Performance artist, iconic punk provocateur, boundary shifting electro pioneer—whatever Peaches turns her attention to, her work is empowered by a fierce sense of DIY. This is what makes the Berlin-based artist’s contribution to our COMMUNITY DRIVE charity sound pack so special.
Donating sound material alongside thirteen other contemporary artists—from BT and Sia, to Georgia Anne Muldrow and Junkie XL—Peaches has created her own presets for Monark and Massive. They amount to a treasure trove of textures that whirr and oscillate with an edgy analogue-feel, with topical names like “Sweet Mask” and “Staying Safe.”
“I’m not used to being home so much, it’s definitely a challenge for me”
Peaches tells me over Zoom, full synth racks from her Berlin studio behind her. It’s hard to believe her seminal album, Teaches Of Peaches, is twenty years old this year. The LP arrived in the early millennium when punk kids, fuelled by polemic urgency, started picking up synths and creating DIY electro. Decades later, the sex-positive power anthems “Set It Off” and “Fuck The Pain Away” feel more and more relevant, especially in a post-#MeToo era world.
Whatever genre-defining action Peaches turns her attention to, it always feels like she’s reaching out and screaming encouragement to listeners, telling them you can do it too—you can pick up an instrument and express yourself. A great place to start experimenting is with Peaches’ presets on COMMUNITY DRIVE. All proceeds from the pack go to a range of charities supporting artists and creative institutions whose livelihoods are threatened under COVID-19. As Peaches tells us, it’s a cause she’s keen to get behind.
What made you want to get involved in Native Instruments’ Community Drive?
I wanted to get involved because I wanted to help artists who are trying to still be creative during these COVID times, where it’s hard to create a community—to have physical communities—and it’s hard for everybody to survive. This is a good relief fund, and I wanted to help out by doing that because there’s a lot of artists that I respect and love and right now it’s just hard times.
Has the crisis affected you at all directly?
I had just finished a lot of big projects, so it was actually a time where I was going to start to make new stuff again. I had some shows planned, but it’s more that this pandemic psychologically does a head trip on you. Economically I’m able to survive, so if I can help other artists in any way, that feels good.
Do you feel that being involved in a project like this is a good way to strengthen the community during a time when we’re more or less isolated from each other?
Yeah, I hope so. And also help economically.
You made presets for Monark and Massive. How did you start to approach making the sounds?
It was a learning process, I’d never really made my own presets. I also wanted to move into more dark, more aggressive sounds. It was really fun just to learn the techniques and figure it out. So it was just kind of like playing around.
When playing around, did you get to that point where you’d go, “Ah, that’s what I want!”
Yeah. “That’s what I want,” or “Whoa, I never thought I’d get that!” Or
“What is that? Okay!”
Yeah, it seems like you’ve had quite a lot of fun naming the sounds as well. For instance, there’s a preset on Massive called “Bad Breath” that does actually kind of sound like bad breath.
Yeah. Or just thinking about things in a way you wouldn’t have thought about them before, because of COVID. Like if someone’s speaking too close to you or if someone sneezes. How everybody reacts, or things that are really hypersensitive for good reason that you weren’t very hypersensitive to before.
Did you go through a learning process yourself creating these sounds?
Yeah, just even about Monark. Just literally learning how to use the LFOs or manipulating sound and realising that even though you make that preset, it can be manipulated again and again. There’s so many levels of manipulation. Whatever you start with and whatever you manipulate it to. Whoever gets that preset can also manipulate it in so many different ways.
It’s like a loop.
Yeah! Digging, digging, digging, digging!
Do you think maybe in two years time you might be hearing a tune and go, “Hang on a minute, there’s a little bit of my preset in there.”
I hope so. That’d be fun!
Did you imagine that one day you’d be contributing to the tech-side of music?
I’m not very techy, I’m very intuitive. I want to get more into the tech-side and understand it, but I don’t want to get caught up in it too. It’s that fine line between making a sound and then getting obsessed with a sound.
Is there a way you monitored yourself on this, to not get too obsessed?
Yeah. Literally giving myself a time limit so I could just get it done.
Is there any kind of like silver lining to the COVID situation that you can see in terms of how people can focus themselves through this?
It depends. If they have the privilege of being able to spend time and just work on music and not have to worry about their basic needs, then yes, it could be a calming and a really good reflective time. But it’s all about who has the resources and who has the privilege and who has the abilities. And so that’s why I think it’s very important that these donations are made to the proper places and to the proper people that need it.