Jigsaw Youth: Won’t fit your definition
“Won’t fit your definition,” is a line that stuck with me since the very first time I ever heard Jigsaw Youth by Bikini Kill. I thought it perfectly described me, my friends, and the rising generation of teenagers and young adults that I’m so glad to be a part of. We’re strong, we’re unique, and most importantly, we’re aware. Being a part of a generation that is so easily labelled as lazy and reckless can be irritating because when I have a political, social, or intellectual thought of any kind, it gets shut down. Apparently I’m “too young and naive” and I have “no idea what I’m talking about,” but I believe that because all that our generation has ever heard is “you can’t,” we’re fighting back with “watch me.”
Looking back I always considered myself a feminist, even if I didn’t know the word yet. I grew up with an older sister who was a giant science and math geek but always had time to look gorgeous, and an older brother who studied ballet but is quite the ladies man and even served in the army. There were no barriers or roles that we couldn’t break and I always found it a little unfair when you had to be a certain way or do a certain something just because of how you were born. I mean if we all have different fingerprints, why are we expected to be the same?
Maria, Jigsaw Youth
It wasn’t until I turned 16 that I started to understand feminism on a deeper level. I became more aware of the injustices all over the world and this made me so angry. Now keep in mind that I’m already an angry person, I’ll admit that I’ve been through some traumatic experiences – but it’s made me become aware and for that, I’m grateful.
I started looking at the world from an outsider’s perspective and I saw the racism, the anti-Semitism, the Islamophobia, the homophobia, the classism, women getting acid thrown on their faces, girls being sold into sex slavery and marriage, etc., etc., etc. There was just so much hatred and protests going on, I thought I was going to explode. I kept thinking, “This isn’t a world I want to live in, this isn’t a world that I want my future kids to experience.”
I became so angry that I isolated myself because none of my friends cared about what was going on. “Well it’s not happening to me,” they said. I wanted to desperately try to make the world a better place, to leave my footprint on this planet before I die and know that I at least tried. So I started listening to Bikini Kill and 90s feminist punk in general and the whole backstory of Riot Grrrl fuelled me. I began to feel it in my stomach, my fists, my voice. I wanted to do this but I didn’t know with whom.
Coincidentally, this was the exact time I met Stach – who, by the way, has become one of my closest friends.
We began talking and honestly, we clicked from the start. Not only did we have a tonne in common musically, but personally too. Everything I went through, she went through too and we were equally angry. She’s played guitar since she was 12, and I’ve played bass since I was 13 but what I found fascinating was that I had completely given up on music and then when I wanted to get back into it, she showed up in my life.
I am eternally grateful to the universe. Nobody has ever listened to us and we have things to say so we thought, “let’s start a band and scream into the microphone.” She introduced me to one of her friends, Julia, who plays drums and she’s amazing. The way that Kurt Cobain talks about Dave Grohl being one of the best drummers out there is the same way that Stach and I talk about Julia. When we play a song, it takes Julia less than thirty seconds to improvise and come up with an amazing beat that I do believe brings our songs together and to a whole other level. From there, we became Jigsaw Youth (click the Instagram link and you’ll see not just our photos but also our Bandcamp releases, if you’d like to support us. Listen to our 3-track album for free or download it for $2!).
I began sleeping over at Stach’s house every weekend to practice and the creativity that flows through us is unbelievable. I can write lyrics in ten minutes and you give Stach about five minutes, and she’s got a riff ready. In about three months, we had written close to thirty songs, each totally unique and angry. The type of songs that my friend says a bunch of 16/17-year-old girls could not have written.
Though there are plenty of girl bands nowadays, I believe that the prime for girl bands was the 90s… but in a way, and as much as I love the 90s, I’m glad we weren’t alive to start a band in the 90s or we would’ve been just another girl band. This is it and I advise all girls to how to play drums, or a bass, or a guitar, or even a pair of maracas and start a band. All I ever see nowadays are pop punk boy bands and I know that there are girls out there with things to say who want to be heard.
We are part of the up-and-coming generation. We are aware. We have things to say and whether you believe it or not, our generation is going to change the world and I could not be more proud.
– Maria Alvarez (Instagram: JigsawYouthBand)
Tagged in: riot grrrl