Penelope Trappes on The End of a Trilogy

“Musically speaking, I consider my aunties to be Patti Smith and Laurie Anderson,” says Penelope Trappes.  The Australian-born, Brighton-based musician is discussing the subject of artists, especially female artists,...

“Musically speaking, I consider my aunties to be Patti Smith and Laurie Anderson,” says Penelope Trappes.  The Australian-born, Brighton-based musician is discussing the subject of artists, especially female artists, creating music after 30.  She goes on to also cite Pauline Alvarez and Laurie Spiegel as inspirations, saying, “These women, musically, had not stopped and continued to create and perform and do all these things.  That should be an inspiration for all women, or all humans.  This notion still needs to be stated quite clearly… because, as a creative being, you don’t stop creating until the day you die, whether you’re cooking an amazing meal or writing a novel.”

Penelope Trappes is preparing to release Penelope Three this Friday, May 28th, on Houndstooth.  The album is the final installment in a trilogy that began with Penelope One in 2017.  While the first entry revolved around the female body and birth, and the second entry (Penelope Two) focused on grief, Penelope Three is all about healing and “surrendering to universal love.”  The album, maintaining the gothic aesthetic of previous entries, finds itself in the realm of ethereal and fuzzy dream pop.  Trappes considers things like the maturing of her daughter and aging of her mother and also the current state of femininity and what that says about the world itself: “I feel like most of my work is autobiographical by nature, because that’s where it starts, but it has these broader themes because, often to get into the mode, I’ll get into a more meditative state, and from that comes these broader, thematic ideas because it’s part of a bigger consciousness.”

To accompany the album, Trappes has already released music videos for Penelope Three’s first three singles (“Nervous, “Fur & Feather,” and “Blood Moon”).  The videos were a collaboration with art collective Agnes Haus, a group that she tells me she’s felt a kinship with for some time now: “We’ve been sort of friends for a long time and we’ve had very similar ideas visually, and they meet me on the same level as far as sociopolitical concepts, so they understood what I was really hoping to achieve with this album on an emotional, spiritual level. So it was complete trust, and we were able to explore that through some darker, gothic ideas and really sort of dig up the underbelly… It almost feels like a slight dying art form to do a proper music video now.”

Although her trilogy is complete, Trappes tells me that future releases will certainly echo many of the things found on these three albums, merely with a little less structure and rigidity.

“The themes within the trilogy will always be within me.  It’s kind of like I’ve held a really bright spotlight, within the trilogy, on the core essence of what, I guess, really moves me.  I’m really excited that the trilogy is coming to an end, in the most positive light.  I want to, like, now just feel a little bit more free and loosey goosey to be able to explore things and be maybe a bit more free, in a positive way.”

Looking forward, Penelope Trappes has a lot on her calendar for 2021 and says she’s even hoping to make a local stop later this year.

“One of the things that’s on the agenda is some shows in September… I have a few projects that I’m working on, a few collaborations that I’m looking forward to doing, and I have a little thing coming out later in the year… I’m not really giving out too much information there [laughs].  I’m also just gonna keep chipping away at filmic renditions of this album.  Three videos have come out so far, but there’s seven to go.  I’m into exploring performance art and elements of that some more in these videos.  Between that, collaborations, live shows, and just sort of relaxing, hopefully I’ll be enjoying elements of life a bit more. I live by the sea and I want to get in the freezing cold water and go for swims [laughs], stuff like that… I have a US passport, so let’s make that Philly show happen!”

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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.