I was excited when I heard about Pretty Please because I am a fan and pal of Juan Oña's since his days in the Brand and met Bianca "Brite" Pupo in that band during her brief tenure. In the comments for my reviews of "Sugarcane" and "Leftover for the Dogs," a small battle of words ensued between the aforementioned parties that I never would have expected. But what has been said is done.
I chose to email five questions to both parties so that the replies wouldn't be muddled in any way or form by me. Mr. Oña was the first to reply, and here is his side of the story. New Times is not taking any sides here; it is merely giving them a forum to work out the issue, and though there is an admitted sense of morbid fascination, I personally hope that this dispute can be resolved amicably, since what is really at stake are their individual contributions to the South Florida music scene.
Today I'm pleased to share with you Bianca's side of the feud via an open letter she wrote me in which she addresses the questions I placed in front of them.
"So, the world is curious to hear my side of the tale as to why I no longer play with Pretty Please, aye? Well, as much as I would love to answer your questions, Abel, I'm afraid I would get them all wrong. Things aren't always so black and white; there are many shades of gray. So I came up with this tale instead, and yes, you can quote me on this and count it 100 percent honest.
I was thinking about your questions and came up with a thousand and three ways to answer them... this situation, the before and the after, and how it still trickles melancholy blood down to this very minute. I came to a very bright realization... I came to realize that by letting my music go and be executed without me, stepping back and out of the box, what the world hears when they listen to Pretty Please speaks louder than any words that I or anybody can ever express... I still plan to be a part of Miami's music scene; just because it's the end of Pretty Please does not mean it's the end of my musical endeavors.
I've always had my solo project Ghostmilk Tales, and if you know me on a personal level, then you know I play music for myself, not for fame, not for the attention, not to make myself "cool"... I play and write music because it is a part of me, an extension of my emotions, almost like a dog's tail that wags. Make any sense?
I won't deny the fact that I love playing and creating with others, especially with Juan, Diana, Bavie, and Farina. However, after being burned by my ex-bandmates, I find it hard to see me working with anybody else in the near future.
In rebuttal to Juan's elaborate attack on my lack of interest for the Brand, well, it's simple. The Brand was not my brainchild. It was Omar Garcia that was the lead singer/songwriter... and me being a creative as well felt like a puppet playing somebody else's songs. I LOVED Omar's songs, though, and when I joined the Brand, most of the record's songwriting had been written, and there wasn't much room for my creative input. Still flattered and curious to play music again, I agreed to join them, LAST MINUTE, to tour with Humbert to New York City, where I then had six days to learn about 15 songs, and that I did. Being the only female in a touring band with a bunch of horny boys wasn't my idea of fun, but it gave me the opportunity to grow some thick skin and learn more about the music biz.
Don't get me wrong, I had a BLAST in the Brand, but it was not my baby, it wasn't my brainchild... Oh and just to clear something up, Juan: I didn't go to London with the Brand because by this time you had been such an aggressive musical Nazi, making me cry over things I had no control over, that you had turned me off completely to the idea of pursuing my career with the Brand. That was my cowardly way out, I admit, but to my defense, I was 19 at the time, had never been in love, and had barely experienced any kind of life. I didn't even have a car... Yet I would still get yelled at by Mr. Oña if I missed one rehearsal, even on my birthday. Yes, he made me cry on my birthday, world. What a great friend!
Do I regret not taking advantage and going to London? NO. As much as Juan wanted me to regret it, I didn't and never will. Why? Because I know if I should ever find myself on a stage in London, it will be to play MY SONGS for the bloody U.K., not anybody else's.
My boyfriend at the time, Rimsky Pons, lead guitarist of Humbert, was encouraging me to pursue my own songwriting. He thought I had a knack and could go far with my talents, even without the Brand. I must admit, he gave me most of my musical knowledge and courage to leave the Brand, and it was Juan Oña who hated the fact that Rimsky Pons pushed me in a different direction. A direction away from the Brand... And so I started my own band, Outre Violette, an all-girl trio, a Breeders-esque band.
I promised myself to never make anybody feel the way I did in the Brand, like a puppet. I knew I wanted the girls to express their musical talents so that they would fall in love with OV, just as I did.
That's how I met Diana. She was Leonardo Valencia's wife at the time; Leo was the bass player for the Brand. When Diana and I first met, she was all power chords, oi! oi! oi! punk rock girl. I thought she had potential and loved her like a sister, so I taught her pretty much everything I knew (hence why we sound so similar in our style of songwriting). Above everybody, I can honestly say I miss Diana; she was passive and so mellow, and we have a lot of history. Rock 'n' roll HISTORY, that is...
