We tend to construe identity as what we are. However, more often, we actively define ourselves by what we’re not — eschewing businesses we don’t support, tuning out the music we can’t stand, avoiding the people we hate. Little wonder, then, that one of Atlanta’s newest and boldest bands, Bitter, can rattle off exactly what they aren’t. Don’t call them a “girl band” — all four members are non-binary and queer. Don’t call them neo-liberal feminists — bassist/photographer Camila Izaguirre and powerhouse singer Maritza Núñez are Latinx, and guitarist Chava Flax and drummer Zo Chapman stand in solidarity with their comrades. Definitely don’t liken them to Bikini Kill — you’d have to be daft to pin any lazy riot grrrl tags to Bitter’s megalithic anthems, sinewy and bloody yet glossed with a deliberate sheen.

With gigs at the Earl under their belt, their debut EP out, and a killer release show to follow tonight, Bitter are on fire right now. So we at Immersive knew we needed to corner them for a chat. And hence, here I am, at the Hodgepodge coffee shop in East Atlanta Village, conducting a rousing 45-minute interview with the band (plus their “band mother,” Abby). And as we discuss dude bros that mansplain Chava’s own gear to them, how group chats have brought them together, and the finer points of intersectional feminism, the reader will note that Bitter certainly aren’t your typical punk band.

So first, if everyone could just introduce themselves — previous or current other projects, day jobs, anything else we should know about you.

Camila: I’m just a student, and I played in a few bands growing up. The most recent project I’ve been in last was My Son Gordeaux.

Chava: I’m a student at Agnes, I’m a senior there. I also work at a Jewish after-school program, as a teacher there. I’m also in a lot of other bands — so I’m in LONER, Newark Wilder, Young Sirens, and Bitter.

Zo: I just have a boring day job. We don’t have to even talk about it. But this is my second project — I’m also in Young Sirens with Chava, and I play drums in other projects. I haven’t really done anything musically before this, so these are my first two big things happening to me.

Maritza: I’m an accounts receivable assistant. I just crunch numbers. I hate it, but it’s what I do. And I go to Georgia State. And this is the first band I’ve ever been in. Besides that, I’ve just done stuff myself.

So how’d you guys meet?

Everyone: Tinder!

Camila: We love to say Tinder, just for the fuck of it.

Chava: Okay, Zo claims that I super-liked them on Tinder. If I did, it was by accident. But our mutual friend told us about each other, and then the night that they did, I happened to super-like Zo.

Zo: I just thought you were cute.

Chava: And I am pretty cute!

Zo: That’s how it happens, though! And you know how it notifies you when you get a super-like? That’s when I liked you back, because I got a notification that you super-liked me.

Camila: Also — this is pretty key, and a cool thing that happens — we were all in a show together, but in separate bands.

Chava: Yeah, Maritza and I, we were playing together in a band — and she saved my life…

Maritza: And I found Chava’s wallet…

Chava: In the street, on the sidewalk after I’d looked for it everywhere.

Camila: Yeah, we kinda stole Maritza.

Zo: Yeah, and originally we matched on Tinder…

Camila: Yeah, we’re basically a Tinder band. That’s actually a term.

Bitter

Credit: José Izaguirre

So how did each of you get into music?

Camila: My parents were always playing music around my house, and then I just picked up guitar and it went from there, I guess.

Chava: So I have a long story, but I’ll try and make it short. So I’ve always been passionate about guitar, but my dad was a professional French horn player for most of his career. He wanted me to learn a lot of music theory before I learned anything else, and he said, “You have to start on piano — and if you do a year of piano, I’ll let you play guitar.” Seven years later, he let me play guitar. And I’ve been playing — it’ll be 10 or 11 years by April. And I’m really obsessed with guitar.

Zo: So I’ve always been into music. I started playing guitar when I was 8 or 9? And then I found, overlapping with that, was my interest in percussion. So I started played the snare drum for concert band when I was in middle school. I was in marching band for two weeks; they gave me a broken drum, and that’s why I hated it! I probably would’ve liked it if I had a working drum — the harness was broken. Anyway, so I had a drum set in high school for a year; that was about it. I didn’t really get my own drum set until about a year-and-a-half ago — that’s what I really consider my start of drumming.

