LustSickPuppy: A 'Shape-Shifting Sex Canine From Outer Space'

LustSickPuppy: A 'Shape-Shifting Sex Canine From Outer Space'

Story by Justin Moran / Photography by Yulissa Benitez

LustSickPuppy says she wants to "disarm" her audience and "warp their reality" through music — a mission that fully comes to fruition in the New York artist's new "Goatmeal" music video.

In it, she poses as a senior citizen — albeit poorly disguised with facial prosthetics, noncommittal acting and a frizzy grey wig — who unveils her cookie recipe with the special ingredient, Goatmeal. What begins as a stiff, DIY Paula Deen-type "cooking experience" erupts into a chaotic fever dream with fake blood, butcher knives, McDonalds mukbangs and thrashing choreo all set to Machine Girl's hardstyle production.

"It's really easy to be a baddie," LustSickPuppy says of the disorienting Steven Bartashev-directed visual. "But it's so much fun being a deranged old woman who likes to rave and eat McDonalds.

This same energy is carried throughout LustSickPuppy's Cosmic Brownie EP, out now, with six tracks she "needed to release" in order to have "internal peace" and a "deep exhale." Much like "Goatmeal," her debut project is a confident assertion of LustSickPuppy's singular approach to making art.

"She is the bite on your neck, the goosebumps on your skin, the tightness in your jeans and the fear in your heart," LustSickPuppy says of her stage persona, always aiming to juxtapose cuteness with something "slightly disturbing" through her sound and visuals. Cosmic Brownie aptly opens by sampling Patti Page's ultra-sweet 1952 romp, "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" and almost immediately descends into madness when the doggie in question attacks ("Don't you dare touch me," a woman shrills amidst ferocious dog barks).

"Orientation" then sounds like TNGHT's evil step sister with LustSickPuppy declaring, "I'm pissin' on your grave," while "Dumb" repeatedly warns that she'll "dance on you." Her lust for campy horror continues with "Graveyard Smash," which samples The Munsters' iconic theme song and imagines an orgy for "creatures of the night." Finally, "Flesh Chunk" is LustSickPuppy's "boiling point," with ear-splitting screams and a self-produced instrumental that sounds like a mad scientist's final round of experiments before blowing up the entire lab.

LustSickPuppy, who refers to herself as a "shape-shifting sex canine from outer space," talked with PAPER about growing up in "pre-gentrified" Crown Heights, creating without limitations and collaborating on her breakout project, below.

What's the story behind your name?

LustSickPuppy originated in the height of my promiscuity. I was young and generally turned off by the idea of being gushy and in love because boys were stupid and sex was easy. I liked the idea of being a sex symbol while also being cute and unobtainable. I love rejecting boys, honestly, especially when approached disrespectfully by someone who thinks they're being complimentary. I've had a number of selfish lovers that would not care about my pleasure, but would be so willing to receive it from me.

At a certain point these lovers started to look weak and pathetic. I needed to take complete control of my sexual journey because so much of it felt like I was giving control to others and typically being disappointed. I love seeing my partners beg and squirm and pant.

That's what makes my music and stage performance so intimate. I am inviting an audience to see me raw, bruised, loved and hated. Writing music about all my shitty experiences with lovers, relationships and whatever else allows for me to be vulnerable and seen. It is the relationship of how I present to the world and how I really feel about myself. LustSickPuppy is the embodiment of "you want me, but you do not deserve me." She is the bite on your neck, the goosebumps on your skin, the tightness in your jeans and the fear in your heart.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in pre-gentrified Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I got tough skin growing up and having to be resourceful. My neighborhood was filled with local churches, chicken spots and liquor stores. Growing up, you couldn't walk up Franklin Avenue by yourself at night. A lot of the time I felt like I was never going to be able to exist in peace in my own skin. I've been getting catcalled since I was like 13. My friends growing up forced me to not be soft. I hung out around the boys because there were too many rules being a girl — couldn't wear certain clothes, couldn't be out at a certain time, couldn't do your hair or your makeup a certain way. I was tired of feeling like I had to live in fear because the men around me were uncontrollable.

There would be so many rap cyphers happening around me. I was never joining them, but always had a love for free styling and rap and would go home and write my own. I was a raw ass kid growing up too fast. I was often with the wrong people, acting like I wasn't scared because I didn't want to be seen as weak. I was putting notches on my belt for experiences I didn't need to have because I wanted to be exposed to as much life as possible, idiot.

How has Crown Heights impacted your work today?

That's the greatest thing about New York: there's a million ways to get into trouble. Those experiences developed me into who I am and I learned a lot from my stupid mistakes. Crown Heights is known for the Labor Day Parade each year. That to me is a big part of Brooklyn Culture because it is a celebration of different Black identities, music and dance coming together for a day of celebration. Although I am not Caribbean, a lot of the music I grew up around was from those cultures. All of my teachers, caretakers and most of my friends were West Indian. It has influenced the way I speak and the way I make music.

In middle school, you had to know how to buss a wine or you were getting laughed at for not knowing how to dance, and that was not about to be my story. Listening to dancehall artists growing up really made me love dance in a different way. I love how raunchy and honest the lyrics are, combined with the jitter of slow and fast beats. I want all my music to be unabashed. I never want to censor what I want to say and always reflect how I'm feeling without hesitation.

Who are some of the key collaborators on Cosmic Brownie?

When I first started producing I was collaborating with a friend Alex Friedman (@fr3ee3dom on Instagram). I would send him a scratch version of a song I made and he'd send me back a more developed reworking and we'd build it together. Although I write all of my lyrics, Alex guided me with my production and acted as a voice of encouragement for me to do music with such rigorous intent.

