What made you name the band Place Aux Dames?
Marty: Ohh nice question.
Denise: It’s French for “make room for the girls”…and we’re all girls.
Leigh: We were in school and we were having science class, it was seventh grade, and I had this big Merriam-Webster dictionary and I was like, “let’s look for words for you know, our band name” and then we went to the foreign phrases section and I found “place aux dames” and I asked them if they like the name, and yeah that’s it.
Were there any other bands names you were considering?
Denise: ‘Wag, nakakahiya.
Leigh: But we have to be honest!
Marty: I did say that I will tell the truth and nothing but the truth. We came up with other bands names but the truth is, we don’t want to share them at all. It’s so embarrassing. Just think it was seventh grade, that’s embarrassing enough.
What made you start the band?
Denise: Na-pressure kami.
Marty: Yeah, na-pressure kami kasi every year may legacy concert yung graduating batches ng school namin tapos yung batch namin didn’t have a band. And so I kept thinking, “We don’t have a band this is so humiliating”. So I messaged all the people that know how to play instruments on Facebook, including them [the other band members], and I’m like, “Hey, we have to form a band” and they said, “Okay, let’s form a band”.
Erycka: I was supposed to be the drummer.
Did you all know each other prior to forming Place Aux Dames? Were you guys close?
Leigh: In a way.
Denise: Magka-barkada kami [points to Erycka].
Erycka: We were all friends before Grade 7
Marty: I was more closer to Leigh and we did the same show together in sixth grade.
Erycka: I used to hate her [Marty].
Denise: I used to hate you [Erycka]!
Leigh: Erycka and I were classmates a lot of times so basically yeah, she’s a good girl. And Borja, we were classmates nung Grade 4.
Marty: No, we were all classmates in Grade 4 except for Erycka.
Denise: Four sections lang kami so lahat kami magkakakilala.
Marty: Yeah, so as a batch we already knew each other ‘cause we kept changing sections but then we weren’t super close back then like, in kindergarten, [Denise] Borja wasn’t in our school yet and the three of us were classmates ‘tas lagi ko sila [Erycka and Leigh] binubully. Like I told Leigh I didn’t like her because she’s Chinese.
Leigh: I had curly hair at that time.
Marty: I had curls but then she also had curls so I’m like, “This girl can’t have the same hair as me”. And then, si Erycka din, I didn’t like her because her bangs were so ugly.
Denise: I hated her [Erycka] because she had all the High School Musical shit back then.
Leigh: Borja and I were really good friends in Grade 4 because we shared like book interests.
Denise: Ano ‘to, Twilight?
Denise: In fourth grade, Marty told me that [William] Bill Beckett was her boyfriend and I believed her and I was like, “Oh! That’s so cool!”. And she brought Santi to school and she’s like, “Eto yung CD ng boyfriend ko” and I was like, “Ang galing naman may CD yung boyfriend mo”.
Marty: And that’s how we became friends.
Leigh: I remember Borja told me she became friends with me because I had this chipmunk voice or something.
Erycka: I apologize, ang haba ng sagot natin.
Marty: Daming memories eh.
Who writes the songs?
Denise: They do [Marty and Leigh].
Marty: At first, it started with just me, and I thought Leigh should write songs, She’s also singing for the band, so she might as well write her own.
Denise: Well, we write our own parts.
Marty: Yeah, other than the lyrics, they write their own parts. So the way it works is I come up with a song and play a little bit of it--
Leigh: She sends demos.
Marty: I send them demos and they write their own parts.
Where do you get inspiration for them?
Marty: Ice cream……
Denise: Yeah, we write about ice cream and how it melts really quickly.
Marty: I don’t a specific thing for inspiration back then ‘cause it was just like if something happens, then if it makes a really big impact on me, then I’m just gonna write about it. But lately all the songs I'm recording are really specific for me. Our second song 'Knock Knock' is about specific people, like, for a lack of a better term, it's about our lives.
Erycka: Our love lives.
Marty: Inspiration is everywhere.
What about like the music, as in the notes and chords?
