Nine Songs: Hinds' Ana Perrote
For Ana Perrote, talking about her favourite music is something she clearly cherishes.
Whether that's the guitar bands she religiously followed on Californian label Burger Records or listening to the classic sounds of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong on long car journeys with her friends in Hinds, Perrote prioritises how music makes her feel, rather than whether it's cool or current.
Before we dive into the key songs in her life, Perrote tells me that in her early teenage years living in Madrid, she struggled to find kindrid spirits with similar musical interests. “In general, liking this kind of music in Spain, you’re in a minority. The garage rock and indie music scene is pretty small and it’s mainly downtown, and I didn’t live downtown. So I saw and heard most of it from my computer to begin with.”
It’s hard to believe that Perrote, who is about to release a third album, The Prettiest Curse, with Hinds, was once like many of us, sitting alone in her bedroom, stuck to a screen and yearning to connect with someone through music in real life. Fortunately, when she met her future bandmate Carlotta Cosials - who talked us through her Nine Songs the day after I speak to Perrote - and who she affectionately refers to as “CC”, playing and eventually writing guitar music became a way of life.
Even after their traumatic second gig together, which Perrote says was "so bad that we didn’t even have to talk about it, we literally stopped playing", their pair stuck to the idea of being in a band again, because ultimately, making music together made them happy.
Despite being in lockdown in Madrid when we speak, Perrote is optimistic and easy-going, joking that Friday “still feels like Friday” even in these restricted circumstances. Of her Nine Songs selection she explains “I’ve picked a lot of songs from our beginnings.” And what idyllic beginnings they are. From nostalgic holidays going to the beach and singing Bob Dylan covers with CC, to touring America and guitar shopping with The Virgin’s Donald Cumming. Perrote certainly seems to have found her people now.
"I think this song especially is the reason why we started making music. CC and I started the band by going on a trip to the beach on holiday together in her Mum’s big van. We really loved music but we didn’t really know how to play, so we were like ‘Hey, let’s learn!’
“This was one of the first songs we started covering and we became absolutely obsessed with it. I remember swimming at the beach, and as we were swimming, we’d be rehearsing the lyrics to “It Ain't Me Babe”. We played it on the beach for so many hours that we had the tan lines of the guitar and the straps as well.
“It was the first song where we split the vocals and experimented with tempo. Weirdly, the cover we played was very Hinds-like already, with its tempo changes and allowing space for two guitars and vocalists. I’ve never been obsessed with anything like that before, and we’re still obsessed with this music now.”
“When Hinds were a two-piece, we only played cover songs. That phase only lasted for about a year and we only played two shows. The second one was so terrible that we never played again. It wasn’t like ‘The band is over’, the show was so bad that we didn’t even have to talk about it, we literally stopped playing. It was the elephant in the room, and we were so self-conscious about how bad it had been. We never talked about it, but CC and I kept being friends and hanging out.
“Davila 666 are Latin American, so they sing in Spanish. They were one of the first bands that we started listening to that gave us the idea that we could maybe be a band again. We have a really fun video of us just playing at home and recording ourselves to announce the release of the first two songs we had ever released, and in that video you see us playing “Muy Chistoso”. We needed a rhythm section and a hi-hat, but instead we used a tambourine, so we’re just these tambourine women trying to multi-task and do everything on our own. I still love that song for these reasons.
“As well as Davila 666, we also started covering bands that were mostly coming out of California, mainly bands that were on Burger Records’ label. It was us discovering people doing something we liked nowadays. Up until then, we were listening to older stuff like Bob Dylan and The Sonics, the classic bands that you don’t look at and think ‘Oh yeah, I could be like them’, you know?
"These bands seemed like normal people making music in their bedrooms. They had a lo-fi DIY sound, and it felt like it was something that we could achieve. It made us realise that you don’t have to be Bob Dylan to make a good song!”
“Holograma” was the reason we came back after that traumatic show and started writing our own songs. Los Nastys are a band from Madrid and we were friends with them already. They are kind of like our big brothers, our mentors. They have seen us literally grow up as a band.
