“I think if you listen to the music we play, and especially when you come to our shows, you can tell what we are really about.”
Written by Maya Christensen
Sluttony is a four piece punk band formed by third-year college students Sabine (she/they) on drums, Hannah (she/her) on vocals, Nina (she/her) on guitar, and Darlene (she/her) on bass. If you have found yourself involved at all in the local Santa Cruz music scene within the last year, their name is likely to be familiar to you. The punk band, the band that brings the crowds, the girl band. Sluttony has taken the local music scene by storm, bringing in impressively larger crowds each show they play.
This is a stark contrast to how they began: out of a UCSC dorm their freshman year, most of the band without prior musical expertise. Sabine explains, “We all used to jam together all the time freshman year, and Nina taught me guitar through that[…]We all came back here after [COVID lockdown] and got in touch with one another to start jamming again. Nina and I then got a drum kit, and she taught me drums as well,” they explain, “one day we were at a small gathering at our house and Bev, who was the former lead singer, asked Hannah if she wanted to start a band. We were all sort of sitting around each other and overheard, immediately interested since we all played instruments.” Nina adds, “The band was originally us three [Nina, Sabine, and Hannah] plus Bev playing in a garage.”
Eventually, Bev transferred to another school and the band was left with the daunting task of rearrangement. Hannah moved up to the lead singer position, but they still seriously needed a bassist. That’s when Darlene came in, “I had come up to Hannah, telling her I could play a bit of guitar and that I felt I could easily pick up bass,” she reminisces, “I came to practice the next time and that’s basically how I joined.” Hannah adds, “She was really persistent, I remember that’s why I felt confident in her joining the band. She bought a bass, an amp, and asked me to be in the band. I was like, ‘yeah dude!’”
Just four college sophomores teaching each other how to play newly acquired instruments in a garage to their friends for the pure love of music. This is not unlike many stories heard from the Riot Grrrl feminist punk movement out of the 90s, pushing for more femme representation in the forefront of punk, which is the subgenre Sluttony associates themselves with most. Bratmobile, to note one band’s example, played their first show on borrowed instruments with next to no music playing ability. But through participation in the music and culture, teaching themselves how to improve, they joined bands like Bikini Kill in representing the face of Riot Grrrl.
Sluttony explained their genre association, “At the end of the day, our sound does matter, but also in what we want to do we strive for that. We label ourselves more as punk/riot grrrl because that’s what we stand for, we do have a message we want to put across.” They continue, “I think if you listen to the music we play, and especially when you come to our shows, you can tell what we are really about.”
Riot Grrrl was not just about the music on its own, but the movement around it. Like all punk genres, it was about the promotion of a clear message. The dismissal of femme voices in punk historically perpetuated and thus continually fought against. Even the Santa Cruz local alternative music scene, one that constantly promotes inclusivity, is dominated by men. Riot grrrl promotes reclamation of space. As ‘grrrls’ have consistently contributed immensely to punk music and culture, representation is a mere reassertion of that contribution. As Nina explains, “We also love working with other artists and want to form a community and make the music scene more cohesive rather than just a bunch of bands playing separately.” The promotion of community is one of the founding principles of punk, in that a culture of inclusivity is brought about connected together by the music.
Sluttony also answered on their connection to the D.I.Y. principles of their band, “It’s really nice coming into rehearsal and you can physically tell how much everyone has improved, and I think that’s what we love about it so much and also the willingness to create,” Hannah explains, “We can create anything we want to do. With merch, we bought the materials for less than $10 and used spray paint on our own. We take so much time out of our day for this band and I think the payoff is the most rewarding part. From the work we put in, everything we did on our own. We didn’t really have a team, it was us and the help we got from our friends.”
Darlene adds, “Our friends have been incredibly amazing. They have been willing to help in whatever way possible.” While the band has been trying to connect the local scene, they have had a loving community form around them contributing all support they can lend just to see their friends’ live their dreams.
“They help promote, design, everything. Just physically being there for shows and listening to our songs,” Nina explains, “Hannah’s housemates just listen to the noise of us practicing for hours then come to the show and are still excited to see us play. We would not be able to do this, though it is a cliche, without our friends that have supported us.” Sabine comments, “Special shout out to Hannah’s housemates, the people who do art for us, and those that help us write music. We are incredibly appreciative of it all.”
Continue to keep the name Sluttony in your mind because it will not be the last you are hearing of it. The band has big plans.
“We are just very optimistic and that’s saying something in the music industry,” Hannah exclaims, “Our big goal right now is a west coast tour [opening] and to release our first EP, which we are working on at the moment. We really just want to take off as much as we can.”
Nina agrees, “I think the past month for me has made it very clear that this is something we should keep doing.”
Hannah finishes,“We thought at first that this would be a fun little college thing, but we have actual plans now for our future. A lot of opportunities continue to pop up and we’re just rolling with it,” she explains, ”We’re trying to do this all, while being in school mind you, along with a variety of other commitments such as jobs and social lives, and give our all to it. It’s all so stressful and I just commend all of us with all of our dedication and we have been set forward while being so f*cking busy and I’m just so happy about that.”