JD Samson was one of those characters that populated the periphery of my New York existence when I lived there in the early Oughties: she made life more interesting. (So did the red-haired lady with the melted face that I once saw on three different subway platforms in one day, but, um... JD I can prove was real.) When not performing with Le Tigre at Irving Plaza, she would be DJing Lower East Side parties with names like XXY and Moustache, or releasing a calendar called JD's Lesbian Utopia.
JD's new project MEN plays Chop Suey this Tuesday July 14th, so I used everybody's favorite medium— gchat, naturally— to throw together some questions, so fast it almost felt like free association.
Gina Young: Last time MEN came to Seattle, it was you and Johanna [Fateman, also of Le Tigre] in what was essentially a DJ set...
JD Samson: True that, true that.
Tell us how it'll be different now?
Sure. Jo and I started men as a DJ remix team and quickly began writing our own material. Then we kept touring and one day Jo said, JD, I'm preggers!
Haha... I think I saw the shower invitation.
I had been writing music with Jo, and also with Michael [O'Neill, Princess/Ladybug Transistor] and Ginger [Brooks Takahashi, LTTR/Boys of Now] and Emily [Roysdon, artist] in a separate band called Hirsute. When Jo decided touring was not in her future, the two bands merged. MEN is now a live band with dance elements as well as rock/pop/noise...
Nice. Who plays what?
Well, I "man" the electronics, which is Ableton Live and some synth, and Michael and Ginger both play guitar, although Ginger's guitar sometimes acts like a bass, and we let it.
We don't have matching outfits, really, but we all have stage clothes. There are banners and there are major performance elements.
Awesome. So let's talk about "the politics of dancing"— why this medium right now?
Well, I think it is so important for us all that we create a space that can be occupied by all. Freedom to be. And it's great because in this band so much of the time I look out into the audience and see people with their eyes closed. Which to me is the best compliment ever.
Huh. Cool. Do they dance with their eyes closed? Or are they absorbing/entranced?
Dancing with the eyes closed. It becomes a space where you lose your self-consciousness. We want a disco. 70s/80s gay disco revival.
Seattle is good for that, I think.
Yeah, I'm so excited to be in Seattle at Chop Suey. When I DJed there I had an amazing time— so many people sweating; I love that shit.
The dance party lifestyle— is that your scene though?
Nope, not at all. I am working non-stop. And then I get home and don't leave the house. I love good food. Like Top Chef-style stuff.
We don't have a lot of time, so I'm gonna throw a couple quick, random questions at you: who has your favorite moustache of all time?
Wow. [long pause] Um. I can't even think of anyone with a moustache.
Seriously? C'mon... Tom Selleck. Hercule Poirot, on PBS?
Next question. I really can't think of anyone! Actually, wait: Freddie Mercury moustache.
Yesss. Do you have a new calendar in the works?
No new calendar as of right now. Working on some other projects though— let's just say they will be shocking art projects.
Is Kanye West nice?
Yes, he is really really really nice. He is rad.
Will there be a tribute to Michael Jackson in your live show?
Oh MJ... We have been doing one, but it is hard because no one can do MJ. Except MJ.
What is Kathleen [Hanna, Le Tigre/Bikini Kill] up to these days?
She is doing really well. She did a project with Becca Albee at a gallery in NYC and she is doing work with the Rock Camp for Girls.
That is so good. We've got a Girls Rock! Camp happening in Seattle this month.
[Kathleen and I] have been working together a lot recently, which has been awesome.
Last but not least, for your Seattle audience next Tuesday at Chop Suey, what can we bring to the table?
We will bring it. But you have to accept it. I hope we are both generous with each other.