70’s glam rock, despite all of its gender-bending female posturing, was still inherently a male dominated movement. The great trinity of Glam consisted of David Bowie, T.Rex and Roxy Music. They were known for their pioneering the movement through the music, fashion and lifestyle.
Never mind the apprehension or uncertainty… L.A. glam outfit, RETRA, formally Glam Skanks, are about to explode onto the L.A. rock scene! They have shredded the “teen-age” vixen image behind the “Skanks” and have given birth to a more confident rock outfit. The second time around for a band is always a hard test. Transition through evolution can sometimes be disheartening. Can the fan base make the shift? Remember, it is all about the music and nothing but the music. L.A.’s favorite daughters, RETRA have a brand-new face full of engaging music with uncontrollable talent. Veronica Witkin, RETRA’S guitarist has finally let loose and has evolved into a hard rock riff-mistress! Her shredding has gotten out of control. One thing is for sure, Witkin can “out-riff” with the best of em’. The remaining members of RETRA are Audra Isadora (vocals), Millie Chan (bass), and Andy Nathan (drums).
Their debut single, “Queen of the Avant-Garde” serves as a welcoming eye opener of what we can expect in the future. It is a heady mix of high octane glam, punk and hard rock. It’s too early in the band’s career, but perhaps it will stand as their defining statement. With just one listen you will “get it”!
Directed By Interiorstate
Rock Bands of L.A.com had the opportunity to interview Ms. Witkin….She’s a fantastic interview.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: Music is all about challenging taboos, breaking rules, and shaking shit up. So, it makes sense that the greatest bands are the ones that push their own boundaries as well as those of the world around them. They change, evolve and expand. This can sometimes alienate fans who just want more of the same, but that risk can come with great rewards. I love RETRA… are you afraid of losing the Glam Skank franchise? I hope RETRA opens a bunch of doors to attract new fans.
Veronica: Not really. We’re confident that Glam Skanks fans will find something to love about RETRA. When we made the announcement to our fans about our name change we said that RETRA was an evolution of Glam Skanks but with something unique that we haven’t done in the past and we really mean that. We’ve always had different types of songs that cover all of our different influences and now that we have new members (Audra and Andy) we get to explore all of their influences as well and some of those influences cross with what Glam Skanks was doing and some of those influences are entirely new so we get to do what we’ve been doing all these years but also get to show a side of us we haven’t shown yet. Also at the end of the day we have to do what’s best for us creatively and we feel like true fans will follow us on that journey even if everything isn’t always their vibe and if they don’t then to quote our newest single “Queen of the Avant-Garde” we don’t give a fuck!!!
Rock Bands of L.A.com: You successfully have taken the Glam Skank sound and transform it into richer songwriting and a “thicker” sonic tip.. I can tell there are a bunch of fresh ideas with RETRA.. I just love your premier track, “Queen of the Avant- Garde”… The video is absolute genius!!!! How did the theme for the video come up? Don’t be mistaken, there’s a “put up your dukes..kick-ass.. pull up your pants”attitude with RETRA.. How has your music evolved? While writing new material are you conscious about what makes RETRA different? Every time there is a story of a girl guitarist the story gets convoluted with sexism… do you think the music press get it right? Is there something that rubs you the wrong way when they refer to you as a “chic” guitarist?
Veronica: Thank you so much!!! The video was all the genius of the Director Patrick McPheron aka Interiorstate/@interiorstate. He’s got such a vision and just came up with everything when we sent him the track. He shot the album cover for Glam Skanks first album “Glitter City” and we’re always looking for an excuse to work with him again. His ideas and vision are always amazing and he’s such a fun easy going person to work with. As far as the music and the attitude whether it was with Glam Skanks or now with RETRA all of us come from a place musically that has attitude and vibe. We all grew up on the 70’s New York punk and art rock scene and a lot of that energy and attitude comes out in all of our music even the slower more laid back songs. We want everything we do to punch you in the face even if it’s low key. I feel like for all of us as songwriters and musicians our music is always evolving. We’re always pulling from different influences but now we’re trying to really look at what we’ve done before and what we can do that we haven’t done that’s exciting and new whether that’s bringing in a new band to listen to or try to combine two different sounds that you don’t hear together very often and trying out different instruments or recording techniques we haven’t used yet. We’re so influenced by so many different artists, eras and genres and we want to make sure that comes out in everything we do.
