The self-proclaimed queen of electro-crap took to her throne ten years ago when she unleashed her throbbing album-length lesson on sexual liberation, The Teaches of Peaches. Since then Peaches has kept class firmly in session, collaborating with everyone from Iggy Pop to Pink, waging a carnal war against Dubya (Impeach My Bush), and peddling countless merkins from her merch booth. Now, with the release of her fourth album, the suggestively titled I Feel Cream, the singer says she's no longer worried about being perceived as hardcore and instead she can concentrate on singing and rapping. The result of her new found sonic freedom? Songs like the gospel-tinged, electro-soul showstopper Talk To Me and the hypnotic title track which is as close as she has ever come to dipping her dildo in the deep end of disco.
Out caught up with Peaches at the legendary burlesque club The Slipper Room on New York City's Lower East Side to chat about getting name dropped by Radiohead, the death of electroclash, and badly behaved groupies.
Out:Where was your head at when you started writing I Feel Cream?
Peaches: I decided that I had already made 3 self-produced albums. I did everything basically myself. I thought it would be fun for me and -- also a good learning experience -- to collaborate with other people. Thats where my head was at -- I tried to not spend too much time alone.
Youve collaborated with an incredible list of artists on their albums and youre always getting name dropped by huge names. I even read a rumor that Radiohead listened --
Supposedly they were constantly listening to Fuck The Pain Away when they wrote In Rainbows.
Really? I never heard that. Actually once I was at an award show and I had to give Radiohead an award and they werent very friendly.
Maybe its because I acted like I won the award. [Laughs] Thats funny. I never heard that Radiohead was a fan.
Do you find it strange or annoying that you have so many big name fans -- Madonna, Britney Spears -- raving about you and still youve never really been accepted by the mainstream?
Im sort of the like the pioneer. The pioneer is always on the ground and everybody pushes off from that point. Personally, I like it this way. I dont really want to be Madonna or Britney Spears. I really dont want to be them. Im happy theyre them and Im not. I know that in the past and throughout the years a lot of people, even record labels, have told their musicians to be like me -- a little bit, but not too much. I feel like Im lucky because no one tells me what to do.
Lets talk a little bit about electroclash.
Yeah we can talk about electroclash because its a genre that died as soon as it became popular. I never liked the word electroclash, but to be honest with you everything is electroclash. New rave is electroclash. Post-new rave is electroclash. Anything that fuses electronic music with anything is a clash of something with electro. The word sucks. I always called myself the queen of electrocrap because I just wanted to make light of it. Its all the same really. People think electroclash died and then hard electro came. Its all the same. Its all inspired by the same place.
Do you give a name to what you do?
I just call it electro. I dont care about a name. In a way its funny because on this album I decided not to use any guitars at all so its probably the most electro album Ive made.
A few tracks, especially I Feel Cream, are almost disco --
Its totally disco! Before this album, I made a conscious effort not to sing so much. I didnt want to be placed into that category. I didnt want to do anything too much. It was a conscious choice to be really minimal and really stripped down. I learned a lot by doing that. I was very hard on myself -- thats why I feel like I achieved more and more lyrically. Its funny because I sing more on this album. I rap more on this album actually. I also have different subject matter. I think Ive established myself as hardcore so at this point I can do whatever I want. I didnt want to be anything but hardcore to start with. Now I feel like I can show more of my singing -- not even a lighter side, its the powerful side too. The song Talk To Me is really soul-electro. Its something Ive always wanted to achieve from way back when I did Lover Tits. Its sort of like my first soul-electro song.
I wanted to talk a little bit about the idea of sexual liberation. I think gay liberation is very much tied to sexual liberation. I think thats the reason a lot of gay men see you as --
A gay man?
Im just kidding.
Definitely an icon.
I think its fantastic!
What have you learned from gay culture?
Gay culture is always ahead of every other culture because of its openness. Theres a certain experience where they have come up against the wild -- where something isnt accepted in the mainstream culture so theyve always had a second look. Like, Wait a minute, somethings not right here. I feel right the way I am but the world tells me its wrong or Christian culture tells me its wrong or any religious culture tells me its wrong. Obviously its religion thats the problem, not the way you feel. I just feel theyre always a step ahead because theyve had to deal with certain things.
You sometimes get painted as this scary, really angry femi-Nazi who hates straight men.
Well thats just completely ridiculous. Im in a heterosexual relationship, which I would also like my gay and lesbian and bisexual fans to know and accept because when people find out I have a boyfriend they are often really disappointed or whatever. I think thats small minded because I just found someone that I really love and he happens to be a big bear.
[Laughs] We love the bears at Out. The cornerstone of what you do is that everyone should be able to do whatever they want.
