I came upon TROPHYWIFE simply by chance. I was reading a distro list and saw the band name simply because it reminded me of a Debra Messing TV-series. Once I found some Trophy Wife music I was hooked. Anders Ekdahl ©2011
What was it that made you want to be a part of a band? Isn’t each to his/her own a better set up? No fights with another individual.
KO (Katy Otto – drummer): I love collaborating creatively – in general but specifically with Diane. Part of what is great and vital about this is that we both have different strengths, and can push and challenge one another. Our band is very much centered on a process of collaboration.
DF (Diane Foglizzo guitar): There are fights but they seem worth it and part of our personal and musical growth! Also working with someone keeps you accountable to the project in a way that doesn’t happen alone. Sometimes with my own projects, I get debilitated by my own brain and never actually finish them. Working with someone else makes that less possible. Also Katy makes me laugh a lot. She is much funnier than I am and helps me remember to find funny things around me.
You seem to have a very large crossover potential. Where do you see yourself fit in best?
KO: Hehe, I like the term crossover. It makes me think we are – fusion jazz metal rap. We often think of our band as hopefully being the kind of music and performance that you wouldn’t need a specific identity to participate in and enjoy. That is the kind of crossover I want – our musician friends, our activist friends, our families, people who might not be the usual suspects. We do of course fit into a tradition of loud music born of frustration at a lot in the world, and a desire to share ideas and imagine and dream. Much like the Occupy movement, to me arts and expression are useful as tools to construct a space of possibility.
DF: heh crossover! I think this is kind of true. It’s part of why our tour in Europe was so much fun I think. Well mostly because our friend Jana who mostly booked the tour is so awesome but also because we got to play all kinds of places and with all kinds of bands. and even if we don’t fit exactly right in any of them, it still makes some sense and is a lot funnier than playing the same kind of bar every night or always with punk bands in a squat. Sometimes not fitting in anywhere is hard on me mentally but I don’t think I’ve ever fit in. which if I just accepted in my life in general, I’d probably be a lot happier. This is probably why Katy and I get along.
Listening to you I get a very specific riot grrrrlll feeling. How important is an agenda to you as a band?
KO: I don’t think it is more to us than a piece of history that shaped me in some ways, but doesn’t have a lot of bearing on what we are doing now.
DF: I never really listened to riot grrrl. I value its place in a historical context – of course I exist and our band exists in that continuum. Having an agenda seems sneaky. They always talk about the gay agenda here in the US. Like us queers have a plan to make everyone gay. That would be funny but it’s not the plan. So we do have things we want to say and share but no intention to make people feel anything or think anything. That seems coercive. But maybe we have an agenda for how we want the band to affect us and be useful to us as people.
Do you see yourself inspiring others to pick up the guitar or sit behind the drum set by proving that it doesn’t have to be overly fancy or tweedly-tweedly?
KO: I would hope so! We both especially love participating in the Girls Rock Camp movement and projects. I also teach drum lessons to an 11 year old girl.
DF: Does this mean that our songs aren’t tweedly-tweedly?
I could have seen you fit in with bands such as Bratmobile, Huggy Bear or Bikini Kill. Is there in 2011, going on 2012 an interest for your kind of music anymore?
KO: There are definitely powerful, interesting bands comprised of women and queer people, much as the ones you mention above. We do want to have our music sit in the framework of an inclusive politic, I think – and we are interesting in work going on internationally – both creatively and in terms of social organizing. We are lucky to have the experience of meeting and seeing a number of bands that are active now that are engaging in sculpting both sound and political engagement. I grew up listening to Fugazi, so that as an ideal was imprinted on me early on.
DF: that’s an interesting question. I do think that these days a lot of bands are playing kind of party music, like the whole beach theme trend. Some of those bands make good music, but in general the vibe I get is like really chill and dispassionate. Not everything needs to be angry or heavy all the time, but sometimes I feel like there is a bit of less interest in heavy angry emotional music. I mean I’m even wondering that in myself. I don’t really listen to chillwave or whatever but I am listening to lots more kinds of music these days that aren’t often very similar to the music that I make. It kind of makes me feel schizophrenic.
When you release an album what is it that you look for with the people releasing it? Is friendship more important than accessing all the potential fans?
KO: We operate on a small scale. We work closely with the label that puts out our music. We like to play shows with people we trust. We like to do intimate press interviews such as this one. We are not looking to grow the band beyond its natural scope. We hope the people that these ideas and music belong to, those who we made it for, will come to find it.
Being a two-piece certainly has its limitations but what are the advantages?
KO: Diane and I are both rather strong and intense people. It takes work to be healthy in the management and care of our relationship. That is work we both take seriously. It might be a lot to add another person to such a mix! We can also fit in a small car to travel to shows.
