Music Features

Exclusive Interview: Poppy Is in Creative Control on ​​"I Disagree​​"

The enigmatic singer spoke to Popdust about the creative process behind the "post-genre" sound of her latest record, I Disagree.

Poppy - I Disagree (Official Music Video)

"I'm Poppy."

Despite introducing herself countless times in one of her first viral videos, the Internet spent 5 years trying to figure out who Poppy really was. The enigmatic singer, performance artist, graphic novelist, and church leader (born Moriah Pereira) has wielded ambiguity in savvy and eerie ways throughout her artistic career, creating a pastel-hued cult of mystery surrounding her multimedia Poppy project since 2015. Returning with a new "post-genre" sound that melds together shades of industrial rock, nu-metal, and ethereal hyper-pop, Poppy put out her third studio album, I Disagree, back in January. She's never been beholden to a singular sound or character, and her latest project showcases this ability to evolve as she expands her Poppy-verse to new dimensions in one of her most emboldened metamorphoses yet.

Take the music video for the album's title track, "I Disagree," which stars Poppy wreaking havoc at a roundtable of record label execs as she sings about apocalyptic ends and new beginnings. "We'll be safe and sound / when it all burns down," she chimes in a crystalline chorus amid a swarm of doomy guitar riffs before the shot closes on her overlooking a mass of flaming bodies. Despite the seemingly macabre visuals, this song—like many of the others on the album—is as much about asserting oneself against oppressive forces as it is about regrowth in the face of chaos. Out of the ashes is born a new version of Poppy, adding another layer to her evolving mythology.

On I Disagree, Poppy navigates between ethereal vocal passages before launching into thunderous, nu-metal breakdowns. This jolt in momentum can be dizzying at times but on the whole a lot of fun to listen to and definitely a refreshing break from the poptimism direction many singers are heading towards. Her alt and nu-metal influences are detectable enough: Rammstein, Marilyn Manson, and Nine Inch Nails, and even metalcore bands like Norma Jean come to mind. Poppy has been vocal about these influences in interviews, but she also prefers to refer to her latest record as "post-genre" rather than boxing it in as a "metal record." Her ability to navigate between different sounds and styles is an impressive showcase of range, which shouldn't be surprising coming from an artist who has in the past explored everything from synth-pop (on 2017's Poppy.Computer) to heady dark-pop on 2018's followup, Am I A Girl?

But one of the most compelling aspects of Poppy's career is that she'll never lift the veil too high. In an age when almost no personal detail of a celebrity is withheld from audiences, it can be refreshing to see a star who embraces these elements of spectacle, persona, and mystique. Like Marilyn Manson and David Bowie, Poppy is a master of world-building and theatrics. Though Poppy was once notorious for staying in character during interviews, she's since opened up to show her most human side yet.

Enter Poppy's uncanny valley corner of Youtube. Poppy's videos quickly made her an Internet sensation, garnering millions of views on videos like the "I'm Poppy" clip (which now has over 23 million views). She would go on to steadily release a slew of mesmerizing, often A.I.-esque videos that left people equal parts intrigued and freaked out. Is she a computer? A cult leader? The Warhol of Youtube? A surrealist performance artist pulling off an elaborate stunt to critique the pop machine? Well, as she already told us: She's Poppy.

Poppy began to shed her robo-humanoidism aesthetic on "X", the closer to her 2018 album, Am I A Girl? (the sonic embodiment of her former sugary-pop sound meeting a nu-metal sensibility). She also fleshed out these darker, moodier tendencies of Nine Inch Nails-esque rock on her 2019 EP, Choke, which was released on Diplo's Mad Decent label.

The Poppy mythology grew more entangled when she made a public statement parting ways with former collaborator Titanic Sinclair (real name: Corey Mixter), whom she was involved with in the Mars Argo lawsuit. The lawsuit is perhaps alluded to on the track "Anything Like Me," where Poppy sings fairly straight-forward lyrics such as, "I'm everything she never was / Now everyone's out for my blood" etcetera. Although Sinclair did contribute to the album and is credited on a few songs, Poppy's decision to sever ties reflects a new chapter in her artistic career, as she invariably moves towards more autonomy and control over her own sound and direction. She's also no longer working with some of the major labels that she's worked with in the past. Instead she put out I Disagree through the metal label Sumerian Records and is set to tour in support of Deftones in the summer of 2020.

