We had a chat with Brooklyn five-piece T-Rextasy about their upcoming album, ex-boyfriends and knowing they can do it better than ultra-serious indie bros…
Firstly, tell us a bit about the band’s history- how do you all know each other?
Ebun: Lena and I knew each other since middle school. And we also went to the same high school where we played in a couple of bands together, we just have a great chemistry when it comes to working together through music. Senior year of high school, we were told through a friend that we should start a band with some girl named Lyris who was apparently an amazing performer. When Lena and I finally met Lyris, she instantly urged us to be in her feminist punk band. From that day forward T-Rextasy was incepted.
Lyris: I had the idea of starting an all female punk rock band after noticing that the music scene I was involved in was very male-dominated, so I wanted to represent other identities. But also I just felt like I could make better music than these indie bros. I recruited all the cool female musicians I knew, or did not know at all actually- in fact, I hadn’t known Lena and Ebun for even 5 minutes before I asked them if they wanted to be in a band. It was that urgent. Annie was my bff already who joined on bass later. Vera came last. I’d seen her around a lot throughout high school and gone to parties she threw but didn’t know her well. Annie was her good friend and told her about her band we were starting and Vera was like “I want in.”
Your debut album Jurassic Punk is set for release next month, are you excited?
Ebun: Yes, it is very exciting because these are songs that we play all the time and we finally have them recorded, mixed, and mastered professionally and it all sounds amazing! Listening to the album, with all of the songs in a particular order, also kind of makes me realize that we have a very interesting, funky, eclectic sound that is so different from the rest of the music in the Brooklyn scene. I think that helps us stand out.
Lyris: Oh yes oh yes oh yes! It is really incredible for us have an idea (i.e. a song) that multiplies and multiplies and multiplies to reach all these people and publications all around the world. It’s just like a sound circle, undulating farther and farther away from a centerpoint.
Annie: I am pumped! I can’t believe all these songs I love so much have finally been recorded in a way that I love just as much as when we do them live.
If you had to pick a favourite track which would it be?
Ebun: If I had to, Gap Yr Boiz would definitely be it!
Annie: Gap Yr Boiz or What Gets Me
Lena: They are all really fun, but I would say I have the most fun with Ms. Dolores. I like that a lot of our songs have this story-book quality about them.
Vera: Gap Yr Boiz and Ms. Dolores. They’ve got the best harmonies.
Lyris: Too hard to pick. I simply won’t.
As well as a broader observation about self-interested gap year volunteers, our favourite Gap Yr Boiz seems to draw on personal experience- if we dare ask, can you share the story?
Annie: Ah, yes. The big question. The song was inspired by an ex boyfriend of mine, although he is not represented by any of the monikers in the song. We broke up shortly before he embarked on a gap year and I went to my first year of college, and I would check his gap year blog all the time to see what he was doing. It was my embarrassing secret. Then one day after a couple of months I actually heard from him (contacting me from an ashram to inform me he was thinking of me), and I was so surprised and angry that I wrote the song. But he was not the only gap year boy. College was crawling with them, high school burst with them, it was an epidemic!!!
A lot of your music is overtly feminist, was that always a mission for the band?
Lyris: Definitely a mission! We also try sometimes to be more nuanced with our feminist element- you listen to a song, it gets stuck in your head forever, and only way later do you realize you’ve been irrevocably indoctrinated with our feminist agenda.
Annie: Yes, always.
Lena: I only start bands with my friends so they always turn out to be all female. I feel a lot more comfortable when playing with my female friends. I also really like knowing a lot, when it comes to music. Like knowing your shit is a really important thing for me. So I try to learn as much as I can about music stuff whether it’s theory, history (or more importantly herstory!), and lots of technical things.
Would you consider yourselves role models for music fans that fall outside of the white cishet male category?
Ebun: I think it is safe to say that we can. However, our band is still predominantly cis white females with the exception of me (black female). I do think that a lot of our songs are about boys but I do not necessarily think that is a bad thing because it comes from a place of truth and also personal experience. Obviously we can’t really write and perform songs about trans people, or people of color because not everyone shares that experience in the band, so I think that when we do write our songs, it is straightforwardly pointing out the fallacies, injustices, and stupidity of the white patriarchy. Which is something that everyone can understand and relate to.
Lena: I would say maybe? I hope that when we play, it inspires other women to start bands with their friends and to have a lot of fun with it. I think our values are pretty important to us as a band also. I don’t think we have ever played a show that was all white cishet dudes and then us, it also just would make zero sense. When booking our own shows or agreeing to play a show we think a lot about that.
Vera: I hope so. I hope that people, especially young girls/nonbinary kids can see us on stage, having fun together. Being in a band isn’t just about showing off your sick shredzz and pop cultural savvy. I hope that our music is accessible by nature of being fun and dancey. I never looked at the all-male bands from my high school as role models for two reasons. They were ultra-serious, playing moody, masturbatory tunes that I never could dance to. Second, there was not an iota of self-awareness. These almost all straight white guys never once questioned their constant front-and-centre of attention positions. I guess what I learned from them was that inclusion that is not active is still exclusion. I hope that we embody the opposite approach and create accessible, inclusive music.
Lyris: Gee, I hope so! Role models have been super important to me (*cough cough* Patti Smith/Karen O/Gwen Stefani) so I would hope to inspire other folks who do not feel immediately welcome in music.
What’s next for the band- are we ever gonna see you guys hop across the pond to play in the UK?
Ebun: I would freaking love to play in the UK! I feel like there would be a lot of cool spots to play at in England and even Scotland.
Lyris: We’re playing a bunch this summer at home in NY and are also going on a Northeast/Midwest tour. Hopefully we’ll hop across the pond someday…we just need to con someone into paying for 5 people’s plane tickets.
Annie: To hop across the pond is the dream, but I think we need money for that! Maybe after we start selling shirts. We’re hoping to record a dinosaur themed EP soon ‘cause Vera always says we need to “up” our dinosaur content.