An Interview with Maria Alvarez of Jigsaw Youth, An All-Girl Feminist Punk/Grunge Band from NYC




Prose


 


Jigsaw Youth is: Stach (guitarist), Maria (bassist/singer) and Julia (drums). Stach is a college student, Maria recently graduated from high school, and Julia is a senior in high school. All three are from NYC.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJGMEpfFpt4&app=desktop
Jigsaw Youth performing “USA Death Metal #13” live at The Meatlocker in NJ. Video by Ken Dwyer.

 
Let’s hear about the songs. Your see yourselves as direct descendents of Bikini Kill. What are you wanting to add to what they’ve started? 

It’s funny that you say direct descendants of Bikini Kill because we have been told that if Fugazi and Bikini Kill had a baby, it would be us. Which made me cry because both of those bands are phenomenal. In May 2015, we actually met Kathleen Hanna and told her about our band and how we named it after [a song from her] former band and she was so happy for us. She hugged us and told us to rule the world and it was just such a warm experience and we knew after that that we can’t stop no matter what. I’m not sure what we hope to add, but we hope to make her proud and to make other young girls proud. Punk is so male-dominated and I noticed that as a young girl, I only had male idols which led me to believe that I might never be a successful female musician and then I realized that we can only be what we see. I got into Fem Punk and started looking more into female musicians and artists and looking up to them and we just hope to inspire other girls. Not just girls – girls, boys, anyone in between too. Just do whatever makes you happy and fight for your right. Fight for your well-deserved respect and always, always fight for others too. The world is a cold place and the sooner you realize that there’s a “divide and conquer” system used upon us, the sooner you’ll want to look out for others. I believe in unity; racism, sexism, religious differences, etc etc, those are all things used to divide us but if you take a step back and see that none of it is real, we’re all just humans trying to survive, you’ll start to feel this unity… I want people to know that we’ll always be here for them, fighting for them and loving them and writing songs that they can scream with their friends to and if you ever come to our shows, we are your friends and so is that random person next to you. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuvGP2BoG7Y
Jigsaw Youth performing “Aunt Jenny’s Got My Back.” Video by Ken Dwyer.

 
Tell me about the evolution of “Aunt Jenny’s Got My Back.” Is there an Aunt Jenny? 

Aunt Jenny was written by Stach during her AP bio class. The idea came to her because her teacher (who is absolutely beloved by everyone) is named Jennifer. She’s a huge feminist and all around great person who inspires confidence and positivity in the young ladies. (Stach went to an all-girl Catholic high school). Aunt Jenny became an anthem because though it is written about one specific person, it’s supposed to be about having a feminist protector watching out for you and that when times are tough, Aunt Jenny is always gonna have your back. 

 

Did your parents make you take piano or other music lessons?

Oh, well, Julia’s parents are professional musicians, so she’s grown up around it and she’s really talented and educated in it. Stach has taken guitar lessons since she was 12/13 and I learned by ear! I have a bad habit of not wanting to be told what to do; I know that logically I should be taking lessons because I do want to get better at it and to grow as a musician, but I hate feeling like I have to be obligated to do something. Maybe one day I’ll start taking lessons, I’ll definitely have to, BUT for right now I play by ear hahaha. 

 
What’s up with your first album?

Our first album is self-titled and we are FINALLY recording it in January. Our second album is possibly going to be “Serotonin Makes Me Sleepy.” I personally deal with seasonal depression, during the winters, and the lack of serotonin (which is the chemical that makes you happy) really affects me. I was bedridden for almost a month because I couldn’t muster up the energy to do anything so I wrote a song about it and it’s called “Serotonin.” I thought about naming the album “Serotonin makes me sleepy” out of irony. Our first album is definitely a lot more fun and young because we were just a bunch of teenage girls having fun but our second album is gonna be sludgier and more gross because it’s gonna be more personal. We’ve each been through our fair share of hardships, more than anyone suspects because we are very optimistic and energetic and positive but I was at the lowest point in my life so far before I met stach and started the band, it really saved me and it saved her too and we wanna focus on that for the second album. It’ll probably come out either in February or March! 

 
Can you tell me about how the band started?

Ok so it’s a bit of a funny story but it’s made me believe in fate. Stach (our guitarist) and I (Bassist/singer) actually met over tumblr in November 2015! She had a band blog and I had a beach blog, we liked each others blogs so we followed each other. After a couple weeks, I went on her blog and noticed that her bio was an Anthony Kiedis quote, “If I played the bass in your face, would you jack off?” I proceeded to message her saying that I liked her bio because I play bass. Keep in mind, her blog was totally anonymous, there were no pictures of her, no information about her, nothing. We talked for about two weeks before I got curious and asked if she was a boy or a girl. She said, “I am indeed female,” then I asked where she’s from and how old she is, she said, “I’m 16 and I’m from NYC.” I got too excited because I was ALSO 16 and from NYC and I had so much in common with this girl both musically and personally so I asked her if she wanted to meet up and start a band. I’ve been in bands before but they were all failed projects and around this time, there were so many protests going on around world, I felt powerless and I wanted to make a difference through music. I guess I scared her off because she didn’t answer for 2 weeks, (She later admitted that she thought I was a fake person and out to get her but then she said, “fuck it!” and we met up). We connected immediately and she got her friend Julia (our drummer) to drum for us. And so, Jigsaw Youth was born. Named after a Bikini Kill song because one of the lines is “Won’t fit your definition,” and we thought that fit us perfectly. 

 

Interview by Amy Fusselman