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In the past few months, alternative pop band The Aces — signed by Red Bull Records last year, with their debut EP, I Don’t Like Being Honest, released in June — has taken baby steps toward building a fashion buzz. In April, the quartet (hailing from Orem, Utah) performed at The Zoe Report’s third annual Coachella music festival party in Palm Springs. On Aug. 18, they played their second style-wise gig at the Rag & Bone store in Venice for a summer cocktail party sponsored by Red Bull.
Before their act, the band — fronted by 21-year-old Cristal Ramirez on lead vocals and guitar, with her 19-year-old sister Alisa Ramirez on drums, and 21-year-old friends Katie Henderson on lead guitar and McKenna Petty on bass — sat down exclusively with THR to talk music and style, admitting that they are longtime fans of Rag & Bone and aspire to attend New York Fashion Week and maybe even eventually design something of their own.
Another style confession: The Aces recently met with execs from fast-fashion brand H&M, both in New York and at the company’s headquarters in Sweden, to discuss the potential of working together. The label, which has dressed them for performances, has a history of courting up-and-coming bands, including the stylish sister trio Haim, to whom they are often compared.
Which raises the issue of being thought of as just another “girl band.”
“It’s obviously a compliment because we’re such big fans of Haim,” said Henderson. “The thing that’s frustrating about it to us is that we honestly don’t sound like them, so we feel like people are just seeing gender, which is kind of irritating.”
“We never meant to be a girl band, like it was calculated; it just happened that way,” said Petty.
“One of our best guy friends tried to play guitar with us for a while, but he just sucked so bad that it didn’t work,” added the younger Ramirez, with candor.
“We grew up playing piano and singing in church, and I took a real interest in songwriting and singing when I was about 10 years old,” explained Cristal. “Alisa [then aged 8] badly wanted to play drums, so we started jamming together. And I’ve known Kenna since we were in kindergarten, so that Christmas during fifth grade, we asked her to play bass with us. [Henderson joined the band, then known as The Blue Aces, three years later.] Our oldest brother was in a lot of cool metal bands growing up, so that was a huge influence. He was such a punker; he had a mohawk and was great at guitar, so that made me want to play.”
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The 1975 and Paramore are musical groups the band admires. When it comes to style heroes, Petty zeroed in on Freddie Mercury of Queen, while Alisa listed Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. “We’ve looked up to feminine men like Morrissey, Matty Healy of The 1975, and Harry Styles, who have character that we feel is really mesmerizing,” said Cristal.
The band’s original moniker, The Blue Aces, was determined after a friend told the elder Ramirez that she needed “to pick a color and object to make a great band name,” so she went for her favorite hue and the word “aces” because it “sounded hard-core and almost masculine and I liked that for an all-girl band; you don’t know who or what it will be from the name. We love that it’s a bit androgynous.” In 2015, The Blue Aces edited their name to The Aces.
While the The Aces’ fashion look on Friday veered toward genderless, unisex styles (the foursome wore white or black tees with jeans or checkered trousers, including select pieces by Rag & Bone), they emphasized that their style is very individual and can’t be packaged.
“Kenna has been a little more feminine and Katie’s been more of a classic tomboy, with white T-shirts and Levis, while I’ve been a little grunge and Alisa goes kind of hip-hop,” said Cristal. “But overall I think what we do is very androgynous. We are not afraid to incorporate men’s fashion or to be hyper-feminine at times.”
As of now, The Aces style themselves. But in February, they turned to stylist Rebecca Grice — main stylist for the band Haim, who has also worked with Lorde, Alicia Keys and Jaime King — for a photo shoot for Red Bull Records.
“We’d love to go to New York Fashion Week eventually and do more things with bigger fashion brands,” said Cristal.
“We eventually want to design stuff, too, because that’s a big passion,” added her younger sister.
While they still reside in Orem, the band has been spending more time in L.A. to record; favorite shopping destinations include Topshop and the Melrose Trading Post flea market.
Look for The Aces’ first album to land in late 2017 or early 2018.
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