Poppy is idiosyncratic, unpredictable, and a gripping creative force. Atwood Magazine spoke with the singular renaissance woman ahead of ‘ZIG,’ her newest musical endeavor (and fifth studio album).
Stream: ‘ZIG’ – Poppy
There are moments of saccharine sweetness and sass, as well as moments of confession and care.
How does one talk about Poppy without weaving a tale of her whole history as an internet enigma, and also sounding like kind of a weirdo in doing so (and arguably I did two and a half years ago)?
In a word, Poppy is a spectacle. Poppy has been a neat capsule of the internet’s nature as something of a show house – manicured but uncanny, a satire of the loathed but envied influencer character. The woman behind Poppy is often decidedly private. But mostly, Poppy is a constantly shifting persona.
Her first brush with viral fame came from her YouTube channel, thatPoppy, a surreal performance art channel that stoked countless threads all wondering the same question: Who, or what is Poppy?
The proximate answer to that question seemed to be “an android, probably” for some time, but creative shifts – and Poppy reasserting her own creative identity – have given the artist a much greater creative latitude, perhaps embodied most in Poppy’s own lyricism and songwriting style. Poppy.Computer was pure electropop, but Am I A Girl? saw Poppy begin to experiment with discordant heavy metal. I Disagree vaulted right over the dipping-your-toes phase into straight into the deep end, bringing grinding industrial metal to her sound with raw, nearly confessional lyrics likely alluding to her former creative partner.
Last year’s Flux was stripped back hard rock, and more lyrically exposed. She is idiosyncratic in the extreme, and between these studio records even released two experimental albums, Music To Scream To and I C U (Music To Read To), as well as a Christmas album, A Very Poppy Christmas. The last you should either spare or subject your family to around the holidays, depending on your feelings towards them.
Earlier this year, Poppy reset her Instagram account and teased “Church Outfit,” formally ushering in this new iteration of Poppy.
Zig, due to release October 27th this year – just in time to provide the soundtrack to all of your Halloween debauchery – lands somewhere between the existing canon. Guitar takes a backseat. Gritty synths dominate while Poppy’s vocals jab the mix like an occult chant on songs like “Church Outfit.” But we’ve experienced dark and gritty Poppy before – more rare are moments of sensuality like “Motorbike” or tenderness as in “Linger.” Poppy remains one of the most conspicuously – and intentionally – evolving artists active right now.
Ahead of this release, Atwood Magazine had an opportunity to interview Poppy about Zig. She talked about new influences (a bevy), swords (iykyk), and where Zig fits into the Poppy canon.
On tour I fall asleep to rain. Sometimes I wake up and feel like I’m drowning.
:: stream/purchase ZIG here ::
:: connect with Poppy here ::
A CONVERSATION WITH POPPY
Poppy: Thank you.
So you just finished up your Goddess/Godless tour ahead of the release of Zig. How did it feel to get to premiere new material to your fans?
Poppy: We were playing 2 of the 11 songs live that are new in our mix, plus my beloved Spit by Canadian Metal Queens Kittie. Which I enjoy playing live.
Your last two albums, while very different, were both guitar centric. The guitars are still there on Zig but feel less in the foreground. Was there anything in particular pulling you in this direction? New production techniques, new influences, etc?
Poppy: Around the time when I was first gathering up my small skeletons of ideas and my collection of percolations for this album I was listening to a lot of dance music. A lot of IDM and British garage, while also exploring more minimal electronic acts that I enjoy. I wanted to make a record I could dance to.
I Disagree was very theatrical, while Flux was relatively unguarded rock. Where do you view Zig in the Poppy canon?
Poppy: Zig is part 1. It’s a high fidelity glossy record that I enjoy. There are moments of saccharine sweetness and sass, as well as moments of confession and care.
Was there a particularly unusual or extreme musical or lyrical decision you made on the album that stands out to you?
Poppy: I wanted to have a few songs in the mix that were candy. I love pop music and I didn’t want to overthink it.
Your relationship to social media as a performance art has evolved dramatically over the course of the last 6-ish years. What kind of intentionality or thought are you bringing to that?
Poppy: Social media is an extension of my project and self but also a disconnection of self. It’s a place where I put my thoughts, messages, and select experiences – viewers can observe it on the web. But I still prefer to keep sides of myself for myself.
Favorite type of sword at the moment? Are you engaged in any sword hobbyism beyond the great aesthetics for Zig?
Poppy: My favorite as of today is a Rapier – I own one and a few long swords. I have taken a few Kenjutsu lessons as of late.
Where there any particular lyrical themes that you saw coming out in Zig?
Poppy: Independence, discordant love, uncertainty, while also self assurance, rigidity, and sensuality poked through.
Are there any artists you’d like to work with in particular? This is usually a cliche question in interviews but I’m especially interested in hearing your thoughts about this because of the sheer bevy of influences (maybe interests is better?) you have.
Poppy: I’d love to work with Penny Slinger, Andre 3000, Nick Cave, Loathe, Michel Gondry
Social media is an extension of my project and self but also a disconnection of self. It’s a place where I put my thoughts, messages, and select experiences – viewers can observe it on the web. But I still prefer to keep sides of myself for myself.
Okay, I want to start wrapping up but I have to know: what are you listening to these days?
Poppy: On tour I fall asleep to rain. Sometimes I wake up and feel like I’m drowning. I also have been playing Yellow Submarine on repeat as well as Heaven or Las Vegas by the Cocteau Twins. It breaks my heart and repairs me all the same.
Do you have anything else you’d like Atwood’s audience to know?
Poppy: I love Pi.
Are we allowed to know what you have planned for Poppy after Zig releases?
Poppy: Another musical venture.
Great! Thanks so much for talking with me Poppy!
:: stream/purchase ZIG here ::
:: connect with Poppy here ::
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:: Stream Poppy ::