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Peaches

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Merrill Nisker, am: 08.04.2004 ]

Es gibt wenige Künstler in letzter Zeit, die auf eine derart interessante und intelligente Art und Weise polarisiert haben wie Merrill Nisker aka Peaches. Seit ihrem Debütalbum „The Teaches Of Peaches“ im Jahre 2000 zieht die Wahlberlinerin unter anderem im Vorprogramm von Björk oder Marilyn Manson durch die Welt und lässt mit ihrer Liveinszenierung die Kinnladen reihenweise fallen. Gender Issues, Sex, Feminismus und humorvolle Provokation verbinden sich hier mit einem minimalistischen Elektronikgerüst zu einer beeindruckenden virtuellen Rock’n’Roll Show, die auf dem letztjährigen Album „Fatherfucker“ wieder Ausdruck findet. Grund genug, Peaches bei einer Tasse Kaffe etwas genauer zu befragen.

 

Musicscan: I was wondering what you found in Berlin that you didn’t find in Toronto?

Peaches: I found a little record deal with Kitty Yo. I was just visiting; it wasn’t really a big deal. It wasn’t actually so much about Berlin that I moved there. But it turned out to be pretty good. It was a happy accident actually.

Musicscan: Are you planning to stay there for a longer period of time now?

Peaches: It is good to be there, especially when you are touring that much, because it is at the center of Europe. So it’s easy. I’d rather be there than in North America.

Musicscan: In how far is it different do you think?

Peaches: Well, it is more Berlin than Germany really. It just suits my lifestyle more. It’s cheaper to live there and people stay out later and seem to hang out more. In Toronto everything seems to end at a certain time of the night. Everybody just goes back to work. There is more of a guilt feeling when you are up all night, whereas in Berlin it just normal.

Musicscan: Could you imagine moving back to Toronto?

Peaches: I think it would feel pretty weird. A lot of my friends have moved away from there, too. I mean, I like it, it is a nice city. I has got a nice China town and nice little places.

Musicscan: I believe you worked with kids before you did music full-time. How much of what you do with Peaches is about bringing out the kid in you?

Peaches: It is very important. Because when I was teaching kids, I wasn’t very happy with creative learning that I had when growing up. You still learned lines and then you perform in front of parents all dressed up. Or you learn music and they teach you the notes and if you say them wrong you don’t get the solo. But I wanted to teach kids about creative processes. That you can be this thing and that thing and that it is more about social interaction and process. It was about getting kids to express themselves and to not restrict them and that is kind of what I am doing also. It is about bringing out the kid and the animal.

Musicscan: Is Peaches just another identity, sort of an alter ego of yourself or would you say that it is a 100% Merill Nisker?

Peaches: I would say that it is a part of me amplified. The part of me that doesn’t let go, the part of everybody that just decides to go for it. It is more like your drunk side. You know when you are drunk you would totally do things more than you would just sitting here having a coffee or whatever. So it is kind of like that without being drunk. It is just letting that out.

Musicscan: So it isn’t an identity that you can switch on and off whenever you want to?

Peaches: It is part of me, but it definitely gets switched off more off stage, because it is also amplified by an audience. They provide sort of a platform.

Musicscan: Is it still possible to shock people in a postmodern society?

Peaches: Apparently it is. Believe it or not, I didn’t really set out to shock anyone. I was just hoping to express myself in a way that I though wasn’t really expressed in music and performance. I saw it in male rappers, but that is about it. I didn’t want it to be shocking people. I just thought it’d be fun and a little more honest than some kind of thing that I saw on TV with popstars and what they are doing.

Musicscan: You have toured with Queens of the Stone Age, Björk, Marilyn Manson and numerous others. What kind of feedback do you get from there audience?

Peaches: Mostly they are just confused and shocked. They don’t expect that kind of thing to happen. With QOTSA, obviously they are very talented, but they have a very mainstream audience and a very rock audience. And so for me to go up there and do my virtual rock’n’roll thing with no band and start screaming at them with and put in some hip hop and electronics, they are just very confused. I think the first half of the show they hate me and then hopefully I win them over.

Musicscan: Sometimes it seems to me like you actually prefer to play these kind of audiences because you get a very strong reaction, a positive as well as a negative.

Peaches: Yes, especially with the Manson tour, because he is all about the “god of fuck” and the shock value and here I come, totally shocking people more than he is going to shock them. Especially on this tour that was called the “Grotesque Burlesque Tour”, he was going back to the 20s Berlin or whatever he thought it was. And here I was just doing that future burlesque, just blowing it out of there. But it is interesting, because when you have an audience of 10.000 people and you are used to 1.000 you really see where people are at and that is very important. So I think it is very interesting to open for someone like QOTSA or Marilyn Manson.

Musicscan: So what makes for a good show in our opinion then?

Peaches: When the line between the audience and the performer is blurred. When I am not being stared at, when people are sort of part of the show.

Musicscan: Can you as the performer directly influence that?

Peaches: It is definitely a two way communication process. It is a matter of what they do but it is always fun when people react. Even when they are just in the audience doing their thing, they don’t necessarily have to be on stage.

Musicscan: Do you read reviews or features about yourself?

Peaches: Yes.

Musicscan: Does it influence what you think about yourself in some way? Can you really separate how people perceive you and how you really are?

