Frida Kill EP 1 (art by Laura Toth)
Frida Kill builds on what it means to be a feminist punk band on their first EP 1, delivering all the energy of women-on-the-verge through their own original lens that is specific to the hustle of right now, trying to survive and thrive in New York City in 2022. But what are these Brooklyn superstars on the verge of exactly? Of turning over bullshit racist power structures, of surviving and transcending transphobia, of living through last night’s hangover, of dancing with their own demons.
EP #1 starts out with the rollicking political energy of “Mujeres Con Mangos” (which also has a fantastic video directed by Holly Overton, with additional cinematography from Tasha Lutek). Maria Lina provides the lead vocals and lyrics on this first track, and she writes and sings from both her own perspective, and from the point of view of a Latinx woman selling mangos on a Bushwick street being harassed by police and ICE. There’s a very clever double meaning of the word “ice” in Lina’s lyrics here; the mangos are sold on hielo (ice), but ICE, of course, is also the nefarious force coming for the “Mujeres Con Mangos.”
Lina says that “Mujeres Con Mangos” was fueled by “reports of undocumented workers being arrested for selling churros in NYC and of a memory I have of passing by an old family friend Margerita (who sells mangos all year round on Knickerbocker Ave) and she was getting a ticket by the cops in the bitter freezing cold for selling mangos. She was very upset but did not back down. I stood with her for a while, bought some mangos and gave her some money and a hug. I feel like a lot of the time these people that provide fresh fruits, treats and ice cream for us on the streets go unseen. They spend time preparing these small things to make money to pay their rent, send their kids to school, send money abroad to their families, just like everyone else. They get up everyday and go to work outside in the heat, in the freezing cold, harmless and out of the way and still, the system finds a way to criminalize them. I wanted to write a song for them, give them a voice, I want people who have never thought about them to be kind, have empathy, and see them when they pass them. I want people to appreciate them. I want people to help in any way they can and I hope the message gets across with my song. I have my mother to thank for always instilling empathy to my siblings and me. She opens her doors to anyone and is extremely helpful in her community.”
Maria Lina and her bandmates are most certainly carrying on her mother’s tradition of being helpful in the community with “Mujeres Con Mangos.” Nothing is more feminist and punk than that.
After “Mujeres Con Mangos,” EP 1 moves into “Get Over It” and “Here’s Hoping,” anthems of trying to navigate social landscapes built on ignorance. Frida Kill is an ever-shifting (and therefore very exciting!) ensemble in terms of who is playing which instrument or singing/writing the lyrics, and in these two songs, Lily Gist (who was on bass for “Mujeres Con Mangos”) shifts to guitar and lead vocals. “Get Over It” rides on an aggressive guitar riff while Gist asks if she should even try. Gist is very open with audiences at Frida Kill’s live shows about the challenges she’s experienced as a trans woman, and her pain and frustration with others’ cruelty is palpable in her lyrics. The intensity of “Get Over It” is also accentuated with fantastic drum fills from Gaby Canales. “Here’s Hoping” shows the transphobic cruelty that Gist has faced even more directly, as she quotes verbatim things her high school classmates said to her when she first started transitioning: “die alone/ friendless/ fail / I’m hoping.” Clearly, Gist and Frida Kill are succeeding with all kinds of punk rock fun and building community along the way, so all those assholes can eat their words.
The fourth intoxicating track on EP 1 is “Demons,” and once again the Frida Kill women shift roles and instruments, and Jeanette D. Moses puts down her guitar for a moment and steps up to be the frontwoman. “Demons” will make you bounce around, as Moses brings so much fun and humor into her lyrics: “Weekends I can’t remember / Late nights I don’t regret / Hangovers that burn forever / Ah fuck is that my ex?” So it goes with the wild ride (and heavy anxiety) of working hard and playing hard in Brooklyn these days.
EP 1 closes out with the more introspective “Zine Song.” If “Demons” catches the euphoria of a night out, “Zine Song” is waking up with a new lover the next day. There’s a very cool ascending guitar line on this track coming from Gaby Canales this time, who’s stepped out from the drums to strap on the lead guitar. Maria Lina is back on lead vocals (and drums) for this one: “Sloppy lovers mind / intertwined…in and out of dreams.”
The minute you finish listening to EP 1, you’ll want to start at the beginning again! With mixing and production from Justin Ferraro and Jed Smith (“Here’s Hoping”), this is DIY punk rock at its best. Let’s hope that a full-length album is in the works soon. n the meantime, grab this EP and go check out Frida Kill at one of their many high-energy shows around Brooklyn. Nothing to do with these demons but dance with them…
EP 1 is out now via Insecurity Hits and is available as a limited edition tape and on all major streaming platforms.
Frida Kill performing (photos by Kate Hoos)