On September 25th, Toronto-born singer and overall amazing woman Peaches released her first album of this decade, Rub. Earlier that week, I had the privilege of interviewing her, talking about influences, the recording of Rub, and feminism.
It’s been six years since your last album, I Feel Cream. How has the writing process changed at all, from writing songs like “Talk to Me”, to songs that appear on Rub?
Well, I think it’s more of a classic Peaches’ album, I just wanted to take time out after writing an album, touring for two years, writing an album, touring for two years. So I actually didn’t write at all, I did other projects.
I sang all of “Peaches Christ Super Star”, toured with that. I also took my own four albums and constructed them into a narrative electro-rock opera; no extra dialogue, just the songs, called “Peaches Does Herself” which was a musical that turned into a movie and I also got played at 70 film festivals, starting at the Toronto Film Festival.
So I did that, and I sang the role of Otheo from the first ever opera, written in the 1600s, called L’Otheo. I don’t speak Italian and I don’t read music, so I had to take off six month to learn Italian phonetics and a tutor to teach me the melodies. So all those projects, plus DJing and I produced an all-girl Taiwanese band called Go Chic All that, I got out of my way and then decided to sit down and write the new album. I got it out of my system to do the Peaches album that I wanted to do.
And you are happy with the sound of Rub?
Very happy. Very, very very happy with it. I think that, especially with certain things I wanted to achieve in, you know how people always talk about how I’m a pioneer in my lyrics and blah blah blah and everything, but also I think, with The Teaches of Peaches, I wanted everything to be very minimal, but have maximum effect and with bass being the main element. I think that that is very prevalent now in music more than ever, and I’m really happy that now you are able to achieve those sounds because of technology so, musically, that’s great because I can get the raw dirty sounds but it’s not lo-fi.The quality is good, it’s fat, it’s fatter, but it’s also still sounds really dirty and raw.
As you said, people see you as a pioneer, of your sound, where would you draw your influences for Peaches from? Either from the beginning or now? Has it changed?
At the beginning I didn’t know much about electronic music, I was a rock kid, but I grew up in the eighties, so you hear a lot of electronics. I didn’t really know a lot about things that I was making music akin to, like Detroit house music, which was very similar sounds, or like baile funk music which was coming out of Brazil, which I ended up playing there. (Friends and producers) would be “Listen to this beat, it’s so similar to you!”, but I had no idea. I was just trying to sort of use my influences of all the three things I used to listen to when I was twelve, like Salt n’ Peppa, and Iggy Pop and then The Runaways, so it was just trying to take the hip-hop, the minimal choruses, very strong and direct, and with rock and roll the riffs, and then the message of chicks being awesome.
The lyrical content of Rub is really empowering towards women…
It’s empowering to everybody actually. I mean, I hope it is. I like to be inclusive, I want, obviously, an agenda for gender equality. We can call it feminism, and hopefully when it is all equal, we can call it humanism. But it’s an inclusive thing and I try to use humour in a way to bring people in, you know?
Like the video with Margaret Cho for “Dick In The Air”?
Yeah, but more in the lyrics too. Like, “Take it like a real women, not Ann Ran”, and lines like “Take it like a man”, stuff like that, but I get to dig at Anne Ran. Or things, like putting my spin on it, so you laugh and then go, “oh, that has a deeper meaning.” Those things, that’s why I relate more to comedians, women comedians these days like Margaret Cho, Tina Fey, and all the Amys; Amy Stomis, Amy Poehler, Amy Shumer, Natasha Regaro, people like that because they’re giving it back. Instead of saying puts on whiney voice “You know when you have your period? And your boyfriend doesn’t want to be near you?” They’re saying more like “What the fuck is with this?!”, just giving it like a misogynist rapper, but with more humour. Culminating in one of the best skits I’ve ever done, which is The Last Fuckable Day. It’s Patricia Arquette, Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Amy Shumer, and Amy happens upon the three of them having a picnic and is like, “Oh my god! I love you guys!” and they’re like “We’re celebrating Julia’s last fuckable day!” “What’s that!?” “It’s the day Hollywood decides that you’re not fuckable anymore as a woman.”
So I feel like women of a certain age and experience now are not just saying “Oh my god, I made it. I had to suck this dick to get here,” or “I didn’t suck this dick get here.” No, it’s not about that anymore, women made it there and now we’re gonna help them make it there. We’re gonna tell come comedy about how fucking fucked up Hollywood is, and how fucked up everything is. How fucked up every aspects of inequality is. It’s an interesting time for older woman of Hollywood, like Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep starting writing, money aside, women over 40 and 50 screenwriting, stuff like that, it’s just everywhere. I saw a documentary about woman astronauts and they were talking about how women were probably more suited to be astronauts, anatomically, and because of the weightlessness it mattered more on your agility and that in isolation tests, men needed more stimulation and women were more calmer in isolation. And at the same time, there was a line placed that prevented women from becoming astronauts. Even if they passed the other tests, they still wouldn’t make it.
So the album is released in a few days (September 25th) and then you’re on tour. Is the tour going to be for the next year or so?
Big exhale Yeah, hope so. Take it as far as it goes.
Any idea of what you want to do afterwards? I know it’s really soon to look into the future.
I want to go on holiday to Thailand, that’s what I want to do.
On your past records you’ve had guest vocalists.
Yeah, I had Iggy Pop on Fatherfucker, I’ve had Feist, Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age as a guest guitarist for a song. I’ve had Joan Jett, so yeah I’ve had a few.
How do you like working with the guests?
It’s great, I work alone so it’s nice to work together. It’s nice the surprises that come out. For instance, when Feist came and asked to be on “I Mean Something”, I already had the chorus that she sang, but she added this special Ooos that actually become the hook of the song way more than the chorus. So that’s her super power of really soft, beautiful singing and control over melody.
And how was it working with Kim Gordon?
Really easy, she’s just so spontanious. She came in and did it in one take. There was nothing set up for her, just “here’s a beat, got nothing, go ahead.”