City Of Angels: Hether Fortune

City Of Angels: Hether Fortune

FOR V100, HEDI SLIMANE PRESENTS THE VETERANS AND THE RISING STARS OF LOS ANGELES'S PUNK ROCK SCENE. HERE, HETHER FORTUNE OF WAX IDOLS TALKS ABOUT HER NEW RECORD, THE END OF HER DOG DAYS, AND KNOWING WHEN TO SHUT YOUR MOUTH

FOR V100, HEDI SLIMANE PRESENTS THE VETERANS AND THE RISING STARS OF LOS ANGELES'S PUNK ROCK SCENE. HERE, HETHER FORTUNE OF WAX IDOLS TALKS ABOUT HER NEW RECORD, THE END OF HER DOG DAYS, AND KNOWING WHEN TO SHUT YOUR MOUTH

Photography: Hedi Slimane

Text: Natasha Stagg

Hi Hether. Where are you?

HETHER FORTUNE I'm sitting in the back of a van. Rachel just talked with her butt. We're leaving from San Antonio right now—well, we're getting ready to leave. We have tonight off.

We should talk about your new album, American Tragic. What or who were you listening to? Who were your influences, visually or sonically?

HF Visually, I was very much going for a noir-meets-cheesy-horror-film style. I just want it to be really clean and a little more grown up, but also have a hokey twist to it, you know? A little bit over the top, borderline cheesy at times, which is why I had Shawn design that crazy font. I really wanted it to be graphically extreme, but photographically minimal. It just ties in thematically with the album because it is an album of extremes, emotional extremes. There's a sense of maturity, but also a lot of chaos and drama, and sadness.

It’s very mature sounding. In these songs, like you can hear your range better.

HF It was a combination of both being more professional and serious about my voice, and also really not thinking about it at all. I think the years of training, so to speak, singing live, and figuring out what my voice can do and cannot do, and what my range is, and how I can take care of it. I've picked up a lot of tricks over the years. I finally feel more comfortable with [my voice]. It's weird; I'm both more obsessive about it—like I do tons of vocal exercises and drink lots of water and have honey and all types of crazy tea—but I also am way more chill about my voice than I've ever been. I don't stress about it at all.

Like you said, it's about emotional experiences, what you're going through. Do you want this album to say sum it all up?

HF Yeah. I made the album because that's what I do—make records—and there was gonna be one made regardless of what was happening in my life. But this is what was happening, and I didn't want to be afraid of vulnerability. I wanted to dive into it and use the album as a vehicle to work through what I was going through, so that I wouldn't drive my friends crazy talking about it. I didn't want to be self-destructive and all that. I wanted to try and channel it in a positive way, as much as I was able to.

Since your last album, what are the major events you covered in this one?

HF It's mostly—I got married really quickly and stupidly, and then very quickly got divorced. It was just a lot of disillusionment. I uprooted from my home, where I lived for seven years. I lost my cat and I got a divorce, and I was playing in White Lung, and was really detached from everything that my identity had been linked to. I was just free-floating and a bit lost, and that's what was going on. I needed to find myself again, a new version of me—or I don't know, whatever that means.

And you have a fascinating dating history too. That must really play into it.

HF I don't mean for it to be. That's just my life…

Yeah, you're a fascinating person, so that means you have a fascinating dating life.

HF Yes, I guess that's really what it is. I like to surround myself with people that challenge me, and that are interesting. Of course, oftentimes they happen to be musicians, because that's what I am. I'm always surrounded by those people, and so I end up meeting them on tour or wherever. Yeah, my dating history is pretty ridiculous. It's true.

Do you want to name names or you want to leave that out?

HF No, I don't. If anyone wants to know, it's pretty easy.

Are you mellowing out, lately?

HF I've mellowed out a lot. I can't really pull all-nighters like I did with you that one time. There's no driving to the beach at seven in the morning.

Yeah, I wish I could go back to that time, but it's not my reality anymore either.

