wears the trousers magazine

peggy sue: three are family


interrupting yr broadcast: peggy sue

“It’s like a maze in here,” says Peggy Sue’s Katy Klaw as she and bandmate Rosa Rex guide Wears the Trousers into one of the backstage rooms of the Queen Elizabeth Hall. They’ve just performed a brilliant set for the launch of Laura Dockrill’s book Ugly Shy Girls (which, by the way, quotes our review of her previous book – truly, we have made it in the world of publishing) and are full of energy. Drummer Olly Joyce is lugging equipment through as we make ourselves comfy on the strange assortment of furniture in the room. Katy chooses the rigid leather sofa, Rosa a strange architectural chair which looks like it might give way at any second but is apparently quite comfortable, and we pop ourselves down on the floor between them and let the grilling begin…

The Ugly Shy Girls gig is a slightly unusual one for you guys. How did you hear about it and what made you want to get involved?

Katy: Well, Laura’s a friend of ours and she’s been planning it for months and months. She booked us, maybe even before she wrote the book. We know some of the people here, like Kate [Nash] but Laura’s the core of everyone that played tonight. She knows everyone.

Have you read the book?

Rosa: Yeah, it’s really nice.

Congratulations on your recent EP, Lover Gone, which is great. It’s a bit of a more relaxed affair than some of your earlier releases. Was that a conscious decision?

Katy: It was only originally supposed to be demos for our album but we just said, “We really like these songs!” So then we went to record at our friend Ben’s converted barn in Devon.

Rosa: And we just ended up saying, “Let’s record as many songs as we can and make a CD and do something with it.” It sort of became a proper EP.

Katy: When you try and do things properly everything just takes such a long time. We spent a week doing it and then it took about 6 months to do anything with it.

Rosa: We really like the way it sounds. Lots of the things on it are random noises like in one of the songs there’s a door creaking. We were just in this old converted barn and we had to use what we had.

Katy: We didn’t have a drumkit, so Olly just made one. And we had one microphone between us. When we got there, there was a ridiculous storm and we were loading all the stuff through this huge window and the door. We’d been there for 10 minutes and we were holding the door open and the wind blew the door and it smashed the window. We were trying so hard to make a good impression as well. So maybe the EP is slightly quieter as a result of that. Trying not to make too much noise for the rest of the time we were there!

Rosa: It’s definitely different. We went into the other EPs with an idea of what we were going to do for each song and we didn’t have that this time.

Katy: It was more organic.

You’ve released a number of EPs over the past year or so. Any plans for an album anytime soon?

Katy: We’re currently in the latter part of the middle of recording it. We’ve recorded most of it, but we kind of want to do more.

Rosa: Because there are two songwriters, and we really like writing new songs when we should be practising instead, we’ve just got so many songs. We thought we’ll make an album, and then we’ll make a whole album of B-sides for every single track on the album, and everyone was just like, “That’s just two albums!” Two for the price of one!

Katy: We want to do more recording but when we first started doing the album we were financing ourselves, and now we’ve had people come on board so they’ve helped us pay for it. But we’ve basically spent all of the money that we’re allowed. So we might have to go back to Devon.

Rosa: I think it might be because we went to New York.

Did you buy shoes?

Rosa: We didn’t buy any shoes.

Katy: All we bought were garlic dough balls. We couldn’t afford anything else.

You’ve been spending quite a bit of time in America recently, how’s that been?

Rosa: We spent like a month there recording. We had one weekend off. It was the most intense experience I’ve ever had because we were working with two different producers and they both wanted to get as much done as they could, so they’d work until six in the morning and then we’d be having to go back in again. We ran out of money and all we were eating were garlic dough balls. We became proper clichés.

Katy: One day, literally all I could afford was a ramen noodle that was 25 cents, and I couldn’t afford the chicken flavour; I could only afford this curry flavour for one day. The next day it was fine but I felt like I was such a good cliché. I was like, “Yes! I’ve made it. I’m a proper musician. Woo!”

And you’ve just come off a UK tour all of your very own. Was that fun?

Rosa: It was good.

Katy: It was a bit random.

Rosa: We just sort of had our friends with us. It was the first tour we decided to do without anyone else. There was no tour manager; it was just us and our friends driving us around, so it was really relaxing.

Katy: We were only on tour for about ten days and we had three days off. We basically had a holiday.

Rosa: Without meaning to, we kept following Mumford & Sons around. We kept going to the pub and meeting them and we had to say, “Okay guys, it may seem like we planned our tour around you, but we reeeeeally didn’t.”

Katy: Maybe they planned their tour around us. Their tour was definitely more of a holiday with gigs for a couple of days than a tour.

You’re one of the few bands around at the moment that sounds like nothing else that’s gone before. Did you start out with a definite idea of what you wanted to sound like or has it just evolved over the years?

