Speedy Ortiz Talks Lil Wayne, Politics, and Playing Her Favorite Songs
    • MONDAY, MAY 21, 2018

    • Posted by: Baeble Staff

    Variety is the spice of life in Sadie Dupuis' world. After writing an entire album and then scrapping it, the singer for Speedy Ortiz talks about the importance of her art in the world and what she wants it to mean. Starting out as the solo project of Sadie Dupuis and then eventually growing into the more full polished sound of a four-piece, '90s grunge-rock band with tell-it-like-it-is lyrics, Twerp Verse, the band's most recent record, is a loud and glittering "f*ck you" sung into the music universe.

    Kirsten Spruch: So you basically wrote an entire album and scrapped it when you were on tour?

    Sadie Dupuis: Yeah that was a good idea.

    KS: Why?

    SD: I think this record took us longer than other records we've done in the past. I think we are very used to recording stuff and then immediately it's scheduled to come out. Both a blessing and a curse is, we recorded this and some time passed and I felt that my feelings about the world had changed so drastically, and what purpose art should serve in the world right now, especially what purpose my (emphasis mine) art should serve in the world right now. And while we liked all the old songs, a lot of them just felt a little bit—not vapid but—structurally flimsy and not really related to the things we are all thinking about every day. So since we didn't have really, like, a plan for when we were going to release this and I had been writing a lot more following the election, we were kinda like, this new stuff is better and we feel better about it, let's record that and have this be the record.

    KS: Do you think we'll ever get to hear the other album?

    SD: So [there are] a couple songs we did keep and are on this record. "Villain" is one of them. Yeah, there's a few songs that were from the first pass. And some of them are coming out… The ones we scraped from the record, we're doing a bonus 7 inch with the record and that's old songs. Some of them will be bonus tracks. So they'll all come out. We like all the songs. It's just, as an album, it didn't feel like it had any statement or anything—we didn't want just a nice collection of songs.

    KS: So the new album: Can you take me through the process of that? How long did that take?

    SD: Yeah, I was kind of writing between...November and February, and we recorded it all in about a week in February. So sort of quick, which we like, and I think something that we learned on the last record that we really like doing, is not playing the songs live before we record them. Because then you kind of get stuck in the groove of what they'll sound like with just four people playing them once. I think it leaves a lot more room to experiment with the arrangements if you have the idea for the structure but not what it'll sound like on stage. So we kind of did it that way, we rehearsed them and played them live, but a lot of it was over dubs and studio arranging.


    KS: What was the biggest, best highlight of making the record?

    SD: Well we got to mix it with Mike Mogis who is a member of Bright Eyes and produced so many of the...bands who I grew up idolizing. He was a hero… He was the first producer I remember knowing the name of when I was 14. We met him a few years ago, and I'm such a big fan of so many of the bands he's worked with and how his records sound… we became friends, and I'm so happy we got to hang out in Omaha for like three weeks in the studio that has produced so many of the records I love. It was such a surreal experience.

    KS: What was the biggest challenge?

    SD: I think redoing the record.

    KS: Yeah I feel like that sounds really hard.

    SD: Having the confidence to say, "this is fine but it's not really what we want." I've never really thrown anything out like that before…

    KS: For sure, and you guys have always sort of been a political band, I would say.

    SD: I think so yeah...which is why it was weird the record wasn't really.

    KS: How do you feel when some people say, "Oh musicians should stick to music and not bring politics in to it"?

    SD: I think anybody who says that...I don't care about them. I don't agree.

    KS: Yeah, that's fair.

    SD: How can you have no… I mean when they say musicians should just stick to politics they are saying, "artists should have no opinion of the world," What's the point of making art if it's not into context and reflecting on what you're doing?

    KS: Is there a politically active song or artist that you particularly love?

    SD: So many. I mean I'm always giving props to Sammus, just because I think she should be the most famous person in the world. She's a rapper, producer, and songwriter who I collaborated with on Sad 13, and she's going to be doing some shows with Speedy this tour. Just like one of the most brilliant lyricist I know who approaches really difficult topics with a lot of kindness. And working with her on the Sad 13 record was a big influence on my songwriting and even some of this record. So yeah Sammus on Don Giovanni records.

    KS: Yeah I'm going to look her up. We are going to make her the most famous person in the world. This is your first record with Andy. How did that sort of affect things?

    SD: He's such a different kind of musician than I've played with before. Andy's project ...background doesn't really sound like any band I've been in. He comes in it from way more of a synth pop background, and I think that made for some really interesting sonic, textural arrangements on this record. They were maybe not the things I would have thought of, and I think that's a great thing in a collaborator.

    KS: What's the writing process like? Of course you were solo and now you're a band...but like was the writing process for Sad 13 sort of different?

    SD: It was, in that I knew that the Sad 13 stuff was just...me. While working on the demo, I wasn't really thinking about what anyone else would like or sound like or approve. I just kind of went with my impulses. Whereas, lwhen I send a demo to my band mates, I never know what they are gonna do. Sometimes I write parts for them, but just as often they write their own parts. But I never know...For instance, I'm always writing drum parts on a drum machine, so I don't know if they are going to be playable by a human drummer. So it's always kind of cool to send that stuff to Mike and see what he comes up with, different than what I imagined and better. So yeah, knowing that it's not going to be like the final product whenever you make it by yourself. There's other people's opinions to consider and playing styles to consider. You get less attached. It's harder to get "demoitis" when you know it's gonna go through a band eventually, so that's one big difference.

    KS: Back and forth, yeah. Can we expect more Sad 13 stuff?

    SD: Yeah I want to, for sure. I have to do this album and give it it's time. But, I had a lot of fun doing that project…

    KS: And Twerp Verse. First, can you explain the meaning behind that?

    SD: Yeah, I feel silly repeating this but, it's just something I said about Lil Wayne one time.

    KS: I saw that yeah!

    SD: And I was just, "oh that's funny. I'll write this down in my notebook" and maybe months later I thought, "oh that would be a great album title". It rhymes, it's goofy, I feel like it describes a lot of lyrics I write. So that was sort of the impetus behind that title.

    KS: And you're going on tour, what can we expect from the live show?

    SD: We are definitely still working out and arranging it, and that's one of the perils of not having done songs live before we record them. Like you said, the record is really synth heavy and while I've been playing synth on stage for the past year or couple years with Sad 13, I had never done that before, before that record came out…So there's that big change, is like there's synth sounds but coming from the instrument that I actually know how to play…And then Mike our drummer is playing, there's a lot of drum machine stuff and drum samples we used on the record, and he's playing with a sample pad for the first time. So it's like a growing experience for all of us, trying to incorporate all the sounds that we wanted on the record, hadn't worked out how to do live. And I think that's really fun. I always really enjoy learning new things on tour, I feel like that's always how I get better at writing and making music. So I'm having a lot of fun with it.

    KS: Last question, how do you expect fans to respond to the album? How are you just feeling over all?

    SD: It's hard to say. For better or for worse a lot of people liked our first record because they felt that it sounded 90's. And I feel like… To me, we got unfairly judged—we would always make music that sounded like the first record and I think this record is a pretty big departure from that. To me, that's really exciting. I think this is the most interesting record we've done…But I guess, the bands who I've really idolized have always changed their sound. I'm always citing Deerhoof. I would love it if all our records sounded really different. And I think, if you don't want to stay in one musical lane, you're bound to attract different people with different records and maybe lose some people who liked a previous sound. I don't know—I love trying new things. We are really psyched on the record and that's what I care about the most.

    Twerp Verse, the band's third full-length, was released April 27th via Carpark Records and is out everywhere. Stream it below!

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