Rebellious, confrontational, yet smooth and elegant, DEUX FURIEUSES use their words and music as weapons to question these troubled times. Their debut album Tracks of Wire (May 20th, 2016) was produced by Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey) and serves a stylish blend of groovy rock, very creative writing and controlled rage. These girls address extremely important contemporary issues and manage to do deliver both the story and its soundtrack with a style. We caught up with them to discuss their project, their recent work, and the very essence of their message, including feminism and fight against intolerance, growing nationalist fever, racism and lack of empathy. Read the full interview below.
On January 20th, DEUX FURIEUSES released their immigrant song ‘Time to Mourn/ From Fear to Fury’ in much needed aid of the non profit group Phone Credit For Refugees while “third generation immigrant, mysogynist, racist, narcissist reality TV host Donald Trump is inaugurated as “Leader of the Free World”. In their recent video for the track, they told the story of a reluctant refugee leaving his war torn homeland and then struggling with his disorientation on arriving in a ‘safe’ country.
Hey there guys! So, the dust has finally cleared around your new record and loads of positive reviews you’ve managed to receive for this impressive debut, right? How are you? How does it feel to accomplish such a great thing?
Hi Karol, it feels really good to finish and release our album. It was such a struggle to finance and we felt like giving up on it so many times. The best thing is that some people have understood what we were trying to communicate and that means we were not completely mad.
A lot of those reviews called it a soundtrack to 2016, a perfect background music and smart commentary of current issues happening around the world. Do you agree? Was it your intent while composing and writing ‘Tracks of Wire’?
Well it was our intent to comment on the world around us in 2013 when we actually recorded it in a ten day residential session with producer Rob Ellis. I was actually recuperating from an operation during the Arab Spring when I started on these songs, reading Aayan Hirsi Ali and thinking about the hypocrisy of liberal Western Europe. “I Want My Life Back” was the first song written and it begins “While I was healing a revolution became a bloodbath”. We were going to start the album with this song but Can We Talk About This?, which was written the week before the recording session, turned out really well so we knew this was the lead track. It was definitely our intent to challenge the world around us in the UK and Europe and it seems many of the album’s themes had moved from the background to the foreground by the time we released it in May 2016.
Where did the idea for the title of the record come from?
Tracks of Wire was a poem I wrote for my aunt who taught me to play guitar and died while we were finishing the album. It is about the wonder of songwriting and remembering how it felt to look down the neck of a guitar for the first time seeing limitless possibilities in the six steel strings and how they felt to the skin. It also represented for us the tracks of barbed wire that were going up all over Europe. We used the poem on the album’s CD label.
Speaking of names, how about the band? What other names other than DEUX FURIEUSES got serious consideration? :)
It comes from a live review of us written in French which we thought pretty much captured us. “Me voila en face de deux furieuses qui ont le rock n roll qui coule dans leurs veines”. We are not telling you our other names :)
Ok, so back to the record, how much does it reflect the experiences you’ve gone through?
The songs are defiant, heartfelt and definitely coming from our life experience of struggle and frustration as creative females on the outside who have always refused to play the game. Get Nowhere is pretty accurate! ‘Out of My System’ is about getting something cut out of my body and very much my experience. ‘Now You’re Gonna Listen’ is about people’s growing insecurity and relates to my personal experience of falling through the welfare system without help available and being unable to pay my rent. We both have very different backgrounds and yet there is an overlap in our experience. We have come up against the same attitudes and had a similar fight to not be defined by others. ‘Time to Mourn/ From Fear to Fury’, our new single with a video directed by Dan Donovan, tells the story of a young male refugee who feels unwelcome and disorientated on arriving in London. Being on the outside is maybe what has increased our empathy for other people’s experience of being on the wrong side of a fence, wall or border. Making music is our way of connecting, responding and questioning.
Photo by Dan Donovan
What do you want people to take away from the record and your work in general?
We want to connect more with people around the world, not less. We are against the growing nationalistic mood of suspicion and intolerance. Vas has Greek parents and I am from a Scottish and Irish background. We want people to question their politicians and this homogenised culture we are spoon fed. We believe in the power of music listened to alone in a darkened room to heal, to challenge or blasted out in the biggest venue to large audiences who leave charged by the shared experience.
What advice do you have for emerging female artists who struggle to find space for their art?
Stick to your guns! Say no to the things that will get in the way of that space. Push the boundaries. Find sympathetic people to work with.
