This Bird Has Flown: A Conversation with Speedy Ortiz
Breaking into the scene in 2011, Speedy Ortiz has made rather large splashes in the music scene. Comparisons to 90’s alt rock abound, Speedy Ortiz proves indie guitar rock is not dead, and Sadie makes it clear their influences go way beyond Pavement. Playing one night at Thalia Hall with Hop Along, Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis was kind enough to talk to us about music, birds, and mixtapes (and Pavement).
TMB: So you started off as a solo artist?
SD: I was in bands, I had a side project thing, stuff I played everything on, but I never played any shows solo or anything. Definitively, not much of a solo artist. Would if I could!
TMB: Do you have collaborators? Or do you write most of the music?
SD: I write mostly by myself and we sort of figure out how to play it.
TMB: What have you been listening to lately?
SD: What’s on the tour playlist?
TMB: Yeah, what’s on the tour playlist.
SD: Well, Hop Along, obviously, every night, been seeing them. We’re about to start a tour with The Good Life and Tancred right after this. And as far as totally new releases, this band Cadet Kelly just put out a single I really like in the past week or so.
TMB: What is the best advice you would give for somebody starting out as a band right now?
SD: I think depending on what you wanna do, just doing a lot of it is a good way to go.
TMB: You get better at it the more you do it?
SD: Yeah, if you wanna be in a band with your friends, you practice a bunch, try to book some tours, and whether or not they go well you still get the experience of touring. Or if you are interested in working things out as a songwriter, try to practice a little every day. Writing something new everyday is a good way to go.
TMB: What was the first record you ever bought?
SD: My shoe sandal broke so I’m just very awkwardly gripping my sandal to my foot. Tape will not work.
TMB: You need a shoe tailor for the band.
SD: Yeah, turns out nobody will do that. The first record I ever bought with my own money? It was Let’s Face It by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and it was a CD.
TMB: Have you ever met any fans named Ortiz that ran really fast?
SD: Yeah, it was David Ortiz… ha. Just kidding. I have never seen any of our fans run, and hopefully I will never have any cause to. Unless they are participating in a cool torch carrying race. Running out of a rock club generally is not a good sign.
TMB: Yeah, you don’t really want to be running out of a rock club. Okay, so if you’re making a mix tape, the first song. The most important song? Do you think about it really hard?
SD: Nah. Should be good all the way through .
TMB: But you don’t think the first song needs to be like, special?
SD: I like to do an intro song…. Keep it short. Or you could just punish your listener with a 9 minute song to start… like, see how much you really like me to get through this mix.
TMB: Yeah, I like that idea.
SD: Do you?
TMB: Kind of.
SD: You wouldn’t want a mix like that. If someone gave me a mix of a 9 minute song, I’d be like, forget this, bye.
TMB: Exactly, but that’s the beauty of it.
SD: Yeah you tell someone…
TMB: You should have listened to that mix! Haha. Do you have a favorite bird?
SD: A favorite bird? I don’t know, I’m partial to like, gross city animals. So I like pigeons. seagulls.
TMB: Wow, you really do like gross city animals!
SD: Haha no, I’m kidding. My first word was bird, so I should have a better answer than this. I went to Iceland this year, and people eat puffin meat. I’m gonna save Puffins just so I can stick up for them. Isn’t that sad? Apparently they’re very gamey, but they eat fermented shark meat there too, whale fat, is like a big delicacy. All kinds of things that seem ethically dicey are like normal fair in Iceland.
TMB: I heard that you are a big Pavement fan. Is that true? Do you have a favorite Pavement record?
SD: I like Wowee Zowee.
TMB: Me too! Why Wowee Zowee?
SD: It’s like the White Album of Pavement.
TMB: It’s totally the White Album of Pavement.
SD: And The White Album is my fave Beatles album.
TMB: Of course.
SD: Is that like the nerdiest, most boring answer?
TMB: No, that’s a great answer.
SD: I love Wowee Zowee. It’s got some of my faves on it too.
TMB: Everyone always says Crooked Rain (Crooked Rain), so I’m glad you said Wowee Zowee.
