Raucous rock trio Opera’s debut EP, Fatal Paradise, & A conversation with the band

Words by Willa Rudolph / Photo by Joseph Caster

New York-based raucous rock trio Opera released their debut EP, Fatal Paradise, on April 25th, and the stars have been reflecting the shift ever since. On the day Mercury left Retrograde, saving many missed communications across the world, Opera entered the chat with a feminine, 1960’s, Shangri-Las-esque collection of 5 songs with a 90’s riot grrrl twist. Fatal Paradise is short and sweet, dancey, and fun, but the band’s members reflect a certain finesse, precision, and poise less common in the riot grrrl universe. 

Opera is Laura Valdez (drums), Hannah Deerinwater (bass, vocals), and Emma Swingle (guitar, vocals). Much like the most iconic of female friendships, this trio started off with a little beef and a little admiration, which then became a beautiful, close knit, musical soul-connection.

Track 1, “All I Got,” is our entry into Opera’s world. A quick beat, thrashing drums, and speedy low vocals groan, “take all i got / shove it up your / clear to me / I don’t enjoy your company / but I entertain it out of spite.”

Number 2, and possibly my favorite, “Motorcycle Man,” is the one that made me really go, “Okay, hi 1960’s!” There’s a spoken word part between the two vocalists, Hannah and Emma: 

“Hey Hannah, can I tell you something?

Sure Emma, what’s up?

Don’t be freaked out

I won’t just tell me

Sometimes…I can feel the Moto Man’s ghost

What do you mean?

Like, I can feel his spirit deep, deep inside me

Ok, I gotta go

Okay…maybe don’t tell anyone I said that!

Each track is around 2 minutes long, give or take, and the EP moves effortlessly and cohesively, all the way through, lasting only 10 minutes. Track 3, “Split,” the longest of all at 2:40, starts with a thumping bass line and features super satisfying and feminine harmonies during the chorus, as Emma and Hannah sing, “take a deep breath / we’re nearing the end / I know you’ll always be my friend / play it so cool if you wanna pretend / I know you’ll always be my / you want it! but that’s not the point / I won’t suffer through you.” The simplicity of the songs is made more interesting with smart and sometimes witty lyrics that fit perfectly and never take you out of the song with a misstep. 

Bassist and vocalist Hannah tells The Deli, “Our lyrics come straight from our manic diaries to the practice space. [The EP is] a time capsule of the last year for us. Getting fucked over, fucking people over, drinking too much. It’s fun to share the darkest parts of me in a song and then sing about a hot guy on a motorcycle.” “Divine Intuition” is the 4th song on the EP, an angry telling of getting back at someone who’s got one over on you, or at least thinks they have. The EP’s farewell track 5, “Joe’s House,” is where a little pop-punk comes into the mix in the intonations and pacing. 

The Deli sat down with the chicks wielding their “shove-it-up-your” attitude to ask them about Opera’s conception.

Photo by Steven Uriegas / Left to Right: Hannah Deerinwater, Laura Valdez, Emma Swingle

WR: How long have you guys been playing together? How did Opera come to be?

Emma: The stars aligned! Truly, I was looking for something, I didn’t know what, and the universe blessed me with Opera.

Hannah: 2 years ago I cut Emma off at my bar and next thing I knew she was selling me her ex boyfriend’s bass and we started jamming. Laura heard we needed a drummer, and we all met up. It was a perfect fit. 

Laura: We’ve been playing together since September 2022. I met Hannah in Austin a while back and we didn’t really get along at first — she still has my name in her phone as ‘Laura bitch’! HA! But I wanted to jam with her and Emma and they adopted me. We all love each other now, though. 

WR: What does this debut EP say about you guys? 

Hannah: Our lyrics come straight from our manic diaries to the practice space. It’s a time capsule of the last year for us. Getting fucked over, fucking people over, drinking too much. It’s fun to share the darkest parts of me in a song and then sing about a hot guy on a motorcycle. 

Emma: I think it’s a peak into the female experience through personal experience. Expressing vulnerability in an unapologetic way has been very freeing, I hope that feeling comes across and inspires.

WR: What does “Fatal Paradise” mean?

Laura: It means being so content with where you’re at even though there’s hellfire all around you.

Hannah: I was inspired by the book cover of Chamiel by Edward Pearson. It’s like a gorilla demon standing in a beautiful meadow.

WR: Who are some of your musical influences?

Hannah: I’d like to think The Amps or The Runaways, but usually Laura says the songs I bring in sound like Sugar Ray or Green Day.

Emma: Courtney Love, Kim Deal and Kathleen Hanna are big vocal crushes for me. Their ability to be hard and soft at the same time is something I hope to achieve. We all like to pull influence from 60’s girl groups as well– I’d say we’re drawn to hyper-feminine lyrics with a punk sound.

Laura: Ummmmm probably Lush and Weezer… maybe a bit of The Shangri-La’s and The Pleasure Seekers. I won’t apologize for being cringe.

WR: Can each of you pick a song of the summer not by Opera?

Laura: “Sunshine” by Rye Rye and M.I.A

Emma: “Everyday is a Winding Road” by Sheryl Crow

Hannah:Attitude” by Wishy 

Spring is upon us and summer is around the corner– Fatal Paradise should be the soundtrack to your bike ride, your swift walk to link with your friends in the park, and then you should go jump around ferociously and thrash around at Opera’s next show at Purgatory on 5/27.

Keep up with Opera here.

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