Q: Danny Phantom is your most popular single and is a confessional about eating disorder recovery, what is S. O. B. Story about?
MEDUSA: Thanks for asking! So, I really wanted to release something for Pride month. But I also didn’t want to put out music just for the sake of it. So, I started thinking “Okay, what are the issues? What am I trying to speak about?” And I came to this conclusion:
Every Pride month, we get bombarded with toxic bullshit. Corporations release rainbow products, desperate to capitalize off our identities, and donate the money to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians by the time your summer tan fades. That became ‘Piggyback,’ which says ‘actually, no, you won’t take advantage of me’. Bigots get extra mad during Pride month because they are reminded we exist, and we’re expected to accept their hatred and vitriol with grace and passivity. That became ‘King of Prom Queens,’ a queer reimagining of the classic horror film Carrie, where the bullied girl unleashes her infernal revenge. And, finally, there’s good old-fashioned respectability politics, especially surrounding trans and genderqueer people. Are you conventionally attractive enough to deserve acceptance? Or are you one of the weird freaks? But, people condemn what’s in our pants with one hand in their own. That became ‘When Terfs Cry,’ which is unabashedly sexual, and meant to taunt the people who say they hate us, and yet seem to be obsessed with us.
As for the title, I just got disgusted by the inspiration porn surrounding the queer identity. People only seem to care about sharing our sob stories – when we got bullied, how our parents didn’t accept us, how it’s so hard to be different. And those things can be true. But, I think it’s really dangerous for that to be the only narrative. Because then, you’re a young gay kid going ‘oh my god, my whole life is going to be suffering.’ And that just isn’t true. I chose ‘S. O. B. Story’ because…what if I’m not crying about who I am? What if I’m not sad, or insecure? What if I’m a force to be reckoned with?
Q: What first got you into music and at what age?
MEDUSA: My father taught me to play the piano basically as soon as I was able to control my fat little baby hands. I eventually moved on to lessons, and then I pretty much did every music-related activity a kid can do. Dance, school orchestra, choir – the usual suspects. When I got a bit older, I was really tragic and troubled and I’d write a lot of poems about my super deep teenaged feelings. It was good for me, though. One year, I asked for a guitar for Christmas, because playing piano was loud and not very private, and I dove fully into writing songs. Having actually listed all this, I’m noticing how quaint it sounds. You’d almost think the music I make now is sweet and not the soundtrack to a really gay horror movie.
Q: Thanks to a viral TikTok in January 2021, your following increased tremendously, How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
MEDUSA: Okay, just as a disclaimer, I cannot remember a time before the internet, so I could be talking out of my ass a little bit. But, I think the internet brought accessibility to the music industry in a big way. I see some people condemn the internet’s effect on music – it’s shortening our attention spans! – but it’s given way more artists a way in the gate. It has never been easier to find music. There has never been more music. We’ve never consumed music in more ways. From an artistic standpoint, for creators and consumers, it’s a dream.
From a business standpoint, it’s complicated. On the one hand, the industry is completely oversaturated. In order to compensate, there’s a ton of payola and nepotism and dishonesty. But is that any different than before the internet? On the other hand, there have never been more branches of the music business itself. The internet is amoral, but – in my opinion – its effect on the industry has been fundamentally good.
Q: When talking about your music revenge pop is what comes to mind, how would YOU describe the music that you typically create?
MEDUSA: Like a lot of artists, I pull from a variety of genres: art pop, experimental hip-hop, nu metal, dark pop, industrial, emo music, and lots of electronic genres. I call myself “revenge pop,” but alt-pop or experimental hip-hop are good enough and more universally understood. It’s sort of like a personality, to me. You can be called a ‘funny’ or ‘serious’ person, but really we’re a collection of the things we love. And, I guess, some things we don’t. Not trying to be fake deep, just explain my thinking.
To be honest, I can more easily describe my art in emotional terms. It’s got rage and defiance, but it’s also cheeky and playful. It’s brutal and spiteful, but also reflective. My music is, at its core, revenge pop; Medusa is a revenge fantasy. After she was turned into a monster, she harnessed the power of that monstrosity to protect herself, turning those who would harm her to stone. That’s the power I’m trying to cultivate, not only for myself, but for the people who listen. Sometimes that power comes from belligerent rage, and sometimes that power comes from introspection.
Q: How do you go about writing a song? Do you have a melody in your head and then write the other music for it?
MEDUSA: This might sound a little weird, but because I have ADHD, I’m so used to mental background noise that I don’t always notice something is repeating in my head. A lot of the time, the songs I realize I have stuck in my head are original songs I haven’t written yet. It usually happens with melodies, but I’ll occasionally get melodies and lyrics at the same time. It’s funny because when the latter happens, I’ll go to google the songs and they don’t exist. Yet. It happens to me more when there’s white noise in the room, like a fan or dishwasher, or when I’m on a plane. I think the human brain is phenomenal at finding patterns and my mind is just looking for one, creating something new in the process. Once I get one of these snippets, which kind of arrive to me fully formed even though I wasn’t aware I was generating them, I flesh out the rest of the song consciously from there. Sometimes, I’ll sit down to write a song on purpose, but they’re never as good as when my brain just gives me a surprise.
Q: What do you do when you are not working on music?
MEDUSA: So, to preface: I’m kind of brutally introverted. Once I actually get out of my house, I have a great time at shows and events, but most of the time I’m at home working on other media because I love creating so much. I edit a few body-horror pictures in Photoshop every week to post on Instagram and I love video editing as well. Because I make all the visual content for my music, I get to do a lot of graphic work too, which I love! Sometimes, I’ll work on visual projects for other musicians. I really enjoy that because it’s nice to step outside of my own aesthetic and make something new through their lens. So yeah, if I’m not making one thing, I’m making something else. Not in an “always grinding” unhealthy way, but because it’s what I love the most.
Also, sometimes I like to play this game I call ‘bottom chef.’ Basically, when you’re on your last groceries – like really bottom of the barrel – you see what kind of dinner you can make with the random foods you have left. This isn’t something I do a lot, but I did it tonight so it’s on my mind. It’s a fun game and then also you don’t have to go to the store yet (win-win).
Interviewed by Jaye Maverick