If you push the envelope for long enough, eventually you get a bigger envelope.
When she first stormed the music in the late-'90s/early-2000s, Peaches' no-big-deal sex-positive, queer-positive feminism and artful elevation of "trashy" looks and sounds were taken as provocation - a direct challenge to the prudishness of the mainstream. But much of that interpretation came from outside. Peaches was just doing herself, and now that music and society have adopted her ideas, a lot of other people are also doing Peaches.
It's fairly easy to see her influence on pop stars like Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and Miley Cyrus. And even if she hasn't received the mainstream recognition those acolytes have, many Canadian music industry institutions are starting to - a strange phenomenon she says she hasn't experienced until recently, long since she moved to Berlin and L.A. Peaches' unimpeachable 2000 debut The Teaches of Peaches just won the first Polaris Heritage Prize for the 2000s, coming ahead over the nu-indie CanRock canon of Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire and Feist.
"It's definitely unexpected," Peaches says. "But I'm totally happy to be recognized for the first time ever in Canada. I've never had any support from anybody in Canada, so it's pretty funny when the Junos are congratulating me or FACTOR grants are like 'we're proud.' You know, I've never been part of any of that."
As Peaches waves her dick in the air throughout North America in support of her sixth album (and first in six years) Rub, she's passing through a music landscape that's starting to look pretty damn Peachy. But though she's finally being recognized as a godmother, she didn't come from nowhere. And, as her forward-looking new album can attest, she's not interested in retracing her steps. So we caught up with Peaches to see which albums inspired her to do what she does, and which push her to keep going.
Diamanda Galás, The Singer (1992)
Peaches: I've been thinking about her again recently because she's just such an incredible anomaly. I feel like she's very close in intensity to Nina Simone in the way she uses her voice and the way she uses her piano. She takes blues songs and turns them into incredible, almost demonic operas - each one of them separately on their own..
I just love listening to that album. I don't know anything else that brings that intensity. And I like to sing along. I like to pretend that I can actually hit all the notes in the same way she can. I don't even pretend to imagine playing the piano like her.
Rough Trade, Avoid Freud (1980)
Lyrically, it blows me away. Also stylistically. The cover is incredible. The androgyny between both Carole [Pope] and Kevan Staples is incredible. The sounds... there are just, like, really good synth sounds. And her vocals, too. It's just this incredible soul voice. And amazing word play.
Carole Pope, a lot of people outside Canada don't really know who she is, and people always ask me for my big influence. She's huge for me. And she doesn't get mentioned a lot, so I keep trying. We did a song together recently. She did "Lesbians In The Forest," a song about Michigan Womyn's Festival. It's really funny. I was asked to do a TV show (I don't even know if I can name the TV show yet), and they have a scene in the Womyn's Festival. And I said, "oh, I can sing a song, but my friend Carole Pope has a song right about this." So we performed her song.
Little Dragon, Ritual Union (2011)
I just love [lead singer Yukimi Nagano]. Her voice is really emotional, but it never leaves this sort of small, kind of restrictive little... I don't know, it's just its own thing. The music's the same way. It's really emotional, even though it's electronic music. But it's a very little album. Nothing is overproduced or overblown, she doesn't over-sing anything. Just really great.
Missy Elliott, Under Construction (2002)
It's my favourite of all of [her albums]. I mean, I'm a fan of all of the albums, but I like how this one came together. And also how she's just like real talk, and great sounds. I listened to it over and over again when it came out. I just wanted to figure out every single sound.
Prince, Purple Rain (1984)
All time great. Every song is great. Lyrically perfect. Perfect pop songs.
I listened to it a lot when it came out, but it mostly influenced me [on Rub] with the song "Dumb Fuck." I made that song and it's sort of like, damn, I wish that was on Purple Rain or something.
Kanye West, Yeezus (2013)
I love that album because it's really hard sounding. I listened to a lot of the instrumentals when I was doing Rub. The beats are incredible. People get sick of him as a person. And some things he says on that album are amazing, but what stands out are the beats.