September 29, 2020
The deliverer of electropop’s most withering putdowns talks club culture, workaholism and making French rock cool again
Marie Davidson: ‘We were the under-under-under of the underground’
Empathy and gentle encouragement are all well and good, but sometimes you need browbeating into action. How else to explain the appeal of fitness instructors, BDSM and Marie Davidson? Since her first dancefloor-adjacent release in 2014, the French-Canadian producer has made intimidation her brand, disparaging the shallow side of club culture and its self-destructive behaviours in a voice that could shrivel ripe plums. It wasn’t just a pose, either. Each record, from Perte d’Identité (identity loss) to Adieu au Dancefloor (goodbye to the dancefloor) to her breakout, 2018’s Working Class Woman, sought enlightenment amid the sadistic aesthetic.
The latter was conceived as an “anti-burnout” record, even if lead single Work It, with its exhortations of “sweat dripping down your balls”, was often misinterpreted as a productivity doctrine: the real work, Davidson avowed at the song’s conclusion, was nurturing oneself. Planning to tour it for a year, then take a year’s sabbatical, she thought she had built-in limitations that would allow her to do just that. Yet she succumbed to burnout anyway, ending up plagued by chronic insomnia, a sleeping-pill addiction and strange rashes. “It’s like a domino effect,” she says. “You get caught in a spiral until you realise: this is not working any more.”
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