SD: Crooked Rain is like, if I had to rank them, I guess I’d pick Crooked Rain as second fave. I love Terror Twilight. I guess Brighten the Corners is my least favorite, but I like them all.
TMB: Me too. I like the early stuff, like the real kind of…
SD: Like Watery Domestic?
TMB: Yeah, all like the real gritty raw guitar stuff…
SD: The stuff that sounds like Swell Maps? Haha… I shouldn’t say that. I did an interview with… we wound up touring with the Jicks, and before that happened I did an interview with Steve for NME and he basically said, I hated when people said we sounded like Swell Maps, and (he) didn’t hear it, so I’m not gonna say that ya’ll sound like Pavement. You sound like a rock band, in the lineage of rock. Cool. Phew. You’re not gonna sue me. Hahaha.
TMB: I really like your records, the new one especially.
SD: Thanks, I really like that one too. And I get like pissed when people buy the old ones at the merch table. Hahaha. I’m like, get this one instead. It’s better.
TMB: So, you’re sound….I guess some people decided it was akin to a 90’s sound or something, or maybe..
SD: They do like to say that… I mean, you just asked me about Pavement.
TMB: I did ask you about Pavement…so there is some kind of influence going on there, right? Is that intentional or just what you end up playing?
SD: I don’t know… nobody every asks us about… I mean, there are other influences that are just as extreme that we don’t get asked about as much. But basically the guitar loud distorted instrumentation, sort of lends itself to people immediately saying 90’s, even though that is not necessarily the first influence.
TMB: I think it’s like, your vocals are great… you have a really interesting way of singing. Okay… I should really be asking you questions and not telling you how much I like your vocals. 90’s indie rock vs 2000’s indie rock….?
SD: What bands are we talking about?
TMB: Yeah, fuck, what bands are we talking about?
SD: Ah, we can cuss in this interview? Fuck. Fuck yeah.
TMB: Yeah, I’ll just…. I’ll edit it out.
SD: Oh, so I’m making work for you.
TMB: No no no no no….I won’t edit it out if we play it on the air… wait, the other way around. Okay, let’s get back on track here. So indie rock has changed a lot since the 90’s and 80’s, I feel like the evolution is kind of weird and gotten electronic-y, and combining a lot of different elements. Is there going to be an electronic Speedy Ortiz record that gets all bleepy and glitchy?
SD: Hmm… probably not. I just made a solo pop album, like bedroom pop style, I wanted to play a million synths, so here’s my outlet for that. Certainly, we went a little bit minorly in that direction on the last record, and there were synths and keyboards and triggered drums, like we just put out some remixes, and that wouldn’t have been able to happen based on what the first record sounded like. And the next record, I’ve done some demos for it. We got to take our time more on the second record, which meant we got to experiment more and try out different styles that wouldn’t have been possible on the first record because we did the first record in like four days. The next record we’re planning on taking more time with.
TMB: What questions do you get asked the most in interviews?
SD: Do I like pavement?
TMB: Really? Damn. I was like, I heard she likes Pavement, I’ll ask her about her favorite album, I guess it seems kind of obvious now…
SD: Did you? Because I was in a Pavement cover band. People always ask that, someone put it in our Wikipedia… we did like, 2 shows.
TMB: I feel like that would be so difficult…
SD: It was called Babement.
TMB: Ah, that’s great! You should totally try to get that back together.
SD: We tried… but everyone is in other bands.
TMB: Fuck those other bands.
SD: Right? I should quit this band.
TMB: You should.
SD: We should just not play Thalia Hall tonight.
TMB: You shouldn’t. You should have Babement open for Speedy Ortiz.
SD: Ah, when we were touring with The Jicks, we did a Pavement song with them, and I sang it. I sang like, backing vocals.
TMB: Cool, what song?
SD: In The Mouth of A Desert
TMB: Ah, that’s a good one.
SD: It was good.
TMB: I’m a little jealous.
SD: Yeah, those were the glory days.
TMB: Thanks for talking to us!
Speedy Ortiz are playing Pittsburgh and Louisville in July, check out their tour schedule and listen to / purchase their music HERE.