Bringing The Teaches of Peaches Anniversary tour to Aotearoa this summer, Peaches is celebrating her raunchy 2000 era-defining opus with February headline events at Auckland’s The Powerstation and Wellington’s Meow. Ahead of these can’t-miss parties, the Canadian electroclash icon got on the line with Benedict Quilter (P Wits / NO LABEL) for an energising chat — reflecting on revisiting Peaches’ anthem-packed lo-tech debut and the immeasurable value of putting on a killer show…
Peaches – The Teaches of Peaches Anniversary Tour
Monday 20th February – The Powerstation, Auckland
Tuesday 21st February – Meow, Wellington
Wednesday 22nd February – Meow, Wellington [sold out]
Tickets on sale via susiesays.co.nz
Benedict Quilter: It’s been over 20 years since The Teaches of Peaches, what made you decide to revisit it?
Peaches: It’s a great album and I love it! And I wanted to honour it, it’s a big turning point in my life that turned into a big turning point in other people’s lives, so let’s have it!
Has your relationship to the album changed over the years?
That’s a good question. It’s funny, it’s so ingrained in me I feel like it’s hard to even have a change in the relationship. I’m not sure if this is what you mean, but I’m just gonna riff on that for you Benedict — I decided that for the 20th anniversary I was gonna dust off the old machine that I made these tracks on, that I really haven’t used since around 2000 / 2001. I didn’t have any of those beats anymore so I had to recreate them, even their mistakes. What I found interesting was how little I knew about this machine, and how it didn’t even matter ‘cause it gave me these good parameters. My first songs I wrote on the machine were in 120 BPM, because I didn’t know how to change the BPM. Quite literally. It’s not very glamorous but that’s what it was. I never learned how to actually make a song, like the whole song and just play it, because I wanted to be able to make it in loop parts, so I could be more spontaneous and be more interactive with the machine and make it more exciting for me. Like I was using a live band. I would change the parts or the filtering, not that they were rocket science or anything but it made it exciting for me. So I had to revisit all this.
It was funny though when I recreated the songs, especially one like ‘Lovertits’, my fingers knew what to do. They knew where to go. It’s also only semi-digital, so there’s all these analogue things that you have to do at the beginning of the song, ’cause when you turn to a new sound it’s not gonna be on the same setting. Some of the settings, if it’s in a lower octave or whatever or a different pitch or things like that, you have to set it all up right away while you’re doing the song. It was like riding a bicycle, I really remembered this machine. It was really fun and I feel like I made up my own way to play it, ’cause I didn’t know how to play it. So that’s also fun.
That’s really cool, so even when you were composing the album initially, you were thinking about how it would translate live?
Yeah, I was playing them live at the same time I was recording them and it was also before people had laptops. I recorded this live into an a DAT [Digital Audio Tape] machine. I don’t know if you know what that is, but it’s basically like I would record it on a video tape. I was playing the parts live while I was recording it in, it wasn’t like how you would do it now. Also even with recording the vocals, I would be like RECORD, PLAY, SYNTH. You know what I mean? You couldn’t really have a little like count in or anything like that. In a way it was funny cause it’s machine it’s loopable and everything, but in a way it’s live.
Maybe you’ve heard this story, but the song ‘Fuck The Pain Away’, the recording on the album is actually a live recording from a show the first time I actually played the whole song. So I was playing around with it, I knew I wanted to say ‘fuck the pain away’. I knew I wanted to use these sounds and everything. But I played it live and then after the show, the soundwoman Marlon, she said “hey, if you give me five Canadian dollars I’ve got this cassette that I made of your set”. So I listened to it and I put ‘Fuck The Pain Away’ on another cassette for people to listen to, and it was that thing “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. That is the live recording of the first time I ever played it, live. Which is on the album and ended up on soundtracks of movies, and TV series, and I’ve never changed it. You hear a lot of hiss sound, and you actually hear someone go “WOO” in the background after the first chorus. I’ve gotten many many emails and stuff asking “hey what’s that sample of the WOO?” and I’m like, “that’s my first fan yelling in the background”.
How important is the live aspect to you as an artist?
SO important. I mean it’s important to make sure that the music first transfers and is good enough musically and lyrically. I like to make it as minimal as possible with maximum amount of impact. Number one, music must be on-point… then if you have that, you can make the performance whatever you want. It’s an incredible experience and I love it. I am a theatre director at heart so I want to dazzle. I want to entertain, I want people to feel, I want to be interactive, I want surprises, I want emotion, and I won’t settle for anything less.
Where do you think that instinct comes from?
I think it comes from the love of live performance and the energy it gives me, and I think I learn a lot from spontaneity. The spontaneity with an audience. I find even rehearsals difficult but rehearsing on-stage with the intention to me of building a show is a way forward. Maybe it comes from my need to connect with people or seek approval or wanting to be loved adored, hated… have that interactive emotion with people.
What can fans expect from the shows here?
Oh you know, nothing. I’ll just play the machine, there’ll be one light on me and I’ll have a pair of underwear on. NOOO, they’re gonna get a SHOW bay-bee. It’s gonna be incredible and it’s gonna be exciting and it’s gonna be surprising and it’s gonna have a full arc. It’s kind of like the machine came alive and then it just explodes into musicians and dancers. I’ll have live drums, I’ll have guitars, I’ll have just incredibly talented people with me and a beautiful clean set where we can all work, and never trip on a wire, ’cause there won’t be any and there won’t be anything in our way. Nothing can stop us!
Do you have any fond memories of your previous shows here in New Zealand?
Yeah, they were great! I remember The Kings Arms shows. The shows were great, I mean Auckland’s great. I wish I could spend more time there. Specifically I remember the place’ cause I know I’ve played there twice — both times I’ve played there [The Kings Arms closed in 2018 — Ed.]. It’s great, great audiences. All hail Ladyhawke, that’s what I say!