The Aces

The Aces

The Aces are no strangers to doing what they want. Four young girls who want to do something in the music world and do it right.

The Aces began in sometime 2016, but the roots go back to when sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez were eight years old and enjoyed jamming with their music-loving parents, their father who would dance salsa with them and their mother who played the best of 1980’s pop artists like Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. Interest brewed and before you knew it, thoughts about forming a band took off.

The sisters’ best friend, McKenna Petty, was gifted a bass guitar for Christmas, and tinkering with DIY videos from YouTube, the teen soon learned to play, and within a few months a band was formed with the Ramirez sisters — Cristal on lead vocals, Alisa taking on drums and McKenna on bass. They christened themselves The Blue Aces in 2012 and practised in their neighbour’s garage.

In 2008, McKenna’s friend, Katie Henderson, joined the group as lead guitarist and everything was set to roll. The band began to sharpen their talents and get a bit of raw exposure throughout high school while performing locally at venues and bars. Over the years, as they expanded their presence on their local music scene they managed to grab a few eyeballs when they were listed as the “Top 10 Best Bands in Provo” by Provo Buzz and “10 Best Utah Bands You Should Know” by Paste Magazine. The girls’ decision to make it big was inspired when in 2014 they saw Lorde, then an 18-year-old singer-songwriter win her first Grammy.

With no industry ties, the girls began their hunt for professional connections by working with accomplished producers. They released two EPs Volcanic Love and Stuck as The Blue Aces before they changed their name to The Aces. In 2016, they signed a deal with Red Bull Records.

Two years later they released their debut album When My Heart Felt Volcanic full of funky bass lines, emotive lyrics, and addictive melodies.

Since then the girls have gained a dedicated and passionate following since their debut album and have toured with the likes of 5 Seconds of Summer, amassed over 80 million streams, and just recently, dropped two new tracks from their upcoming album Daydream. Although their music has resonated with listeners all over the globe, it’s the impact The Aces, as an all-woman group, have had on the industry that’s important; they’ve carved a new identity for what a modern band looks like today. With their drive and message spreading fast across the U.S. and Europe, they have so much further to go than Utah.

VERUS FERREIRA connected with The Aces the same way that most people do when they’re trying to stay in touch in the age of the Coronavirus, via email, with the four members scattered across their hometown of Provo, Utah.

From the time your first record was released (When My Heart Felt Volcanic in 2018) until your new album Daydream, how has your sound evolved?
Cristal: The new era of the band seems to be more mature when it comes to its emotional connect. We have grown a lot since the time we made our first record. The difference between being 17 and being 23 is huge, ya know? We are just more certain of ourselves and more certain of how we want to convey our emotions. But that’s just aging really. The new album is pretty hot right now.

Tell us about your new music video Daydream.
Cristal: Actually it was written on a whim during a random studio session. Basically it’s a love song about long-distance lovers, like the love stories between friends and family members currently practising social distancing too. People are separated right now, and they’re not able to be together. So the song now has a new meaning. We’re all daydreaming about those good times when we were together and when we’ll finally get to be together when this is over… it’s so weirdly fitting.
Alisa: In the visuals for the single which I have written, the band opts to highlight the platonic love between the bandmates over the standard romance story. Daydream begins with Cristal embarking on an epic journey across the desert, hitching a ride with a stranger before driving off with his car into the sunset to meet her girls. When The Aces are reunited, complete with badass matching leather jackets, more shenanigans ensue: sneaking into a motel room, dining and dashing after dinner at a local diner. The four best friends are thrilled to be together at long last, all smiles as they take on their next adventure. The energy of the song is so nostalgic and free, we wanted to make something that mirrored being young and wild. The video says it all.

Aside from Daydream, tell us more about the album.
Cristal: There’s a lot more music for sure. This is just the tipping point for us. My favourite songs of the record are not even out yet. Obviously, we love all the music and feel really excited. I could say that Los Angeles is a much darker follow-up single. It was the first song for the second record. I think it was written like a week or two after we put our first record out. As a song, there are a lot of growing pains if you move from a suburban small town to a bigger city and as well as exploring ideas like that, heartbreak can really change places for you. Even outside of L.A., I think it’s just a song about how experiences can make a city feel darker or harsher and can be a reminder of things that are painful. I definitely experienced that. So that was the inspiration for that song. 

In the last couple of years, music in other languages (non-English) has seen a huge growth around the world. Korean music has seen an ample amount of growth. How do you see this shift?
Cristal: It’s something that we feel so excited and inspired by. Half of us are Latina, so to see everyone loving and accepting other cultures is really amazing. We all have so many different things that could pull us apart or make us argue, but we’re all like sisters.

Do you listen to any Korean artists?
McKenna: We love Blackpink!

There are just a few female bands around, what do you have to say about that?
Alisa: We’ve been a band for over 13 years and the world needs more females. They need to see females on stages playing instruments and owning their space. Our next record talks about everything from love to sex to the human experience. The world needs music. Our music might just help you feel better during these kinds of shit times. No one person’s identity is more important than the next. When we write music and we represent ourselves, I’m very conscious that our music has to represent McKenna, Katie, as much as me and Cristal, and that’s what’s so special about our band, we’re all so different and we make music that can represent anybody. 

Touring is such an important part of an artist’s life. The music industry has taken a drastic hit with the Covid-19 pandemic. How do you keep yourself motivated in a scenario when everything can bring you down?
Alisa: It’s tough, not every day is the same. Sometimes you wake up feeling like you can take the world on; sometimes you wanna crawl under a rock. For us, it’s really about just allowing yourself to feel what you’re feeling and finding things to do that comfort you and keep you motivated. Focus on what you can control.

Music really brings people together and digital concerts are a good way to stay connected and help people. What do you think?
McKenna: We agree. It’s been so fun to connect to our fans over social media, maybe more than we would have if the circumstances were different. It’s funny because we feel just as comforted by performing for them as they might feel from listening to us. We need them just as much as they might need us.

What is the most challenging part of performing digitally?
McKenna: Definitely not being able to feel the energy of everyone in the room.

At a time like this, what would you want to say to your fans? Also, do you know that you have a huge fan following in India?
Alisa: We just wanna say that we love you. We are here with you and are all in this together. We are a family now and always, and we need each other more than ever. We hope we can bring you some kind of comfort in all of this; you guys always do that for us. And, no we didn’t. That is incredible. We can’t wait to visit!

Is there anything that you all are looking forward to professionally or personally once things get back to normal?
McKenna: See more of the fans. Hugging them, playing shows for them. 

Verus Ferreira
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Verus Ferreira

Verus Ferreira covers the hottest desi and international artists for THE TEENAGER TODAY. Passionate about music, he is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book. A freelance journalist for over 27 years, he also contributes to musicunplugged.in