On International Women’s Day this year, Audiofemme curated a showcase of talented musicians to play the opening of For The Record, a portrait series showcasing women in the music industry shot by Ebru Yildiz, at Ridgewood venue TV Eye. Our videographer Molly Mary O’Brien shot a candid interview with Lola Pistola (aka Arvelisse Ruby Bonilla-Ramos) before her solo acoustic performance, as well as these rare renditions of “Doomed” and “Wild, Rich & Loose” from 2017 debut Curfew.
Lola Pistola started out in San Juan’s punk scene, singing back-up for longtime friend AJ Dávila. After moving to New York she began writing solo material in earnest; though informed by her punk roots, Curfew is moodier and more atmospheric, like Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval singing grunge-folk after smoking a pack of cigarettes. She quickly adapted to the touring life, with Robert Preston backing her on drums, but this TV Eye performance sees her flying solo, offering these songs in their rawest form. Punctuating her set with the rousing onstage banter she’s become known for – sometimes political, sometimes tender, often hilarious – Lola Pistola’s rock ‘n’ roll aura permeated the room regardless of her stripped-down delivery.
Now that live performance is momentarily side-lined (the impact of which Lola Pistola recently wrote about for Alt Citizen), we hope you’ll enjoy this captivating moment from our IWD showcase. You can follow Lola Pistola on Facebook for ongoing updates.
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Lola Pistola does not plan on stopping anytime soon. With a raw energetic live show that’s not to be missed, Lola Pistola debuted their grunge and noise pop soaked album Curfew last year on Burger Records, toured the US with drummer Robert Preston (who also fronts Pink Mexico), and are closing out the year with a show at Our Wicked Lady on December 13 with Toward Space, Metalleg, and Johnny Dolphins.
Currently Brooklyn-based, Lola (aka Arvelisse Ruby) grew up in the Puerto Rican punk scene and is also a florist, photographer and contributor to AltCitizen. We chatted with Lola about her love for grunge and NYC’s ’70s punk scene, the changing landscape of New York’s current scene and what her live set would smell like.
AF: What is your favorite part about where you come from and where you are now, both geographically and musically? Where do you want to go?
LP: My favorite part about being from Puerto Rico is how important arts is for creatives and Puerto Ricans in general. No matter the occasion, there’s always music and a sense of community and bonding, whether it’s with family or friends. We have an unusual approach to what we do. I believe Puerto Ricans excel in arts, in music, in theater because we are just moved genuinely by what it means to be oneself and are passionate about our legacy. I loved loved loved being an spectator of the underground punk scene there. It’s chaotic, and loud, and there are many talented and unique bands that are still active after more than 15 years. I think that definitely made me fall in love with music, and learn about the punk scene around the world, specially in Spain and in New York. I’d daydream about playing at CBGB’s, about smoking cigarettes with Debbie Harry, reading poems with Patti Smith, maybe even finding Courtney Love and partying with her too. I feel like now, there’s a lot of that scene that’s undeniably dead. It’s no ones fault. Truly the world is just changing and affecting how we connect with new experiences – how we even promote shows for example. But still, the great thing about New York is the accessibility to local and touring bands, either underground or mainstream, and how there’s a new sound and act popping left and right. For me, I feel like I just want to continue making music, regardless of where I am, and to truthfully to be able to successfully connect with people. I want to continue moving forward where I can be heard, without worrying about scenes, without worrying about how many likes I get on social media. I want to go around the world and back until I fall down or nobody likes my songs anymore. That’s were I want to go.
AF: What shows/bands/artists have had the biggest influence and inspiration on your live set? If your live set was a color what color would it be? What smell would it be?
LP: Let’s just say I spent a lot of time watching Nirvana videos on YouTube using a shitty internet connection. Physically I take on more from movies and dance performances. If my set was a color it would be not a color, but the cathartic after-effect of strobe lights, hinted with the scent of salt water.
AF: If you could share the stage with anyone alive or dead who would it be and why?
LP: I’d love to perform with Iggy Pop, and I don’t think I need to explain why. Present Iggy Pop – full of wise and uncontrollable coolness, and more in control than ever of his voice and vision. His last two albums are definitely part of my favorites of the decade.
AF: When you’re performing do you ever look at a specific stranger and wonder how their day was?
LP: That’s interesting, but not really. I think the whole act, while performing is such an egocentric approach that I am only worried if they can really see me. If I lock eyes with anyone, I just want to make sure they see me.
AF: If you were a street performer and had to do something other than music, what would you do?
LP: A cartoonist.
AF: What are your plans for the next year/decade?
LP: I’m just waiting to be discovered and get a six figure contract, so I can record a couple of bangers and not work anymore. But also, joke aside, I just plan on doing what I do now, just 10 times bigger. I don’t have time to stop now.