The Incomplete Gossip File!

16 Jun

51M260MPDHLGet Down and Go with the Gossip’s Beth Ditto

Editor’s note: These questions were sent circa 2006, right as The Gossip became uber bluesy disco-punk icons. LOTD was a simple website by then, and Ditto never replied, so here is a one-sided conversation that at least shows LOTD’s focus and quest for insight. True archival fare.

1. If the new song “Jealous Girls” on the KRS sample Otis’ Opuses is any indication, the new album will be a much more hi-fi affair than even the last one. On the Gossip studio diaries you mention that Lionel Ritchie had recorded at the same studio and the boys from Built to Spill were around, loaning guitars. Yet, looking at past interviews, the Gossip once decried the Hives for being too “slick.” Are you worried that long time fans might feel you’ve gone a bit soft at all? And what happened to that really soft solo soul record you once pondered?

2. Over the years, critics and fans have noted the Gossip’s ties to black music, whether it was gospel, blues, or even Tina Turner and Lisa Kekaula from the Bellrays. In fact, the American University on-line web site said that your “vocal chords and emotional prowess invoke Etta James.”  Now, add to those links your connection to Arkansas, land of Bill Clinton, who some people call the first black President. Whether or not you feel the connection made by people is right, it is there nonetheless. Yet, I have never really read very much in interviews about the power and potency of black music on the band. Without just naming influences or the easy to wield ideas, can you talk about black music as you see it in terms of the Gossip? For instance, the philosopher W.E.B. DuBois once suggested that, simply said, American music is black music.

3. You once told a writer that in Arkansas, in your hometown town sitting in the shadow of Wal-Mart, in a single-mother home, with an early punk attitude, that being 10 is almost like being 16, because you grow up so fast. Now that you’ve grown older, you really seem to have identified with your mother, who would sometimes stay up with you until 5:00 in the morning working on projects, and have even had her join you on stage when in Little Rock because she herself is a singer who never got a chance. Is that where your feminism comes from, not necessarily liberal Olympia and text books but from something very homegrown?

4. Your body type is not exactly one that tends to be celebrated, and in fact the news media tends to talk about an epidemic of obesity, yet black star Queen Latifah shows that bigger is beautiful. In the past, you’ve mentioned that one of the reasons Olympia was appealing was because it was welcoming, and in a sense queer culture was too. Yet, while queer men’s culture does have “bears” and large figureheads such as Gary Floyd of the Dicks and Randy Biscuit Turner of the Big Boys, I tend to think that queer male culture is alarmingly fascistic in terms of bodies. Do you think that bi-sexual or gay women approach the issue very differently, and why?

To read the full set of questions, please visit Left of the Dial here.

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