For the last 20 years, amidst each fad, fashion trend and growth of sexual liberation, Peaches has always been a trendsetter.
The artist can be considered an icon in every sense of the word- not only a spearhead of synth-electronica genre, but perhaps more importantly, the sexual expression of woman with in music, further afield in media. It was her very first album (under this moniker) ‘The Teaches Of Peaches’ that started this journey. Released in 2002, the record was groundbreaking in its championing of sexuality and its inability to care about who it offended. The album is a whirlwind of quick lyricism, decadence, and thrashing synth beats, as Peaches proudly displays her desire to fuck about, have fun, and most importantly, control her own body. But amidst the 17 tracks, it was ‘Fuck The Pain Away’ that was soon to become a cultural reset, skyrocketing into the cultural sphere, and gaining a popualirty that has lasted over 20 years.
Now, from a small cafe close to her home in central Berlin, she looks back on this legacy, and the most recent use of the infamous song; it’s use in the Netflix show Sex Education last year. “It’s funny how much bigger than me the songs have gotten,” she laughs. “I think Netflix won an award for their use of it, so I guess in a way, I won as well. I’m claiming that anyway,” she laughs.
- - -
- - -
True to nature, Peaches has always been ahead of the curb. In between her progressive spearheading and fetish for electronica, the artist also was one of the earliest iterations of what we now know as a ‘DIY artist’ - creating the entirety of her first album, as well as the rest of the in her bedroom. “I was just a little stoner in my bed, trying to be as maximal as possible in a minimal way,” she grins. “I was also very interested in new sorts of electronic music at the time, as well as the Riot Grrrl movement. So creating that first album on my own helped me understand that electronic music and, and rock could be together and have a connection,” she pauses briefly, before elaborating further. “I wasn't interested in layering things, rather each sound being its own player. Each sound super brutal, super turned up and all kind of, you know, finding a way so that they all make sense.”
However, even from the very start, Peaches was drawn to the ahead-of-her-time ideology that would come to be the centrepoint of her artistic vision. Using monotone vocals over the repeating synth motifs foundation to her tracks, the artist lyrics have always cut to the chase, both sonically, and in their storytelling. “I really didn’t want to be singing in every song, and have people who don't even listen to the lyrics,” she confesses. “So I used a direct monotone so I could convey what I wanted to say. To make sure that everyone would listen. But even though the messaging of my songs was always something I believed in, I didn't realise what voicing it would do.”
Naturally, with such an unapologetic approach and experimental sound, the release of ‘The Teaches Of Peaches’ made waves, and predictably, faced a number of oppositions. Peaches felt herself challenged for both the style of her music, and its substance. “Soundwise, I was alone,” she explains. “I was in Canada, the land of folk music, especially at that time. So I was considered a really weird act. Not only was I out there in terms of genre, but I was also very vocal at a time when female identifying empowerment lyrics didn’t exist. They just weren't a thing. I would try to play nights or open for people, but because I had only one instrument and used a lot of electronic sounds, people were so confused. I would get reviews that would read; “Peaches played and then we got back to music,” she gives a discerning smirk. “Or even on the radio, it was the main way people would hear new music, my music wouldn’t be played. Even though the song ‘I Want To Fuck You Like An Animal’ was playing, they wouldn’t even consider mine for the airwaves. Trent Reznor is an icon, and I love him, but still. There was never a world where both could be streamed.”
- - -
- - -
However, even with the weight of this admission, the artist still finishes by relying on the silver lining that lies the power of the internet. “But what was amazing is that the song got to everybody without a video without radio play. Kids now will find it through internet sharing,” she continues. “It’s everywhere, which is such a thing I love. It warms my heart.”
20 years later, and the breakout track, as well as the album has surpassed all it condemned it, and cemented itself as an early pioneer of female liberation, and synth futurism. We can pinpoint the obvious inspirations that have come due to the release; ‘WAP’, ‘Anaconda’, and ‘My Coconuts’, the list continues. But as Peaches informs, the track was quick to inspire, becoming an influence to the 2000s pop stars we all look back and adorn over. “Britney Spears was listening to it, and Christina Aguilera,” she tells, excitedly. “These were Disney Kids, who felt inspired to speak aout, and express their sexuality freely.”
In that statement alone, the power that ‘Fuck The Pain Away’ can be flet. But overseeing two decades, only Peaches knows the true impact that track has created, a reckoning that she believes has grown beyond her connection to the release as an artist. “There's a lot of people who don't equate their liking of the track to liking me,” she develops. “It’s just a song to them, an anomaly on its own. It’s so interesting that I developed an atmosphere independent from me as an artist, because it shows how much it’s affected people. It's a legacy that changed my life,” she tells me, sipping her coffee as she thinks. “I made it in my bedroom with just a few ideas and schemes that I thought I'll just get them out. But I never thought that they would reach beyond my bedroom and a few friends. But it’s fucking worldwide now, and blows my mind,” she admits, giving a knowing smile.
- - -
- - -
To celebrate such an achievement, Peaches will embark on a UK tour, a marker of the album's legacy. “It’ll be a good time,” she tells me. “I think people should be ready to make memories.” With such excitement, the live shows are set celebratory in nature, commemorating not only the album’s anniversary, but the artist's vision as a whole. Peaches' ideology is one that saw to the future and embraced it, striving through naysayers and emerging as a spearhead of modern pop culture. But more than that even, the relevance of Peaches is a reminder that the world rewards those unafraid to speak out, and values those who look beyond the norm, and asks what else we could be.
“I just want to say to younger artists, make sure you're authentic to what you want to say, because you're gonna have to say it a million times,” she says confidently. “I'm a musician. I make music and that's how I express myself. So I know I can best give my message by putting a spin on it, being outrageous and raunchy, and not caring too much. That’s the best bet I have at bringing people in. By using the spirit of humour and celebration.”
‘Fuck The Pain Away’, and ‘The Teaches Of Peaches’, retain a cultural significance has been one that has lasted throughout the ups and downs of culture, and more importantly relays the covertones of the artist ideology. Decadence, confidence, and a hint of raunchiness - what else is in the teaching of Peaches?
- - -
- - -
Catch Peaches at the following shows:
10 Brighton Brighton Dome
11 London Grace Jones’ Meltdown Festival @ Royal Festival Hall
13 Glasgow SWG3 Galvanizers
14 Manchester O2 Ritz Manchester
15 Liverpool Invisible Wind Factory
16 Bristol Marble Factory
Words: Lily Blakeney-Edwards
Photography: Hadley Hudson