Chava: Also, a super impressive thing about Zo is they hadn’t played a full kit as an adult — you just recently started playing.

Zo: Well, like I said, I had a kit in high school for about a year, that my mom bought for my brother, mostly. But he sucked at drums, so I was like, “This is MINE now.” But we ended up selling it. I was in this little punk band in high school, and we ended up selling the whole drum set for a PA system, which was a horrible trade, I don’t know why we did it. But we really needed a PA. The drummer had his own drum set, so I was like, “I’ll just sell my drum set and we can get a PA!” And then I got really upset, because I really missed the drums. So I finally bought a set in October of 2015, a little bit before I met Chava.

Maritza: I just started playing guitar three years ago, and I guess I really liked Alicia Keys when I was little, so that made me want to sing. I liked to sing when I was little… and now here I am.

Well, since you mentioned Alicia Keys — what have been your other influences, music-wise and non-music-wise?

Camila: Someone else go first…

Chava: It’s a weird question. I like to make things sound different. I do really weird tunings — there’s not a single project that I’m in that uses standard tuning — I’ll create stuff, and then tune — similar to what cellos do. Songwriting-wise, for this band in particular — because the other bands I’ve been in have been very different from each other — I wanted to go for a Joyce Manor vibe on the guitar, so really catchy guitar leads to complement what Maritza was singing. I didn’t want them to be super over-powering; I wanted them to fit very nicely, and come out when they need to.

Zo: All I have to say is what I don’t want to be compared to. Like, when we were trying to write the bio for our band, we just said, “Well, let’s just say that we sound like Bikini Kill.” And it just bothered me, for some reason! We don’t sound like Bikini Kill at all! But I think that a lot of bands that have members that are non-dudes just get thrown into this like, “Oh, if you’re a punk band and you have girls, you’re just a riot grrrl band.” This whole umbrella thing. And then dude bands get subgenres and subgenres and subgenres. But if we’re female-fronted, then, “Oh, you’re just Bikini Kill.” Or Sleater-Kinney. Or Bratmobile. And I love those bands, but we don’t sound anything like those bands.

Chava: And it’s super problematic, because they’re the epitome of white feminism, and very trans-exclusionary.

Zo: And Kathleen Hanna has said things that, even recently, like last year, that I didn’t agree with, about supporting Hillary — but we don’t have to get into that. But I guess my answer to that is what my influences are not.

Fair enough! What about you, Camila?

Camila: I don’t know… I can never think of artists off the cuff. It’s tough for me.

And then you [Maritza] said Alicia Keys… was there anything else you wanted to add?

Maritza: Well, I guess not Alicia Keys, for this band. But the singing thing — I was always interested in Deftones, how the lead singer is really high-pitched in his singing, and hits really high notes, and it sounds very nice, but it’s also rock-ish. And um, Shakira…

Camila: I can just go off that and say that Shakira is my number one influence. Musically and non-musically.

Maritza: But the one that didn’t wear shoes.

Camila: Yeah, like ’90s Shakira. Purple hair Shakira.

Immersive: The name “Bitter.” It’s a very loaded term. I wanted you to expand on why that name for the band.

Zo: I actually came up with the band name — wait, what?

Everyone else: I don’t remember that.

Chava: I don’t remember super-liking you, I don’t remember…

Zo: Well, I have our whole conversation saved, sooooo…

Camila: Just insert a screenshot of the conversation into the article.

[We are interrupted briefly by a passing friend who drops in to say hello. When we tell her we’re in the middle of an interview, she apologizes and ducks out.]

Zo: So I actually came up with the band name. We were talking, and…

Maritza: It was just the three of us, right? [indicating everyone but Camila]

Zo: No, we had Camila.

Camila: Was it a group chat? If it was a group chat, then I was probably in it.

