Interview: The Aquadolls talk about The Dream and the Deception, representation, & more!

The Aquadolls are featured on the cover of our August issue!

Interview & photos by Yising Kao

With their own label called Aqua Babe Records, The Aquadolls released their most recent album, The Dream And The Deception, in October 2018, which consists of 19 tracks full of various emotions and honest lyrics. Their musical style is a mixture of a little bit of everything, ranging from 80’s rock to alternative. They’ve played numerous shows and festivals with artists such as Weezer and SWMRS, along with their own headline US tour, and their passion on stage is evident (you’ll headbang for sure). The last time I interviewed them, they were about to release The Dream And The Deception, so I was excited to catch up with Melissa Brooks (lead singer/songwriter), Keilah Nina (keyboard/bass), Jackie Proctor (drums), and Kate Rose (lead guitar) at Vans Warped Tour Mountain View and discuss their music!

You just released a new single called “Suck On This!” Can you tell me about the process of writing it?

Melissa: Yeah! This is the first song that we wrote all together as a band and collaborated on. Usually I do all the songwriting so it was really exciting to get to work with everyone and see what we can do together. It was all streamed from a conversation we were having with Jackie.

Jackie: Sometimes when you're backstage and you're an all-girl band , cause I've been in a couple of all girl bands, people would always say like, “Are you the groupies?” or “Who are you with?” and I'm like, “I'm playing“ so it’s kind of about that.

Kate: I feel like it’s more of our punk evolution like that’s the music we have the most fun playing live with people. It’s so much more fun to see people mosh and dance than like, slowly wave, but we still like doing slow songs. I really like the song and I hope everyone likes it too.

Keilah: This song is the transition song to the new era because there has been a lot of members of the band and this has been the best lineup, sorry! So, this is like the evolution since we’re finding our sound out and this is what embodies it because there are so many genres thrown into the song. This is a new beginning, so I think that’s what the song is.

Congrats on releasing The Dream and the Deception! I remember you were so excited to release it when we did our last interview and it’s so good! How has it been receiving all the positive feedback?

Melissa: Thank you! It’s been really incredible to see how people react to it. That album has so many ups and downs and I feel like there’s a lot of emotions in it, so when I've talked to people who have listened to it, they’re like “There’s a song on there for when I'm feeling like a bad bitch” or “There’s a song on there for when I'm upset and I'm crying, or when I feel like stabbing someone.” I'm excited people get to hear that, and I can put my weird experiences out into the world and people can relate in their own sort of way, so I think it’s really cool.

You guys made a “Euphoria” remix. What inspired you to do that? I love the Alice in Wonderland theme because it fits the song so well.

Melissa: Thank you! I made the remix one day because when we released The Dream and the Deception on CD, it was a remastered version that I remastered from scratch to make it sound better because what's on Spotify is actually unmastered. I wanted to do bonus tracks for it, so one of them was the remix. When I first produced it, it was more of a slow and mellow song, so I wanted to make a more upbeat version.

Your music videos have a certain DIY style, so how do you come up with the concepts of them?

Melissa: I feel like each song has its own weird story and I always have a weird version, and these girls just help bring it to life with their dope ideas.

Kate: The first music video we collaborated on was troubled valentine and we also have the sickest director, Chris. But we’re already planning a new video for “Suck On This” and we want to have the same full story vibes, and we want it to be fun to watch. It’s like a short film and that’s the most fulfilling thing to watch when it has a beginning, middle and ending.

Keilah: I think with The Dream and the Deception, Mel wanted it to be a visual album, so every song does have a specific story and with the videos, it’s very easy to follow what's happening. That’s what we really wanted, to make sure to convey the message through the video and kind of show what she was feeling at that time. Videos are the coolest way to do that.

Melissa to Jackie: What's your favorite video we did?

Jackie: My favorite video we did is troubled “Valentine.”

Melissa: Thank you Jackie.

You just released the music video for “Bleach.” What inspired you to be so brutally honest with your lyrics?

Melissa: Well, if you want the truth, I wrote that song about a person who I dated for a long time and we were in the car together. We were sitting together in the back seat and I saw the reflection of that window. I saw his phone and he was texting girls and snapchatting them. I didn’t say anything. All I did was just write and I wrote bleach like that; I was so pissed. Then I showed it to him and he was like, “This sucks” and I was like “It’s great and you're jealous.”

Well, it’s about him and it’s great. You don’t need toxic people in your life.

Melissa: Yeah, he’s ugly. The song is basically an over exaggeration of all of your anger and emotions and frustration that a breakup can cause you. It’s kind of like a nightmarish dream like I would never do any of those things in the song, like make people drink bleach. It’s more of a metaphor. Heartbreaks are hard and not easy, but a lot of people go through it and you're not alone so know that Aquadolls are here for you.

