Ballbusters. Not ladylike. This is how some poeple have referred to the Brazilian (we coul say Crossover) Thrash Metal band formed entirely by women ESKRÖTA. We are going to use it from sarcasm, to turn it around and try reduce the impact of this patriarchal way of refering to them, laugh at the canons of what society considers «acceptable» and at gender roles. Because they were precisely formed to spread a solid feminist and antifascist message, that has turned into flesh in the form of two short-length releases. They are women, they hail from the suburbs of Sao Paulo and scream they anger in the form of Thrash Metal with Hardcore nuances. That says it all. Today we touch on important topics such as the rise of fascism in their country, in Metal or sexist episodes they have experienced first hand with their guitar player and vocalist Ya.
– Hello and, first of all, thanks for taking your time to answer to our questions. How’s everything going in the band’s camp?
Hi Queens, we’re glad to be in touch with you. Thank you!
– To begin with, what was the motivation of forming ESKRÖTA, a band with such a political/social message? And what does the name of the band represent?strong
Tamy (bassist and backing vocals) and me have been friends since 2012, when we played together in a death metal band. So we always thought about uniting our ideas together again. We found Miriam (drummer and also backing vocals) in 2017 and decided that was the perfect moment ‘cause Miriam is engaged in social and political causes too. The name “Eskröta” arose from our feminist side, we don’t care about what society considers to be correct girls’ actions, we’re “Eskröta”, that’s why they call us a “ball-busters” or “rough girls” or “not ladylike” and all those words and expressions that punish women for a behaviour that is acceptable in men.
– You have just released the «Ultriz» split with AFRONTA, how is its feedback being thus far?
We’re shocked because we’re two feminists bands rising together in the scenario of metal in Brazil. The girls are loving it and the boys have to listen and to understand the message. Some of them support us, others just ignore us. So we’re happy to be releasing this material with such a strong message.
– How did the whole idea of the split happen?
Dejane (guitar player of Afronta) and me love L7, so we were always in touch. She’s from Fortaleza, that is far from São Paulo, so our contact happened just through the internet. When she announced Afronta on social media, I went crazy about it and the idea happened fluidly. Then in April 2019 Eskröta played with Afronta in Fortaleza and we made a deal. “Ultriz” means “avenging woman” and that’s our motivation, to spread lyrics about the women’s struggle.
– Are there any other Metal bands in Brazil with a strong feminist message?
Yes, of course. We have a lot of girls doing this amazing work. Not just in heavy metal, but also in Indie, Pop, Punk… There are girls everywhere talking about several alarming issues, like “Sapataria” that deal more with lesbian survival in Brazil. Unfortunately we don’t have the media on our side, so we resist in the underground.
– At the time of working with other bands, be it for splits or bands you share stage with, is it important for you that share your same values?
We prefer to play with bands that agree with our values, feminist and antifascist. We don’t have any desire in sharing stage with nazi or sexist bands, when it happens we feel vulnerable and uncomfortable and we don’t want to have to run from a fight. So it’s hard, when the alarm is rised about this kind of bands, we just try to take them out of the cast and expose them on the Internet, because we fight for basic human rights and they’re against them, and that is not acceptable.
– «Ultriz» is your first release since the «Eticamente Questionável» EP released last year. How has the band evolved? Did that EP open new doors for the band?
Yes, in this last tour we played «Burn the Poor» and «Playbosta» and the crowd was eager for more thrash metall riffs which we then presented on «Eticamente Questionável». So «Ultriz» is the middle in a path to bring a more professional work and more thrash songs and this release already opened the door for new festivals and a new tour for the next album.
– I ask so because even you have been around for just a couple of years you have played a lot of gigs and festivals in Brazil.
Back in 2012, if someone had told me that I would be travelling so much with a feminist band in 2019, I would have never believed it. That’s a remarkable moment for us as women and musicians and we’re enjoying all the opportunities.
– In fact I have seen you have played at women festivals or events organised by women mostly. Are there much feminist collectives in Brazil right now?
We have met a lot of girls and collectives in these last two years. I can say that there are much more girls producing gigs, taking pictures and playing than you would imagine. This is being more public in the last few years, but we know a lot of them still remain in the underground scene doing it just for passion.
– Talking about such, there are generally no women or not enough at your average Metal shows. From the point of view of a musician, what actions should we all take to start changing this? And what actions should artists invited to play at these festivals should take?
We’ve seen there are much more women at shows, but we know that we can do better. Actions like accepting babies at shows. It brings more moms. Or to offer a ride for women that live in the suburbs and don’t have money to pay for Uber or don’t feel safe going on their own. We believe that the union among women will make our life and the scene better.
