Best known for fronting Speedy Ortiz, Sadie Dupuis has never been one to shy from political activism and drawing attention to vital issues. On their last tour, the Massachusetts band introduced a hotline to tackle sexual harassment at live shows – gig-goers could call it if they felt unsafe at Speedy shows. While they were at it, they penned the misogyny-busting anthem, ‘Raising the Skate’. The band also fundraised for the Girls Rock Camp Foundation - a charity which hosts music education trips for young girls – with a string of all-ages shows. With all this in mind, it’s perhaps no surprise to see Sadie Dupuis continuing to call out bullshit with her solo project Sad13; this time through the lens of roughed-up, glitter-soaked pop.
A record that deals in positive, affirmative action, ‘Slugger’ is named after one of Sadie’s favourite anime characters, Lil’ Slugger from Satoshi Kon’s ‘Paranoia Agent’. A tiny, rollerskate-wearing boy in a baseball cap, who thumps people over the heads in order to relieve them from their nervous breakdowns, Sad13 is a project concerned harnessing that same kind of cathartic, healing energy. “I like the idea that people’s lives seem to improve after the trauma of being hit by this kid with a bat,” she says, chatting over Skype from New York City.
When Sadie was in the process of writing ‘Foil Deer’ – Speedy Ortiz’s latest record – she was in a different place. “I had been in this really abusive relationship,” she says, ”and when it ended I didn’t want to process it, or think about it at all. I just wanted to write songs about getting stronger from it.” The result was a record focused on finding the strength to bounce back; most evident in songs like ‘Raising the Skate’. Meanwhile ‘Slugger’ seeks to harness all of Sadie’s negative experiences, and turn them into something thoroughly positive, and far more than that, a bundle of fun. Consent on ‘Slugger’ is sexy. Platonic friendships are celebrated and revelled in. It’s one big thwack of empowerment. Rebelling against pop songs that place mysterious gazes on a pedestal, and render women as silent objects, ‘Slugger’ takes square aim at songs like ‘Blurred Lines’ and firmly re-draws boundaries.
“Sure, there's sexiness to mystique, but when it comes down to it, it's a really dangerous way to interpret what someone wants.”
— Sadie Dupuis
“‘Blurred Lines’ is an obvious example,” agrees Sadie, “but it’s one I was thinking of for sure. There are so many songs that I really enjoy that maybe talk about being there dancing with someone, and you know what they want from seeing them. I think that silence in sexuality is really glamourised,” she says, “not only in pop music, but in television, and real life. Sure, there’s sexiness to mystique, but when it comes down to it, it’s a really dangerous way to interpret what someone wants.”
“I’m 28 now,” she says adding with a laugh, “Saturn’s returning. But I was such an idiot when I was younger. Sex education was terrible at my school,” she adds, scoffing, “well, non existent, actually. I think emphasising from an early age how important conversation and care are - in any kind of sexual relationship on any level - that’s just so important,” she says. “I think people just aren’t taught to be respectful of boundaries.”
Songs like ‘Get A Yes’ – ‘Slugger’s lead single – head out with a precise mission in mind; correcting that imbalance. “I say yes to your touch when I need your touch,” Sadie sings over pogoing synths, “if you want to, you’ve gotta get a yes”. It doesn’t just highlight the importance of consent – it emphasises that open communication is healthy and fun.
“I wanted it to be fun,” nods Sadie, “and catchy and light, and pop. I think there are plenty of ways to go about discussing consent, in music, and certainly many rock and punk bands do so,” she points out. “Speedy Ortiz is one of them. But they’re usually not coming from a fun, affirmative place. It’s usually a response to when consent isn’t respected. I feel here the goal was to make something that talks about how fun it can be to have discourse with your partner.”
SAD13’s new album ‘Slugger’ is out on 11th November via Carpark Records.
Taken from the November 2016 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe below.