Peaches (musician)

Last updated

Peaches, November 16, 2009.jpg
Peaches in 2009
Background information
Birth nameMerrill Beth Nisker
Born (1966-11-11) November 11, 1966 (age 52)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, disc jockey, performance artist, actress, rapper
InstrumentsVocals, synthesizer, drum machine, guitar, keytar, laser harp, theremin, bass guitar
Years active1990–present
Labels XL, Kitty-Yo, teenage USA
Associated acts Chilly Gonzales, Feist, Mocky, JD Samson, Samantha Maloney, Radio Sloan, Iggy Pop, Mignon, Amanda Palmer

Merrill Beth Nisker (born 11 November 1966), better known by her stage name Peaches, is a Canadian electronic musician and performance artist.

Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments and circuitry-based music technology. In general, a distinction can be made between sound produced using electromechanical means, and that produced using electronics only. Electromechanical instruments include mechanical elements, such as strings, hammers, and so on, and electric elements, such as magnetic pickups, power amplifiers and loudspeakers. Examples of electromechanical sound producing devices include the telharmonium, Hammond organ, and the electric guitar, which are typically made loud enough for performers and audiences to hear with an instrument amplifier and speaker cabinet. Pure electronic instruments do not have vibrating strings, hammers, or other sound-producing mechanisms. Devices such as the theremin, synthesizer, and computer can produce electronic sounds.


Born in Ontario to a Jewish family, Peaches began her musical career in the 1990s as part of a folk trio, Mermaid Cafe. In 1995, she established a rock band, the Shit. That year she also released her first solo album, Fancypants Hoodlum . Moving to Berlin, Germany, it was here that she was signed to the Kitty-Yo label and released her second album, The Teaches of Peaches (2000). [1] Touring as the opening act for bands like Marilyn Manson and Queens of the Stone Age, she subsequently released her third album, Fatherfucker (2003).

History of the Jews in Canada aspect of history

Canadian Jews or, alternatively, Jewish Canadians are Canadian citizens who follow Judaism as their religion and/or are ethnically Jewish. Jewish Canadians are a part of the greater Jewish diaspora and form the fourth largest Jewish community in the world, exceeded only by those in Israel, the United States, and France. As of 2011, Statistics Canada listed 329,500 adherents to the Jewish religion in Canada and 309,650 who claimed Jewish as an ethnicity. One does not necessarily include the other and studies which have attempted to combine the two streams have arrived at figures in excess of 375,000 Jews in Canada. This total would account for approximately 1.1% of the Canadian population.

Folk music Music of the people

Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.

<i>Fancypants Hoodlum</i> 1995 studio album by Merrill Nisker

Fancypants Hoodlum is the debut album by Merrill Nisker, a Canadian musician who later became famous under the name "Peaches".

Her songs have been featured in movies such as Mean Girls , Waiting... , Jackass Number Two , My Little Eye , Drive Angry , and Lost in Translation . Her music has also been featured on television shows such as Lost Girl , The L Word , Ugly Betty , South Park , The Handmaid’s Tale , 30 Rock , True Blood , Full Frontal with Samantha Bee , Letterkenny and has been used for the promotion of Dirt . Peaches performed guest vocals on Pink's album Try This , on the song "Oh My God"; on the Chicks on Speed album 99 Cents , on the song "We Don't Play Guitars"; on Christina Aguilera's 2010 album Bionic , on the song "My Girls" (which was produced and co-written with Le Tigre), and recently on Major Lazer's 2013 album Free the Universe on the song "Scare Me" featuring Timberlee.

<i>Mean Girls</i> American teen comedy film

Mean Girls is an American teen comedy film directed by Mark Waters, written by Tina Fey, and released in April 2004. The film, which stars Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler and Fey, is partially based on Rosalind Wiseman's 2002 non-fiction self-help book, Queen Bees and Wannabes, which describes female high school social cliques and the damaging effects they can have on girls. Fey also drew from her own experience at Upper Darby High School as an inspiration for some of the concepts in the film. The movie introduced Amanda Seyfried in her film debut.

<i>Waiting...</i> (film) 2005 film by Rob McKittrick

Waiting... is a 2005 American comedy film written and directed by Rob McKittrick and starring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, and Justin Long. McKittrick wrote the screenplay while working as a waiter.

<i>Jackass Number Two</i> 2006 film by Jeff Tremaine

Jackass Number Two is a 2006 American reality comedy film. It is the sequel to Jackass: The Movie (2002), both based upon the MTV series Jackass. Like its predecessor and the original TV show, the film is a compilation of stunts, pranks and skits. The film stars the regular Jackass cast of Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Ryan Dunn, Dave England, Jason "Wee Man" Acuña, Ehren McGhehey, and Preston Lacy. Everyone depicted in the film plays as themselves. All nine main cast members from the first film returned for the sequel. The film was directed by Jeff Tremaine, who also directed Jackass: The Movie and produced Jackass.