– You seem to keep a DIY/subculture way of doing things, as for instance the split was released by an independent record label. How important is this for ESKRÖTA?
The labels that support our work have been amazing so far. When you’re a woman doing any kind of art/culture, you already know that it’s gonna be a lonely road. We don’t have the media working in our side, we have to face the toughest criticism… so to be independent is natural for us. We’re working with incredible people that believe in us and in our values.
– You are openly a feminist band. Being part of a very masculinized community as it is the Metal community, have you had any hindrances due to this?
We have witnessed several episodes of sexism. A woman was assaulted during one of our shows. We stopped playing immediately, but the aggressor was protected by the owner of the venue. And things like that keep happening. In another gig, we were saying things like “Nobody can speak for me as a woman” and a guy took off the microphone and started talking a lot of sexist bullshit. This is sad but encourages us to do more and more.
– Anyway in your music (with its roots on Thrash Metal) you also throw elements from Punk, Crust, Hardcore, so I assume that makes you be part of different scenes. Do you think your message and the band is better accepted in other communities outside the Metal scene?
The hardcore scene embraces more the antifascist movement. So we’ve been also embraced by this crowd. The Metal scene is more “traditional”, so it’s harder to get to a place to talk about feminism and antifascism. But we do it anyways, ‘cause the women that listen to classic metal are asking for shows with bands formed by girls (Nervosa are the most clear example) talking about their realities. But yes, in the punk and hardcore communities we don’t feel so much stress like we do at heavy metal concerts.
– I won’t ask if you are treated differently because you are women or if things are harder for you because you are women, we already know the answer to both is YES, all women are treated differently in different contexts, but a lot of people still refuse to accept this so, are there any experiences you have been through that could serve as an example of this?
Well, in my previous example, the guy that took off my microphone, he would never do this with a band of men. First, because he probably wouldn’t feel offended and secondly, this kind of people are cowards, they fear men and don’t respect women. We receive comments about our bodies all the time. This f*cking disgusting.
– I guess your idea has always been to be a band formed only by women, right? That is already sending a message.
Yeah! We feel safe together, we feel stronger together. We can show our potential in a true form without feeling ashamed of being who we are.
– In Brazil you are now unfortunately in a tough political situation with this rise of fascism. How much anger does this make you channel through your music? Or how much impact does it have in your music and lyrics?
We feel so angry about the political questions. I remember clearly the day that Bolsonaro was elected, we were about to play and when we knew, Tamy and I started to cry a lot. He’s depicted as “The Devil” in the covert artwork of «Ultriz».
– Also it’s specially difficult with the Amazon fires, another proof of the wild capitalism that rules the world. To what conclusions does this make you come to?
We’re in a system of capitalist maniacs and all the fascists come together to make a happy party. In the background we have kids dying, Amazônia on fire, women being discriminated but they don’t care… these aren’t their problems. They care about the money and moralism. So we need to resist.
– This fascism has a lot of tentacles and has even spread to Metal. Lately the Metal scene is more full of bigotry than ever, or at least bigots and fascists are making themselves more visible and, while most listeners accept this as a normal situation, also claim «politics shouldn’t be mixed with music». What are your thoughts on this aspect of today’s Metal scene? How necessary do you think is to make a stand and take actions even is it’s just by writing lyrics that raise a middle finger to bigotry?
When someone says “politics shouldn’t be mixed with music” we just laugh, because they don’t know about the history of metal. We come from the suburbs, we are the counterculture. So this is already a political act. I don’t judge bands that talk about demons and stuff, because this is essentially against the Christian and regular way of life. But “Eskröta” decided to talk about our existence, our reality as a way to protest.
– So how do you think this message you are trying to communicate fits in the current Metal scene?
We need to talk about economics and social issues, if we do it through our music a lot of people will relate and look for more. Music has this power of being easy to understand, it reaches more people and we’re in the metal scene to do this.
– And what do you think is the reason why hardly any Metal artists take a stand? Are they afraid of losing their position and privileges maybe?
Of course. If the common sense is working, why change it? A band that writes lyrics about fighting against the system and sexist issues, has to stick to their values and extend the arguments through their entire lives. This means you won’t be invited anymore to play certain shows and there will be fake news about you. That’s the game the other side plays.
– And finally, what are now your near-future plans?
We’re writing our first full album and we want to tour through Latin America. We’ll always be open to spread our message to every girl that listens to us with hope and anger. That’s our plan.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Thank you so much, I hope my English won’t be hard to understand. For all the girls in the world, keep playing and resist, we’re by your side. Thanks for the opportunity.