The Aces Talk "Physical" And Making Pop Music That's Profound
How many artists does it take to form the perfect faction? For The Aces, they’ve found their magic number: four. Comprised of Katie Henderson, McKenna Petty, and sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez, this foursome has exploded onto the scene with, until today, just one song (and over one million plays on Spotify): “Stuck”.
Today, we finally have new material to fawn over from this Utah-hailing crew: their latest track “Physical”, which, from our first listen, is already proving to be just as delectable (and inventive) as the first. They’ve found their sweet spot, toeing the line between uber upbeat pop melodies and darker, deeper lyricism, and it’s working. And though it’s near impossible to predict what’s next for this group, one thing’s certain: if the reception for “Physical” is anything like that of “Stuck”, they’re in for one wild ride.
Scratch that. It’s already started.
So you guys have only released two singles, but the reception has been incredible. What’s your songwriting process like, from start to finish?
Cristal: I’m the singer of the band and Alisa’s the drummer, my little sister. We went out to Brooklyn, late 2015 and we wrote a lot of songs with these two producers we work really closely with, and stuck with one of the first ones we wrote with them. So then McKenna and Katie came out to help finish up the song and work on production. So that’s kind of how our writing process works. Alisa and I will write the initial bones of the songs then Kenna and Katie will come on and finish up on guitar parts and bass parts, and just the production side of the things. We’ve mainly been working with these two guys from New Zealand, Dan and Simon, and they’ve been great so they’re the two that we’ve stuck with. So “Stuck” I think we wrote, just the inspiration for it was being in a stagnant relationship, whether that is if you’re in a stagnant part of your life or in a stagnant relationship, where you don’t see it benefitting or hurting your life. It’s this weird space where you don’t know what to do and whether you need to break up or move on, whether or not it’s what you want to do. I think that’s something everyone on this planet has felt that in one way or another. There’s definitely a bit of desperation, and I think we all like that it’s pop and dance-y, but there’s this desperation and a bit of sadness in it, so I think it keeps it interesting instead of like, a curveball lyrically.
Yeah, that juxtaposition of, like you said, the pop music with a deeper message that everyone identifies with, is dope. So I know that you guys have known each other for a really long time, but did you always know you wanted to play together? How did you get to the point of being really serious about the band?
Katie: So Cristal, Alisa, and Kenna started playing when they were really little, like 9 or 10. Then I ended up meeting Kenna in junior high, then we ended up all joining together and we started the band, and played all throughout junior high and high school. And Cristal always wanted to do music, that was her drive, passion, no matter if she was going to do it solo or band, and the rest of us—like I was really into soccer, I was really into the athletic side, and Kenna had a full-ride scholarship to a university, and Alisa was going to get into brain surgery. So we all had different goals until we got to the point the senior year of high school and we all were like, “Ok, are we going to do the band?” And there was one night where I drove over to Cristal’s and I was like, “Cristal, we gotta do this!” And Alisa and Kenna were like, “Yeah, we all really want to do this!” So we all decided to do it really seriously that 2014 year, and we decided to release an EP and we met a bunch of people that really took us to the next level.
Cristal: Yeah, it was just like a gradual progression, and there were people in our hometown where people were like, “You can’t stop your music! You’ve been doing it for like 7 years! If you stopped it’d be such a shame.” And I always thought that, but I was like, “I want the girls to do what they want to do,” but they just came to me that night and it would have just been such a shame if we didn’t push it to the next level. What do you think Ken?
McKenna: I was just going to say, growing up in Utah, the whole music industry is a very foreign world, so it almost didn’t seem like anything to us. So even when we decided we were like, “Well, we’re going for it!” but it was like, what are we going for? It just felt like this dream and it wasn’t a reality, so it was cool when we started meeting the right people and doing the right songs. I even remember one night we all got together and wrote a little statement, like, inventing ourselves.
So what’s like the dynamic of you guys all being really close friends but also working together? How does it all work out?
