Meghan Remy is one of those artists whose work questions the very medium on which it exists… causing you to re-think it for yourself. She uses lo-fi, avant-garde techniques and traditions to create what could easily be considered “pop music.” … Or there’s a chance that she popularly plays with sonic fringes… although I’m going to go with the first one. Remy is also known as U.S. Girls, who are famous for producing soulful and morose girl-group sounds, full of hyper-sexy synthetics and a bevy of nods to the social sciences. Although she sounds as if her musical conceptions would be terribly heady and inaccessible, she cites songwriters like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen as major influences (Two years ago she even covered Brandy’s “The Boy is Mine.”) and claims that the avant approach wasn’t necessarily the aesthetic she intended. Earlier this week U.S. Girls released their Free Advice Column EP on Bad Actors, Inc. It is arguably Remy’s most “popular” take on her sound yet, although it certainly retains a moody eeriness that would likely relegate it a brand of R&B found in only the seediest of lounges (Not that that’s something to be ashamed of.) In addition to this latest release, U.S. Girls have a string of upcoming live dates, including a stop this Saturday, September 28th, at the West Kensington Ministry. I recently got a chance to chat with Meghan about her latest release and just what she’s been up to this year.
Izzy Cihak: What have been your highlights of 2013?
Meghan Remy: Highlights of 2013 have been working on various videos with fun and talented individuals, being in a new space above a great furniture store to work on my non-musical ventures, watching Out Of The Blue for the first time while in New York, seeing Halifax again, helping my mother-in-law meet Nick Cave, discovering Foxy Brown’s “Virginia Jail,” as well as all the small joys of everyday.
IC: Your sounds are generally characterized by the cleverness of their polarities, so I’m inclined to ask, what is it that most inspires or influences you, whether musically, practically, or purely theoretically (or all three)?
MR: I think a major inspiration for making art and in my life generally are other women. That can be women that I’m very close to, iconic women, past or present, or a woman I pass on the street that’s confident and full of expression. Women of all ages and walks of life are fantastic and making art is a way to connect with them and share common ground and feelings. I recently had the opportunity to shoot a music video with 11 other women and it was a tremendously liberating and joyous experience.
IC: Have you noticed commonalities among the people who seem to best “get” your sound? And, for that matter, do you have any favorite characterizations of your work, whether critical or courtesy of fans, friends, or family?
MR: I think my youngest fan is a little Canadian girl, named Georgia, who loves to dance, and then I know some great old guys in Europe who like what I’m doing so, hopefully, it’s reaching a broad range of people. I try and make music that I like and then just hope that someone out there will come across it and get something out of it.
As for characterizing it, that can be hard to do because it’s always changing. Although someone close to me recently referred to me as a cross between Yoko Ono and Pamela Anderson, so I guess this is the music they would make, if they were one person, but don’t take my word for it.
IC: How would you characterize your Free Advice Column EP, compared to previous releases?
MR: Free Advice Column is a very natural progression from my last record, Gem, in that on both albums I worked with two exceptional artists to help me achieve what I wanted. For Gem I worked with Slim Twig and the recording process involved numerous other musicians contributing, which is very different than anything I’d done up until that point, as well as this latest release. For Free Advice Column I collaborated with Toronto based hip-hop artist Onakabazien, who did all the backing music for it.
IC: What are your plans for the immediate future? What can we expect of U.S. Girls in 2014?
MR: Immediate future, I am doing some dates in New York, Philly and Pittsburgh with Slim Twig and Onakabazien. As for 2014, I’m hoping to start work making a feature film.