Catching Up With Animal Prufrock

We sat down with the singer-songwriter to chat music, love, and living a queertastic life.

You may remember Animal Prufrock from her Bitch and Animal days. She was part of that wonderful duo that got our attention with their lesbian, feminist favorite, “Pussy Manifesto.”

Animal and Bitch have since parted ways to embark on personal projects, and Animal has recently released the solo album, congratulations; thank you + i’m sorry, through Ani DiFranco’s label, Righteous Babe Records.

The new album recorded over two years in San Francisco and New Orleans. S/he continues where Bitch and Animal left off, with an album that covers universal themes of love with its triumphs and heartbreaks, as well as a bit of self-introspection, Animal style.

Never too serious and always unconventional, the album is a collection of funky beats and playful tunes, with Ani DiFranco jumping in to sing back-up on a couple songs and some guitar in others.

We sat down with the singer-songwriter to chat music, love, and living a queertastic life.

Many will remember you from your Bitch and Animal days, when there was a less of a place for outspoken queers in music. How has this changed since you started? Or, has it?

Actually, there was a place for us to be outspoken; I think more of a place in fact because there was a real lesbian community of music. We could network from city to city and there were lots of festivals and college organizations.

During this time, being trans was a part of being a lesbian before the two were “culturally” separated. This was before queer became the “norm.”

Neither Bitch nor you go by your birth names. Can you please talk about the reasons behind that decision?

It doesn’t feel good to be outed with a name that is not congruous with my identity. Animal to me is gender diverse, multi-dimensional and the ultimate gender fuck. Plus it is my real name.

How would you describe your sound?

Janus from The Muppets had an affair with Carole King and birthed a baby with the latest technology of lesbian reproduction. That baby hooked up with Justin Bieber and they had a baby who had a controversial affair with Carla Bruni and that baby made music that sounds like this.

How did you first start working with Ani DiFranco?

In 1998 we sent her a package with our cassette and drawings via her merch girl Heidi, who went on to co-write “Voglio” [on the new album]. She had come to see us perform in P-town; I guess Ani dug the tape ‘cause a couple of months later we got a voicemail and an email which Bitch and I discovered simultaneously, a block away, and basically ran into each other.

We both knew the news and we were so excited. We got a gig to open for her and the rest is herstory.

What’s Ani like?

She is like Yoda of music. She has an uncanny ear and creativity that is priceless.

She is an incredible dancer, she is hilarious and generous and kind. And, not many know this, but she is a wonderful painter as well…and one of the best mommies in the world.

Describe your fans.

Unbelievably brilliant, witty and sexy. Plus they love to give me sacred herbs.

You live with a mini hotdog and a ’70s femme secretary. What’s Saturday like at your house?

It starts with dog wrestling in the king size bed I wish I could live in. Then my femme makes coffee.

We go downstairs and get picked up by the lesbo caravan and go to House of Bagels, the best place for bagels in San Francisco. Then on the way to Ocean Beach for the small dog beach walk, where hundreds of little dogs walk leashless alongside the ocean with their moms and mamapops.

Then home for work, snoogling, movies and shows, wine and dancing to old vinyl.

Many of the songs on your album are about love in its many forms—unrequited, lost, its existence in relationships. Is there a perfect, ultimate love?

I think love is a practice, and currently I am practicing it with people who are practicing it too and it feels good to be in mutuality. My friends are my family and my immediate family is incredibly loving, generous and kind and I am so grateful for that.

You describe yourself as a “bipolar cosmic tranny.” Can you break that down for us?

Inextricably linked to creative energy that runs through my art is the history I embody of having experienced what our culture understands to be “mania,” and going through various mental health “systems of care.” At 24 I was first diagnosed with bipolar I and have been hospitalized against my will several times.

Being tortured, locked in isolation, injected with horrifying “medications” which were more like chemical lobotomies; the mental health system in this country is an abomination. My dream is to open an alternative center for dealing with “altered states” using more natural, holistic and grounded approaches.

You call yourself both tranny and butch. Some would say you can’t be both and have to choose one. What do you think about that?

First, anyone who would say that someone has to choose only one identity is participating in patriarchy to its fullest. As for me, I am both/and, or commonly known as transgendered.

I occupy liminal space, sometimes dominated by my “he” sometimes captivated by my “she.”

I am butch, I am tranny, I am dyke, I am dude, I am a multiplicity of mind and body. If I were to choose one pronoun then I would not be tranny anymore; I would be participating in the binary gender system and I would be a sellout to my self and especially to women.

“She” shouldn’t be considered an insult in any circumstance. So even though it challenges my masculinity, I am butch enough to be s/he.

My take on pronouns is this: I think since pronouns are in the second or third person that it is the observer’s read of me that defines my pronoun for that moment. So if you see me as “he,” cool.

If you see me as “s/he,” fine. Someday its not gonna matter which pronoun you use because they will actually be…equal!