What artists would people be surprised to find that you like?
I kind of love everything. I love Laurie Anderson, but I also love Britney Spears, but I love Sonic Youth too, and April March, and the Shangri-Las…all that music. I love Brian Eno. The dance music I really appreciate is disco, but it’s more like Chic, like Nile Rodgers. I love bassline. I love live music. That’s what I’m trying to achieve on my new album—to make it something that can be played live. I mean, there’ll still be some dance music, but the majority of it I’m doing with Jon Brion, who did all the Aimee Mann records, the first Fiona Apple records, the Magnolia soundtrack. Working with him is almost therapeutic, because he’s not trying to make a hit—he wants to try something new, which is really exciting, because a lot of producers are just trying to make money.
The other day I put a demo up on Soundcloud, and someone said, “Oh, she’s working with Jon Brion? Well, if she wants to be Fiona Apple maybe she should get raped.”
That is a fucked-up thing to say.
I know. That isn’t who she is.
And then people looked at her “Criminal” video like she had no clue what she was doing because she was so wounded, but maybe it was her way of trying to take back her sexuality.
Yeah, her way of reacting to it. Sorry to get all heavy or whatever, but I was so painfully shy when I was younger, until I was about 13 or 14. And something happened. I got sexually abused, twice, by two different people, when I was a teenager, from 12 to 16. And I went to the cops, but not right away, because I was scared to, like I didn’t know how to tell my mom. The first time, I didn’t tell anyone for a very long time. And [the police asked me] why I didn’t come to them earlier. And they told me that because I was quiet I kind of caused it. “You’re prone to it, you’re an easy target because you’re quiet.” So one day I made myself really loud and obnoxious, and stayed that way for like three years. I went to court with the guy, and they didn’t do anything to him. He had to move 15 blocks away from me. He was never allowed to be closer than 15 blocks away from me. I was like, That doesn’t mean anything, he’s gonna do it to someone else.
Oh my god. I’m so sorry.
It’s fine. I’ve come together with it. It didn’t define me. I kind of had this year to think about it while I was writing this record, just thinking about how people are treated. People expect things to just define you. Like, “She was raped, that means she’s a victim forever.” Or “She should be ashamed.” Obviously it’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s not something I’m gonna hide for the rest of my life. That’s the problem: a lot of people don’t say anything until they’re way older.
The fact that going to the cops “too late” could mean anything is bizarre to me, because there’s no “right” way to deal with it.
Exactly. They were like, “Have you had sex before?” That doesn’t matter. The whole thing was insane. None of it makes sense. Luckily [the second] time I knew what to do. They found the guy because I scratched him across the face with my key. I was sleeping, and he broke into the house. I had my key on my bed. I remember this night so clearly. It was only 11 o’clock at night, and my mom was out. I was sleeping, and I thought I was dreaming—I felt something for two seconds and then I was like, Wait. He was rubbing my leg or whatever. So then I keyed him across the face.
He tried to say I assaulted him, but it was self-defense. He got arrested, but that’s it. This guy has kids. It’s so disturbing. And they don’t do anything about it. I guess you can go on a website and see if anyone who lives by you has a [criminal sexual assault] record, but what does that mean? They said, “He didn’t penetrate you. He didn’t have sex with you, so it wasn’t sexual.” It’s like, he was touching me in my sleep. He broke into my house and touched me in my sleep. A stranger.
The fact that the legal system can deal with it so irresponsibly…
Or they wait three months to do anything about it. You go to the police and they’ll arrest him for like a week and he’ll go out on bail or whatever. But it takes months to go to court. The whole thing is so sick and disgusting. And a lot of people are scared to say anything for those reasons, but also they don’t want to be known as a slut or ashamed of it—that’s traumatizing, too.
Did you have that on your mind with the new record?
A little bit, yeah. On some of it. I’ve never said anything ’cause I don’t want it to define me, but I feel like it’s appropriate to say something on this site. Because people feel like it defines you, and it doesn’t. It’s really unfortunate and disgusting and traumatizing, but it doesn’t make you who you are. That’s kind of what some of the songs are about.
That’s the thing with Fiona Apple: people assume that’s what her life is about, and it’s not. That [comment] made me so angry for her and angry that someone could say something so disgusting and insensitive. They didn’t know that that happened to me, obviously, but I would still be really angry if it didn’t happen to me. They can’t just give her the fact that she made great songs that were powerful, it has to be something else.
Yeah, they can’t just give credit to a young woman for being a genius. Nicki Minaj said something like “All these producers come to you and want to play daddy and pretend that they’re making you.”
They forget that they wouldn’t have the songs if it wasn’t for you, either. Like with Lana Del Rey. [People are] like, “Everyone’s made her.” But it’s her decision at the end of the day, what she’s doing. No one’s forcing any of these girls to do anything. And everyone talked about Lana’s [SNL] performance and how bad she was, like it was proof that she was man-made, but then why was it so bad? I’m not saying it was bad—it wasn’t great—but if [she were man-made], wouldn’t it have been the most amazing performance, or with lip-syncing and fireworks or whatever? It was the most honest SNL performance in a long time!
A lot of pop music is repetitive, and I just think there needs to be new things out. Some of my stuff is really referential, but I don’t want it to be nostalgic. There are references and I’m inspired by a lot of things, but I live in 2012. I always find fake nostalgia really weird.
I feel that way about fashion.
