Meg Remy’s favorite topic of discussion is repression. The Canadian-American musician behind U.S. Girls has been discussing it in her music for years, whether she’s singing about patriarchy or late capitalism. Her latest album, the incredibly funky In a Poem Unlimited, takes on some heavy subject matter over the course of its 11 tracks. On “Rage of Plastics,” woman becomes infertile after years of working at a chemical plant. On “Pearly Gates,” another surrenders her body to St. Peter as a means of entering heaven.
While that all may sound depressing, the music is the opposite. For In a Poem Unlimited, Remy enlisted musicians from the Toronto jazz collective Cosmic Range, whose horns and thumping bass bring on disco vibes as the singer croons about darkness. AdHoc caught up with Remy ahead of her Hopscotch set on September 6 to chat about crafting dance music that makes people think, the tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church, and how she stays afloat while touring.
AdHoc: In a Poem Unlimited caught quite a lot of buzz this year. What does it feel like to have more people paying attention to your music?
Meg Remy: I’m always a pretty skeptical person. Although I’ve maybe climbed another stair in terms of visibility, I’ll be curious to see how it translates this fall. The turnover rate with things is so quick right now. When I’m [playing] a sold-out show, or [I] see people singing the lyrics—[those] real life like examples feel exciting. It also feels very right. I’ve been working for 10 years on this project, and if I’ve been working for 10 years, I should be having some sold-out shows.
Speaking of sold-out shows, you played three of those in one night for AdHoc back in April. What was that like?
It was fun. It was very interesting to do it how it used to be done—you know, like The Beatles or Little Richard or jazz singers would do multiple sets in a night for months on end. You learn stuff about the stage that you’re bringing to the next set. It was wild to do it once and feel how exhausting it was and to be able to recognize that people’s entire careers were made up of, you know, three sets, six days a week, for six months.
U.S. Girls is the musical project of Meghan Remy. Originally out of Chicago, Remy moved to Toronto to be with her husband and musical cohort Slim Twig, who produced her latest album, GEM. Remy, noted for her lo-fi aesthetics, had never worked with a producer before, preferring to make her sound collages completely on her own steam. Unlike her fellow bedroom noisics, though, she draws mostly from early Top 40 songs, and her singing voice has an old-timey, jazzy quality, as though she were dialing in from an am radio station. Remy is an art-school grad who also does visual pieces, which she sometimes uploads to her blog. I called Meghan at her home in Vancouver for my first ever interview.
Ad Hoc: Are there any questions you absolutely hate being asked or any subjects you don’t want brought up?
Meghan Remy: I hate being asked what the band name means. In every interview, they ask that. And I don’t really think it matters. But no, I’m game for anything else.
Reclusive Canadian producer Slim Twig has another full-length, A Hound at the Hem, co-released on Pleasance and Calico Corp. The album was inspired by the Serge Gainsbourg album Histoire de Melody Nelson, which in turn was inspired by the classic Nabokov work, Lolita. Sonically, one can hear Gainsbourg’s influence in Slim Twig’s vocals, while fellow Canadian Owen Pallett contributes grandiose string arrangements. Harpsichord and mellotron also add to the Baroque feel of the album, but Slim Twig’s vocals have an old-timey Southern feel. The first single from the album is the swinging and swaying number “All This Wanting”, which has a video by Emily Pelstring, who coincidentally also directed U.S. Girls’ “Jack”. Watching it is akin to a very twisted Muppet Show episode, with sock puppets dancing, kissing, and puking in front of Slim Twig’s musical performance. A Hound at the Hem is out now on Pleasance Records and Calico Corp. Slim Twig is going on a European tour with U.S. Girls to support the release (dates after the jump).
ClanDestine have harnessed the disparate musical styles of Dirty Beaches, Ela Orleans, U.S. Girls, and Slim Twig to produce an album, The Statement LP. The first taste of the collaboration comes from Ela Orleans' track "The Season", which is accompanied by a video by Logan Owlbeemoth from OS OVNI, which he made himself on customized analog video processors, which highlights DIY's dual dependence on emerging technology and the past.
The Statement is available for direct download at ClanDestine Records.