Jackie: Always spread the love. I'm just thinking about how I've been through breakups and I even listened to The Aquadolls before I was in The Aquadolls during that time. (to Melissa) I would go to your shows and be like “This is so cool” and I totally forgot I had a boyfriend, so I’d just be watching you. So, it was really funny because that makes sense, when you have a song that can convey that, people can connect to it and they won’t feel so alone. That’s what happened to me.

How does it feel to be performing to Warped Tour? Did you guys used to go?

Melissa: Yeah, I've been going since I was 10. My mom would take me until my junior year of high school in 2011. I loved it and it was great. I don’t know, it’s so crazy because I would make my mom take me at 11am right when the doors opened. I would look up to every single band on the roster and listen to them on Myspace. It’s crazy to get to be here full circle and get to have my scene kid dreams come true.

Kate: I've always seen Warped and have been like, “I want to go.”

Jackie: I'm sad that I've never been because we barely got to see any of the bands today, but not complaining because we got to meet so many great people. I wish that I would’ve gone in the past years. I feel like I was a little late to the emo phase.

Keilah: I went to Pomona Warped Tour, like in 2012. It’s just kind of like, you don’t expect things like this to happen which is really cool. Just being here is really nostalgic. I just remember seeing everyone’s pictures and being like, “Everyone's at Warped Tour and you’re going to see your favorite band.” During that time, everyone was emo and it was a place where you could go and be with people that were just like you and escape reality, and make friends that you wouldn’t regularly make, and meet your idols that you adore. Just people coming up to us and saying, “I love you and I've been listening to you for this song.” It’s so crazy because that was me to other people so it’s so surreal. everyone is so sweet, and I haven’t met one weird, mean, gross person.

Kate: I remember growing up and seeing the lineups. Warped Tour is mostly punk and rock and there’s not a lot of women in that genre, so I never even thought about playing these. It’s very rare for women so this is beyond my dreams being a female-fronted band. I'm so glad that doll skin and other female bands are playing because it’s time women show up in punk.

Keilah: It’s definitely time. It’s the last one so I feel like it could’ve evolved to something bigger cause there’s obviously still a long road to go with representation. there’s a handful of female fronted bands playing here, and I know that if it would continue. It’d just get bigger and it would grow, and I think it’s about time for that because a lot of people that come here are women and it’s just nice to see that. People came up to us and were like “We didn’t even know who you guys were. We just heard it was an all-female band, so we wanted to watch you ‘cause we never see that,” so it’s really cool to hear that because it’s something very relatable, not even just in the music world but in real life. There’s not enough representation so I think it’s really cool, even though we’re white and white passing, at least we have a platform that we can talk for everyone that doesn’t have the platform that we do. it’s about time that people start listening to us!

You guys are so inspiring!

All: Thank you!


Favorite song to perform?

Keilah: “Guys Who Sk8,” but before we put that in the lineup, it was “Runaway.”

Kate: Probably “Suck On This” or “Runaway.”

Melissa: We all have the same favorites haha. My favorite’s “Runaway.”

Jackie: “Runaway” or “Suck On This.”

What's the most fun thing you did this summer other than Warped?

Keilah: My boyfriend and I have been going to horror conventions and they start in the summer, so I went to two so far and after tour’s over, I'm going to another one. I went to a Spook Show in La Mirada and I went to this thing called Monsterpalooza in Pasadena. So, I think that was the most fun thing I did. I'm going to midsummer scream in two weeks. I also watched the new Child’s Play. I don’t do anything other than this band so I'm really digging in there!

Kate: The most fun thing I did was quit my job so now I have more free time and more time to practice with my band.

Melissa: Yesterday, we just had fun. We went to San Francisco and did a little photoshoot, and we went to the golden gate bridge and got to go by the water. It was honestly like heaven and it was so beautiful. We went to a really bougie Italian restaurant. It was expensive but it was good so I'm not mad.

Jackie: I went to this really good new vegan restaurant in long beach called Power Plant. it was like the best vegan food I've ever had.

Who’s your fashion influence?

Melissa: Gwen Stefani.

Jackie: Taylor Mommsen.

Kate: Courtney Love.

Keilah: I'm not gonna lie, I have no fucking clue but probably any Tim Burton movie character, but make it fat, ‘cause I think there needs to be more plus size representation because I like to show off my body. Even though I'm not thin, I don’t think It matters so I like to wear whatever I want whenever I want to and show off my jigglyness because it’s cute.

All: It’s sexy!

Keilah: But there’s this girl named Jewel and she’s a mom and she’s goth and plays guitar and has kids. Her name is Jewel Sha’ree Eaves, so her too.

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