God-Des and She Are Back Times "Three"
Photo: Morgan Leigh Kennedy
God-Des and She who made a splash with their tongue in—well, cheek—video “Lick It” in 2008 are back with their third album, Three. With their new album, (produced by hip-hop legend Brian Hardgroove of Public Enemy), the openly lesbian duo explore new territory infusing, rock and pop into their patented R&B and hip-hop sound. The result is a fresh and sleek new style that has both gay and mainstream press taking notice.
Curve caught up with God-Des and She as the two were in route to a gig in Baltimore, M.d. to talk about the new record, breaking into the mainstream and being out in the hip-hop industry.
Congratulations on the new album. It’s doing really well, it’s getting good reviews. How did you feel about the album when you first heard it?
God-Des: Man, I was so excited. I really couldn’t believe it…. One thing I could tell right away was the quality of She’s vocals, the quality that we’re were able to capture in the studio—the rawness without any effects, or not being mixed was incredible…. She and I actually mixed it with Johnny Juice from Public Enemy. We sat in there every single day with him, Ten hours a day and mixed that record and made sure that every single effect and sound and high hat, and drum and guitar was exactly how we wanted it so we were really involved in the process and when we got that thing done we were just like—I mean I knew I was like, Wow. This is really, really professional…I was really excited with how it came out.
So, aside from it being the third album, does Three have any other meaning?
She: Man, it has a lot of meanings actually. We were on the season three finale of The L Word, we mixed the record at Chuck D’s house which had like only three’s in the address, which was interesting. Three of us mixed the record. And there’s like tons and tons of stuff.
God-Des: Three is my favorite number, it’s a lucky number… We did [consider] naming it some really funny names, like “Dude, We Rule. ”[laughs] Or like, “Can’t Wait to Meet Snoop Dogg.” [laughter] We came up with all these things, but then we felt like we had to pay the number homage, we kinda wanted to show the number gratitude…it’s our third record and that’s a big deal. It’s pretty cool that we’ve been able to put that much music out and we’re really excited about it.
Being openly lesbian, have you had any push back in the hip-hop community?
She: We’re not having a problem…It just turns people off immediately sometimes… but if they listened they’d really, really like it and that’s what’s sad to me. But the response across the board has been absolutely amazing.… And we’re never going to hide ever, we’re never going to not be out, we’re never not going to represent for the gay community—in that initial crossover we’re definitely going to need to have people focus on the music and that’s all we’re trying to do at this point. Is just like hey, we made this great record, we have this great producer. We worked really hard, we’ve been doing this for 9 years and we are ready to bring it to the world.
How has the response for or this album been in the mainstream press?
She: It’s been really good. I mean, we have such a unique sound and we stick out so much because we don’t look like the typical mainstream pop stars and honestly we’ve gotten some really good reviews and then a couple that were just talking about the fact that we’re lesbians, and that’s it—which is something that is really frustrating because we want them to talk about our music…that’s part of what we are but it’s not everything that we are. And we want people to hear the music and it’s for everyone. It’s not just for gay people, so that’s kind of the stance that we’re taking is—we want to inspire everyone.
So Three is poised to be the breakthrough album, what are your thoughts on that?
God-Des: I’m definitely excited, I take everything kind of with a grain of salt. We’ve had our hopes up so many times in the past and then we weren’t expecting anything and then huge things happened. So I just look at this as a journey, and if happens we try to ride the wave…but I’m definitely excited. I feel really proud of where we’re at, where we’ve come, and where we’re going to go.
How has been the response to the new songs on the road?
She: So great, so great…. Because of the state of the world and how the recession is kind of depressing, people are losing their jobs, people are struggling we really were conscious about making a record that was really positive, uplifting and happy, and empowering to give people hope. Not necessarily like preach but to give them an escape and also to make them feel good…this record definitely has a lot more fun party songs on it than any other record that we’ve made consciously and not that some of the stuff we do isn’t like obviously political and deep and even heavy, but we were really conscious about trying to make it as fun as possible, and give everyone a break from being sad. And broke and worried.