Rosa: That’s really nice, thank you. I would say that I always kind of knew what kind of songs I wanted to write but it just took us a long time catching up before we got to that place. Now we pretty much have a style and we’re quite proud of it. It’s just taken us quite a while to get there. You have to be able to afford to buy nice equipment and instruments and be able to play them, and you have to be quite good at certain instruments before you can justify doing certain songs. When we first started we could just play a bassline and getting used to writing together and being a pair took some time. I think we’ve got really good at writing songs now but when we first started they were quite jokey and I think lots of that was because it was a new thing for us, and it was us playing around. Now we’re a band.

Did either of you do anything before Peggy Sue?

Katy: I was in a band in Brighton but it was more rock and roll. I did backing vocals and occasionally I’d play chords. Rosa was our only fan. It never really felt like it was my project. When Rosa and I started the band it was ours, and it was only the two of us. Peggy Sue & The Pirates was Rosa and I, and then when Olly joined it became Peggy Sue, and that’s the sound that we’re really proud of.

Now that Olly’s a fully fledged member of the band has anything else changed apart from the name?

Katy: We’re really proud of everything we’ve released while we’ve been Peggy Sue, and Olly joining has let us progress. You don’t necessarily need drums all the time, but having drums frees us up to do other stuff and change tempos and not sound ridiculous. We can play different instruments. But I have a little bit of regret that we didn’t just change our name completely when Olly started so we could say we are a completely new band, because there’s quite a lot of confusion about the name.

Rosa: We’ve never really spoken about this but I agree with you.

Katy: I definitely feel like we were one band then and we’re another band now. I think we were originally a different way because we couldn’t really play! Even though we’ve become better at instruments now, we’re still not amazing at the guitar or other things.

Rosa: We just pick up instruments and when we get good at one thing we use it.

What are you listening to at the moment? Any recommendations?

Katy: I’m listening to Beach House quite a lot. Which makes me want to play synths but I can’t. Slow Club’s album is really good too.

Rosa: I really like Mikachu’s album, I think it’s really good. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Bright Eyes recently because Katy really likes him. I once had an argument with a boy in a pub about him. Because I didn’t like the boy I decided I didn’t like Bright Eyes.

Katy: And I’ve been trying to persuade her that he’s amazing.

Rosa: I was like, “I hate him. He’s really Christian and I don’t like him,” but I only didn’t like him because of this boy. And then I had one really horrible car journey back home where Katy and this boy had made “The Ultimate Bright Eyes Collection”…

Katy: No, we hadn’t.

Rosa: …and I was drifting in and out of sleep and all I could hear was someone going “AAARRRGGGHHH.” But I do like him now. He’s really good.

Katy: I bought Rosa my favourite Bright Eyes album and I said, “Sit down and listen.”

Rosa: It’s good…if you can get past small bursts of intense emo.

Katy: You’re lucky I haven’t got properly onto the subject of Bright Eyes…this would go on a lot longer.

Somewhat bizarrely, The Cribs have just recruited Johnny Marr (The Smiths) to join their band. Is there an ’80s legend you’d like to sign up to Peggy Sue?

Rosa: That’s a good question.

Katy: Debbie Harry.

Rosa: Really?

Katy: Imagine how good it would be if Debbie Harry was in our band!

Rosa: Can’t we get Bonnie Tyler or someone?

Katy: No! She’d out-sing us. And she’d out-hair us. But she might write us a really good ballad. I don’t know about the ’80s. I’m not that into ’80s.

What about the 90s?

Katy: Errrrrr…

Rosa: Are they allowed to be dead?

Katy: I’d have liked Meg White to be our drummer, before we got Olly. Someone once told me I played guitar like Meg White plays the drums and I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard anyone say.


Wears the Trousers is a magazine about women in music. Do you think women are under represented in the music press?

Rosa: I think there’s been a lot of attention given over to “the woman” in the music industry in the past few years, but I definitely think they are under represented.

Katy: I think it’s more that they’re under represented in music than in the press. And when the press draws so much attention to women just because they’re women it’s more damaging.

Rosa: Because there have always been less women in the music industry, journalists are very quick to draw comparisons between them, because there are so few very big names. So as soon as you’re an emerging artist you’re getting compared to these people. And it’s not even like Patti Smith or anyone, it’s the one person that’s around at the moment.

Katy: I don’t know anyone who is just influenced by their own generation. No one is ignorant enough to not have listened to what’s come before.

Rosa: If you’re making brilliant music then you must have listened to people from the last 50 years. You don’t just listen to what’s in the charts of a similar ilk. I think it’s sad when things come from the same place but there’s no acknowledgement. Adele is obviously influenced by jazz singers, and Amy Winehouse is influenced by jazz singers too, and I’m sure Adele was influenced by Amy Winehouse. But she didn’t just sit and listen to Amy Winehouse.

