I’m new to this / I’m new to this / I’m new to this / I’m new to this are the opening lyrics of Acid Wave’s sophomore album heart2heart, a 10-track dreampop exploration of the spectrum of emotions experienced when we find familiarity, comfort, safety–home, in another person. Alongside the sounds of smooth synths, relaxed guitar, and shoegazey, bedroom-pop production, Acid Wave's lyricism is short and sweet while simultaneously bringing back memories of first loves and first times. The album holds up a mirror to lovers everywhere, reflecting back the obsession we feel when we’re head over heels, asking ourselves who we become when we’re consumed with someone else, what we turn into when our hearts are on the line. Each song pivots to a different feeling or idea that seems on the brink of total spiral, made sane only by their respective gentle melodies, a smooth sail from one song to the next that feels just as natural, passive, and unnoticeable as suddenly falling in deep.
The album is a celebration of platonic love as well, a concept that Acid Wave harnesses within their five-piece, all-girl band. Each musician occasionally contributes to vocals amidst their own specialities: Audrey Villalobos plays drums and writes music, Jet Gil-Robert occupies the keyboard, Eva Vasquez plays guitar and writes music, Isanette Olivarez plays bass, and Mary Moreck is on guitar and drums. Based out of El Paso, TX, the five worked on heart2heart remotely for several years, and in March of 2024 will be performing their love letter to the human experience in a California tour.
FLAUNT spoke with Acid Wave about their beginnings, the El Paso music scene, and fighting creative burnout.
How did you all meet, and how did Acid Wave begin?
Audrey: After we started in 2018, it started off with me, Eva, and Isanette. The three of us had went to the same high school and we have mutual friends, so that's how we knew of each other. And then in 2021, Jet and Mary joined Acid Wave, and we met them again through mutual friends.
Can you elaborate on the philosophy behind heart2heart? What were the concepts that drove this album to completion?
Audrey: heart2heart is basically a love mixtape for someone. I wrote most of the songs about my partner and the journey throughout our relationship from beginning to us officially dating and so on. So that's mostly what it's about—the stages of getting to know someone and not being too sure of the person or if they're too sure about you. There's one song talking about mental health as well. So just finding yourself within that loving relationship.
Since your 2020 Album, Love Trauma, what has changed about your approach to music and what has stayed the same?
Audrey: I think a lot has changed. With this one, I felt more comfortable writing the album, because I knew I would have more input than just myself, I would have it from four other people. And I feel like everyone was able to add a little taste of their own into this album compared to Love Trauma. That one I wrote in my room, so did Eva. And it's not as professionally done, so it sounds very different. But I also feel like the writing from both me and Eva matured a lot for this new album. With our experiences as well, that helped us have a change of taste and writing style.
What does making an album remotely look like? What is the creative process? How do you all communicate and collaborate? How do you resolve creative differences?
Audrey: Well, a lot of it in the beginning was remote as far as when I first started writing the demos, and we would communicate a lot through text or have Zoom phone calls and talk about what songs we like or didn't like. I don't think we really had any creative conflict to where we had to figure something out. I feel like we all have a similar taste. And with that, when we do have something we want to put in, we're usually for it. We usually support each other on that decision. But yeah, we would just send a song to each other through messages, and then we'd be like, “Okay, we're gonna record this.” And then when we had the time to record in the studio, we were all together, so that was nice to be from afar, and then come together in the studio.
What’s the dynamic of being in all-girl band?
Isanette: I think it just feels more comfortable. And I guess I can relate more to being an all-girl band rather than a mix of men and women. But also, there's not that many girl bands in El Paso, so it feels good to be a part of one. And it also feels good to be an inspiration for other girls who want to start girl bands.
Audrey: They're like my sisters.
Eva: Yeah, we're just really good friends. Like sisters, and it is a little more comfortable to speak with each other about what we would like moving forward with Acid Wave and the things we want to put ourselves into. I personally have been in a band with men, and it's fine. But it feels like sometimes they're talking over you. And with us, we try to hear each other out as best as we can.
Jet: We recently played a girls’ rock camp, so they got girls ages, I think 10-18, and they've never played any instruments. They have two weeks to learn an instrument and make a band, and then at the end, they get to perform their songs. They had us play at the end of their performances, and it was so cute because they were so excited to see us and they were wearing our band shirt. I think we're probably the only girl band in El Paso, so it’s cute seeing girls look up to us.
What is the El Paso music scene like?
Audrey: It's very active. There's so many bands, but they're all mostly made up of men. And then there's some that will have one girl in a band, but to say that most of the members are girls, it's rare to see. But the scene is very active. Even the people who go to the shows and support the local bands, they're very dedicated, and they make the scene alive. But it's pretty cool. I like the scene. I don't live in El Paso, so there's nothing like that where I'm at, or at the places I've seen, the local scene is just different.
Is there any certain sound coming out of El Paso?
Eva: There's a lot of different styles of music and bands that in El Paso. I mean, I've mostly seen hardcore bands and punk bands because that's what I'm personally into. But Mary knows a lot of other bands that are different styles from ours and from those bands as well. But it's a lot of artists. There's a lot of artists and groups, but as you know, we are the only all-girl band. Maybe there's one that's out there that just hasn't played shows yet, but hopefully they are out there.
Audrey: Show yourseves!
How do you keep yourself inspired, grounded, and how do you fight creative burnout?
Audrey: I think I'm coming to the end of my creative burnout. I'm starting to work on music more again, but I think something to help prevent that is making at least 30 minutes out of the day to pick up a guitar and just mess around on it, or even try to write a little song or something. Just something to keep that muscle memory going and not completely throwing it to the side. That's what I've been trying to do lately, because I feel like I haven't really been as creative recently, but now I don't know what's happening. There's a shift, maybe, but now I'm like, “I want to do all this stuff.” And I think having that little time throughout the day to do a little music and then going throughout the day helps a lot though.
Isanette: For me, when it comes to bass, there'll be some times where I go a couple of weeks without really touching my bass or anything. But I think music just helps me and inspiration from other popular artists and listening to music and hearing cool bass lines in those songs makes me want to learn a little part.
Eva: For me as well, I'm trying to get out of a creative burnout. I think usually it's because I'm just really busy with family things. It's hard for me to sit down and actually write a song or try to write a song. But when I do get the inspiration, it’s mostly from seeing my favorite bands on YouTube performing or even my favorite bands from here in El Paso, going to their shows. They're really good. So they inspire me to want to continue to make more music.
Jet: I feel like I don't really get creative burnout with music. If I'm feeling stressed in life, I have other forms of art that I do also, and I get creative burnout for those things. But I feel like with music, it's more grounding. I know I can jam out with my friends and we can make music, or it's always just more fun. It's a way to get away from all the other stuff.
Mary: For me, I don't do a lot of writing for Acid Wave, but I do write music in general. Whenever I found myself not wanting to write—just nothing's coming out—I'll just have jam sessions with random people. I think getting out of that mindset that I need to force myself to write something because it's like, whatever my goal is where I feel like I'm making myself need to write something, I'll just go and have fun with it and just jam with whoever. It helps to remind myself why I play music in the first place. And then after a jam session with someone or a few people, I find that it helps me come back on and write again because I got away from that mindset of like, “I have to do it,” and just have fun with it again and then I’ll naturally want to write it down.