Long before David Bowie first became a “Space Oddity” or Lou Reed took a “Walk on the Wild Side”, androgyny and gender bending have often been a leading force in popular music and culture. Marlene Dietrich dressed in men’s clothes as far back as the 1930’s and in Shakespearian times men played all of the women’s roles because proper ladies didn’t perform on stage.
Indeed, male acts like Elton John, Queen, Marilyn Manson and Placebo alongside female acts like L7, Le Tigre and The Butchies have managed to push the boundaries between what is considered masculine and what is considered feminine and there is no doubt that mixed-up gender roles will continue influencing the world for years to come.
In recent years, an even newer trend seems to be gaining ground with all-male acts taking on names reflecting a more feminine side to their masculine line-up. Dish took time to round up some of these all-boy bands with all-girl names and talk about what inspired them to embrace their feminine sides.
Twenty-Seven year old Gregg Michael Gillis, better known as Girl Talk has been making music since he left high school. After a few tries at collaborating with peers, Gillis started performing under the name Girl Talk which The New York Times dubbed “a lawsuit waiting to happen”.
Girl Talk delivers mash-up style remixes which employ dozens of unauthorized samples melded together to create a completely new song. Despite any controversy that may surround Gillis’ work, Girl Talk has garnered enormous praise from critics and fans alike not to mention the completely sold-out performances that accompany any Girl Talk show anywhere in the nation. On the subject of his nom de remix, Gillis remains elusive. He has in the past claimed that the name was a reference to a Jim Morrison poem, the name of an early side project by Japanese noise band Merzbow and a Seattle grunge band named TAD on varied occasions.
In a recent interview with FMLY he said that the name was a pop culture reference to a lot of things but mainly he just wanted to “shake things up” in the scene he was playing at the time and picked a name that sounded exactly opposite what he really was. Now, he’s got the final laugh too, as his success has left many of his early contemporaries copying his style and talking like a girl.
It’s an old story: A young boy (in this case frontman Chad Wolf) grows up in the middle of nowhere (in this case Charleston, South Carolina) and falls in love with his older sister’s New Wave record collection. He relocates to LA at age 22 and earns a living doing whatever odd jobs he can including being an extra in a Celine Dion video, and eventually lands an internship with a well respected songwriter who helped him refine and sharpen his writing skills. The boy offers to housesit for a friend who just happens to know someone with some pull (in this case famed Swedish record producer Max Martin). Before he knows it, the boy finds himself in Stockholm recording an album with one of Europe's biggest pop producers and being backed by an all-Swedish band, is set to take the world by storm. Songs from Carolina Liars 2008 Atlantic Records debut Coming to Terms have appeared on such popular television shows as Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, King of the Hill and 90210 and the bands videos are in heavy rotation on VH1 and MTV. Carolina Liars was named by Wolf after his home state. He’s unclear if he thinks Carolinians are all untruthful.
Boys Like Girls
Martin Johnson, formerly of the Boston band Fake ID/The Drive, finally decided to come out of his self-imposed exile after FI/TD’s break-up by recruiting bassist Bryan Donahue, Drummer John Keefe and lead guitarist (and distant cousin) Paul DiGiovanni to record a handful of songs Johnson had written under the name Lancaster. It wasn’t until months later that the band formally changed their name to Boys Like Girls at the suggestion of a friend of Johnson’s who said it sounded more modern and fun. It must have been a fortuitous change because the band has since released a successful self-titled album as Boys Like Girls and have toured with such bands as Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte. The band has recently announced the upcoming September release of their newest album Love Drunk.
A Christian Math-core band from Douglassville, Georgia just outside of Atlanta, Norma Jean was originally known by the name Luti-Kriss. Drummer Daniel Davison says that the band got their current name from actress Marilyn Monroe, also known as Norma Jean, but declines to state why the name change was needed in the first place. However he goes on to say that it wasn't until after they decided upon that name that they found out that "Norma" means "pattern", and "Jean" means "God's grace and mercy", combined saying "Patterns of grace and mercy”. The band has not only undergone a name change and has undergone several personnel changes since. Their original vocalist Josh Scogin left the band shortly after the release of 2002’s Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child, stating that "it was just something that I felt led to do." The band is embarking on a new tour during November and December with Horse the Band, The Chariot, and Arsonists Get All the Girls. They also announced that in select cities, they would exclusively play their first album, Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child, in its entirety.