Zo: Yeah. So we had this group chat — and Abby was a part of it, too, it involves a lot…

Camila: It’s mostly memes.

Zo: It’s a meme graveyard, is what it is. But that’s one of the main assets of our band, is we communicate pretty much all day long on this group chat. We’ll send memes, but we’ll also talk about our days, and sometimes send advice. And most of it is just talking about band stuff, but sometimes we’ll talk about relationships, sometimes we’ll talk about, “oh, man, I’m really having a hard day” or something’s going on, and send updates of what’s going on in our lives.

Camila: And send pictures of Paco.

Zo: Yeah, send pictures of our dogs. Yeah, on another note, I feel like Bitter has become a little family, and I feel really close to them, and I feel like the group chat has a lot to do with that. But one night, I was just bitching about something, and — I’m just a very bitter person, so I think I was complaining about some girl that broke my heart — I don’t really remember what I was talking about, but I was just like, “I’m just so bitter.” And then I think someone else said, “Me too!” And then we’re all like, “We’re all just bitter!”

Chava: Also, I love the fact that we can just go on stage and say, “Hey, we’re Bitter.”

Zo: But really, you could just say that the statement is true. We can all agree that we’re just bitter people, and we just have a lot of resentment for a lot of shit that has happened. So that’s my explanation of it.

Maritza: I feel like we’ve all had shit that fucks us over in some way; even though it happened in the past, it stays with us. And we like to bring it out in our music.

Talk about the songwriting process. How does that work? Who does what?

Chava: Maritza basically lays down a foundation for us. I kinda like having acoustic demos before us, ’cause it’s very hard in a small room to hear vocals, and I wanna make sure that anything I’m doing is not super opposite to what Maritza’s doing. Then we’ll come together — Maritza has the songs, and then we’ll write our parts for them. So it’s pretty balanced: Camila’s writing her own bass part, I’m writing my own leads, Zo is writing the drum parts. And sometimes, Mari — with the older songs you had, we were writing to them – and then with “Sorry I’m Late”, that was a really collective effort from all of us.

Zo: Yeah, we kinda did that all together. Especially the organization and structure of the song. We were just coming up with stuff as we were writing it. “Hey, what about this?”

Chava: “And what about gang vocals here?” Yeah, just trying to bounce off ideas. I mean… Maritza is amazing, but whenever we come up with something, I feel very free to just add whatever I want to it, and it’s also this very trusting thing, in that I trust you to write something that’s going to be good with it. And if you have something about my guitar part that you don’t like, I trust that’ll it’ll be best for the song to [take it out].

Zo: That’s really important to accentuate, how evenly spread it is. I played only a tiny part in the other band that I was in during high school. It was so unimportant that I almost didn’t even mention it when you asked about previous projects. But everyone [here] brings just as much to the table as anyone else. You could try to categorize who’s the most important, and I guess it’d be Maritza, but between the three of us, it’s pretty even. Which I think is awesome.

Chava: Yeah, I agree with you — if Maritza was gone, what would be the point? We’re trying to get out the message that Maritza is saying, but that we fully support. Anything that she’s putting out there, we’re 100% behind. So it’s not something that’s like a job. It’s something we’re all very passionate about.

What informs your lyrics? Because many of these do sound super personal.

Maritza: I write all the lyrics. These songs were written from about the age of 15 to now, so they’re about heartbreak — and, as you listen, you’re in love, and then you’re in heartbreak, and then you’re in love — and I’m going to get over this, and be my own person. So it’s really personal, but it’s also very generic. And not in a bad way.

Zo: And very relatable.

Chava: Yeah, it’s not like a machine is popping out [words].

Universal.

Maritza: Yeah, exactly. I didn’t want to say “generic.” That’s what I wanted to do — that I want it to be personal, but it’s not specific, like “we were at the park, on a Sunday,” although maybe you were, but anyway. And it’s cool, because every time I look back at those songs, I can’t relate to when I wrote them. I don’t feel that anymore. But we’re still playing them, and it’s really wonderful, because everyone can now relate to them.

