Until recently, directing films seemed off-limits to women in Spain, but a new generation of filmmakers —Carla Simón, Pilar Palomero, or Paula Ortiz, among others— have broken through that glass ceiling.
Breaking into the music scene
Girl bands are on the rise and are bringing back the ‘riot grrrl’ phenomenon. Catchy beats, good vibes on-stage and lyrics that connect with the younger generation. We chat to bands like Ginebras —who recently took the Wizink Center stage—, Repion, Melenas, Cariño, Lisasinson, Hinds, Shego, Adiós Amores… Do you want to get to know them?
In the mid-1970s, punk broke into the music scene like a whirlwind. Young people took their instruments on-stage (whether they knew how to play them or not) to scream their frustration at the world. Rebellion and attitude were enough. This was the time of bands like the Ramones, the Sex Pistols or The Clash. What did they have in common? They were all-male bands. We had to wait for more than a decade for women to join in, a movement that went by the name riot grrrl. Hand in hand with punk, but closely related to other art forms —like fanzines—, the feminist movement started to make some noise and claimed its place on-stage. The band Bikini Kill, with its Rebel Girl anthem, became its figurehead, but they weren’t the only ones. Bratmobile, L7 or Heavens to Betsy also emerged from this trend. In Spain, the impact of riot grrrl was limited —Nosoträsh or Undershakers were the leading proponents— and it got jumbled with the explosion of grunge. Things take their time, and it is now, three decades later, that the Spanish music scene seems to be experiencing its own riot grrrl era thanks to a series of all-female bands who are worthy heirs of that sound but, above all, of that attitude.
“Us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to us, that we feel included in and can understand in our own ways” — ‘Riot Grrrl’ manifesto
On the 12th of October, coinciding with the National Day of Spain —which they renamed the Day of the Ginebras—, the band made up of Magüi, Sandra, Raquel and Juls became the first all-female band to step on-stage at the Wizink Center. Their uncomplicated musical universe, which ranges from pop to ska, and their autobiographical lyrics, as fun as they are danceable, continue to garner more followers. In 2023, they released their second album: ¿Qué fue de Billie Max?
A song: Ansiedad.
Melenas, the band made up of Ohiana, Leire, María and Laura, has reached the international scene, and that’s a fact. During the first months of 2024, they will be playing in Brussels, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague, among other European cities, to present their new album: Ahora. Synthesisers have taken over to the detriment of guitars in a work that has received positive reviews from the prestigious British magazine Pitchfork, which granted a 7.7. And for the legendary American band Wilco it is one of the albums of 2023.
A song: Bang.
This Andalucian duo, Iman and Ana, takes a journey to the past, specifically to the 1960s and 1970s. Their acclaimed debut album, El Camino, features such dissonant echoes as French chansons (Françoise Hardy), rock flamenco (Las Grecas) or, even, spaghetti-westerns (Ennio Morricone). Within their range of rhythms and styles, there’s also room for rumba or cumbia. In a scene taken over by urban music, their sound is a breath of fresh air.
A song: Canción de despedida.
In 2018, Cariño released its first album (Movidas) and their twee pop, with honest lyrics full of irony —not so naive—, started to win people over. It took them four years, a bit longer than usual for your average emerging band, to release their second album: CARIÑO. It was definitely worth the wait because this compilation, with its catchy electronic bases, has turned this trio made up of Paola, Alicia and María into one of the undeniable pillars of current Spanish pop.
A song: Si quieres.
The latest album by Repion (Repion) starts with a powerful riff, followed by a warm but raging voice singing: “¡Dime que sí!” [Say yes!]. Of course we say yes to this duo from Cantabria who, at times reminds us of Dover. They’re the Iñiesta sisters: Marina, who also plays in Mikel Erentxun’s band, and Teresa, who also plays drums for the band Aiko. Their recent collaboration with Xoel López (Elevarte Caer) has brought a lot of attention to their music.
A song: Brillante.
Last July, Amber (drums) and Ade (base) announced that they were leaving Hinds. “The toughest decision of our lives.” Carlotta and Ana, the other half of the band, quickly dispelled any doubts and confirmed their intention to carry on. The veterans in this list, who have toured around the world with their garage rock and were even the opening act for Coldplay during their last visit to Spain, are already working on new songs.
A song: The Club
If there’s one group on this list that takes up the baton of the riot grrrl movement, that’s Lisasinson. Closer to punk than their contemporaries, their second album (Un año de cambios) is a tribute to friendship and sorority, which bind Miriam and Paula together. Without mincing their words, they send messages to all those who undervalue women who get on-stage.
A song: Mochi.
Some more undeniable riot grrls! A self-declared feminist band, Maite, Raquel, Aroa y Charlotte—Irenegarry left the group—, whose commitment is captured in the lyrics of their much-anticipated first album (Suerte, chica). A compilation that was well received by the public and won them the Best Emerging Artist Award during the 2023 Independent Music MIN Awards. Irreverent, honest, direct, acid, dark but also dazzling... What are you waiting for to listen to them?
A song: Vicente Amor.
The bands we’ve listed, along with many others (Pipiolas, Mourn, Las Dianas, Las Odio, Hickeys, Las Wonder, Amparito, Bala, Estrogenuinas, Rayo, Agoraphobia…) are breaking stereotypes, breaking down barriers and paving the way for the next generation. Who will be next? Stay tuned!