- Peaches: Sexual conduit or fruitcake with nuts?
Merrill Nisker led a pretty normal life as a youth. Obsessed with preppy clothes and blow-dried hair, she readily admits to being a "JAP" (Jewish American Princess) whose taste in music was typical for a teenager of the '80s -- she liked the Ramones, the Who, and the Pretenders. But somewhere along the way, the nice girl from the suburbs of Toronto changed. Now she calls herself Peaches and drops dirty rhymes that give nasty rap queen Lil' Kim a run for her money.
Nisker started performing with a folk group called Mermaid Caf´ (a reference to a Joni Mitchell song) and held down a weekly gig at a coffeehouse in Toronto -- until she realized she wasn't about to become the next Jewel.
"I was like fuck that," Nisker says. "Then I wanted to sing like Diamanda Galas and was going to be so experimental. I was just trying to be completely weird for the sake of being weird." But on her recent debut, The Teaches of Peaches, she just tells it like it is: "Motherfuckers wanna get with me/Lay with me/Love with me/All right," she boasts in "Set It Off."
Through a mutual acquaintance, Nisker met Chilly Gonzales, and the two formed an art/damaged-noise outfit called the Shit. After touring together through Germany, Gonzales moved to Berlin and put out the solo effort Gonzales Über Alles, a record of what he calls "melodic love songs." He convinced Nisker to join him in Germany, so she relocated and recorded The Teaches of Peaches for Kitty Yo, the Berlin-based label that had signed Gonzales.
For their current tour, which visits the Beachland Ballroom on Sunday, Peaches and Gonzales will each perform solo, then play a set together at the end. Gonzales, who describes himself as a "musical supervillain," promises "costume changes, dance routines, and a lot of character development."
"You'll see the sparks fly from the interaction between us," he brags, his image as a hairy-chested techno madman brought to fruition on his new album, The Entertainist. With Beastie Boyish attitude, he raps about blowjob queens ("Candy") and smoking dope with Madonna ("No Beats"). But Gonzales says that his next record won't be so heavy with references to sex and drugs.
"It's all about being loved and hated in equal amounts," he says of the album he plans to drop by year's end. "It's especially for the ladies."
"I didn't set out to have a persona," Nisker says of the reputations they have earned. "I was just horny and writing songs. I didn't realize they were so shocking to people. I was just sexually peaking out. I still have macho guys coming to the shows saying, 'Show us your tits,' but I also get lesbians bum-rushing the stage. It's really cool that I'm this sexual conduit for both the freaks and the normal people."