Sadie Dupuis is the frontwoman of American indie rock band Speedy Ortiz. LOCK spoke to the multi-instrumentalist about music, the band’s latest album, politics, and more.
Hey Sadie Dupuis, what are you listening to right now?
There’s too much good right now! Buddy, Mitski, Odetta Hartman, Petal, Tierra Whack and the new Empress Of song have been on repeat this summer. And lots and lots and lots of Bali Baby.
What was the first album you ever bought?
‘Let’s Face It’ by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones because my first ever phase was a ska phase.
Do you consider yourself to be a role model for young women?
Most of my work prior to doing music full time was in arts and writing education, so I do think that ties my creative practices with intentionality, and wanting to use my platform responsibly. I’m happy to be one of the many women in rock who are proving that being sick at guitar isn’t a gender exclusive endeavor, that kind of representation matters.
But in the same way that I’m inspired by artists and activists and writers who are younger than me, and of different genders than me, I would hope that if I were ever to do something role-model-worthy it wouldn’t just be to people of a certain age or gender subset.
Your recent album ‘Twerp Verse’ is a result of the presidential election. How has Trump’s opinions about women influenced your music?
I couldn’t care less about his opinions, and I haven’t written a thing about him honestly. But I do care that his policies and that of his party actively endanger the health and security and lives of people I care about. It’s hard to write outside of the context of your time — unless your music is total escapism, which has its place for sure — and so by extension I’d say that my music has been more fearful, more angry, more retributive than it was when America wasn’t as overtly bigoted (though it’s always been bigoted). But I try to infuse all of that contemporary nausea with some “let’s work to make it better” optimism, because it’d be easy to feel overwhelmed and fatalistic without hope.
Do you think it’s important for bands to write about political issues?
It’s important for me in my own projects, but different music serves different functions. I mean, I’m not gonna wonder why a strictly instrumental band isn’t obviously condemning racism in their music. And people need fun party music with goofy lyrics that have nothing to do with our quotidien horror show. But I have a lot of disgust for people who misuse their platforms, whether that means causing harm in their scene or whether that means remaining silent when they could be a voice that inspires change and action in their fans.
You tackle harassment on the track ‘Villains’. Do you think harassment, of any kind, remains an important topic to be discussed within music?
“Every 98 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.” I just looked that up from RAINN. So yeah, still an important topic.
Your solo side project Sad13 also discussed such issues. What are your experiences of being a female in a predominantly male industry?
I probably wind up having to talk about gender more than cis men with my job title…based on whatever experiences I’ve had, as a band we spend a lot of time thinking about how to use our small platform to make things better and more inclusive for our fans and friends. That could mean the cost of the records and tickets (which we try to keep low). Or who we invite to perform with us as a support band or who we hire on our crew (which we want to be diverse and inclusive, especially on the audio engineering side, where men are so severely overrepresented).
Or what kind of policies we can encourage at venues, like gender neutral bathroom signage and safer space policies and the text help hotline we’ve run for the past three years. We also distribute a one-sheet on bystander intervention tactics so people can feel empowered to help out other showgoers who are experiencing harassment. Those feel like productive ways to make music more open to everyone.
Do you think the music industry needs its own Times Up campaign?
Many cities have organizations that work to combat harassment in their local music scenes; seeking yours out and offering them your time or monetary support is a great way to work towards a safer scene. Also, when you are in a position to book or hire, get non-male musicians and audio workers and pay them fair wages. As a fan, buy their records and see their concerts. Giving financial support to those whose identities have made them vulnerable in the past is a way of redistributing power and showing that musicians of all genders are valuable people.
So, finally, what’s coming up for Speedy Ortiz over the next few months?
Lots of touring, including some UK dates which we’re very psyched for!
17/10/2018 – London, UK @ The Garage
18/10/2018 – Nottingham, UK @ Rough Trade Nottingham
19/10/2018 – Leeds, UK @ Belgrave Music Hall
20/10/2018 – Birmingham, UK @ Hare & Hounds
22/10/2018 – Glasgow, UK @ Stereo
23/10/2018 – Manchester, UK @ Now Wave Venue
24/10/2018 – Brighton, UK @ Patterns
25/10/2018 – Bristol, UK @ The Louisiana
Interview by Paige Sims
Featured Images by Shervin Lainez