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Kera and the Lesbians uses 'bi-polar folk' music to amplify queer identity

Kera Armendariz is the frontwoman for Kera and The Lesbians
Kera Armendariz is the frontwoman for Kera and The Lesbians
Kera and The Lesbians

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Kera and the Lesbians’ blend of rockabilly, folk, surf and reverb-filed garage rock has been coined “bi-polar folk” by the band’s frontwoman Kera Armendariz. The genre is as attention grabbing as the band's name.

Kera & The Lesbians - Snakes

“I love anything that’s ironic," says Armendariz of the group's name, "considering that I do play with a lot of men. So I enjoyed that element. But as this project has grown and evolved. I like it for a different reason now. Because especially now, the queer movement is more at a forefront. I think it’s more relevant. It opens up the idea of, What is a lesbian? Why do we have to label things? Why can’t we leave things a little bit more ambiguous?"

The band’s name, initially a joke suggested by a former band member, seemed to stick.

The group is comprised of Armendariz, 27, and drummer Michael Delaney, 26, who, according to the band name, would be a lesbian. Armendariz, however, is the only queer band member. On stage she’ll wear vintage two-piece suits, a zip-up jumpsuit or Hawaiian print button-ups with hairstyles ranging from a fully shaved head to loose waves falling down her face with the sides buzzed. Her androgynous look tends to confuse audiences.

“It never bothers me during a show to be confused or mis-gendered” Armendariz says. “It doesn’t because I’m in my own skin. I feel good after a set. I’m like, You know what? Whatever. You don’t get it? See ya. I played a good show. I’m out of here.”

Onstage is the only place Armendariz says she feels free. And it's where she first met her music role model, indie demigod Devendra Banhart, back in her hometown of San Diego. She was the first person who caught his attention after he invited someone from the audience onstage to perform. She sang “Apple,” part of an LP released in 2011, and they’ve been in touch ever since. Banhart guest DJ’d one of Kera's shows back in 2014 that garnered DoLa’s best live show of 2014.

While the band gains more buzz around L.A. and beyond, Armendariz is learning to create her own version of family. Not having support from her biological family because of her queer identity is something she struggles with everyday, but she finds solace in her music.

“It’s ok to be vulnerable, it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to feel the things you’re feeling,” Armendariz says. But let’s get out of it. Come on, come with me. That’s more of like my focus with this and where my songwriting has gone.”

Kera & The Lesbians - Year 23

Kera and the Lesbians have a full-length album slated for a fall release.


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