“Benicàssim festival is a really big deal in Spain, so when Los Nastys played it for the first time, as fans and friends of them it was the biggest deal! I remember the whole community of Madrid musicians were freaking out and we had a convoy of three cars all going together to support each other. It was so overwhelming to think that they were a part of something so big.
“When we came back from that trip we were full of excitement and possibility. We felt like the whole world was open to us and our friends in Madrid. It was summer, and when it’s summer when you’re younger you literally have nothing to do but hang out, so CC texted me and was like ‘I’ve been watching videos of when we used to play together years ago, maybe we should hang again and play together again? The videos are super cute and they’re making me feel a lot of things!’ and I was like ‘Of course!’
“So I drove there because of that excitement from seeing Los Nastys and we did an acoustic cover of “Holograma”. We posted it online and suddenly all of our friends started appreciating it and thought it was really cool. It gave us that push to come back as a band. Our cover is very different, theirs is very garagey, ours is a little more romantic. The video is still on YouTube actually.”
“This is more of a personal song for me, I was so obsessed with it when I was a teenager. I don’t really enjoy researching and finding new music, everyone around me is super cool and they know loads of new bands and they love it, but for me I feel like it’s a really annoying thing to have to do!
“A lot of the time I ask my friends for playlists, because it’s such a huge world of music I don’t know where to start. I know three people who I have similar taste to and I’m like ‘Please send me music, I’ve been listening to the same records for years!’
“This was one of those songs. I was obsessed with The Sonics’ songs in general in my teenage years, and I remember it kind of felt like the soundtrack of the moment when I met CC. My boyfriend at the time went to my school, and he was in a band with a guy who was dating Carlotta, so that’s how we both met.
“She was into all this older rock music, which was kind of what The Sonics played, so this band reminds me of being in school and meeting this super cool girl who was older and was already in Uni. She hung out with bands like Los Nastys, and I remember getting excited at the idea of hanging with people who liked music as much as me.”
“I just really, really love this song. “Naked Kids” is from one of their old records Hung at Heart. It reminds me of driving to festivals and being on the road with CC when we used to go to festivals for fun or go on holiday.
“The Growlers have always been a really cool band that I love, and I really admire what they’ve been doing lately too. They’re from that wave of garage and guitar bands coming out of California, but on their last record they went more disco and pop, much more commercial. I think in that garage world there’s a lot of judgement about polished or commercial sounds. There’s this idea that you might not be ‘cool’ anymore, because your music isn’t distorted as fuck, and you can actually understand the lyrics.
“It’s something that sticks with you very strongly, because you want to be part of that garage community, their opinions matter the most to you and they’re from people you admire. So if they’re saying stuff like that, then how do you even go anywhere musically that you’ve not already been?
"I think The Growlers are a really good example of a band that started one way and moved somewhere else without losing themselves. I think it’s good to have a big repertoire of different sounds.”
“I remember the first time I listened to The Virgins’ self-titled album and it really shocked me. I didn’t have Bluetooth in my car back then, so I borrowed CC’s CD. I listened to it driving to Uni and I was like ‘Oh my God. What the fuck is this?’ I completely fell in love with the sound and the vibe of the songs. Back then, I used to just listen to music, I didn’t think ‘Where is this band from? Are they touring? Am I going to see them?’ Music was just something I had from strangers and it was my little treasure. That was it.
“Many years later, once Hinds were a full band, we met the guys from Public Access T.V. and we went on tour with them. We were hanging out one night and they told us that they all met because they used to be session musicians for The Virgins. I remember mine and CC’s heads exploding! We were asking them so many questions - we went nuts.
“When we were playing in New York - which is where Public Access T.V. and The Virgins are from - and the guys were like ‘Donald Cumming from The Virgins might be coming to the show tonight’, and we ended up hanging out with him backstage! It was the week before Hinds released our first album Leave Me Alone and I remember I was going to buy a new guitar. I asked the guys in Public Access T.V. where to go in New York City to buy a guitar and they were like ‘We know someone who we can ask to come with us’ and it was Donald!
