Sissy Misfit Is Coming Out of Her Shell

Sissy Misfit Is Coming Out of Her Shell

By Ivan GuzmanJun 06, 2024

An exoskeleton is defined as a skeleton that is on the exterior of an animal to both support the body shape and protect the internal organs. It's a key feature of arthropods, a category of animals that includes insects, spiders and crustaceans. For Sissy Misfit, the concept of an exoskeleton sparked a revelation.

“The more I progressed as a trans girl, I was either forced or willfully building a shield for people to experience,” she tells PAPER. This inspired her debut album EXXXOSKELETON, out tomorrow, a definitive sonic statement that builds on her dark, industrial and screamo-inspired artistry.

The Turkish-born, London-based performer has been making a name for herself in the underground scene for the past seven years with live sets and visuals that have lit up dance floors and dark rooms in the EU and UK. Most recently, her music has caught the attention of Rick Owens, who tapped Misfit as a muse for a Dr. Martens collaboration.

With the new album, she hopes to bring back the golden days of conceptual music videos and explosive femininity in pop. Take lead single “PUSH THE NEEDLE,” for example. In it, she twists and writhes over hardcore gabber beats and otherworldly latex creations. She says her music is very much inspired by early 2010s pop girls, but with Yoko Ono and Nine Inch Nails mixed in — a satisfying combination, if you ask us.

Below, we sit down with Sissy Misfit to discuss her new album, the glory days of MTV and why the dolls are doing it better.

Tell me about EXXXOSKELETON. What can we expect this world to sound like?

The album is a full-on sonic explosion. I can definitely say it sounds spiky to me.

I read that you were inspired by early 2010s pop, which I think is having a nostalgia moment right now.

Yeah, that whole cycle was insane. Honestly, we ate that up really hard. I was growing up on that culture of all these girlies. The Kesha, Gaga, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Katy. Everyone was just coming up with the craziest ideas and everyone was like who can outdo who with the most polished or insane idea out there? It was a really nice time in pop music to personally experience. Imagine a year where the music video for “E.T.” comes out while Gaga’s Born This Way is happening and then you have Kesha doing “Die Young.” It was an explosion of femininity and insane expression.

I really like pop culture as a whole, and I try to be open-minded to what’s happening right now. I hate sounding like a big vibe kill or a hater, but I can’t say that there has been someone who’s excited me in recent times. I mean, the dolls are doing it. SOPHIE, Arca, everything they have done has been top-notch. I think the dolls are keeping that spirit alive. Rest in peace to SOPHIE.

At that time, how were you interacting with this pop culture?

I definitely had a Tumblr. I wasn’t really a huge Tumblr girl, but I was on there. The biggest way I kept up with all the pop culture happening around the world when I was living in Turkey was mostly through music blogs and MTV. We also had MTV Turkey and Dream TV, which is a Turkish version of pop music videos going on television. So it was very media-based. Heavy rotation on television.

Traditional media.

Yeah, exactly.

You've said that music videos are a dead art form. What are some of your favorite music videos and who do you think is doing them really well in the current climate?

In the current climate, I don’t know. But my favorite music videos ever, I have to start with “Marry the Night.” It’s just insanity from the interlude to the choreography and the looks. Also, there’s this Turkish pop star called Hande Yener. Her music videos were huge for me as well. Her video for “Hipnoz.” Madonna’s whole videography, Miley Cyrus’ “Can’t Be Tamed.” Everything with a beautiful, dark edge. It’s fun, but it also has a fashion statement thing going on. It really inspired and grasped me.

Do you think there will be a renaissance of that creative explosion in female pop?

I really hope so. I think the problem is that this renaissance is happening already, especially with trans and queer artists. Unfortunately, the way that people get influenced by and consume art has changed in the worst way possible. So if you're not a freak that spends a lot of time online to pick and find these hidden gems, if you're not going out to see your local scene and what the girls are doing, what the dolls are bringing to the table, I don't know if the labels or the big heads are interested in this world anymore. But I can definitely say, my friends and the artists I know in Turkey, London and Europe as a whole, they've been doing amazing, insane stuff. I think it's happening, but it's unfortunately overshadowed by follower count.

I love the name EXXXOSKELETON. I feel like I learned about that in Biology class or something. What animals have an exoskeleton?

I don’t want to sound dumb, but I think crabs, scorpions, some caterpillars, turtles and some fabulous bugs [laughs]. They’re wearing the most couture exoskeletons out in nature.

What does the idea of an exoskeleton mean to you personally?

It just made sense to me in my little brain that the more I evolved as an artist and as a person, the more I transitioned, the more I progressed as a trans girl, I was either forced or willfully building myself a shield for people to experience. It feels like a whole different set of bones that I have inside of me. Inside of who I am. It's almost like creating a big, strong costume for yourself to wear. But I don't see it as a little coat or a little jacket. I see it more like a big shield of constructed exoskeleton. And this is gonna be my debut album, so I was thinking that it's to introduce that new set of bones I built around myself to the world.

What do you see for the future of Sissy Misfit?

You can never tell with these things. I hate thinking about the future, but what I want to manifest in my heart is performing live. Performing is my biggest joy in life. I really just manifest and envision myself touring as many cities and countries as I can with a show I've created from start to finish. A whole theatrical, immersive experience. As far as the rest, I'm just hoping for the best. Whatever that may be.

Photography: Josephy Delaney