The Future is Femme: A Conversation with Dazeases
by Christopher Wolford
C.Wolford: Where did the name Dazeases come from?
London Perry: Dazeases, which is pronounced “diseases," is actually inspired by [the 1966 Czechoslovak comedy-drama film Daisies]. Around that the time I was fascinated by and writing with words like "dissipate," "disolve," "decay," So between the characters of that film and my affinity for word play I came up with the name mostly as a filler name for my Soundcloud, which at that time was a bunch of short tracks that were either one-take a capella verses or GarageBand experiments that I wrote in bed. I didn't expect it to stick.
CW: And why’d you title your upcoming EP Local Slut?
LP: Local Slut came about as I contemplated the EPs theme and my time in Richmond. The emphasis that the Hatched Series has on Richmond-based artists made me want to consider how I would summarize my time in the city since I'd moved to Richmond for undergrad. Naturally I've been through a lot since I was 19 but one of the overwhelming themes was my sexual/romantic life's impact on my mental health. The city only gets smaller when you sleep around, which I'm sure is just a part of the Richmond condition. You go out anywhere and are guaranteed to bump into a bunch of hook-ups and fizzled flings. "Slut" is an ambivalent word for me, as it is just generally within feminist rhetoric; I wanted to take advantage of the various connotations it invokes to set the stage for interpretation of the tracks.
CW: There's a lot I'd like to dive into based on what you just said but we'll start with feminism because it's such an important topic, perhaps now more than ever. What are your thoughts and/or hopes on the role music (music in general as well as your own) will play in our current political climate, especially in the lives of young women fighting for equality?
LP: I would argue that feminism has been this pertinent for centuries but I understand why you say that in our current domestic political climate. These hateful, hierarchical ideologies and the people behind them are clearly visible now, but they have been ever-present since the inception of our society and nation as we know it. We live on a country founded in cognitive dissonance and power consolidation. A country that, in concept, welcomes life and liberty as a human right but in practice slaughters, enslaves, and disenfranchises because those in power have a slim definition of human. Major gains have been made by the many marginalized peoples of the United States, but as the past few weeks of the new year have shown those victories have always been on shaky ground.
I think many of us have always felt the tremors but one is ungrateful and/or paranoid to speak of them when they should be happy they're not chattel. On the macro level of analysis our inherent rights are presented to us as re-gifted generosities rather than the return of that which was robbed from us. So then that translates to the micro-level where we are given space but primarily in novelty. For example, there are many people in Richmond organizing music events with line-ups that focus on non-cis white straight men because we have a lot of incredibly talented artists who don't fit that description yet get less play. Although these are great community-empowering shows, I know that many of us are frustrated that we even have to do it to get exposure and that they should be so confined to what others would perceive as a "theme night" rather than just another show.
I see this frustration and this push for space and visibility beyond being a token Other as directly relevant to my music. I am a lot of things at once. I am not necessarily woman, but I am femme. I'm not straight but I've yet to label my sexuality beyond queer. I am both black and mixed. I am one unit of identity that is often spliced up between and within the categories of race, gender, etc. Yet I don't feel that I get to be all of those things at once. I cave to gender role performativity and heteronormativity because of my insecurities, which are mostly linked to my racial identity. That's what my music explores, the maintenance of appearances for the sake of love and validation, which are presented to me as an elusive prize to earn rather than something I inherently deserve. But anything gained in that effort is false if I am not fully myself, if I pick and choose which sides of myself to present.
I want to inspire my listeners to consider themselves in entirety and to push out of their parceled spaces to claim what was already theirs in what is actually an expansive web rather than a part of a mountain. That, in essence, is intersectional feminism. I think internet music culture sheds further light on the web and on all the types of marginalized people within it. The exposure of these artists insights learning about the socio-political history that brought their present-day identity into being. Thus we can understand that the equality that feminists must fight for can have no modifier as it must truly be all inclusive to make anyone equal at all. However, I see music as less of a key to this effort, if not rather a muck-raker to remind people of the need to resist and that they will not be alone in that act.
CW: "Plum" recently premiered over at Big Shot Magazine. It's the first single off your upcoming EP. You gave some backstory on the song itself there so I won't ask you to repeat it but how are you feeling now that it's officially out in the world?
LP: Truthfully I feel ambivalent about it. I'm my own worst critic and sometimes my self doubt overshadows the fact that I've achieved anything at all. I'm slowly appreciating that even if I have plans to be bigger and bolder, the circumstances of this release are more than I would've envisioned for myself two years ago. I'm learning to take pride in that and not sell myself short. I think it will all sink in a few weeks from now.
CW: Self-doubt is an essential part to creating art. That inner editor in all of us forces us to revise, revise, revise until we've created something we're truly proud of. Did you feel there were any key differences in the way you made this record in comparison to your previous endeavors?
