Speedy Ortiz are fast becoming one of the hottest indie rock acts around. The quartet who hail from Northampton, Massachusetts have been gaining hype from critics everywhere due to the release of their third studio LP Foil Deer. We chat to lead singer Sadie Dupuis about their new release, her favourite song from Foil Deer, touring and women in music.
1) Congrats on the new album and the great feedback it’s receiving! Do you guys take much notice of what the critics have to say?
I like reading music criticism in general, because I used to work as a music critic (and still do, on occasion). But I don’t think it has any bearing on how we make our music. Most of the reviews are just, like, “they’re too ’90s” or “they don’t sound ’90s enough anymore.” I think if I paid too much attention to our reviews I would get confused about what decade I’m living in.
2) You were able to spend more time in the studio for this album than on ‘Major Arcana’ and you actually allocated writing time for this album, were the results what you expected? Was there any added pressure for this album?
All of the pressures were internal, I think. We have high expectations for ourselves and wanted to make sure we could make a record we were really proud of, especially given the amount of time we allotted ourselves. Sometimes giving yourself too much time on something can cause you to stagnate, but we worked pretty diligently for the entirety of our time in the studio, and I think we exceeded the expectations we set for ourselves. A lot of that has to do with working with Nico Vernhes and Gabe Wax on recording the album—they are amazing.
3) Do you have a favourite song on ‘Foil Deer’ and if so, which one is it and why?
I’ve really liked playing “My Dead Girl” live lately–it’s fun to sing, and I’ve been using this Earthquaker effects pedal called the Pitch Bay to approximate some of the keyboard parts on my guitar. Our bassist Darl calls it my “Failure pedal” because the way I have it set it sounds a bit like some of the effects on ‘Fantastic Planet.’
4) Can you please tell us the story behind ‘My Dead Girl’?
While I was writing it in the backseat of my car, I was approached and harassed by a group of men who joked about breaking in. Luckily our drummer showed up and I was unscathed. But it changed the content of the song quite a bit, from a song about feeling powerful into a song about being wary.
5) There have been articles published recently that address an issue highlighted by an UK blogger by the name of Josh Dalton. There have been festival line-up posters from around the world created with the all-male bands or male artists removed, leaving only acts that contain a female member. The posters are very bare which signals inequity in this area. What are your thoughts on female representation within the music industry?
I just read an interview with the music writer Jess Hopper in ‘i-D’, which was conducted by Meredith Graves. Jess talks about having a feminist agenda which she applies to her job as an editor at Pitchfork, about how once you’ve gotten in the door of a male-oriented space you need to hold the door open for other women and usher them in with you. This resonates pretty strongly with me. We’re playing festivals, and we’re grateful, but if I look at the line-ups of these festivals, I can count the number of women represented on a single hand. It’s just unacceptable. So I guess I view the privilege of playing these spaces as an opportunity to be a bit of a muckraker, to make noise about the fact that there aren’t more women on stage alongside us. We’re working with Jade Payne from the band Aye Nako, an amazing musician and engineer, as our sound engineer on this tour. We were lucky enough to get the incomparable Emily Lazar to master our record. It’s important to us that we work with women, because there are plenty of women in the music industry. We just need more people shouting for them.
6) Is there anyone that stands out as a great influence to yourself and your music?
Our friends are our biggest influences–Pile, Palehound, Ovlov, Krill, Two Inch Astronaut. Luckily we get to tour with many of these bands. Growing up, Elliott Smith and Fiona Apple were huge influences. And Destiny’s Child. Obviously.
7) If you could invite four people alive or dead to dinner, who would they be and why?
Sylvia Plath, Aaliyah, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Otis Redding
8) You’re currently touring the US before heading over to Europe, how is the tour going? Do you have any funny tour tales for us?
It’s been pretty nice so far. We’ve been sound-checking every night by playing Usher songs. Keeps the morale up.
9) Do you have any plans on touring down under?