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Peaches (self-portrait) and Tommy Genesis

“Anyone Can Make Art”: Peaches & Tommy Genesis In Conversation

The Canadian artists – both known for their fearless approach to sex and art – meet for the first time to discuss their careers, backgrounds, and creative inspirations

Lead ImagePeaches (self-portrait) and Tommy Genesis

In the video for Peaches’ latest single, Pussy Mask, we watch an animated vulva navigate the pandemic. Wearing a dampened surgical mask over its mouth, it hops through a series of surreal cartoon landscapes, showering its surroundings with sprinkles of water. “My pussy wear a mask, take cover from the spray,” the vulva sings, merrily, as it bounces past an applauding Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “My pussy wear a mask, drippinʼ droplets all day.”

It’s the kind of brash, bawdy fun that Peaches has become known for. An unapologetic provocateur, she has a multi-dimensional approach to music, crafting tracks and visuals that feel more like mischievous conceptual art pieces. While other artists might sing about sex alluringly, Peaches screeches about it – and the mess, stench, stickiness and absurdity that comes along with it.

Tommy Genesis is blazing a similar trail. The singer and model – who, like Peaches, hails originally from Canada – has been drawing attention for her equally confrontational style of (self-described) “fetish rap”. On her 2015 debut, World Vision, she shared songs that were queer, playful and lyrically hardcore, with visceral verses about her sexual fluidity (and seeking comfort in “yoghurt covered pretzels” and a “pound of clit”). Although less in-your-face, Genesis’s new album, goldilocks x, sticks to the same ethos: create raw, raucous, emboldening music that cuts through the dull, “palatable” sexuality of mainstream pop.

Here, in a Zoom conversation held earlier this year, the artists meet for the first time to discuss their inspirations and mutual adoration. “I love your music, it has such a vibe,” Peaches gushes to Genesis in the opening minutes of the call. “Thank you,” she replies. “I feel like I’ve always known your name and your songs. You’re an icon.”

AnOther Magazine: How have you both been over the last two years? Has it been a creative time? 

Peaches: I had a shitty, shitty time. [Laughs.]. For the last 20 years of my life, I probably toured 100 dates a year – like a touring whore – so it was a huge change for me. I’m not normally a homebody. I have a great partner, who’s super compassionate, and we started working on my album together, but somehow in my mind I was just really freaked out. I was thinking, “Why? What is it all for?” I’m just being real with you, because probably a year ago I wouldn’t have even admitted all this. But yeah, it was really tough.

Tommy Genesis: I’m actually a homebody, so I’m the opposite. I actually don’t really leave my house except if it‘s my own show or a friend’s show, or if I walk my dog or see a friend. But when the pandemic started, it was almost like the collective was going through changes. It was wild. Everyone I knew was fucking shedding like snakes.

P: Yes.

TG: My entire world also changed. And change is weird because when it happens – even if it’s the most positive change – something feels devastating because you have to relearn how to be yourself in a new situation. The joy doesn’t come right away. So for a period of time, maybe like three months after the pandemic hit, I just let myself feel that shit. I didn’t make any music. I just let myself go there. I have a pretty happy disposition, so I was still bobbing around, but inside I was not OK. I think what really saved me was my dog [Laughs.]. I got him right at the beginning of the pandemic and I swear to god he fucking saved my life. He is literally pure love. Every day he wakes me up and licks my face.

P: Me and my partner talked about getting a dog the whole time, but instead we ended up buying a place. I found this live-work space in an old warehouse, and we decided to build a studio. When you buy a place with a partner, you both learn so much about each other and how you communicate. I thought I was so direct, but I found out about my passive-aggressive leanings.

“With music, you can play one chord and repeat it 100 times, and you have a song. There are so many ways to do it, it just needs to feel right for you” – Peaches

AM: You’re both known for having quite brash, fearless musical personas. How close do you feel to them?

TG: People don’t understand that [my persona] is still part of me. It’s not even separate from me; it’s me. I’m just focusing on certain [aspects of my character]. I think it’s easy to say that it’s a persona, because it’s harder to swallow if it really is that person. Do you know what I mean? Like, I’m so shocking that it’s hard to swallow, so you’ve got to call it a persona. It‘s like, well, what if that’s just me? [Laughs.].

P: Yeah I totally agree with that, it’s so true. It’s just a focus. You know when you watch a movie and they take out the boring parts to make it more direct? It’s the same concept. We’re talking one-on-one now, but when I’m on stage I’m projecting to 5,000 people, so that’s obviously going to be a different discourse. It’s a different way to express yourself.

TG: People would never go up to Drake or Future and ask about their persona. So why do we get asked? It’s a different conversation when you’re a woman; like we’re shocking in some way, but we’re not shocking to ourselves.

