Emerge Impact + Music is created and produced by ABP Media’s parent company, A Beautiful Perspective. Leading up to the event, we’re featuring some of the musicians and speakers who’ll be performing in Las Vegas April 6-8.
“I let in a robber/I let him in because I just wanted company,” drummer Anastasia Sanchez sings in a tough-stupid-smart nasal drawl, channeling Jonathan Richman. Isabelle Fields plays incongruously cheery garage guitar grunge, as Sanchez declares, “He took me hostage/but only because he didn’t want to be alone like me.” Then bassist Eva Chambers joins the other two on a series of girl group “doo be wop wop” choruses. It’s gothic desperation in a sunny package.
L.A. band Pinky Pinky specializes in retro rock with a deceptively morbid edge. Their name, which sounds like carefree fun, is actually derived from a South African legend about a creature that sexually assaults young girls in toilets. They picked it without realizing quite how ugly the legend was—but still, many of their songs, in the tradition of Shangri-La’s girl group garage, include disturbing imagery wrapped in shiny hooks. “Fish Bones,” which, like “Robber,” is from their recent EP 2018, tells the story of a break up by the shore, as the narrator steps on dead fish and muses on rotting love. “I let her kiss me not with love but out of spite,” Sanchez spits at the close.
The band’s dour material and tough sound have defied some expectations in part because Sanchez, Fields and Chambers are so young. Sanchez is 20 and the other two are 18. “It’s definitely hard being three very young girls in the industry because this is an industry of men,” Fields said. “It can be easy to end up in bad situations.”
“People don’t expect much from us, and then they’ll be shocked,” Chambers adds. “’You can actually play.'”
In fact, the members of Pinky Pinky have been playing for a long time. Sanchez has been drumming since before she can remember. “My dad would duct tape drumsticks to my hands and I would play a little beat,” she told me. Chambers started on piano when she was 6, and was in a band with her sisters when by eight or nine. For her part, Fields says, “My parents were very into rock and roll. You could say I was raised on rock and roll.”
Sanchez and Chambers met in high school through a shared love of rock. “In the locker room after school, after PE, one day, we had to wear these grey shirts,” Chambers said, “and Anastasia would wear this grey Bowie one rather than the school one.” Chambers makes her voice high and girly, channeling her middle school self. The two bonded over shared Bowie love.
Besides Bowie, the band cites a bewildering array of influences, from the five-octave 1950s Peruvian singer Yma Sumac to Frank Zappa. “Hot Tears,” is an over-the-top minor key girl-group pastiche, with full on “oooh oooh oooohs” as Sanchez sings in a quasi falsetto, “I soaked up the tablecloth with hot tears/cause darling you left meeeeee/ooooh oooh oooh.” But the band also likes a lot of contemporary performers. “The pop stars who changed my life are probably Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. I still think they’re the best,” Chambers says. And they all agree that going on tour with Cardi B would be amazing.
“People don’t expect much from us, and then they’ll be shocked.”
After Chambers and Fields graduated from high school, the band concentrated on songwriting and touring. They were approached two years ago by producer and musician Hanni El Khatib, who has been recording their music on his Innovative Leisure label. And they’ve also worked with producer Jonny Bell. Their 2017 self-titled four-song EP included “Spiders,” where an Eastern belly-dance groove crawls ominously out of the amps, and “Ram Jam,” an unsettling rave-up about being stalked. “My baby comes through the window/he won’t let me alone!” Sanchez wails, as the garage vamp chases her down. There’s no youthful innocence here; just youthful paranoia.
Adults often think that young people are unserious or don’t have anything to say, but that’s not true at all, according to Chambers. She points to the anti-gun activism of the Parkland shooting victims. “I think the whole shock value of the kids leading this—I mean, I’m not surprised. I think it’s funny that it’s so unexpected, but maybe because we’re young too, we always felt that our voices should be heard, and can be. And I think it’s really cool that people are taking it seriously. It’s just important to speak up and have your voice heard.”
Pinky Pink will be performing April 8 in Las Vegas as part of Emerge Impact + Music, an event bringing together more than 75 rising musicians and innovative, boundary-challenging speakers.
Pinky Pinky isn’t falling silent any time soon. After the release of “Hot Tears” this year, the band is working on recording their first full-length, which they hope to debut in the fall. Like the Pinky Pinky, releases so far, the album is sure to show that when young people do speak up, their voices aren’t just inspirational and fun, but weird, arch and funny—soaked with pop hooks and dread.
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