Photos by Andrew Johnston, andrewjohnstonphoto.com
WITH THEIR OUTLANDISH COSTUMES, envelope-pushing videos and sensory-overload live shows, Hi Fashion has been turning heads since the release of the band’s first EP, Sprechen Sie Hi Fashion? in 2011. It’s funny to think that it all started when Jen DM met her partner in crime, Rick Gradone, in a New York gay bar, where he proceeded to try and pick her up, thinking she was a hot guy.
We spoke to Jen of the queer electropop duo Hi Fashion on the day DOMA and Prop. 8 died. You could say she was emotional. In fact, she was speaking to us from her car as she made her way to the rally in West Hollywood.
How do you feel about what went down today?
Oh my god, I’m on my way to West Hollywood right now. I’m feeling a million things. I feel thrilled, relieved, empowered and angry. My anger just comes from frustration that it’s taken this long. These were rights we were always entitled to have. It’s a reminder that we had to fight so hard for this. But I’m really impassioned, and I take it really personally. I’m in a celebratory mood.
I’m just glad that California’s coming around. I have faith in the state of California and the United States. It’s going to take a while, but this is a huge victory. It’s not just about our community; it’s about our nation. I’m really grateful to be in California on this day. I’m really glad to stand with other people in the community today at this rally.
Do your lyrics reflect your politics?
Some of them do. One of the songs on our new EP is called “You Are Gorgeous,” and it’s a celebration of trans visibility. It’s not quite so literal, but it’s a celebration of two spirits, which is a belief of there being more than the binary being, more than just male and female. In other ancient civilizations, there’s a whole scale. We certainly have a lot of trans fans, but that’s not why we did it. Our politics come through in our music, but that’s certainly not our agenda. Our agenda is a little more casual and humorous. We like to make each other laugh, and we like to keep people dancing. But we’re political people, so we can’t help that our politics leak into the lyrics.
You guys are originally from New York but now live in L.A. What’s the biggest difference in fashion between the two cities?
I feel like you can find commonalities in fashion in both cities. But the weather here— it’s just too hot to wear all those sexy layers you can in New York. I’m a lover of the layers. When I first moved here, I would get dressed in my house with all my layers on and by the time I’d get to my destination, I would have peeled off, like, five layers. I was in complete denial that there were no changes of seasons. [Laughs]
It’s a really laid-back city here. And it’s sunny, and people have more of a sunny disposition. The colors are brighter. The colors here would come off as more garish in New York. Casual footwear is really common here. I’m not saying it’s a city of people who don’t care, by any means. Everyone’s gorgeous here. The fashion industry is way more prevalent in New York. People are really dressing to impress. Because it’s a pedestrian city, you’re constantly seeing what other people are wearing on the street. People kind of use the sidewalk as a runway. That said, I think people in both cities look pretty fantastic.
Rick hit on you when you first met. How would you rate his pickup style?
Oh, my god, he is so good. He is so slick and smooth, and it really would’ve worked. I kind of played around with him for a little bit. I don’t know if I would say that I passed as a guy, but in a dark enough bar when it was late enough, it was a little vague. I presented a little more masculinely. It was a time when I role-played a lot. Androgyny was really popular. We ended up becoming incredibly close friends. He’s my family now.
Tell us about your new EP, You Are Gorgeous.
It’s a long EP—seven tracks and two remixes of “Special Delivery Love.” It’s a bit of a departure from our first EP in that we decided to explore different sounds, and we were both coming from a time when we were in transition. I was going through a breakup of a relationship I was in for five years. Rick was going through some life changes. We were both questioning where we were in our lives and what love means to us. You can hear some of that, but there’s absolutely the tried-and-true Hi Fashion sound in there. It’s dancey, it’s electro-pop and it’s fun and funny. I love it.
You Are Gorgeous will be released July 17. For more information, go to theworldofhifashion.com.