All the band wants is for people to connect to its music. "From what people have told me, and us, when they listen to our music, it's visual [for them], but they don't know what they're looking at," vocalist Emily Afre shares. "It's something very abstract, almost as if you're swimming through something... as if you're moving through the sound and you can touch it."
Although still relatively new to Miami's music scene, the band considers itself lucky and grateful to have gained sizable support from fans and other local musicians. "It took me by surprise. We had only booked two shows, and all the other shows were people inviting us," guitarist Andrés Nuñez says of Womanhouse's rise through the ranks.
Womanhouse — a five-track EP released on New Year's Eve — includes the single "Gaucho," which was included in New Times' list of 20 best Miami songs of 2019.
The EP was mastered by R. Brok Mende and recorded by local musician Carlo Barbacci, who has a recording studio in his grandparents' house in Doral where he lives alone. In true DIY fashion, the drum parts were recorded in a bedroom and most vocals and instruments in a closet.
If you try to label the band's music as shoegaze, its members will have some choice words for you. "Shoegaze is known to have less prominent vocals," says Afre, whose vocal influences include Stevie Nicks and Elizabeth Frasier of Cocteau Twins. Although the band uses effects and pedals to achieve a dreamy sound with shoegaze elements, other genres, such as psychedelic and postpunk, are prominent.
The band is named for the 1972 feminist art installation and performance space by renowned artists Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro. The bandmates agree the name captures their connections through their diverse backgrounds, influences, and personalities. Nuñez says both the group and its namesake "represent work by different people regardless of gender."
Florida International University's college radio station, WRGP, was vital in bringing the bandmates together. Afre was a DJ as well as traffic and training director at the station when she hired Nuñez as a DJ. Afre was sitting and writing lyrics at SpecialTea, a spot she frequented between classes, when drummer Björn Roland, another fellow radio DJ, approached her and suggested they create music together.
From there, Roland brought in guitarist and high school friend Steve Montoya. Carlo Barbacci, leader of the local band Mold, later joined Womanhouse as a bassist in exchange for Roland's agreeing to play drums for Mold.
Each member of the band exhibits strong musical influences. For example, Afre's upbringing of singing classic country such as Patsy Cline reverberates in her strong vocals, and Nuñez's affinity for dream pop and bands such as Warpaint bleed into his long, dreamy riffs.
They key to Womanhouse's ability to stand out in a sea of local bands is the genuine friendships between its members as they explore creating music together. "We're all very good friends first and spend a lot of time together, sometimes without having anything to do with the band," Nuñez says.
Womanhouse EP-Release Show. With the Creature Cage, Glass Body, Mold, and others. 9 pm. Friday, January 24, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $5 at the door.