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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Inside the mind of U.S. Girls' Meghan Remy

Back when I lived in Chicago and winters meant cold weather, me and my soul sister Molly made an awkward stage with a lopsided Christmas tree on it at a DIY space in Wicker Park where we lived. The stage was for Meghan Remy, wonderful pop noise magician and the sole member of U.S. Girls, and that night she did a cover of Frank Sinatra's "My Way," inside the tree, that knocked me head over heels. We've both left Chicago since then - I came here and she went to Toronto - but thanks to the magic of touring musicians we'll get to hang out again tonight at 529. I called her to get a peek inside the mind of someone who's spending most of her days and nights moving from road to stage to road. When she answered, she was out with her tour mate Slim Twig, hunting for that ever-elusive "healthy" tour stop, Subway. We talked about everything that was on her mind.

Food on her mind
"Last night we made 2 a.m. bad food choices and had avocado swiss Whoppers. They were pretty good." (I was not convinced ...) "... If you don't eat meat don't try it. Food is pretty much the same here as it is in Canada, but I do miss cheese steaks and Bahn Mi in Philly and other special restaurant things."

The stage on her mind
"It's just me on stage. When we were in Europe I toured with a full band. It was a good challenge and something I always wanted to do. I felt like I had less to do, but I got into focusing on standing up straight and actually using the mic stand, ha-ha. (She kneels on the ground during her solo set, singing over tape loops and melodies.) I made more eye contact. I had no gear to look at and couldn't just be staring at my mixer the whole time. I would look out at the audience and find somebody to lock eyes with. I try to get the stare on and make them look away first. I like to win and want to win the staring contest. I'm super competitive in all areas of life."

American cities on her mind
"We're heading to Memphis to stand outside of Graceland, ha-ha. It's way too expensive to go inside." (I told her about the House of Meows ...) "There's a storefront with 200 cats in it? We gotta go! This is my first time touring the States. We already got to play Chicago with Mayor Daley, and they were the best I have ever seen them. We do see some strange things, like the Wal-Mart in Cleveland is pretty bleak. And crazy signs, really racist caricatures of Obama on billboards that say, "Pray we don't get fooled again." You forget these things exist."

Georgia on her mind
After reading a review of her record, Gem, in Atlanta Music mag Stomp & Stammer, I had to ask, 'Umm, do you ride a glittery swan? "Whoaaaa, no, we're just in a Honda Hyundai Sonata heading to Atlanta. Hahaha. I visited Atlanta a lot when I was younger; my brother went to Georgia Tech and was a football player there. I really like Atlanta, loved it as a teenager. I would go to Little 5 Points and see all the funky boutiques. You know, get some bondage pants. The plaid ones with two straps, not the S&M bondage ones. We want to go to Criminal Records when we're in town."

Canadian music on her mind
"Slim Twig, obviously, and Zacht Automat. They are this duo that released nine albums last year. All for free on the Internet, very psychedelic Sun Ra pop. I think it is some of the best music made in the past decade. We're making an LP for them, a compilation of the best of the nine records. Our label is called Calico Corp. It's hard work having your own label but it's really rewarding."

Come challenge Meghan to a staring contest, or any other feat of strength and skill tonight at 529 with Slim Twig, Iron Jayne, and Del Venicci. $7. 8 p.m. 529, 529 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-228-6769. www.529atl.com.

Billy Mitchell is a fella who, even after three years, still feels brand new to Georgia. He plays drums in the band Carnivores, and elsewhere around town - in basements, bars, fancy restaurants, and living room floors - and tries to experience all that Atlanta has to offer. He loves the friends he's met, the veggies he's grown, and the music he's played.

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