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"Cat's Cradle", Carrboro, North Carolina, June 2009Photography Holger Talinski

Listen to Peaches’ all-female produced remix album

The queen of queer, musical activism and giving absolutely no fucks talks us through her latest creation, Rub Remixed

It had been six years since the unapologetic, achingly carnal narrative of I Feel Cream, when Peaches dropped her sixth studio album, the effervescent Rub. As always, she upped her game: while remaining the no-bullshit, sexually liberating character that provides us with an important political agenda as well as a good fucking time, she showed us intriguing new twists and turns. "Dick in the Air" playfully subverted the male gaze and the absurdity of objectification to a beat, while "Free Drink Ticket" edged us toward a dark, unsettling state of vulnerability, forcing us to confront the monsters that both face us, and live within.

Now, Peaches levels up with Rub Remixed, featuring 13 remixed versions of tracks from the album. Incidentally, the producers are all women, with the works of JD Samson, Paula Temple and Planningtorock all making an appearance on Peaches' new vision. A world where female producers mightily rule is a world we're happy to be a part of. 

We spoke with the artist ahead of the Rub Remixed release this Friday.

Why make Rub Remixed?

Peaches: I just had so many producers that I was excited about. When I contacted them, they really wanted to do it too, so it turned out to be a better idea to just pick people and pair them up with a song, either with one that they wanted to do or one that I thought they needed. And it just turned out that they were all women.

It’s great that women producers aren’t an exception in your world.

Peaches: Yeah. It’s always talked about that there’s not enough women producers, blah blah blah blah. I mean, that’s just a bunch of crap.

Do the artists you pick align with your personal taste?

Peaches: I’ve just finished using someone like Jam (Planningtorock) who I’ve known for a really long time, so I took her on her first tour and I’ve just watched and listened to her grow musically and she’s incredible. She’s already done remixes for me and actually she’s the collaborator on the album for the song Free Drink Ticket. Neven, who did Free Drink Ticket with me, is someone who I’ve learnt a lot about production work from. Simonne Jones, my niece, is an up-and-coming artist and just released her first EP. I’ve watched her bloom into an incredible musician, and I love her music. Mika is also a very fresh, very new artist that was on tour with me, who I respected and welcomed on the album. And then there’s Austra and JD Samson, who I’ve always loved. I’m not just looking for a specific kind of music when I’m DJing, I like to mix it up. For me, it’s also hard to find some really good techno that I can play loud that also has power – Paula Temple is the best. Then there’s Kim Anh, she’s done the first remix and I heard it in LA – she’s a DJ too. And Evvol. They’re a great production duo and their remixes were totally different to anything that I’ve worked on before or who’s been in my band.

Did you give them much direction, or did you have a very specific vision for the narrative?

Peaches: It was just my vision to let them really express their own production stuff. You know, after someone like Lauren Flax – she’s been doing this for like 20 years, and you see she has this really great but different personality on it.

And you’re happy with what’s come of it?

Peaches: Yeah! It’s hard to listen. First of all you have your own impression of a song, and you have to be totally comfortable with where it is on the album, be able to separate the songs, enjoy their meanings. I thought it was a really great listen for me when I first heard it. On all sides, I really enjoyed it.  

Has the creative process changed much from I Feel Cream, or your earlier stuff?

Peaches: In terms of growing, I work on my ideas for production, to make it just as powerful and as minimal at the same time. I worked more with producers, and I liked exploring that with this because I usually produce myself. When it came back to do Rub, I feel like it’s my favourite message yet, and it’s so relevant to my way of working.

How do you navigate exploring your sound, while maintaining your unapologetic sense of yourself?

