US Girls Talks Film, Feminism and Doo-wop Groups
From the hardcore riot grrrl bands of the 90s to the eletronic Grimes-esque jams of today, feminism has taken a huge place in music these days. It was catapulted into the mainstream with Beyonce’s music video for ‘Flawless’, where Queen B rocks the moniker proudly. Now, we have US Girls, the lo-fi music pseudonym of Meg Remy, the DIY artist who continues to keep it all about the ladies.
After recently signing on to the label 4AD, US Girls will soon put forth her first full album following a slew of stellar EPs. From ’28 Days,’ a celebratory period ballad, to her newest release ‘Damn That Valley,’ the story of a war vet’s widow, Remy’s aim is to get in touch with the ‘everywoman’ experience. Milk Made’s Jordan Mack talked with her about her upcoming album, not seeing other women as competition, and her plans to produce a Roseanne Barr inspired TV show.
"Damn That Valley" is from the perspective of a widow. She gives me a lot of Cindy Sherman vibes in the video. Where did this character come from?
The character I play is more of her inner dialogue. The look for the actual widow was actually just the sweatshirt and jeans. I imagine that after losing your significant other, you’re not into style anymore. My character is the woman in the suit superimposed, and she’s supposed to be the widow’s internal struggle. That woman is who she wanted to be if she could have gotten herself together after her lover’s death. I was also really focused on color. I wanted everything to be red white and blue, really show the political nature of it. I’m really glad that you mentioned Cindy Sherman though. I’m influenced by her so much.
You sort of play a lot of characters in your music, do you feel like US Girls is its own character, like different from Meg Remy somehow?
I find myself pretty complex. There’s a lot of different versions of me and of everyone. I’m a different me with my mom to who I am on stage to who I am at the end of show picking up my check. I have so many versions of myself, everyday there’s a new me out there. I feel like it’s the same with lots of people. It’s hard to completely know someone. The name US Girls is kind of a joke. It’s all women in the US and how they’re marketed. The US westernized version of women is so manufactured now. Not the actual woman, but what’s she’s sold to us as. She’s not a person, just a nudge at this ideal woman that doesn’t exist.
You have a lot of feminist themes in your songs. You’ve even written about lesser discussed issues like periods and prostitution. What feminist issues do you feel like don’t get enough exposure?
Oh my gosh, there’s so many. Violence against women and the mistreatment of women is important. The fact that a blanket has been put over our power. We’ve been trained to think we’re less than men. The world would be very different if we took a more matriarchal path, you know? But, women, western women really, need to wake up in general. I say western women because that’s my perspective, that’s what I know. Western women need to stop being so concerned with consuming. And you know what we really need? We need to end women being enemies. We’re not each other’s competition. Like, women feel the need to size each other up before they can become friends, but that’s not how it should be. But you know, that can’t happen otherwise we would be fighting harder than ever.
You just switched to 4AD, and there’s a full album coming with "Damn That Valley". The song is so different from your other work. How is this new album going to be diverging from your older stuff?
It’s gonna be very different from any other EPs. The first EP is barely listenable between the static and layering. Each record is clearer and more confident, as I’ve become more confident. This one will be the most political and the most clear. You’ll actually hear me now. I wasn’t as confident before so I would kind of hide my voice in the song, but I feel like I have a lot more to say about things now. I’m including lyrics with the album! I’ve always wanted to do that, because I really appreciate when artists have that.
What music have you been inspired by lately?
Well I really love Angel Wolf. I got her record recently. I can’t remember the last time I bought a record that I’ve been listening to nonstop. It’s nice to have this female voice empowering you. It’s really lovely. I’ve been listening to Ruben and the Jets, which has a doo wop feel. It was a Frank Zappa project. So yeah [laughs], that and Frank Zappa.
You’ve mentioned in other interviews that you like to work on your own, but you’ve kind of created a small collective around you with Slim Twig, LuLu Hazel Turnbull, and Onakabazien. How did this form and has it affected your work?
I was never confident enough to show other people my work. I just wanted to force the finished product on people and run away. When my vision got larger than my skill set, I had to branch out. All the people I work with, I was friends with first, so I was able to get closer with them and then ask for help. You can only self publish creative work alone for so long, otherwise it’s repetitive. You need to get people involved in what you’re doing. The world is so large. Getting more comfortable collaborating has really helped me to become more confident in what I do and branch out.
You’re a Chicago girl but now you’re in Toronto. What about Toronto have you really fallen in love with?
I’m not in love with Toronto. My husband is here, and I’m in love with him. I like Toronto though. It’s very safe and clean. There’s a respect and understanding for art. Things just run smoother. As far as a city goes though, I think places like Chicago are unbeatable, but that’s my home. It’s what I know so that’s unfair.
You studied art in college, now you’re doing music and video. What’s next? Can we hope for a US Girls fashion line or a film?
Oh geez [laughs]. I’ll continue with music, and my small film projects here or there, but nothing huge. I want to get into TV. My dream is to create a Roseanne esque TV show. People these days are branching out into so many different things, I might as well add TV producer to mine, right? [laughs]
Listen to more of US Girls music here!
See US Girls show on Wednesday night at Elvis Guesthouse! Tickets here