How else can people better support women musicians and artists in general?
By supporting the ones you know in real life when they try to do something a bit different and don’t conform to the roles you expect them to play. Buying the music and art they create helps them survive. Buying our CD album on our Bandcamp page, coming out to gigs and supporting us online helps us survive. Also support the promoters, festivals and websites that offer more diversity. Don’t give the rest your money or attention. Louder Than War recently included our self-released album at no. 9 in their Top 50 Albums of 2016 along with much bigger bands we love like PJ Harvey and Savages. That is incredible really because we don’t have a record label, booking agent or management. We hope this is a promising sign that the music business knows it has to diversify if it is to remain relevant to anyone.
What do you think it means to be a feminist in 2016?
Feminism means the same it always did which is equality for the rights of women. In 2017 we think a feminist has to make sure they are standing up for the rights of all women in all cultures. Our song This Is A Red Line was inspired by the Girl In The Blue Bra photo of the female pro democracy protestor who was beaten, uncovered and dragged along the ground by security forces in Cairo in 2011. It was recorded during our album sessions but didn’t make the album and we used it on charity album #MoreInCommon. The focus on facade has increased with the Internet and we maybe need to see through the smoke and mirrors to find the truth and put more value on content, intelligence, experience.
Do you believe feminism can have negative effects, and paradoxically damage its own goals, be a negative social force?
What could possibly be damaging about a society in which girls and women have equal rights and equal opportunities with men, where they are safe? It is societies where this is not the case that fail. We do think there is a fake feminism of personal empowerment which is damaging to other women. Choosing to express yourself sexually in the exact same way society wants to objectify you may be very convenient for your career but perpetuates the problem and is not helpful to other women who do not want to conform to this expectation.
Do you feel like it would be different for women if the Riot Grrrl movement and bands like yours had never happened?
Riot Grrrl definitely played its part in inspiring us. We may never succeed in getting beyond a DIY band but we do hope we have put out music that stands the test of time in a deeply unequal playing field and that we can inspire other girls to pursue this and be creative. You don’t have to follow the paths set out for you. You don’t have to be defined by fuckwits even if they do have all the power. When you see someone not usually seen in the mainstream get up on stage or put out a manifesto in a zine it gives you such strength to know you are not on your own. The music business didn’t change after Riot Grrrl but as a movement it did make a lasting difference to the people who got involved and then grew up to become artists, writers, lawyers, parents. Then a whole new generation discovered this fantastic sounding female history on the Internet and were energised to use social media. Bands like us are continuing the fight in our own way with support from promoters/communities in London like CLIT ROCK who fundraise for FGM campaigners Daughters of Eve and LOUD WOMEN, a DIY collective putting on gigs by female bands with an upcoming compilation CD album and the LOUD WOMEN zine.
What change would you like to see in the future?
Let’s find more in common and have less of the identity politics. We would like to see many more equal societies around the world where white powerful male privilege is no longer the norm. We need to start teaching our students much more about other cultures’ great philosophies and histories. And then we have to find the courage to stand up for the values we believe in when they are under threat. We are becoming hypnotised by people selling us what they think we want to hear in their own grab for power. We need to find out the real reasons for our situation.
What are the biggest obstacles for such a vision?
We only hear what we want to hear. Ignorance, fear, lack of empathy. Disregard for truth. The privileged powerful elites who do not question their own sense of entitlement and every power structure set up to facilitate them. We have become such an unequal society and the dangers of this are now playing out. I visited the Sachsenhausen concentration camp (design model for Aushwitz) on the outskirts of Berlin last year and walked across a field as the sun set to come face to face with the remains of the gas chamber. How a society came, step by step, to this point is a salutary lesson from history.
Ok, thank you so much for your honest thoughts. Let’s wrap it up then. What do you have planned for the future? Tell us about your touring plans and when can we expect some new tunes.
New single Time to Mourn/ From Fear to Fury is coming out on 20th January in aid of Phone Credit for Refugees and we also have a song on the LOUD WOMEN compilation CD album which is released in March. We are supporting God Damn in London on 9th March at Brixton Jamm and playing the LOUD WOMEN all dayer on 18th March. We are home demoing new album songs right now and looking for money to record another album to the same standard. We hope to entice an agent to book us a European tour and maybe we will get to play in Warsaw :)
Thanks so much for your time. See you next time!