When did you start your music journey?
"I started playing the violin when I was 4, after seeing it on 'Sesame Street.' I immediately began campaigning for my parents to let me play. My Mom is also a tap dancer and singer, and ran a tap dancing school in our basement. So music and rhythm was a constant in our house."
What was the moment for you, that you knew this is what you wanted to do as a career?
"The first time Animal and I played a show as “Bitch and Animal.” We could tell people were moved by what we were doing, and, as an activist by nature, I wanted to keep being able to move people like that. We moved to New York like a week later to dedicate ourselves to it!"
Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
"Gosh there are so many at so many different points of my life. My Mom was a musical theater person, my Dad a jazz head. So both of those worlds influenced me from a young age. Joni Mitchell. PJ Harvey. Tracy Chapman. Ani Difranco. Indigo Girls. Sarah Vaughan. Prince. Sinead O’Connor. Kinnie Starr. Stevie Wonder. Bulgarian Women’s Choir."
First concert you went to?
Do you have a dream artist you would like to work with in the future?
"Would love to work with Bjork, tour with Robyn and hang out with Joni Mitchell. Would have loved to have dinner with Sun Ra. Would love to write a song with Cardi B. Would love to sing on a Lucinda Williams song."
In a recent Instagram post you explained that your latest single “Hello Meadow” is about Mother Nature vs. Capitalism, can you elaborate?
"Corporate greed is accelerating climate change. Until big businesses have incentive to care about the future of our planet, they won’t. It’s been all about profit, the almighty dollar. Capitalism has become about profit over everything, and Mother Nature is suffering because of that."
Do you usually come up with your song concepts before writing, or do they take shape during the writing process?
"It’s all different for each song, but my songs rarely start as concepts. They generally start from poetry, which I have written as an almost daily practice since I was 11. Once I lay the poetry over music, I tweak the language to fit the music. “Hello Meadow,” was slightly different. The chorus came to me first. I started making the beat and I wrote the verses from there. It’s usually after I finish a song, or am well into the process of crafting it, that I know what it’s about.
One song that started as a concept was “Pussy Manifesto.” My friend Anne had this idea to start using the word ‘pussy’ as a compliment, and Animal (my band-mate at the time) said “Bitch--you should write the “Pussy Manifesto!” So I did! That was in 1998!"
When and how did you decide to name yourself “Bitch” - and do you feel the reception has changed over the years, with various icons in popular culture embracing it?
"'Bitch' came about when Animal and I started our band. Our whole mission was to go against this sexist world that wanted us to be small, quiet, lady-like. I embraced the word Bitch as a way to reclaim a word that was used to insult powerful women.
The reception of it has not necessarily changed over the years. Generally people can be thrown off by it at first, but when I explain the concept of reclaiming this usually negative thing, they get it! A lot of people feel very empowered to use it, it’s almost like getting to swear when you’re a kid…
What’s made it WAY more complicated is the internet. We are now running into a problem where we can’t advertise anything on social media with my name OR the album title “Bitchcraft!” It is totally ironic, and a depressing reminder about how much social media controls what we see and know about. Me being censored by ‘the man’ is so telling in this day and age. I have been at the forefront of taking a chosen name over my birth name, and to see these huge social media platforms basically saying “you can’t do that” is another battle i guess i have to fight!"
Bitch and Animal was a force. What was the transition like to your solo career? Will we ever see a reunion?
"Aw thank you! Yes--the legacy of Bitch and Animal is something I’m very proud of. We were singing about trans issues, identity politics, radical feminism and sex-positive queerness in a time before that was commonplace. I see our role in pioneering a lot of those conversations that still happen today. I sometimes look at the stuff we did and can’t believe we had the….eggs...to say half the things we did. We were truly wild, in that way that only inspired youth can be!! I have no idea if a reunion may happen--you never know!!"
How has it been opening for Indigo Girls, and getting back into live shows in general?
Amy and Emily heard ‘Bitchcraft’ and got really excited and invited me to tour with them. They are both very behind this album, and have said such kind things about it. The fact that they are sharing their stages with me has been a true honor. Live shows these days are a good reminder of how much people need the medicine of music and community. We actually can’t live without it."
You recently revealed the cover of your next project Bitch Craft, which is set to release in February, what can we expect from it? Any new sounds you’re experimenting with?
"'Bitchcraft' is a sonic leap for me for sure. I have been ‘crafting’ my new sound for this album for 8 years. It’s more pop than any of my earlier stuff has been. I let my violin lead it. It is my oldest instrument, my earliest voice. I wanted it to be very violin-centric. I used a lot of synths and you can definitely hear my 80s influences. I call my new sound 'Poet Pop.'"
Tell us about your new single and video for East Target, what was it like to work with Joey Soloway?
"Joey is a visionary and incredible artist. They heard “Easy Target” and was instantly very inspired and moved by it. What an honor to have something i’ve made, influence an artist who i admire so much. Joey agreed to make a music video for it. It was during the pandemic. They called on their family and their TV family to make it. We shot it mostly at their house, and also in the mountains of Altadena. They brought in painter Iva Gueorguieva, to paint a custom made suit and violin for me, in the same color palette as my magic be-dazzled broom. The whole thing was a dream--and following Joey’s vision for the song was thrilling."
One word to describe yourself?
Playful, rebellious. So rebellious I used two words to describe myself in one word :)
Where do you see yourself in five years?
"Writing songs, working on creative projects, TV shows and theater pieces. Illustrating. I fantasize about having a side drawing career and becoming the feminist version of Lisa Frank."
Biggest advice for young women entering the music industry?
"Don’t stop. Don’t think that ‘sexy’ is your only way in. Don’t listen to everyone. Find your team. Follow your heart. Know yourself. Go for it."
How did you find out about Gritty In Pink?
"I met Shira at a party!!"
Any final comments?
"As a poet, I am a word nerd. So much of my work is about reclaiming our language or identifying misogyny in our language and trying to change it. My latest invention is the word “Shenius.” We don’t hear women called geniuses enough. Let’s employ this word and raise the esteem of young girls everywhere!!"