Tag Archives: reyna

Wisconsin Sound #6



At the beginning of 2015 two of the most buzzed about Milwaukee bands were fronted by females. GGOOLLDD’s feel good earworm single “Gold” quickly made its way on local airwaves, while Whips put out arguably the best Wisconsin record of 2014, Turn It On, which garnered heaps of critical acclaim.

Before Margaret Butler of GGOOLLDD (GG) and Ashley Smith of Whips came on the scene the leading ladies of Milwaukee music were the sister duo of Vic and Gab (Victoriah Banuelos and Hannah Gabriela Banuelos). Vic and Gab’s catchy indie pop landed them a showcase at South by Southwest (SXSW), as well as a gig opening for President Obama.

GG headed into 2016 hot on the heels of a successful EP and a string of summer festival appearances. They would become one of two local bands to sell out Turner Hall Ballroom in the last decade. Whips mostly went on hiatus, as members focused on other projects and businesses. Meanwhile, the Banuelos sisters reinvented themselves as synth pop trio Reyna, taking a few pages out of GG’s playbook.

Whips at AM/FM.
Whips at AM/FM.

All three bands in question were at the center of a storm of local music these past few weeks. On September 16 my girlfriend and I went to Madison to see UK/US rock band The Kills play Live on King Street, a free summer concert series outside the Majestic Theatre. The Kills combine the hard-driving guitar of Jamie Hince and the beautifully brash vocals of Alison Mosshart, who reminded me of Whips’ Smith during her badass performance.

Though Whips and The Kills are far more similar, GG was the first opener at Live on King Street. It’s a testament to GG’s consistency, whereas Whips has only played a handful of shows over the past year. To their credit, Whips have been working on a new record.

Scottish electro-pop trio CHVRCHES was scheduled to play The Riverside Theater on September 25 and an opener wasn’t announced until the week of the show. I figured GG was a shoe-in, but Reyna ended up taking the guest spot. Coincidentally, GG played a surprise show the night before at the old Hotel Foster space, sharing a bill with non other than Whips.

The AM/FM pop-up event at the old Hotel Foster space was a huge success. The crowd was well beyond capacity. Whips ran through a tight set that included new songs, which I’m happy to report are really good. Later in the night GG kept the party going. They played a song that I mistook for a cover of The Kills. Turns out it was their new single “Undercovers.”

Reyna at The Riverside (Courtesy of the Pabst Theater Group).
Reyna at The Riverside (Courtesy of the Pabst Theater Group).

The CHVRCHES show was my first time seeing any iteration of the Banuelos sisters live. When I first heard Reyna’s debut single “Spill Your Colors,” I mistook it for a new CHVRCHES song, so it was fitting that they opened. But their set left me unimpressed. Their cover of “Flesh Without Blood” by Grimes was a noble effort in an otherwise mediocre performance. They seem to be copying GG’s sound and style, as one of the sisters wore a glittery green jacket. What’s next? If Whips’ new album thrusts them to the forefront of local music, will the third Banuelos sister band be hard rocking?

Whips will headline the Beet Street Harvest Festival at Cactus Club in Milwaukee on October 15.

GGOOLLDD will headline Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee on December 2 and The Frequency in Madison on December 9.


Speaking of the AM/FM pop-up event, one of the many cool aspects of that night was the Video Villains. The Milwaukee-based visual art projection duo of Michael Britton and Adam Kuhnen have made a name for themselves by creating dynamic backdrops for live music performances. Originally working as DJs and promoters, the duo switched over to video projection after attending an eye-opening party in Minneapolis.

Ad Rock Music Series (PHOTO - Bigshot Robot).
Ad Rock Music Series (PHOTO – Bigshot Robot).

When indie pop rockers Dream Attics made their live debut in May 2015 at Mad Planet Video Villains created a beautiful set with synchronized table lamps, smoke machines and back-projected visuals. That summer they brought their brand of sensory art to the open waters of Lake Michigan on the Noh Life Cruise.

This summer I noticed that I wasn’t seeing their name on local shows as much. That’s because the duo has expanded their vision, collaborating on larger scale events and some that aren’t music related. I emailed Britton to see what the guys have been up to over the past year.

“We still do local shows but have switched our focus to more well thought out events that can help facilitate our creative vision. We are doing Planned Parenthood’s 80th Anniversary party at Potawatomi Casino this Fall, along with the infamous Zombie Pub Crawl in Minneapolis.”