Yeah! I dont understand why were not allowed to be who we want to be. Thats just ridiculous.
When Impeach My Bush came out one of the reviews said, Nothings really shocking anymore but she definitely tries, so she gets our vote.
Im not trying to be shocking. Im just trying to balance things out.
One of the most radical things on the new album though is this one little line thats in Trick or Treat where you say, lick my crows feet. I feel like the idea of aging and sexuality --
You can look at Madonna in that way right? Shes 50. Its controversial for people. Maybe they love it or maybe they think, Give it up! Youre so old! There are so many strong women who have so much influence on mainstream culture at this point, theres no denying them getting older and still being a part of it. It used to be people making fun of older women and men dressing as them. Its a whole new combination of ageists and the way we view age. There is the whole other side where people are insane about their Botox and stuff like that.
I was going to ask you about Madonna specifically and how she's dealing with aging. I know you said before that you werent a huge Madonna fan when you were growing up --
I was a bigger fan of Madonna interviews and things she said than the music. Cyndi Lauper -- she was the coolest to me. I think Madonna exists in a very real way and that shes chosen to defy [her age] is a choice that should be seen and heard and whatever. On the other hand, you see someone like Patti Smith and I always loved the way shes presented herself with spit on her lip and if theres a piece of snot hanging she leaves it there on purpose. Stuff like that. I think shes totally hot. She just is -- with no makeup. But theyre both very important.
Theres something even more taboo about the idea of a woman not just growing old -- gracefully or not -- but also still holding onto her sexuality and being seen or presented as a sexual being.
Grace Jones. Shes an amazing example with her little ass sticking out at 60 and doing these fucking amazing and really hardcore shows. I dont know if youve seen her new show but its fantastic and its not slick. Its real.
Its been almost ten years since the The Teaches of Peaches came out. How do you feel about womens sexuality in the music industry since then? Have you seen progress? Have you seen encouraging things?
Ive seen a lot of people do it.
Im thinking of Katy Perrys I Kissed A Girl. We had her in Out and so many people said, Shes not pro-gay! Shes totally making a mockery of us.
I dont think shes making a mockery. I think she wrote that song and I think her record label and all the bullshit around her made that that way. Im sure she kissed a girl. She wrote a song about it. I know a lot of lesbians who are outraged by that song. I dont even think its her fault. She just wrote that song. Its all about how they built it up.
Its the machine. Dont hate the girl. Hate the machine.
The first time people started referring to you as a political artist was with the release of Impeach My Bush --
I dont know with Father Fucker I got a lot of --
Well, really, from the first beat of The Teaches with Peaches, everything youve done has been political. How do you feel about being labeled a political artist -- that is important to you?
I hope that one day I dont have to be deemed a political artist because I hope these things get more normalized. I just continue to do what I do and I find out where the world is at with it.
Do you think with Obama in office there is going to be a new awakening in artistic circles?
I dont know. Its up to everybody. Like Obama says, We are all responsible. I think thats a cool thing to say and I think that everybody should just take responsibility and push it as hard as possible. The one thing about Obama is hes still religious. Thats the only thing. I think religion ruins everything and I think its ruined a lot of freedom in America especially and I dont care who knows it. I think religion sucks.
You grew up Jewish, right?
I grew up Jewish, yes.
Do you have any connection to Judaism?
Heritage wise, yes, but its really controversial too. For every religion youre always the good guy and the bad guy. As much as much as you want to identify with someone, the more you identify with that, the more you also shut out. Im a Jewish person living in Berlin and for me thats really important. People are like, Why would you live in Berlin? I think more Jewish people need to come to Berlin and be a part of it. Im against organized religion. Its really a strange topic. You could talk days, months about religion. Of course the way you grow up is who you are and dont you forget it! Especially Jewish people. That definitely made me who I am. I really dont want it to stop other people from being themselves.
You did an interview with Debbie Harry a few years ago and at one point you said you never really thought of yourself as a funny person, which is really intriguing because your lyrics are hilarious. How do you come up with them? Do you keep little running list of innuendos --
They just come up and Im like, I like that! I try not to do it too much. Its the same with the title of the album, I Feel Cream. I wanted it to be a little more abstract and suggest more singing. Ive never used Peaches and cream together, which is a really easy connection, so I just thought Id make it go down a little easy.
Whats the weirdest exchange youve ever had with a groupie? I feel like you must have some really crazy fans.
Ive had some crazy exchanges. There was this time when I sitting beside somebody and I said something like, Can you pass the water? They must on been on so many drugs that they tried to stick their thumb up my ass. Its like, What are you doing? Why would you think I would ask for that?
Maybe because your onstage persona is so sexualized that people think they have -- not the right but --
Theres a line between consent and attacking somebody.