Punk band Mamis embrace intersectional identities through music —
September 22, 2017

Punk band Mamis embrace intersectional identities through music

By Cat Cardenas

For Austin-based punk band Mamis, their name means more than mother, it means more than the name girls might hear if they’re catcalled on the street — it’s a term of endearment, a term of empowerment and a testament to the things they create.

“For me, Mamis is everything,” drummer Lisa Limón said. “It’s our mothers, it’s a cute name, it’s our energy. When people hear Mamis, maybe you’re thinking about the stereotype of cute, sexy latina women, but it means something more. We’re fierce, we’re representing our community and that’s what the name brings to the table.”

Mamis (by Jesús I'x Nazario)
Mamis (photo by Jesús I’x Nazario)

The four-piece band, comprised of Naomi “Mimi” Scabs (vocals), Ashley “Big Peach” (guitar), Nicole “Nice Nikki” (bass) and Limón have known each other for years, but got together to form Mamis just eight months ago. Ashley jokes that their time together has been a kind of gestation period, as they wait to birth their debut EP later this summer.

In Austin, the members of the punk band agreed that as an all-female band, they’re somewhat of a rarity in the punk scene.  Throughout many of their songs, they discuss women’s rights and female empowerment, hoping to make women feel like they can discuss these issues as well.

“We want to create a space for women and women of color in Austin,” Naomi said. “A lot of punk revolves around men and it’s very male centric, we want to provide a space for women to be heard and respected and in the spotlight. For women of color to talk about what we want to talk about without being afraid.”

Though they all had backgrounds in punk, their individual tastes range from dance house music to the traditional Jarocho music of Veracruz, Mexico.  “Because we listen to all of that music, to me, it comes together to make punk,” Ashley said. “It always feels experimental because we’re always bringing new sounds to the table.”

Together, the band members are just as diverse as their sound. Though they all come from Texas, some of the band members identify as Chicana or Mexicana while others identify as black or Latina. Naomi said their different identities combine and bring different influences to the music they create together. “I’m from the border, but I also identify as queer and as a person of color and a woman,” Naomi said.  “I feel like these identities are marginalized and I feel like music is a place for me to talk about that.”

Mamis

For Nikki, who also grew up on the border, her identity has always felt like a balancing act. With Cuban and Venezuelan parents, she said she feels like she’s from two different places at once. But in playing music, she found her voice and embraced her identity. “I feel like I’m really living when I play this kind of music, where all voices are welcome,” Nikki said. “It’s free flowing, it’s more than notes on a page. It’s this idea that music evolves while it’s being played.”

While the band is still young, Ashley said during the shows they’ve played, they’ve found that people resonated with how the girls embrace their identities and celebrate and discuss them in their music. “In the punk scene a lot of people aren’t really talking about shit, especially in Austin which is so unjust for so many populations,” Ashley said. “I feel so good about the track we’re on, I feel like we’re about to burst some shit. With the current political climate, it’s about to get pretty clear how folks are going to move forward. We’re happy to use our artistic vision to help.”

You can listen to Mamis’ latest demo here.

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