Do you reckon it’s easier for the two of you as a band rather than individuals, and also with the addition of Olly, as you’re not going to get this same sort of comparison issues?

Katy: I definitely think that we cheat the system a little bit by there being two of us, people can’t just say it sounds like this or that. They find a way though…always.

Rosa: We were compared to Kate [Nash] for a long time, which is absolutely fine, because we started performing in the same pub basements together.

Katy: And originally our sounds were a lot more similar, but she went one way and we went the other.

Rosa: Now we’re getting that we’re like Florence + The Machine, which is fine. That’s great because I really like her. It’s a bit like, “Oh, you can sing really loudly…you’re like Amy Winehouse,” or “You sing really quietly…you’re like Laura Marling.” But I like all of those people so I really don’t mind being compared to them. Equally, if you make a big fuss about someone being really different then they’re going to find it hard to break through because they’re placed outside.

Katy: Anyway, we’re a mixed band…we’ve got a boy now.

Who are your favourite female artists?

Katy: I think Laura Marling is amazing. I’m so excited about her new album.

Rosa: Every single song she writes gets better and better. When her album came out I thought it was just the most amazing album. The B-sides she put on the singles I think are better than the album, and so now I just think the next album will be absolutely incredible because her lyrics are just so lovely.

Katy: Gush, gush. I also absolutely used to love Regina Spektor, but not so much anymore.

Rosa: Still love Joni Mitchell…and Nina Simone.

Katy: Billie Holliday.

Your song, ‘Pupils Blink’, was used in a Topshop breast cancer campaign. What’s your view of your music being used by corporations?

Rosa: Well that one’s definitely okay. It depends.

Katy: I basically think if you don’t let your music be used, you really can’t make any money. I know it’s grim and you make music for the music, but you have to be able to live off it too.

Rosa: We have friends in bands that have their music on adverts and stuff who have been placed into situations where they’re told they should do it.

Katy: Even if you’re not given the ultimatum it’s still the case that someone’s going to give you money that will allow you to carry on making music. The only thing that we’ve always said is that we wouldn’t want to be a band that’s on like an iTunes advert; just known for one song. That sucks. I’m sure it would depend on what the thing was. I think it’s a little bit funny to have strong views on not doing it.

Rosa: We’d never put a song on something that we didn’t believe in or that we were against. With Topshop it was a yeah, it’s for charity and that’s really great.

Katy: It would completely depend on what it was.

How much of an impact do you think Brighton has had on your sound and your decision to become professional musicians?

Rosa: I think it was anti-professional musicians. We spent the first few years studying continuously while we were in a band so we never took ourselves seriously. We thought, “Isn’t this funny…people like us…ah, I’m going to go write my dissertation now.” It was just all juggling. Brighton is an amazing bubble and everyone’s in a band and you can play anywhere. There are only about four teams of promoters and if they like you, you get to support really good bands.

Katy: You can’t do that in London because unless you know people there’s no way that they’re just going to put you on.

Rosa: We just got to support so many amazing people in Brighton. We’d just think, “Wow, we’re on this really big stage.”

Katy: We’d been a band for about three or four months, and we only had about five songs, when Regina Spektor was doing a tour. The promoter who was putting her on really liked us and she tried really hard to get us on. We weren’t able to do it in the end, but if she’d said yes we would have done it. She was our idol.

Rosa: It’s just mental that there’s that system of everyone being a part of it and really supporting each other. It definitely affected us in the fact that we carried on making music because it was easy. It wasn’t until we stopped university and I moved back to London and Olly was in London that we started to take it seriously.

Katy: I think that it was amazing for us to have had those couple of years in Brighton. It meant when we started taking it seriously we’d already been playing live together for two years and a good number of people already knew who we were. It just meant that we had two years’ experience. I don’t think we would have been able to do it in London.

Do you think it’s harder for bands then to get recognition in London?

Katy: Definitely.

Rosa: I think, in London, music is split into distinct scenes. We find we fit nicely into lots of scenes. In Brighton, the bands that we’re friends with don’t sound anything like us. We played with The Maccabees, and they don’t sound anything like us, but because they’re a Brighton band they get put on with us.

We’re just over halfway through 2009. How are you getting on with your New Year’s resolutions?

Rosa: My only New Year’s resolution was to give up cigarettes and start smoking cigars.

Katy: Which she has definitely done.

Rosa: I’ve started smoking cigars because Olly likes cigars.

Katy: They’ve been smoking grape flavoured cigars. They’re the most disgusting thing…did you used to like grape flavoured bubblegum?


Katy: It’s horrible. They sit around smoking grape flavoured cigars, pretending to be cool.

Olly [now joining us]: Pretending?

Rosa: That was quite harsh, that was.

