🎤 Our one-on-one with the one-and-only Lydia Lunch.
Last week we teased our private interview with the iconic writer, musician, poet, spoken word artist, and photographer Lydia Lunch who performed on the Timucua stage last Monday night alongside Joseph Keckler.
Today we have a real treat for y’all as our own Lisa Mercer tuned in with this vibrant artist to chat about her recent show here in our city and so much more. Lydia Lunch does not hold back, as you’re soon to find out. So with a few edits to consolidate, redact some strong language, and a parental disclaimer in place… let’s dive right in!
Lisa Lee Mercer: Can you just kind of tell us what we can expect on Monday?
Lydia Lunch: Well, I’m coming with Joseph Kepler. So I’m going be doing mainly a spoken word show, and Joseph will be presenting probably video, opera, spoken word, and piano. So we’ve been doing these doubleheaders. It’s a very strange mix and marriage, but it seems to work. He brings a very different element to the performance. and then I just come in with the bomb vest.
LLM: So tell me, I grew up loving you…
LL: I grew up loving me too, so thank you.
LLM: I love you and Kim Gordon. And Lena Lovitch. I loved women who were dealing with their emotions and not sitting down and being sweet little girls about things and wanting to be heard and saying that it’s okay to be angry about things. And so I really want to thank you for putting that, you know, making me have a difficult relationship with my mom. But then also I love blaring your music because that was my self-expression. So that you helped bring that out of me. And I appreciate that.
LL: And I thank you very much, Lisa Lee.
I mean, I’ve always felt like I had to be the voice for those that couldn’t find their mouth to scream. I mean, that’s just what I do. I feel as if there’s [been] a metaphorical bullhorn glued my lips for the past many decades of my life, and it ain’t gonna come off any time soon.
LLM: Let me ask you something now, since I’m a Gen Xer, what do you want to tell Gen Xers today?
LL: First of all, the same way I don’t judge someone by their gender, being, feeling as if I’ve been in drag my whole life. Perhaps it was, you know, the suction of my twin brother in the womb that I feel both male and female; the same way I don’t judge people by whatever generation they’re in. There are individuals everywhere. There’s a**holes in every generation there, you know. So I really don’t even know what the question is and I don’t even know what it means because I’ve always felt, although I’ve been part of many different movements, starting some of them, I’ve always felt outside of time.
LL: So I really don’t know what to tell any generation. I think that the problems that exist, especially for women have always existed. The problems that exist for the human race have always existed. The $15 an hour enslaved labor. We’re still in it. That the patriarchy is killing the planet and everyone in it. That there are f[***]ing chronic liars and politics, especially in your state. I can’t wait to talk about that! Don’t have to, they talk enough of themselves into the frickin’ grave. So I mean to me, I mean one of my mantras from whenever is “same as it ever was.”
And as much as it changes, it stays the same. For instance, I can’t believe that in 2023 we still have so much war, not only around the world, but so much inner war in this country. And just look, I love statistics since that’s usually a man’s game: since 2016 there have been 182,143 people murdered in America by gun violence. This year alone there’s been 39 mass shootings. These are issues that have always been important to me. I’m going to continue f[***]in’ talking about em.’ Like it, love it, I don’t care. It’s just what’s important to me.
And the thing is, this is the middle ages and it’s not much different. There’s mania, there’s madness. There’s guys wanting to pretend to be kings abusing all the rest of us. Hello! And what can we do? Well all I could do is scream into the void. I ain’t got no solution, honey.
I say revolution and they never work anyway.
LLM: Kit, our writer, regrets that he can’t be doing this interview today, but he wants to tell you what a very significant impact you had on his life growing up. Having that poignant, aggressive, no-bullshit way of talking and speaking your mind, speaking your feelings, speaking your heart, everything that comes out.
LL: What’s interesting about that, it’s great that it’s a male writer because look, as much as I’m going after the patriarchy, I’m not going after individual men. They are just as much bullied and manipulated and tortured by the system of the chronic asshole-ism of the male dominance as anybody. And teenage bullies for teenage boys are horrible.