"Love Machine" has club hit all over it. Are you getting a good response, and a good vibe when you do that?
God-Des: Man, you know I really like performing all of the songs on the record, but I actually like doing "Love Machine." [laughter] It’s just really fun – it just brings the energy up like automatic in the crowd, and it’s really fun when She and I kinda do the little bridge thing together and it’s just really fun to play off of each other that song. I think from the moment the beat drops, people are like, “holy crap, what the heck is this?”…We never put songs on records that we’re kind of half-ass about. Like we have to really believe in the songs that we put out. There’s ten songs on the record [and ] there’s not a song on there that I don’t like to do.
She: Totally. Everyone just loses their minds when we play it. "Love Machine" is definitely, probably going to be the biggest hit on the record…people of all different walks of life and all different kinds of people respond to that song.
The new album has a very eclectic sound, that there’s everything from old school to hip-hop to rock. How you were able to pull in all those influences and make it cohesive?
She: The whole overall sound of the record was definitely helped by Brian [Hardgroove]…he produced it. So he really made the sound all one thing. As far as just like the overall layers and the sound and the vibe of the record truthfully both God-Des and I are very much influenced by every kind of music. We love rock ‘n’ roll, we love Journey and we love Classics, we love Motown, we love you know hip-hop, so all of those things that we love came out in our song writing and they came out. It’s really sad that too often you listen to a record and [the record industry] wants you to fit in a box, they want you to be able to check this record’s pop, this record’s rock, this record’s hip-hop and that’s just so unfair it you’re a creative human and you want to do what you want to do. So basically we just said forget that and we just did what we want to do with all the types of music that we love.
Any chance we’ll get to see another hilarious and scandalous video for this album?
God-Des: We’ve talked so much about trying to figure out what we want to do for “Love Machine” video…we thought about kind of showing ourselves in all the different decades. You know kind of like the "Love Machine" as like a time portal. I kind of wanted of wanted to have one of those plastic Mac Tonight haircuts. We wanted to have ourselves in different time period clothes and looks from maybe 1930 on…. You know us there’s definitely going to be a lot of humor in it. We’re not sure yet. We’re looking for ideas, so if you have a lot of ideas let us know. [laughter] We definitely want to do a video for “Respect My Fresh”…we’re definitely going to work with some choreographers and come up with like a really cool dance, so people know what the “Respect My Fresh” dance is – so when they’re in the club they can do it.
How was working with a producer like Brian Hardgroove different from your previous DIY style?
God-Des: The experience was incredible, it was nerve-racking. I was like everyday I felt like I had to come in the studio and it was kind of like this is my shot. I wanna give it the best delivery, that I possibly can—because in the past if we didn’t like our recording we’d be like fuck it and come back two weeks later, do it again and do it again for years, or a year it didn’t matter you know. [laughs] This was kind of a situation where we really had to show our strengths and our professionalism… And the other thing was—we had to record in the morning, and we normally record after having a couple glasses of wine [laughs], some shots, some mai-tais, you know so we were like just coming in with coffee, barely having our voices, having to get amped up and sing about Love Machine [laughter], you know. That was a challenge, but you know it worked and it was funny because see we actually recorded it, like kind of in a church…That’s where we recorded it and so we weren’t allowed to drink on the premises. So what we would do was go have like hibachi, like to a Japanese steak house for lunch everyday and drink a whole bunch of saki and beer and then come back, so our afternoons recording were definitely better. [laughs]
So, what’s next for God-Des and She?
God-Des: We’re actually going to start doing an interactive web show every month. We’re going to have live performances, and have guests on and people can tweet us and tell us things they want us to do. And pick our set lists, and we’re going to make a really interactive, new way of doing things here in the next couple of months. An experience where our fans – we can really connect with them and they can really connect with us.… [And] we’re just going to keep moving forward and hope that we gain more fans and meet more people, and know about God-Des and She.
Yeah, it sounds…
God-Des: Grammy Nomination in 2011 now, cause it’s gotta be 2011, cause they already did the nominations for 2010, so next year we’re getting nominated for 2011.