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/FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Riot Grrrl in Brazil-Dominatrix

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Riot Grrrl in Brazil-Dominatrix

riot-grrrl20 years ago, bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile were at the forefront of a newly emerging movement that would eventually be deemed as “riot grrrl”, a movement within the punk rock subculture fueled by feminist politics and the do-it-yourself ideology. In the relatively short timespan of roughly 5 years, Bratmobile and Bikini Kill (vocalist/songwriter Kathleen Hanna in particular) went on to influence a number of other bands and artists across the country, including Sleater-Kinney (featuring Portlandia’s beloved star, Carrie Brownstein), Team Dresch, and L7.

 After much misrepresentation in the media, the break-ups of several pioneering riot Grrrl bands, and the frequent association with the more mainstream creed of “Girl Power” glamorized by pop artists like the Spice Girls, the movement fell into a dormant period. It wasn’t until around 2011 when Russia’s notorious feminist punk band Pussy Riot (highly influenced by Bikini Kill and the genre as a whole) carried out a string of controversial protests, that attention began to revolve around the movement once again. Within the last couple of years, riot grrrl related projects, such as the film The Punk Singer (a documentary centered on Kathleen Hanna), the reunion of the Hanna’s side project The Julie Ruin, and the release of Lisa Darm’s book, The Riot Grrrl Collection have cast the movement into the spotlight once more.

 Save for the exception of Pussy Riot, not much is known about the impact Riot Grrrl had on women on a global scale and how copies of records like Bratmobile’s Pottymouth and Bikini Kill’s Pussy Whipped would make it into the hands of young women in Sao Paulo who would go on to form iconic Brazilian punk band, Dominatrix.

 Around 1996, sisters Elisa and Isabella Garguilo started a band that began to perform at various DIY venues throughout Sao Paulo under the name Dominatrix, the name deriving from a line in the song “Panik” by Bratmobile. The band recorded a handful of demos and eventually went on to release their debut album, Girl Gathering, in 1997, which sold out in only nine months.

 Charged with the same tenacity as their feminist punk predecessors, Dominatrix addressed the prevailing issues of sexism and machismo in Brazil’s punk scene in songs throughout Girl Gathering, like “Patriarchal Laws” (“They taught me ‘to be a woman is no more than being a wife’…but I taught myself that I’m free, I’m powerful, I can think and I can choose”) and “My New Gun” (“Take part in this riot only for girls/I never thought that girls could be so united”), incorporating elements of street punk into their sound.The band followed up with another full length album in 1998 entitled Self-Delight, and began touring throughout Europe, eventually making their way to the US in 2003 and performing at  venues such as Berkeley’s well-renowned DIY space, 924 Gilman Street.

 Though Dominatrix started as a street punk-influenced Riot Grrrl band, the band began to stray from the sound on records like Girl Gathering and Self-Delight. 2003’s Beauville and 2009’s Quem Defende Pra Calar featured the inclusion of songs written and performed in Portuguese. The band also began to experiment more with their musical style, adding tinges of grunge and alternative rock in songs like “‘Pagan Love” off of Beauville, and transitioned into a tighter, more perfected version of their earlier punk sound on songs like Quem Defende Pra Calar’s  “Vai La.”

Dominatrix has not released new material since 2009’s Quem Defende Pra Calar and has been relatively inactive, with the exception of a 15th year anniversary show back in 2011, but is still regarded as one of the most (if not the most) influential bands in Brazil’s Riot Grrrl movement. In their now 17 year run, the band has influenced a number of feminist punk bands from Sao Paulo, such as the hardcore band, Anti-Corpos, is cited as the key figure behind the well-loved LadyFest Brasil, and are regarded as the forerunners of Brazil’s riot grrrl movement.

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By | 2018-08-09T17:16:40+00:00 October 25th, 2013|FEATURES, Flashback Friday, Recent|

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