(Side note: If you can't tell by now, I'm a team player and take no satisfaction in saying "THIS IS ALL MINE MINE MINE!" you know? Royalties, credits, dissecting music... she wrote this I wrote that, he wrote this and that this that this that. BLAH! That's what the Brand was all about, and I hated it. It was foolish to me... But when my band tries to take credit for songs I clearly wrote, well, it brings out the RED IN ME... especially clearly remembering having to teach them the right notes to fall on, the movements, chord progressions, the parts, yet still convincing them they had a big part of the backbone of the songs. I guess it's my fault in the end; I should've been as greedy and egotistical as other songwriters. We were a BAND, TOGETHER was my motto, hence "Join my team." [This has backfired on me, though, obviously.])
Anyway, Outre Violette gave me a peek at what direction I wanted to go in. Shortly after a few months of discovering what it was like to birth my own tunes, Diana informs me that she was moving away to NYC, along with the rest of the Brand.
Wow, heartbreaking. I didn't want to REPLACE her, for to me she was truly irreplaceable. However, I was very much in love with the idea of pursuing my vision... and as long as she was OK with it, I was too. That's when I invited Farina to join the band. My drummer at the time, Alex Cordovi, was not very fond of this idea, for Farina came from a Latin rock background, and she thought it would bring "cheese" into our sound. I knew she was special and had great potential, just like Diana and I had convinced Alex to give her a go... She surprisingly appeased to my request, and after a few rehearsals, Outre Violette was sounding BETTER than ever before!!!
Time passed and I found out that Juan Oña was moving back to Miami and parting ways with the Brand due to his girlfriend's sick mother, whom they left here in Miami. To make a long story short, his girlfriend at the time cheated on him, left him for dead, fucked some other dude, and Juan turned to me for emotional support. He insisted we try to be musical partners again, perhaps to keep his mind from eating himself alive, and this time, playing MY SONGS, Ghostmilk Tales songs. I thought this was a great idea seeing as Alex Cordovi and I were not getting along anymore and so began the Magical journey of Pretty Please.
It's a long complicated story. Looking back, I miss the very early days. That's when it felt right to me. Just me, Farina, and Juan.
After all this time, after all these years, it saddens me that my best friends would want to play with a recorded version of my voice and play karaoke on stage when they can just build a bridge out of popsicle sticks and get over it, and coexist once again in our musical affairs...
Before we were a band, we were ALL FRIENDS... That's what made it so special, I guess. What dumbfounds me is, how can all the time of friendship and all the years we've been through together go unaccounted for? All because I fell astray and turned to (you guessed it) when I was in my lowest of lows, like most rock 'n' rollers do for some screwed-up reason. If I remember correctly, the saying goes, Drugs, Sex & Rock 'n' Roll, right? I guess they had higher expectations of me... I suppose I didn't deal with pain too well and disappointed my friends along the way. Was I supposed to be perfect?
I've apologized on several occasions to my fellow bandmates only to be heartbroken all over again, rejected and alienated. I'm usually so forgiving, I can't expect that from the rest of the world, though...
So let's get down to the core of this all... Let's say Pretty Please has the green light to play the batch of songs that we supposedly wrote "together." Well, wouldn't it only be right to play the songs TOGETHER? Not one without the other??? Not me without you, not you without me? Especially playing without the lead singer/songwriter? Doesn't add up, but I am glad I've given them the confidence to think that those songs can be executed just the same without me.
As for my glutton and abundance of nonreality, well, I can only apologize to myself for that, but it's depressing to know that my so-called best friends and bandmates were not patient, loving, nor supportive throughout this bloody battle I had to endure, and I endured it alone. It was a lonely world, and they just made it lonelier. They made the situation worse.
I'm not here to throw a pity party. I have admitted more than I should AND TO THE PUBLIC... but we are sinners, we are all imperfect, and for whatever reason they didn't want me to be a part of their team is unknown to me. However, I can only ASSUME the real reason is L.O.V.E.
After many years, I finally found something that I was positive didn't exist and they, or better said Juan, was scared I would choose: L.O.V.E over my band... I'm sure he feared I would leave Pretty Please just as I left the Brand, but trust me when I say the Brand had nothing to do with my love for my own creation, Pretty Please. They assumed, and boy they were wrong... It's a sad story, a difference of opinion mixed in with many, many years of bickering that just built up to a boil.
Looking back, it only made me stronger, and knowing that I fought the battle and won, at least one of them, was worth it all in the end. I can honestly say that I miss my friends more than my band and hope nothing more but the best for my long-lost rock 'n' roll lovers, my baby musical monsters. This is not a war, and I still have high hopes that maybe one day they can learn to be as forgiving as me, but I am not holding my breath and will be creating new songs every minute until then.
Hope you enjoy the cactus cake I baked for you made with 100 percent real SUGARCANE... Now I'm (((truly))) ...leftovers for the dogs.
Bianca Brite, 2010
Hopefully now, we can lay this feud to rest and enjoy some cool tunes from both camps!