Peaches: Oh, it makes me laugh. It is interesting to read. It is interesting that everybody always has a different reaction. So sometimes people will see it completely as sex and nothing else, some people as really new kind of music and some people don’t focus on the music at all, some people just call me a feminist, some call me the anti-feminist, some people think I am really angry and some people think I am totally hilarious. I think the best compliment I have ever gotten wasn’t from a feature but from another performer, Bob Log. He said that watching my show he had a hard-on and he was laughing the whole time. I thought that was the best reaction.

Musicscan: Do you sometimes feel like the press is overintellectualizing or conceptualizing what you do?

Peaches: Oh yeah, it is great. That is what’s so funny. They just need to write stuff so they create this…I guess it turns into a concept just because what I am doing seems different. But on the other hand, I was in the Daily News in London, this really trash paper where every page is tits. I got two pages and they just wrote the most disgusting things about me and why they like me, because I am the raunchiest pop star of whatever. It looks like a made up article, because you just can’t believe they are writing this. And I have been in Hustler Magazine, which I think is actually more interesting than me being in a feminist magazine because I am not the Hustler kind of guy. They showed really sweaty live pictures of me that weren’t particularly attractive. It was probably the unpopular page in Hustler Magazine. It looks like an art projects and I slept myself in there or something. Same way like me playing with QOTSA is like that or the Daily News kind of thing. It is just funny to infiltrate all this different little areas.

Musicscan: Do you think you can influence how the media portrays you at all?

Peaches: Up unto a point, but something like the Daily News they thrive on just taking whatever you ever said and turning it around the other way.

Musicscan: How important do you think the media is for an artist in general nowadays?

Peaches: For an artist to sell records or for recognition or for what?

Musicscan: Both.

Peaches: I think everybody is stumbling. A lot of magazines are closing, a lot of record companies are in big trouble. If they find someone who is easy to write about and easy to focus on, they are just going to keep on that, because everything is narrowing down. I don’t know how many people are really reading it or how many just go to the internet. For me the most important thing is, even making a good record is kind of hard, to sell it or to find it. For me, if you can do a good live show that is it. It is almost back to Vaudeville where they didn’t make records, they just played live records in order to survive. I think that is the way that artists will have to survive now. So you better have a strong live show.

Musicscan: How important is the visual aspect of your show?

Peaches: I am just thinking of my show and how it is mostly one person on stage with no video or anything. It’s got to make an impression on someone, that’s all. But visual, I don’t know, for me it is kind of static. It is more like the action…

Musicscan: So you wouldn’t say that the visual aspect has a certain function in your show?

Peaches: Yes, it does. That I choose to be one person on stage. That I wear little hot pants and things like that. Is that what you mean?

Musicscan: Didn’t you also use Super 8 videos that you created yourself in the past?

Peaches: Yes, but I haven’t been using those in a long time. Those were really good, but in Toronto we had a collective and they would show their great movies and I would show mine. Which was really cool, but I actually found it distracting. People started to use it more and more and I figured I am exciting on my own. Leave the videos for when you don’t have that.

Musicscan: But you are still using gimmicks like the fake blood and everything?

Peaches: Oh yes, of course. That is part of the energy, too. It is fun to see half the audience move away and half the people going “hey, get me”. It is almost like a Gwar concert all of a sudden.

Musicscan: That is what I meant with the visual aspect of your show, which I found to be a very crucial part of your performance.

Peaches: Yeah, but I am just having a problem calling it visual or action. I think they are kind of similar, don’t you think?

Musicscan: Yes, they definitely intersect. How important is fashion to you?

Peaches: I don’t really give a shit about fashion. I am not the one to follow fashion.

Musicscan: Would you say you are fashion conscious, though?

Peaches: No. I have no clue about fashion. Adidas gave me this track suit and these shoes and my friend gave me this hat so I wear it. And somebody gave me this button and a pair of underwear. I usually just wear whatever anybody gives me. That is how my costumes came about. Someone made me a cape, someone made me gloves.

Musicscan: So it is pretty spontaneous. You just wear what people hand you.

Peaches: Yes, for instance, I friend of mine wants to come on our next tour with the dancers and he just wants to make us new cloths every night. I am happy that fashion people feel inspired by me to make me stuff. I don’t like a lot of things about the fashion world and the way it works, though. That they all focus on really skinny models that look as if the only way they could survive is if they were junkies or bulimic. All that kind of shit really bugs me. And labels like Dior or whatever it is, their attitude I am not really into.

Musicscan: Didn’t you collaborate with Karl Lagerfeld, though?

Peaches: I did a photo shoot with Karl Lagerfeld. Chicks on Speeds did it, I did it, DJ Hell, Miss Kitten and it was a funny experience to meet him and see what he is doing. My photo shoot took four minutes, so it was painless. I got a little booklet of all his different stuff, so I picked something that I liked and I had another pair of shoes and they put something on my head and I sat there like a dead doll. He took my pictures and asked me if I liked it and I said yes and he said he liked it, too, and that was it. It took four minutes.

Musicscan: What inspires you on a daily basis?

Peaches: I guess I am more reactionary to inspiration. Like I see something and I would go “why are they doing that, what is that about”. They have every chance in the world to show something this way and then I am like “ok, I am going to show it that way”. I am inspired in a reactionary way.

Musicscan: And do you draw that inspiration from interaction with people or by watching TV or…

Peaches: Yes, from all of that. I might just be watching a video and going “that is so fucking stupid, I can’t believe that gets shown twenty times a day”. Or you have an encounter with another person.

Musicscan: What’s in store in the near future?

Peaches: I don’t really have any plans (laughs). Just finish this tour and then the American tour and then in September I will start to think about the next thing.

 
 Links:
  Peaches
  Kitty Yo
 
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