Guiding the seamen
The nautical erection of MEN’s androgynous lead singer JD Samson is about to explode. Arthur Tam gets a closer look
Check out this girl’s lighthouse. It’s a pretty impressive specimen, don’t you think? But however amusing you find this image, it’s not a fishy joke. It’s a provocatively artistic photo taken from the concept of MEN’s latest music video − Who Am I To Feel So Free. The video shows the band’s lead singer, JD Samson, basking in the coastal sun but, as the camera zooms in for a closer look, her (yes, her) steadily enlarging lighthouse penis appears. Her nautical erection then shoots out a golden relief of glittery confetti cum that’s nothing short of cool – and, by the look on her face, pretty satisfying. We can almost hear her ecstasy by looking at her sated expression. But what does it all mean? Well, an extreme amount of pent-up frustration at the current state of America, according to Samson. “It’s tough these days, you know – people are losing their homes, people are unemployed. It’s difficult to survive.”
MEN is a band that’s just as much about their meaningful lyrics as it is about their electro dance beats. They tackle topics like political strife, the financial crisis and the complexities of gender and sexual identity by layering their lyrics with liberating dance beats. “I wouldn’t put any art out there if it didn’t have any content − content is what’s important to me. I would need that for myself,” Samson says.
Samson describes MEN’s music as ‘shredding at the club’ – basically dance beats with a layer of shredding guitars. It’s genuine fun combined with rhythmic vibes and Samson’s take-charge feminist chants. MEN attributes their dance-driven music as a way to ‘create a space where people can be confident to express themselves’, which is why the LGBT community is so fond of the group. Samson herself is an image of free expression, with her androgynous style and what we believe is a soon-to-be iconic moustache.
This Brooklyn-based indie act came together in 2007 when Samson collaborated with Le Tigre band-mate Johanna Fateman. From then onwards they have worked with the fabulously provocative performer Peaches, gone on tour with the powerhouse band Gossip and performed at Coachella. It’s been a steady rise to fame for MEN and they now want to expand their message so that it reaches a wider audience. “The band really speaks for equality and to fight for whatever it may be: sex, power, money,” Samson says. “Money is the major topic that we talk about. And in our second album we talk about money and class. Class is something that people are afraid to talk about.”
With an androgynous lead singer, current and polemical lyrics, homosexual themes and catchy rhymes, we wonder if MEN will be accepted into the mainstream. “If they are ready for us, we will be ready for them,” Samson says. Like a lighthouse keeper when a big ship hoves into view…
MEN play a live show at Grappa’s Cellar on Thursday March 8 from 8pm. TIckets: 2521 2322.