Twenty-five-year-old Sadie Dupuis is doing her part to keep aggressive guitar-rock alive. As frontwoman for Speedy Ortiz, the Northampton, Mass., singer-guitarist crafts propulsive fuzz jams laced with vivid imagery and liquid wordplay. On Speedy Ortiz’ 2013 debut LP “Major Arcana” and new EP “Real Hair,” Matt Robidoux’s angular guitar riffs jab into Dupuis’ angsty melodies, while bassist Darl Ferm and drummer Mike Falcone conduct call-and-response rhythms in shifting time signatures. It’s all meticulously relentless.
No Sleep Till … ?
When not touring or recording, Dupuis packs her schedule with academics, poetry and writing. She’s an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and, up until this past semester, she taught a freshman and sophomore expository writing course there through a teaching fellowship. A former music journalist, Dupuis also regularly contributes to musician-curated online publication The Talkhouse. All the while, Dupuis has always maintained a band or two.
“[There’s] not very much sleeping and a decent amount of anxiety,” Dupuis says. “I think I’ve always taken on more stuff than I can actually handle. Since I was a kid it’s kind of become my status quo.”
We Have Liftoff
Dupuis chose the name Speedy Ortiz on a whim; it’s a minor character from the alt comic book series “Love and Rockets” by brothers Gilbert, Jaime and Mario Hernandez. “I was reading ‘Love and Rockets’ at the time,” Dupuis says. “I just wound up sticking with it. [The comic is] about ’80s punk rock and rocket ships and all kinds of fun stuff.”
In 2011, Dupuis briefly performed in an all-female Pavement cover band called — seriously — Babement. “It was sort of funny … to have a barely post-collegiate all-female cover band of [Pavement],” Dupuis says. “Up until recently, a stereotypical Pavement fan was a dude in his mid-30s.”
Though Dupuis tends to ignore gender duality, she finds that the discussion of typical gender roles often finds its way into press coverage of her music — though less so in recent years.
“It used to be that every article you read about a female performer would start off by saying ‘female drummer’ or ‘female guitarist,’ as if the gender is part of the instrument being played,” Dupuis says.
Ixnay on the ’90s
Though Dupuis wears many hats, she refuses to let ’90s revivalist be one of them. Critics regularly compare Speedy Ortiz’ skuzzy guitar-pop to the music of quintessential ’90s alternative rock acts like Weezer, Helium or Liz Phair, but Dupuis doesn’t quite understand the constant associations.
“It’s a rock band,” Dupuis says of Speedy Ortiz. “Occasionally lo-fi, somewhat casually leaning. We like dissonance and experimenting with time signatures and sounds. I think that applies to stuff outside of the ’90s.” Drew Litowitz (For Express)
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