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Spike Fuck

Spike Fuck

Interviewed by
Danielle Street
Tuesday 6th June, 2017 9:48AM

Having literally just landed on New Zealand soil, Melbourne solo artist Spike Fuck will be undertaking a whirlwind three-show tour between Auckland and Wellington this weekend. On the heels of releasing her gut-wrenchingly honest Smackwave EP last year, the intriguing artist has garnered a faithful following (that includes the likes of Californian fashion designer Rick Owens) with her self-described "shoe-horning" of influences that she mashes together in a way that equate to something beautiful, raw and magnetic. In an effort to get further acquainted with Spike Fuck we sent her a few questions and in true fashion, she let us right in....

UTR: Hi Spike Fuck! First off for those unfamiliar, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

So first off, my name is Spike Fuck and as the question of my real name comes up quite often - yep, it’s my real name insofar that’s its the name I use in everyday life and what people refer to me by. I’m a musician by trade; as in I made an EP a few years back that I released mid-last year and have been performing it for the last two years or so… it’s helped me to support myself financially by performing and selling merch whilst I explore other facets of my practice (video is my current obsession, I also do shit graffiti and occasionally make things with my hands). I suppose it’s what people know me for and how people first connect with me. The EP is called “Smackwave” and I never really expected it to take off like it did and to tell you the truth, couldn’t tell you exactly why it made as much of an impact as it did; but at least in Melbourne, where I’m from/live, I’ve managed to make somewhat of a name for myself as a rock n’ roll star if you wanna put it that way ;) Also, I’m currently in the process of transitioning but find my gender to be only a small part of who I am and I only say it as an afterthought really… It’s something I’ve been open about in the past but currently feel better keeping that side of things to myself; it allows me to better know myself without outside influence/pressure and I think I’m more confident in who I am and where I’m going (in that sense) than ever before.

How old were you when you discovered your love for making music?

Creatively speaking, I actually found myself making and editing videos before anything else… I used to make little documentaries on whatever I was into at the time. I made one on Disney when I was probably 10 or 11 and made Jackass style vids in my teens (as one does). Music was always an important part of my life though and was lucky enough to have two older brothers who got me into good music pretty early… punk shit mainly. So I guess I always had the DIY spirit of being able to make anything on little to no budget; you know, just grab something and go. Or see what my mates had access to and go with that. But as for music, first proper piece I wrote was this really earnest - I guess you’d call it “protest rock/folk” - when I was around 17 and was really into hippie shit; especially (Bob) Dylan. As a punk. hippies are kinda like your mortal enemies but I had been listening to all that 60s pop stuff all along… So this was like my first coming out in a way… I then started a psychedelic rock band with my two best friends (one that kinda lost his mind to psychedelics; the other is still my best friend) called “We Sell Soul” after the 13th Floor Elevators song. I wrote a concept album called “Brother”. It only lasted a year or so; I learned after that I don’t *do* bands.

The songs you write deal with a lot of heavy subject matter… did you always write like that or was there a turning point where you thought “fuck it” and let it all loose?

To answer that question, I’ll just say I wrote a short story which won a state prize that involved the main character dying in the end. So yeah, I tended to err on the dark side of things; even as a young’un. And also I guess my main focus academically speaking was writing (I spent six years doing a three year undergrad majoring in Creative Writing so you do the math) but I just couldn’t handle the uni structure. I was also really into poetry and spoken-word for a few years leading up to getting hooked on heroin so the way the lyrics for Smackwave came out were honest and quite literal and straight-up. I find that music and maybe some conceptual art are the only art forms that seem to rely really heavily and sometimes exclusively on symbolism and metaphor and to me I thought delivering something raw and uncompromising (especially dealing with dark subject matter) through pop music was something fresh and *hopefully* original… Maybe it’s because pop music has a wider reach and if people are too honest they leave themselves open to critique. But I wasn’t really in a state to be thinking about what other people *might* think (plus I wasn’t in any kind of scene so I didn’t think it would have much of a reach anyway) so yeah, I thought “fuck it” I think this is good, I think it’s kinda funny too; with the concept behind the music it was just something I thought I’d try my hand at… But I mean, even working with one of my best friends - producer Elliot Munn - singing the lyrics in front of him made me squirm and my first few performances I was super timid. Now I’m either screaming at the audience or bored to be honest. That’s why I had to mix it up with my new track.