P: It’s the same with the sexual discourse. It’s way more of a thing when we do it, but not when, say, Future does it.

TG: I don’t know why [that is]. I don’t know if it’s because we’re so vulnerable. It’s interesting; it’s definitely not offensive.

P: Maybe it’s because we don’t fit into an obvious pop format.

AM: Well you both come from art backgrounds, right? 

TG: I’ve been making art since I was a baby. My mom put me in piano lessons, encouraged crafts, painting and drawing. You would walk into our house when I was little and she had made everything in there. Everything I was wearing she had made. She’s just so creative, and she doesn’t even think of herself as an artist.

P: I love that. That’s something I craved as a child but I didn’t get.

TG: You gave it to yourself later.

P: Yes, definitely. I didn’t know what art school was. I really didn’t get it. I didn’t understand that I could be a musician, but somehow I was always drawn to it instinctively. It’s crazy how anyone can make music or make art: there’s almost this belief that it’s too difficult. I’ve tried to tell people that anyone can draw: you can literally just throw some paint at something. You can be avant-garde, it can be a concept. With music, you can play one chord and repeat it 100 times, and you have a song. There are so many ways to do it, it just needs to feel right for you. It’s more of a headspace. How do you find the confidence to express yourself? It seems like such a scary thing for so many people to get close to; to be comfortable expressing themselves that freely. You just have to want to do it, it isn’t always that scary. 

TG: For me, it’s definitely just about feelings. I’ve always had to make things because I have to get them out. That’s how music started, that’s why I draw. I just have feelings that I don’t necessarily even want to talk about. I put them into a song and it’s like my own way of dealing with it. I’ve always used music and drawing and writing as a portal to just throw shit into. Some people throw it into their job or into their hobby – we all have different gifts and interests. 

P: Creativity is just a way to bring joy and meaning into your life. It helps you to [confront] the difficult parts, and find a way to go through them.

“So many mainstream artists are just as sexual, just as extreme, but it is all packaged and fed to you in a certain way. We’re both maybe more raw” – Tommy Genesis

AM: What about the word “extreme”? How do you feel about that word, and about people using it to define the art that you make?

TG: I like it.

P: I feel like I am coming directly from what I think and feel, so it’s interesting to see all the different ideas and misconceptions that people have about that. 

TG: Yeah. At first, I was very shocked that people were shocked [by my work]. But then I thought it was fun. I like to shock; I don’t mind being called extreme. I don’t think I am, but it doesn’t really bother me. So many mainstream artists are just as sexual, just as extreme, but it is all packaged and fed to you in a certain way. We’re both maybe more raw. We’re obviously writing everything, doing our own visuals, doing everything ourselves, so it’s shocking because it feels like you’re getting the raw person, which you are. It feels weird.

AM: Do you think that authenticity is rare in mainstream music?

TG: I think so. I don’t want to discredit those rappers or artists that are writing their own songs. And I’m not even saying it’s a bad thing [if they’re not] – at a certain point you need the help, because you’re just operating on such a bigger level. But I’m just saying when the lens is so much more focused, and when you’re choosing to be in this in-between space, that’s where it feels more raw. I’m not saying either is bad or good. 

P: I like the in-between space. I feel like I can operate on that level. Maybe it’s also a control issue. [But] if I did become mainstream, I'm not mad at it either. I’ve always said that. I want the mainstream to come closer to me, rather than me going closer to the mainstream. 

AM: Do you think that’s happened over the last few years? Have there been signs of progress?

P: Yes. I believe that everything grows exponentially in every direction. So if you pick the direction where the mainstream grew closer to me, then yes. But if you are looking at Texas and abortion laws, then no. 

AM: Finally, how do you both keep things fluid creatively? What makes you feel inspired, how do you fight off blocks?

TG: I have zero pressure for myself. I really have no rules. It’s important not to be hard on yourself. If I wake up and don’t feel like doing anything that day, I don’t do anything that day. I really just go where the light is. I just don’t ever do anything I don’t want to do – that’s just my mantra, I don’t care. If I’m trying to do something and there’s a block, I just walk away from it. The next time I come back to it, I’m in the headspace. So I think that’s important: if it’s not working, it doesn't matter. We’re just humans on this planet, making little things.

P: Exactly.

TG: None of this matters. What does matter is how you feel. Are you happy? Are you enjoying your life? Do what makes you happy. Super cliche answer. 

P: I love ‘go where the light is.’ I find your words inspiring. 

TG: We can be friends. I think you’re cool as fuck.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity

Tommy Genesis’s latest album, goldilocks x, is out now on Downtown Records.