I spoke to Poppy in February over the phone before she headed to perform her Boston show on the I Disagree tour. Read our conversation below.

POPDUST: So I know you're on tour right now. How has it been playing the new songs from I Disagree live?

POPPY: Great! I'm having a lot of fun, and I've been waiting to be able to do this because I have had a lot of the songs for a while, so it's great to finally be able to play it.

I saw that you've been playing a cover of the T.A.T.U song "All The Things She Said," which is incredible. What drew you to that song?

Thank you. That song has been a favorite of mine and I feel like it fit amongst the other songs very well.

In your own words, how would you describe the new sound on the album?

Well, I just call it post-genre, that's what I've been using. It's not any specific genre, as you can tell from the record, so I'd say that's the best descriptor.

When you started out creating I Disagree, did your vision for the album retain its shape throughout the process or did it go through a few different evolutions as you went along?

I just went into the process with an open mind, and I wanted to make an album with no rules, and I think we did that, and that's I Disagree. No rules.

In interviews you've mentioned that this album has a lot of different sonic influences, from Marilyn Manson to Trent Reznor to Madonna. What kinds of bands did you like to listen to growing up?

Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan, No Doubt, Blondie: I was very drawn to all of them.

I wanted to ask you about the song "BLOODMONEY" and the themes you explore on that surrounding religion. Throughout your career as Poppy, I've noticed that, while your sound grows with each album, these themes surrounding religion and/or devotion continue to crop up. Are you attracted to the aesthetic or visual elements surrounding religion?

I think some religion is fascinating, but [I] also think that people can follow blindly without asking questions. I think any religion needs to be questioned at times, and I think it's fascinating to analyze, but I don't subscribe to any one in particular.

Can you expand on what you were hoping to explore on "Bloodmoney"?

It's about hypocritical people that are a different way behind the curtain [and] which things are a lot darker behind the scenes and behind the curtain, so that's what I'm expressing.

Speaking of addressing people, the video for "I Disagree" seems to have a pretty clear message towards the established music industry. What kinds of changes would you like to see within the music industry?

That's definitely a complex question, but I don't think there's a ton that can be done in the immediate future because certain people are in positions of power that won't let ideas come through. But I think whenever you mix art and business, there's going to be compromise, and I just feel fortunate that I'm in this position where I don't need to compromise.

While making I Disagree, did you feel like you were in a position where you had more control over what you were creating?

Yeah, absolutely. It was shown to industry people after it was completed, so at that point I didn't take into account anyone's opinion because it was already done. So I did have complete control over it.

"Nothing I Need" appears to preach a kind of minimalism within a pretty sonically maximalist album. Is that something you intended?

It serves more as an interlude on the album. I wouldn't say it was intentional that it was minimal, but it allows the listener a second to breathe, because it is a lot of information as an album as a whole. The message is just being okay with being okay, and it doesn't mean settling by any means; it just means you're accepting things for what they are and things that're okay with it. You're okay with starting over, and maybe things you thought you always wanted are actually things you don't need.

With this new chapter, do you ever feel like you are leaving behind your previous Poppy persona or perhaps evolving into a completely different person?

Evolution. I wouldn't say I'm leaving anything behind, because I think if I was to stay consistently the same it would be really boring, and I get bored really easily.

In terms of what's next on the horizon, I saw that you have another graphic novel coming out. Can you tell me a bit about that and how you got into that medium?

Yeah, I have been always drawn to it, and it just felt like the right time when we launched Genesis I, my graphic novel that came out before my first release. And yeah, I'm really excited for Poppy's Inferno because it comes out in July, and it'll have an album that you can play along while you read it.

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Fresh Music Friday: 10 New Songs to Wrap Up July

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Fresh Music Friday is here to give you a breakdown of new singles, EPs, and albums to check out as you make your way into the weekend.