What’s one piece of life advice you would give to anyone?

Haha, I’m flattered that you would ask that… I’ve noticed this thing with people who are into my shit, they think I’ve got some sort of answer or I’m enlightened or know what they should do about their drug habit or mental health but honestly, the older I get the more I realise I don’t know what the hell is going on. I’ve had some pretty intense experiences with people into my stuff and people coming up to me after shows basically going “help me” - and I’d love to; I really really would - and I did try in the beginning; but it just got all too much and I found that having people lay all their shit on me just made me kinda regress. I fell back into heroin whilst performing Smackwave and so I was in this weird spot where people kinda saw me as advocating for recovery yet doing smack in the bathroom after the show… I felt like a fraud. But if I had one piece of advice? A bit over one year off heroin, I would say never let anyone put their worldview onto you and NEVER buy into any ideology. My parents would always tell me never talk politics amongst friends but these days our identities ARE political or at least assumed to be… Like me; people see “Spike - trans - possibly queer - ex-junkie, etc.” and project a whole set of beliefs onto me. And for a while I let that happen but recently I’ve felt compelled to express my views - not absolutely cause I’m still figuring shit out and change my mind on things sometimes daily - but I’m just sick of staying quiet “cause it’s easier”. So I try and do it via Instagram stories with a bit of levity. I just think people are too serious these days… So yeah, just don’t take shit too seriously, have a laugh and don’t let anyone tell you what you believe or who you are is invalid (also never ever buy into any ideology wholesale). Be skeptical of anything or anyone who claims they have an answer to life or your problems.

You have described your sound as “smackwave”, has this drawn negative remarks due to the perception of romanticising drug use? How do you respond to that?

So yeah, speaking of expressing my views via Instagram - I’ve actually gotta admit this question got to me. Just cause it *has* been asked in the past or at least alluded to; and no I don’t believe anyone who knows me or what I’m about/has listened to the EP understands that my intent was never ever to glamourise drugs; particularly heroin. “Smackwave” as a name was a joke to begin with but it stuck and I think it works…. But to go on record - I hate drugs; especially smack - it’s dominated my life and taken people from me who I loved. If you only listen to the first two minutes of my EP (“Junkie Logic”) you’ll hear me sing “I got three friends that died from constant drug use” (the toll is even higher now) so I feel like it’s pretty clear what I think about all of that. I had two big stints with heroin and it’s still affecting me to this day (loss of years, friends, money, experiences, still on maintenance therapy) so that’s a total of seven years - my entire adult life - dominated by this one thing. It sucks but I feel like I’m making up for lost time now so…. So if someone would read the EP as that they weren’t listening. So fuck drugs. Fuck heroin. Basically.

Recently you released your video for ‘Greatest Hits Suicide Party’ (great song by the way!!), can you tell us a little bit about putting that together?

Oh my God, so that track alone took up at least a good 6 months of solid daily work… The song initially started as a half song/half spoken word performance piece I did at a gallery in Melbourne called Westspace. I then started crafting it into more of a classic song structure late last year and it literally took 20 - 30 demos, three different producers, more money than I would’ve liked to have spent and just some real blood, sweat and tears to finish. I’d say I can’t remember working as hard on anything else as I did on that track… And the video turned out to be a big part of that work too. My debut as an auteur; writing, directing and editing. Initially I was going to just write another EP; except making it country this time; but after releasing the song and the video more-or-less simultaneously I feel like I said what I wanted to say with it (moving away from certain themes and obviously going in a new direction). So lately I feel like this sense of accomplishment similar to the last release. I feel like the single and video are a body of work in and of itself so I kinda feel like I can chill for a bit and pursue other interests; perform, make videos and/or do nothing. Until I get that spark of creativity in a musical direction again… I don’t ever want to force it.

That particular song is a little bit of a different sound from your last EP, and features steel pedal from Graham Lee of The Triffids. How did you guys connect?