DF: I’ve never played with or written music with more than one other person. I have no idea what the other side is like! I am curious in general but in the context of Trophy Wife, I’m not sure it would work musically or emotionally with other people in the mix.
Is it harder to be taken seriously when you don’t fit into the pre-conceived notion of what a band is supposed to look like (guitar/bass/drums)?
KO: Yes, but I think people also make judgments about us based on looking at us and reading us as female, and maybe not even always either “punk” enough or “performer” enough. The duo part doesn’t seem to have as much of an impact as those other factors.
DF: One thing we do hear a lot from people is that they can’t believe that our sound is coming from just two people, which I take as a really nice compliment. I think if in the beginning, we felt like our sound was lacking something, we probably wouldn’t have hesitated to try new things.
Search the net and you’ll find a whole bunch of video-clips of you performing live. What kind of impact do video-clips have in this time and age?
KO: I really like the video Unartig took of us with Universal Order of Armageddon and the Body at Death by Audio. I think videos help people connect with bands, but it can be hard for bands who might not be that happy with the quality of sound or footage. It is a mixed bag. I did however spend the bulk of yesterday cheering myself up from a rough mood by watching a ton of videos of Lack, one of my favorite bands ever from Denmark.
DF: For me to get the feeling for a band or music, a lot of times I need to able to see the performer/performance. It tells me a lot. I think a huge part of trophy wife for me is the performative part of it. I think we are a better band live than recorded. Don’t get me wrong, I like our songs recorded! But I think we put a lot of ourselves into our live shows that maybe isn’t evident on a purely audio recording.
Your audience seems to be very attentive but also reserved. How do you best reach out to them in order to gain maximum momentum?
KO: We try to interact and talk to folks as much as possible, and to be good about answering emails and posting interesting content on our blog. This band is indeed a part of our social life as well as our creative and political life. It is a lot, and we try to be approachable.
DF: Katy is great at getting people to laugh and pay attention! She has great stories and knows how to tell them really well. That’s helpful to break the weird barrier that exists between band and audience at shows. I guess we also try and share personal stories and experiences that relate to the songs so people know where they come from and maybe that can help contextualize the songs better and then in turn maybe connect to the song more? I don’t know if it actually works like that.
How much touring do you do and what is that you expect to get out of the meeting with the audience? How much shoegazing (introverted) can you do before it becomes rude to the audience?
KO: I like to engage audiences a lot, both with banter, jokes and questions. I am a curious person so having a band is a great way for me to get out and explore other people and the world.
DF: who is shoegazing here? The band? I can enjoy a show that’s a straight no talking set but I do like to hear sometimes what folks have to say about their songs or about anything in general. I guess it’s a balance. We try and do a few tours a year- mostly like 7-10 day trips. Europe was great and we hope to go back someday. Maybe once this next record is finished. I really like playing new places and small towns. I really like being able to interact with the audience before and after our set. It makes me happy when folks come talk to us after we play about things we said during the set or anything really. I want our band and music to be a point of connection between us and the audience, to encourage conversation and interaction.
12. Aalborg, Denmark isn’t exactly the worlds Metropolis. It’s even worse than my hometown Helsingborg, Sweden. Did you ever expect that you’d tour the world, seeing places like Aalborg when you started? What impression of the world outside of the US have you gotten touring?
KO: Diane and I both have spent a great deal of time in Europe in small towns outside of touring too, but it was neat to see the way art and punk scenes operate. Very different from the U.S. I want music to afford me space to explore in life. Sometimes small towns have just as much to offer as large urban centers. This is the case in the U.S. too. I think as long as you stay open and friendly you really can have the opportunity to bring good people into your life and world.
DF: I really had no idea trophy wife would get to go on tour in Europe. I’m still a little surprised any time we get an email from someone asking us to play a show in Philadelphia (our hometown). Aalborg was great! The venue there- 1000 Fryd – was amazing. Community dinner before the show, drinks and a dance party afterwards and we got paid really well. The next day we got a tour of the squat and the radical bookstore they have and had an amazing breakfast! That space is amazing. Not sure what more I could ask for!
Where do you see Trophy Wife going in the future?
KO: We never know exactly! Some of what happens with the band is based on what other people (audiences, friends, etc.) have in mind for events and tours and projects. We just hope to continue to create well together and offer a fresh voice to the spaces we take up. We do have a new album, “Sing What Scares You”, that will be out soon on 307Knox Records, with touring to follow. Thanks so much for interviewing us!
DF: what I love about playing with Katy is that really nothing is impossible and neither are we stuck in one particular way of existing as a band. So it feels very free and exciting and limitless but not bound to some particular idea of success. We’ve done more for each other and as a band than I ever even thought was possible!