Perfect Pussy Aren’t Here To Hand Out Gold Stars

Perfect PussyAs far as anyone’s concerned, PERFECT PUSSY’s rise to prominence is a feel good story. We first discovered the Syracuse band via a Twitter user that’s known for her recommendations. We then fell for their EP, watched the hype explode, and saw them transition from releasing a must-own debut in March to making waves in every city across North America. It’s just everything that surrounds Perfect Pussy isn’t picture perfect. Outside of being blacklisted and threatened for “running their mouths”, the fivesome continue to face scrutiny because like any other emerging artist, their live sets can teeter downwards and be easily misinterpreted as a “meltdown” or a “nervous breakdown”.

The group’s headliner at Toronto’s North By Northeast fell victim to both labels and to clear the air, we connected with the band over lunch so they could share their side of the story (see the audio clip below) and shed a bit of light on the criticisms they’ve faced while attempting to bond over a positive project. As vocalist Meredith Graves put it, “Everyone thinks we’re some unhinged group of motherfuckers. Like, no… we’re just having a good time.”


Your music concentrates on learning lessons and catharsis instead of anger or revenge. Has this positive mentality always been a part of your life or did it develop over time? 

MEREDITH GRAVES: With this band particularly I know it started as the sort of situation where I would feel better operating a paradigm of positivity and stuff like that, and then it very, very quickly turned into getting pissed off and talking shit and being a bad person. It took me a few months to sort of move away from that but only in the last two months have I actually made a consorted effort to not be a fucked up mess anymore. So I can honestly say that what I’m doing now is operating in a more positive sense. I was saying that before but I knew I wasn’t telling the truth.

I think we all kind of got to that point too – like where the group of us finally settled into what we think this band is doing and what we’re trying to accomplish. Now, I think it’s a become a good amount of personal catharsis for all of us. It’s not just me, it’s everybody in the band. It makes me happy.
 
There’s a comment on one of your music videos that says, “The guys in the band are a little too cute and smiley for me. Kind of a joke if you are going to sound this hard”. Does the whole punk and hardcore community need to get over itself? Or is music just having an identity crisis? 

MEREDITH: I don’t think it’s either. I just think being mean about someone’s appearance is the easiest way to be mean to them. It sucks. It really is quite true though as the guys in the band are too cute and I hate them for it. Like I’m going to start punching them all the time just to make them less cute (laughs). But honestly, if somebody wants to say that, then whatever, that’s fine. We get some really violent threats sometimes so hearing someone say “the boys in the band are too cute” is like something I would say. We’re too cute to be punk? Are you serious?

GARRETT KOLOSKI: The hardest thing is to be soft, you know. So that’s uncommon.

MEREDITH: Being vulnerable and actually saying what you feel – most people can’t do that. That’s tough as fuck.



Before the band you were a seamstress at the largest prom dress resource in central New York where it’s noted that you talked to the girls about body image and intersectional feminism. What are the differences in how your message is received between a dress shop and a stage? 

MEREDITH: In my day job, back when I was seamstressing and working at the dress shop full-time, I had the experience of talking directly to teenage girls – most of whom were the types of teenage girls that wanted to go to prom. So I wasn’t really talking to people that would have necessarily cared about what I did outside of that and I had to hone my talks. I was constantly surrounded by women and I would work with women that were 14 and women that were 24 and women that were 74. I would be fitting grandmothers of the bride and girls that were in the eighth grade and going to homecoming, and every women – regardless of age – had the same body image issues.

When I go on stage in this band, I’m kind of talking to everybody and I’ve had to shape things to be more of a direct conversation and to include men in as well. So yeah, it’s different. When I’m hanging out with teenage girls in their underwear, they’re constantly looking at their friends in the next fitting room and there’s this whole comparison thing. While in hardcore, everyone’s concentrating on you – they’re very secure and very different so your message does change. The way people respond to me changes as well because myself and another girl in a fitting room is very different than me and a microphone and 500 people that are just watching. It’s just different… that’s a great question though. That’s really interesting to think about and I’ve never had to think about it that way before.


Perfect Pussy - SXSW-1You have mentioned your dislike for the modern textile industry in the past, saying “it’s really screwed up”. Is there anything in particular that really bothers you?  

MEREDITH: International labor issues, international issues of ecology, the complete non-sustainability of fast fashion, the way the seasons change so quickly, the amount of clothes that don’t sell that end up getting thrown away. It’s become super problematic. I think everyone should be able to dress however they want. I don’t care if you walk into Forever 21 and buy your entire wardrobe there – just do your thing and call it a fucking day. Especially if you’re a female or a socialized female. Just wear whatever makes you feel best in the body you’ve been given and in a world that’s constantly telling you your body is the pinnacle of desire and totally wrong at the same time.