Chava: And I also feel like it’s really accessible to people. There are certain songs where the lyrical format is very straightforward, so it’s very easy. And it also reflects the idea in the music too, like “When You Were Sad”. That’s a very straightforward song, and the lyrics are very straightforward.

Zo: It’s just easy to digest.

Chava: Yeah, it’s the raw feelings of things. There’s anger, and there’s sadness, and there’s pain. And it’s like, “I’m mad!” But then it’s like “I’m angry for these reasons, A, B, C,” and I feel like that song is very good because it punches you in the gut when you start [the album]. But it starts as this very raw thing, but as the album keeps going, it becomes more complex, and then goes into the subcategories of what anger can be.

Maritza: Yeah, and I always want to make people feel valid. Because a lot of these songs are about people making you feel invalid.

Immersive: Yeah, I especially felt that on “Juno”, with that line “Say too much, think too much, love too much.” I feel like that’s an emotion that a lot of people have, where they worry that they’re overexerting themselves and it’s too much for their friends.

Zo: Yeah, that’s the song that I personally relate to the most. I just love that song, because the lyrics really hit home for me. Like I’ve said before, Maritza and I have had emotional pow-wows that don’t really work out, because she says she’s not really feeling those things anymore, but…

Maritza: That’s a funny thing, because I hate talking to people about my feelings. It’s difficult for me.

Chava: And Abby’s like, “uh-huh.”

Maritza: And also, it’s not always straightforward — but it’s also, you see this person who wrote this, and you’re like, “Hey!” So that’s as close as I can get to just [expressing myself].

Bitter Live

Credit: Nicole C. Kibert

I wanted to talk about gear because, for one thing your guitar sounds SO huge. I know that has to be deliberate.

Chava: How much time do you have?

I mean, I have all night! But I wanted to get into this conversation, because I know I’ve been to so many gigs where dudes get together and start talking about gear in a way that…

Zo: Gear bros.

Chava: Oh my god. I can’t tell you the amount of times that — there’s only one pedal board made by any company that is larger than mine. I know, because I’ve researched this. I have it packed. And I have more that I’ve added. My amp is a 1972 quad reverb Fender, which was converted into a twin. And then I’ve had men — while my gear is set up onstage — come up to me, and explain to me how the pedals work, and how a signal chain works, and how a power supply works, and “did you know that if you hit this string, there’s this thing called a pickup, and it makes noise?” And it just drives me wild.

But I do feel like [talk about] gear can really exclude women. I grew up in Memphis, which is very male-dominated. I was one of two women — and both of us were queer — in the underground punk scene in Memphis. She was the one that introduced me to pedals, and the idea that women don’t have to be stuck in folk music. And I really looked up to her, and I’m still good friends with her. And she introduced me to pedals, and I read a lot online, but it was still very hard to have any conversations with men in general about gear.

But I am very proud of my guitar tone, and I try constantly to perfect it.

Zo: Chava built her own guitar!

Chava: Yeah, the guitar that I’m using on this record – I want it to be my signature – but it’s a 1972 Telecaster Thinline Deluxe replica, it took me eight months to build. I started it when I was 17, finished it when I was 18. And I know — I can look at wood grain and identify what it is — and then a guy will come up to me and tell me some idiotic thing that is supposed to blow my mind, that’s normally incorrect, too. Because my thing is, when guys mansplain to me, at least know what you’re talking about. Don’t give me incorrect information. When they give me incorrect information, I usually tear them apart, most of the time. I’ll have my sources ready.

But I obsess over gear — all the time. Before I even started that guitar, I researched everything that would affect the tone, and everything that would affect the playability of it. So I’m very into the science behind everything.

Cool. And are you the biggest gearhead in the group?

[nods from around the table]

Zo: I just try and make sure that my shit doesn’t break when I move it around. As long as it’s still in one piece, then I’m happy.

Maritza: It’s a huge honor to have Chava in the band, because she knows so much. And we’ll have guys come up to us, and be like, “Hey, you wanna borrow our jumbo Orange speaker?” or whatever, and I’ll be like, “NO!” Don’t you see all this?

