Dum Dum Girls and “Some Extra Weird”

Whether you’re planning on dressing up like a Basic Witch (The cutest costume idea I’ve heard all season, dreamt up by our lovely friend, Cristina Black.), a black-denim-and-leather-clad member...

Whether you’re planning on dressing up like a Basic Witch (The cutest costume idea I’ve heard all season, dreamt up by our lovely friend, Cristina Black.), a black-denim-and-leather-clad member of a girl gang (as I plan to dress), or a beloved character courtesy of Wes Anderson (as our LZ RN is planning), the only Halloween celebration I can endorse this year is Making Time’s Pure Halloween with Dum Dum Girls, which takes place this Friday, October 31st, at Union Transfer. Dum Dum Girls are more or less the perfect Halloween band. Cloaking themselves exclusively in black and embracing a rather morbid sensuality, in addition to churning out indie pop tunes that ring of a chaotically catchy and infectiously gloomy sonic palette inspired by both proto-and-post-punk. The band, led by Dee Dee Penny, released their third full-length, Too True, this January on Sub Pop. The album has Dee Dee boldly flirting with goth rock, Britpop, shoegaze, and ‘80s pop in a very playfully apocalyptic manner… much like the soundtrack to a Gregg Araki film (You know, back when he made movies worth seeing…) I recently got a chance to chat with Dee Dee about Halloween, what she’s most enjoyed about 2014, and her latest sonic and sartorial obsessions.

Izzy Cihak: You’re going to be playing once again at our very own Union Transfer on Halloween, so I’m curious: What are your thoughts on Halloween? Any particular traditions you especially enjoy?
Dee Dee Penny: I’ve always loved Halloween, though as a kid I used to have to go to church to get a blessing ‘cuz it was my “baptism birthday” … having eschewed the Catholicism, it’s always a fun night to perform and just today I think I decided what we’ll be dressed as which, in turn, informs what song we’ll cover …

Izzy: And what can be expected of the evening, both in terms of your set and the general vibe of the gig?
Dee Dee: We’ll still play the entire Too True record as well as some favorites and songs we’ve never played live before, but yeah, additionally there will be some extra weird.

Izzy: What are your thoughts on Philadelphia and Making Time? You’ve played here a large handful of times and even played numerous MT events.
Dee Dee: Always really happy to participate! I love a good, well-curated and executed party. I love the city as well.

Izzy: Too True, your third LP, dropped early this year. What have been your favorite aspects, or highlights, of promoting it, so far?
Dee Dee: We went some new places on tours, and I definitely felt a more gang mentality from audiences.

Izzy: Any favorite reactions to it?
Dee Dee: There seem to be a lot of “Lost Boys & Girls” out there …

Izzy: And do you currently have a favorite track from the album, whether one you’re most proud of, one that most signifies where your future sounds might be headed, or just one that you especially enjoy playing live?
Dee Dee: We just started played a few of the songs, and the little-heard b-side “Girls Intuition” is definitely a jam.

Izzy: You have both a great fashion sense and really cool music videos, so I’m curious: What inspires the visual aspects of Dum Dum Girls? A friend of mine (and former student of mine) has often compared your style to William Klein’s Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (Which I had him watch in an “intro to semiotics” class years ago.) He also wanted me to ask you if the things that inspire your visuals serve as an inspiration to your sonic output as well?
Dee Dee: I love the Polly Maggoo aesthetic, and that and a lot of other ‘60s stuff were big visual references for the first few years. I think as I expanded on the sound I did so with the look as well, moving into late ‘70s, ‘80s, even ‘90s stuff. I think with this record I tried to do something not so specifically referential. I also brought in a lot more collaborators who ran the sound through their ideas, namely my creative director, Tamaryn. Right now I’m just trying to look like a disco ball on stage.

Izzy: Since 2014 is coming to an end, I’m curious if there has been any music that has come out or any performances you have seen that you found to be especially intriguing and/or inspiring?
Dee Dee: I’m obsessed with Perfume Genius and FKA Twigs. Like, obsessed.

Izzy: And, finally, how do you hope and plan to spend 2015?

Dee Dee: Writing a new record, feeling open and free to go somewhere new, both musically and personally.


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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.