Get ready to jam out with some of our favorite up-and-coming artists, plus celebrate new releases from those you already know and love.

1. Pabllo Vittar - "Flash Pose" (Feat. Charli XCX)

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2. Chance the Rapper - "Do You Remember" (Feat. Ben Gibbard)

Reader, the day is here. Chance the Rapper just dropped his long-awaited official debut album, which features a whole host of guest appearances from Bon Iver to Nicki Minaj to Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard. As a veritable Death Cab fanatic and Chance the Rapper enthusiast, this is the collaboration I never asked for but absolutely needed.

"Do You Remember," is a nostalgia trip of a groove where Chance wistfully raps about past summer memories and features Ben Gibbard's distinct, melancholic voice on the chorus: "Do you remember how when you were younger / The summers all lasted forever? / Days disappeared into months, into years / Hold that feeling forever." At this point, I will forgive BG for never putting out the other Postal Service album he promised. Some ideas for a future supergroup include: Chance Cab For Cutie. Alternatively, Death Chance The Rapper.

3. White Reaper - "Real Long Time"

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While the guitar tones on the new songs can lean into '80s rock revivalism, both "Might Be Right" and "Real Long Time" show White Reaper continuing to hone their instantly recognizable brand of flashy, energetic power-pop—both vintage and novel—by blending together garage rock scuzz and Thin-Lizzy-approved riffage.

4. Rico Nasty - "Time Flies"

Hot on the heels of her latest project with Kenny Beats (Anger Management), Rico Nasty is back with a new track, and this time she's adopted a (slightly) pared-down vibe from her usual rapid-fire style verses. Her new song, "Time Flies," is a little less incensed and shows off a more melodic approach, with Nasty waxing introspective on a sing-songy hook: "I don't wanna be on the ground when the time flies / Had so many friends goin' / Wonder when it's my time / I live every day like I'll die by the night time / It took me so long getting back to my right mind."

5. Loving - "Vision"

This week, Canadian indie rock trio Loving unveiled a new single called "Visions" via Last Gang Records. Loving is made up of David Parry, Lucas Henderson, and Jesse Henderson, and together they create lovely, easy-going tunes that pair well with the sunny stretches of late July afternoons or aimless drives. On "Visions," drowsy guitar slides and warm acoustic strumming take shape around soft percussion as Jesse Henderson muses about the "strange prison" of how we envision our futures.

6 + 7. Caroline Polachek - "Parachute" and "Ocean of Tears"

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8. Palm Haze - "Almost Soon"

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9. Germano - "Lost Crowd"

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10. Alexander Noice - "Affectation"

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"People Like Me" is out now. Listen below:


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Maude Latour

Maude Latour crafts pop songs that are nothing short of mesmerizing.

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Be careful not to let the seemingly feel-good sensibility of Maude Latour's airy songs fool you; her lyrics tend to explore heady topics with writing that ranges from environmentally-conscious poetic monologues to philosophical musings on religion and the metaphysical world. It may seem like a lot to pack into tracks that run between three and four minutes long, but the emerging songwriter manages to make it look and sound effortless.

In the same vein as Lorde, Latour combines celestial soundscapes and intricately arranged melodies with otherworldly digital flourishes, threaded together by her arresting vocals and topped off with a glossy, well-produced sheen. The mood she evokes, though, is distinctly her own––both playful and nostalgic––and made through her vivid storytelling and introspective meditations that complicate the usual coming-of-age narratives seen in contemporary pop.

"Starsick" is the most recent single in a string of infectious pop songs from the artist, following previous tracks "Plans" and "Superfruit." The accompanying visuals for "Starsick" more closely resemble a short film, and so we caught up with Latour to discuss her inspiration for the video, her aesthetic vision, and her relationship with religion.

You can watch the video for "Starsick" and read our Q+A with Maude Latour below.

Describe the process of making the video for "Starsick."