“Some of the highlights of our summer include teaming up with Beauty Bar and Red Bull for an awesome Lollapalooza after party with LCD Soundsystem. We also teamed up with Visit Milwaukee for national tourism week for a two-night projection mapped building installation downtown on the Marcus Performing Arts Center.”

On September 2 my girlfriend and I went to the newly-opened Adventure Rock indoor climbing center/condominiums on Milwaukee’s East Side for the first Ad Rock Music Series event. Having already been involved with the Brookfield location, the Villains created an installation for the Milwaukee site’s grand opening. After that, Adventure Rock was all ears for the prospect of a music series.

“The Ad Rock Music Series is something we have wanted to tackle for a while now. We are always looking for opportunities to host concerts in a non-traditional setting and the climbing gym was the perfect chance for us to transform a space into something Milwaukee has never seen before.”

And indeed it was something unique for not only Milwaukee but Wisconsin. During sets by Boom Boom Klap, Chris Siegel, Strehlow x Ian Ewing, and Win + Woo, the Villains projected custom visuals on an off-white, forty-foot climbing wall. With the padded floor below the climbing walls and the huge open space, it was an awesome environment to experience live music. The Villains are currently planning the second Ad Rock Music event and promise more surprises and bigger names.


The bustling crowds at the 8th installment of the Milwaukee Film Festival put our cinephile tendencies on full display. Though the largest local film fest has wrapped, another beloved celebration of cinema is just around the corner. The 31st Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival officially kicks off October 12. Before previewing some of those films, let’s take a look at some highlights from the MFF.

On Friday September 23 local music and filmmaking luminaries gathered for the second Milwaukee Music Video Show. A few videos made their debut at the festival including Maritime’s cheeky “Roaming Empire,” Fox Face’s eerie “Teenage Wiccan,” and the touching “Doctor My Own Patience” by Serengeti. The entries were cinematic, silly, trippy, haunting, and overall impressive.

Menomonee Falls-native Richard Riehle of Office Space fame appears in Trapper Schoepp’s video for “Settlin’ or Sleepin’ Around.” During the Q & A Schoepp told the crowd how he landed this Hollywood actorby following him into Comet Cafe one afternoon and asking him politely.

Canopies “Getting Older” utilizes infrared structured light imaging. During the Q & A we learned that this technique was achieved by hacking an Xbox Kinect camera and using open-source hardware and custom software. In Fabian James & Treyy G’s “See You” the dynamic moves of breakdancer Andrei Duka Antipov were captured by a homemade camera rig that spun around Antipov. Interestingly, director Quinn Hester randomly met the singer during a visit to an Apple Store.

The first time I saw Group of the Altos’ video for “Coplights” it was an emotional experience. The texture and imagery are both beautiful and bleak, perfectly matching the song. All dozen-plus members of the group appear in the video. Seeing “Coplights” on the big screen at the Oriental was ten times as emotional, considering the band is currently on hiatus. Whether GOTA returns or not, the video stands as a testament to one of the greatest ensembles in Wisconsin music history.

Throughout the Milwaukee Music Video Show two camps emerged as the premier local music video makers: Sane Crew and Cody LaPlant/Damien Klaven, each with three entries. While the Sane Crew video for WC Tank’s “27th & National” was a worthy contender for best video, LaPlant/Klaven took home the award for their work on WebsterX’s “Lately.”

The Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival will unspool at the UWM Union Cinema next week, save for the Opening Night film, which will be at the Oriental Theatre. Kiki (October 12, 7 p.m., Oriental) kicks off the festival by revisiting the NYC scene where LGBTQ youth-of-color found agency and inspiration in the Kiki balls profiled in the landmark 1990 documentary Paris is Burning.

Another loosely music-related film is Spa Night (October 15, 7 p.m.), about a first generation Korean-American young man struggling with homosexual desires, set principally in the nocturnal world of spas and karaoke bars in LA’s Koreatown. Actor Joe Seo won the Special Jury Award for breakthrough performance at Sundance.

The legacy of the oldest Black owned disco in America is featured in Jewel’s Catch One (October 17, 7 p.m.). The film is rich with music from the last forty years, plus exclusive interviews with the likes of Madonna, Sandra Bernhard and more, as it chronicles Jewel-Thais Williams’ four decades of music, fashion, celebrity and activism. Williams and director C. Fitz will be in attendance.

As part of the Closing Night program Who Wants Cake?: An Evening of Community Shorts (October 23, 7 p.m.) there will be a short about the first and only gay-themed country music album. Forty years after its release Patrick Heggerty’s Lavender Country (1973) is being heralded as “resonant and wonderful…a rare act of bravery and honesty.” The short documentary (These C*cksucking Tears) explores Heggerty’s unlikely personal journey.


