Exclusive: The Aquadolls, Troubled Valentine
by sriosly (Héctor Castro)
With amour and glamour, The Aquadolls have released ‘Troubled Valentine’ A dark,rebellious, 2000-esque punk tune, that overshadows an unrequited crush between a hopeful date, and an uninterested bore. We sat down with Melissa, Keilah, and Jackie and discussed all things DIY, Gwen Stefani, and the dreaded nuisance that is Valentine’s Day for all the lonely hearts. Endured with amorous, yet heartbroken tones, there’s no better release date than Valentine’s Day. As annoying as this holiday is, The Aquadolls don’t fail in bringing us back to our hippy jumpy states to cure us from our loneliness this year!
How are you guys?! Looks like The Aquadolls have new faces! Who is who?
Melissa: I’m good, just waking up and excited for the video release! I play guitar and sing and bop and stuff. Also, I’m an Aries!
Keilah: I’m Keilah Nina, I’m a Scorpio, and I play keyboard and bass!
Melissa: Our drummer is Jackie Proctor and she’s a Sagittarius! Kate Rose is our guitarist and she’s a Virgo.
How did you all come together?
Melissa: Fate, honestly. Jackie and I were jamming as a two piece (we’ve been friends for a few years now) and Keilah was chilling at practice and found out she was down to play keyboard! After playing a few shows as a three piece, a couple months later we found Kate on Instagram and now we’re sisters soul sisters!
Keilah: Yeah, I was sitting in at an Aquadolls practice with Mel and Jackie, they agreed there was something missing and Mel asked if I knew how to play keyboard. I said no. She said she was gonna teach me the set list for the upcoming shows so I can fill in until they found someone else, I never left hehe.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Aquadolls are now 7 years old? That’s amazing! Do you feel any different than you did back in 2012?
Melissa: You’re right! I didn’t even realize that until now. 2012 Melissa? I don’t remember that bitch. It feels like a whole lifetime ago. The only thing that has remained since 2012 is my love for playing shows and meeting awesome people in the process. It’s so insane that while some people are just discovering The Aquadolls recently, a lot of people have been following since the beginning, which is truly a blessing. It’s great to get to grow up with such great supporters, as we grow together!
While on the subject of 7 years, what do you think your 7 year old self would think of you now?
Melissa: 7 year old me would probably expect me to do some Britney Spears-type choreography in the shows and videos, which I wouldn’t oppose to (lol). My obsession with pop music was really formed around these years of my early childhood watching music videos on MTV, as well as VHS tapes of Britney and Xtina’s concerts, as I would watch them religiously and learn all the songs and dances. I started writing my first songs and poetry at age 7, so I think I would 7 year old me would be proud!
Keilah: I would be in such awe of myself, I never expected myself to be in a situation like this. I am so damn happy and I think 7 year old me would be so proud of 18 year old me!
Jackie: I think my 7 year old self would be like woooo staying up late playing shows past bed time, but also I’d probably be pretty stoked I just love playing music I feel lucky every day to be part of this band so my 7 year old self would definitely be just as stoked.
What have you learned from touring and performing? Why are they both so important to The Aquadolls?
Melissa: Touring is always a wild experience. While it has its ups and downs, the highs are always high and I live for those fun moments with my gals that are unforgettable. While traveling, whether its somewhere semi local to where we’re based, to going to places we’ve never played before, or even returning to a city we don’t play often, it’s always a blessing to see people come out and dance with us! I love seeing familiar faces in areas we tour to, as well as seeing lots of new faces as well!
Time passes by so fast! We tend to forget how much has changed in us. How do you think The Aquadolls have progressed from that start in Senior year in High School?
Melissa: I’m older and (sort of) know what I’m doing now! When I first started up The Aquadolls, I barely even knew how to play guitar. I remember that first summer of 2012 when I didn’t leave my house for almost a month when I forced myself to learn to play bar chords on guitar and would practice for several hours a day. Now, I obviously am not a crazy shredder, but it’s cool to hear the improvements in my musicianship over the years when comparing “We Are Free EP” and the latest “The Dream and the Deception”. I’m still learning every day as well and constantly trying to improve at what I do and continue to grow and practice.
What defines an Aqua Babe?