Cristal: We’re just such good friends, before we even started the band, we were all best friends. So I think that the way we run the business side of things, and the way we write the music, it just all revolves around our love for each other and how close we are. And we never want anyone to feel uncomfortable or that they don’t have a say in stuff, so like, all of our visuals and all of our sings and everything, we run by each other constantly, and make sure to ask, “What do you think of this, or this?” And we all weigh in our consensus. I think it’s a very cohesive and fair relationship among all of us and it’s a healthy one.
McKenna: Yeah, I think we’ve all been working together for so long, we’ve all seen each other in all shocking phases of life. Seeing that we just know each other and understand each other, and we all have very similar opinions on music and life, and a lot of things in general, it really works out really well. I feel like to have already gone through the weird times, now we know each other so close and really well, so it all just works out.
Can you guys tell us about the album coming out?
Cristal: Some time this year is what we know, album-wise. The next single is coming out April 7, which is very exciting, and it’s our first debut with a record label, because we self-released everything before that. So, it’s all exciting, we have another single coming, and pretty quick we’re going to keep releasing more singles and more content, and an album later this year, so possibly an EP before that. So me and Alisa went out to New York just barely for a month and wrote pretty extensively with Dan and Simon, the two producers we’ve been working really closely with, and then we went to LA and worked with a few producers there. So we’re in the process as far as accumulating all the songs that we’ve written the past few years, and then going through them and picking through them with the whole band, and you know, deciding which ones will then make the album. So it’s all coming along!
McKenna: Yeah, I think it’ll be a really fun album to listen to.
And for people who might not have listened to your music before, how would you describe your sound? What makes it stand out?
Katie: I feel like that question is always kind of hard!
Cristal: Yeah, well we’re all inspired by so many different artists and genres that it’s hard to pinpoint sometimes. I think our music is pop songs for sure, I think the melodies are really strong pop song, but it’s covered in a lot of really organic sounds—a lot of guitars, the drums are really present and the bass is really present.
McKenna: Yeah, like alternative pop.
Katie: Whenever people ask for our genre, I say alternative pop. We’re definitely a pop music band, but we’re a band, we’re a full piece band, and I think that’s where the alternative side comes into it.
Dope. Do you guys have any thoughts on your style as a band, and if your music influences that?
Cristal: I think style is super important to all of us. We all enjoy clothes and dressing, especially dressing for stage. We all love that, it’s fun for us. I think all of us have a pretty cohesive style. We’re all in the same realm of style, but we all individualize it, I think. Kenna is a bit more feminine and more in dresses. Katie is more classic, white tee shirt, Levi jeans. Me and Alisa are a little more similar. I’m a bit more tom boy, it’s hard to say, but I think we all like classic pieces like denim jackets, and good boots, and leather jackets, and classic black skinny jeans. We like to keep it to the basics.
Katie: Yeah, we keep our individualism while we’re being cohesive.
Cristal: Yeah, we all really love vintage clothing as well. We’re big on business clothing, so classic vintage tees and all of that good stuff, that’s definitely one of our go-to’s.
Is SXSW kicking off the tour or have you been touring?
Cristal: We haven’t been touring yet.
McKenna: We’re doing more of like little spot shows.
Katie: We’re doing SX, and we’ll start touring more when we have more music released, but we’re still in the process of getting our music out and finalizing that before we start touring and doing shows.
Cool, and last question is, as far as long term vision and for the rest of the year, what are you most looking forward to as a band?
Katie: I think, for me, one thing I’m really, really looking forward to is touring around the country. We’ve been working on the writing process for a really long time and getting our music set, so I can’t wait to release it and let the world hear what we’ve been working on and to start playing.
Cristal: Yeah, I think we’re all super stoked for just the release of everything! Like Kate was saying, we’ve just been working on music for so long, and the visuals, we’re so excited to show the music video and the live footage, just to let the world know. I think with just one single out, there’s so much mystery out there. There’s all these questions everybody has, so I think it’ll be really cool to be like ‘Here is what it is. We’re a four-piece girl band and we all play and we’ve grown up together’ and let our story unravel and let people really hear the music is what I’m really excited about.
Featured image courtesy of Tessa Barton
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