Hether Fortune on Death, Domming, Discipline, and Desire

The Wax Idols frontwoman is coming of age. Maybe.

Oakland-based musician Hether Fortune is one of my favorite people. The first time I met her, she fed me vodka and grapefruit juice, read my tarots cards, and then proceeded to tell me everything about not only her personal life, but her band and how hard it was to find the right musicians to match with her. Fortune is kind of intense, but that is what makes her brilliant and interesting and worth talking to. Needless to say, she found a band: Jen Mundy (guitars), Amy Rosenoff (bass), and Kevon Tecon (drums). After Wax Idols' debut album No Future (Hozac Records) dropped, Fortune and crew toured around the USA with Terry Malts, made a few music videos, and then got back to work on new material.

Embracing the song writing process as a band, Wax Idols' sophomore Discipline and Desire (Slumberland Records) is a smart, challenging record full of echoing melodies and darkness. It’s Fortune a bit more matured, a bit more understanding of herself. A lot has changed in Fortune’s life that has contributed to Discipline and Desire (which officially drops February 2013), so we decided to talk about it all: sexuality, her life as a dominatrix, and singing stories other than her own.

Noisey: Your new album, Discipline and Desire, is quite a growth from your debut, No Future. Was the change conscious?
Hether Fortune:
It's a lot different from No Future, but not that different stylistically from the first seven-inch, which had a really shimmery, kind of 80s pop A-Side and then a really twisted, dark B-side—or our most recent seven-inch release, for that matter. With No Future, I just wanted to release all of these angry and sad pop songs I'd written after the death of someone close to me. I wanted to get it out of me and move on. Discipline and Desire is more of a return than a departure, I think.

I’m going to refer to this record as “D and D” now.
[Laughs] What if I secretly spent most of my time playing Dungeons and Dragons? What if that was the real me?

I would never tell anyone. What’s going on lyrically?
Lyrically, the record is really intense. I just turned 25. I feel like I'm coming of age as a human being now. Maybe. [Laughs]. I am more aware of the effect that the world has on me, and my writing has gotten a lot broader in terms of subject matter. There is a lot of satirical social commentary in this record, a lot of references to fetish and sexuality and death—you know, the good stuff.

I can’t help but notice how your life as a dominatrix is hinted to in the album title. How has that affect your music?
Embracing the full spectrum of my sexuality has been a big game-changer for me. My work as a dominatrix isn't really work at all. It's a lifestyle. It affects every aspect of my life in one way or another. Day in and day out, I am a fetishist and a dominatrix. 24/7. I always have been, I just didn't really understand it until a few years ago. My personal relationships are based in fetish as well as love. I don't really engage in "vanilla" sex anymore... it doesn't do much for me. The clothing I wear, the things I read and write, the objects I admire and covet, the interactions I have with friends and lovers, what I offer to society as a whole—it's all related to fetish. I'm just more open now in general, and that openness lends itself to creativity. Feels good.

My favorite song on the record is “The Cartoonist.” What’s that about?
That song was written from the perspective of someone who is dying a slow, painful death and is begging their lover for a mercy killing.

Do you do that often? Speak from a voice other than your own?
No, actually. It's a new thing that has been happening to me lately when I write. It's really overwhelming when it happens, but I am embracing it.

Why is it overwhelming?
Because it feels alien! It really does feel like it is coming from someone or somewhere else, almost as if I am being possessed. It's overwhelming emotionally and it also makes me wonder if I am actually insane.

You are one of the few people I know who can play almost every instrument really well (and I am totally jealous and I hate you). Are you self-taught?
Yeah, I am mostly self-taught. I'm not that great at any single instrument, though. I get bored easily, which is probably why I've learned how to play so many different instruments! I feel like I am getting pretty fucking good at guitar though, if I do say so myself. It's exciting.

When did you first have an interest in making music?
I was born with an interest in this nonsense, unfortunately. I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I could have done anything, but instead I decided to spend my life broke and miserable pursing a career that relies heavily on the approval of others. [Laughs]

You and me both.
For real, we are idiots. I get so grossed out when people talk about how they want to "inspire" young people to play music. It's like, no please. Don’t! Let the cursed ones be cursed, but don't try to make it seem more glamorous than it is because then you'll have a bunch of barely talented mediocre people determined to be in bands because your stupid ass said it was "cool" and they never forgot that.

Everyone and their grandmother is in a band now.
It’s not special anymore, just like tattoos.

But I’m a firm believer that the cream rises to the top. I mean, some real shit rises too, but that is because feces can float.
We can all blame God for that. Or gravity.