Interview: Aixa Vilar of Go Betty Go


Within Southern California’s vast musical history, musical gems of all sorts pop up at any given moment and attract a loyal following over time. Specifically in the punk scene in the late 1990s, four ladies went by the band name of Go Betty Go, began building a name for themselves and eventually releasing a full length album (2005’s Nothing Is More) and an EP (2004’s Worst Enemy), both via SideOneDummy Records.

The foursome’s return after a brief hiatus in 2012 with their latest self released EP Reboot. This marks the return of vocalist Nicolette Vilar (who was briefly replaced by Emily Wynne-Hughes) and bassist Michelle Ragel, alongside longtime members, guitarist Betty Cisneros and drummer Aixa Vilar.

go betty go reboot

Aixa explained how bringing back the classic lineup together and the time away helped inspire the making of their latest EP.

Things are different now. We’re having a lot of fun with it but it’s not such a full time thing like it used to be, where we used to write more often. The way that we make it work now is everyone still lives their own lives and is able to live their life outside of the band. Back in the day it was like no life and just band full time. We managed to put an EP together but we’re having fun with it by playing shows. I never thought we’d release new music so it’s surprise to me as well.

Since they reactivated the band, Go Betty Go began testing the waters and wrote a few songs to see how they felt about doing this again. While the four songs were written over a two year period, she felt stress free to write songs without deadlines and instead simply for the pure joy of making music again.

We took a lot longer, even though it was just six songs. We took a lot longer because again we weren’t as available to write it as quickly as we did in the past. But also it was a very nice experience because it was very chill. There was no pressure. We did it on our own time. We did it when we felt like doing it. That’s why it took longer but it was very organic and no pressure.

While Go Betty Go returns to performing and recording new music, they are not a full time band like the first time around. While they are balancing careers, Aixa says she enjoys doing music without the pressures and expectations of meeting goals of any sort.

No not the way that we used to be. I mean we all have different careers during the daytime. So sometimes it feels like we’re superheroes because we’ll come out at night and play shows and we’re totally different than what we are! Nicky’s a graphic designer and I do marketing. That’s not as fun as playing drums. Unfortunately rock n roll doesn’t pay the bills so you’ve got to do other things to keep playing music and still have a roof over your head.


Despite having typical ambitions of making it as a band, the realities of real life began to dawn upon the four of them and eventually leading to a hiatus in 2010. While Aixa admits she herself was serious about the band at the time, things got a bit too serious for everyone and other members’ life goal began to shift along the way at the same time.

Yeah because it’s such a crazy thing because we all started with the same goals. I think like anything in life sometimes people decide the timing is wrong. Sometimes you start doing something and you’re like ‘oh shoot I’m not into this.’ So for example Nicky [vocalist Nicolette Vilar], she really started thinking she wanted to do other things that obviously you can’t do if you’re touring all the time.

She wanted to go back to school and pursue a career in graphic design, which she did. We continued without her for a few years with Emily [Wynne-Hughes] singing and our friend Phil [Buckman] playing bass because Michelle [Rangel] ended up going back to doing stuff in life. So it’s difficult – you get to a point where it’s fun and game at first when you’re young.

We started writing right after high school. You start growing up a little bit and get more responsibilities. You need something more stable in life, either going back to school or starting a career. We had fun and I was always saying that being in the band is a fun experience but after a time it starts wearing down on you if you’re not getting anywhere in life if you want to do other things.


Touring became a way they built their fanbase over the years. While regular touring cycles slowly became a thing of the past, Aixa admits she liked touring aspects while the band was able to do them.

Personally I was one of the members that liked touring because I loved traveling. I do miss the fact that being able to go to a lot of places that I’ve only been to because I’ve tour toured and if not there would be no reason for me to go. But it’s fun to meet people in new places and seeing new things. So I kind of miss that.

I do like having the stability of having a normal life too so it’s kind of that ying and yang. But you find that balance and that’s why we’re able to do smaller tours now and there are even talks about us next year doing some tours out in Texas and the East Coast or Midwest. We wouldn’t be driving out there but maybe we would be flying out to a few shows in the area and then come back home. So there’s a possibility that we could do things like that. That’s more realistic for us to pull off.

She talked about their one overseas tour when Go Betty Go went across the pond onto European shores for a brief tour run.

We only did it once. In 2008 we did a European tour. We went to 13 different countries and we were there for a month. I love touring Europe. If anything I would love to go back to Europe and the UK. Being a band on our level, in Europe you’re treated with a lot more respect – not necessarily from the people – our fans are awesome but the way that the promoters and venues treat you. They take care of the bands better than they do sometimes here in the States. It depends on the place. We’ve never had a bad experience with anybody.

They go out of their way and you can tell they really appreciate it that you came all the way to go see them. They’ll make sure you have a place to sleep, well fed…and it’s not like ‘here’s a pizza…’ They’ll cook meals for you so it’s nice and people are very excited that you came out to play there.

Looking back how much the band had accomplished within their time of activity, Aixa also was realistic about how different today’s playing field is and how lucky they were able to do the things they did back then.

Yeah it’s crazy. I know that if we were to start today as a fresh new band I don’t think we could do as much as we did back a few years ago. So that’s something positive for us. We’ve set the hard groundwork ten years ago or even longer than that when we first started. It’s like now we could continue that path we’ve set for ourselves and to go back to some of these places or have people still interested in the band because of what we did in the past. So that’s a great thing, but it’s a tough thing to say we could do the same thing today if we were to start fresh.

Today there’s so many more bands, so much more competition in the sense that it’s harder to get people’s attention. I think rock n roll fans and punk rock fans will always be, and there are a lot of distractions in the way. I don’t know if it’s easy for a fresh punk rock band to come out of the scene these days and make an impact. It’s hard to say.

She also shared her thoughts on whether Go Betty Go stopped before they truly made their mark on the music scene. While the band never quite had hit songs in the truest of ways at the time they called it quits, there are often questions over whether they stopped before they hit their stride.

It’s always a ‘what if’ of course. We’ve had this conversation many times where we know we were on a path to bigger things. We do know that but Nicolette, who was really stressed out at the time, was losing her mind so it wasn’t worth her health. At the end of the day she’s my sister too.

She admits that time did help her get over the band ending at the time. Now that she had some time away, Go Betty Go reuniting and not chasing the dream made doing the band extra special.

At the time it was hard for me to understand that since I was so committed to the band that her quitting was a big heartbreak to me. Then after time, time does heal and I understand that she wasn’t in a good place so it was unhealthy for her to be on the road and to be in the band. We learned our lesson in the sense that we know that we should have resolved at the moment. But then again, what’s done is done and here we are now.

Maybe we’re not full time musicians playing to thousands of people every night these days. Maybe we could have…we’ll never know but the good thing is that today in our lives we’re all happy, healthy and are living a life that we’re all happy to be in this place today. It’s cool that we can live our lives and then still can play rock n roll and have fun with it and get along and be here.

go betty go monrovia station beer and music fest

As for more music in the future, Aixa did not rule this out and the possibilities of this happening is good.

I’d like to. Again it depends on everybody. I do some of the songwriting so I’ve been working on new stuff, but we’ve been finished and completed songs together. So it’s just a matter of getting together and just getting it done already. But again there’s no pressure and doing it when we feel like doing it.

By Rei Nishimoto