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The Linda Lindas make music that is changing the world! Proudly half-Asian, half-Latinx, their joyful, powerful songs are about growing up, tackling racism, loving cats, and more! They infuse punk with youth, hope, and a wild style all their own.
Fea is a all-women Chicana punk rock band from San Antonio, Texas. They brought us the story of another band that’s reimagining punk rock, the Linda Lindas. Listen to learn what it’s like to be in a band playing this fiery music genre.
This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls. It’s based on the book series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. This episode was narrated by FEA band members Letty Martinez, Jenn Alva, and Phanie Diaz. It was produced and directed by Haley Dapkus, with sound design and mixing by Mumble Media. The story was written by Nicole Haroutunian and edited by Abby Sher. Fact checking by Joe Rhatigan. The executive producers were Jes Wolfe and Joy Smith. Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi. Stay Rebel!
|The Los Angeles Public Library was quiet, except for the whispers of a handful of librarians and their hushed-but-growing excitement. Then, four teenage girls in mismatched outfits and bright smiles entered the room and grabbed their instruments to warm up.
Usually, if you make noise in a library, someone tells you to pipe down. But these girls were here to break the rules. They were ready to shake things up, get things started, and announce to the world WE ARE THE LINDA LINDAS!
|PHANIE: I’m Phanie Diaz.
JENN: I’m Jenn Alva.
LETTY: And I’m Letty Martinez.
PHANIE: We’re in the Latina-punk band, Fea.
JENN: And this is Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.
A fairy tale podcast about the rebel women who inspire us.
LETTY: On this episode, we bring you the girl-powered future of punk rock- The Linda Lindas.
|Here’s a fun fact — none of the Linda Lindas are actually named Linda! There’s fourteen-year-old Eloise on bass. Her twelve-year-old cousin Mila on drums. Mila’s fifteen-year-old sister Lucia and their eighteen year old friend Bela each play guitar. And all of them sing. Eloise, Mila, Lucia, and Bela are proudly half-Asian and half-Latinx, just like their band name. See, they got the name The Linda Lindas from a Japanese movie, Linda Linda Linda, which is named after a Japanese punk song by the Blue Hearts, “Linda Linda.” Also, linda means pretty in Spanish.
So, how did these four young rebels come together to make this fabulously fierce band? Well, their friendship goes waaaay back.
When they were younger, Eloise, Mila, Lucia, and Bela made up dance routines and pranked their grandparents by hiding under the dinner table. Or, at least three of them did—Bela was always a very polite dinner guest! They were all from musical or artistic households, but the idea of being in a band seemed far away — maybe for when they were older. Until one day at the beginning of 2018, when musician Kristin Kontrol asked them to join her along with some other kids playing a set at Girlschool.
Now, Girlschool wasn’t an actual school, with math books and science projects. It was a music festival featuring female-centered bands that was run by women, and in this case, kids would go up on stage and play with professional musicians!
At the time, Bela had been learning guitar, but the other three were new to playing instruments other than piano and had only practiced together a couple of times. It could have been really nerve-wracking to get up on that stage. But somehow, it wasn’t. Surrounded by grown ups and other kids who believed in them, it didn’t matter that they weren’t quite sure what to do yet. It was exhilarating to get up there and just go for it!
5, 6, 5, 6, 7, 8!
Playing together and singing punk rock and new wave covers, they got louder and prouder as their confidence grew. On stage that day, a spark ignited inside each one of them. And when the last chord rippled out into the crowd, the cheers lifted them off the ground!
Later that year, Bela asked the other girls if they wanted to play another gig together — this time at a rock venue in L.A. Heck yeah they did! Mila, Lucia, Eloise and Bela danced out onto that stage like they owned it.
By that fall, they officially formed the Linda Lindas. They met to jam out together, coming up with clashy, loud punk chords that fired them up. They made an incredible team, too, building off each other’s suggestions and creative energy. And when they played their instruments, their individual sounds came together to form explosive rhythms and irresistible melodies.
It was so much fun! They felt unstoppable! And they were. The more concerts they played, the more people flocked to their sound, demanding more.
|We are the Linda Lindas!!!!
It was April of 2019, and The Linda Lindas were performing in front of thousands of people at the Hollywood Palladium! It felt like a dream, but it was totally true. One of their all-time heroes, punk rocker Kathleen Hanna, had invited them to open for her band’s first show in over twenty years.