Melissa: An “Aqua Babe” is anyone who wants to be a part of our family. Family is first, and we want all of our supporters to feel like they’re a part of our dysfunctional family.
You started in Burger Records, and now you have your own record label Aqua Babe Records! Who are they? How’s the change for the band?
Melissa: I formed Aqua Babe Records when we put out “Bleach 7”” last June. After recording a bunch of stuff in between 2013-2018, I was taking meetings with different major labels and after all decided that was NOT what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to have full say and control over my vision, and getting other people to agree with you doesn’t always work out, so I knew I would want to start my own label and did it! Everything is completely self-funded, so we don’t have crazy label support or anything, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world! DIY or die. Also, we still work with Burger and love them!
What’s your take on DIY? Why does it matter in the scene?
Melissa: As someone who eats and breathes off of “DIY”, it’s so important to me to be able to create my own stuff and have a community of supporters who understand that. All of our merch is handmade by me, so I spend a lot of time working on products and doing made-to-order merchandise. I am somewhat able to make a living off of it, but barely. It’s hard and I live day by day. One day it’s like, yay I got a sale, and a lot of other days are dry. I don’t have any other jobs and depend on this band and brand to make a living, but while it isn’t easy, I have a lot of fun being my own boss and would definitely try to encourage other artists to do the same and try being their own boss.
Keilah: I think DIY is so important because it truly keeps the scene alive, and it really taught me a lot and was always there for me when I just starting out in the scene. Privileged rich kids from well off areas that refuse to acknowledge their privilege and pretend to be poor to be “trendy” does not help progress the scene in any way. (whoop there it is....)
Why does representation matter in the music scene? Why should people care?
Keilah: Representation is so important in the scene because it is important young people have role models to look up to that are similar to them. Although I think it’s amazing I’m in an all female band, we are 4 white / white passing cis females. As an extremely white passing Mexican/Dominican woman, I believe I need to use my white passing privilege and platform to speak for things I believe in. There is still a lack of representation when it comes to POC, queer, trans people in the diy scene. They are all there, but many are not getting the representation they deserve and I think it’s so important that they do.
Melissa: I agree strongly with what Keilah said. The Aquadolls want to create a community that gives representation to anyone who feels like they are not what society thinks they should be. We are a home to the outcasts, the LGBTQ+, the POC, the people who are silenced by societal standards, and to anyone who feels like they don’t belong.
With prevalent surf-pop and heavy punk guitar riffs, what keeps the Aquadolls so raw and energetic?
Melissa: I feel like our sound is derived from on-the-spot inspiration, which captures raw emotion, depending on what song it is. When recording the latest album, I did a lot of the instrument takes in as few takes as possible. A lot of the guitar solos were one-takes and I like that fast-paced style of it. It’s not always perfect, but I think that’s what keeps the energy feeling so real, because it is!
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.. and a new Aquadolls music video is premiering! What do you have in store for us? Will there be heartbreak?
Melissa: So excited to finally present our music video for “Troubled Valentine”! This video definitely has it’s happy and sad moments and someone’s heart definitely gets shattered. Our slumber party gets interrupted by my daydreaming of a crush, who asks me on a date, but then stands me up! While I’m a crying mess, my girlies have my back and make me feel better. Also, this song is the start of the transition from the “dream” segment of the album into the darker “deception” segment, so there’s a little cliff hanger at the end of the video!
We’ve been up to date with small stills of the music video. How was production like compared to “Hollywood”?
Keilah: For “Hollywood”, we all agreed a home video type feel would work really well with the song. We used Kate’s dad's camcorder and took it practically everywhere we went for a few days. It was really different from “Troubled Valentine" because we had a crew that came to Kate’s and filmed us!! It was so cool I thought I was in a movie, we also knocked out all the filming in one day and Hollywood was filmed over a course of days!
