[+] RAE ISLA and Natalie Durkin in conversation about nonboy-fronted acts pioneering yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

LINK TO RAE ISLA AT ELSEWHERE SPACE, BROOKLYN, NY ON FEBRUARY 25

PART ONE

[+] PRINCESS NOKIA

RAE ISLA: She’s not asking to be listened to. She’s not asking to be heard. She’s also not just reading her diary. You just listen to her because what she says is simply empowering. And I’m not even the biggest fan, just from songs I’ve listened to — I haven’t even listened to her whole record or anything — but every song I listen to, I’m like, yeah, you are RIGHT. I stand behind you and everything you’re saying. That was definitely going to be one of my picks for this.

NATALIE DURKIN (HIGHLARK): Yeah, for sure. It seems very wrong to leave her out of this. And kind of in that vein I think is Dua Lipa with “New Rules”. Obviously, she’s not as in-your-face as Princess Nokia is but, I love — I don’t know if you’ve seen the video — but it’s her and her girls looking amazing and it’s like the anti-fuckboy anthem.

[+] DUA LIPA

RI: I love Dua Lipa‘s songs. Honestly, I think — I don’t know if this is the right way to say it — but I think what’s amazing about her is that she is empowering in the same way where it’s a little bit effortless. But also I think just because of the nature of her style and the genre of her music, it’s very digestible for everybody, even somebody who maybe has more conservative…it’s very listenable across all demographics but you’re still getting that empowerment and that exciting sort of female pioneer thing, which is great and very much needed. Versus Princess Nokia [who] may not be for everybody because she’s alternative, or, you know, whatever.

ND: Yeah. I totally agree. I think Princess Nokia is for a very select audience. When I say that I think the writing on “New Rules” is so smart because of what you said about it being so accessible and universal, I don’t mean to say that “Tomboy” isn’t smart because I think she’s an amazing songwriter but…with Dua Lipa I think it is a little more commercialized.

[+] PEACHES

 

RI: I was trying to put into words this idea of genderless writing or genderless performing as opposed to…I guess it would be very similar to non-binary. I personally love music and artists that are genderless. 

They’re just so good and so exciting to watch that you literally forget — or don’t associate them — with a gender.

It’s like…you’ve passed gender just because the performance is so incredible.

ND: Obviously, all of these artists are cisgender women and I was thinking of it in terms of traditional masculinity and traditional femininity and I think sort of along the lines of what you were saying, I think Peaches, as a woman, took very traditionally masculine qualities and weaved them into her music and her performance and thus, I think the product is what you were saying of it being almost genderless.

RI: The women that I added at the end — we didn’t actually talk about their songs — what I saw just from reading about them — I’ve read about Carole King and Patti Smith and all these people before — but what separated them is that they modeled their lives off of…at the time, successful men. And that’s kind of changed the nature of success…as an artist or as a person. We’re not there yet, but [it’s] closer to a genderless success.

Whether she was intending it or not, it made her sort of genderless. That’s a compliment; I consider someone to be genderless someone who is so focused on the craft or so focused on the music that the gender doesn’t really matter, whether they intend it or not.

ND: She did it so well. There’s a band, they’re from LA, they’re all really young, I think the oldest is 21 or so…they’re called The Regrettes.

They have a song called “Picture Perfect” and I don’t know if it was an intentional Peaches reference or not but it starts by saying “the girls wanna be her and the boys wish they could tap” and then they switch it around and it becomes “the boys wanna be her and the girls wish they could tap”.

[+] THE REGRETTES

RI: It would almost be cooler if it wasn’t intentional…just showing how influenced we are today by these people that you and I are considering to be the pussy pioneers on the list. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was unintentional.

To then take it and switch it around…it opens things up.

[+] RAE ISLA

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*This interview has been edited for brevity.