mean, it’s a library! I’ll never forget that day at school as soon as my phone wouldn’t stop vibrating only to find out it was our musical group that was taking over my feed and that musicians like Flea and Questlove were sharing the video.”

Mila adds, “It was astonishing to be able to see all of the support we got, and yes it was also a little bit sad to be able to see how several people could relate to it.”

The members mention they have a blast playing the song at their shows, especially since it’s taken on added, more inspiring meaning. “As we keep playing it, it’s gone from being a furious song to being a joyful and empowering one,” says Wong.

Almost each year right after their efficiency at the library, the musical group is releasing Growing Up digitally tomorrow (April 8), with physical formats out June 3 by means of the Epitaph Records. The entire scope of their rising popularity hasn’t quite dawned on the order quite however (“Everything kinda happened online so we haven’t fully experienced all of it,” Bela says), yet right now that they’re promoting the LP, it’s begun to sink in.

“Now we’re doing more interviews and photoshoots and will be going on tour soon,” says Lucia. It’s been a fun process for now, and as Mila adds, the snacks and Boba help.

Immediately after striking viral gold in May, the musical group set an objective of finishing their album throughout their summer break. Most of the songs were written while the members were attending school remotely while in the COVID-19 lockdowns. “They were a way for us to process what was going on,” Lucia says.

furthermore to the pandemic, the movement for Black lives picked up, however so did hateful rhetoric toward people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. These weighed heavily on their minds as they composed tracks. “And just growing up, which is hard anyway yet even more challenging once you’re away from companions, family member, and normalcy,” says Salazar. “We were lucky to get to go through it together.”

Terence Patrick/CBS by way of the Getty Images
Over the course of the album’s 10 songs and roughly 26-minute runtime, the musical group captures the complexities of getting older, the good and bad, and figuring out one’s identity.

In “Talking to Myself,” the musical group examines the maze that anxiety and stress force us to navigate, often “about things we cannot help.” Nonetheless, the musical group remains hopeful, singing, “I’m still here and I’m still livin’.” Meanwhile, on “Oh!”, The musical group examines the tug of war of deciding the correct time to mention something personalized. The song starts with the lyric, “Oh any time If I mention something / I wish I had shut up (oh!) / And As soon as I attempt to help / I routinely screw things up (oh!).”

The musical group feels these themes of growing up are a universal message that applies to each person. “We hope it resonates with each person and not just kids,” says Lucia. “You don’t stop growing up right after you’re a kid!” They filter this message through a dynamic span of influences, including punk, post-punk, power-pop, and new wave. Each person in the musical group takes turns singing on the album, allowing more diversity in their songs.

as an example, on “Sexist, Racist Boy,” Wong and Mila deliver spitfire vocals on top of a charging melody that would fit snuggly next to riot grrrl classics. And in “Growing Up,” Lucia vocals pair well with the band’s triumphant power-pop romp.

“I think that it’s good for us to have four vocalists,” says Salazar. “We get to show the types of music each of us listens to as individuals, plus it all works with each other to form a really cool depiction of ‘punk’ or our definition of punk. Like I grew up listening to a lot of rock en español.”

Lucia noticed inspiration in bands like Because the Beths and The Breeders. Mila admires Blondie, Best Coast, and Go-Go’s, while Wong drew from bands like Avengers, Adolescents, and Black Flag. And in the studio, the musical group had a familiar face helping them: Grammy-winning producer Carlos de la Garza, who is Mila and Lucia’s father. Besides making the songs “more rockin’,” his presence put them at ease while recording.

“It’s wonderful have the ability to have a producer who we trust and are comfortable with, even for our first album,” says Lucia. “It’s also wonderful to get to know him in an other way now.” Mila adds, “Before, we didn’t really know what he did for work!”

The musical group has come a long way since forming several years back. In 2018, they began playing with each other in a new-wave cover musical group of kids assembled by Dum Dum Ladies member Kristin Kontrol for the women-led business Girlschool, which provides various means of empowerment and encouragement to young ladies in music.

“I’ve been going to punk shows since I was just a baby, and often went with Lucia, yet the Girlschool project was the opening time I was asked to be in a band,” Wong says. “Of course, I mentioned yes to Kristen and naturally I asked if my cousins Lucia and Mila would be in it, too.”

For Mila and Lucia, instruments were habitually easy to find around the home growing up. Nevertheless, they hadn’t thought up until then that they could genuinely play them. “After the initial practice with us and then some other kids, we invited our family member friend Bela to accompany us because we knew she was taking guitar lessons,” Mila says.

While their energized and eclectic covers were far from brilliant, Salazar says that she had so much fun that she wanted to keep playing as a musical group. “I was invited to play another show that summer and asked Lucia, Eloise, and Mila to be my band,” she explains. “After that, we didn’t aspire to stop! The Linda Lindas formed immediately after that.”

The band’s name was inspired by the 2005 Japanese film Linda Linda Linda and the Blue Hearts song "Linda Linda.” They built up their chemistry through gigs at all-ages matinees in Chinatown. They eventually opened for riot grrrl legends Bathing suit Kill and Alice Bag, along with Best Coast and Bleached. “It was still just for fun, yet then we were asked to open for Bathing suit Kill, got to appear in [Amy Poehler’s movie] Moxie, and did the library video,” says Lucia. “The musical group being more than a hobby just sort of happened.”

“Getting to play the small punk benefit shows in Chinatown for my school’s music program as soon as we began helped us a lot,” adds Wong. “It was a real small stage, yet we got to play with and get to know lifers like Phranc, Alice Bag, The Dils, the Alley Cats, and Mike Watt. And Best Coast and Bleached have been coming to our shows since the starting, also. It was awesome to play The Smell, the DIY club where they came up from! Being segment of a multigenerational underground music scene like that is a real honor and exhilarating to be a part of.”

The musical group is now in the midst of a national tour and will be on the road much of the year. They’re beginning for The Beths, Jawbreaker, and Best Coast this spring and are piece of the As soon as We Were Young festival in Las Vegas in October. As for what’s next, it’s quite simple.

Wong: “Playing more shows.”

Salazar: “Traveling the world.”

Mila: “Getting Boba in each city.”

Lucia: “And then making more new music!”

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