Progression & Corporatization—An Interview With U.S. Girls

By Sabrina Gamrot, Feature Photo via Facebook

Meg Remy, a Chicago native now living in Toronto, performs under the moniker U.S. Girls, a one-woman group that pushes the boundaries of today’s pop music. This unique sound, as well as her sense of style, have helped her become an inspiration to teenage girls across North America. She recently performed at the Jam Factory in Toronto, and Demo had the opportunity to talk to her before her show.

Demo Magazine: What are some of your goals in the music industry? Do you want a hit? Do you see yourself writing a full-on pop song?

Meg Remy: I’d love to write a hit for someone else, so that I could make the money from it but not have to do all the other stuff that comes with it, like image stuff, airbrushing, and extensive touring, having to play the same song over and over again.

DM: I notice there seems to be a progression in your works, such as more textures and layers. Do you think that your work has progressed from when you started to where you are right now?

MR: Yeah, definitely, just the more you do anything, the better you get at it. Like, if you are a painter, when you first start, your ideas are pretty simple. Then you get more complicated, and the more you find out about other painters, then you get more inspiration, you meet other people that are painters and [then] you start employing their talents as well. I think it’s just the progression of aging and getting more involved with the medium but there’s something to be said about when you first start — the simplicity that’s there.

DM: Do you notice a difference in the music scene from the places you tour? For example, the United States compared to Canada, or somewhere in Europe?

MR: Well, touring everywhere seems to have changed from when I first started touring over ten years ago. Things are just more corporatized now, and the internet counts a lot for what shows you get and how much you get paid. If you’re on a website like Pitchfork and you get a good review, promoters want to work with you, whereas if you got a bad review, it could ruin your career and no one will book you. [It’s] just more corporatized and capitalistic and homogenized now. But, in Europe, you get treated better there [than] anywhere else in the world, just ‘cause there’s the funding in place to support artists. You get nice meals and hotels everywhere — things like that. In the States, you just sleep on the floor.

DM: Your music speaks to me and, I imagine, other girls my age. Do you have a target audience when you’re writing or does it just come to you?

MR: I think my target audience is women of all ages. Even though I do think men can appreciate my music, or [that] people [who] don’t subscribe to a gender couldn’t appreciate it, but my perspective is a women’s perspective. I think that there’s just a lack of clear female perspectives being told, [and] there always has been. I’m just trying to be as truthful as I can for other women so that we don’t seem as mysterious to each other as it’s been made out to be.

DM: When you’re writing a song, do you first think of the lyrics or is it the music that comes first?

MR: It depends on how I’m working and it just depends if I’m working with someone else. A lot of times they’re writing the music and giving it to me and I’m doing the words. If I’m working [on my own] it just depends too. Sometimes I’ll have a poem that I want to make more lyrical […] or I’ll have a little keyboard bit that I’ll end up building and putting drums on and all these things and doing vocals last. It just depends every time.

DM: How do you feel when you completely finish a song?

MR: When its done and mixed and ready for people to listen to, it feels great.

DM: Like an accomplishment?

MR: Yeah, and it feels like it’s time to start playing it live, get really good at singing it — to learn how to expand on the song from its basic structure and turn it into something longer or add a new part to play it live. It just feels like [the first step] is done in the song’s life and next is experimenting with it and using it until it’s done and [then] putting it in the graveyard.

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