LP: Yes, I did approach this project a little differently as my prior EPs and album were more of selections from songs I'd written over an extended period of time. All the songs, except the lyrics of Rue de la Chênaie, were written the fall of 2016. I wanted to use this EP as an opportunity to curate a more cohesive progression- both lyrically and melodically. The songs all make more sense with the context of the others. An idea presented confidently in one may be brought into doubt in the next. My past songs focused on the partners in question but not my own reasoning behind why I was with the people I was or the emotional patterns I experienced with them. I saw this EP as a chance to take songs about specific people and tie it into a larger picture/pattern that I had noticed in myself/these relationships.
CW: We're certainly all influenced by the past in way or another but who are some current non-musical artists (filmmakers, visual artists, writers, etc.) you draw influence from and incorporate into your music?
LP: I would say the film Blue Valentine has been pretty influential for me. It's one of my favorite films in part because it is relentless in its examination of a crumbling relationship and both people in it. I'm interested in the concept of objectivity and subjective truth. There is an implication of domination and validation in that dichotomy that I find hyper-relevant. If no one's right then no one is wrong, how does one more forward from that ambiguity?
I also love medieval Western European depictions of Christian saints and dolorosas- Spanish baroque statues of the Mother Mary. I love the decadence, either in material or in emotional expression, in these pieces. I'm also fascinated with stories of martyrdom and how suffering is seen as a marker of genuine faith. Although I am not religious I see how it can be related to modern relationship dynamics, particularly for femmes.
CW: Does this fascination hold true when you listen to or read about musical artists who died young? Any artists in particular?
LP: Not really. Although I'm somewhat obsessed with death, artists who die young don't seem any more significant to me than other deaths, young or not. Artists or not. I don't agree with the idea of "too young to die" as if a future potential was lost. Who's to say what anyone could have been, in that situation I'd rather focus on what was not what could have been.
That said I do find Alexander McQueen's suicide to be distinctive only because when I learned of some of the context surrounding it it resonated deeply with me.
CW: How did that moment affect you specifically as an artist?
LP: Although I had a deep fear of death as a child, his suicide brought to mind a countering sensation that maybe I won't always want to live. It solidified for me a mentality of ride-or-die for the people I love, romantically or otherwise. I find more sustainable, maybe even more meaningful pleasure in the bonds that I have with people than the music I make. So for me it solidified my priorities which are people first, music second. Because ultimately any accolade or level of success that I will reach cannot replace the emotional support that so many of my friends and family provide. Music just fills in the gaps to help me be stronger as an individual, it's a coping mechanism really to distract myself from thinking about when I might die or when my loved ones might. And while I wait for that inevitability the music that I write might as well be as honest as possible, as I'd only be wasting my own time in self-censorship.
CW: Along with his many accomplishments, McQueen played a big role in marrying music and high fashion of the late 90's, working with Bowie and Björk to name a few. Is this relationship something you follow with contemporary fashion and music?
LP: I don't really follow that relationship, no. I appreciate it but I'm trying to minimize how much fast-fashion I buy and thrift or take hand-me downs.
CW: There are a lot of comparisons one can make between certain music genres, specifically Pop music, and the world of fast fashion. Both are meant to be easily accessible, provide instant gratification, and often have short shelf lives. Because of the accessibility and selection of music in these current times, what do you think it takes for music, and the artists who create it, to survive in the age of the internet?
LP: I guess I'm not sure what your terms of survival are. If you mean for artists to have careers and primary financial income from the art they produce, I couldn't tell you from personal experience. From what I see in other artists whose trajectory I admire, getting paid for gigs and branding/social media presence/merch seem to be vital. Pretty much commodifying oneself and knowing how to make a profit.
If your terms of survival mean getting recognition and maintaining a following, I couldn't say definitively either. Probably developing a projected individuality, to bend and play with what people expect when they search Soundcloud for whatever genre the artist aligns with. You have to make something that people won't scroll past or hit skip.
If your terms of survival mean longevity, who can say. Maybe embrace that you won't have it. When it comes to music I rarely think on those terms. I like to release things quickly and move onto the next idea and digital music makes that easier to do. People think that the internet age means one of constant regeneration but the truth is it's one of waste and over-saturation. I think they call them internet graveyards. I'm not saying I'm into pollution but for the sake of the simile it's kind of like plastic, it's always out there, it never disappears. In the context of digital music, this means you can hear a whole discography on the spot, kind of binge it. I think that's cool because you can hear how an artist is developing and (hopefully) improving. If anything I think it's grounding that if you don't get it right the first time you can keep trying.
To achieve all terms of survival I think it means a commitment to a lifestyle.
Richmond, VA based singer/songwriter/producer London Perry records music under the name Dazeases. Following her Lame Parties debut EP and C R U M B S full-length, her Local Slut EP was recently released via Egghunt Records’ Hatched - a subscription series highlighting some of Richmond’s best new artists.
Split Lip Magazine is honored and excited to give you both the exclusive premiere of Dazeases’ “Botetourt” music video along with an interview with the artist behind the music. SLM’s resident Music Guru Christopher Wolford recently chatted with Perry about everything under the sun including feminism, fashion, and what it takes to survive in today’s music industry. Check out the video followed by the interview below!
London Perry of Dazeases