I've also collaborated with the producer Machine Girl (@machin3gir1 on Instagram) on a couple of tracks. We worked on my song "Goatmeal" over a year ago and shot the music video for it back in October, way before its release in May 2020. Because Cosmic Brownie was my first project with two different producers other than myself, there's a lot of different sounds on there. I may do more collaborations in the future, but for now I'm more focused on developing my sound to reflect who I am as a musician.

Do you have a fixed approach to music-making?

My process is either me writing a fire ass song and then building the beat around that or just creating a song from scratch and then worrying about the lyrics later. There really is no fixed approach because if I started planning too much I would lose my mind. Sometimes I'll be laying in bed at 3 AM and decide to start working on a song and then will work on that song until 9 AM. I get pretty fixated when I'm enjoying what I'm doing and will end up doing that thing until I physically can't anymore. Sometimes I'll wake up and the first thing I'll do is open a project before I eat, shit or wipe the crust from my eyes. If I'm really into how something is coming out, it becomes my world. I like to ride the motivation train when it comes because sometimes the ride is short and rare.

Is there a track on the EP that you feel best reflects your sound?

"Flesh Chunk" is the song I personally love the most. It was made during quarantine and is one of the two songs on the EP completely made by me. I like this song the most because its energy is the boiling point that all of the songs before it build up to. Because it was made a year after the rest, it's a more accurate representation of who I am right now as an artist. My music will always have aspects of multiple genres, but I love how strong my voice sounds on this song.

How do you describe your sound?

I like songs that lack specific structures; I try to capture that in my music, as well. I don't really like choruses and don't think melodies have to repeat. I really want my music to be free of expectation. I feel like my brain is complete nonsensical chaos in a pair of cool sunglasses giving off the illusion that everything is chill. Sometimes when I'm making a song and it's getting crazy, it feels like I've been possessed and the song is the manifestation of my subconscious' message to this realm. One thing I really like about my music is that it's all pretty genre-less. I love watching people nitpick and decipher what category to put it in, but it truly doesn't matter. I'm just having fun, and I'm going to create without limitations and let people decide what they want to do with it on their own.

What's your favorite lyric on the EP?

My favorite lyric is on "DUMB:"

You picked the wrong bitch to fuck with
I don't give a fuck bitch, you can suck my dick bitch
Here's a tip bitch, run ya mouth into a ditch bitch
Before you talk shit, gimme a kiss bitch
You need some blistex?

It's a mantra, it's a way of life.

"Graveyard Smash" samples The Munsters theme song. Does that have any special significance for you?

I used to watch TVLand as a kid and always loved The Addams Family and The Munsters simply because they were spooky shows. Wednesday Addams was a huge style inspo for me and I used to wear my hair in two braids because of her. I didn't want to use The Addams Family theme song because it would have been too cliché in my opinion and was more curious to see how a song would develop over The Munsters' theme. Halloween was and is my favorite Holiday, and "Monster Mash" was my absolute favorite Halloween-themed song growing up. There is a line in the song that goes, "It was a graveyard smash," and as I was writing my song I was like, "Oooh yes, an orgy, but spooky." So I wanted to write a song about all the freaks and weirdos and creatures of the night coming out for a ball and getting sweaty, bloody and nasty together on the dance floor.

How are you staying creative in quarantine? Is it challenging or liberating?

The beginning of quarantine felt like I had to rush and stay active to help pass the time and ease the tension caused by the state of the world. That feeling soon dwindled into this pit of depression and lack of creative motivation. There have been so many layers of panic and worry throughout the year that make it hard not to lethargic. However, having so much free time does take the edge off the creative process.

Before when I was playing like three, four shows a month, I'd always want to put new music into my sets. I wanted each show to be fresh and different from the last, which meant I was working on songs up until the hour before the show. But now that it's just me and my computer, I can sit down and work on things or not work on things. I enjoy having the time to take space from a project and come back to it and allow it to grow naturally. It's been sad because I love to pull looks and get dropped in a pit and yell at people, and now these performances have been a private show for the ghosts in my room. I've been taking time to reflect on what's really important to me in terms of my artistry. Right now it's important for me to not rush anything. There's so much going on that's larger than me and I want what I make to be healing for me at this time.

How important is personal style in relation to your music? Where do you find inspiration fashion-wise?

LustSickPuppy is a shape-shifting sex canine from outer space. I'd best describe her as cute and slightly disturbing. I love glitter and blood, so you're getting both of those. I take on many forms depending on my mood and appetite. My music is a reflection of that. It acts as a warning to proceed with caution. When I perform my makeup looks typically bounce between puppy paint or a smiley face — both because they are non-threatening and a huge juxtaposition to the music. It's meant to disarm the audience and warp their reality with what's about to happen. It's like when you go to pet a dog and it bites your hand off and then sits there being cute with your bloody disembodied hand in its mouth. I want people to step into my world, so I will present them with a character from that universe. I love this combo of cute mixed with dark and scary.

As a performer I am providing a new experience to the audience and it should feel that way. Some people do that with just their music, but I'm also a makeup artist and have been doing crazy looks since I was clubbing hard 5 years ago. So, of course, those aspects are making its way into my stage presence, as well. I want to represent all aspects of myself as an artist. Coming up with the idea for the "Goatmeal" music video was easy because I always knew I wanted to do some sort of wild makeup look. It's really easy to be a baddie, but it's so much fun being a deranged old woman who likes to rave and eat McDonalds. I really love the creativity involved in early 2000s music videos. There was this air of transformation that allowed for these songs to take you on a wild journey. I also want to do that. I want people to come to a performance and be like, "What the fuck was that?"

Photography: Yulissa Benitez