Melissa: We wanted “Hollywood” to feel more like a breezy home movie that you would find on a VHS tape in your garage from your trip you made to Southern California 10 years ago, which is why it has more of a lo-fi homemade aesthetic to it. I like to think of it as an introduction into the world of “The Dream and the Deception”, where four girls are meeting together to create the first segment of the dream. “Troubled Valentine” has more of a dramatic story to it, and we had a great crew of people helping us make the story come to life. Big shout outs to the director Christopher Macken and producers Nick Ashe and John McCabe!! We had a long day of shooting from 11am to almost 9pm with barely any breaks and everyone in front of and behind the camera was truly a rock star for working so hard to make this vision come to life. Also, Kate's bedroom is so cute and captured the vibe of the video so perfectly. You go girl for having a cute af bedroom.
Touching up on Troubled Valentines, what’s your favorite part of Valentine’s Day?
Keilah: I’ve always hated Valentine’s Day because I’ve has no one to spend it with but this year is different because I get to spend it with my super great boyfriend Jacob <3
Melissa: I hate Valentine’s Day, but I love discounted candy and all of the Dollar Tree decorations this month! My laptop is my Valentine this year. Super happy to release this video for Valentine’s Day, it’s the best gift I could ask for. Also, I'm DJing an anti-valentine’s “Subculture Heart Destroyers” rave at El Rincon this Friday and it's gonna pop off.
Any advice for our young love birds out there? Any words for the lonely hearts club?
Melissa: Treat your love bird with dignity and respect, not just for V-day but always! Fellow lonely hearts club members, we will all sing in our bedrooms to Marina and Charli XCX and Slayyyter on this dark day. We are united and not alone, so don’t feel bad if you don’t have a date! Take this time to treat yourself and do some self-love care.
Tell us about the album “The Dream and The Deception” your sophomore LP! (Congratulations on the release!)
Melissa: She’s here, she’s loud and proud! It was a long time in the making, but I’m happy that it’s finally out. Expect a lot of visual content to explain the stories behind the songs. Each song is placed in chronological order of when they were written, with “Hollywood” written in late 2013 and “Communicationissexy/idkhow2communicate” written in April 2018. As the album progresses, the story unfolds as it starts with hopeful dreams of being a big star, then after realizing the darkness behind the beauty, experiencing heartbreak in multiple forms, leading into a deceptive ending of the album. The progression shows that fame and relationships aren’t as important as loving yourself and being happy, which is something I still continue to struggle with.
Girl Gang. What was it? Is it still around?
Melissa: Girl Gang is about getting your badass bitches together, whether in person or online if you’re in different parts of the world, and having discussions on world issues and how we can change the world, one sister at a time. Do this once a week with your friends and you’ll be surprised on how much you will learn!
What does Gwen Stefani and Theater have to do with The Aquadolls?
Melissa: Gwen Stefani is my everything. No Doubt’s “Rock Steady” was my first CD purchase in 1st grade and Gwen on her Harujuku Lover’s tour in 4th grade was my first concert. Not only do I love her voice and fashion, but I appreciate how well she transitions between styles of music. I love how she has a ska punk band and also makes pop music. Also, she’s an Orange County girl and even went to the same college I attended, which makes her feel so close to home for me. I know she goes to Disneyland a lot because she’s from Anaheim, and my dream is to get to run into her there now that I got a pass! As for theater, I’ve grown up doing acting since I was a kid. I started with background acting and got to be on Medium, Without A Trace, Bernie Mac, Santa Clause 3 and a bunch of random stuff before age 18 when The Aquadolls started. I acted in plays and musicals like Pinocchio, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and my best role was Smitty in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying my junior year of high school. Senior year I started this band, and my high school drama teacher was shook that wasn’t gonna be in the play because I wanted to rock instead! While I miss musical theater and tap dancing, we keep the energy alive with Keilah’s DJ skills on car trips. Also, I might be getting back into acting soon.
Keilah: I am a major major theater kid and always have been! (i’m a thespian ass bitch) Musical Theater and Shakespeare are some of my favorite things ever and i’ve always had such a passion for it! I remember on the way up north for our rocktober tour I made everyone listen to my favorite musicals, with the excuse being it was my birthday weekend and everyone had to listen to what I wanted. hehehehe
As support for their sophomore LP titled, “The Dream and The Deception” “Hollywood” and “Troubled Valentine” are out now for your viewing! The Aquadolls will be going on tour all over the West Coast, so make sure to keep an eye out these upcoming months!
Huge thanks to the girls for taking the time to talk with us.