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Kera and The Lesbians

KERA AND THE LESBIANS

Kera Armendariz is the brainchild of LA-based self-proclaimed “bipolar folk” band, Kera and The Lesbians. She is a passionate, raw songwriter, a powerhouse of a performer, badass frontwoman, and one of the most charming personalities in a sea of LA egos and unapproachable demeanors. Over the past few years, Kera and her band have garnered national buzz, reaping fans and lovers of raw, boisterous rock and roll music.  Her highly anticipated self-titled full length debut drops today (!!!) and it’s our pleasure to share some of Kera’s thoughts on the concept for the record, her partnership with her band members, and the vital role music plays in her life.

Kera has been playing and creating music from a young age, which she claims was triggered by her first interaction with an Elvis Presley song. The overwhelming emotions she felt listening to his music with the combination of her love for performing for people, shaped her relationship with the art and her path to pursue it as a career. Originally hailing from San Diego, California, she made the move to Los Angeles four years ago, where she has since been immersed in a community of musical stimulation and collaboration.

“Since we moved out to LA the band has been a project. We moved from San Diego, and that’s where I started to perfect my sound as I played with other people, but you can’t really do anything in San Diego. So it’s when I moved to LA that I took it more seriously, there is so much great talent out here and the competition… it’s good to hustle a little bit.”

The band’s debut full-length is a concept album, in the form of a documentation of Kera’s life journey - growing up, to when she came out to her parents, to present day. It consists of her most intimate and vulnerable words, musical renditions and inspirations; a reflection of Kera’s full artistic control over the project. Her creative process is not one in the same each time, and is constantly evolving, growing and advancing. However, at this stage in her musical career, she is finally at peace and ease with sharing her empathetic and introspective words, music and art that is reflected and cultivated in this record.

“When I write I like to make myself appear more ambiguous… like, a song isn’t necessarily about me, but more trying to get people to understand more empathy towards where my lyrics could maybe relate to somebody else. The newer stuff that I’ve been writing has some more interesting themes… like when I wrote ‘Nailbiter,’ I was using more interesting details to have fun with the lyrics. I try to have fun with it without being too serious, but also showing empathy, it’s complicated.”
“Some songs come easier when I’m just on a whim, and most of my songwriting definitely has a lot of passionate roots about it… like with me me coming out to my parents and how hard that was, there was always that sort of angst in my music. I’m not the best musician out there, but I try to do the best that I can with what I think is interesting.”

The moniker, as attention grabbing as the music itself, is also meant to challenge the audience in the way that her lyrically driven songs do. While Kera doesn’t identify as a lesbian herself, and her bandmates over the years have primarily been male, the alias transcends the literal definition of the label and serves to break sexuality stereotypes. What started as ironic, Kera is now more into the idea of what the word can really mean. Instead of being locked into a certain bubble or category, sexuality should be liberating, especially when combined with the power of music which has the ability to bring people together, rather than keeping them apart. People are going to take away from the band, the music and the moniker what they will, but Kera is going to continue to do music on her own terms.

“There are some songs that encourage you to get out of a funk, which is ultimately what I hope to achieve with my music. It’s been really nice where there are people that are like, ‘your lyrics really spoke to me.’ Which is really encouraging, I like that. But it goes back to hearing stuff that you like, and that’s what’s so beautiful about music. Whether you speak the same language or not, you can still feel something and the energy as well. It’s not solely just about the music, but the words and the energy you put into it, too. The same way you can say ‘I love you’ to somebody and not really mean it.”

Kera and The Lesbians is the type of band that reeks fervor and feeling, and without seeing a live show, it is safe to say you are not getting the entire Kera experience. Fresh off of a tour with BORNS and Avid Dancer, and an appearance at the inaugural female-run LA music festival Girlschool earlier this year, audiences across the nation were introduced to and graced with their explosive performances. Along with best friend and core member of the band, Michael Delaney, together they have been able to hone in on their evolving and dynamic live show. As of lately, they have rotating session players interact with the core group, creating invitations for various talent and musicians to collaborate with the project (most recently featuring LA-based band The Wild Reeds on stage at the Girlschool festival). The reason why Kera thrives in the live element is because of the high standard in which she holds the live experience.

“I’ve been very lucky to work with such musicians who actually get that, I don’t play with just anyone, I play with the best. Unfortunately I’ve played with some people where it just didn’t work out, and they know. I carry my heart on my sleeve, you know. But I’m very lucky to play with people that are attune to it. You can learn the songs, yes, but the second phase after learning the songs is like, ‘dude, interact with me, because this is where it gets fun.’ Let’s learn the music, but now, this is why you’re playing the show. We have to like each other. So if that doesn’t vibe, then I don’t think it’s best for me.”

The self-titled debut album drops today and to celebrate the songs, Kera and The Lesbians will appear with special guests at Basic Flowers tonight in DTLA.

How was the Girl School Festival and how did you get involved?
K: It was so good. Kyle who books the Echo now, reached out to me and said, ‘you should do this festival’. We weren’t getting paid, which isn’t the problem, but I have session players that needs to get paid. I was like, ‘ok, I’ll do a solo show.’ But as I started building with the band, I was like, ‘ok whatever, I’ll just eat it because I want these younger women to see a band.’ We ended up meeting Anna who threw [Girl School] at the Echo at a Dear Boy show, and we got to talking. There are great people that are running it, more women need to be running festivals because it makes the most sense. There was no time where it felt rushed or messy, it was perfectly on schedule, and the energy in all of the rooms were so positive. Very safe. I went Friday and worked Saturday night, consistent great acts. Only the best.

What has been your proudest moment for the project so far and how do you define success?
K: Proudest moment? I think now. I think after the tour I went on, and to take a leap towards something, even if it’s terrifying and you’re not sure if it’s going to do anything, I am at least taking a full leap for music. Because I do believe in the capabilities that I have and I love music, it positively makes me a better person. So just taking that leap, putting out this record. That’s one of my proudest moments, and just getting better at shows. ‘Success is going through failure to failure without losing enthusiasm,’ Winston Churchill. Just quote Winston Churchill.

What are you listening to at the moment?
K: What am I listening to? Podcasts. I don’t listen to music, I like music better when it’s something that I go to recreationally. What podcasts am I listening to? I love TED Radio Hour. I was just listening to ‘7 Deadly Sins’ and then ‘Rethinking Death’ on a hike. I like The NoSleep podcast… I like more of the storytelling ones.

Favorite brunch spots in LA, if you like brunch?
K: Yes, I like brunch. Kitchen Mouse is great. I don’t know if it’s a brunch place, but it’s the best, I’ve been dreaming about it, haha. It’s in Highland Park up on York. I like Fred 62, the Kitchen. And do you ever go to Barbrix? So good.

Bloody marys or mimosas?
K: Bloody marys!