The Linda Lindas were so excited to run onto that stage. The music hall was flooded with pink lights and wild excitement as they picked up their instruments and broke into their first song. They played a combo of fast-paced favorites and punk covers. In between songs, they ran around the stage and switched instruments too! They experimented with their chord progressions and tempos, challenging themselves to try new things. They were bold and unafraid like true punk rockers. And the crowd loved them. I mean, who wouldn’t love confident, talented kids rocking out with cat whiskers drawn on their faces and something important to say?
Things were going so well for The Linda Lindas. They were getting booked for sold-out shows with friends like Alice Bag and Bleached and also performing at do-it-yourself, or D-I-Y, matinees with punk legends like The Dils, Alley Cats, The Last, The Gears, and Phranc. They were really taking off! And then…
The pandemic hit.
Suddenly everything felt uncertain. There was so much confusion and worry as the world went into lockdown. The Linda Lindas hated being apart from each other. They wanted to get together and jam in the backyard or fill their garages with new chords and lyrics. But they had to stay home until it felt safer to get together.
So, they decided they’d each practice and try writing on their own until they could be reunited. It was challenging, for sure. But, with time, they began to each find their individual voices.
They knew that when they did come back together, they’d be even better than before.
|And finally, that day did come. In May of 2021, The Linda Lindas were invited to record an online concert at the L.A. Public Library for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. That’s how they got to stride into the library in their mismatched outfits and make some noise. The girls were so excited to be back and share their songs with the crowd!
After tuning their instruments and greeting everyone, the band jumped into the first original tune they ever wrote: “Claudia Kishi.” The sound poured over the room in an upbeat, call-and-response chorus. It was heart thumping, foot stomping, head banging fun. From there, they launched into songs about Bela’s cat, about growing up, and about missing their friends during lockdown.
Then, Mila introduced a new piece, called “Racist, Sexist Boy.” She’d written it with Eloise, inspired by hurtful words that a boy had said to her about being Chinese.
“So this is about him and all the other racist, sexist boys in this world!” Eloise shouted.
The room exploded with sound. Eloise roared the first verse. Mila came in next, her higher, poppier voice crackling with electricity. Bela had a sturdy, rockstar stance, her green-streaked hair in her face. Lucia wailed on her guitar, whipping her head around. They were all having a blast. So were the librarians!
You are a racist, sexist boy! Eloise shouted.
We rebuild what you destroy!
One of the greatest things about that song is that it wasn’t about just that one boy. It was a rallying cry to defeat all the racist, sexist boys in the world. The band used their instruments, their voices, and their true punk spirits to push for change. And when it streamed online, viewers totally got it.
Soon after the library posted the video of the concert, Lucia and Mila were at home in their pjs, when their dad burst in to say, “You’re going viral!”
The girls were stunned. They looked online and saw that their performance was being shared all over the internet — even by famous bands and people they admired.
The sisters called their other band members with the news, still not quite sure what to think. Suddenly, they had 100,000 followers and were being asked to play show after show! How were they going to manage all that, and their homework, too?
|Well Rebels, the Linda Lindas are still figuring out the answer to that question. Meanwhile, they’ve appeared in movies, released an incredible record called Growing Up, and they continue to inspire audiences everywhere.
They keep daring themselves to try new things too. Sisters Mila and Lucia composed “Magic,” a song about finding magic in every moment. Eloise created two powerful anthems, “Fine” and “Why.” And Bela wrote a song called “Cuántes Veces” — finding it easier to express her feelings in Spanish.
Just imagine Rebels…right now, the Linda Lindas might be hanging out together, instruments in hand, piecing together chords and lyrics for their next big hit. I can almost feel the energy of their new riffs and rhythms, inviting us all to get loud and fierce with them.
Let’s do it. Let’s make some noise!!!
|This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls. It’s based on the book series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.
This episode was narrated by ME, Letty Martinez, as well as my band members Jen Alva and Phanie Diaz. It was produced and directed by Haley Dapkus, with sound design and mixing by Mumble Media.
The story was written by Nicole Haroutunian and edited by Abby Sher. Fact checking by Joe Rhatigan. The executive producers were Jes Wolfe and Joy Smith.
Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi.
A special thanks to the whole Rebel Girls team, who make this podcast possible! Until next time, staaaay rebel!