Chava: I don’t like Orange amps — at all. I think there’s a reason why, when you go to Orange’s website, their top band users are Slipknot and ZZ Top. The most notable musicians of all time only use Fenders — typically Fender twins.

Anyway, I have all my gear already set up on stage, and this guy comes up to me, like, “Hey, if you wanna use my amp or my gear…” And afterwards, he came up to me, and he was like, “Hey, if you ever want an upgrade, I can help you get an Orange amp.” And I was just like — I lost it. Because he’d also been talking to me about pedals and stuff, and he talked to me as if he’d be this amazing guitar player, and then I watch him, and it’s just this chug-a-lug rock music that you would expect to come out of an Orange amp. So it just drove me wild. I just tore him apart on it — and I explained to him every reason why even that particular model he had was not an upgrade.

Zo: We’re not trying to call out any bands in particular in the [scene].

Maritza: I feel like it’s too hard to call out any one band, because they’re all very…

Zo: Oh, yeah?

Chava: But we ARE trying to call out Slipknot and ZZ Top.

Zo: Oh yeah, this’ll be front page news to them.

Chava: I remember leaving from that show in particular and thinking, if this were my first show in Atlanta, I probably would not have been as involved in the scene here. Because I would have been thinking that I was stuck in Memphis still. And not to diss the Memphis music scene, [but] it’s not very accessible to women, it’s not very accessible for queer people, it’s definitely not accessible for people of color. So it’s just very difficult. And I remember being very encouraged at the fact that there are a lot of outlets and a lot of shows [here in Atlanta] that have women in them and queer people in them that aren’t just considered “ladies night” all the time.

Yeah, I’ve definitely noticed that here in Atlanta — that there is so much more diversity here, than in even Athens. You do see some mixed things there, but there’s still almost never [bands with] queer people. But, going off of that — what other problematic things have you noticed here, as a band of [non-binary people], and queers, and people of color?

Maritza: I guess I’m really lenient, but that’s because I’ve dealt with it all my life. A lot of times, I feel like I’m tokenized. Instead of other bands saying, “Wow, your music’s so cool”, the first thing they’ll tell me is, “Oh my god, what kind of lipstick are you wearing?” Or “That Spanish song is so cool!” Which it is, but I feel like, a lot of times, it’s really easy for people to tokenize people of color and talk about that first, and forget.

And there’s very few non-white women or people of color [in the scene]. Most times, we play with cis white dudes.

Camila: Yup. We’re outnumbered.

Zo: I do want to say that — if we’re going to play with a bunch of cis white dude bros, the least they can do is not mansplain to us. I’ve met plenty of nice guys at these predominantly dude bro shows – we’ll talk about gear, and they won’t talk down to me, just “hey, you know, maybe you should give me a helpful tip” and “yeah, let’s jam sometime,” and we’ll get together and talk about gear — and I really like that sort of vibe. It doesn’t have to be so degrading all of the time. Like I said, I have met a bunch of really awesome guys at our shows, and I don’t even like men, but you know, ones that I think are okay. You’re not doing a horrible job of being accommodating.

Chava: Yeah, we know the difference between having a conversation with someone and being talked down to. ‘Cause there are people that I’ve talked to that I’ve really enjoyed talking to about gear, and have been really insightful, are engaging — they’re asking me questions, and I’m asking them questions. At the same time, I’ve never had a non-cis dude talk down to me in a gear setting or a musical setting. It’s guaranteed that there’s a level of respect there. Whereas, with cis men, and white dudes, they’re kinda treading water. I remember a few shows where I placed a few little hints [in the conversation] and trying to see where they stand on certain things.

But I think, for as many [men] that are shitty, there are plenty that are really good. And I’ve been in Atlanta for about four years now, and I’ve been very present — I go to shows, people might not know the bands I’m in, but I’m still going to shows and meeting people. It’s not the best that it could be, and I think, any time you say that something is “the best that it could be,” it takes away the opportunity for progress and growth. So it’s definitely better than it was.

