The Aces have been creating music together since their adolescence. 12 years on, and the four-piece are representing true sisterhood with every guitar strum and slick pop melody produced.
Sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez first joined forces with best friends McKenna Petty and Katie Henderson as children and the rest, as they say, is history. Forming then a band before they’d even entered their teens, the group’s message of unity – something they strive to reproduce in their music – is nowhere better displayed than their IRL relationship, one that has maintained into adulthood and as far as we’re concerned, is modern day girl power before our eyes.
While last year’s EP, “I Don’t Like Being Honest” created waves for the four women within the oftentimes difficult to penetrate pop-sphere – and thus introduced us to their 80s infused indie-pop image, drawing comparisons to The 1975 along the way – the group are currently on tour in the US alongside Nashville’s Coin. So naturally, we figured what better time to acquaint ourselves. Musical upbringings, Michael Jackson and debut albums, all yours and more below.
What is your earliest musical memory?
Cristal Ramirez: Probably just watching my brother play guitar, he’s a great guitarist.
Alisa Ramirez: When I was eight years old and I got my first drum set.
McKenna Petty: I was born to Enya’s music, my mom had it playing through the whole delivery and now I have a connection to her music, I like to think that I remember it.
Katie Henderson: My mom used to be a concert pianist so my earliest memories were just listening to her play the piano.
So you all just kind of grew up around music?
Cristal: Totally! We grew up in Orem, Utah which is quite religious and basically everyone learns to play piano. We all grew up doing that and singing in church, that kinda thing.
How important was it for you to make the record instead of just releasing multiple EPs?
Alisa: We’ve been together for 12 years and put out a bunch of EPs throughout our lifetime. Now we’re finally getting the opportunity to do a full-length it’s just kind of a time in our careers where we really know who we are, sonically, and we know what The Aces “are” and we want to show the world that. We think the best way to do so is through a full-length.
Was it difficult putting the album together?
Cristal: I would say that it was just fun for us all, it’s something that we’ve been dreaming of working on for years. The record’s been a work in progress as we were trying to figure out who we were for a long time, what we wanted to sound like… We wrote dozens of songs for this album and then chose the ones that represented us the most, the ones that authentically sounded the most Aces-like, and we just had a really good time making it.
When in the studio which albums do you play on the speakers and vibe to?
McKenna: We referenced a lot of Paramore’s After Laughter with the album, Tame Impala and The 1975 also.
Alisa: We’re going to put out a playlist showing all of the songs that we referenced in the studio, and I think you’ll be surprised with some of them [laughs]. There were a lot of 80s music references on there as well: Tears for Fears, a lot of Michael Jackson.
Nice. Which musical legend would you love to accompany on stage?
All: Michael Jackson!
McKenna: He had such a stage presence and a show that’d be unbelievable to be a part of.
“The sky’s the limit. Sell out Madison Square Garden? We can do anything!”
You’re touring non-stop from now through to the summer. Favourite show you’ve ever played?
Cristal: We just played Washington, D.C. for the first time and that was probably the most energetic and lively crowd we’ve had so far. The club we played in – 9:30 Club – is such a cool venue. We’d never been to D.C. before as a band and we just got so much love from everybody.
Not many people know the band have been together for 12 years – what’s kept the bond so strong all that time?
Cristal: I think the reason we’ve been able to stay together for so long is because we’re like sisters. We’ve grown up alongside each other, known each other since we were 10 and we’ve been through all of our teenage years together.
We’ve been really good at checking our egos and saying it’s not about one of us, it’s about all of us and it’s about the overall benefit of the band not the benefit of one girl in the band. We’ve naturally kept our heads on straight and we just really love and look out for each other.
To someone that’s never listened to The Aces, how would you describe your sound?
Alisa: If you’ve heard The 1975, I feel like they’re a good reference. I guess our sound is heavily influenced by 80s music so it’s probably a mix of new wave and The 1975, but with pop melodies.
You’ve been together for so long, did the band explore other sounds before finding what you have now?
McKenna: For a while, when we were younger, we played a lot of rockier music. There was a time in between where we started taking the band more seriously and explored a darker vibe, à la The Neighbourhood/Arctic Monkeys, but then we realised it wasn’t true to us. The kind of music we actually like and listen to, and wanted to be represented as, was pop, so that’s when we explored that route, but those rocky vibes will always be our true roots!
What message does the band want to evoke through music?
Cristal: Our message as a band is to show [the] sisterhood between us. You have to take care of one another in any kind of endeavour, whether it’s creative or within friends and family, and I think that we just want to get the message of unity and love across – we all need that.
Katie: Another message is to empower everyone, but women especially, and to help young kids and anyone who’s trying to aspire to do big things that they can do it. We got told a lot growing up that we couldn’t do things because we were female, that we couldn’t be as good as everybody else but I think when people see us live they realise that we are fully capable. We’re just four best friends playing music together and we want to inspire everyone to do the same.
So hopes and dreams, what are The Aces’ big plans?
Cristal: The sky’s the limit for us. Sell out Madison Square Garden? We can do anything! We have such big goals and we’re constantly setting ourselves new ones and concentrating on being in the moment, doing everything we can to be reaching and inspiring more people.