The second installment of Expatriarch Generations brings along the matriarch of Berlin’s queer scene, Peaches, who has selected Ziúr a.k.a. Mika Risiko as her newcomer artist. Earlier this month at SchwuZ, Ziúr’s live set provided a dark undertow of techno to warm up the dancefloor before Peaches took over, rocking the crowd along with Ellen Allien and Aérea Negrot. Mika is currently preparing the debut Ziúr 12” single as well as a collaboration with Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes and Samantha Urbani. Till then, you can hear one of her unreleased demos in Expatriarch Radio #56, which also includes an interview between the intergenerational pairing. Here is a transcription of their conversation with ruminations on creative energy and discipline as well as Kate Bush, Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus.
Mika: Are you a quick worker or a high-end nerd?
Peaches: I am neither. Actually, I’m a slow thinker and then a quick worker. I can brood over everything, but when I actually do it, it comes out fast. But there will be days or sometimes weeks of agonizing, not even touching anything.
I get that too. I need to gather creative energy to have an output at a certain point, and then I’m really fast.
I just finished my next album, and I worked with Vice Cooler, who’s very patient and completely nerdy, and he’ll work on insane details, but there’s always the point where it’s like “OK, move on, this is enough!”
It’s funny, I wanted to ask if you work with producers…
Yeah. He and I share the same politics, he’s a feminist, he has incredible experience touring and playing live. I was looking for producers in L.A. and had all these meetings. I probably met with five difference producers, some well known, some I’d never heard of. I didn’t relate to any of them, and I turned to Vice and said, “Why don’t we just do it together?”
Yeah, that makes sense. I’d much rather connect on a personal level, I don’t give a fuck if they’re the best on the planet. People need to get you as an artist.
Yeah. Also, with The Teaches of Peaches, my first album, the reason I didn’t have a producer is because I didn’t want someone to tell me, “You did this wrong”. I had a vision. Because I did it that way, I established myself as the producer, and now when I work with someone else, I don’t even have to demand respect, because they know that I have this aesthetic.
Do you have a driving force?
I think I just have a lot of anxiety. (Laughter) And a lot of anger! I have a hard time sitting still. Not a very glamorous driving force, is it?
No, but I don’t think it matters how glamorous it is; it matters whether you have one or not. For me, it is a very essential thing in life.
Yeah, and sometimes you may not. And actually, that might be part of your driving force, to force yourself. But sometimes you can’t make yourself create. You can try, but sometimes trying is depressing.
My friend’s boyfriend thinks it’s discipline, that you can sit down every day and do art. For some people it might work. For me it doesn’t.
Well, Nick Cave, for instance, he goes to the office every day and works. I think I enjoy the element of surprising myself. I don’t write every day. That’s why it was fun with this new album to go in from scratch. It was also terrifying because I had absolutely nothing written down, no preconceived idea in my head. I tried a more spontaneous way, to set myself free from thinking, “Is it good enough?”
Do you think it’s still possibly to blow people’s minds artistically? Like, can there be a superstar in 2015, like Michael Jackson? Or do you think we’ve seen it all?
It’s easy to say that it’s over. But blowing someone’s mind is just that – you don’t expect it.
With the Beatles, no one had ever seen that before. People were fainting. Maybe we’re getting to the point where we think, I’ve seen that, I’ve seen that. There’s another bearded indie rock band touring.
I don’t want to be cynical. I don’t know what would blow somebody away. Right now there’s this artist who made art that’s invisible. People are flipping out.
There’s also a generational thing. As you are exposed to a lot of music, you think, “That person sounds exactly like blah blah blah from ten years ago”. So, who’s mind is going to be blown, and at what age?
So, who’s the last superstar? Michael Jackson? Beyoncé?
I think Madonna blew it.
It’s interesting to follow what happened with Lady Gaga. It went up, and everyone was like, “Oh, she’ll be like Madonna, she’ll go on forever…” And then, it’s over.
Also, Pink Floyd got back together.
People get desperate. Why the fuck would you be interested in a new Pink Floyd album or seeing them again?
But now there’s Kate Bush, right? I don’t know anyone else who came back after 35 years to do a concert. I went twice! I’m a fan. One of my defining moments was when I was 12 and my friend brought over some Kate Bush. I was like, “This doesn’t sound like my brother’s music! This doesn’t sound like my sister’s music!”
Her fans were crying the minute she came onstage. It was this really emotional experience for people because they had to wait so long. It wasn’t 16-year-old kids crying over the Beatles. It was 65-year-old office workers. I thought that was something new. In a really old way.
Beyoncé is definitely a superstar, but does it really matter?
I don’t know what matters. I don’t understand superstardom. I don’t get it.
Do you get the Beyoncé feminism?
I mean, you are more or less a feminist queer icon. You’ve dealt with that stuff. It seems real. But then Beyoncé comes along with that feminist banner.
And she also uses my Skittle reference. Maybe that makes her a feminist!
There’s a speech on her album when she’s like, “We women are in chains forever, why don’t we put the men in chains?” That’s the wrong approach for me. Why don’t we get rid of the chains? Cut the crap. That’s my biggest critique against her feminist approach.
Well, I have also written songs where I try to spin it. I can’t say I’m fully broken from the chains. I can see the call for straight men to be in that position. I also love that she had this incredible all-woman band on her last album. They were fantastic musicians. But once you get that big, it’s watered down and hard to find the real soul in it. That’s the problem.
Now Miley Cyrus is like, “Kathleen Hanna is the coolest, and we’re recording together!” How much of that is her, versus someone saying, “Hey Miley, I think you should understand feminism now.” I wonder how much of it is natural. On the Grammys, she had a homeless date to accept her award and give her speech. It’s what Marlon Brando did in the 70s, instead of receiving his award for best actor, he had an indigenous person do it and talk about those struggles. So I always wonder if someone is saying “Hey Miley, have you seen this clip?” It’s so self-aware. What is a superstar? Can we have superstars anymore, or are people just trying to recreate what they see as supposedly correct?
What’s the worst question I could possibly ask you?
“Why’d you move to Berlin?” I hate that question. I’ve just heard it so often. And “Has Berlin influenced you?”
You don’t actually have to answer it.
It’s a good community. It lets me be who I want to be and do what I want to do. It wasn’t a lifelong goal. “Mom and Dad, when I grow up, I’m going to move to Berlin!” (Laughter) it just kind of happened. And I’m very grateful it did.
Me too. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here right now! (Laughter)