Zo: Dude, that was pretty good.

Maritza: Yeah, I also feel like — that it’s like you said, that people shut it off because it’s not perfect, instead of giving the opportunity for growth. And they want this perfect product, without ever being at level one first.

Chava: It’s a huge operation, it’s a huge system, there’s so many people involved. I’ve definitely learned a ton after coming to Atlanta, and how to be a more inclusionary person, and just a better person in general, and I’ve grown. And if I as an individual can do that, and other people as individuals can do that, then they can collectively do that, too.

Zo: That’s a thing that me and Chava have to keep in mind, as the two white people in a group that also contains people of color — that we have to check that, and keep that in mind.

Camila, was there anything you wanted to add?

Camila: Yeah, I agree with everything they said. I agree with what Zo was saying, that when you play a show of all cis white dudes and they actually talk to you about your music — it’s not just, “oh, we’re gonna put this band on here to make this a more inclusionary show.” It’s nice. And you have a conversation with someone about things that you’d have a conversation with anyone else about. And it’s important for us, even though it’s hard sometimes, to make it a better place for other people who wanna be involved.

Zo: I would like to say that I don’t hate men for thinking that they still own the scene — I just pity them. I just feel bad for them. We were talking about this earlier [general agreement around the table]. They were just raising this environment of toxic masculinity, where it’s just this competitive sport. Competitive mediocrity! But with music. And they have to prescribe to these shitty music [standards]. It’s almost expected of them. And so I pity them, that they’ve never heard a girl band before that just kicks ass.

Chava: Girls can play music? What?

Zo: Or that the first thing they see when they see us play is that there’s girls on the stage. I feel bad for you, dude.

Chava: “Oh, I know, my feminine hands can’t go as fast, or can’t hold the strings down as hard.” ‘Cause I have seen people watching in crowds — and it’s a look of puzzlement. It’s not that they’re shocked necessarily at what I’m playing, but that I’m the one playing that. It’s not “I liked your tone here, I liked what you did there,” it’s just “what?”

Zo: “I just didn’t know that was possible!”

Chava: But it’s also fun to mess with them occasionally. I do this thing occasionally, when they’re really talking down to me, where I just pretend that I have no idea what they’re talking about.

Zo: Oh — I want her to start a blog [about this].

Chava: So I had an OK Cupid [profile] for a while, and I had it clearly set to women, but I’d still get messages from men all the time. So I was like, “You know what? Let’s have fun here.” So I’m an economics major at Agnes Scott, and I’m a second-semester senior. So I know a lot about economics — I can’t say I know everything, right, because that doesn’t leave room to grow. But anyway, I got this one guy, and he started the conversation off — and I notice that men do this sometimes where they’ll spin out this profound piece of knowledge. Like, I had a picture of my guitar, so he’d be like, “Are those the Fender wide-range pickups from this year?” And I’d be like, “What are pickups?” And I ended up getting one guy to explain to me what a guitar company was! That was my crowning achievement. He was like, “You don’t?” I was like, “I had no idea! They’ve found a way to industrialize guitar manufacturing?! What are you talking about?!” He was like, “Yeah, I know, capitalism’s great!” And I was just, “Oh, wow. You’re the best! Keep talking to me.”

Oh, wow. You should start a blog like that.

Zo: That’s the bulk of our group chat, is screenshots of those conversations.

Bitter

Oh, talk about the album cover [and how that came about].

Maritza: Well, I guess I had the idea to do the lime, and then Camila and Zo made it a thing…

Camila: Oh, you mean the album cover!

[Some general “ohs” and “ah-has.” For a second, several people though I was referring to a cover song that Bitter has included in their set.]

Maritza: I had the idea of a lime — a lime and blood. So Camila and Zo took that little piece of information and…

Zo: I think I had the idea for the pink background… you haven’t seen the back cover yet, have you?

No, I haven’t seen the back cover yet. Just the cover on your website.