I started making the video by carrying around a camera for a week (a typical week of summer in New York), which is my favorite thing on the absolute entire planet. My friends and I in Central Park, fire escapes (okay, people, be safe though—fire escapes are dangerous), performing live, staying up all night with Morgan during sleepovers. It all just came about so naturally and in such a beautiful way. Everything is filmed by my friends in our natural habitat.

How did it feel to see the finished result?

When I saw the final product, I could not believe how true it was to the vision. It has been a dream of mine to put out a video like this.

"Starsick" opens with a seemingly stream-of-consciousness monologue about climate change, dreams of becoming the president, and existential questions about the world at large. Can you elaborate on your inspiration to deliver your thoughts in this way and how they tie into the song's message?

My mind kind of works in monologue poetry like that. My dreams, memories, and recollections of eras are formed in monologues. That's how I write lyrics as well. I always used to think the "afterlife" was some sort of witnessing of the entire monologue montage of your life. It is my most transcendent state.

How do this song and video compare to your last two singles—"Plans" and "Superfruit"—in terms of the creative process behind it?

Well, I think "Starsick" is the natural progression, sonically, from the last two songs. It provides a deeper view into this world I'm building, while complementing the other baroque pop styles well. I try not to take myself too seriously, and I love how "Superfruit"'s video is comedic and true to my daily life at school (because that's where I wrote the song). "Plans" was more of a tribute to making the song beautiful with my friends, the way we used to sing together. But for the "Starsick" video I wanted it to encapsulate the emotional significance of this song to me. I was ready to open up in the video about the world I'm trying to build and beginning to execute this philosophy I'm working on in my life.

You mentioned that you wrote this song as a birthday present to your friend Morgan, who I believe appears in the video. How did you decide to create a birthday gift in the form of a song and a video?

Yes! Morgan is in the video. Well, I was using romance and drama as my inspiration most of the time when writing. But I started trying to describe this friendship, which is one of the most important forces in my life, and started writing this song as a song to her. I decided it because I needed to get her a birthday present, and I knew I needed to sing about this, making music that I actually care about.

Your lyrics in "Starsick" touch on birthdays and growing up. Would you describe this as a coming-of-age song?

I think it's more of a manifestation of being afraid of growing up. I have always had this guilt about it since childhood, hence the "swear I didn't mean to." I definitely think it's a coming-of-age moment, accepting growing up and, in the process, being freer.

Did you set out with a deliberate aesthetic vision when making the video or did it happen more naturally?

It definitely happened naturally! Ooooo is there an aesthetic? I had no idea omg, honored. lol. Well, Ella Sinskey, who put the video together, has a beautiful cinematic style to her work, and her editing really brought it to life.

Where did you find the vintage-looking clips used throughout the visuals? What was your inspiration behind incorporating them?

This was all Ella's brilliant research and extensive collection. I wanted it to be a montage of the larger than life images in the poem... these huge meta ideas, the timeless clips are simply adding to the nostalgia of growing up and time moving.

You mention "God" a few times in your song and your intro. How would you describe your relationship with religion?

I explore religion fluidly, and think of it close to interchangeably with pure spirituality. I am still exploring my relationship with religion, and it is ever-changing. I have been studying different religions and their overlap, as well as the essential elements of all religion and spirituality. I am looking forward to developing my relationship with my thoughts, soul, existence, and the universe. I think there's an understandable misconception of organized religion that somehow hasn't translated to my generation, and I think my generation has the power to find a universal spirituality (that can be interpreted differently for different people) that can lead us to a more peaceful world. This song was created during a really intense period of spirituality and meditation for me; that's why it's so incredibly special to me. It is born out of one of the most important eras of my life.

For more, follow Maude on Instagram or Twitter or visit her Website!


Fresh Music Friday: 5 New Songs For Your Weekend

New music from Bonobo, JGrrey, Sam Fender, Elliot Lee, and Spirits Having Fun!



Fresh Music Friday is here to give you a breakdown of new singles, EPs, and albums to check out as you make your way into the weekend. Get ready to jam out with some of our favorite up-and-coming artists, plus celebrate new releases from those you already know and love.

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4. Elliot Lee - "Dirt"

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5. Spirits Having Fun - "Gift Shopping"

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