Kourtni Diva (lead singer, songwriter, sometimes guitarist and "humble diva"), Alyssa Reyes (a.k.a "Reya," bassist, background vocals), Julia Canales (lead guitarist, background vocals) and Kiki Castro (drummer) — all form the unique and cosmically synchronized Latina all-girl-band, Not Your Ex Lover.
"I write music and cry," Diva shared with the Source Weekly. The band's title was taken from a diary entry from 2014 in her journal. And "Kourtni's breakup," Castro jokingly bantered when they took me to lunch at Pizza Mondo.
In my articles I talk a lot about classically trained — highly "experienced"— musicians; musicians who have played in more bands than they can count on their fingers, and bands that also fall in the average age range between their mid-30s to early 40s. And yes, the elephant in the room: predominantly male. As I am 99.9% positive Not Your Ex Lover is the only all girl-band that is currently out and about in Central Oregon, booking the same venues as the rest of 'em.
Not Your Ex Lover is changing the game in more ways than one. Its selfless and non-pretentious involvement on social media keeps people welcomely entertained and in tune with what the band is working on. From goofy rehearsal videos to super creative DIY merch (that the band makes and fundraises with themselves) — the band openly shares its fresh personality with the audience on and off stage.
The internet initially brought the band together, in addition to a whitewater rafting trip with "Vámanos Outside"— a Latinx organization that engages Latinx communities through the Central Oregon outdoors. This young and femme-forward quartet truly defines the meaning of girl power, through lyrics about mental health awareness, post-breakup blues and most of all, that punk rebellion that comes out of love and heartbreak.
"We're already seeing a spark in women's eyes, like, 'Oh I didn't know that was possible,'" Diva, who writes the lyrics, shared with us. "We have a couple friends mentioning starting up and all-girl thing, which is amazing. That's the point."
It's not just the music itself that's bleeding determination from these punk-femme fatales. Reyes and Castro came to the group with absolutely zero experience playing an instrument. Totally fresh to the bass and drums, both members learned the instruments to be in the band. Castro, who's also the brain behind the true Bend night market, the Bend Moonlight Market — has only taken two drum lessons outside of the band's rehearsals. But as the band says, "having amazing music taste helps as well." And in other effortless acts of bravery, it was at Castro's Moonlight Market where the band played its first show, opening for Dead Nettle. . . on a full moon, of course. Diva played her first solo show with her keyboard at the Volcanic Theatre Pub in 2017 — now, she has learned guitar alongside the band's lead guitarist Julia Canales. Canales, originally from Austin, Texas, has been playing rock guitar for 22 years.
Not Your Ex Lover — which also translates to, "don't treat me like I did something wrong" — carries influences from girl/grunge bands and leading ladies of alternative punk rock before them. Think Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Garbage and Veruca Salt. And I know we're not all fans of Courtney Love, but it's fresh to see some Hole energy coming from a Bend band.
Diva also commented, "We're excited to open for Paramore."
With firm beliefs in manifestation, Diva continued, "I'll speak for myself when I say that Bend has an expiration date. I have big plans for this project. Who knows where it will go, but our initial launch has generated a lot of excitement and I look forward to see what's in store."
The band already has a bill of five shows to look forward to this summer/fall, with its next being at Silver Moon Brewing on Aug. 8. "It's cool to see Bend support different kinds of music," said Reyes. "It's nice to see ladies have their moment." With a wide demographic of fans from the youngins' in the crowd to those 60+, the band stated, "our demographic so far is so awesome and everyone is so supportive! People's grandmas like us."
Not Your Ex Lover's upcoming shows