21st Jun2010

Your New Favorite Band: Las Robertas

by Todd

Las Robertas aim to break every stereotype you can imagine. In a music industry, which (confoundingly) is still dominated by men, this all-female group dominates their XY counterparts in so many ways. Hailing from Costa Rica, they succeed without the backing of the U.S. or British music machine. Lastly, they ignore critics who say that the C86 sound is dated and create a brilliant interpretation that sounds like equal parts Kim Deal, Tracey Primitive and Belinda Butcher
Combined, they create a sound that has us yearning for more. The group talked to us about their influences and the music scene in Costa Rica.

In Between Buses

TDOA: Can you give us a brief history of the band and tell us who plays what instruments?

LR: Well.. Monserrat and Mercedes met through MySpace long time ago. In early 2009, they met Lola through a friend in common and decided to start the band. Mercedes and Ana María go to the same school (design-architecture-art) and they are friends since then. So by April 2009 the whole band started to play officially together. Monserrat plays bass, Mercedes guitar, Ana María drums and Lola sings and plays the tambourine.

TDOA: Honestly, your music reminds us a lot of the early work of The Breeders. Can you talk about the bands that have influenced you?

LR: That’s an enormous compliment, The Breeders have been a great influence indeed, many 90′s bands have had great impact in our music, such as Pixies and The Amps (of course), Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, also older bands like My Bloody Valentine, Black Tambourine, The Germs, and C86 bands are very important as well.

TDOA: I know that you perform acoustically sometimes. When writing songs, do you generally write your music acoustically or electric?

LR: Well actually, the gig we had on Thursday (6-03) it’s the first acoustic one. We’re including friends that play ukelele, mandoline and violin as well. So, it’s a whole new Robertas twist. We love how it turned out. We always write our songs on acoustic, with guitars, and define well the harmonies of vocals. After having songs like this, Ana María and the rest of us go electric.

TDOA: Please tell us the story behind the Back To The End video.

LR: Well it’s not really the official video. Diego (the editor), had some free time and decided to put up a video with one of our songs in it, so I guess this question should be addressed to him, but it’s with real shots that he personally took in Costa Rica (in the coast of Guanacaste) and somewhere in Chinatown, New York. The way we see it it’s like that “summertime” air the song has. He translated it to people in pools and kids playing, nostalgia, something like that.

TDOA: Who did the artwork for the Cry Out Loud EP? We love the look of it!

LR: We have a very talented friend called Fabrizio Durán. He’s responsible for the grapefruit art and all the typography was handmade by Lola, which we normally use for our stuff. She’s a very talented artist too!

TDOA: I think that in America and in Europe, we have the obnoxious perception that we are the only parts of the world creating great “alternative” music. Yet, we have interviewed bands like The Ganjas and now yourselves who live in Central/South America. Can you tell us about the music scene in Costa Rica?

LR: There are lots of bands here and some great ones such as Detectives Salvajes, Paprika, TGW, etc; but just a few places to play and if you play more than twice in a month people will get bored of you. That’s the scene.

TDOA: Have we evolved beyond the point that being an all-girl band matters? Do people in Costa Rica care about such things or do they only care about the music?

LR: Yes, we think our music is the primary thing that people like. But of course, being an all-girl-band, generates more attention. Latin American countries, most of them have a stronger chauvinist culture than others, so it’s been certainly a shock for Costa Rica’s local music scene, but lately, people have been listening more to our music and we’ve seen more support as well.. At the beginning it was harder.

TDOA: A bit of politics, please. Do you perceive there to be any change in attitude towards the U.S. under the Obama administration, now that Bush is (thankfullly) gone?

LR: Hmm.. as Costa Ricans, he haven’t felt any change at all. We are very focused on the national political matters that our country is going through. We just had a new president elected (the first woman in Costa Rica’s history) and it’s hard, our national political overview has always been rough. So, it’s not that we don’t care about U.S politics, but there is so much going on nationally, that we don’t really know or have felt those changes.

TDOA: What’s next for the band? Any plans to come to the U.S. to perform?

LR: Lots of plans! We’re working real hard to arrange some shows in the US and some other places. We’re also working on some songs that we’ve had for a while.

Visit the band on MySpace here.

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