Jigsaw Youth: The New Riot Grrrls of New York City

One of the most gritty, sludgy, hard-rocking bands on the New York City scene right now is Jigsaw Youth. The trio of Nastacha Beck on guitar, Maria Alverez on bass and vocals, and Alex Dmytrow on drums crank out high-decibel, savagely executed, post-grunge songs filled with angst, guts, and lyrics that range from everything from alienation to self-empowerment.  

Recently, AQ had the chance to speak with Nastacha Beck about Jigsaw Youth’s origins, their influences, and their unwavering commitment to their craft.

Hey, Nastacha. Can you tell us a little bit about where the band is from?

We are from Staten Island. Alex and I were born and raised here. Maria was born in Canada but found her way to New York years ago and moved to the land of Shaolin along with Alex and I!

How long has Jigsaw Youth been together?

We have been a band for four years now. Maria and I met anonymously on Tumblr. We started talking online and we realized that we were both sixteen and both wanted to start a band. She played bass and sang, and I played guitar. We both felt that we didn’t fit in the lifestyles we were living at the moment and felt that starting a band was really what we were put on this Earth to do. It was more of a mission for us that we had to take than anything. Maria and I hardly knew each other but from the moment we met, we knew this is what we had to do, and we’ve been rockin’ since. She’s the Flea to my Anthony Kiedis.

Alex joined the band two years ago after having other drummers that didn’t really work out. I met her when I was a freshman in college in marching band. I didn’t even know her really. I was sitting alone on the basketball court before rehearsal. When I saw her I shouted down the bleachers, “Hey! You play drums?”

She said ‘Yeah!’

I asked her to join the band and told her that once she was in it she was never allowed to leave. I also told her we were going to have practice at her house at 8:00 that Friday.

Alex goes with the flow with anything, so she was down, of course. I sent her a list of our songs and told her not to worry if she didn’t know how to play all of them by practice. Well, when Maria and I showed up, we realized Alex knew the songs better than we did.

If I was telling a friend about Jigsaw Youth, what’s a good way to describe your music, do you think?

I would say we are a blend of nineties grunge and punk rock. We like heavy riffs with a lot of sludge and distortion with dark melodies over it, but we also love the fast pace aggressive nature of punk with chanting vocals.

What about your influences?

We are heavily influenced by The Distillers, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, Bikini Kill, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd… and so many more!

So, you have a new single out, right?

Our latest single is called “Acidic Child.” It was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Gary Nieves Jr. of Cobra Sun Studio in Staten Island. We released it on April 13on all platforms. “Acidic Child” is basically a song about all of the pent up aggression and anxiety we feel to the point where it feels like there’s acid in our stomach, but we use that energy to pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. We don’t give in to these emotions but rather use them as fuel to make music and speak for those who feel misunderstood. We use it to make a change whether it be socially or politically and to bring awareness to pressing issues. This song basically acknowledges that we are human, but nothing stands in the way of our success.

That sounds awesome. How do you approach the writing and recording?

Usually Maria and I write the songs. Sometimes we write them on our own and bring the general idea to rehearsal and let each member put their spin on it. Sometimes we just jam until we hear something worthy enough to keep and puzzle it into unfinished pieces. There are other times where we have a riff written and we throw a poem on it as one of the verses. Each song is written differently but in the most natural way.

Is there any meaning or significance behind the name Jigsaw Youth?

Jigsaw Youth is actually a Bikini Kill song. One of the lyrics of that song is “Don’t fit your definitions,” and honestly, at the time when Maria and I met, we definitely did not fit anybody’s definitions. We were young teenagers breaking rules, cutting our skirts, playing really loud music, and screaming at the top of our lungs. It was very taboo, but we did not care. We met Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of Bikini Kill, at a concert for The Julie Ruin at the House of Vans in Brooklyn. When we saw her in the crowd watching the opening band we told her who we were and how our band was named after her song. We told her we love her and appreciate everything she has done for music [and how] we want to carry on her legacy. She freaked out and started jumping up and down and embraced us. She gave us a massive hug and told us to take over New York and that she was proud of us. She ran on stage right after and told everyone at the concert she met us and dedicated a song in her set to us.

Maria and I were crying. You can only imagine how we felt. She is like a mother to us that we love so dearly and for her to validate us and push us to take over… we knew there was no turning back.

That’s an incredible encounter, and such an awesome position for an up-and-coming band like Jigsaw youth to be in. So, what other projects is the band working on currently?

We’ve got lots of projects coming up and we’re so excited to keep busy! Right now we’re currently filming a music video for one of our songs “Stillborn Black,” which is off of the EP we released in September, Sorry For The Distortion. I don’t wanna give away the plot though, you’ll just have to watch it—I love other people’s interpretations of our stuff. We’re also working on an EP we’re gonna be releasing soon and playing lots of shows! Mostly in the NYC area but we love playing other places and seeing their scenes.

Ultimately, what do you hope this band can achieve long-term?

Our goal as a band is to be able live off of what we do. I can’t see myself doing anything else—ever. We always say that the only way one of us is leaving this band is in a coffin. We want to be constantly touring and writing and recording and hopefully one day, popular enough for people to want to work with us if we were to start a record label. I feel like I’m always going to shows and seeing such great bands that I believe have so much passion and talent and I just wish we could help push more and more bands whose music is so good it should be heard!

Any tour plans for 2019?

We’re planning a tour for December, possibly gonna go back down South and a little West.

Where can readers find your music?

They can find us anywhere. We’re on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify [and] all streaming services! We’re always posting fun upcoming stuff and details for shows!

To hear Jigsaw Youth’s new single “Acidic Child,” check out their Bandcamp page: jigsawyouth.bandcamp.com, and for tour dates and general info, check out Jigsaw Youth on Instagram: @jigsawyouthband