In the last issue of WiG I wrote about the ladies of New Boyz Club, who celebrated their debut EP release on September 30 at Company Brewing. For that performance they put together a lineup of supporting acts featuring talented females, including Sista Strings, Hello Death and the power punk quartet of Fox Face, the only band on the bill I hadn’t yet seen.

Hot off the release of their first vinyl pressingthe Teenage Wiccan 7-inchand the debut of their video for “Teenage Wiccan” at the Milwaukee Music Video Show, Fox Face thoroughly impressed in a live setting.

Back in April during the Arte Para Todos festival I heard that Fox Face’s abrasive volume elicited noise complaints from a neighbor of Brenner Brewing Company, where the show was being held. Allegedly, the neighbor had a decibel level App on his iPhone that he used to prove how deafening the sound was.

Indeed, Fox Face plays loud and fast, but with plenty of skill and charisma to back up the big decibels. During their set Fox Face did an awesome cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” which they hadn’t performed since PrideFest. “We’ve got a wiccan set up by our merch table,” bassist Mary-Jo mentioned. “Stop by and we’ll have a séance.” Their witchy sounds and style have made Fox Face one of the best punk bands in Wisconsin.


"Priestess" artwork by Janice Vogt.
“Priestess” artwork by Janice Vogt.

Since taking the city by storm last year with their rapturous live performances, the New Age Narcissism collective has put out some of the best music in Wisconsin. Q the Sun released two excellent projects with WebsterX (KidX) and Lorde Fredd33 (Dead Man’s View), while Lex Allen put out the Social Me Duh EP and the excellent single “Cream and Sugar (ft. WebsterX).” Though she often steals the live show with her magnetic voice and presence, Siren has only released a few songs, including “Queen Medusa.” There have long been talks of an EP, but so far nothing has stuck. That is, until now. “Priestess” (produced by Mic Kellogg) is the first single from Siren’s forthcoming project. Fingers crossed.

Siren will perform live in support of Gosh Pith on October 7 in the Back Room at Colectivo in Milwaukee. Also sharing the bill will be NO/NO and Liquid City Motors.

El-Shareef, the author of one my top six Wisconsin hip-hop projects of the year, is back with an uncharacteristically upbeat Derelle Rideout produced joint called “Uniform Souls.” It’s the first single off Reef’s forthcoming debut album that will be released on vinyl through Germany’s Radio Juicy. Give it a listen here.

img_7552Two weeks after they rocked a packed house at the old Hotel Foster space for the AM/FM event (mentioned above), synthpop heavyweights GGOOLLDD dropped a new song and announced they’ll be returning to headline Turner Hall Ballroom on December 2 with Har Mar Superstar and Flint Eastwood. The new track, “Undercovers,” marks a turning point in the writing process for the group, as all five members provided input. It was recorded with Ben H. Allen in his Atlanta recording studio in August. It is GG’s best use of guitar to date and another banger for their repertoire. Listen to it here.


Though it’s a couple months later than I originally reported in my feature on heavy surf pop rockers Soul Low, their new video for “Be Like You” has finally been released. As they mentioned in our interview, it’s “like Pee Wee Herman suburban insanity,” and a nice example of the Soul boys tendency to perform in drag at house shows. Also, it’s somewhat of a preview for their Gloss Records presents: Halloween Spooktacular show at Cactus Club on October 28. Last year on Halloween they performed in full KISS costumes. What will the boys be this year?

As Reyna, sisters Vic and Gab are more than ready for a re-introduction

After establishing themselves in the Wisconsin music scene with Bridges and Guns and Love of Mine in 2013, sisters Vic and Gabby Banuelos, the frontwomen of Vic + Gab, decidedly called it quits — in name only.

The duo played their final Vic + Gab show at the Pabst Theater last October, a performance that was emotional both for them and their most devoted fans. But it was no goodbye — just a see-you-later.

Now, the sisters have returned with a new name — Reyna — and are ready to re-introduce themselves to Milwaukee in a performance at Cactus Club on March 26. Their first show as Reyna will feature brand-new music (including the synthpop debut singles “Spill Your Colors” and “Ink on my Skin”), but the same talent that’s driven the sisters to prior success.

The new name doesn’t feel quite real yet, according to Gabby, but she expects that will all change after they make their official debut. She and Vic recently spoke to WiG about their new direction, the two new singles, and what’s ahead for Reyna.

