In Studio: The Otherworldly Sounds And Inspiration Behind Femina-X
Electronic power-soul group Femina-X might be the result of a friendly happenstance that brought two musicians together through music. Before he even thought of starting a band with Daniela Riojas, guitarist Alex Scheel says the two struck up a friendship. Riojas explains, “We were getting to know each other and we were communicating through music. We would make little songs together and [Alex] was teaching me a lot about music programs so we could program stuff together. It was very natural.”
Still, it would be a few years until Femina-X really took off. “[Daniela] started trying to work with [other] people but nobody worked out,” Alex says. “She just started getting more and more fixated on having [her project] come to life.” Soon Daniela was booking her own shows. She didn’t have a band to play with, just a couple of good songs. She and Alex continued to work together to find a drummer and bassist for their first show in October 2013. Since then, the band shifted to a three piece unit with Daniela still on vocals, Alex on guitar, and Jeff Palacios on bass.
Femina-X follows a long line of electronic artists like Four Tet, James Blake, Bjork, and Crystal Castles. While they love the effects of programing beats on their tracks, Daniella says “humans carry a lot more emotional value.”
“I’ve always wanted to make electronic music,” she says, “but the fusion of both the live and the electronic creates a perfect power. Humans can't do all the things electronics can do and vice versa. So when you fuse the two … you get the best of both worlds.” Daniella says she also enjoys the energy of the other band members in the room with her when she plays. The connection and the friendship is what drives their music.Alex agrees, saying he enjoys the rigidness of the electronics because it allows for the group to be more expressive and creative during live performances, but the drawback, he says, comes when they have to edit a song. “Changing a song is not as easy as it was with a regular band. [Daniela]'s always editing her songs! That just means that we have to go back into the program and change something... to grow a track takes a bit more technical work than just playing it again with a little more legato.”
As chief lyricist for the group, Daniela says she draws lyrical inspiration from creating characters and worlds or from visions she has of places where she feels the band is connected. “There's this sort of character of the Mookoo [from their song “Mookoo Stomp”]. It's not a character, it's more of a state of mind. We call each other Mookoo...and it's just sort of like this very innocent, naive, child-like free spirit that we can all tap into together. Then that world becomes really free for us and we can play in there.” Daniella says, “That's where we make music, that's where we have the most genuine laughs and feel very at peace with each other and who we are as humans. It's sort of a spiritual world but it's something else.” Many of their songs are dark and lamenting but Alex says songs like “Mookoo Stomp” and “Inka” are what keep them afloat and that “We're always searching in the back of our heads trying to see how far we can go in our internal shadows, so to be able to make a happy song is crucial for us.”
Femina-X has a lot coming up for them in the next few months. In March they recorded a collection of songs at Sonic Ranch Residential Recording Studio outside El Paso to be released sometime in October. They’ve also just finished filming an experimental music video that was funded by The Artists Fund. It’s to be released along with their album in the fall. The band’s also gearing up for a national tour in October after their album release.