Poppy Breaks Down New Album 'Am I A Girl?' And Says She Was 'Bullied' By Grimes

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Who is Poppy? Is she a lady? Is she okay? Is she a collective fever dream?

Fans and critics love to invest in regards to the world behind Poppy's curtain. The singer-songwriter, actress and web persona turned well-known a collection of irreverent and unsettling YouTube movies she makes with director Titanic Sinclair. Often set to a soundtrack of brooding organs or synthesizers, the movies vary from five-second clip of her asking “Is Santa racist?” to a 10-minute recording of her merely saying “I’m Poppy” time and again. Her vacant stare and girlish demeanor conjure each a way of childlike innocence and existential dread, but she’s garnered greater than 385 million views since 2011 in addition to the eye of Diplo’s Mad Decent label, to which she’s signed.

Poppy’s lofty second album, Am I A Girl?, launched on Halloween, conjures up extra questions than solutions in regards to the Poppy undertaking and what it represents. The information’ 14 tracks vary from slick synth-pop to crunchy nu-metal, whereas its lyrics vary from the inane to the philosophical. Poppy says her curiosity in exploring the depth's of cultural shallows (and vice versa) comes from society’s personal obsession with what’s on the floor.

“[I'm inspired by] Hollywood and self-importance and the way in which individuals are so fast to guage whenever you first meet them, within the first few seconds,” Poppy, 23, says on the telephone. A slight and occasional Southern twang gives the one trace of the human behind the character. Poppy was born Moriah Rose Pereira in Boston and spent her teenage years in Nashville earlier than shifting to Los Angeles, although she sometimes speaks within the third particular person and says she’s from the web. “I feel it's fascinating,” she continues. “I examine it in a method. Living in Hollywood, it's all over the place, so it's cool to investigate — properly, not cool. It's attention-grabbing to investigate. I feel individuals ought to do this. I feel they need to speak much less and hear extra.”

Am I A Girl?, the follow-up to final yr’s Poppy.Computer, is a byproduct of her California life. Poppy initially wrote and recorded materials in Japan, however after arriving again in L.A., she hit the studio with a variety of producers, from rising EDM stars like Vaughn Oliver, Wax Motif and Aryay to pop heavyweights like Diplo and Ferdinand Garibay. “We simply experimented with sounds,” she says of the latter, greatest recognized for his work with Lady Gaga and Kylie Minogue. “He requested me who I used to be listening to and who I want to triangulate. A number of the music that I used to be listening to was very '80s synth-driven but in addition industrial. We performed lots with industrial-sounding drums, fusing them collectively and creating this poppy, future-esque, style, dance and nu-metal album.”

She additionally labored with Grimes on “Play Destroy,” which she says is one in all her favourite songs on the document regardless of a behind-the-scenes course of she “might have gone with out.”

“I used to be sort of bullied into submission by [Grimes] and her group of self-proclaimed feminists,” she says. “We deliberate the track popping out months in the past, and she or he was stopping it. I acquired to observe her bully songwriters into signing NDA[s] and never taking credit score for songs that they had been part of. She doesn't observe what she preaches. It's actually upsetting to work with a feminine that could be very outward a couple of subject, however behind closed doorways, it's the exact opposite. It's really very disheartening to individuals which are really feminists and supporters of different females.” (Billboard reached out to Grimes’ representatives for remark.)

The album’s lyrical content material is much more bold than her record of collaborators: Am I A Girl? touches on identification, local weather change, classism, fame, the commodification of intercourse and the necessity for approval. The album's title observe addresses gender fluidity (“Sometimes I'm female/ Sometimes I'm masculine/ Don't consider me as girl or man,” she sings) whereas “In a Minute,” pokes enjoyable at gender stereotypes and performative “woke”-ness (“I’ll make up my face in a minute/I’ll reform this state in a minute”). That could all sound like your Twitter feed condensed into an album, however Poppy isn’t thinking about being well timed or topical — if something, she desires to supply a break from the infinite scroll. 

“I hope to assist individuals,” she says. “I hope that I will be the escape that they want when issues appear unimaginable or too powerful. I feel that there must be extra artists that need to be the escape for individuals, for the followers, for the general public. I don't like when individuals speak in regards to the information. I feel it's boring. I feel individuals ought to simply make artwork and let the artwork communicate for itself.”

