Meet REYNA, aka Milwaukee sisters Victoriah and Hannah Gabriela Banuelos, who are surely set to make some waves with their effervescent blend of dreamy synths backed up with beautifully observed lyrics. The up-and-coming pop duo have joined the ranks of Auckland-New York management company Saiko, and this week they release their very good new single Kill Me tomorrow (28 October). What better time then to grab five minutes with (Hannah) Gabriela to talk new music, old music and playing for Obama.
Congrats on the new single! You write your own lyrics so can you tell us a little bit about what inspired Kill Me to put our minds at rest?
I wrote most of the lyrics to Kill Me by myself and was afraid of showing it to people because it felt so dark and honest. It took a while to be able to work on it with Vic. The song is very personal and a peak inside a moment in my life where I was so heartbroken I couldn’t snap out of that dark cloud over me. It felt like every day I would wake up and take a sip of the sadness and let myself be consumed by it. It’s strange how art works. Once I shared these feelings I felt like the sadness couldn’t touch me anymore.
You were previously in a band with a third member – What made you decide to swap out the guitars and drums for synths, move forward as a duo and change your approach?
We were young when we started Vic and Gab – a project we love and hold very dear to our hearts. We played so many shows and experienced all the ups and downs of being musicians. We always felt like there was something we were missing musically, we wanted to sound bigger and fill in all of the tiny musical spaces. We still play bass and guitar live because we love playing them so much but now our live show has a more rounded sound and flow.
Synthpop definitely works well for you. Your harmonies, melodies and hooks are still there – they’re given more opportunity to shine as we’ve heard already on recent singles Spill Your Colors and Ink on my Skin. Sonically, they remind me of the music on Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob.
When we went into the studio we wanted to do something different and fun and get out of our comfort zone. We had so many ideas of what we wanted to sound like and we just went for it. We tried different things vocally and pushed ourselves more than ever. Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob is a great record (we are veteran hardcore fans!) I like to believe they had similar thoughts and decided not to be afraid of going in a different direction. It’s easy to get stuck in what fans/critics believe you are and it can be very confining.
It would be easy to assume your fanbase would mainly be the younger generation – people your age who are experiencing similar situations – but I’m a 35 year old guy and even I’m like “Damn, this pair are serving the feels!”
Thank you! We put all of our “feels” and heart into our music. I think our themes are pretty universal. We have all felt insecure at some point and we are all certainly good at falling in love and getting our hearts broken at least once. Our fans are of all ages and genders, it’s pretty awesome to see that people relate to our songs no matter their age. Music genres shouldn’t have an age.
If a song speaks to you and hits you in the “feels” then throw your hands up and fucking sing along.
Few bands can say that they’ve performed in front of Barack Obama. You can. How the hell did that come about?
Playing at an Obama rally will forever be one of the coolest things that has happened to us as a band. Honestly, I think we just got lucky, we were playing so many shows and were very visible. Obama’s people were looking for a band, our name came up in their search and we got a random call asking if we wanted to open for Obama. We were so excited because Obama is the coolest POTUS ever! We got to shake his hand and had a huge fangirl moment. We also had our own personal secret service agent for the day which was so weird and awesome!
You’re being managed by the team at Saiko – the guys behind the success of GLADES, Parson James, and LEISURE. Is there a feeling of pressure working alongside other hotly-tipped acts?
We love our Saiko team. We are super lucky to be working with them alongside such great bands. Of course there is a bit of pressure but it definitely comes from us not from Saiko. They are so great about letting all of their bands be artists first and making artistry the priority. All of us as a team (Saiko and Saiko bands) just want to put out great music and see everyone do well.
Saiko have a base here in Auckland so I am hoping you have plans to visit?
Hell yeah! We can’t wait to visit NZ in the future!
Finally, what next? Can we expect a REYNA album anytime soon?
We have been writing non stop and collaborating with some amazing producers. We are looking forward to releasing our EP first and then start thinking of an album.
Kill Me will be released on 28 October. Follow them on Facebook here.