Talk about girl power! A year after young punk rockers The Linda Lindas went viral for their powerful performance of their original tune “Racist, Sexist Boy” at the Los Angeles Public Library, the group — which proudly touts the members’ “half Asian / half Latinx” heritage on its social media accounts and website — has found success that even the wildest daydreams during class couldn’t imagine would come so quickly.
Drummer Mila de la Garza (11), guitarist Lucia de la Garza (14), bassist Eloise Wong (13), and guitarist Bela Salazar (17) have since signed a record deal with Epitaph, sold out L.A.’s legendary Troubadour, appeared on James Corden and Jimmy Fallon’s late-night shows, played NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, and released debut album Growing Up. Not to mention, they’ve been named one of Billboard‘s 21 Under 21 for 2022.
Oh, and rather than the usual family vacation or summer camp most kids their age do during the break between school years, the hitting the road on tour. The Linda Lindas are set to open for Japanese Breakfast and do a mini European tour, and have booked festival gigs such as Primavera Sound and Riot Fest, and more.
Ahead of their busy summer, Billboard caught up with the band to talk about their debut album and newfound success.
1. Where are you in the world right now, and what’s the setting like?
Lucia: I just finished dinner, so now I’m sitting on the couch in the living room with Mila.
Bela: I’m in my room, sitting at my desk. Procrastinating on my homework.
Eloise: I just finished my homework, too. On to band stuff!
2. What is the first album or piece of music you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?
Bela: I bought myself the first Pretenders album on vinyl.
Eloise: I bought a 5-6-7-8’s 7” single and Shonen Knife 8” single!
Mila: Lucia and I need to get our record player fixed!
3. What do your parents do for a living, and what do they think of you becoming musicians?
Lucia: For Mila and me, our dad is a music producer [Grammy winner Carlos de la Garza], and he used to be in many bands when he was younger. So he’s been very supportive! My mom doesn’t play any instruments, but she is just as supportive and helps out with a lot of band stuff now, and she used to work in fashion with Bela’s mom, which is how we met!
Bela: My mom is a designer and my dad does visual effects. They were honestly super cool with me playing music since they love art so much themselves!
Eloise: My mom is a graphic designer and my dad is a writer. They’ve always been good at being super supportive of me doing whatever I want and immersing me in DIY culture, so they took my being a musician well.
4. What’s the first non-gear thing you bought for yourself when you started making money as an artist?
Bela: I bought myself an old SLR film camera!
Lucia: I don’t think I really bought anything, but we go vintage shopping a lot!
Mila: Also get a lot of boba …
Eloise: I bought earrings for the band.
5. If you had to recommend one album for someone looking to get into punk music, what would you give them?
Bela: Bad Brains’ Yellow Tape.
Mila: The Muffs’ self-titled album.
Lucia: Comfort to Me by Amyl and the Sniffers.
Eloise: Confines of Life by the Neighborhood Brats.
6. What’s the last song you listened to?
Bela: “Californication” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Lucia: “Let It All Go” by Francis of Delirium.
Eloise: “Swish and Spit” by Cher Strauberry.
Mila: Not sure, but probably something by Paramore or The Regrettes.
7. Who are your musical influences?
Lucia: Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Mannequin Pussy, The Breeders, St. Vincent, and Orla Gartland.
Mila: Paramore and The Regrettes.
Bela: Julieta Venegas, Rosalía, and Biela.
Eloise: Redd Kross, Adolescents, The Go-Go’s.
8. If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
Bela: Lauryn Hill.
Mila: The Go-Go’s.
Eloise: Yoshitomo Nara.
9. What are your career goals?
Bela: Travel the world.
Lucia: Make more music, meet more people!
Eloise: Keep doing what matters to me and keep having fun.
Mila: Do a cartwheel every day.
10. “Racist, Sexist Boy” really blew up! Has the subject of your song heard it yet? If so, what was his reaction?
Mila: Eloise and I wrote the song together after my experience at school. But we don’t know if he heard it! If he did, he probably doesn’t even know it’s about him.
Eloise: And we don’t care! It’s not about him any more.
11. How has school changed for you since “Racist, Sexist Boy”?
Lucia: It’s pretty much the same for me!
Eloise: Yeah, same here.
Bela: I’m a senior, so whatever!
12. You recently played Tiny Desk Concert. What’s a dream event you’d like to perform at?
Lucia: All of us want to go all over the world!
Eloise: And I want to play Gilman Street [in Berkeley, CA].
13. What message would you like your fans to take away from your debut album?
Lucia: You never stop growing up, but that’s not a bad thing.
Eloise: Cats are great.
Bela: I just hope you like it!
Mila: Me too!
14. What’s your favorite song from Growing Up, and why?
Eloise: They’re all fun to play, so it’s hard to decide. I will say that I am especially proud of the bass lines in “Talking to Myself,” “Fine,” “Nino,” “Remember,” and “Cuántas Veces,” though.
Lucia: “Oh!,” because we all wrote it together.
Bela: “Why,” because it’s so much fun to play live.
Mila: “Racist, Sexist Boy” is always fun, too!
15. Aside from K-pop, there isn’t much Asian representation in music in the U.S., especially in rock and punk rock. With May being AAPI Month, how do you hope The Linda Lindas might change this?
Mila: Maybe we’ll inspire more kids to try?
Eloise: Or get more parents to expose their kids to cool music?
Bela: How about more adults getting into it?
Lucia: Yeah, why is it always on us kids?
16. Are there causes or charities you’re involved with that you’d like people to know about?
Lucia: All of us have worn shirts by Tees 4 Togo, which is an organization run by Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill, and the Peace Sisters organization. They raise money for girls in Togo to get healthcare and an education. And all you have to do is buy a cool T-shirt!
Eloise: Linh Le from Bad Cop Bad Cop makes these Bassists Against Racists tees as well, which helps raise money for BLM and other anti-racist organizations around the world. There’s one with me on it!
17. What’s your favorite place to listen to and experience music?
Bela: I use Spotify.
Lucia: Sometimes I use Apple Music and sometimes I use Spotify, depending on what I’m listening to or what I have in my queue.
Eloise: Going to shows or playing records and making mixtapes.
Mila: Band practice.
18. What’s the best business decision you’ve made so far?
Bela: I don’t know!
Lucia: I don’t know either, but all the people from the label, management, and booking we’ve been working with so far are so amazing and supportive, so some decision-making must be working!
Eloise: Getting snacks. Also drinking hot water. Hot water is good. Does that count as a business decision?
Mila: Going with the flow.
19. Who has been your greatest mentor, and what was the best advice they gave you?
Lucia: We have so many amazing and supportive mentors. Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast is our band mom — or “momager” — and she’s always telling us how important it is to take care of our mental health. So sometimes we take breaks and go to Color Me Mine together!
Eloise: Adam Pfahler from Jawbreaker told us to not obsess or stress over when this moment will end, but enjoy it while it’s happening. He also invited our band to play with them in New York and L.A.!
20. One piece of advice you’d give to your (even) younger selves?
Lucia: I would tell myself that everything changes, and to just take everything one step at a time
Eloise: Write a journal because things go by so fast. I still haven’t actually gotten used to doing that yet, so I guess this is advice to my current self, too. Hopefully this will only be to my younger self by the time this is published.
Bela: I mean, I’m still pretty young. Ask me in, like, five years.
Mila: And I’m only 11. Ask me in 10!