Denise: It depends. The drums for 'Knock Knock' was inspired by Panic! At The Disco.
Erycka: I don't know, it just depends on what I listen to.
Denise: Basta vibe namin.
Since you're an all girl band, here in the Philippines, most of the popular OPM bands have all male members or only have one girl in them, like Up Dharma Down or Ang Bandang Shirley, how do you feel about that?
Erycka: I'm totally fine with it but we need more diversity in music 'cause Taken By Cars is an example since they have two girls.
Denise: In the schools, ang daming bands na all girls...especially in an all girl schools. It's like a thing when you get to high school, there's a band in your batch. Right now, there are like six bands in [our] school. Yung seniors lang namin ngayon ang may guys sa band so everybody else are all girls.
Marty: We did come from an all girl school and that's our network. That's our environment so it's sort of a given, it's easy access. At this point, it's not sort of an important thing that we're all girls, it's more of the artistry we have; whether we're all girls or all guys or some girls some guys.
Do you think that there is a need for more girl bands?
Denise: It'd be cool. There can be.
Erycka: It it happens, it happens.
Marty: It's still a band either way.
Being high school students, how do you cope with your studies whilst being in a band? Or is it your summer already?
Denise: Hah, summer? What summer? There's like a bridging thing. Instead of the two year stay, they're making us take like a two weak course because of K-12.
Marty: Basically we have summer classes.
Leigh: After the summer bridging, we have this job shadowing thing.
Eryka: And then we have to take review classes.
Leigh: So given that, we don't have a summer.
So your schedules are pretty hectic, how do you find time to practice or get inspiration?
Erycka: We literally just ask each other, "Hey, do you want to have band practice?".
Marty: When it's near the weekend we're like, "yeah sure!".
Erycka: It just happens.
Leigh: This year, may nangyayari na last minute practices.
Marty: There are even some times when we don't practice at all. It has reached that point because Leigh has so much to do at home and at school, and then it was really hard 'cause Erycka and I just joined prom court this year so it was hectic, and then [Denise] Borja does art. I've been building up my portfolio 'cause I've been doing film so it's really difficult but you know, we have to live with that kind of schedule. For some reason, fate or destiny, whatever you wanna call it, somehow we manage to practice. It's that thing called tadhana.
Denise: We typically have the same songs anyway.
Leigh: Yeah, we just manage.
Denise: We haven't learned a new song in the longest time.
Marty: Our last band practice was two weeks before prom, kumusta naman 'yun.
Denise: Oh we did learn a new song! Steal My Girl [by One Direction].
Has there ever been disagreements between you guys in the band?
Denise: The thing with us is that if you have a problem, we're super frank.
Erycka: It's either just we give each other time or we don't talk to each other for a couple of weeks.
Marty: If it gets really bad, we talk about it. So you know let's just deal with it, and we deal with it.
What's your best experience as a band?
Leigh: I think for me the best gig we've ever had was The Plaid Run.
Denise: For me it's the BS [band screening] this year and also last year. We have this thing in school, the band screening, it's open to amateur bands to play for Battle of The Bands.
Erycka: Last year was fun. We played High School Musical.
Denise: People freaked out like they lost their minds.
Marty: I would agree that The Plaid Run and the BS of last year were the best but the difference between them was The Plaid Run, barely anyone actually watched us but we were high on caffeine, we had practices the set list for god knows how many times, and despite the really small crowd, people were so loud.
Denise: And we only played 5 songs.
Marty: With the band screening, we played High School Musical.
Leigh: It was 'Start of Something New'. People were screaming and I couldn't hear myself sing.
Denise: Pumiyok si Leigh.
Marty: Bottom line is what makes our best experiences were the people. No matter how small the crowd was or how noisy they were, just the feeling that the people actually like what we're doing no matter how many mistakes we make is a great feeling.
What about the craziest experience?
Erycka: She [Marty] texted me saying she was in Eastwood--
Denise: Ano yun?
Leigh: What was this?
Erycka: Oh my god, you guys don't know?
