Pastiche: “If I look like a drag queen, I’m doing something right”
Like her heroine Stefani Germanotta, who grew up in New York’s ritzy Upper West Side and became Lady Gaga, Jade Roche grew up in upscale Malahide in Co Dublin and became a pastiche.
The cheeky attitude and catchy hooks on her new EP “Freak Show” mark the 24-year-old Dubliner as a star of the future. She doesn’t want to do anything ordinary with her time.
She enters the Grand Hotel on Grove Road in Malahide as if she owns it. She has a sense of humor that owes less to the nuns who tutored her at St. Oliver Plunkett’s than, of course, to her heroes Dua Lipa, Rihanna, Madonna and Lady Gaga.
When it comes to her latest single ‘Disco Junkie’, a rousing electro-pop ode to the liberation that has come with Dublin’s post-Covid nightlife recovery – and one of the best songs on the new six-track EP – says Pastiche it was filmed in The George, the capital’s most famous gay bar.
“And when I came in to shoot the video, one of the guys at the bar asked me, ‘Are you one of the queens performing at the George tonight?’
“I thought, ‘That’s the best compliment you can ever give me. I am very happy with it.'”
That people thought you had a penis, am I saying?
“If someone thinks I have a dick, I’m doing something right!” She laughs. “A mighty one! One who swings! That’s a compliment for me. If I look like a drag queen, I’m doing something right.”
Pastiche’s earliest childhood memory was of watching her father and his best friend Uncle Shifty (“his real name isn’t Shifty, and he wasn’t my uncle – I just called him that”) rehearsing in their garage at home when they was four years old. “A lot of my early taste in music came from him. He loved Bowie, Queen, Elton, Tom Jones. He had eclectic tastes. He played keyboards and sang.”
On Saturday evenings she helped him carry the keyboard to the car. “He’d be like, ‘Oh, b*ll*x!’ when he threw it in the trunk of the car. I used to imitate him and say, ‘Oh, b*ll*x!’ the whole time. Those were probably my first words,” she says, laughing.
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She was enrolled at the Billy Barry Stage School as a child and auditioned for all pantos.
“I never got any of them. I was always a bit weird as a kid. I was always younger than everyone in my class. They were five and six years old. i was four And I was always shorter and a bit fatter than everyone else. I wasn’t the ideal look, you know what I mean?
“Because when you do these auditions,” she says, “they always want the kids to line up perfectly and be very alike.
“I felt like I looked different from the other girls. Body image was something I struggled with. I got my big girl teeth pretty young and looked a bit like a bunny. I was self-aware from a very early age.”
When she was seven years old, her parents separated. “It was tough … I wouldn’t be the person I am today if that hadn’t happened. My parents are both very happy now.”
At 16, she began to suffer from anxiety. It was triggered by the pressure of the Leaving Cert. She went to see a therapist, but when she was 18 studying singing at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM) in Dublin, she suffered from panic attacks and agoraphobia.
“Being in a quiet room — in a classroom with a lot of people — would freak me out,” she says. “It scared me. If everyone were quiet, I would hear my heart beating. I would hear my body doing things. It would start to invoke that fear.
“And I couldn’t leave the room – because if I got up and left, that would draw more attention to me. But I had to leave because otherwise I would have a massive panic attack.”
So she would leave and go back to Malahide.
“It got so bad that I didn’t even want to leave my house because if I went out I could potentially end up in a situation that could trigger a panic attack. If I stayed home, I was safe. In my safe space – in my pajamas, under the covers in my bedroom. I have isolated myself. “
When did agoraphobia start?
“The agoraphobia started when I was at BIMM. The thing about fear is that it can just happen. I could sit here and seem perfectly fine and just chat and I would get this feeling in my stomach.”
She was at a restaurant in London’s West End last week to see her Angry when she suddenly had an ominous feeling in her stomach.
“I haven’t had a panic attack in months. Everything was great – and then all of a sudden I was like, ‘Holy shit, I’m about to have a panic attack.’ Nothing happened that caused it.
“But something happened to my body. I had to run to the bathroom. I thought I was going to puke. I cried. I told the person I was with that I have to fight my way through or it would consume me.”
In the end she made it Angry. “I cried my eyes out before the break. I had to try to breathe through them. It comes in waves. It’s not consistent. Sometimes it’s okay.”
Last year she released her debut single “Chasing Down the Fame”. “It was an idea of who I am,” she says. “The opening line is, ‘I’m a daddy’s girl with daddy issues/don’t cry/hold the tissues. This is no sad story / I’m on my way to fame.’ It means I’m going to give this music thing a shot and see what happens.”
What happened was that she released a string of brilliant pop songs that won her comparisons to Dua Lipa, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Fame beckons – and she’s aware of the dilemma behind it.
“For someone like me who’s suffered a lot from anxiety, the big question is, ‘Why the hell would you put yourself on a stage and put yourself out there like that?'”
And why should she?
“Because I feel so strong on stage. I might feel anxious but the moment I get on stage it’s gone. I am exactly the person I imagined.
“I also think there’s something really powerful about naming yourself. With pastiche, I wanted something strong and different. I always wanted a stage name — all my idols had stage names, so I was like, ‘Why the hell not!’”
“Freak” from the new EP is an autobiographical song. “It’s about a naughty experience I once had with a woman. My mom heard the song and has no idea what it’s about, god bless her.
“It’s about being infatuated with this woman. It’s kind of like my first experience. We’re still friends.
“I had a lot of affairs with boys at school. It wasn’t until I got older that I tried it and realized that I’m a lover of everything. I am a queer woman. It means I identify as a people lover, a people lover.
“I’m not referring to the term ‘bisexual.’ I am not referring to the term ‘lesbian’. I am not referring to the term ‘heterosexual’. I feel like an odd mishmash of them. I feel like the umbrella of queer just includes me as a person.”
So is their music “queer pop”?
“I wouldn’t call my music ‘queer pop’ because anyone can enjoy pop. I have a feeling as soon as you say “queer” the homophobes come out. And they come for you.
“I can step into a queer space and be myself, but I also have this privilege of walking into a straight space and almost fitting in and not being a target, which is very interesting. I used to struggle with that.”
“When I’m in a straight situation I feel too queer, and when I’m in a queer situation I always feel like I have to justify myself for not being queer enough.
“That’s why I consider my music dark pop. I love using the dark beats of the guitar. It has an edge. I never wanted to release bubblegum pop. I want something with bite.”
Pastiche’s Freak Show Symphony EP will be released on May 20th. She will headline a show at The Grand Social in Dublin on May 25th, with support from ROOUE and SJ Talbot
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/music-news/pastiche-if-i-look-like-a-drag-queen-i-am-doing-something-right-41646969.html Pastiche: “If I look like a drag queen, I’m doing something right”