It’s hard being a girl in a band — especially if you’re the gender’s lone representative. (Just ask Kim Gordon, who cheekily titled her 2015 memoir, Girl in a Band.) But when you’re a band of four women, all in your early 20s, it’s not being in a band that’s hard; it’s being in all of music that comes with its own set of challenges. Without choice, your mere presence on the scene is disruptive, even as women are increasingly the ones producing (often, literally) rock’s best music. What adds to the phenomena of Hinds, the four-piece formerly known as Deers, who hail from Madrid, is that they’re clashing with industry-wide stereotypes both here and abroad. In Spain, where all-female bands are still largely dismissed, they stand out in every crowd: They sing in English, make lo-fi surf rock that sounds like the punk cousin of Best Coast, accessorize with cigarettes and 40s, and write music by and for women.
Take “Easy,” off their buzzing debut album, Leave Me Alone, released in January. As a standalone song, it’s a breakup record following in the long tradition of vulnerable and exasperated breakup records. But its video, directed by John Strong and premiering today on Vulture, examines the stages of breaking up — every messy, unflattering, desperate moment we omit when we’re recounting the details to our best friend. It’s a portrait of four women at their literal breaking point, with makeup, food, and Sharpied dicks smeared across their faces. They’re each their own Beyoncé, wielding hot sauce at every car window and camera in sight. But much like Lemonade’s final act, Hinds eventually arrive at redemption.
We spoke with co-lead singer and guitarist Ana García Perrote, on a rare break in Madrid, about the video, online trolls, and what we mean when we talk about feminism.
The song is about breakups, which are extremely messy, much like the video. Walk me through the concept.
We wanted to write a song about that moment you realize you’re gonna break up with someone. It’s not like, ‘This is done, okay, gotta move on.’ It’s, ‘We used to be one and, suddenly, we’re two.’ That anxiety that comes when you realize it’s too late to do anything. The music video shows how crazy you become through the breakup and the crazy things you do to try to not confront it. You may go crazy with food, alcohol, drugs, boys, parties — everyone does something crazy. It’s just that moment where you feel so lonely that you have to do some crazy thing and not think all the time because thinking is even worse than being drunk or on drugs.
Also, this is the first music video we didn’t shoot in Spain. Mainly all our videos had been done by Carlotta [Cosials] because we never had time or money. We’d spend $20 on water and whatever else we needed. So suddenly having a budget and a director was beautiful and very exciting for us — especially in L.A., it was like “Oh, my God, I’m shooting a music video in Hollywood.”
It’s shot as if you’re spinning in circles, and with every revolution, things gradually gets worse. You have spaghetti falling out of your mouth.
I went through a breakup three months ago. You think you’re fine and you’ll get it over, and then suddenly, it gets worse and worse, and faster. You’re just going in circles and you want to stop it, but you can’t, and you’re the only who can stop it. There’s just something inside you, and you’re throwing it up.
There’s a scene where Carlotta has two penises drawn on the sides of her mouth that’s reminiscent of 10 Things I Hate About You. Is that what you were going for?
Yeah. It’s also that moment when sex is becoming overwhelming. You’re having sex and you don’t even like it. It gets super-gross, but you still have it on you. It’s pretty disgusting.
I was told you wanted to speak more about feminism and being in an all-female band, which is sort of a catch-22. The more we make a big deal about there being a young female band, the longer it’ll continue to be viewed as an anomaly.
Whenever we get the question, it depends on how deep you want to talk about. If it’s just, “How is it to be in a girl band?” then it’s like, “How is to be tall or short?” But if it’s about feminism, we have a lot more to say. The exhausting thing about this is how much we have to fight — not with the media — but when we see reviews and hear comments, and people are being sexist and they don’t know it. Happens all the time. They talk in such a patronizing way, [mimics baby voice] “Yeah, this cute girl” — 'cause we’re also young and it’s so easy to treat us like kids. When the intention is bad, it’s like, “Okay, fuck you.” But when the intention is “No, I mean it in a good way,” it’s just like, dude, go further. Don’t just get stuck in the fact that we’re girls. Look further, 'cause we’re doing more than just being girls.
I imagine the hardest thing about being women in a band in 2016 that wasn’t an issue even 20 years ago is sexual harassment online. CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry and Grimes have been very vocal about the constant misogyny female musicians endure on the internet. What’s been your experience?
All the time. Two days ago, I posted on my personal Instagram — not even Hinds — a picture with our tour manager. He’s been like my best friend since we started the band. And someone commented, “Oh, you’ve sucked his dick already.” Then you go to his profile and he has pictures of him kissing his girlfriend. What does she think about that? What would your mom think? It drives me crazy because there’s so many anonymous people thinking they have the right to say that. When you become a musician, it’s kind of like you stop being a human being with feelings. You just suddenly become something that people can criticize in a public way. And they tag us. It’s not just on your blog, which also hurts, but people really want to [directly] hurt us. They look for you and say the meanest thing they can just to hurt you. It’s a crazy internet world that I still don’t get.
That intention to hurt must exist offline, too. When you’re touring, has anyone ever accused you of not playing your instruments or writing your own songs?
The U.S. is one of the best places to avoid sexism in music. We don’t really stand out because there’s a lot of women in music. But in Spain, it’s such a big thing still, being girls. There’s even a theory that one of our dads is the owner of Coca-Cola in Spain, and Coke is putting up all the money for us and he’s chosen us [for commercials]. It’s all the time and always men. Comments, in Spanish, will say, “This is because their manager works at this festival, he did everything.” Or, “They’re the ex-girlfriends of this boy band.” Or, “Their dad is blah blah blah.” It’s always thanks to another man.
What should people take away from how the video ends? I won’t spoil it, but it’s pretty symbolic.
We were concerned because in the original treatment, it ended with either me throwing up, Carlotta with cocaine, or Amber with ice cream everywhere. But we really love this song and we don’t want people to associate this song to a bad thing. It’s my favorite song to play live. So we wanted an ending that said, “This is crazy, but you always get out of it, sooner or later.” Having us all in white — you feel like a baby when you’re ready to fall in love again. You’re totally white, you’re not even the same as you were before. You’re another thing because you got dirty and learned so much, then suddenly, you’re like a baby ready to start with different fears and a different personality than who you were before that relationship.