The guttural feeling of familiarity, empowerment, and dread are ever present, as they always have been, within Deap Vally’s latest album Femejism. A couple of self-described valley girls out of California, Julie Edwards and Lindsey Troy have been musically taking on the patriarchy over the past 7 years, beginning with their debut album Sistronix from 2013. Featuring “Gonna Make My Own Money,” a powerful track as the name suggests, is of a conversation between a daughter and her parents. Women around the world will be familiar with this expectation from their family, being told their whole lives they need to marry a man who will support them, a rich one if they can. Deap Vally spins this story on its head and insists they will be self-sufficient, make their own money and buy their own land, burying the stereotype of a damsel in distress needing a man to save them. Breaking out of Sistronix for me is “Walk of Shame” which takes back the stigma of a woman making her way home from a one-night stand, owning her sexuality and walking with pride and her head held high. Stories like this of shattering old-school societal expectations of gender norms and sexuality on Sistronix prove provocative, empowering, and enlightens the audience—even younger generations of women—to the true power and autonomy of a woman, and specifically these women. None of these themes change from Sistronix to Femejism, they only get more intense. Once I found out that the drummer Julie Edwards, was not only pregnant during most of the recording but she also toured and played shows for Femejism while pregnant, it became more clear than ever that these women are not just down to earth but they love their craft enough that they will stop at nothing to share their intense messages with their hard hitting grooves.
The guttural feeling of dread comes from the ever present inequality in society that women have to face every day. Femejism confronts critics head on with blunt ballads about critics mixed with hard hitting singles like “Royal Jelly” which force the reality of women working harder than they ever have for equality between men and women, but also women supporting one another to become the best versions of themselves, “if ya wanna be queen bee, then ya better make honey.” Also present is the unfortunate stereotype of women competing in the music industry which is still described as a ‘young man’s game’ in “Teenage Queen” and showcases Deap Vally’s tenacity to be around this business for decades creating phenomenal music although people are still asking them “at 45 years of age are you still gonna act the same are you still gonna play that way?” which I personally can’t get enough of, (I have listened to this song for hours on repeat yelling along in agreed frustration). The patriarchy as well as the underlying sexism/stereotypes are tackled on “Smile More” where they describe strange men telling them to smile more, expectations of being married as well as their thoughts on feminism and living life exactly how they want. While they don’t exactly mention the ominous hand of the patriarchy, the barriers they’ve had to break through are palpable, as two women not needing any man to write their own music and rock harder than most men, comes with an even more cemented meaning. While they’ve only been a duo-to-be-reckoned-with for the past 7 years and their discography consists of a concise 2 albums... they are so, damn, FIERCE. Listening to their albums on my own gives me the same sense of empowerment and rage (in the best way) as the end of Tarantino’s (double-feature film with Grindhouse) Death Proof, leaving me cheering and jumping for joy. Not that these badass women need my approval, but I’m so incredibly proud of what they’ve been creating. As much as they’ve inspired me I can see them being a formative staple for future generations of women to know their power and to not ever be taken for granted. Forever screaming the last line of the chorus in “Teenage Queen”… “you know the only rule it’s up to you, your life is up to you” 👊
Deap Vally - Baby I Call Hell (Music Video)