Carpark Records

Speedy Ortiz Kicks Apathy's Butt With Pop Music

From donating album proceeds to food banks to calling out dudes who objectify women.

Over the last odd 20 years, it's been a constant refrain: Where's OUR Nirvana? Where's OUR Kurt Cobain? Well, dudes, hate to break it you -- you ain't gonna get one. At least according to Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz, whose new record Foil Deer you should probably be pumping if you're yenning for Nevermind and whatnot.

Yup, the ones making noise nowadays -- you know, of the melodic variety -- are undoubtedly going to be the ones who lack a voice, which is why Dupuis has infused her band's newest record with themes of feminism, embracing bossiness and just general badassery. Oh, and it's also why she and her bandmates have decided -- for the second time -- to give the proceeds from their music to causes that trumpet that Black Lives Matter.

Wednesday (April 29), you can pick up the Boston band's first record, Major Arcana, for whatever price you choose -- with all proceeds going to Maryland Food Bank in support of protests in Baltimore and those affected by the turmoil.

After pushing "buy," check out our interview with Dupuis below and consider just purchasing Speedy's entire catalogue. Your ears and social conscious will thank you.

MTV: So you guys are raising money for the food bank in Maryland?

Sadie Dupuis: Yeah! We raised a bunch of money for the Ferguson library in December by just putting out some old stuff on Bandcamp and letting people donate what they wanted -- we wound up raising a little over 1,000 bucks in a couple days.

So we were like, people already have this record but maybe some people don’t [and they'd like to buy it to donate]. And we've been getting a lot of press for the new album. People are looking [for our music], so we might as well have them looking at something where they can actually put their money towards a good cause.

MTV: So why did you pick the food bank?

Dupuis: We were just trying to think of the best way to help the people in Baltimore that are being affected during the protests. [A large number] of children in Baltimore are dependent on school lunches to feed themselves and there are a couple of different organizations that are helping out with that. We’re on tour, so we’re sitting on the van talking about this stuff all day. And that just seems like the best way to help.

MTV: Like you said, you stepped in during Ferguson. What made you want to get involved in both these cases?

Dupuis: It just seemed like help was needed. I mean, being in a band, we’re on tour all the time -- there’s not a lot we can do to help out when we’re at home, you know? We can’t have long-term volunteering commitments, but certainly these protests spark a conversation and open a dialogue that’s really important. And whatever minimal amount we can do to help further that dialogue -- we like to do that.

MTV: Do you consider yourself a political band?

Dupuis: I think we probably all have different answers to that question. But, certainly, activism has been a part of my life since I was a kid.

MTV: Speaking of activism and music -- you said in a past interview that our generation can't really have a Kurt Cobain. What did you mean by that? What CAN we have?

Dupuis: I just don’t think that there’s a straight, white, cis male voice that has the disaffection that Nirvana's music was so evocative of. I think the people who are feeling disenfranchised today want to see someone like themselves talking about real issues: taking away black lives and causing those lives not to matter, or taking away women’s rights -- putting women in jail for having a miscarriage. These are really terrifying times for anyone who is a woman --- or a person of color, or queer person. Whatever space we’ve carved out for ourselves seems to constantly be eroded by whatever new breed of terrifying young politician [is coming in].

I think that whether or not the music is political -- I think the most exciting music that I’ve seen in the past three years has come from people who are women or queer people or people of color who are talking about the very real and very threatening actions that are taken almost daily on the governmental level or at the police level or even just, you know, the work level -- pay inequality. I think that’s the kind of disenfranchisement that people care to hear about.

Maybe that’s just me, maybe that’s the kind of voice that I want to hear. I’m assuming that not everybody else feels that way. But I just think that a lot of angry-sounding indie rock is, like, white kids with sort of vague lyrics -- and it’s not that I’m saying anything about whether they’re good, because anyone can write a great song, but sometimes they have to have some feeling fueling that music in order for it to affect on a larger scale.

MTV: What you said just now about all these angry-sounding indie rock dudes -- I think what was cool about your record was that it doesn’t sound angry. It's really catchy, despite some of the subject matter.

Dupuis: It’s kinda not angry... optimistic, I guess. I think it’s like cognizant of darkness, but the overall message is about working past those things -- so, cool, I’m glad it doesn’t sound dark to you!

MTV: Despite that, you have some a lot of songs that deal with issues like rape and how women are treated in this world. Like in 'My Dead Girl' -- I heard it was about a scary experience you had with drunk dudes trying to get into your car?

Dupuis: We live in a world where at least 20% of the women you know are going to experience sexual assault in their lives -- and I have many friends who in a drunken moment will share these horrifying stories that have happened. But it’s still a shameful thing to talk about. It’s obviously important to protect yourself and to feel safe with whoever you talk to, but I think it’s important to call these things out and to continue to rally against the rape culture that makes that statistic acceptable.

MTV: How do you usually deal with catcalling and all that?

Dupuis: I’m terrible. I’m always getting into fights with people. But that’s usually when it’s a safe space. If I get catcalled on the street, I’m the person shouting, 'Go f--k yourself,' which is probably not the best approach. I’m not good with not engaging with people who’ve offended me.