Published on July 17th, 2012 | by Wild Gender
ELEVEN QUESTIONS with Trophy Wife
Katy Otto works as communications director at Service Women’s Action Network, connectivity coordinator at New Paradise Laboratories, an experimental theater company in Philly, and runs the indie record label Exotic Fever. Diane Foglizzo is program director at Girls Rock Philly as well as with Decarcerate PA and at Giovanni’s Room, the country’s oldest LGBTQ bookstore.
With Katy on drums and Diane on guitar and vocals, the duo comprises the band Trophy Wife. Their loud and sweaty performances are like cathartic séances infused poetry and vital messages that reflect the activism both are entrenched in. Trophy Wife recently released their second album entitled “Sing What Scares You,” which includes the track “It Gets Better…?”
A: What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning?
D: Man, I slept good. That melatonin worked well.
K: That was a really weird dream. Why was I a banker?
A: What was the last thing that made you want to scream?
D: I heard this piece on the radio where they were saying there is a resurgence in coal miners getting black lung. They were presenting in this way like ‘We are so surprised!’ Doctors, researchers and NPR pretending they’re discovering shit…
K: I was having a conversation last night about the bombing in the ’80s of MOVE . The city had actually used a chemical that had never been tested in any capacity above ground. A DuPont Company lawyer testified to this. It was extremely disturbing to me. I thought I had known a fair amount about MOVE but I had never heard that part.
A: What was the last thing to give you hope?
D: Watching two girls, that came to the drop in program that I run with Girls Rock Philly, from opposite sides of the city exchange numbers and talk about the band they formed that day.
K: I am going to be traveling to DC on Wednesday with Service Women’s Action Network, an organization I work with, to hear our director testify at a congressional hearing about veteran survivors of sexual assault in the military and the hardship they face currently trying to make VA claims. The bravery that I see from survivors has been the bravery of participating in one’s own change and healing. There is a lot of anxiety these folks have in talking about their experiences and their perseverance and bravery give me hope.
A: I see you all did some traveling in early July. What are your favorite bands to listen to on the road?
D: Lauryn Hill, The Animals, Gary Neuman, Godheadsilo
K: That was a good one!
K: We listened to a mixtape our friend Jana from Germany made us. We never get sick of it. It is the perfectly crafted mix tape. I haven’t even seen the track listing, but still know all the songs.
A: What is your favorite road snack?
K: Cashews. Sometimes Diane shares her cashews. We had Pop Chips from my mom’s house. Potato flour chips. They were okay.
K: Also, Diane ate melted chocolate cookies.
D: Oh yeah, those were good. Those French cookies, they are like curly on the bottom and a block of chocolate on the top. They melted in the car so the bottoms melted to the top making a cookie sandwich. That was the best thing I ate on tour.
A: Who or what made you want to start playing music?
K: When I was 17 I went to Lollapalooza and saw Patty Schemel of Hole play drums. I knew it was over; I knew that was what I wanted to do.
D: I guess seeing this band Victory at Sea in DC in the early 2000s. Watching the singer and guitarist in this band made me think it was possible to go from loving music to playing it.
A: Scariest moment at a performance?
D: We played a show in DC a couple months ago where I completely shut down. I couldn’t even look at the crowd, mostly people who love and care about me and Katy. I felt so vulnerable and naked and so confused about something that brings me happiness. It made me feel so alone and afraid that I played half a song kneeling behind Katy on the drums.
K: That was scary for me. Another time I was scared on a tour was when we toured in Europe. There was a drunk man who kept getting really close to Diane –pushing and touching her – it was a really weird and scary feeling. We really love being close to audiences when we play, but I didn’t want to keep playing when this person was behaving in a threatening way. I didn’t really know what to do. It was handled well by the organizer at the squat. I think the man eventually collapsed and vomited on himself.
A: Is there anyone or anything you try to channel during a performance?
D: I try and be really present with myself and breathe before I play. If I don’t feel in my own body, and I do often feel disembodied, it doesn’t really work out so well. At our most recent show, our release show in Philly, we played a song we wrote in honor of four of our dear friends. I have never done this before – I didn’t really channel this person but I tried to channel the energy and intention behind the song to one of them that was there. I was trying to give my energy to that person in order to help them heal.
K: The good thing about drums is that sometimes when playing drums you can almost physically attack the instrument, which is kind of different. Sometimes when I am playing the drums people say “You look really serious half the time and have fun the other half”. It’s an instrument you can go from letting a bit of anger out to letting a bit of joy out in a few seconds.
A:Best method for conquering your fears?
K: Sometimes you just got to walk through the fire. And then write about it a little maybe.
D: For me, its talking about it. My brain is constantly thinking about things like that so taking a moment outside myself. Having a conversation with someone about it is helpful particularly if it has to do with that person.
K: It helps to visualize how something can go right or appear to be conquered. Take the time to create a positive framing.
D: I think that’s true. That’s a good point.
A: So I was thinking about a question to do with the heat wave in Philly and another one about the dynamics of being in a band but decided to combine the two: What kind of refreshing beverage does your band mate resemble most?
D: I just wanted to say Katy is a Diet Coke but I am not sure if that’s just because she drinks a lot of Diet Coke or if it’s because it’s surprisingly awesome every time you drink it.
K: I think Diane is a beverage she has never expressed interest in which is Orangina. It’s a little tart and sweet. Not every store has it and sometimes you have to go looking. It also has such a nice package. It kind of makes me want an Orangina right now!
A: What have you been working on lately?
D: I have spent a lot of time lately at my job, which is Program Director of Girls Rock Philly. We’ve launched a new program: a drop-in called Barracuda Club, and we’re getting ready for our annual summer camp which happens the second week of august. (We also intend to start after-school programming in the Fall.) I’m the only full-time paid staff person but there is an incredible crew of volunteers who commit with such depth that I’m consistently blown away. I love that GRP is growing but I’m also totally enthralled with the idea of not just becoming another typical non-profit. How can we do it in a way that continues to encourage collaboration, doesn’t only rely on grants, employs different models of decision making and structure…? I also try and support the work of Decarcerate PA, which aims to stop prison expansion in PA as well as put an end to mass incarceration. We’re having a major rally tomorrow outside the gates of SCI-Graterford, an existing prison on whose land they are building 2 new prisons at the cost of $400 million. Read more at our website, www.decarceratepa.info.
K: Trophy Wife just released our second record, “Sing What Scares You.” It is a split release between 307Knox, a queer and lady run record label based out of Durham, North Carolina that we are honored to work with, and our own imprint Meet Your Adversary Records. Diane drew the fox that is on the little logo on the back of the release! We just completed a 5 day tour with Lozen. Wow. They were amazing. We try to approach our band and the relationships we foster and build through it very intentionally. We had heard of these women a year ago and reached out to invite them to come out east and offer help with shows. They blew us away. I run a small record label – Exotic Fever Records. The next release I am putting out is a band The Dropout Patrol from Berlin. Its member Jana Sotzko has been a friend for years – brilliant person and musician. She also very kindly supported Trophy Wife by bringing us to tour Europe. I can’t wait for the record – end of August! Trophy Wife has new songs in the works, is hunkering down to life in Philly, and is making some exciting travel plans for the future. Diane and I will be cooking up more to share down the road. I also got a little mic I am learning to do home recordings with – the Blue Snowball!