Hinds: Meeting Misogyny In Music Head On
In a not too distant past, we’d be gearing up for a weekend of frivolous pints with pals, lapping up the June sun in back gardens, city parks, or jam-packet beaches; a situation Hinds are well-versed in and pretty adept at soundtracking. Nowadays the world is a much more serious place; a constant grey cloud looming over the present and future, a cloud hanging ominously over the live music industry. And even someone such as Ana Perrote, Hinds vocalist and founding member, has seen their sunny disposition dampened. Slightly, that is. “Right now, we're all feeling isolated, we're all going through this. We're all alone. But it's ok. Maybe just fucking dance, right?”, is her dogged response to the uncertainty shrouding her and her band’s livelihoods when I caught up with her in the thick of quarantine.
Tours and festivals, the lifeblood of live music, are virtually non-existent until next year at least due to the continuing toil of Covid-19 – including Hinds’ own initially rescheduled, but now inevitably cancelled 2020 tour – but it’s not exactly the first time the madrileñas have faced some form of adversity. Quite the opposite in fact, and you’d come to expect a typically spirited response from the four-piece.
As I’m sure those reading this are aware, Hinds (fka Deers) was initially conceived as a singing-songwriting duo between Perrote and Carlotta Cosials in 2011, but bedroom beginnings began to generate buzz, leading to the recruitment of Ade Martin on bass and Amber Grimbergen on sticks. A lively, loose-fitting repertoire began to take shape as did recognition and acceptance from the garage-rock scene. But with their growing popularity came an unfair reputation for being lo-fi, sloppy musicians. A reputation that cultivated amongst, you guessed it, predominantly male audiences.
Two full-length albums deep into their career, numerous world tours in the bag (including recent support slots for The Strokes), and droves of doting fans globally, Hinds are an established and bonafide all-girl guitar band. But have they managed to shake the amateurish tag? Do they continue to meet condescension from male figures in the industry? “100%”, Ana flatly confirms. “It's not only the industry, it's strangers. A random taxi driver, or someone at a festival. It hasn't changed. I don't think it even comes from being ‘established’, it just comes with the nature of being a woman. Some dudes thinking you're a woman so you don't owe her respect, and can just tell her what you think, insult her because you're not scared that she's going to punch you or whatever. Even if we were headlining Glastonbury, it'd still happen.”
A continuation of the male musician intelligentsia narrative then, the same old story. And Hinds are just one case of many – a recent high profile example being Billie Eilish, who felt it necessary to give up social media and cut out the comments due to an overwhelming glut of derision from male followers. The more prominent the female artist, the greater the target, especially those who command creative control over their output it would seem.
Had Hinds not recruited Ade and Amber as bandmates, instead employing male counterparts, then opinions may’ve (emphasis on may’ve) shifted. And these continual aggressions, often daily, can peel away at even the most positive of dispositions: “People just throw it out there, without any blockage. We all talk shit at cafés, bars, we all do that. And that's fine – it's healthy to talk shit and let it out. But social media has changed that 'letting out' into just insulting people.”
Dealing with derogatory male perspectives and social media misogyny has become par for the course for Hinds. But for many budding musicians, male and female, they’re an aspirational band, evading the grips of mega-producers, going rogue and being their most authentic selves. It is this narrative that they’re effectuating on third album The Prettiest Curse.
Recorded in New York and produced by Jenn Decilveo (Bat For Lashes, Albert Hammond Jr., Beth Ditto), Hinds found a kinship in realising their ambitions beyond a basic, naive set up of two guitars, a bass, and a drum kit. Doubling-down on the values that laid the band’s foundations (partying, fun, femininity), The Prettiest Curse sees Hinds embracing their cultural roots in a transformative way, singing in their native tongue, incorporating classical Spanish guitar, but with eyes on the bigger picture. On their own terms, joyful expression and girl-gang abandon is ever-present in new tracks, but they’ve tightened the screws on their pop hooks.
During my conversation with Ana, the term ‘darker’ is bandied about a fair bit – whilst it’s certainly not dark by Elliott Smith’s standards, The Prettiest Curse marks a change in their worldview. If Leave Me Alone was a wide-eyed expression of fun and newfound freedoms, I Don’t Run a document of their evolving relationship with their environs, their latest album meets accusations and misperceptions head-on, in a maturing yet vibrant way: “I think it's more of an adult diary of Hinds. We're talking about what we're going through; before we all talked how we felt in relation to other people, about either being in love, or how we felt about someone else. Always focused on someone else. Now for the first time, we're talking about us, which is pretty brave, and scary. I'm proud. It's easier to disguise the reality when other people are the focus of your songs. It's in your face.”
Hinds are finally pointing a middle-finger to misogyny rather than nonchalantly brushing it off with their impenetrable, laissez-faire approach to songwriting. A shift in onus, lyrically at least, was bound to create tension between the band’s two primary creative forces: “We're not always on the same page, that's for sure. We don't force it, but we definitely work on that aspect. Every time I write something or soak up an influence, I'm obviously going to share it with [Carlotta] so we keep up with each other. We have to do this, to feed each other's curiosities as we spend a lot of time apart. Especially now. It's important for us to force that bond, as we're very different people, and bring different qualities to Hinds. It's all about trusting each other, as Carlotta is fucking incredible. But the more experience we collect, the more empathy, you end up just respecting and not regretting going with each other's decisions.” It’s both a professional and personal progression they’ll likely reap rewards from for the foreseeable.
Initially set for release in April, Hinds pushed back the release of The Prettiest Curse until June. “It's one of the reasons we decided to delay the album release – we were like ‘we aren't fucking ready for this’, and didn't want to drain ourselves all in one go.” Having recently asked fans via Instagram Stories what they expected of the album, one responded ‘to save 2020’. In delaying the LP, they’ve released a tonic for turbulent times, just at the right time for themselves, and everybody else.
The Prettiest Curse is out today (5th June) via Lucky Number Music Ltd.