So, I’m never against the individual male, and it’s interesting that really shy boys — and I’ve worked with a lot of shy musicians — were never scared of me. Rowland Howard was never scared of me. JJ Farewell was never scared of me because they got it. And even though I have seen a lot of what they said, especially since from under Reagan about the wars wars and, and speaking that women need to become more powerful. It’s not at the expense of individual men.
It’s a target against men in positions of power, especially octogenarians, asshole liars, killers, thieves, etc. So I’m very glad to hear that. Because when anybody says, I really like your music, I’m like, “excuse me, I’ve been doing it for 45 years. What period?” And that’s not being a dick. It’s kind of showing me when they came into and what they came into. And it’s interesting to me because as a musical schizophrenic, I’ve done all kinds of music. I’ve written 400 songs… Nobody’s heard them all, honey. Not even me! That’s not even 10 a year, Jesus.
LLM:What’s the best time you ever had?
LL: Right now. Always every every minute. Happy to be alive. And you know, the thing is I will not be tortured by the enemy because all we hear is so much bad bullshit.
So my rebellion has always [involved] pleasure. Because it’s the first thing, especially as women, they steal from us. F[***] you. I will not be denied. And its not even hedonistic. We live on an incredible freaking planet, no matter who’s trying to destroy it.
LLM: What’s your connection to Orlando? Do you have a favorite memory?
LL: I mean the Sapphire Supper Club—before your time no doubt—which was the best club in America, which was James Farity’s. You know, big. It just was such a great club. So many people came down. He booked a lot of my shows, and he deserves having this exhibition at The Regional History Museum. Which is great. And also then just this new Timucua Arts Foundation where I’m performing, that’s amazing. We need more places like that, all over the place. I’m very happy that both of these things because I’ll be at the History Center in advance of my show and then going over to the Timucua Arts Foundation to perform with Joseph Keckler. It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be awesome.
LLM: You’re gonna love that venue.
LL: I hear it’s fabulous, and I can’t wait for Joseph. He’ll break out his version of “I Put a spell on You” on the piano. I love being a performer. And what’s great is, look, I’ve performed with so many different types of people, but he is truly in a different realm, but where we connect is the words and the emotion. He’s a great storyteller. He does opera with video in different languages, with translation and they’re all very weird stories like a mushroom overdose trip. Just sayin.’ And so it’s very unique what he does and I think we’re a very good, competent combination.
LLM: Growing up, I felt like women didn’t really have a voice and everything. And so now whenever I was listening to you, it felt like you were giving us your giving us control of our voices because now we’re not spouting off what were indoctrinated to say or either to shut up and just behave ourselves.
LL: And interestingly enough today and through my podcast The Lydia Spin—185 episodes as of today—we have Masha from Pussy Riot as of next week. And we also have Viva Ruiz coming, who is ‘thank God for abortion’ is her platform. So, with my podcast we’re trying to expose various either underrepresented, uncovered connective tissue. We’ve had a lot of female artists from various formats: visual, music, etcetera.
But right now this coming before, what is women’s day coming soon? We’re having some radical females on there..
LLM: How would you say the image of women has evolved in music today?
LL: It’s weird because the Internet is so overloaded with a variety of ways, but then in the mainstream there’s only like five people you ever hear about or anything and they’re all wearing the unitards as if they’re 14 at gymnastics class. I don’t understand it. A leotard on stage makes it progressive for women? You ever smelled those things? They stink by the way. And I don’t think that everyone wearing a f[***]ing leotard makes a statement that women own their sexuality because all of the ones wearing leotards are still corporate whores to the big, big record companies.
LLM: Has music always made you happy?
LL: I don’t f[***]in’ know. I don’t like happy music. What are you talking about? Making music doesn’t even make me happy. It’s just, I have to do it… You know what makes me happy is, look, this is the way I create: I have a concept for a sound, alright. Call it what you will. Psycho-ambient, swamp rock, hard rock. The concept comes first. And then, who do I want to collaborate with? Who will make that collaboration will make that sound come true? I can’t sit here and think there’s anybody I want to work with. There’s not. It’s not that I have worked with everybody.
Concept comes first. So it’s not like, “oh I’d like to work with…” No, what is the concept that then demands that person create with me? So it’s a very, it’s a very I think that’s the best way to do it. The concept comes first.