Me too. I know everything kind of repeats itself in a cycle, but some things I think I’ve just seen too many times. We’re both really young, and if we’ve already seen it a ton of times, I can’t imagine how many times everyone else has.
That’s why I like Rodarte, ’cause their version of ’70s nostalgia is like, they’ll embody their friends’ basements from when they were growing up instead of re-creating vintage clothes exactly.
Yeah, I love their clothes. I can’t afford any of it though.
Who else do you like?
Givenchy’s probably my favorite. [Riccardo Tisci’s] stuff is sexy but not too sexy; but it’s not too elegant, either. It’s a bit dark, which I like. And he makes giant T-shirts with panthers and crazy prints, but not too insanely bold, either. It’s not wearing me. That’s what I like about his clothes. Because often when I wear a lot of high-end clothes I feel like they’re wearing me, I’m not wearing them. Some of it’s too elegant for me. I’m feminine in a lot of ways, but I can’t ever wear a full-length dress or a gown. That’s how I feel about a lot of high fashion, so I like to mix and match it. I’m not a model, so I can’t wear it the same way anyways. You know who wears clothes really well? Elle Fanning.
I love her so much.
She’s so young, but it looks age appropriate. It doesn’t look like she’s dressing too old—it looks like she chose it. She probably did! She actually has taste. The worst thing is when I see a celebrity wearing clothes and know it was a stylist being like, “Honey, you should wear this, it’s fierce.” I think Elle’s aware.
I like reading interviews with her where she talks about how she looks at Style.com and fashion blogs, because to me the people who end up with the best taste are the ones who absorb everything and are curious, because then they come back with what they know they like. Way better to be obsessed and geek out than pretending to be cool for not knowing who someone is or whatever.
I totally know all the models’ names and everything, and I’m not ashamed of it. And I love watching shows. I enjoy fashion in general. Not necessarily because I can wear all of it, but because I like it. That’s how I am with pop culture. Tumblr is a blessing and a curse, ’cause there’s some weird, foul shit on there, and you can lose so much time! I can procrastinate forever. They have every still and quote from every movie possible. I can sit on there for hours. It’s just an archive of never-ending visuals.
I feel like being a nerd in that way pays off though. Not nerd like, “I like Star Wars!” But if being cool means being uninterested, then being a nerd is being obsessed with and appreciative of everything.
That’s how I was with music when I was younger. Not just with indie music blogs—I would read a lot of Italian disco blogs all the time, and I had all this weird music I probably wouldn’t listen to now, but I have no shame in liking all that stuff. And I don’t think people should [feel ashamed], or that it has to be ironic. I genuinely just, like, love everything.
Amy Poehler said she doesn’t believe in ironic TV watching, like you’re obviously drawn to that show for some reason.
Exactly. I watch, even though it’s disgusting and it’s sad, Toddlers & Tiaras. If it’s on, I don’t see how any human being can not watch it. I saw this lady [on there] crying because she was a good Christian, but she had entered her stepdaughter in a beauty pageant and the stepdaughter only got second place. She was like, “I guess God didn’t want her to have it.” I was like, Oh my god, this is so crazy, these people are nuts. The Kardashians are a whole other thing where I lose my mind. And Heidi Montag should’ve had her own show. And I love Rebecca Black too.
The intro to Rebecca Black’s song is actually so good to me.
People were acting like it was so weird that there was this fake record label where they paid a thousand dollars to make a video. But you go to a mall and people are asking if you want to join a fake modeling agency. Like, it wasn’t that weird. And they delivered!
What are some other things you’re obsessed with right now?
I’m obsessed with Courtney Stodden, because it’s the most bizarre thing I have seen in a long time. She blows my mind. Barbara Walters should interview her for “the 10 most interesting people of 2011” or whatever, ’cause it is so bizarre and weird. There’s something really honest, I don’t think she…well, yes, it is an act, but there’s only so much she can act.
I’ve also been watching a lot of Weird Science for the past month.
Yeah. I saw the TV show in the early 2000s like on UPN or one of those channels during the day, when I was home from school sick. That and The Secret World of Alex Mack. How does [Alex Mack] do that? I never understood how…I think I missed the first episode where she started turning into liquid for no reason. I remember watching 10 Things I Hate About You and I could only think of [Larisa Oleynik] as Alex Mack, and I was like, “Why isn’t she turning into liquid and wearing a backwards cap?” I was so confused by it. I also watched 50/50 the other day with what’s his name, Justin…
Joseph Gordon-Levitt! It’s like this generation’s alternative Beaches, with dudes. Like Seth Rogen is Bette Midler in that movie. I love Seth Rogen. I’m also a big Freaks and Geeks fan. And Daria—I have it on DVD, and I just rewatched the whole entire series in like two weeks straight. It’s still so funny and so relevant. I wish there was a show like that now. It really speaks to girls at that age. The writing is so good in that show, it’s amazing. You should just go on Amazon and buy it and watch it for a week. It’s so perfect, the humor. It has some Mean Girls but it’s also really weird, like Gregg Araki, too. So strange, that show.
Anything else you’d like to say to the TEENAGE GIRLS OF THE INTERNET?
Eh…Kanye shrug. Oh, I loved that Feminist Ryan Gosling blog. It’s the funniest thing ever. Now I actually think he’s a feminist.
I didn’t really get his appeal until I saw that and I was like, “How charming!”
Me neither. I remember seeing him in Remember the Titans and being like, “Oh, maybe.” ♦