Denise: Kasama ba kami dito? Ano yan?
Erycka: She was in Eastwood and she texted me like, "Oh my god! Someone just walked up to me and was like 'Hey are you Marty from Place Aux Dames?'".
Marty: No it wasn't even that, it was "Are you Place Aux Marty?". We normally don't play outside schools but then we upload stuff online and the people around the internet community listen to our stuff and then all of a sudden in Eastwood, "Are you Place Aux Marty?" "Yes. Maybe, the last time I checked" "Oh my god! When are you guys gonna release a new song?". This is crazy! I mean it's not like the times when people tried to grab Erycka's shoes during our gigs. It's not as crazy as that, but just knowing that there are people who recognize you in a way, it's just, wow.
Denise: In school and when you're in a band, I don't know, parang sikat ka. Nagugulat na lang ako na kasi na parang I didn't think it would be a big deal. As in people from the lower batches are like, "Pwede magpapicture?"
Leigh: We used to have our own table in the cafeteria and these like Grade 7 people during that time asked us, "Can you sign our jacket?".
Marty: When people take over our table and they see that we're going down the stairs to the cafeteria, they're like "This is Place Aux Dames' table we can't sit here!".
Denise: One time Marty and Leigh were in the bathroom and then there were like people singing really badly. They [Marty and Leigh] were in cubicles and when they got out, the people were embarrassed.
Marty: Ang daldal natin.
Are there any goals you want to achieve as a band in the future? What's next for Place Aux Dames?
Erycka: Release an EP.
Denise: I want to win the Battle of the Bands.
Marty: We want to try to write some new material.
Do you think in some way or another, you're contributing to women empowerment [by being in an all girl band]?
Denise: We would hope so.
Marty: It's not our main goal, but it would be nice if we make an all girl band that's not, I don't know, in the same heights as we are at the moment. If we made an impact on some girls that don't have the confidence, then that's great.
Denise: I think it's just a bonus that it just so happens that we're all girls.
Erycka: It's nice.
Lastly, what would you say to those who criticize female artists based on their gender alone?
Marty: I'd scream "bullshit" but my mom would get mad at me.
Erycka: Beyonce is a girl! Beyonce is a girl!
Marty: I don't want to be mean, but what I do wanna say is that it's not gonna make much of a difference. Okay, it's gonna hurt the female artists' feelings in one way or another but, anong mapapala mo diyan?
Leigh: Haters gonna hate.
Marty: Yun nga, nilait mo nga yung artista pero what do you get out of that? So what's the point? Okay, you don't like her, eh di you don't like her.
Denise: You don't have to put them down.
Marty: And if you're a female artist or just a woman in general, na nilalait na talaga ng mga tao just for being a woman, don't be too torn about it. That's the sad reality. I get it a lot especially since we're an all girl band and it has happened before that people doubt us because we're all girls, but you know, I had to learn it the hard way that we don't have to be really violent about it. That's the whole point of feminism. We don't want to put down men, we don't want men to put us down either. So whether you're the one na nanglalait or nilalait ka ng mga tao, 'wag kang sobrang violent about it. Ayusin mo ng maayos.
So we're going to do a round of quick fire questions and everybody has to answer the first thing that comes to their mind.
What's your stripper name (pet name + street name)?
Denise: Pangit yung 'akin.
Marty: Patty Miami
Leigh: Soju Sunset...rest in piece Soju.
Erycka: Kristen Branding Iron
White and Gold or Blue and Black?
Erycka: Blue and black
Marty: Blue and black
Leigh: Blue and black
Denise: What?! I've seen both!
Think of a new band name.
Erycka: Blood Sweaters!
Denise: Ultimate Ice Cream
Denise: You can't use Lush that's copyrighted!
Leigh: Handmade Cosmetics
Denise: Fresh Handmade
Marty: Come Full Circle
How do you like your potatoes?
Marty: Basta potato.
Denise: Fiesta potatoes from Taco Bell
WATCH PLACE AUX DAMES PLAY FOR REINVENT SESSIONS!
Photos by Reign Gonzales