The Origins of the Riot Grrrl Ethos

Whatever happened to the PL Girls?

Whatever happened to the PL Girls? 

On the 30th July 2015, lead singer for the PL Girls gave an interview at the Contemporary Art Museum in Castilla y León, as a part of the Diálogos musicales. Volumen Femme. The title of the talk was "The transgression of gender roles in music: The wave of the new scene". In the interview, Arancha talks about the constant fight to keep making their music in their way. They were criticised often for not being political enough, not being feminist enough, while trying to keep up with the high expectations that people put on them musically for being an 'all-girl band'. The problems they faced, it would seem were principally on the internet and their videos would sometimes get negative comments left directly relating to their gender. She talked also about the underrepresentation of females in the Spanish music scene, mentioning the lack of females musicians featuring in the lineups for the major summer music festivals. "It's really difficult [for female bands] to break that barrier and cross over to mainstream", she says. More importantly, however, a key gender issue for the band, it would seem, is that they always felt under greater scrutiny than their male counterparts. Arancha mentions that when you play in an all-girl group, there is very little room for error. She argues that all-male bands would be forgiven quicker than female bands if for whatever reason they weren't up to standard, or just having a bad day. She said that if it happens to an all-girl group, they would often get slated:"They play really badly", people might say, or call them "Completely useless".

On the 12th October 2015, the PL Girls released a tweet telling us that after many years working together they had decided to go their separate ways. It isn't suggested that any of the gender issues lead to their break up and it would be a great shame if any of this contributed to their decision to end the PL Girls, however, for whatever reasons they decided to disband I'm personally gutted that we will no longer hear any new music from this band. Fortunately, their YouTube channel is still alive and kicking and all their material is available for purchase. 


So who were the PL Girls? 

Four girls from the Spanish capital, Madrid, who rocked hard for between 2008 and 2015, in which time they released three studio albums. 'The PL Girls' in November 2012, 'Vamos a Arder' (We're Going to Burn) in May 2014 and 'Hits de Carretera' (Hits from the Road) in May 2015. 

They are heavy alternative rock. Made up of Arancha Santolaya (Voice, guitar and Keyboards) Gema Sáez (guitar), Eva Tania Durán (bass) and Livia Herrero (drums), they play hard and fast. It's punky, it's heavy, it has some Joan Jett, some L7, some Black Sabbath, some AC/DC. The three albums are excellent and fit well into the alternative music scene tradition of heavy distorted guitars, racy rhythms and poetic lyrics. Their lyrics deal with the very human issues of love, death, fear, partying. The first album is all sung in English and we see just how straight-talking they are. It's down to business, the music is hard and they execute every bar, every note to perfection. The band are tight from the beginning to the end. Their second album is somewhat darker with a more mystical thread. Their single 'Calaveras' (Skulls), for example, takes us straight to the heart of the Hispanic tradition of the 'Dia de los Muertos' (The Day of the Dead), with lyrics that paint a picture of a celebratory dance with death.  


They played some legendary gigs at Madrid's Phantom Club, Murcia's Sala Tejera and Barcelona's Rock Sound Music Bar, for example, and they still retain some three thousand odd followers on Twitter and a further 4.5K on Facebook, meaning their fans haven't given up on them yet. We are hoping that they will return soon to the Spanish stages. So come on PL Girls... we want to see you back on stage! 

Keep reading, keep sharing, keep listening Stephanie (C) Stephanie Burgess-Arteaga, 2018 If you are a Spanish speaker, I've included the full interview with Arancha below.