This year sees queer pop band Gossip mark their 13th anniversary
- not bad for a an underground DIY punk trio who started out in
Olympia, Washington at the tail end of the 90s making a wild,
gritty post-riot grrrl racket.
With five studio albums behind them, Gossip have risen to become
a commercially successful mainstream pop act, releasing top
charting albums and a breakthrough protest anthem, Standing In The
Way Of Control; inimitable front-woman Beth Ditto owning her power
as an adored icon for fashion, uninhibited self-expression and fat
While their past songs have posed a confrontational challenge to
homophobia and regressive US legislation, their latest album, A
Joyful Noise, concerns itself with self-empowerment of the
emotional kind, an inwards looking personal-is-political stance
very much reflected by the album cover, which sees Ditto subverting
beauty and gender norms to positively disturbing effect.
DIVA talked to Beth about feminism, fat activism and why this
album sees her embracing both her Arkansas accent and her inner
monster, while dashing Gossip drummer Hannah Blilie shared her
thoughts on evolving musicianship, owning her butch identity and
the passion projects that keep her busy when not on the road with
We also found out why the band often feel like the outsiders of
the pop world, and why their growing fame and success makes them
even more determined to maintain positive queer messages in their
DIVA: In the interim between 2009's Music For Men and
new album A Joyful Noise, you recorded a solo EP with Simian Mobile
Disco. What did it feel like regrouping creatively with Gossip
after the break?
Beth: The EP was like having a permitted love
affair, like I'm in a polyamorous relationship with my band mates.
Playing shows for the EP was really lonely. I missed my music, and
Nathan and Hannah and Chris [Gossip's touring bass player], so we
started playing the EP songs in Gossip shows and that was the best
of both worlds.
You said you and Mark Ronson, who helped with production
on the album, bonded over a love of big church voices. Were you
channeling anyone in particular?
I was embracing the big churches voices but also the sweet, soft
country voices. When I worked with Simian, they were like: "What if
you do it softer, and draw back a little?" I'd never been asked
that before - everybody normally wants my voice bigger and more
powerful - and that was really fun, so I took what I learned from
that and used it.
Apparently ABBA were a big inspiration during the writing
process. Did any other influences sneak into your
I listened to a lot of Loretta Lynn. She has an accent like mine,
and I like the way that you can use your accent to manipulate
words. In singing, you're usually discouraged from that, but I
liked the idea of embracing it.
Despite its cheerful-sounding title, you've described this
album as "grown up and sad". Can you elaborate on that
The name comes from a Bible verse: "Make a joyful noise unto the
lord". It feels really subversive using a Bible verse, but also
To read the interview in full get hold of a copy of our June