Peaches: I don’t see how that’s a problem. I explore my sound by reaching my extremities. I think that goes hand-in-hand. If we go back to The Teaches of Peaches from 2000, I’d never produced an album before but I was like... you know what? They shouldn’t be able to tell me, ‘you should do this, this is what other people sound like, blah blah blah’. When I had established who I am, and my working methods, and who I want to work with, they get who I am, they get how I will work; so it’s always been in my control. Not to say that when I collaborate with someone, they don’t have a chance to express themselves. I’ve always tried to collaborate with my producer friend Mocky. We’ve known each other for 25 years and he’d always laugh at me, like ‘I could never produce with you because I’ve never been as minimal and as direct as you want me to be, Peaches’. He knows my sound and respects it; he will never try to change me. Because what’s the point?

The album moves so seamlessly between the darker, more vulnerable Free Drink Ticket, to the lighter, more humorous Rub. How do you combine such twists and turns in the album?

Peaches: I think I’ve always used humour to push certain things. Songs can be a bit of a ‘ha ha’, but then it’s also a bit of a ‘hmm’ moment. Hopefully, it’s a way to make people dance or sing along and enjoy it, to then be like ‘Whoa!’ Then they can go away and explore the meaning. It’s a subtle way of exploring something. Like, do you know what a hummer is?

Like... the car?

Peaches:  When you give a guy a blowjob but you hum, so it feels better. So I was like, what would be the female version, when giving a woman pleasure? I thought whistle-blowing. Whistle-blowing, that opens up the secret of the woman. That was also a little thing for Edward Snowden.  Then with Free Drink Ticket was a new king of song for me. A lot of people think I’m open, but I don’t think that I am as much so on any other album. I don’t think I’ve ever been more poetic. When I was writing that song I was worried that it would be too indulgent. I actually wrote it very fast, and it was very emotional. In like 10 minutes. And then I pitched the vocals down and it became this dark, on point feeling that everyone can relate to in some way.

I can feel like vulnerability in myself when listening to Free Drink Ticket for sure.

Peaches: Vulnerability is also kind of hidden through anger. That’s why I think the video helps it a lot to realise that if you keep being angry at the feeling, which is the monster, you might turn into that monster.

Do you have an idea of exactly who you were speaking to with your songs? Do you have particular listeners in mind that you want to address?

Peaches: I’m just thinking of myself, mostly. I always have. I think I draw a lot from pop culture, the things that I don’t relate to, that I can’t see myself in. And I want something to relate to me. I’m sure other people find that, so there should be other lyrics – I don’t want to call them alternative because they should all be viewed on the same level, not the ‘alternative’. Like, let’s face it, in a patriarchal way.  

Do you think having a particular social or political issue behind music is important for artists today?

Peaches: I think all artists need to have a point of view on a world that isn’t all about art. Even if you’re trying to write music that just makes everybody dance or make people feel like home. It doesn’t have to be overtly political, but it should touch people. That’s political in itself. When someone can feel something emotionally. And I don’t mean to put a downer like, oh that’s political, no! It should be part of your life. People should be caring about what’s around them. People should be caring about the warming of our earth, injustice, human rights. You’re part of the world. You’re not just closed off, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a good time.

And in another sense, some political or social issues, about sexuality and gender, can be seen as a bit of a fad. Despite the fact artists like yourself have been championing these ideas for so long. Do you think society is making genuine moves forward?

Peaches: I think you’re right, things are certainly trending right now. People are fascinated, but they need to be more than just fascinated. We need a sense of depth. They need to talk about health issues, access to health or the trans experience. Looking at gay marriage, and the idea of marriage in general that people participate in when some people don’t even believe in the institution of marriage. The system is mostly about being together to sort out your taxes. People are in love, and together, they should have the same rights.

Is 2016 a good time to be working as an artist, male and female?

Peaches: It’s never a bad time. Bruce Springsteen was going to play in North Carolina, but he cancelled the concert because of the bathroom laws. He isn’t someone who’s particularly in your face about political issues, but this is where music can break barriers.

What do you think are the most important elements of having a sustainable career like yourself?

Peaches: I think you shouldn’t listen, You keep going forward, doing what you’re doing. I’ve been called phoney, the weird one, but now I’m kinda important. Well, I’ve been called important.