“High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.
Philly, meet your new neighbor Sadie Dupuis. Oh sure, you know her best as the frontwoman of Speedy Ortiz, the now-veteran award-winning attention-getting indie-rock darlings of every music writer from Noisey to Pitchfork, who’ve been around the touring block with the likes of Thurston Moore, Stephen Malkmus, and the sisters Deal. You know. NBD.
But what you might not know is that, as mononymous solo artist Sad13 (and yes, that’s “Sad Thirteen”), Dupuis has moved from the heart of New England right to our backyard. With her debut record Slugger racking up the critical acclaim, she’s already on tour, and you can catch her at Girard Avenue’s Everybody Hits tonight.
As she settles into life in Philly, Dupuis compares and contrasts for us her experiences in Philly and Boston and tips you local vegans off to the best tofu hoagie in town. You’re welcome.
Hair and Makeup by Paige Lewis / Hairs To You Salon / hairstoyousalon.com
The Key: You’re not a Philly native — when did you relocate?
Sadie Dupuis: I moved here for two weeks in January, and then I came full-time in March.
TK: Why Philly?
SD: It’s a city I’ve always enjoyed playing on tour, and I think I’ve made a lot of friends here just as a touring musician over the past few years. I really respect the community of songwriters, as well as activism within the music scene here. I had lived in Massachusetts for five years, I didn’t really have a reason to stay there. So yeah, just a lot of admiration for the songwriters and artists that I know here already.
TK: You’re with Speedy Ortiz, are any of the band relocating too?
SD: Well we already kind of all lived in different places, but I’m the only one in Philly right now.
TK: A lot of my questions are sort of Philly-centric, but being as you’re so new to the area as a resident I may have to omit some of those..
SD: [laughs] …I feel like all my answers about Philly always have to do with the food I’ve eaten here…
TK: …we like to avoid “The Cheesesteak Question”…
SD: Oh I’m vegan, so I’d have no answers for you on that! (NOTE: Our vegan editor adds that excellent plant-based cheesesteaks can be found at Pub On Passyunk East, Sabrina’s Gourmet to Go, Hip City Veg and The Abbaye in Northern Liberties, among other places.)
TK: So what’s your connection and relationship with Philly’s music scene?
SD: Well I still kind of feel like an interloper, just because I’ve only lived here since March. You know, I don’t book shows here — I think when I lived in Massachusetts I’d lived there so long that I felt like enough of a fixture of the music scene to play more of a strong hand in booking shows. So really it’s been intriguing to just be an observer. Since I’ve been here I’ve been going to lots of house shows — which, over the course of the years I’ve been living in Northampton and Boston, that community sort of waned and died down — and it’s very active here! It’s cool to get to see so many bands, so I don’t know. I feel like on any given night there are like three shows I wanna go to. So yeah, I think my involvement in the music scene here is more as a fan than anything.
TK: So far, which venues have you played?
SD: Sad13 did PhilaMOCA. Speedy played a lot of places. The Fillmore I think was the most recent time Speedy played here. We used to play Johnny Brenda’s all the time, which I like, and I still like going to shows there, or DJ nights there. I like Boot and Saddle. And I like playing houses — there’s a lot of great ones in West Philly, which I probably am not supposed to name on the record! [laughs]
TK: Why’s that?!
SD: I dunno, maybe that’s the Boston fearfulness of shows being shut down. Although it seems like a fairly copacetic thing here. Shows run early in Philly, I like that too.
TK: You like that?
SD: Oh yeah. Hell, shows starting at 7 p.m., that’s great. You could be in bed at a reasonable hour. I’m old. [laughs]
TK: That’s a very rockstar attitude. So, you mentioned activism in the music scene and we normally ask what artists love most about the arts scene in Philly. Could you elaborate on that?
SD: Yeah, I think a lot of the artists that I most respect and the music that I enjoy here are very focused on community building within Philadelphia. Moor Mother, I would point to. Camae obviously makes activism central to Moor Mother as a project, but also is really involved in booking shows and educational groups for young people who wanna make music in Philly. And I think a lot of my friends here have been very involved with the “Girls Rock” programs. So yeah, it seems like a music scene that has made inclusivity a focus, moreso than other cities I’ve lived in.
TK: Is there anything yet that you find frustrating as an artist here?
SD: I think it’s too soon to say. Since I moved here I played the Fillmore once, with Speedy, and Sad13 just did PhilaMOCA. So I don’t know that I’m frustrated by anything yet. It’s new, and I’m excited about all the new bands I’m getting into.
TK: Which neighborhood do you live in now?
SD: West Philly.
TK: Do you like it?
SD: Yeah! When I would come here on tour I always had friends who lived in like, you know, eight-bedroom punk houses in West Philly. So it’s the neighborhood I knew best. Also, Speedy’s first EP we recorded in a studio in West Philly, so, I’ve always known the neighborhood I live in best. I have a lot of friends in the neighborhood, a lot of house shows I like to see in the neighborhood. A lot of food I like there.
TK: OK, you can talk about that now.
SD: Fu-Wah [Mini Market]. I just wanted to be close to it. Really great tofu hoagies. [laughs]
TK: What’s your preferred means for getting around town right now?
SD: I drive everywhere. [laughs] No, it’s terrible. I drive everywhere or I don’t leave the house for like a week at a time. [laughs] Both equally terrible..
TK: Have you tried PBC or Yards yet, or other Philly beers?
SD: I have, but I’m allergic to wheat, so I try to not have beer as much as I can.
Sad13 performs tonight at Everybody Hits; tickets are still available for the all-ages show, more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Sad13, Sadie Dupuis, Speedy Ortiz, The High Key Portrait Series