When it comes to how the media and the press covers female artists and just women professionals in general I think its gotten better but I still think we have a ways to go. When we get to the point that bands with women and people outside the gender binary are just bands the same way bands with men are just bands we’ll finally get there. I do think women, men and people outside the gender binary do create, tour and just live their lives from different perspectives and I think its important to recognize that and make sure that those perspectives are seen and heard in a respectful way but I do think differentiating bands based on terms like “female fronted” or “all girl” are tiresome and unnecessary if an artist is good at what they do thats all that matters.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: I have wanted to ask you this question for years…. Who are your guitar heroes? When did you learn how to play?…. Honestly, you are going to become a guitar hero to some kid… and they are going to play along to all your licks…. You’ve played with the best… Alice Cooper.. Joe Perry… Johnny Depp…Steven Tyler…. And your father has a kick ass list of credits… Is your father involved in RETRA?
V: Wow thank you so much!!! I have a lot of guitar heroes that I think some people might be surprised about. My biggest influence as a guitar player is Jimmy Page. The first time I heard Zeppelin changed my life. Mick Ronson is another huge influence what he did with and without Bowie is a huge part of my playing. I love all of the 70’s guitar gods Marc Bolan, Angus Young, David Gilmore, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Keef, Joe Perry and Rick Nielsen. Of course there are all the women who have influenced me. Joan Jett and Lita Ford, The Wilson Sisters, The Millington Sisters and of course some of the women now who are killing it St Vincent AKA Annie Clark is my biggest musical girl crush right now as well as Courtney Barnett and Brittany Howard. I’m also really influenced by songwriters and performers like David Bowie obviously and a lot of musicians who are also producers.
I started playing when I was 12.. so I’ve been playing for about 17 years now. I hope I can be any sort of influence to young kids now and show them that anyone can do it girls, boys, and kids who don’t fit the binary. Its hard for kids to find as many examples of rock guitar in the mainstream now even though theres so much great stuff out there and my hope is that enough kids can see what bands like us, Greta Van Fleet, The Struts and all these cool young bands are doing and get rock n roll and guitar music back to where it was in the 70’s and 80’s.
My dad will be involved in whatever I’m doing in some capacity lol. He’ always been there when we need him but keeps his distance and lets us and learn and fail on our own when we need to. I’ve been lucky enough to have his experience and expertise in whatever I’ve done and the the things I’ve experienced and learned from hanging around in his studio and following him around at gigs has definitely helped me become the musician I am. It also doesn’t hurt to get to jam with your heroes occasionally lol
Rock Bands of L.A.com:How did you recruit your band members?
V: We all met in weird different ways. I met Millie 6 years ago when Glam Skanks was looking for a bass player. My old roommate who had just moved to LA from the Bay area knew Millie from playing in bands all over SF and the Bay and they had both moved to LA at the same time and when they connected on Facebook he asked her if she wanted to be in a cool all girl band. She was a little reluctant at the time because she was already in two bands but we convinced her with a night out at a strip club for their Drag Queen night.
Millie met Audra through a mutual friend. We were looking for a new singer right before the Pandemic and I just remember waking up in the morning to a bunch of texts from Millie with videos of Audra singing karaoke at the bar she worked at pre covid and after both of us started obsessively stalking her on Instagram we found videos of her covering the exact same songs as us which were “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie (check out our cover) and “Sweet Transvestite’ from the Rocky Horror show. We knew it was meant to be before we even auditioned her and when we did finally get together it was obvious that she was the one.
Andy we met last. A few months ago when we decided to start this new evolution we started looking for a drummer and we really wanted someone completely different from anyone we played with up to this point. We went old school and just started posting ads up everywhere we could and finally we get a message on Instagram from Andy. He heard of us through a friend who had seen us on the road with Adam Ant and told him to check us out. As soon as we saw him and his videos we were blown away and had to get him down here the one catch was he was living up in Sacramento which is a good 6 or 7 hours away but once we all jammed we did whatever we could to get him out here.
I want to thank Ms. Witkin for her time… she was real, candid and a whole lotta fun…We will keep our fans up to date on RETRA….