The new sound of Reyna couldn’t be any more different from the more alternative vibe you had before as Vic + Gab. What inspired you to start fresh and move forward with a different sound?

Gabby Banuelos: Although it sounds completely different, I feel like we, as Vic + Gab, wanted a sound that was close to that. We didn’t really have the tools and the help. Our music was very organic because those are the tools that we had. We had our instruments, we had songwriting, and we had producers working with us, so I think what inspired that was that we finally had the tools and the people around us to make that sound.

Your first single, “Spill Your Colors,” was streamed 20,000 times within a day of its premiere and now has been streamed upwards of 90,000 times both through Sound Cloud and Spotify. What has been the general response to the track and new sound?

GB: Fans were very curious. I think that sparked a lot of people to go online and listen to it. I think that helped. I think, generally, the response was really good. I was expecting a lot of people to come out and be like, “Oh, you guys have changed! This music isn’t as good!” Stuff like that. But people really liked the song. They like the direction that we’re going in. I think it was a success.

I’ve listened to the song dozens of times in the last week alone. It’s amazing.

GB: Thank you! It’s so weird because we, for months now, we felt the song was a secret because we would listen to it all the time tweaking the mixing and all, and then it finally came out and within a day, 20,000 people listened to it. We were like, “Oh my god! That’s so crazy. Yesterday no one could listen to it because it was a secret and now 20,000 people have listened to it.” It was blowing our minds.

“Spill Your Colors” is such an upbeat track. Was there a specific reason why you decided to release it as the first introduction to Reyna?

Vic Banuelos: I think that the track is very similar to our old stuff. It’s us playing our bass and guitar and I think it would be a good introduction to smooth people into the new stuff.

You also recently released a new track titled “Ink On My Skin.” What was the inspiration behind that track and “Spill Your Colors”?

GB: When we wrote that song, we were in LA for a month so we were missing home; we were missing our loved ones and our significant others. That’s where that came from. I think after that, we started writing more sassy songs. … “Spill Your Colors” was one of the last songs we wrote. I think there was the transition where we were sad and lonely at first, and then we came into our own and we were like, “We’re doing good. We’re writing good songs.” We became more confident. I think you can see that if you compare “Spill Your Colors” to “Ink On My Skin.”

What was the recording process like this time around?

VB: We always wrote songs on the road, you know, on tour and trying them out live. That’s how we developed the songs. This time around, we went to the studio, met a producer, and it was kind of like: instantly get naked and all personal and write a song with a complete stranger. It was a completely different process for us. It was as tough at first because we had never written with anyone else but ourselves, so we had to get used to that process and get comfortable with people being around and sharing ideas with a producer and trying to get as much help and being comfortable with that.

Back in October, you were saying farewell to the name “Vic + Gab” with your final show. Are you excited to be back in Milwaukee for a re-introduction?

GB: We’re so excited. We love playing live. We like that more than being in a studio and writing. That’s what we love to do. We’re so excited to finally be able to get back out and finally share all the music that we’ve been writing. We’ve only been able to share two of the songs, but now if you come to the show, you’ll be able to see everything that we’ve done.

The Cactus Club show is the first live show for Reyna. What can we expect from the show?

GB: It’s going to be a lot more intimate because it’s a small venue and a small show. There’ll only be about 150 people. We’ve been talking about it and we want to introduce the people to the music and talk about the songs and talk about our process of recording and writing them. It’ll be a little bit …

VB: Personal.

GB: Yeah. You’re going to be able to not just listen to the music, but also hear about it a little bit.

Since you’ve played numerous shows in Milwaukee before, what’s been your favorite Milwaukee moment?

VB: I think the last show at the Pabst Theater was very emotional for us. Hearing the people sing the songs to us and knowing that it might be the last time we’ll play them as Vic + Gab, that was very emotional and important for us. We’ve obviously had really cool moments in other shows that stand out, too.

GB: I feel like a lot of people always come and talk to us about one of the times that we played Brady Street Fest. A lot of people that we meet come up to us and be like, “It was such a great show!” It’s crazy how many people saw us at that festival and liked the show.

After the Cactus Club show, what’s next for you two? Will the first EP be released soon?

VB: We do have an EP coming out. We don’t know the date exactly because we’re waiting to see what happens with the singles. We want to push the singles as much as we can. We’re planning a tour again. We’re holding off on the details because we’re focusing on promoting our singles and getting ready for our first live performance. This is why this show is so important for us because we want to feel ready. What better way to do it than with our fans in Milwaukee?