“Back then, I didn’t know much about sound, so when I was choosing my guitar it was very overwhelming. I felt like I was committing to something that I didn’t know if I was going to like, because I didn’t know what I wanted to sound like. It was confusing and scary to make that investment in an instrument. I was picking stuff up and down and Donald came over to me and was like ‘How are you doing? Do you like this?’ and I was like ‘I don’t know! What do you think?’
“I remember he said ‘Do you feel good when you’re holding it? The main reason you pick an instrument is because of how it makes you feel. You have it with you onstage every night. Who cares about the sound? If you’re feeling good, that’s the most important thing’. I was like ‘Okay!’ That was very good, strong advice that I’ve kept with me. Sometimes, you overthink so much because there are so many little details in musical instruments, but if it feels good, then go for it.”
“I went to a French school because my Mum is French, and in the French school system they teach music much later than they do in the Spanish school system. We used to have singing exams and I remember I was the only one in my class who got 10/10 for singing this song.
“The teacher loved me so much and she was so encouraging, but I rejected that support for some reason, maybe because I’m not a singer who has always wanted to sing? I never dreamed about being a singer, so what she said weirded me out a little!
“I remember she got in contact with my parents, because she was organising a choir that was going to go on a theatre tour. She told them I’d be really good for it and my parents were like ‘We’ve had this call from your teacher. She wants you to join a choir, what do you think?’ and I remember I was so overwhelmed that I said no!
“When I think about it, I’m like ‘Why did I say that?’ because now it would be so cool to say that’s how I started singing. I could be like ‘I went on tour when I was 12 years old!’ Usually you’d expect your parents to be like, ‘Oh no, she has to study’ but I remember my parents being totally fine with it. I just said no because I got scared.
“I still really love this song. It’s one of my go-to-songs during soundcheck. So when I sing that onstage now, I always think how it would have felt if I was actually singing this onstage in a choir at 12 years old. But now I’m doing it on my own, in a band that I helped to create, with songs I helped write, which is pretty cool.”
“I really like Kali Uchis whole album Isolation, which came out on the same day we released our second album I Don’t Run. It’s been a good discovery, not because it has massively influenced the new album, but I think it’s been eye-opening to us. She’s doing something that sounds polished, very poppy, and not like ‘a band record’. We really connected to it, and it’s hard for us to connect with something so much that’s not easy to relate to, like another guitar band.
“I think somehow, it’s influenced The Prettiest Curse. We spoke to our producer and we were like ‘There’s this song “Flight 22” that we really love. We can’t do a song like that because it doesn’t make sense for Hinds, but we really like it!’ Our producer was like ‘Most of your songs have a much more energetic tempo, the tempo on Kali Uchis’ song is much slower.’
“After that conversation, we wrote the last song on our album, “This Moment Forever”, with that in the back of our heads. We chilled a little bit more in terms of tempo and made a few things slower. It makes for a very different feeling and a very different album.”
“This is probably one of my favourite songs ever. Forever. I have a really pretty memory of this song. About two years ago, we were on tour in America, playing some of the smaller cities and venues. We got to drive around lots of places that we might not usually get to, places like Niagara Falls, so it felt like we were having this really pretty, natural kind of tour.
“We had one day off and somehow we found these amazing waterfalls, so we spent the day swimming in them and relaxing with Goodbye Honolulu, who are super good friends of ours and who were supporting us on tour.
“We had the dream day that you could never even imagine having on tour. It was the prettiest day you could imagine; outside, sunny, waterfalls. After that, we all went to an Indian restaurant and sat on this big table and had great food, like a massive family. It was a super awesome day. We were an hour away from the hotel, so on that drive everyone fell asleep.
“I remember being super tired and CC was shotgun, so she was DJing. When she played “Cheek to Cheek” I was in the back of the van. It was really dark, everyone around me was asleep and she was playing this beautiful song. I remember being so tired, but because it was such a pretty moment, I would rather be tired and enjoy it, rather than give in to sleep. Every time I listen to this song, it brings me back to that perfect tour day.”