By Elio Iannaacci
Fashion is always on the lookout for a good woman with strong pipes. Case in point: Beth Ditto’s audacious dance track, “I Wrote The Book,” has dominated designer playlists for more than two seasons. Though released last year on her self-titled solo EP, “I Wrote The Book” has gained more club, radio and runway traction with time. Sounding closer to a ’90s house music hit than the punk-pop Ditto typically records with her band, Gossip, the cut is on its way to becoming a classic.
“I’ve always wanted to perform an epic song that both drag queens and designers could use in their shows,” Ditto says via telephone from New York. “Fashion is about trends, but style is a different thing—it comes from the soul.” Having done a jaunt on Jean Paul Gaultier’s Spring 2011 catwalk, a clothing line with U.K. retailer Evans and a makeup collaboration with M.A.C, Ditto’s connection to style extends past the front row. “I think the real fashion world is filled with eccentric weirdos—passionate, crazy freaks that are cut from the same cloth.”
“This year is all about getting back to my baby, though,” the Arkansas native says of her latest album with Gossip, an 11-track affair called Joyful Noise. “[We’ve] grown so much and it shows in our music.” She adds that the band’s new songs—crafted with drummer Hannah Blilie and guitarist Nathan Howdeshell—were written as she was waving goodbye to her 20s.
“Life sounds like a completely different version once you turn 30,” says Ditto, who celebrated her 31st birthday in February. “I wanted to capture that maturity.” As proof, she points to new songs such as “Get Lost” and “Move in the Right Direction.” “It’s a time when you start following what you like and leaving what you don’t like in the dust. Looking cool doesn’t factor in anymore…you start tolerating less bullshit too. You end up embracing so much more of yourself in the process.”
For A Joyful Noise, Ditto felt influenced by some of the groove and syncopation fuelling her solo EP. “I love crossing over different types of music and I think punk, disco and house music are genres that were born to make statements. Some people don’t think dance music can be as radical as punk but I do.”
Leave it to Ditto, a self-proclaimed and proud “lesbian-feminist,” to feel at ease shaking up the status quo. “For me, that’s what being who I am is all about,” she says. “My manager always says to me, ‘Your body is such a crazy source of debate, and I’m like, ‘Good.’ I feel [it] should be talked about and it should be brought up. I am all for starting a conversation or debate. Punk has always been about carrying the political weight.”
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