Katy: I don’t think I made any. I think if you want to make a resolution, New Year’s Eve is not the best time to do it. You’re definitely not going to feel like having a New Year’s resolution on New Year’s Day. You’re definitely going to want to do everything that’s bad for you, like sitting in front of the TV eating ice cream. The middle of May is a good time.

You’ve really made Missy Elliott’s ‘All N My Grill’ your own. What’s your main criteria for covering a song?

Rosa: We did this thing where we released a CD every month. What we originally wanted to do was an old song, a new song and a cover. So we started doing loads of covers, and as we didn’t have a drummer at the start of the year, we were playing the drums so it was really makeshift…

Katy: But really fun.

Rosa: …but the songs that we were covering naturally just started sounding like us because we couldn’t play them properly. The Missy Elliott thing was suggested by Indie Ghetto [a series of hip hop covers by indie artists]. They suggested that we do this song and then we just haven’t stopped playing it.

Katy: We really need to stop, because it’s become a staple of our set. I always say let’s play it because it’s really fun but Olly always says, quite rightly, that we should play our own songs. But we’ll have to come up with another one at least. I think there are probably only another one or two songs in our set that have been there that long and that’s unacceptable.

Rosa: Someone said to me the other day that we obviously really enjoy singing it and that it shows off our voices. If we’d written the song we probably wouldn’t feel comfortable singing in the way that we sing it.

Katy: That’s so true.

Rosa: I think we ought to do ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ next though.

Katy: I think we should do ‘Forgot About Dre’. The third album’s going to be an R&B album. We’re going to get Dre. It’ll be great. And Olly you can beatbox. You’ve got two years to learn.

Rosa: Have you heard our song ‘Television’?


Rosa: Before we found the right drummer, me and Katy thought we’d drum, so we got this drum kit and we dragged it ‘round all summer and we played it and we were so bad at it. When we first got Olly we’d only learnt a couple of songs with him, and one was Television, where I was playing the drums on it, and we made Olly wear this crash helmet and hit his head and we didn’t think he probably should have just been playing the drums.

Katy: I think it was us making Olly do stupid things.

Do you get bullied, Olly?

Rosa & Katy: NO!!!

Rosa: He’s our pride and joy!

Olly: I was definitely up for doing more stupid things at the beginning. If you said it now I’d definitely say no.

Katy: What happened to those days?

So after some Wikipedia research to no avail – who is Eisenstien and what can he do that you can do too?

Katy: It’s really pretentious. He was a Soviet film director in the 1900s and he was one of the first people to do editing. Sorry, I do film studies. So all the theories about editing come from his studies. ‘Eisenstien’ the song is about remembering a relationship how you want to and making it mean something else. You can remember things differently.

That makes sense. We didn’t get that on Wikipedia.

Katy: That doesn’t surprise me. I found out I spelt it wrong. I followed the rule “i before e except after c”. So I spelt it Eisenstien but my dad told me recently it’s ein. So it’s wrong on everything. And I was so proud of myself for using the logic of “i before e except after c”!

Wears The Trousers seem to keep stalking you in toilets. Women’s toilet queues are a nightmare. Have you ever, at one of your own gigs:
(a) used your fame to jump the toilet queue
(b) used the gents
(c) joined the queue when you should be on stage
(d) none of the above…you have amazing control of your bladder

Katy: I’ve definitely pushed to the front but only when we’re about to go on. If it’s our gig, I just join the queue as no one will mind if I’m late. If we’re supporting someone else though and we’re in a rush I might ask to jump the queue. I don’t think I’ve ever used the gents, but Rosa probably has.

The artwork for all your releases is always lovely. Who’s responsible for that?

Katy: A boy called Ben Philips from Brighton. He went to Brighton Uni and we went to a print fair that they had. I bought a couple of his prints and they were incredibly beautiful. I said, “What’s your name? We’re in a band, would you be up for doing some artwork for us?” His name was signed really badly on the print so we didn’t know what his name was for a year, and then Rosa spotted another one of his illustrations in the Brighton magazine so we emailed him. And now he does all our artwork and he’s so amazing. He just graduated and we played at his degree exhibition. It was cool having all his work around us. I felt like a proud mother a little bit. But it’s really cool.

Rosa: There are little fannies and willies on our MySpace page. There are a lot of bums too. I even have a favourite bum.

Katy: I thought people might complain about it.

Rosa: Who would complain about a cartoon penis!?

Katy: I like your shoes.

* * *

Emma Lawton

Peggy Sue are back at London’s Southbank Centre on Tuesday as part of the Laura Marling & Friends live extravaganza. The Lover Gone EP is available now. To keep up with album news and tourdates, visit Katy, Rosa and Olly on Myspace.


FREE MP3: Peggy Sue, ‘Lover Gone’


‘Lover Gone’


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