Music

Sadie Dupuis Talks Women Producers, Going Solo (for a Month), and Singing About Consent

"It would be the coolest thing if someone told me they made a record at home because of hearing this record," says Sadie Dupuis. The singer-songwriter made a name for herself as the frontwoman of indie rock outfit Speedy Ortiz, but now she's stepped out on her own as Sad13 (which is also her twitter handle) with her debut LP Slugger -- an album she self-produced and made during her time off from touring with the band. "I just wanted to add my name to the list to show other women they can do it too," explains Dupuis.

While Speedy Ortiz's albums center on guitar-heavy grunge rock, Slugger is decidedly a bedroom pop album, featuring thoughtful lyrics and fizzy pop melodies (she listened to a lot of Rihanna and Grimes while making the album). We caught up with Dupuis over vegan food at Toad Style, where she filled us in on making a positive song about consent, working with rapper Lizzo, and what she wants to teach young girls.

Why did you decide to go solo?

I just had a month off, basically. We had been so busy touring all of last year that I hadn't had a month off in years. I had a bunch of voice memos on my phone that I wanted to turn into songs, and they weren't totally appropriate for Speedy [Ortiz]. I used it as an opportunity to make another record. I made this record in January and then went back on tour in February. I mixed it when I had time off.

What inspired you to make Slugger?

Part of it was just wanting to make a solo record and just having time. But I think some of the thematic subjects on it were songs that I wanted to write, but maybe didn't feel would be best represented in Speedy [Ortiz]-- specifically wanting to write a song that talked about consent. I wanted to write it in a straightforward way, but sometimes when you're in a rock band it's not as easy to be super straightforward, especially about a topic that should be positive and gets a negative spin.

What's the biggest difference between your work with Speedy Ortiz and your solo work?

Nobody else is involved in it. It's a lot of synth work and putting six harmonies on everything. I focused on things that my bandmates don't necessarily gravitate towards, so they wouldn't necessarily show up on a Speedy Ortiz record. Also, because it's just me producing it and playing all of the tracks on it, it's layered in a way that we wouldn't really go for with Speedy Ortiz. I was able to have a little bit more fun having the record be it's own thing.

Did collaborating with Lizzo on "Basement Queens" inspire you to go solo?

Yes! I love her. I was a huge fan of her for two years. She did a remix for Speedy Ortiz, and then this thing came up where we wrote a song together. Because she's a classically trained flautist, she definitely writes her music. I never made an instrumental track and waited to see what someone else would put on it. I'd never worked in that mode before.

What were you listening to when you made Slugger?

Rihanna. [Anti] had just come out around the time I was recording. The Grimes record. A lot of the stuff that I got into were women who produced their own pop records. I think that's what inspired me to be like, I could do that too!

Do you think that this is a one-time thing?

It was really fun. I liked working on it. We're working on the next Speedy Ortiz record. I already have ideas for a second Sad13 record if I decide to do it. I have some songs in the works already.

Is there a theme to your debut LP?

There are themes that reoccur. I've never really made a concept record. A lot of the songs are based on my own life and a lot of what's happened in my life in the past few years is about my friendships, supporting my friends, romantic things. A lot of the record is about supporting my friends' work. Also, the universal misery we feel, not as women, but maybe friends who have had similar experiences.

Let's talk about your song that talks about consent, "Get A Yes."

I wanted to do a song like that for a while -- a fun song about consent because I think media portrays it negatively or it's non-existent.

Do you think it will inspire other people to speak out about the idea of consent?

I hope so. I know other punk songs about consent, but I don't really think there are too many positive explorations in media about it. I can't think of a TV show that talks about consent prior to sex in an exciting way. Often, I feel like film and television glamorizes silence when it comes to consent by how they're acting or how they look. I just watched the third season of Transparent and there's a whole scene in it where the male partner keeps asking the female character to do all of these things and the female character gets frustrated and is like, "Stop talking. You don't have to ask." It would be so exciting if they explored that. It could have been sexy. It feels a bit regressive to me.

What do you want to teach young girls that listen to your music?

I named a few women that self-produce as inspiration, but I still think they're pretty rarely represented. When you see the year's best producers, there will be no women. There's representation of women on other sides of the music industry, but the production side is still pretty scarcely populated. I just wanted to add my name to the list to show other women they can do it too. I don't come from a production background. I made a record for almost no money by myself. I think it's comforting to know that people can do that, so you know it's not out of your reach. It would be the coolest thing if someone told me they made a record at home because of hearing this record.


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