Making a Splash: L.A. treasures the Aquadolls are a glorious mass of contradictions. A walking dichotomy, covered in glass and glitter. On one hand, perhaps the most overt and obvious hand, they’re a joyful exercise in melodic pop-rock, kitted out in sparkles and mermaid tails. But life has a habit of reminding us that it’s not all sunshine, puppy dogs and rainbows, and the Aquadolls encapsulate that majestically. Their counter, the yin to the happy yang, is their ability to capture life’s angst with oft-caustic but never hopeless lyrics. And of course, they can ferociously hammer their instruments between more delicate moments.

Singer and guitarist Melissa Brooks started the band a decade ago with an entirely different lineup, chopping and changing until she eventually linked up with bassist Keilah Nina and drummer Jacqueline Proctor in 2018. The band’s third album, Charmed, will be released this summer and it’s this trio’s first together. New single “Sneaky” is, literally, a sneak peek at what we can expect. It’s immediately apparent that the three musicians have impressive chemistry, five years in the making.

“I’d been going to shows for quite some time and I always went to all of the Aquadolls shows,” says Nina. “So one day I just asked Mel for a ride home because we had been to so many shows together that I knew she lived a street away from mine. She gave me a ride home, and then we ended up hanging out every single day. I think it was a really natural connection. That’s how I ended up meeting Jackie as well. We were hanging out at Jackie’s house one day and it kind of clicked. Our personalities blended well together.”

Considering the fact that only Brooks remains from the early days of the Aquadolls, it makes sense that the sound has evolved considerably over the 10 years.

“It kinda started off with not the best quality of recordings,” says Brooks. “I was just recording in my ex-boyfriend’s bedroom, and then eventually got to go to a studio and make it sound a little better. Definitely more of that surf rock sound to it, that California sound. The last record, The Dream and the Deception, had more electronic elements sprinkled in. The new record, Charmed, goes back to our roots. But it has a new twist, because it has a little bit of everyone’s personality in it, and we touch on all sorts of different genres. It’s still, at the end of day, alternative rock.”

The Aquadolls is very much a Los Angeles band, spread over the region. The wealth of musical excellence here has had a massive impact on the three musicians.

“I know that we’re Aquadolls and it’s all mermaids and fun, but I’m a city girl – I always have been and I always will be,” says Nina. “I think the different music scenes that you find in this city and all of the diverse shows that you can go to had a really big impact, at least on the way that I play music, listen to music and write music. I always say that we’re so lucky to be from here, because you can really go and see anything. So it’s fun because you can go to a punk show one day and then a pop show the next. It definitely helped us creatively and with inspiration.”

Charmed was recorded with producer Chris Szczech, perhaps best known for his work with the Goo Goo Dolls, at his home studio.

“I really feel like this is our dreamiest,” says Nina. “Even though the last album was called The Dream and the Deception, I feel like every time I re-listen to this album, it feels sparkly. It’s very dreamy. The way that I describe it is, it’s just every form of love that there is. Platonic, romantic, sisterly – it’s like a blessing. Very nostalgic and very rose-tinted. It’s very happy, magical and sparkly, and I think it really hones in on the human connection and being there for each other, especially after dark times. I like the whimsical-ness of it. I want people, even when you’re screaming your heart out, to feel warmth and radiate positivity.”

Those “dark times,” of course, include the recent pandemic and lockdowns. There are songs on Charmed that were written before COVID changed everything, and some that were written after/during.

“There were demos that we hung onto for so long, that we really, really believed in,” says Nina. “The rest were written after. I feel like, when you listen to the album, you can hear us find our sound just a little bit more. I think those demos were really great jumping off points to shape the sound and the feeling of the album. One of the first songs that we wrote I believe was ‘Far Far Away,’ and it’s very daydreamy, thinking about the future and how sometimes you are your own hero. That’s a common theme on the album – depending on yourself, self-love, and knowing that’s OK. That’s where the album is mostly positive, obviously, but realistically, life is not all sparkle and sunshine. But I definitely think it’s helped us really hone in on what we wanted to say and how we wanted to say it, especially after such a long break that everyone was forced to take.”

The Aquadolls chose “Sneaky” for the first single because it was such a blast to play live, says Proctor.

“Also, it gives Hole vibes a little bit and we love Hole,” says the drummer. “That’s a huge inspiration for us, throughout this album. That song in particular, I can just remember when we’ve been driving in the car together and we’re so burned out from everything, and then we’re screaming Hole songs. For me, when we play that, it’s like empowering for us in a way. Even though it’s about a sneaky little wink. We’re here and we’ve arrived.”

The Aquadolls are heading out on tour in April, through the US (and one Canadian date). More singles and videos will be dropping as the build-up to Charmed continues. It certainly appears to be the case that 2023 will be a big one.

“Life is rock, rock is life, keep on rolling,” says Proctor in conclusion. “Believe in yourself, dang it!”

Making a Splash: The Aquadollsnew single Sneaky” is out now. The Charmed album is due in June.





















































































































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