Pride Week is all about subverting expectations and celebrating the alternative while partying as much as possible. To these ends, Men fits right in. Men is a new music project made up of Johanna Fateman and JD Samson of Le Tigre that’s been going for just over a year now and the pair are starting to get serious about their future.
“JD and I were asked, well actually Le Tigre was asked to DJ an opening party for a feminist arts show called Wack in LA,” says Fateman. “Kathleen [Hanna] couldn’t do it but we did it together and had so much fun that we decided to formalize the relationship and have a name and continue DJing together.”
Having started out playing mash-ups and covers of what Fateman calls “a huge wide range of stuff, everything from contemporary indie music to disco and techno, ’90s music, hip hop, rap, really everything,” the duo are now developing an original catalogue for their debut album.
Rather counterintuitively for a feminist girl group, the name they chose was Men. “Being in Le Tigre for so many years it became almost a joke for us that we were always talked about in terms of our gender,” explains Fateman. “In a way we felt so tired with the sort of ingrained sexism in the music industry and we thought it would be so funny to just be called Men. Men are DJing tonight! Men are playing Pride! It sort of underscores the fact that that is in fact the norm — men are playing festivals and DJing.”
Fateman says that Toronto will be Men’s first show in a while. For the last few months she and Samson have been in New York writing songs for their upcoming album. “Last summer we did a lot of Pride parties, then some other stuff throughout the year. But only more recently over the past four or five months we’ve been more serious about writing music and becoming more of an original act rather than just a DJ thing.”
Le Tigre itself is on hiatus, although bandmembers are still working together on side projects. “We’ve started work on a DVD,” says Fateman. “It’s a DVD of all the live footage of our shows that we’ve collected over the years and also some interview-type stuff and also the videos we made to accompany our songs while we performed.”
Although Men have been playing other Pride celebrations, this is their first time at Toronto Pride. “Pride parties are always really fun and we love how diverse a crowd it is usually, in terms of different generations and a good mix of people from the queer communities so we’re definitely looking forward to it,” says Fateman.
Fateman says she’s also looking forward to their European dates, which will follow close on the heels of the Toronto show. But although she and Samson are excited about Men, they’re not in a rush to establish it as the next big thing.
“We’re sort of letting it all take shape organically,” she says. “We’ll talk more about it as it evolves.”