Zo: Yeah, Camila and I ended up splitting the photo credits for it — Chava wasn’t there for it — but Maritza and I went to the fabric store, Jo-Ann’s, and we did a whole photo shoot that day. We spent all day setting it up, and we had all of these props, and we cut a ton of limes.

Maritza: Abby helped cut the limes.

Zo: So Camila and I ended up splitting the photo credits, because Camila did the actual photography — she’s a great photographer — but I wanted credit as well because I spent all day on the setting and the lighting, and I put the blood on Maritza’s face. And my idea was for her to put her tongue on the lime — Maritza wanted it in her mouth, but I had the idea of her putting it to the side with her tongue out. So it was definitely a group effort.

That’s another thing I love about this band, is how much everything is an equal group effort.

Maritza: It’s kinda funny, because I’ll have these very vague ideas, and then they’ll make it amazing.

That’s another thing I wanted to touch on — you’ve said very clearly that you’ve been aware of how you present yourself. What do you hope to achieve when presenting yourself live?

Maritza: I like to bring my roots out. I’m Mexican, and I want people to know that. I want to scream it in their face. The way I do make-up, what I wear. Sometimes I’ll wear a rosary — I’m not Catholic or anything, it’s just part of my culture. And just being tough, being the tough brown girl.

Chava: Yeah, one of the things that I think is unique about being in this band is that it’s very much about making art, making music, making people connect, but it’s also about — [to Maritza] you should also explain the thought behind the t-shirt design, too. It’s really important because the imagery that we wanted to give — and I want you to speak on this — but we want people to be proud of their culture and heritage. And the role for me and Zo as the white people in the band is to be supportive of that 100% and just not get in the way.

Maritza: Yeah, I want the imagery to be very rooted in my culture, Latin culture, Mexican culture. Because, growing up, I noticed that a lot of bands around me didn’t have that. I felt like I was supposed to be a white girl. There wasn’t much that represented me. And I wanted to put that in the band. And it’s really great that Zo and Chava are so supportive of that, because a lot of people aren’t. That’s what I wanted to bring. It’s subtle, but it’s also — if there’s a brown, black, or Latin person out there, and they feel like they have to fit into this thing that the media makes you feel like there’s no other option. But then they see this imagery of the Virgin Mary, that they grew up with their whole lives — their mothers had them, and you didn’t even know what it meant, it was just there, and it’s part of your culture. And definitely give people of color a chance to contribute to your art, and represent them, too. Have them express themselves. Look at them, instead of letting them be washed out.

Chava: Yeah, I’ve noticed that, with white feminism, they’ll notice right away when white women aren’t included in the space. But if white women aren’t included in the space, then it’s guaranteed that people of color that are woman are not included in that space. 100% guaranteed.

Zo: Yeah, I’d like to put on the record that we’re intersectional feminists.

[I misheard this, and thought they said “intersexual feminists.” I ask them to explain.]

Zo: Well, there’s multiple waves of feminism — and anyone who knows anything about feminism knows that, recently, there’s been a resurgence of neo-liberal feminism, a.k.a. white feminism. And that’s something that we have to clarify that we don’t support — that you can say you’re just a feminist, but that can also include white feminism. And I don’t support that. I support intersectional feminism, which includes all the different intersections of what feminism should support, factors that aren’t just man vs. woman, but also race, disability, class, things like that.

Chava: To sum it up: I don’t remember where I heard this, I’m not going to claim this is mine, but white feminism looks back on people of color and anyone that doesn’t fit the “white women” mold — and by that, I mean cis white woman — and they’re opening the door to have conversations with men in power, and they look back on everyone else and say, “We’ll come back to you,” and they never come back. Intersectional feminists say, “We’re not leaving you behind in the first place; you’re coming into the room with us. You’ll always be a part of the conversation.” And not “we’ll lead the way, you can ride the wave.” Because time has proven that that doesn’t really work — and also, racism is still very prominent in this society.

Zo: I just want to say that intersectional feminism is very important for us, too, because we’re all queer, and gay rights are definitely a feminist issue, and also trans-visibility. Because we’re NOT a girl band, we’re all non-binary, and so I hate when people just call us a girl band, and people are like, “Hey, ladies!” I don’t even like that term “girl band.”

