In Conversation with — Peaches

Canadian pop star Peaches is known as much for her electrifying live performances as for her highly individual electro sound and personal style. 2010 will see her focus on film and theatre projects after a number of grueling tours to support her latest album, ‘I Feel Cream’. In between, OE’s Ken Pratt caught up with her…

Peaches engages in a little on-stage tranny surfing

Peaches engages in a little on-stage tranny surfing

KP: What superpower could you imagine having if your were to have a superpower?

P: (Chuckling) I do think I have a superpower, a superpower of communication with the audience. I don’t have to do much to get a reaction. I like to make the audience feel. I enjoy making them feel different things. And lately I’m very interested in making them feel different things other than just sexy…”

KP: Do you think that the pop world often overlooks your background and your training in the more theoretical side of music? Does your powerful performance persona sometimes overshadow the musicianship?

P: There are ways in which people don’t see beyond the act itself and I guess the most common way that I see it is when they always ask who my producers are. Well….me! I make it all. Until this new album, I’ve never worked with other producers.”

KP: Do you see yourself as a feminist?

P: My relationship to Feminism and music is an odd one. There is a way in what I am doing is clearly influenced by Feminism. I like to wrap it all up as a party. I think I’m much more suited to making any of my feminist points by modeling rather than lecturing.

KP: So what have been your main influences?

P: That’s always a dangerous path to go down. Grace Jones, for example. You might not think it, but really, she was a major influence on me, especially as someone who really showed what you could achieve as a live performer. And Patti Smith, of course. I could never be like these women. It’s not my personal performance style. But they were great influences. Wendy O’Williams from The Plasmatics…And Carole Pope. I was always really into what she was doing. It’s not a straightforward thing because it’s not like their influences come out in an obvious way in what I do as a musician or the persona that I have as a performer. But they’re all great and I’m really into what they’ve achieved.

Not all of my influences were necessarily musicians. One of my greatest influences was Gilda Radner. You remember her? Oh, I was obsessed with her when I was a kid. I thought she was great. I really just wanted to be her. I think I drove everybody crazy when I was a kid, acting out those sketches all the time.”

KP: What can you tell us about your current album?

P: It’s called ‘I Feel Cream’. After all the years of jokes -y’know, Peaches and Cream- I just thought now was the time to just put that out there. It’s a really interesting time. It’s been ten years since Peaches started. Recently there’s been all this stuff on the radio that I’ve been listening to about women in electro. Right now there are a lot of women doing really exciting and interesting things on the electro scene and, naturally, you’ve got to think about what that’s all about and how it’s come to be like that. So, listening to all this stuff, I’ve sort of realized that I’m being seen as one of the pioneers, one of the influences for this whole second wave.”

KP: You’re based in Berlin, but you also spent a fair time living and working in Los Angeles. So, for Peaches, Berlin or L.A.?

P: Berlin is certainly an influence, but it’s not the only thing. You’ve got to remember that the first album was recorded in Toronto…But I’ve lived in lots of places, L.A. for example. I’ve made it (Berlin) my home. There are a lot of things I really liked about L.A. – like having a garden or being close to the ocean- but I guess I just wanted to live in a city that wasn’t too overcrowded; somewhere relaxed where I could have space.

People seem to think that I’m the kind of person who would naturally be into the L.A. scene. L. A. is full of really talented, fun people, especially on the more underground music scene and that was more what I got out of it. I didn’t really have that much contact with the whole Hollywood side of things until I played the Coachella Festival… Maybe it’s about the lack of overcrowding. If it wasn’t for that, I think I would probably end up in New York. I really love it and my sister lives there.  In the end I guess Berlin just suits me better.”

KP: What you would say is the Peaches signature dress style?

P: Well I guess my personal style has always been pretty playful.  I’ve always had fun playing around with cheap and trashy looks, mixing it up. I’m less worried about how expensive it is or who made it than what it looks like. I really like celebrating this kind of trashy look and I guess that’s always come through in the way that we look on tour.  Sometimes there’s something that a designer is doing that just fits and works well with that. Sometimes I see something that’s from fancy designers and love it.

Peaches peforming at a Berlinale party

Peaches performing at a Berlinale party

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