HF The dog days are gone. It's over—time has passed. I mean, occasionally I'll turn up, if you will, but yeah I don't really party the way I used to anymore. I'm 28. I've been on my own for a long time. I left home when I was 16. I've had many times to party and be crazy. And you know, it's not something that I feel like is super linked to who I am. I don't feel like I identify as a partier. I just happen to party sometimes. I used to party more than I do now.

Are you not going to play with White Lung anymore?

HF No. I don't who's playing with them now.

Was there just too many things going on for you?

HF Yes, it was just too much. I really enjoyed playing with them. I'm glad I got to travel the world with people who I get along with really well, but it was never supposed to be a permanent thing. I ended up doing it longer than I initially had signed up to do. I didn't want to abandon them, and I also was enjoying myself, so it worked out that I could do it for a bit longer. But I got to the point where I was like, I can't, I can't keep doing it. They had Lindsey [Troy] from Deap Vally playing for a while, but I don't think she's still doing it either because she also has her own band.

Do you think that punk is dead?

HF No. Punk is not a genre to me—or a style, or a fashion fad. It’s a spirit. It’s an attitude. It’s been something that has been around long before it was called punk. I don’t think that can ever die.

Who are your music icons? Like, all time, forever.

HF All time, forever? Number one will always be Daniel Ash. I don’t think I would do a lot of things if it weren’t for his influence. You know, the holy trinity: Iggy, Bowie, Lou Reed. They icons are icons for a reason. Also, obviously, Lydia Lunch. She’s still kind of a bit of an unsung hero still in certain circles.

Have you ever met her?

HF Yeah, she’s the best.

Really?

HF Yeah, she’s so cool. She’s like a mama bear. She’s very nice. We played with her earlier this year, which was really rad. She’s legendary. I’m crazy about her. I don’t know her well, but the few times I’ve interacted with her she’s been really wonderful. Who else? I’ve actually been re-obsessed with Jeff Buckley, lately, whom I used to really love when I was a teenager. And I’ve become re-obsessed with him. I have a theory that Jim sold his soul to the devil in order to come back from the dead into the body of his son. They look too much alike and their voices are the same. It’s crazy.

So does the name Wax Idols just mean you?

HF Yeah, there’s no one in the band now who was in the band when I started. But I definitely don’t think that Wax Idols is just the Hether Fortune show. If it were, I would just use my name. It’s definitely a collective. It’s changed a lot over the years. It’s kind of open-ended. Whoever wants to stay can stay and if they have to go, then they go.

So, the part of you who is only you is your writing and your online presence. How has that affected your fan base?

HF I don’t know. I really don’t. I think it’s a double-edged sword. It can be really helpful because it provides an element of humanity to the band that people can relate to, and I think other times it gets me in trouble because I am really opinionated and freak people out. I think it can go either way. I try not to think about it, honestly. I try not to concern myself with how I am perceived too much because I am just afraid that that would accidentally influence my behavior. And I don’t ever want to be inauthentic.

You’ve been pretty outspoken about sex work in the past and you’re not so much anymore. So I’m assuming you don’t do that.

HF Yeah. I’m not doing it anymore. It’s not because of anything bad. I’m just not doing it anymore. I don’t need to do it anymore, and I kind of got burned out. It’s really exhausting, like, emotionally exhausting work. I try not to talk about things I am not actively a part of because I hate when people do that. When they talk about shit they are not really doing.

Lena Dunham has said some things about sex work and of course she got totally attacked for it.

HF Yeah, she should shut her mouth about sex work. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Like, that makes me so mad, too. Everyone should shut their mouth about everything they actually don’t know about. That’s my general feeling. It’s pretty easy: If you don’t know what you are talking about, don’t fucking talk.

Credits: PRODUCTION KIM POLLOCK AND YANN RZEPKA DIGITAL TECHNICIAN ALEX THEMISTOCLEOUS (MILK STUDIOS)  PHOTO ASSISTANTS FRANK TERRY, MATT HARTZ, JAMES PERRY RETOUCHING DTOUCH  EQUIPMENT MILK STUDIOS  LOCATION QUIXOTE STUDIOS  CATERING FOOD LAB

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