'The myth of what I represent scares people': Peaches on her music and new body positive art exhibition

Peaches' first-ever solo art exhibition is running at the Kunstverein, one of the oldest art associations in Hamburg, Germany.
Peaches' first-ever solo art exhibition is running at the Kunstverein, one of the oldest art associations in Hamburg, Germany. (Magdalena Wosinska)

Twenty years ago, a Toronto musician who used to go by the name Merrill Nisker wrote a jaw-droppingly bold track called F--k the Pain Away.

At the time she wrote that song, Nisker had been kicking about the local music scene for a number of years playing in various folk and indie-rock bands.

When she started to mess around at home with a groovebox drum machine, not only did Nisker's sound change, but her entire persona changed as well. She became Peaches — a foul-mouthed electro-punk rapper in pink leather hot pants.

Warning: This video contains strong language.

It was an act that was a bit too hot for Toronto at the time, so Peaches moved to Berlin where her sexually explicit songs found a much warmer reception. The moment she dropped her debut album, The Teaches of Peaches, in 2000, she became an instant icon with a list of celebrity fans that included the likes of Madonna, Pink, Yoko Ono and Iggy Pop.

While Peaches' music and stage shows have become even more outrageous and explicit over the years, at the heart of her work remains a serious critique of the patriarchy, gender norms and the objectification of women. Those themes are on display — literally — in Peaches' new solo art exhibition running now in Hamburg, Germany until Oct. 20. 

Accompanying the art show is a touring live show, There's Only One Peach With The Hole In The Middle, featuring almost 40 musicians and performers presenting the past, present and future of queer feminism. It will be staged Dec. 28, 29 and 30 in Berlin.

Peaches joined q's Tom Power from a studio in Berlin to tell us more about the exhibition and to reflect on her musical legacy.

Check out Peaches discussing her art show on her Instagram below.

Download our podcast or click the 'Listen' link near the top of this page to hear the full conversation with Peaches.

— Produced by ​Stuart Berman and Catherine Stockhausen

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