By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“One woman hurricane” Typhoidmary will release an expanded edition of her debut album ‘Death Trans,’ complete with a couple of demos included, via ScreamLite Records on Oct. 16, 2020.
With an exploration into themes such as gender dysphoria and mental illness, ‘Death Trans’ draws influence from acts like Chelsea Wolfe and Deftones, while her androgynous vocals could be compared to Placebo’s Brian Molko.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Typhoidmary about ‘Death Trans’ and more.
Music Bugle – What inspired the artwork for ‘Death Trans’?
Typhoidmary – The one on the left represents me at 23 right before I started transitioning. The one on the right is me now. I took reference pictures and sent them over to my partner Charlie, who created the finished piece. It’s meant to be a pretty stark expression of my transition. There are allusions in several songs, such as, “Alicia…,” which is what my parents would have called me, to who I could have been if I were born cisgender female and whether alternate versions of me are out there in other worlds. I wanted to hint towards that kind of thing, a meeting between two people who are paradoxical to each other, where they’re the same person, but fundamentally different in certain ways. I really like how it came out.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Typhoidmary – I was in the process of getting a band together for some live stuff when lockdown hit. It’s something I’ve never done and this project had always been my side thing. I still have a couple people interested, so we’ll have to see how it goes once things get better. Plus side, I’ve been able to upgrade my setup and stream now and then and i’m releasing some songs from one live show I did via Zoom on my Bandcamp page hopefully on October 2.
Music Bugle – What exactly comes to mind when you think of your new songs?
Typhoidmary – Just whatever I’m feeling, I guess. Now and then, I think of something that feels like an elegant turn of phrase and I’ll see if i can expand on it, but I mostly write music first. Sometimes as the music develops, I’ll have an idea of what subject matter I’m writing about. Other times, I just let it take me where it takes me. Usually, I find the latter much easier.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs was the hardest to write or compose?
Typhoidmary – “Mother Earth Weeps” took months, “Death Trans” the song took years, the rest came together pretty fast. Sometimes, musical ideas follow me around for a long time and suddenly it clicks where to fit them. I’m one of those people who’s in writer’s block 99 percent of the time. I think “Mother Earth Weeps” was the last song I finished. I really had to force myself through the writing process on that one, but I’m glad I did.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Typhoidmary – I’m anticipating the new Deftones album. I watched a live set by the band Puscifer on a whim and got really into them lately. I really like MJK, but I’ve struggled to commit to any of his projects before. I listen to mewithoutYou and La Dispute a lot. That strain of post-hardcore that’s kind of indie-adjacent really appeals to me. I’ve also been listening to Brutus a lot. They’re a Belgian band and their music is just so full of energy and passion, highly recommended to anyone who wants something aggressive and heavy, but not necessarily metal.
Music Bugle – How did you decide the name “Typhoidmary” for your artist name?
Typhoidmary – It was something I used as an internet name for a while. I used the name Mary in places I felt more able to be open about my gender identity before i was ready to come out as trans. The name is basically meaningless to me, but I find Typhoidmary herself really interesting. On a surface level, she was kind of a terrible person, but she was also kind of surrounded by other terrible people, worth reading into for sure.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Typhoidmary – I won’t mention it here as it’s kind of long, but the whole second verse to “The Ocean” by Against Me! was going around in my head a lot whilst making the album. I don’t know how healthy it is for a trans person to think about who you could have been if you were born how you wanted, but it’s something I do a lot. I don’t know what people heard when it first came out, but Laura Jane Grace wrote the song before transitioning, so the context I’m hearing now is like some kind of prophecy, as she ended up becoming a version of the person she’s singing about. I guess with that in mind for me, it was important to accept I’m never going to be this idealized cis version of myself, but that basically wipes the canvas clean for me to choose my own fate. It sounds like a depressing reality and sometimes it feels that way, but it doesn’t have to be. I spend a lot of time on the album and in other songs exploring and trying to reconcile with that.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something that people might be surprised to know about you?
Typhoidmary – I was straight edge for a couple years, including some of the ‘Death Trans’ sessions. I was a heavy drinker for most of my 20s, but taking hormones and getting older kind of ruined my ability to stomach alcohol, so I gave up everything to try and get more healthy. I still almost never drink now. I did so much stupid stuff and I can’t really deal with the idea of embarrassing myself now the way I used to. Unfortunately, I’m kind of predisposed to getting addicted to things and going full militant straight edge worked for a while, but it wasn’t really me and there’s only so much brute force you can apply when trying to work your way through issues like that.
Music Bugle – What do you wish you saw more of in the music industry?
Typhoidmary – We’re on the right track, but I think we still have a way to go when it comes to acceptance of LGBT people, especially trans and nonbinary people. In this day and age, I feel like I shouldn’t be hearing about venue staff refusing trans band members access to the correct bathroom and then getting defensive over criticism. I also think the way artists make money off of streaming needs looking at, especially via services like Spotify, where the amount is so small. Musicians are facing huge losses, where they can’t perform right now, some to where they will probably have to go back to working full-time and I don’t think the gap between the ultra-rich, ultra-famous and the rest of us needs to get wider. I guess there’s no easy solution, though.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape?
Typhoidmary – My partner’s house. There are not many people I can be myself around, or who can distract me from whatever I’m stressing over currently. We’re both hermits, so we’ll just stay in and play video games and hang out. Sometimes, she’ll be working on an art piece. Creativity is something I find really attractive, so it’s always cool to watch her work. I recommend checking out her art on Instagram at @glitchycharlizard.