AFP Gossip singer Beth Ditto was arrested early Saturday morning outside a…
- Posted on Mar 7th 2011 2:00PM by Dan Reilly
The EP, which is due out March 29, features Ditto reteaming with electro duo Simian Mobile Disco for four club-ready tracks. The always-outspoken singer recently chatted with Spinner about the project, the Madonna-inspired video for 'I Wrote the Book' and her thoughts on the controversy surrounding the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Why did you decide to do this now at this stage in your career?
Probably because I don't really consider what I do as a career. I don't really think things through like that -- I just wanted to do it. I just turned 30 and the reason it felt really good to put all that under my belt, put out a little solo thing, because Gossip have been [together] since I was 18, so 12 years now. It felt really good to do something with other people. I always compare it to having a baby, like having a love affair with someone else just to see what the baby is going to look like. It was really fulfilling.
Were you nervous about going solo?
No, because I don't really see it as going solo. I don't really have any nerves because there's not a lot of expectation. I was really happy with it and wanted to do something I was sonically happy with and visually happy with. I just had an idea and went with it, so the whole thing was really relaxed. It was more like "Can I do this without Nathan and Hannah," my bandmates from Gossip, "How was that going to feel?" It can be such a codependent relationship, songwriting with the same people.
After singing on Simian Mobile Disco's 2010 album 'Temporary Pleasure,' how did this EP come about?
I had some time and Simian had some time. It's really hard for me to sometimes put myself out there, like "Hey, how do you feel about making music together?" because maybe I'm afraid of rejection or I don't want to put anybody out. It's the Southerner in me, like, "I don't mean to bother you but do you mind making a song?" I had already worked on things with them, so the ice had been broken and it all fell into place.
Who had the idea for the 'I Wrote the Book' video?
A friend from London, [who] I've known for a long time, from the Ladyfest Riot Grrrl days. She said, "I had a dream that you were running down hallways like Madonna, 'Truth or Dare'-style." I was like "done and done. Can I use that idea? That's great." My friend Price James, who did the 'Heavy Cross' video, did a really good treatment for it. I said, "I want Voguers in it, full-on amazing dancers, all boys." It was really fun. It was all about makeup and hair and stuff. I'm not a good actor at all, so there's a lot of distraction. The bigger the eyebrows, people won't look at your mouth and see you don't know the words. That's why Groucho Marx did it.
Lots of people criticized Lady Gaga for ripping off Madonna with 'Born This Way,' but the way you did it was more of a funny, loving tribute.
Yeah, I'm like "Give me that video, Madonna." It's also funny to see a little short fat girl do Madonna. I think that's hilarious. And there's a lot of criticism for Lady Gaga, but I don't understand it -- welcome to pop music. What do you expect? Guess what -- Madonna didn't think of 'Vogue' on her own. That was a movement long before she came onto the scene. If you see 'Paris Is Burning,' you'll be a lot more forgiving of Lady Gaga. That's my advice to people. That's not bad-mouthing Madonna either. That's the way s--- goes.
You mentioned the Riot Grrrl movement before. Recently, Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna spoke at the New York rally for Planned Parenthood. What do you think about the House's attempt to take away federal funding from the organization?
I'm all, "F---er!" It's frightening but I also think that we deal with this every time there's Republicans in office -- every single time. It's something you learn, as a feminist, to deal with. You're always on edge about your rights being taken away. You always have to be on guard. As a feminist or person of any kind with radical consciousness, you really tell yourself not to get used to the finer things in life. I think it's scary but we've done this before and we'll do it again and we'll win every time. It's not just about abortion. That's the thing that's more frightening, because it is such a risky issue, but it is way bigger than that.
Kathleen spoke about how they treated her for an infection when she was on tour with Bikini Kill in 1989. It was so bad she could barely walk, and they treated her for the 12 bucks she had on her. She said it probably saved her musical career since she didn't have to pay expensive medical bills.
Been there, done that. Planned Parenthood is my mom's jam. We don't call it Planned Parenthood, we just we have the Health Department, which is the same thing. My mom was the most amazing person at being sure that all the girls in my town were educated about birth control because their parents were too squeamish. The Health Department and I, our relationship started really young because my mom was always really adamant about sex education and how important it was to have a life before you had a baby, because she was a pregnant 15-year-old.
How exactly was your mom involved in Planned Parenthood?
She wasn't an advocate marching up and down the streets or anything, but she was really adamant about teaching kids sex education and giving them options. She was completely pro-choice, into talking to kids about sex, educating them. For one, a big issue is abuse. If you don't teach kids about sex, they don't know what people are doing to them is wrong, that it's not the norm. People didn't love that where I was from but as soon as their daughters got pregnant or started fooling around and the mothers found out about it, my mom was the first person they came to. She was a truly amazing, powerful lady.
She never went to college, didn't graduate the 8th grade. She quit school because she had a baby when she was 15 -- my brother -- and she was a nurse's aide for 30-something years. She raised seven kids who are incredibly smart. None of us had babies before marriage -- I mean, I'm obviously a dyke -- but none had babies or got pregnant in high school. And everybody thought we were the bad kids.
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