It’s 11:30 am on a Thursday, and paella and sangría is for breakfast. That’s because Spanish band of the moment, Hinds, is about to play its third gig at SXSW. Although their album won’t come out until the fall, these four girls have created enough buzz to land them 16 shows in Austin, followed by a tour that will take them to California, New York, and then Europe. They are young, ages ranging from 19 to 23, have only recorded a handful of songs, but the band members are walking around the music festival like they own the place, smiles all around.
Spending the day with them, I see as Carlotta, Ana, Ade and Amber constantly get stopped and praised by music executives, fellow Spanish musicians, and journalists. You can tell they are starting to get used to the attention, which has been growing since they put a demo on Soundcloud last summer. Everyone from Rolling Stone to the NME has noticed them. It makes sense. They’re so damn irresistible.
Ana, 19, is the youngest in the band but has a commanding presence.
Carlotta and Ana are BFFs and started the band together, originally under the name Deers.
Ade was a guitar player, but Ana and Carlotta gifted her a bass on her birthday last year so she would join the band.
Amber has been playing drums for 9 years. She’s the most experienced musician in Hinds.
Once they hit the Sounds of Spain stage at SXSW, halfway through their first song I realize they aren’t just irresistible, they sound really good. Any doubts that their music wouldn’t translate well from YouTube to live performance dissipated as quickly as I finished my first glass of sangría. Somehow, four girls from Madrid that sing in English have developed a sound that combines 60s surf rock and garage rock that feels contemporary and all their own.
In their very short career, Hinds have played enough shows to be confident yet still be excited to play to a small crowd. On stage, the charismatic Carlotta does the talking. Through her Spanish accent, she riles up a crowd even though it’s barely 1 pm, it’s hot, and everyone is probably hungover. The rest of the girls take her lead and once they start playing, the energy doesn’t drop for a second. Hinds have to cut the set short because it’s getting too hot in the tent, handling this hiccup like total pros and with giant smiles on their faces. The crowd is so endeared by them that no one minds. Their last song “Davy Crockett,” a cover of English band Thee Headcoats, rocks so hard it’s impossible to complain.
This is when it hits me that I’ll probably never be able to see Hinds play for free in a tiny tent again. Next time will probably be at a massive festival; surrounded by thousands of fans singing along to “Bamboo.”
Fittingly, the girls received a copy of Kim Gordon’s “Girl in a Band” as a gift right before their gig.
Over lunch after the show, Hinds tell me their back story, which is equally surprising as it is obvious. Less than two years ago, Carlotta and Ana didn’t know how to play the guitar. They went on vacation together to Denia, a beach town in Spain. “There just happened to be guitars there and we started strumming them and singing along,” says Carlotta. “That’s where it started.” Ana, nodding her head, adds: “Once we got back to Madrid we thought, that was awesome, let’s keep doing that.”
It was as simple as that. Yes, they spent countless months rehearsing, writing, messing up, and rehearsing some more, but it seems like everything has come naturally to the girls of Hinds.
They simply had the guts to go for it.
Instead of deciding on things, the members of Hinds just do things. They started singing in English, instead of their native Spanish, just because. And chose their original name, Deers, just because. (They were legally threatened by another band with a similar name so they changed to Hinds, or female deer.) They don’t make the mistake of taking themselves too seriously. When they mess up on stage, they just laugh it off. It’s an attitude that is completely void of pretension and is refreshing rock n’roll.
One decision that they did make deliberately: being a girl band. Ana and Carlotta were desperately looking for a drummer when a few gigs in Madrid made it clear that their songs were missing percussion, so they searched online. They knew it needed to be a girl because, as they explained to me, adding a guy to the mix would completely change the band’s vibe. In a very girl power moment Ana says: “Yeah, and if we had two guys playing drums and bass for us, people would assume they wrote the songs. People always assume the guys are the writers and it’s not true at all.”
Amber kills it on the drums.
To describe Hinds’ live performances in one word it would be: fun. They are there to have a good time and take you with them. If you watch their homemade tour videos online and follow their social media accounts, where they give a play-by-play of their adventures, you see that they are having too much damn fun. Don’t watch them unless you want to get extremely jealous and/or want to tryout for the band.
Another thing you can’t separate from their identity is their city. Except for Amber, who is from Pamplona, they are all from Madrid and have no intention of leaving. “The more places we travel to, the more we love Madrid,” says Ana.
Everything has happened very fast for Hinds, but with their phones and their hearts they are constantly connected to home. Going back to Madrid in April after this American debut will undoubtedly give Hinds time to digest the whirlwind year they’ve had and give them the fire to record an incredible debut album.
Before we finish our lunch, I ask them a few quick questions to which they answer without missing a beat. Some of their favorite acts at SXSW were Leon Bridges, Shura, Odesza, and Twin Peaks, to name a few. Who would you love to go on tour with? “The Black Lips.” Who would be your dream collaborator? “Kendrick Lamar.”
And with that display of good taste, they are off to their next gig. And each show is only going to get bigger.
Hinds are currently on tour in California and will be in New York City next week. Get details on their shows here.
Here’s a music video we shot with Hinds at SXSW with two disposable cameras and one crazy idea:
All photos by Elisa Rodríguez-Vila
Elisa is a designer & illustrator that writes (and doodles) about pop culture, women, diversity and all things art. She is the human behind Fusion’s Instagram account and Elvis Presley is her spirit animal.