Emphasizing the multiculturalism of the scene from which they rose, Maldita are pleased to have released their brand new self-titled full-length record earlier this month, via Cursed Blessed Recordings. This album has been years in the making, with Maldita having first formed in Toronto back in 2016.
Female-fronted by the dynamic and alluring Rosa Venenosa, she performs her lyrics predominantly in Spanish over top of some very fierce punk and hardcore sounds provided by her skilled bandmates. Their approach to hardcore is certainly quite worldly, with the members dedicated followers of the Scandinavian, Japanese, Spanish, and English hardcore scenes. The guitars are raw, the drums are powerful, and the lyrics are politically and socially charged. The group’s demo was originally issued in 2016, which was followed the following year by their full-length debut.
With a strong female presence such as Venenosa in charge, she seemed like an ideal match for our Women of Rock series. Today she has joined us for a special contribution in which she discusses her fondness for female dominant punk rock, and she also lists her top five female punk rockers to who she feels a strong devotion.
“I have always been in love with women, since a young age I remember having crushes on my closest girl friends but growing up in Peru in the 1980 and 1990s where that was still considered taboo and inadequate, I never dared to act on those crushes. So I mostly grew up as a tomboy and surrounded myself with boys, not so much as a choice, but because the sports I did and music I listened to as a teen, were male-dominated. Also, dressing more boyish-like, deterred older men from hitting on me or to catcall me on the street. Things changed when I moved to Canada when I was 17, it wasn’t just a major life upheaval, it was lonely at the beginning, but for the first time in my life, I was able to experience the freedom to be myself and to really explore and understand my sexuality.
“My love for music led me to attend music festivals, concerts, house shows, etc., and gave me the opportunity to meet great people all over the Ontario scene. What I remember fondly as a young punk it’s to have been welcomed in the Kensington Market (neighbourhood in Downtown Toronto) punk scene and to have experienced live shows by female-fronted or bands with female members in it, at the now long-defunct Planet Kensington. Bands like the No Nos, Politikill Incorrect, Pantychrist, and of course the BFG’s. I was also lucky to have experienced the whole Queen St. and Bathurst St. squeegee punk lifestyle of the early 2000s, while simultaneously attending fashion school and running a punk house. Kathedral, Q-Bar, and Bovine live punk shows where I saw many local and international acts will be with me forever.
“As I grew older, that love for the female spirit, its resilience, femininity and power evolved and so did my musical knowledge and tastes. But here are five of the many female punk rock musicians I hold dear to my heart.”
1. Wendy O. Williams
“Wendy O. Williams, singer of The Plasmatics, most people when they think of W.O.W. only remember the crazy theatrics, the blonde mohawk, and exhibitionism. But from what I learned about her life is that she was strictly against sexism in the rock scene, she embraced her female voice and past experiences as an adult film/sex show actress only solidified her as an early herald for women’s rights. Throughout her musical career, her songs frequently featured anti-consumerist and anti-establishment messages. A committed vegetarian, Williams believed in leading a healthy lifestyle and aiming for self-improvement. She was a consummate professional, always working on her craft, working on the show. She would work out hours every day, she would run six miles a day. She still inspires me to this day.”
2. Lynda Tam
“Lynda Tam, singer of Sacrilege. I love their first release, Behind the Realms of Madness. Lynda’s vocals match perfectly the harrowing lyrics that depict the darker greedy side of society. Sacrilege is an important band due to their blending of hardcore punk, radical politics, and thrash/death metal sound, making them one of the prototypical crust punk bands of the ‘80s. They were way ahead of their time during the ‘80s in terms of their sound.
“Even though they moved towards a more experimental doom metal folk sound on their later release, they are now recognized as a major influence for many later bands, and for being unafraid to use musical experimentation within the confines of a musical genre, even to the detriment of greater commercial appeal. This boldness to experiment with new sounds and their ability to not care about commercial gain puts them up on my list. They are also one of the two band tattoos that adorn my body.”
3. Janick Varning
“Janick Varning, singer of Fractured. Not has she only been in the Montreal punk scene for over 20 years, she is also known around the globe for fronting bands like After The Bombs, 86’D, Hellbound, Truncheons, and more recently Fractured. She also run and co-owned the best punk bar in Montreal and in the world, to my opinion, called Katacombes and single-handedly started Varning from Montreal Festival since Katacombes opening back in 2007. She is not just a seasoned promoter and excellent singer, but she is also a champion for women’s visibility in the alternative music scene and equality in the workplace. I personally know Janick and she is always just a beam of light. Look out for Varning Productions’ next shows in the future!”
4. Poly Styrene
“Poly Styrene, singer of X-Ray Specs. Love Poly’s voice, range, and the seamless way it meshes with the catchy tunes they created for Germfree Adolescents, this album is a must in my playlist. She was described by Billboard as the ‘archetype for the modern-day feminist punk,’ because she wore dental braces, rebelled against the archetypal female sex object of the 1970s, sported a gaudy Dayglo wardrobe, and was of mixed race. She was ‘one of the least conventional front persons in rock history, male or female.’ She was the other side of the spectrum in my opinion compared to W.O.W., but I appreciate how each of them rebelled against the patriarchy in their own way.”
5. Lyz Mueller
“Lyz Mueller singer of Antischism. Can’t forget this amazing anarcho-punk band from South Carolina. Considered by many to be one of the best crust peace punk bands of all time, Antischism combines fierce male and female vocals, powerful lyrics, fierce guitars, and drums to create a unique angry and energetic sound. I want to give a shout out to another anarcho-punk band we will be sharing the stage this summer with named Dogma, they are from Ottawa and they are great people!”