talking to peaches about 16 years as an ‘angry feminist’
The genre-defining artist says she used to be confusing, now she’s important.
When Canadian musician Peaches dropped her first album The Teaches of Peaches in 2000, the world wasn't ready for her boundary-pushing, celebratory vision of sexual politics. Now, 16 years later, the music industry is finally catching up. Originally from Toronto, but dividing her time between Berlin and Los Angeles, Peaches is a generation-defining artist. Her ability to highlight, question and skew issues around misogyny, gender and societal conditioning has been instrumental in forming the current crop of socially aware superstars such as Miley Cyrus and Halsey. Hell, Christina Aguilera reportedly listened to Fuck The Pain Away to get into the headspace to write Dirrty. And our growing fixation on Peaches as a "pioneer" isn't lost on her.
After a five-year hiatus from producing albums, Peaches has returned with Rub, an 11-track album featuring collaborations with Kim Gordon and Feist. The pop provocateur is currently on tour, and hits Australia with four shows next month in Sydney, Meredith, Fortitude Valley and Hindmarsh. While on the phone from Los Angeles, we spoke to Peaches—who turns 50 on November 11—on the ups and downs of touring, how it feels to be considered important and, of course, taking down the patriarchy.
You recently toured your home country of Canada, how have you seen it change since you left Toronto in 2000?
When I left Canada, there was conservatism in the creativity happening with the music and the way I was treated in the underground. Chilly Gonzales and I always called ourselves "the weird ones on last" because they always put us on last at the end of the night. They didn't know what to do with our style and music.
Did this tour feel different then?
I played more gigs I ever played and more and different cities, like Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Victoria. The most fun thing was when I play Fuck the Pain Away, one of the three songs I play aside from the new album. While playing it in Canada, I would say "This is a Canadian classic." I won the Polaris Music Award Heritage Prize last year. It was really fun yelling that: "This is a Canadian classic."
A lot has changed in 16 years, do you still have people calling you an angry feminist?
It's interesting that I do something that I think is so direct and pointed, and then people have such a wide range of opinions about what I do. Right now, there is this trend that I'm important. We'll see how long that lasts. Right now I'm important as a trend. What I do and say is important.
How does that feel?
It's fine. When young people interview me, they say I'm important, I'm a pioneer. It's the catchphrases of right now. When people would interview me before, they'd try to understand me, find out if I take music seriously, talk about angry feminism or comedy, now it's 'we know all of this, we've seen all of it and now you're important.' I'm not more important than I was before; it's just an angle journalists are taking right now.
Do you think it's because you have so much experience?
Experience? I've been doing it awhile so that's just what happens. It's weird for me to be called that rather than trying to be understood.
How do you see misogyny in the music business right now?
In a way, being called an angry feminist was good for me. People were like "oh no yikes! I better not piss her off!" or they were into it. But I experienced it in a technical way, like "Do you know what you're doing?" Music is still a patriarchal world and the music industry is still run by white old men, look at the Grammys. It's just … take down the patriarchy. "The patriarchy is a pyramid scheme," that's the new catchphrase.
For your new album Rub you have some really creative music videos. How do they come about?
I always come up with the concepts. For the song Vaginaplasty, we made it in a friend's swimming pool, we both bid on the house in Los Angeles and he got it and that's how we met. The music video was taken off YouTube. It had 1 million views but it was too edgy. The music video for Sick In The Head, I used my inflatable penis for my last show, it's shot inside there. We blew it up and put lights outside of it. We couldn't get a lens small enough to fit at a pinhole at the end of the penis, so we used my iPhone.
You have been living in Berlin for the past 16 years, but you also own a home in Los Angeles. Which do you prefer?
I own a house and have a room in in L.A., but I live mostly in Berlin. I made my album in L.A. in the garage with Vice Cooler. I'm in Berlin more. I just work all the time; it's wherever I end up.
You work so much, what has all this touring taught you?
How to remain calm, I'm not one to travel with same setup, there are variables all the time. You have to roll with it. Lots of personalities, you all live on a bus together, have fun and enjoy yourself.
Peaches plays December 9 at the Metro Theatre in Sydney, December 10 at the Meredith Music Festival, Meredith, December 15 at The Tivoli in Fortitude Valley and on December 28 at the Main Room, The Gov in Hindmarsh. For more info, visit peachesrocks.com.
Text Nadja Sayej
Image courtesy of the artist