As for Graham Lee, first off The Triffids are like royalty to me so that in itself was huge. But the way it came about was really quite ordinary; I needed a pedal-steel to make the song really authentically country (authenticity and specificity are number one priorities for me) and he was one of the only people in Melbourne/Australia to own and be able to play one! They’re really complicated things to play and really cumbersome as well so through my manager we got him to lay down two parts and basically the producer (my good friend Dave O’Conner, also a great musician) spliced the parts up as we saw fit and peppered it throughout the song. I never met him or even heard his voice. I don’t even know if he liked how the song turned out! I should probably ask him…

Your sound ~ and aesthetic ~ seem to weave together influences from all different corners of sub-culture. Could share some of the music that has inspired you over the years?

So yeah, I guess aesthetic is really important to what I do. I feel like the fact I only have four (only just recently five) songs out there goes to show that it has to be more than just music that’s making people look twice. Which I love. Because even though I play a certain type of music, I don’t let it stop me from say, dressing a certain way or expressing myself through Instagram or video work or whatever as I said. But basically I just get really obsessed with something for a period of time and that’s all I want to talk about and will (try to) channel it and then I’ll drop it and move onto the next; but still retaining some essence of each obsession. You were kind in the way you phrased the question saying I “weaved” influences together but in reality, I feel like it’s more a “mashing” or “shoe-horning” of influences and aesthetics together… Like right now for example, I’m guess I’m mainly really into - I don’t even know what you’d call it - I guess like Trump-supporter, MAGA redditty-troll/meme culture and I like to play with elements of that. I had five red baseball caps made with “SPIKE FUCK GREATEST HITS” in white lettering. That draws some stern looks and even inspired one passionate leftist to grab my head to make sure I wasn’t *really* wearing a Trump hat. I don’t know - I guess I like that symbols can elicit such a visceral and physical reaction from some people… I guess it also plays into the who “what side are you on” thing. I’m not a Trump supporter, not that it matters, but I think the left could learn a thing or two from the right (a bit of humour/levity perhaps) but I guess I felt it was a good way to say, “who cares what you believe; as long as you’re nice and don’t hurt anyone else, you do you!” I don’t know, I guess this “new direction” of mine is speaking my mind without reservation; even if I don’t know what I’m talking about half the time.

If there was one artist, dead or alive, who you could spend the day with who would it be?

I don’t think I’d really be into meeting my idols… I have had brushes with people I’ve looked up to in the past and it generally ends in disappointment or even turns me off them. It’s actually sorta happening IRL when I get back to Australia; I’m supporting someone I really look up to (Kirin J Callinan) and although I’m totally chuffed and feel like it’s both an honour and benchmark in a way, I’m kinda nervous cause I’m not the best at clubs and bars and stuff; especially if I’m dong a show… So if I met my hero/es I would be worried I would be underwhelming and would be trying to make a good impression most of the time. But also, I’m a big proponent of not getting caught up in the perceptions of others (you learn that pretty quick and hard as a trans person). I’m gonna quote (I think) Hank Williams and say “don’t be lonesome for your heroes; be your own hero”.

You’re coming to New Zealand this week! What are you looking forward to the most and what’s next on the cards for Spike Fuck?

So yeah! I’m literally typing out the answers to these questions sitting on a plane on the way to Auckland. So just to give you a quick rundown, I got a gig this Saturday night on K Road for Borderline Fest and then off to Wellington for a gig at Pyramid Club with WOMB and SUNGRL, then back to K Road for a farewell show @ Audio Foundation with Ducklingmonster, Ragged Veins and lskse_. After that, I’ll be playing in Melbourne with Dave O’Connor (both in his band slapping bass as well as a supporting act) then Sydney with Kirin J Callinan and the following day a Paradise Daily Record store launch…. (breath in) THEN I’ll be flying to Tassie to play Dark Mofo with Pussy Riot which is pretty exciting! All before June 20 when I fly to Europe for three months to kick back and play a few shows here and there, finally New York and then back to Melbourne by late-September! So busy busy! But as I learned in N/A, “one day at a time”. I just want to keep creating and pursuing my obsessions and not feel pressured to express myself in one way or another though… I think this trip to Europe will be a good excuse for a bit of a hiatus.

Spike Fuck

Saturday 3rd June, Borderline Music Festival, Whammy, Auckland
Monday 5th June, Pyramid Club, Wellington w/ Womb + Sungrl
Wednesday 7th June, Audio Foundation, Auckland w/ Ducklingmonster, Ragged Veins + lskse

Tickets To Borderline Festival are available HERE, and tickets to other shows can be found HERE and in-store at the usual outlets


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