Interview: Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls
We spoke to Dee Dee Penny, vocalist of Dum Dum Girls, about how she never stops finding inspiration musically, her favorite albums, and knowing she was born to make music.
Interview by Maddie Sensibile
Hi Dee Dee! Introduce yourself, and tell us a little bit about how you became interested in music.
I've always felt called to music; it's a compulsion. Sorta like that T Rex song: I sang myself right out of the womb.
When did you decide you wanted to start your own band, and how did you come up with the name Dum Dum Girls?
I was VERY over being in bands, so much that I was depressed beyond just creatively. I wanted to scrap everything and do my own thing. I had very little intention other than to be psyched on art. DDG was simply a vessel for me to hone my songwriting and remained very DIY in terms of recording even through the first album was on Sub Pop. I wanted to perform too, though, so I eventually assembled a band which has been relatively consistent since then.
Dum Dum Girls' music definitely has a '60s and '70s flavor. Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations from those time periods?
I have always strived to write good songs. My earlier material is perhaps easiest to liken to '60s pop and '70s punk in its simplicity. You could say I attended the schools of Ellie Greenwich, The Velvet Underground, and The Ramones. Most of what I do just sorta happens, but I'm a mega music fan and years of obsession sink in, even if subconsciously, as studied.
That being said, I could nail all of Surrealistic Pillow at age ten. Grace Slick mimicry.
Are there any albums you had growing up that really changed everything for you?
An Elvis compilation, Pet Sounds, Let it Bleed, Revolver, Surrealistic Pillow... these were favorites as a very young child thanks to my parents' record collection.
I got into NKOTB, Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, Whitney, Mariah, TLC, SWV, and Madonna in elementary school; Nirvana, Hole, REM, NIN, and Garbage in middle school; Bowie, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Thompson Twins, Blur, Wham, Elastica, Sonic Youth, etc. in high school... misfits for the misfits.
I heard, really HEARD, Patti Smith when I was 17, and Horses changed everything. My desire to do something became less passive. I threw myself into the VU and Siouxsie cults as well. Then came The Smiths and Moz. The list is endless. I am always finding new songs and artists that impact me severely, and thank god for that. Wait, is that what you asked?
Since you guys are called Dum Dum Girls, what is your favorite part about being in an all girl group?
The name came before the actual band. There was definitely something I was drawn to about having a band of all women; there's just a different vibe to every aspect. And it's obviously something I hope will encourage other girls to pursue their artistic leanings. But I'm not married to it politically or aesthetically; for me it will always be about serving the songs.
I know that you began Dum Dum Girls in Los Angeles, which leads me to ask: what do you love about the city, and are you excited to be performing at our new Malibu store opening?
Truth be told, I started it in a bedroom, which arguably could've been anywhere. There is an undeniable magic to L.A., though, for me personally. A lot of the old Hollywood glamour. It's a good place to feel an outsider. Lots to get lost in.
And yes, I'm excited to play for you. I love the Malibu coast!
Lastly, is there anything you're currently working on that you're super excited about, or that we can look forward to?
The next record will be out in January; its been a long labor of love for me and I can't wait to share it.
Come out and see Dum Dum Girls perform with Bleached this Saturday, August 24, at our brand new Malibu store!
(3806 Cross Creek Road, noon to 5 p.m.)