She makes an exception, nevertheless, for one in all her favourite newsy topics: the valley between synthetic intelligence and humanity — and the way in which expertise is shrinking that hole. It’s on the middle of songs like “Hard Feelings” and lead single “Time Is Up,” which Poppy calls a “dance track in disguise” informed from the attitude of a sentient robotic who pities humanity for its ignorance and mortality. 

“It's essential for me to inform it from that perspective as a result of it is a matter, and it’s a scary factor,” Poppy says. “We've recognized that it's been coming for a really very long time, however no one actually does something about it. They simply know 'Wow, there's extra robots on the earth. Oh, now we have Google and Alexa in our home, and it's actually handy for us,' however they're really taking in all this data. It's not simply going nowhere. It's all going someplace up into the cloud, but it surely's all very helpful data.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly for Poppy, what begins off resembling a critique of the disintegration of privateness quickly turns right into a surreal prediction a couple of robot-driven apocalypse: “I don't have all of the solutions however I do assume that they're taking all of it and utilizing it to program the A.I. robots, and I feel they will take over,” she says. “But you need to, I consider, give up to them and embrace it, as a result of once they get too highly effective they're simply going to attempt to kill these individuals that attempted to go in opposition to them … I don't assume that people can get it again, however they’ll embrace the change and benefit from the time on this planet whereas they're right here, as a result of none of this actually is smart. We're all dwelling on a planet. I take into consideration that lots.”

The finish of Am I A Girl?, a string of three heavy nu-metal tracks, hints at each Poppy’s subsequent sonic chapter — she says she has tons of songs in that type already written for her third album — and that darkish future she teases in dialog. The video for “X,” is complete horror: One second, Poppy resembles a ‘60s flower baby frolicking in fields, espousing world peace; the subsequent, she’s coated in blood, Carrie-style, backed by a masked, ominous steel band. The gamers joined her for her album launch social gathering in Los Angeles. She loved sharing the stage with them a lot that she’s invited them on the highway for her Am I A Girl? Tour, which kicks off in early 2019.

Until then, followers can tide themselves over by becoming a member of Poppy’s “cult,” Poppy.Church, a twisted tackle a fan membership that seems like a cross between a Ryan Murphy creation and a tribute to early Internet boards: Cult members can chat with different customers and preserve customized dwelling pages; to enroll, you simply need to pledge your allegiance and “signal your identify in blood,” which is simply crimson ink. According to Poppy, the positioning has amassed greater than 25,000 members since its launch this previous summer season. “I needed to assemble my followers in a spot that wasn't Instagram or Twitter, one thing that I made myself” she says. “Poppy.Church Is one of the best place for that.”

One day, Poppy hopes the Church can develop into an actual bodily place in L.A. If it occurs, it’ll be the proper praise to her songs and movies — simply one other method she’s blurring the strains between our tangible selves and our digital selves, the actual and the pretend.

Poppy Am I A Girl? North American Tour
Thursday January 31 – 9:30 Club (Washington DC)
Friday February 1 – Theatre of Living Arts (Philadelphia)
Saturday February 2 – Irving Plaza (New York City)
Monday February four – House of Blues (Boston)
Wednesday February 6 – Danforth Music Hall (Toronto)
Thursday February 7 – St. Andrew’s Hall (Detroit)
Friday February eight – House Of Blues (Chicago)
Saturday February 9 – Stage AE (Pittsburgh)
Monday February 11 – Cannery Ballroom (Nashville)
Tuesday February 12 – Buckhead Theater (Atlanta)
Wednesday February 13 – The Orpheum (Tampa Bay)
Friday February 15 – House Of Blues (Dallas)
Saturday February 16 – Emo’s (Austin)
Monday February 18 – Belly Up (Aspen)
Tuesday February 19 – Gothic Theater (Englewood)
Thursday February 21 – The Showbox (Seattle)
Friday February 22 – Wonder Ballroom (Portland)
Saturday February 23 – Senator Theatre (Chico)
Sunday February 24 – Regency Ballroom (San Francisco)
Wednesday February 27 – House Of Blues (San Diego)