You should be able to do whatever the fuck you want. For me personally, I’ve always enjoyed wearing secondhand clothes and vintage because it forces you to be a lot more creative. I see a lot of people that are dressed the same way and it only becomes a problem when those people come after people like us. Like people that look different.

We’ve been in situations in different cities and some people will make fun of us. Our drummer and his friends were walking down the street the other day and some construction guys flipped their car around to drive up behind them and yell, “Hey, we just wanted to let you know we thought y’all were girls”. And like people have made fun of the way Shaun dresses as a guy on the Internet said it’s not cool for our keyboardist to wear an ironic Drake t-shirt.

SHAUN SUTKUS: It wasn’t ironic.

MEREDITH: It wasn’t ironic at all. We love Drake.

GARRETT: That was like the best find we ever got at a thrift store.

MEREDITH: Yeah, and we all go shopping together on tour all the time because we all like to go to thrift stores.
 
What does the t-shirt look like? 

MEREDITH: It’s just a Drake shirt!

SHAUN: It says Drake Take Care.

GARRETT: But it was a tall tee so they thought it was ironic but tall tees are cool.


Perfect Pussy - Sneaky Dee's-2I’m not sure if you read the article CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry wrote about online misogyny but she noted how objectification isn’t something anyone should “just deal with”. Are you glad more female artists are speaking out now that people are starting to see objectification as a reality? 

MEREDITH: We should’ve never had to fight for objectification to become a reality. Of course, no shit it’s a reality. There’s no benefit for dudes having some random a-ha moment. Oh, congratulations – you finally realized it’s real? You don’t get a parade and you don’t get a fucking cookie. This is my actual life. If you’re such a crusader for good now then do something. I used to get really scared when talking to people at shows but I also used to drink a lot before shows because I used to get so nervous., and now I make a point to be sober and be in control.

A couple weeks ago in Dallas, we showed up to our show and there was a violent pornographic flyer, and I lost my shit because I was super mad. I tried to figure out who did it and I couldn’t get an answer out of anyone because everyone had the back of the fucking dude that drew it. Like a dude from the Dallas Observer went as far as to write an article saying that my credibility and authenticity as a hardcore singer is lessened because I wear dresses and little shorts, and I don’t look very “punk”. At the same time, I don’t have time for this and I don’t have enough fingers to deal with you and all your little buddies. It’s a grim reality. If I still read the press about this band, I’d continue to see comments that say, “I want the singer of Perfect Pussy to be raped and killed”. It’s become a bracketed joke.

There’s going to be one time where I leave a venue carrying something that requires both hands and I’m going to load something into the van by myself and I’m going to get pepper sprayed and dragged into an alley, and my throat’s going to get cut. I know it. I can see it happening. Some guy is going to come to one of our shows with a fucking gun because that’s the end of rape culture. The end of rape culture isn’t rape, it’s death. But good for her for saying that shit and good for all of us for participating in this moment that’s been going on for the last little while where women in music feel okay about speaking up. That’s why I hate these boring ass bands that want to sing about the beach, drugs, and boobs. If you have 15 minutes and they hand you a mic, you better fucking use it.


Perfect Pussy - SXSW-3


Having played festivals in North America and been no stranger to the backlash that sometimes follows, have these experiences affected you creatively at all? 

MEREDITH: I’m having more fun now than I was at the beginning of the band.

SHAUN: Well, we haven’t wrote any music or played any new music together since we started this whole thing and released our record so I’m not sure how it’s affected that creative side of this band. But maybe individually. Like I’m pretty sure we all have different feelings about that. I just haven’t even been able to work on anything else aside from playing these shows and doing all the work behind them.

MEREDITH: This band has taken up a ton of our time and it’s definitely changed us creatively in terms of our trajectory in this band. It’s also made us all more creative and I think when we finally do catch a break, we’re all just going to blow up with all of these insane ideas. Plus, we all have other projects in the works and that’s another thing that’s cool about this band because it’s not all we do. It has affected me creatively because when you’re surrounded by people that are better than you, it brings you up, and because I’m in a band with these guys who are all fucking amazing, it’s made me want to step my game up and be a better musician. So hopefully all the stuff we do next will be even better. That’s how I see it anyway. You can’t get worse. You don’t get worse barring tragedy.

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