Who are some artists (or people in general) who have influenced you? Both musically as well as stylistically.
Jack White is to my music what Jesus is to Christianity. I remember the first time I heard the White Stripes, when I was around 10 years old, it completely changed my life. Jack and Meg are god-like to me. They forced me to go back a little bit to the 1970′s, and then I discovered Iggy Pop and David Bowie and Patti Smith and punk bands like Television and MC5 and it was all over. I’m very rooted in punk, just generally, as a person. I want to bring it back. No one thinks like that anymore, everyone is so passive. Honestly, I just want to douse myself in glitter and punch you in the face. If I could just take glitter baths so it’s permanently on me, I would. Glitter was a very punk thing, that’s where it originated as fashion actually, in the New York theater houses. It’s a huge influence on me. It’s very existential if you think about it.
What are some highlights and lowlights of your career thus far?
In February I signed to Universal Music Publishing as a songwriter, which was one of the best moments of my life. I love taking on different personalities and writing songs for different artists. I’ve had a lot of great show moments too – recently I performed at a big venue for only four people and it was so liberating. I invited them all to come and sit on stage and drink beer and sit with me. I taught them the lyrics to my songs and we did the show together. I guess some people would consider that a lowlight, but it was such an honest experience.
You have this advantage of bicoastal duality between Las Vegas and New York. How does the scene compare in each of these places? Which would you consider home?
Vegas is my hometown, but I consider New York City my home, it’s where my heart is. The subways and the streets and the buildings and the sleepless nights are my home. My friends here are my home. Everyone is always moving, and I crave that whenever I go back to Vegas, it’s very stagnant there. But the music scene in Vegas was so good to me when I was growing up and figuring myself out. I played the House of Blues a couple times with Imagine Dragons years ago when I was about 16, Dan helped me load in my piano and they were so supportive.But New York has everything. Right now I could go sip a $3 beer and watch a surf-punk Brooklyn band play in a cool venue if I wanted to, or I could go watch the weird kids do drugs and dance while someone paints in the corner. The other day I watched The Craft in a park and people were drinking absinthe margaritas. I got crowd anxiety so I had to go home but it was fun. Sometimes being around too many people at one time is overwhelming for an introvert like me. But you can literally do anything you want at anytime in New York.
Who are you listening to these days?
I don’t usually listen to a lot of new music because when I love something it’s immediate and once I find something I love I listen to it over and over and nothing else. All of Jack’s bands are in constant rotation on my iPod with Bright Eyes, YYYs, Queen, and Peaches. “Fuck The Pain Away” is my karaoke song. I also love this new band called The Savages. I like some hip hop too, Kendrick Lamar’s newest record and Brooke Candy
Given the history of females in rock, such as Siouxsie Sioux and Joan Jett, what are some challenges, if any, that you’ve faced in the music biz? Considering your position as a likeminded edgy, strong performer who also so happens to be female.
I’m a total fucking feminist it’s ridiculous. I think women are the most powerful creatures on earth. Men don’t like that – when women are in control. I’ve experienced a lot of this in my work, especially because of how open I am with my sexuality. But I’ll call it out. Sometimes people mistake my vulnerability and my honesty for sensitivity, but I think vulnerability is one of the most empowering qualities any woman can have. It’s also just fucking sexy. But that’s the other problem. I don’t like showing skin, I don’t have big tits, I like leopard print and tattoos and weird outfits and glitter and these are not usually considered “sexy” as defined by the standards of normalcy. So what? Fuck you. If you are completely honest in how you conduct yourself and in control of your thoughts, no one can use anything against you whether it’s related to gender or not. Siouxsie Sioux was fucking weird but she was completely herself, skin and bones and voice and soul. She also had cool eyebrows. I’m thinking about bleaching one of mine.
While we’re on it, what are your thoughts on the state of present day feminism?
The word “feminist” has such a negative connotation, I feel like if you asked someone to draw a feminist they would draw a picture of a fat ugly lesbian with armpit hair, which is actually so fucking chic. I think the biggest problem is that young people don’t care anymore. Think about it, we don’t care about anything. We want to look cool and be cool and go out and have our pictures taken, we want to spend money and we want to consume. We don’t really care about progression, about fighting, everyone just kind of stands around with beer and talks about each others apartment decorations. I’m trying to bring back controversy, I want to conjure up the long-forgotten attitude that yeah, we really can make things happen and yeah, it’s okay to be really passionate. As females or as young people or as whatever the fuck you want to be even if you’re not part of a scene or a culture.
What about purely as a musician? It’s very different being a performing artist and songwriter today than it was even ten years ago. What are some things you would imagine are more difficult now because of it? Easier because of it?
The music industry now is like the wild west – the flood gates are open and there are no rules. 10 years ago, what was that, 2003? The execs at all the majors still had some control over what music was going to be popular and what pop music sounded like, looked like. Now you have artists who wouldn’t be caught dead on Billboard actually charting on the Hot 100 and more importantly, re-defining what is going to be considered “pop”. It’s a free for all. Any artist can find an audience at any time. There are bands you and I probably haven’t even heard of doing successful tours and signing autographs because they can just put their music out there and give themselves a platform. No one needs permission anymore. For me, it’s all about rising above the white noise with just truly incredible songs and content that people actually want to watch because it’s intriguing and mysterious and there’s just something about it. I think that’s the hidden beauty in this new industrial model.
I want to talk specifically about crowdfunding. Your new EP Thrills is free or by donation. What made you decide to do that?
I think music should be free, especially now when people are going to find ways to make it free for themselves. Of course I’m probably going to put a record out eventually and I’m going to want it to sell a zillion copies, but from an artist’s perspective I really think my music itself is more like my business card than a product. It’s just the introduction, it’s just supposed to draw you in. That’s the problem that most artists run into – they draw you in with the music and then what? There’s no substance. For me, the real meat is after you hear the song. It’s in the live show. And the merchandise (my zines). And my ideas and how I think and what I say.That’s what people are going to buy into. And right now, I just want you to fucking listen anyway. If you keep going after that, then I’ve done my job right.
What are your plans for the rest of this year?
I just got back from a 6 week writing trip in LA, where my creative team is. I ended up writing a thousand records for some exciting projects I can’t talk about yet, and three that I really like for myself, one of them ended up being chosen as my new single. For what? I don’t know. Maybe an EP. Right now we’re just going to make videos for all 3 records and put them out. Just get the shit out there so you can watch it. And listen to it. And do what you want with it. I’ll be playing shows. I’ll be making issue #2 for my zine. I’ll be locked away in my room playing my piano. I just want to make the most excellent music and the most excellent things I can possibly make, so that if I die before you, you can still have them.