Sister duo REYNA are breaking down pop music barriers
The Milwaukee natives dish about their upcoming EP, opening for Kesha and what it means to be women in the music industry.
We’ve seen plenty of sibling groups take on the music world—Aly & AJ, Tegan and Sara, First Aid Kit, and Haim, just to name a few. There’s never a shortage of sisterly love when it comes to these girl groups but it’s time to scooch over and make a little room for another pop perfect sister duo. Victoriah and Hannah Gabriela Banuelos make up REYNA, an indie-pop dream pair that are making waves even in the very beginnings of their career. They’ve wowed critics with their past singles ‘Baby Forget It’ and ‘Cool With It’ that emanate 80s vibes, and it’s no different with their brand new track ‘Heartbeat.’
We got a chance to speak to the sisters about their new song, a highly anticipated upcoming EP, touring with Kesha and what it means to be women in the pop music scene.
For any potential new fans, go ahead and introduce yourselves.
Gabriela: We are REYNA, two sisters making indie pop music out of Milwaukee. We write songs about love, heartbreak and just about anything that we are experiencing.
When did you realize you wanted to make music? Was there a singer/musician you looked up to while growing up?
G: I think growing up listening to bands like Rush, The Who and Genesis really got us into wanting to play guitar and bass. I remember learning songs and pretending to be in those bands. Once we realized we could write songs I think that was the moment we were hooked on music. Then we uploaded a song to a website and it got picked up by MTV Skins and we were like, “Whoa! We can do this!” We’ve been writing music ever since.
We’ve seen quite a few sibling duos in music—what’s it like working with each other? Do you feel you’re able to be more open and vulnerable since you’re sisters? What do you think sets you apart from those other duos?
Victoriah: Being sisters is a strength for us, we have each other’s backs and we feel like we’re never alone in the studio or on tour. We are so comfortable with each other and we can basically read each other’s minds. I think Gab being the frontwoman while playing the bass is something that sets our band apart from other duos. I don’t know how she does it but she’s killing it!
I’m always interested in the writing process behind tracks. What’s that like for you guys? Describe your creative process when it comes to brainstorming lyrics and song ideas.
V: I’m always writing lyrics and thinking of concepts, then I scrap everything and end up writing new lyrics on the plane when we are heading for sessions. I never really use the lyrics once we are in the studio but it’s like I have a whole cloud of lyrics in my head and they just start spilling out while writing music. Once we are in the studio we mostly try to vibe off each other and try not to think too much. Everything starts flowing and we go with what feels good.
You’ve opened for big-name artists like Kesha and CHVRCHES. What was your favorite part of that experience? Anything in particular that you learned along the way that you feel has made you better creatively or musically?
G: These shows are so memorable for us, I think the take away is how powerful these women become once they hit the stage. Kesha and Lauren Mayberry are such powerful women and performers, it was amazing seeing them in their element up close like that. We learned that we should just go all out and be ourselves on stage and not be afraid of the moment.
As women in music, what kind of message or image do you want to put out into the world especially now with movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp becoming more and more prevalent?
V: We try to live our lives by loving ourselves and knowing our worth, as women we think it’s important to do so because it makes us stronger and confident in ourselves. We hope we can encourage all women to be strong and believe in themselves. Movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp are pivotal in our society today in order for there to be change. I am so inspired by all the brave women that are speaking out and the massive wave it has created worldwide. I really think we could change things and make sexual assault a thing of the past.
What’s your favorite song right now? Favorite artist?
V: PS2 by Litany, they might be my favorite artist right now.
G: Hunnybee by Unkown Mortal Orchestra I love absolutely everything about this song, I can listen to it over and over again.
Your new single ‘Heartbeat’ is quite catchy—what’s the story behind it?
G: Heartbeat is about the time my boyfriend and I took a break from our relationship. We were at a point where we weren’t sure if we were ready to commit or call it off. One night he shows up unannounced to my house blasting Harvest Moon in his car. He says to me, “Okay, no more being away from each other.” I wrote this song channeling all those emotions I felt leading up to us getting back together.
Any scoop on your upcoming EP? What can we expect from you in this next year?
V: We are putting out a two-part EP before the end of the year, we are releasing the first part before the end of the year. We want to surprise people and include tracks we have been holding out on. It’s going to be fun to see all these songs out in the world!
Listen to REYNA’s single ‘Heartbeat’ here.