It’s 2007. I’m hanging out with my friend Melissa. She was instrumental in moving me away from mainstream pop, leading me to explore different artists and genres. She hands me a copy of The Teaches of Peaches by Peaches and tells me to chuck it on. The record opens with Peaches’ best known song, Fuck The Pain Away. I remember thinking it was cool, and then the lyrics kicked in. “Sucking on my titties like you wanted me, calling me all the time like Blondie.” I had never heard anything like it. It changed the way I thought about what music could be.
It’s hard to believe that at one point Peaches was a school teacher, before leaving all of that behind to pursue a musical career. The Teaches of Peaches, her second album, was released independently in 2000. The basis of the album was set to Roland synthesiser and drum machine, although it branches out with blistering guitars on tracks like Rock Show. The album has a very DIY sound and is very simple in execution. The album was written in Canada while Peaches was living with indie singer Feist (who contributed vocals to this album and features on her latest release Rub) and was recorded between Berlin and Toronto, where she was signed to Kitty-Yo Records.
Lyrically, the unapologetically feminist album focuses on sex and gender, and ultimately and is unapologetically feminist, a now staple of Peaches’ career. Tracks like Diddle My Skittle, Suck and Let Go and the Mignon-assisted Lovertits are brash comments on female sexuality and sex in general. For sixteen year old me, I had never heard a woman sing so overtly about sexuality or her own needs. Pop musicians talk extensively about having sex, but it’s often from focused on pleasing the male. Think Britney Spears’ I Was Born To Make You Happy, for example. Peaches writes about having sex, and about pleasure – her own.
I saw second track AA XXX as a commentary on the limitation of sexuality in young girls. That boys are allowed to be gross and make dirty jokes, but women are held to an unreasonable and uneven standard, one that can stifle their sexual, physical and mental health in later years. I have absolutely no doubt that Peaches was a groundbreaking force that shaped me into the vocal advocate for gender equality that I am today. I learnt a lot from exploring her music.
The Teaches of Peaches for me feels very much like a precursory album; it’s Peaches showing what she’s capable of achieving. Her subsequent albums showcased a beefed up sound – it’s no longer just a keyboard in a bedroom, but the DIY spirit is still there. When I had the chance to interview her earlier this year, she told me she’ll never lose that independent spirit to do what ever the fuck she wants to do.
Now considered to be a masterclass in electroclash, I hold no doubts that the album is still a tough listen for some people. It’s raw, unpolished and very very real. It was designed as an extension to her live show, rather than the reverse, which is obviously more typical. Musically, it reminds me very much of Daft Punk in 2005, when they adapted a lo-fi electroclash sound and made it their own. Today that sound is everywhere, and Peaches was a forerunner of that.
If you’re looking to expand your horizons, dance to something dirty, or just want to fuck the pain away, The Teaches of Peaches is for you.