U.S Girls Interview
It was in the corner of the bar at The Lexington in Angel that I managed to sit down to have a quick chat with Meghan Remy, aka, U.S Girls in the midst of her fleeting visit to the capital as part of her European tour. After sneaking a back seat to soundcheck, and feeling somewhat guilty for stealing her away from the side of husband Max (or Slim, as mentioned in the coming paragraphs) and a well deserved dinner, I had the pleasure of engaging with one of the most humble yet inspiring women in the music industry. Showing no signs of fatigue, regardless of her brutal flight schedule, Meg settled down with a smile and extremely friendly demeanour as we collapsed into a set of velveteen seats and commenced to talk about her most recent endeavours:
So you’re coming to the end of your European tour, has there been any particular highlights for you?
“I guess just the challenge of performing with a band every night as I’m used to performing alone; and sound challenges, like over drowning them, working around that, and just being with friends, I guess that’s also been a highlight.”
How has the change from being on your own to playing with the band been for you?
“It’s been difficult, but it’s opened my mind to a lot of new ideas that I didn’t even consider. I mean maybe I won’t work with the band anymore; it made me take away from it what was good for me and realise all the things that I can do and that I was doing on my own and that I thought I needed help with to do something different, but really I could come up with something different on my own, but I’ve learned a lot. This tour, I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking and writing with the band and I’ve been able to get a lot of ideas down. It’s been like a creative vacation.”
So ‘GEM’ has been described as being your most accessible work to date, would you say that progression is you becoming closer to the sound that you were trying to achieve when you first started out or is it an expansion from that?
“I think it’s closer, when I first started I really wanted to make pure radio pop without really knowing about how to go about doing it, so although people may have thought I was doing something strange and I was a bit of an outsider when I just didn’t really know what I was doing, so definitely, GEM is the record that I wanted to make in 2007 when I first started but it’s a record that I don’t think I’ll make again.”
So the experimental vibe that you started off with was unintentional in some way then?
“Yeah, I thought I was making pop music. I mean I like the experimental thing but I knew, like I’m not so naïve to think that y’know “oh yeah that’s straight pop” or something, but I was really trying to make a new form of pop music that was extremely simplified.”
You wrote this album as more of a group effort, am I right in saying?
“Ah yes, well, I wrote most of the songs by myself, I wrote two of them with my husband, and then there’s two covers on there, so what I mean in terms of group effort in the sense that the ideas were coming from lots of different places, the guys that are in the band played on the record,I got other friends to chip in, so it’s pretty much just writing the songs, making the structure, figuring out which instruments we needed on it and then calling on our friends which we knew were the best at what they could do.”
Would you say that helped with the pop aspect of it?
“Yeah definitely, if it had been left up to Max and I, I think it would have ended up sounding just like another one of our records. The best records, I think, really need to be worked on together.”
You recently released the video for ‘Slim Baby’, where did the idea for that come from?
“I felt like I’d been doing kind of dark videos and more serious seeming videos; the next one that’s coming out for ‘Work from Home’, which is about prostitution and it’s got naked women in it and it’s very twisted, and knowing that I had something like that coming out, I wanted to make something where the mood of the video is really light, and make it a juxtaposition to all the rest of them; so those children are kids that Max’s mom used to babysit for so one day we just dressed them up and just filmed them for a couple of hours. Children are really interesting, they knew they were being filmed but they’re not so self-conscious like an adult. They were just silly and being themselves. The song is so blatantly about Slim that I didn’t really want any imagery that’s points to it being this love song, so we took the word ‘baby’, and it kinda sounds like a kid’s song because it’s so bubblegummy, so it was just a fun video to make and it has no meaning other than it’s just nice to look at, y’know, it’s nice to see children’s faces.”
You have a lot of lyrical variation in your songs, like, as you said, you have the songs about prostitution then you have the really sweet love songs, where does that inspiration come from?
“I just write about things that I know and things that I think about. So love is a huge part of my life, it’s a very powerful and positive thing, and you need it. It’s something that I think about all the time, the same as women’s issues, like with prostitution, I think it’s something that they should be able to do and that should be safe. It’s the oldest occupation in the world and yet it’s a taboo still-it’s only legal in Las Vegas- when really it should be fully legalized, regulated, taxed, making sure women are safe, and the government can make a dime off of it. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be so. It’s the same about abortion, gender, these are just the things that I think about. Living in the world and being bombarded with H&M ads everywhere with a woman splayed out on a fur rug; like she looks great, she’s beautiful, you get these models with these huge breasts, but most of the women that buy H&M underwear do not look like that, so they feel like shit when they look in the mirror and they don’t look like that.”
A lot of people would call you a feminist for the attitudes you hold, is that a good thing for you?
“I wouldn’t call myself that, mainly because it’s such a strict term and it has such negative connotations that it doesn’t really feel like a good word when it comes up. Feminism is so dated, and, yeah, I think I’m more of a humanist. I’m in the company of men a lot because that’s just the way the music industry is but sometimes I prefer the company of women. I think that there are main differences between men and women, I believe in equality but I also believe in pointing out what the differences are and celebrating that.”
The highly acclaimed ‘GEM’ is now out on Fat Cat records.