Thank you for naming an album "Fatherfucker" in attempts to even out the colloquial expression. Thank you for being a bold voice that speaks up and against the excruciating double-standards that women endure everyday. Thank you for proudly and beautifully representing "lewd" parts of the female body, like giant breasts and uterus. Thank you for singing about female sexual pleasure, desires, dominance and control. Thank you for reversing the restrictions that surround the female body and the way our bodies are constantly objectified. I'm reaching out with this open letter because every Halloween local bands in San Diego, CA perform as famous acts at an annual "Spooktacular" event, and I'd like to tell you that this year I have the honor of headlining the event as you, PEACHES. I am going to be joined by my talented friends Spooky Cigarette.
I first heard your music when I was in high school in the early 00's. I was at a little party in Portland, ME with a handful of hair dyeing, studded belt wearing scenesters. We were packed into a tiny third-floor apartment in the middle of winter; these people weren't really my friends and I think the only reason I was there was because I drove, but I'll never forget that party. It was the first time I heard your voice rapping over synth beats and the words "Fuck the Pain Away" which repeated in my head (for years on end). Since then, I've followed your creative journey from Fancypants Hoodlum to "Peaches Does Herself" and your latest album Rub. From beards and panties to tit costumes and an iconic giant uterus with a cape, your lyrics and visual concepts creates a powerful dialogue about the female body, our sexual identity and desires. Women are often made to feel indecent by nature and your artistic expression not only rebels against that notion, but it has personally encouraged me to fully and boldly embrace of the power of being a woman on stage.
Growing up music was an escape for me, a place where I could feel and express intense feelings without necessarily saying them directly. My grandmother gave me my first drumset for Christmas when I was 9 years old and shortly thereafter I wrote my first rap. Throughout high school, I was friends with the local musicians and spent my weekends going to all-ages shows. The intensity of live screamo, hardcore shows drew me in like a pyro to a flame. I looked at the musicians on stage and knew I needed to do that too. However, the local music scene in Portland, ME in the early 00's was all-male and I found it impossible to join a band. Maybe because I was a lady or maybe because I was weird. Either way, I didn't play until I moved to San Diego, CA when I was 19.
While it's common knowledge that rock and roll is male-dominated, I quickly realized that it's more than the just musicians in a band--it's managers, bookers, promoters, sound engineers, producers, venue owners etc. While there are now many women who fill these rolls, on average it's mostly male. I grew up believing that if I came off too sexy or feminine, I wouldn't be taken seriously in the rock - indie - alt - boys club - no wave - whatever the fuck, music scene. I thought that because of my big boobs and thighs that touched, I would be objectified, discredited and not taken seriously. Unfortunately after playing in bands for 10 years, I can say that I have felt both objectified and discredited as a musician based on my gender and the way I look. Meanwhile, I see you on stage rocking an iconic boob costume, adorned with doll heads as nipples and I'm reminded that power is within ME, not the judgements of the world around me. I hear you singing about being blessed with big big big lips I'm reminded I'm blessed with the Power of Peaches too.
Since I was old enough to dress myself, I have loved using clothes as an outlet to express myself. The first band I was in was an all girl riot grrl band in San Diego, CA called Mermaid (I was excited when I discovered that your first project was called Mermaid Cafe!) When I first start playing shows, I felt that I shouldn't wear a crop top or a low cut shirt on stage because of how my body naturally spilled out of it. I thought that I shouldn't wear a dress or heels because that isn't rock and roll and that I shouldn't do my hair because it makes me look like "I try too hard". Even my riot grrrl bandmates teased me about being too girly and always having "good hair days" (and eventually kicked out for being "too different"). Whether created by societal construct or the words from people around you, the notion that "I shouldn't wear this because I will look too sexual or too feminine" is dangerously repressive and detrimental to both self-esteem and artistic expression. Aside from that, nobody should feel repressed, judged, objectified or disqualified in any circumstance just because they are female! Yet sadly, women continued to be far more repressed and condemned in other parts of the world.
Over the years, moving from playing drums to singing and playing keyboard, I've stopped holding back on how I want to represent myself aesthetically. We will never be truly accepted by everyone, so why did I spend so long trying to fit into what I thought was "allowed" and "okay"? I remember the first time I wore heels on stage, it felt amazing and empowering. I stopped hiding myself by dressing down and started to wear what I want--regardless of how it would perceived by others. I've come a long way from dressing myself down in over-sized sweatshirts, a messy bun and sneakers to proudly wearing: sparkles, sequins, long fringe, billowy kimonos, crop tops, teal eyebrows, zombie face paint and rhinestones. What's the point of being on stage if you have the hold back? Regardless of gender, it takes a lot courage to get up on stage and share what you've created. However for performing artists, shows are one of the best parts of being in a band. For me, playing music with a group of people, loud and for an audience, is a high that cannot be paralleled. It's a moment in which I spill my guts to the room and lap them back up again, feeding off the energy of the room. With each performance I become more confident, embracing my body and celebrating my style choices.
I'm happy to say that now, I do what feels good for me regardless of other people's thoughts and reactions to it. I am done feeling ashamed for having big boobs or thighs that touch. I am done feeling like I need to hide parts myself because my body inappropriate by nature (our nipples are illegal?) I am done letting other people's opinions about me and my choices affect my attitude, style or course of action. Thank you for contributing to my confidence and pride when I get up on stage. You are the riot grrrl pioneer of electronic music and rap. Your stage costumes are legendary and the way you command the stage is incomparable. You're art doesn't just bend gender rules, it's shatters them in half allowing a place where people can focus on being human beings, instead of male or female. I will do my best to honor you while sharing the #PowerOfPeaches with in San Diego. I hope this somehow gets to you and if it does, please stay tuned for photos of the night!
Serpentine serpentine, never a straight line, serpentine! (the photo to the right is me, dressed up a snake in your honor, shot by my talented friend Pacificyo).
Thanks for reading!
PS. We have the same birthday, 11/11!