By Jeffrey Hartinger
Originally published on Advocate.com October 13 2011 4:00 AM ET
Lesbian hip-hop-soul duo God-des and She has been pumping out tight rhymes,
sprinkled with equal doses of honesty, activism, and humor, since they paired
up in 1999. As we wait for their next album (due in 2012), we're still
listening to 2008’s Stand UP, which
features the hilarious (and helpful) “Lick It” as well as their 2009 album, Three, a labor of love between the pair and legendary
hip-hop producer Brian Hardgrove. Like their previous albums, Three, is full of addictive, danceable, memorable tracks
like the "Love Machine" and "Respect My Fresh."
“They are easily as good as the best that hip hop has to offer,” Hardgroove
says of the duo, “and far more interesting."
This summer, God-Des and She played with hip-hop royalty Salt-n-Pepa at San
Diego Pride and released a video featuring their lesbian fans after the repeal
of "don't ask, don't tell." Now they're hitting the road again,
touring across the country. We talk to God-Des and She about “slicing meat and
selling beer,” the other artists they listen to between gigs, and their
much-rumored romantic connection.
Advocate: You two met in Madison,
Wisconsin, a Midwestern City known to be generally liberal with a great,
underground music scene. How did Madison shape your personal and
God-des: Madison Rules! I went to UW
right after high school and really found my identity there. There is a great
sense of community and I felt really liberated there. She grew up there and was
around a lot of artists and musicians. It is a comfortable, laid back
environment that makes you want to create. We created a large local following
there that gave us the courage to believe we could do well for ourselves
anywhere. But we knew if we really wanted to make it as musicians that we had
to go to a bigger city where we could network and be surrounded by the music
industry. So NYC it was.
Can you talk a bit about your college tour? Is there a different vibe you
get from college-aged fans in comparison to your general audience?
God-des: We love doing colleges. We dig
playing everywhere but college kids tend to be more politically involved.
They love hearing our political songs and don't care as much about partying.
They are very receptive to our words and we love that.
Everyone has been dying to know – are you linked romantically? Were
you? Maybe in the future?
God-des: Hey mister, that's my sister!
God-des: Being out and being visible is the single most important thing that every LGBT person can do. The more our neighbors, co-workers, schoolmates, teachers, friends and so on know who we are and like us, the more tolerant they will become.
Who are some acts that currently inspire you two as performers?
God-des: K'nann, Florence and the Machine, Adele, Mumford and Sons, BOB, Scissor Sisters.
Who are you two listening to right now?
God-des: K'nann, old school hip-hop, Florence and the Machine, Lovers, Lupe Fiasco.
After moving to New York City together in 2004, both of you took odd jobs to support your aspiring careers. Have you reached success at a level where music and performing supports you?
God-des: Yes, thank God! It's been a long road since we were slicing meat and selling beer in New York. We have been full-time touring musicians since 2006. And that is because of our awesome fans who always come to our shows and play our music for their friends and co-workers. Thanks homies!
If not music is there another profession you could see yourself in?
She: I would be a chef and God-des would be working for dog rescue organizations.
Do you see an increase in the acceptance for LGBT performers in the mainstream entertainment industry?
God-des: Yes, we do see a shift. I think people just want to hear good music. Most people don't care who is performing it, they just want to relate to it.
Although you two seem to be a perfect musical pair, you both have very different musical backgrounds. How did music play into your upbringing?
God-des: For SHE, music was her escape. Her parents worked so much they didn't have time to be involved in her music. She says if they would have pushed her to do it she probably wouldn't have. We are both very rebellious. My parents on the other hand were classical musicians. They told me, "Honey, you can do anything you want in the world, but please don't be a musician." And here I am! Sorry, Mom and Dad. I think what seals our musical chemistry is that we both have very eclectic taste in music. We feel influenced by anything and everything. We don't put ourselves in a box and feel free to create anything we like no matter what genre it fits in.
A few years ago, you were featured on the hit show The L Word. Did your appearance open many doors? Did you feel a push toward mainstream popularity or did it seem that after this, a majority of the offers were LGBT related?
She: It opened doors for us all over the place. Of course since it is a queer show and we are a queer band, we have a very large LGBT fan base. We love performing and doing music for a job. Gay folks make up a large part of society. If most LGBT folks support us, that will make us mainstream. God-Des & She Grammy 2012, baby! Let's do this!