The Summer Issue #12 of Subbacultcha quarterly magazine is out now!
You might expect an interview with rising club-pop star Negative Gemini (aka Lindsey French) to be as sublime and seductive as her music. Yet as I quickly discover, chatting with French is more akin to getting a big hug: warm, fuzzy and life-affirming. In the span of a few short minutes, we’re sharing daily intimacies like two friends meeting for a drink. I hear about her parents, her partner, her dog – a husky named Kody who, French jokingly admits, dictates her entire life. It’s not what you’d expect from the critically-acclaimed producer who’s garnered comparisons ranging from Britney Spears to Björk. But that’s the mysteriously double-edged sword that is Negative Gemini, who, by the way, is actually a Sagittarius. By the time we shift the conversation to music, I’m completely under the sway of her southern Virginia drawl. Read on for insights into weirdo rock music, the New York house scene and the journey that led to French’s chart-topping, heartstopping and highly-addictive new EP Bad Baby.
Ok so, Negative Gemini. I really like your stuff. I’ve been listening to it all week.
Thank you! Awww.
Something that I’ve been nerdily dying to ask you is, what’s the deal with your name? Is it astrology-related?
Okay, so, I’m not a Gemini. I’m a Sagittarius. I’m not a negative person either, I don’t think. When I made up the name I had written down 100 words that I liked on a piece of paper, and then I was pairing words to see how they sounded. Negative Gemini was one of them. Another was Oxygen Rave, which I was going by for a little while [laughs]. But I like the way Negative Gemini sounds and I kind of relate to the Gemini sign. They’re known for having two personalities, and that resonated with my music. Especially with my first album, the songs were really sad and low and gloomy, and my personality was really not that way – I’m more free-spirited.
Your new EP Bad Baby is a pretty big departure from your previous work in almost every way: production-wise, your use of analogue instruments, and then the whole vibe is a lot more dreamy, ethereal and warm. Was that a conscious decision on your part?
It definitely was a conscious decision, but it also happened really organically out of the desire to want to go that direction, just feeling like I want to produce more of a tactile work. I began writing songs on guitar when I was a kid, and recently I was like, I want to return to that. It just feels more stripped down and honest to me. More personal. I think this part of my life just needs this kind of music.
If something goes awry in my life, I’m feeling more emotional and I’m feeling the need to express myself in a more succinct vocal way
Why do you think you felt inclined to make something more personal?
When I made Body Work, I was living in New York and I was getting super into house music and was just obsessed with the idea of making that kind of music. I think that when I’m feeling settled and happy in life, I’m more drawn to learning about technical things like production and I end up making songs like I did on Body Work. Then if something goes awry in my life, I’m feeling more emotional and I’m feeling the need to express myself in a more succinct vocal way. That was definitely what was going on with this new EP. I think I just had a lot to say, and just wanted to get out there and scream on the microphone. It feels good.
You’re four albums deep into Negative Gemini now. What have you learned along the way?
I’ve learned a whole lot technically about producing and recording music, and that’s been super fun because the more you know how to do, the more you can change about a recording. It’s allowed me to be so independent with the way I write. Artistically, I’ve learned that the things that seem the most random sonically and not attached to some kind of trend end up being some of my most successful work. And just really to trust your instinct and not worry about the end product so much.
It’s hard to tell whether it’s me changing or the world changing around me, because I do feel a lot more respected as a performer and artist than I felt in the beginning
It’s interesting you’re saying not to think about what’s trendy, because I can’t ignore that there’s been a lot more attention on women electronic artists in the last few years. Do you feel like you’re part of a growing movement?
Yeah! I guess I do feel part of something happening. It’s hard to tell whether it’s me changing or the world changing around me, because I do feel a lot more respected as a performer and artist than I felt in the beginning. Nobody asks me anymore if I produce my own music or write my own songs. That was honestly why I first started this project. I had been making music with two guys, and I was getting really involved in the production, but people would make remarks assuming that I had no part in it, and sometimes that I didn’t even write my own lyrics. I do think things are changing, and I’m determined to be a part of women getting equal rights and equal respect.
Who are your biggest influences?
I’d say right now that I’m really inspired by what they call ‘weirdo rock music’. When I heard Wise Blood that was a big turning point. I’m really into artists that fall into the same thing, like John Mouse and Ariel Pink. They’re all still pretty underrecognized, but they definitely inspired Bad Baby—going on musical tangents, and that intentionally crappy sounding, lo-fi, psychedelic feel. Growing up I had a lot of definite pop influences too. I loved the Beach Boys, and I had a lot of women that I looked up to, like No Doubt, Lauryn Hill and Destiny’s Child.
What’s up next for you?
I’m wrapping up an East Coast tour and then I’ll be going to the West Coast and Canada. And then, oh gosh, I’m going to be playing a lot of festivals in the summer, and hopefully finding time to record some new music. In October I’ll be doing my first European tour, so I’m excited and nervous about that. I also need to make some music videos for Bad Baby because I’ve neglected that so far.
Do you have any ideas floating around yet?
Me and my friend wanna make a video for ‘Skydiver’ that’s inspired by a scene in Edward Scissorhands where Edward Scissorhands is cutting an ice sculpture and it’s really beautiful. That’s what I’m going off of right now [laughs]. Nobody steal my idea!