Wanna Shake Your Tree


The lore of Peaches and Chilly Gonzales is rich but brief, mainly because they’ve been “Peaches” and “Gonzales” for just a few years. Peaches began her musical career 12 years ago as a singer in the Canadian folk band Mermaid Hotel; she also made a name for herself in the indie film community with her what-the-hell Super 8’s about Schwinn-bike porn and spandex-clad masturbation in a grocery store. Gonzales, a schooled jazz pianist, started off in a crappy Canadian alternative band that met with minor success.

Though not technically a duo, Peaches and Gonzales both moved to Berlin to advance their careers—they know no one takes Canadians seriously unless the Canadians make it somewhere else first. Peaches paired her velvet voice with stark electronic beats and rollicked in slutty innuendo: “There’s only one Peach with the hole in the middle.” On her album The Teaches of Peaches, she’s a smooth-talkin’ sex-crazed ghetto ‘ho with a whiff of flippant high school art student. And unlike her bitchy, ironic, disaffected peers, this small-tittied pony genuinely likes to romp in the hay.

Gonzales, meanwhile, hyped up his prankster alt.rock image and started rapping about weed, dames, cum, and bullshit music-industry tactics. He’s pretty intent on pissing people off, though it’s questionable how many catch his weird sense of humor. “If you wanna know what’s next/no beats, no beats,” he sings on The Entertainist. And, surprise surprise, there really are no beats on that song, just pompous, irreverent spew—exactly what pretty much every rapper sounds like without a drum loop.

Anyway, as soon as the German label Kitty-Yo snapped up the terrible two, a bunch of too-cool British magazines started slobbering all over them. They quickly became jet-setting libertines, floating off to some country or another to publicize their “proletariat style” egofests (at which they’ve been known to spray beer all over the “Nazi paparazzi”). But since they’re not too keen on exposing their past—undoubtedly because it’s not as spicy as their present—they both looked like offensive cases of overnight success when they arrived in Europe.

Most next-big-things swiftly sink back into the obscurity from whence they sprang, and countless Behind the Music episodes prove those musicians aren’t too thrilled about it. If Peaches and Gonzales cared either way, they probably would’ve hired stylists and physical trainers a long time ago. Onstage Gonzales’s chest is a cesspool of curly black hair, cheap gold chains, and sweat; Peaches isn’t as smooth and toned as her name implies. They rock that burgeoning Eastern European style—Gonzales in a woman’s nylon jogging suit, Peaches in various uncoordinated shades of pink and mangy sweatband—and both are an inch short of sporting full-on mullets.

The pair released a three-song EP, Red Leather, a few months ago. The maxi-single combines Gonzales’s pot-smoking, heavy-eyelidded groove with Peaches’ sexy kicks, but the two push buttons easily accessible to musicians with only half their intelligence, and the record never gets off the ground. Yet despite the image roadblocks, Peaches’ seven self-made music videos are circulating on MTV in the U.K., Italy, and Germany. Walk into a record store almost anywhere in Western Europe, ask the girl behind the counter if she knows who this “Peaches” is, and then watch her eyes roll—it’s like asking a U.S. clerk if he’s ever heard of Green Day.

When Peaches and Gonzales stopped in New York for two days of press last fall, the U.S. media skipped right over them. But then, out of the blue, the January 2001 issue of American Vogue nonchalantly name-checked Peaches as if she were Giselle. Seems three major houses sent their beanpoles out to work it on the runway to her current album’s opening track. But only the tarts at Clements Ribeiro flashed their tatas while strutting to “Sucking on my titties like you’re wantin’ me/callin’ me all the time . . . ”

The first time Peaches came to Chicago, she played in a little cement box of a space, an illegal arty club with maybe 27 people in attendance. Her sleazy lyrics, cool demeanor, and gorgeous voice worked everyone into a blue-balled frenzy, and after she left the stage the crowd was still chanting her last line: “Fuck the pain away!” When she came back with Gonzales six months later, they opened for Elastica at a huge ritzy venue.

That second show was kind of a letdown. Besides the fact that the sound dude didn’t know what to do with booty bass, Peaches and Gonzales lacked control. They seemed only somewhat familiar with each other’s songs, and there was a ton of dead-air punching. At the beginning of their brief U.S. tour they’d decided that they wouldn’t play the same song twice for an entire week.

For the most part, the crowd were confused—they’d assumed Peaches and Gonzales were a comedy duo, singing dick jokes. Lost on the audience were their subtlety, self-poking wit, and devil-may-care attitude. Elastica’s audience only knows that rap artists bling, bounce, and exalt themselves to Biggie’s throne in the sky; their brand of liner-notes rap is all about your crew, which friend died, what designers you wear, and who you dis. Peaches and Gonzales went onstage and slit their own throats—a common (but loathsome) practice in indie rock—which was utterly bizarre, considering Gonzales was singing, “My dick is an electric guitar/baby, strum . . . I cum on you and I can’t even pronounce your name,” while Peaches chimed in with “I wanna fill your face with seed.” How they turned into sex symbols in the European dance scene is a total mystery—at least by American standards.