Le Tigre multi-instrumentalist JD Samson will return on February 1 with Talk About Body, the three-years-in-the-making debut from her electro-pop project MEN. SPIN scored the first music from the LP — “Make It Reverse.” Listen below!
The band, which has since toured with Peaches and the Gossip, even without an album in the can, was born in an airport three years ago, as Samson and her Le Tigre bandmate Johanna Fateman were en route to a DJ gig. “That day Johanna and my agent said, ‘You guys need a name instead of just being Jo and JD from Le Tigre,'” Samson explained over the phone, fittingly, from an airport, as she prepared to fly to Cleveland with her girlfriend, Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler, to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family.
“We had been talking about this philosophy we adopted to feel more confident when we were dealing with male club promoters. We would ask ourselves, ‘What would a man do?’ That day in the airport it was like, ‘Hey, that guy just cut me in line!’ So we’d ask ourselves, ‘What would a man do?’ So we called ourselves MEN.”
Three years later, MEN has morphed into a three-piece band, featuring Samson’s pals Michael O’Neill (Ladybug Transistor) and Ginger Brooks Takahashi (LTTR, The Ballet), with whom she worked with in another band called Hirsute.
Fateman, meanwhile, acts as the band’s “freelance consultant,” say Samson. “I’ll send her a track and ask, ‘What do you think about this?’ A lot of times her response changes the song completely. Her life is pretty full with her hair salon and baby, but we work together as much as possible.”
Talk About Body was written and recorded over more than three years, starting in a pal’s warehouse studio in Brooklyn, then in a studio with Jordan Lieb, an jingles writer for TV and commercials who won an Emmy for the theme song to — wait for it — the soap opera One Life to Live. “Weird, right? But it was great and we’re really psyched to work with him on the next record, too.”
The new album, says Samson, is “about money and bodies. We thought it was a cool way to take an overview of what bodies really mean to us. It’s an all-encompassing, universal human thing.” One of the album’s best songs, the drum machine and synth bop “Make It Reverse,” was originally written by Samson for Le Tigre. “But nothing happened, so Johanna and I reproduced the song with Ginger and Michael.”
But why, exactly, did it take so long to release the album? “The biggest setback was touring,” says Samson. “We couldn’t stop because we kept getting offers to open for Peaches and the Gossip. It’s really cool because it put us in the position of being a live band before releasing a record. We had people wanting us to play all over the world!”
Another project also distracted Samson from Talk About Body — writing and producing for Christina Aguilera’s latest album, Bionic. “Sia was working with her and she said, ‘I love Le Tigre. That’s my jam!’ So she suggested we write together,” she explains. “Johanna and I went to L.A. and produced some tracks and finished writing lyrics with her. Christina’s a total feminist. She’s got an incredible voice. She knows what she’s doing and works so hard. It really opened my eyes to collaborating with people that I wouldn’t ever think of collaborating with.”
Listen to MEN’s “Make It Reverse” below, then tell us what you think in the comment section.
LISTEN: MEN, “Make It Reverse”
Talk About Body:
1. “Life’s Half Price”
2. “Off Our Backs”
3. “Credit Card Babie$”
4. “Boom Boom Boom”
5. “Take Your Shirt Off”
6. “Who Am I To Feel So Free”
7. “Make It Reverse”
9. “If You Want Something”
10. “Rip Off”
11. “My Family”
12. “Be Like This”