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Half Free is Meghan Remy’s first album for 4AD and is her most realized yet, focusing on characters in everyday struggles, with narratives inspired by the work of director John Cassavetes and Bruce Springsteen. Throughout, Remy explores themes relating to abuse and gender inequality, whether the broken wife in ‘Sororal Feelings’ (a track loosely based on the character Nora Bass in Michael Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter), or the exasperated war widow in ‘Damn That Valley’, soundtracked by its intoxicating combination of thick dub flavors and Wall of Sound dramatics.

U.S. Girls is Illinois-born, Toronto-based artist Meghan Remy, who releases her new album “Half Free” on September 25th via 4AD.

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Interview by Sophie. Photographs by Michela Cuccagna.

“I didn’t even know there was a Kate Bush song until after I named it that, which is funny. I love Kate Bush.” – Meg Remy, from US Girl…

You’ve been making music for 8 years now but “Half Free” will be your first album released on 4AD. Why did you decide to join this label ?

They were the only one that would have me ! (laughing). No, I contacted them because they were the only label that I really respected. I know they wouln’t try to control me too much and try to make me something I’m not. They work with artists that have longevity, not just taste-of-the-month kind of things. I figured if I could try and team up with them, we could work together for a while.

On this record you explore the life of different female characters, from the war widow (Damn That Valley) to the heartbroken woman (Window Shades). Is there any one of them you feel closer too ?

I’m not sure, I think they are all a little bit a part of me. Probably, there’s a character in the song Sed Knife who’s a woman who’s just kind of looking at her life for the first time and realizing it is what it is and that she has to accept it. I think it’s probably the most me.

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Making music has become a kind of family thing for you with your husband and your family-in-law.

Yeah, I think art is kind of a family thing for me now. My new family, not my birth family but the family I have chosen as mine. We all make work together and separate. It has changed the definition of a family for me, which is a good thing.

And how are Sunday dinners ?

It’s pretty talkative !. It’s different than any family dinners I had. You talk about politics, films or a funny cartoon you read. There’s no topic that’s off limit.

For this record you worked with Ben Cook (Fucked Up and Young Guv) and Amanda Crist (Ice Cream). Do you feel close to a lot of bands in Toronto ?

I don’t know about bands, probably more individuals. It’s hard to know bands, there’re so many personalities in a band, you’re usually friend with one person in a band. I don’t feel particularly close or sentimental about the Toronto scene. I feel lucky there are people I have met and that I have decided to work with but I’ve met plenty other people that I didn’t like ! (laughing)

How is it, living in Toronto ?

It’s nice, it’s far safer than anywhere in the States. It’s clean and it looks good. Everything looks pretty new, which is strange. There aren’t many old buildings. In Europe there are so many old building but even in America, there’s more of a sense of the history of architecture.

For me there’s some kind of retro vibe in your voice, especially when you hit the high notes. It made me think of Kate Bush and then I realized you had similar titles (This Woman’s Work/ Woman’s Work) !

I didn’t even know there was a Kate Bush song until after I named it that, which is funny. I love Kate Bush. I have so much respect for her especially because she put a foot down. She didn’t want to play live and she just didn’t. There’s all this pressure to perform live because the label wants you to because you sell more records that way or whatever. I think she’s had an incredible career, there’s not really anything she can be embarrassed about, which is pretty hard to say for someone like David Bowie.

Dance magic dance…..

(laughing) Oh man, yeah…

Bruce Springsteen, Brandy & Monica and now Gloria Ann Taylor. You’re obviously not afraid of covering or sampling songs. Is there any song that you wish you had written ?

Oh, “Be my Baby” by The Ronettes. I mean they didn’t write that song but they performed it. Definitely that song.

Finally, Sodwee stands for Sound of the Week, what would be YOUR sound of the week ?

Jenny Hval. She’s a Norwegian artist who just put out a record with Sacred Bones called “Apocalypse Girl”. I just saw her playing last Friday and it changed everything for me. It’s really rare, I’m still thinking about her everyday after seeing her. She blew me away. She’s kind of a mix of music, spoken words and performance. She’s very smart, very raw, very sexy and super talented. She would be my sound of the week for sure !

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