The Linda Linda and their fierce and joyful power
Shifting to global, not just local, attention is something Linda Lindas are still getting used to, but they are grateful to know that it resonates. “People reach out and say, ‘Oh, you inspired me to pick up the guitar,’ or ‘You inspired my kids,'” Lucia said. “There are so many people who felt something from something we did and took the time to message us, and some of them are funny, and some of them are like : ‘Oh, I think you should write a song about all your cats!’ And we have already done that.
Karen O, singer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, was the guest of Linda Lindas at their very first performance, at an all-female festival in 2018, when they were a loosely assembled cover band. Even then, “there was no shortage of passion, enthusiasm and unbridled expression,” she said in an interview. “The matching berets, the eye makeup – they just looked really tight.” Four years to the day later, she caught one of their newer, more polished shows. She called it “life affirmation.”
As an Asian American herself, she said, the presence of the Linda Lindas “really speaks to me, because I feel like a lot of us grew up reserved and in in the shadows, not in the spotlight making music, which is kind of the main line in self-confidence,” she added. “It’s so inspiring and so surprising to see these young girls having that – it took me probably 21 years to bottle up all those feelings, when it finally exploded in a cathartic way when I was on stage. I could have used it when I was 12.
From their early days as kids with a typical schedule of piano and dance lessons who enjoyed putting on little shows for their families, the Linda Lindas have had an enchanted trajectory to the stage. The de la Garza and Eloise sisters are cousins; Bela is a lifelong friend, and their parents are themselves artists, writers or designers. Lucia and Mila’s father, Carlos de la Garza, is a Grammy-winning music producer and mixing engineer; when his daughters were around 9 and 7, he bought them a guitar and (small) drums. They sat unused for a while, but the festival invite was the spark – too much fun not to pursue.
“I think it was something I never thought I could do,” Bela said, in a video performed shortly after the group’s formation, when she was 14 years old. It’s just in everything I do now.
Soon they were play showcases that Eloise’s parents, Wendy Lau and Martin Wong, one of the founders of the influential Asian American cultural magazine giant robot, helped to organize community benefits, with the girls spin instruments. Bela had played drums and guitar and already had a string of avant-garde performances, said his mother, Karen Salazar. “She was always fearless,” added her father, Joe Salazar.