As far as electro noise pop princesses go, Philthy has Patty Crash and NYC has Ducky (Morgan Neiman). Ducky’s been in the music game since she was 13. By 16 she was spinning in San Francisco clubs and by 17 she was dropping out of high school and relocating to attend the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at NYU. In the past several years she’s made a home for herself in New York, playing some of the city’s hottest parties. Interview Magazine has said “Neiman’s sweet but skillful vocals backed by electro-pop beats provide substance to the dance genre, well-suited for the club goer with a conscience or the broken-hearted casual dubstep listener.” Her latest release, the four-song The Whether EP, drops today.
I first chatted with Ducky on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. I was curled up on my couch in black velour lounge pants and she was apparently sitting in bed, watching TV and drinking tea. She’s a bit shy, seemingly unused to lofty and long-winded answers to any generic, open-ended questions. She certainly didn’t have pre-planned “clever” responses to my inquiries… something easily as endearing as sweat-inducing as it can be for journalists (I said the same thing of my #1 crush, Kate Nash, a year and a half ago, when I had to pen a 3,500-word cover story on the British chanteuse.) When I asked what inspired her approach to live performances, which have come to include two, what I’d like to call “post cabaret dancing girls” (not unlike our own Ms. Crash), she replied “That’s a really good question… I wish I had a good answer for you,” before concluding “They just came out organically.”
I couldn’t resist asking what inspired the Ducky moniker and, while part of me was hoping it grew from some complex set of allusions and inside jokes, I did expect it would inevitably turn out to be some cute childhood nickname… which it was (As is the name by which you all know me.) When it came time for Neiman’s eighth grade photos, she and her peers apparently decided to all dress up and she posed with a stuffed duck… which she kept, along with the name.
It wasn’t long after eighth grade that Ducky was actually on the music scene. I asked her how DJing at 16 was and she casually and confidently replied “It was good… Nobody usually knew I was sixteen… so nobody treated me any differently.” However, she seems to prefer the life-of-a-musician she’s had since relocating: “It’s easy to find different venues to perform,” as opposed to her previous home: “San Francisco’s pretty small. It’s a lot smaller than people realize.”
Ducky’s output has been quite varied, especially for such a young artist. While her live performances tend toward playfully abrasive electronics, her recordings are more along the lines of whimsically sassy indie pop. “I grew up listening to things on two different ends of the spectrum,” she explains, telling me she spent her youth listening to Portishead and a lot of punk. She’s also had a fairly non-traditional approach to releasing music, putting out mixtapes [her latest of which, Boys Club, actually contains numerous porn samples (she does admit to watching porn)] released one-track-at-a-time and several EPs: “People pay the same amount of attention to an EP as an LP.”
Unfortunately, thus far, the majority of Neiman’s performances have taken place in her local region. I asked if she’s interested in taking her postmodern show on the road, to which she replied “Oh, I would love to… I’m graduating college in May.”