Maritza: Yeah, we’re just an amazing band. I’m not trying to toot my horn, but we’re more than just a “girl band.” And we’re still trying to represent — I still want to represent young, non-binary queer girls that look like me, basically. So they can be like, “Hey, I can do that shit, too!”

Chava: Yeah, it’s not just supporting queer people. It’s not just supporting people of color. I want people, when they see us on stage, say, “Hey, a woman can be doing this. Someone who’s queer can be doing this.” When they see Maritza and Camila, they can say, “Hey, a person of color can do this.” They’re the face of the band, and we are proud that they’re at the front. And it’s on Zo and me to make sure that our privilege doesn’t hush out them, and that we’re elevating them as much as we can.

Bitter Live

Credit: Nicole C. Kibert

Oh, next steps. You’ve got the EP out this Friday, and the show this Saturday. What else is next?

Chava: The biggest thing on our calendar is we’re playing with Julien Baker in Birmingham. I was actually fortunate enough to grow up with Julien, and she’s one of my biggest writing influences, by far. So I’m very happy that’s happening.

Zo: We’re also opening for Priests — March 4th.

Chava: And we’re also doing the Coathangers’ Planned Parenthood benefit.

Zo: I don’t know if that’s announced yet… that’s in April. We met one of the members of the Coathangers at the Earl, when we played there a couple of weeks ago. She’s literally just over the moon for us, and wanted to take a picture with us and everything. And so she was all, “Oh, please come play this Planned Parenthood thing at the Star Bar!” I don’t think the Coathangers are actually playing that, but they’re putting it on. I think they’re actually about to go on tour.

And then we’re opening for Nana Grizol soon. That’s a big thing. [March 24]

Chava: We’re also planning a summer tour, soon after the release — because the release has been taking up a lot of energy.

Zo: And you can check our website. We should have our show dates on [there]. But we’re definitely planning on touring in the summer, for sure.

Chava: I’m not sure if we’ve pinned down a region, but we’re sure to do something.

Zo: We’ve met a lot of awesome bands in other cities – like Lee Baines and the Glory Fires. We just played with them, and they’re from Birmingham, Alabama, and they were just awesome. Just this politically-charged punk band. And also Southerners on New Ground, the little opening thing for them, they had [someone with a] collection bucket going around, and got people chanting about justice and people power. And it turns out that the front person and Micky Bee, one of the biggest black trans activists in Atlanta, have been friends for years.

And then we always have to thank Randy [Garcia] whenever we do these things [collective thank-yous from around the table]. You know Randy, right?

I’ve heard the name…

Zo: He’s been in the scene for years and years and years.

Ah, I’ve only been in the scene for about a year and a half.

Chava: His label is Pup Sounds

Zo: We call him our dad — he’s just birthing us right now.

Maritza: Such a nice guy.

Chava: I don’t wanna say that he believed in us when no one else would, but he was the first to really believe in us, and knew that we really had something.

Zo: I think it was our second show ever.

Chava: Yeah, it was our second show — at a house!

Zo: And he was like, “I wanna record you guys for free, even though I’ve got degrees in this shit and I charge other people rates… No, I just wanna produce you guys for free.” And we were like, “OK!”

Chava: He’s helped us with every step along the way, and it doesn’t ever feel like he’s impeding on what we’re trying to say.

Zo: Yeah, he welcomes us into his home, and we cook food with him.

Maritza: I’ll make him tacos.

Chava: And we had a birthday dinner there. It’s a good music community.

Maritza: And hopefully, we’ll make more music.

Chava: Yeah, we’re already working on new stuff.

Maritza: Yeah, this is nothing.

Bitter will celebrate the release of their debut LP tonight at EAT YR VEGGIES: A Benefit for RADDISH at the Arts Exhchange. Also performing will be Femignome, Snoot, Howling Star, and Nerdkween. Doors open at 6 p.m. Donations of $5-25 encouraged. All Ages.

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