Growing Up

Growing Up

In May 2021, amidst a wave of anti-Asian hate crimes in the US stemming from the pandemic, the Los Angeles Public Library posted a video of four young girls from Los Angeles playing a song called “Racist, Sexist Boy” for AAPI Heritage Month—two minutes of wonderfully sludgy outrage inspired by an interaction that drummer Mila de la Garza had with a classmate just before lockdown began. The song quickly went viral, creating an audience for The Linda Lindas before they’d ever had a chance to launch a proper tour. “In a way, I felt like we kind of had something to prove, to show for ourselves that we're actual musicians,” Mila tells Apple Music. “We've been around for three years, and it's not just that we had one viral moment then we were going to go away.” While most teenagers spent the pandemic fumbling through remote school and social isolation, The Linda Lindas seized the opportunity to record their debut album. (They released a self-titled EP in 2020.) Written and rehearsed almost entirely through Zoom while all of its members—Mila and her sister Lucia, their cousin Eloise Wong, and Bela Salazar—were also feeling their way through the chaos of high school and middle school from home, Growing Up is a set of blistering, deeply felt pop-punk that meets the moment head on, whether they’re grappling with solitude (“Why”), self-care (“Remember”), spirals of thought (“Talking to Myself”), or disgruntled house cats (“Nino”). Here, the band takes us inside every song on the album. “Oh!” Mila de la Garza: “‘Oh!’ was actually written all together on our front porch.” Lucia de la Garza: “We had amps inside and we had cords running out the screen door to Bela and Eloise on opposite sides of the porch. The neighbors didn't like it, but it's okay.” Eloise Wong: “There was a situation at school where I tried to help someone who was being bullied, but then it kind of just blew up in my face. I wasn't really sure what to do and I was kind of angry at stuff. That's how the lyrics came about.” “Growing Up” Lucia: “It was hard being at home and feeling at this age that I had to figure out who I was. I felt like I was supposed to know what I want to do with my life. We were all apart from each other, and I didn't want to grow up in a way, and I realized you can't make growing up happen. You can't stop it from happening either. I was really, really nostalgic and sentimental about all the times that we had, because I didn't realize how much the band meant to me until it wasn't really in full swing anymore. I think I was realizing that music is special to me, too. All the parts of my life that were suddenly gone.” “Talking to Myself” Mila: “It's basically about needing someone else to talk to. Because being by yourself can be a blessing, and it's like you need that sometimes, but you also, you can't be by yourself forever. The song is about having someone else to take you out of a spiral, having someone else to bring you back up when you push yourself down so much.” “Fine” Eloise: “I think that a lot of oppression in society is just so normalized. In the words that we say and the things that happen, I feel like we're just taught to see it and just not blink an eye. It happens all the time, but no one does anything about it, because, you know, it's fine. But sometimes it gets to a point where it's not fine, where it's hard to take. Because some of these things that are just normal shouldn't be normal, and they push other people down, and it's not okay. I was kind of fed up about that and wrote that song.” “Nino” Bela Salazar: “On our EP, I wrote a song called ‘Monica,’ and that was about my other cat. I would play ‘Monica’ and my cat Nino would get really pissed. I don't know how he understood, but he would just start yelling. So I was like, ‘Okay, I have to write you a song now, because it's not fair.’” Mila: “I feel like I was most nervous for Nino's reaction to ‘Nino.’ Like, what if Nino doesn't like it?” Bela: “He was purring when he heard it, so that's a good sign.” “Why” Mila: “It's just pandemic stuff, missing people. I feel like during the pandemic we all kind of figured out more of who we are.” Lucia: “Isolation brings up a lot of emotions that you didn't know were there. I feel like being by yourself for that long kind of takes a toll on your mental health. Eloise's lyrics are very poetic on that one, I just have to say.” “Cuantas Veces” Bela: “I grew up listening to a lot of bossa nova, and I wanted to mix some of the stuff that I listened to into what we're doing. I chose to do a song in Spanish because I'm not very good at sharing my emotions and this felt like a way that I could do it, but also have it still be a little bit more intimate and personal. I wasn't completely ready.” “Remember” Lucia: “There was a lot of feeling like every day is the same during the pandemic. There was a lot of feeling like I could have been doing so much more with my day. I didn't learn anything in school; I didn't pay attention; I was just lounging around watching Netflix all day. I was trying to find a way to forgive myself for not doing anything during my pandemic, and I think this song is just about forgiving yourself for that. Kind of remembering that it's okay to make mistakes and it's okay to regret and it's okay to not be okay sometimes.” “Magic” Lucia: “Teenagers complain—that's just how it is. I'm around them every day. It’s a thing. But I always remember that I'm super fortunate—to have discovered music and discovered a passion for it at my age. And obviously the world needs to be better and the world needs to change. Magic is always treated as like a curse and a gift—it depends on who is wielding it. But what if it’s this fantastical thing that might could save us all? What if we are the magic?” “Racist, Sexist Boy” Mila: “Before, it was more of an angry song, directed at one person. But now it's more a prideful song about bringing people together. Telling people that they're not alone, because other people go through that stuff too.” Eloise: “You write that song and it's made for blowback—you expect all the racist, sexist boys out there to be like, ‘What? Racism doesn't exist. Sexism doesn't exist.’ But instead we got all these positive comments. It was so cool just to see. There is good in this world, you know?”

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