Personal life

Born Merrill Beth Nisker in 1966 in Toronto, Ontario, she attended a private Jewish school. Nisker was a class clown, who "wasn't particularly smart. I was interested in creative performance stuff, but that turned out to be difficult for me because it was all so structured," she told Kitty Empire of The Observer . [2]

A Jewish day school is a modern Jewish educational institution that is designed to provide children of Jewish parents with both a Jewish and a secular education in one school on a full-time basis. The term "day school" is used to differentiate schools attended during the day from their secular or religious "boarding school" equivalents where the students live full-time as well as study. The substance of the "Jewish" component varies from school to school, community to community, and usually depends on the Jewish denominations of the schools' founders. While some schools may stress Judaism and Torah study others may focus more on Jewish history, Hebrew language, Yiddish language, secular Jewish culture, and Zionism.

Kitty Empire is the pen name of a British writer and music critic, currently writing for The Observer.

<i>The Observer</i> weekly British newspaper, published on Sundays

The Observer is a British newspaper published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its sister papers The Guardian and The Guardian Weekly, whose parent company Guardian Media Group Limited acquired it in 1993, it takes a social liberal or social democratic line on most issues. First published in 1791, it is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.

Her family was culturally Jewish, though they were not religious. [3] Her grandparents immigrated to Canada from Poland; her paternal grandparents were from Ukraine. [4] In an interview in URB magazine, she recounted how growing up she experienced antisemitism; on her walks home from school, students from a nearby Catholic school would throw stones at her and call her a "dirty Jew". [5] Peaches is bisexual. [6]

Jewish culture Culture of Jews and Judaism

Jewish culture is the culture of the Jewish people from the formation of the Jewish nation in ancient Israel through life in the diaspora and the modern state of Israel. Judaism guides its adherents in both practice and belief, so that it has been called not only a religion, but an orthopraxy. Not all individuals or all cultural phenomena can be classified as either "secular" or "religious", a distinction native to Enlightenment thinking.

Poland Republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Antisemitism is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism. It has also been characterized as a political ideology which serves as an organizing principle and unites disparate groups which are opposed to liberalism.


1990–99: Mermaid Cafe, Fancypants Hoodlum, the Shit

During the early 1990s, Nisker was part of folk trio Mermaid Cafe. The name was taken from the Joni Mitchell song "Carey". [7] She later released her first album, Fancypants Hoodlum , under the name Merrill Nisker in 1995, and subsequently developed the style and persona that would take her to international fame as Peaches. In 1995, she started the Shit, a noisy four-piece combo with Chilly Gonzales (a.k.a. Jason Beck), bassist Sticky (later of Weeping Tile and Music Maul), and Dominique Salole (a.k.a. Mocky). Their absurd, highly sexual rock music was a harbinger for what Nisker would become, as it was during this time that she adopted the Peaches name. [2] The Peaches moniker was taken from the Nina Simone song "Four Women" where Simone screams at the end, "My name is Peaches!" [8] In Toronto, before rising to fame, she lived above Come As You Are with fellow recording artist Feist. [9] [10] Feist worked the back of the stage at Peaches' shows, using a sock puppet and calling herself "Bitch Lap Lap". [11] The two also toured together in England from 2000–2001, staying with Justine Frischmann of Elastica and M.I.A. [12] M.I.A. went on to video document Peaches' 2000 US tour and made clothes for the musician, while Peaches inspired M.I.A. to use the Roland MC-505 in her own compositions. [13] [14]

Joni Mitchell Canadian musician

Roberta Joan "Joni" Mitchell is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, and jazz, Mitchell's songs often reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy. She has received many accolades, including nine Grammy Awards and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Rolling Stone called her "one of the greatest songwriters ever", and AllMusic has stated, "When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century".

Carey (song) song by the Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell

"Carey" is a song from the 1971 Joni Mitchell album Blue. It was inspired by her time spent with Cary Raditz, living with a cave-dwelling hippie community at Matala, on the Greek island of Crete.

Weeping Tile (band)

Weeping Tile was a Canadian rock band formed in 1992 in Kingston, Ontario.

2000–02: The Teaches of Peaches

After creating a six-track EP, Lovertits, Peaches moved to Berlin, Germany. While visiting her old friend Jason Beck, who was enjoying modest European success as Chilly Gonzales in his new home base of Berlin, Peaches landed a one-night gig. On the merits of that show alone, Berlin's Kitty-Yo label signed her on the spot. The label offered her the chance to record a new album, The Teaches of Peaches , back home in Toronto, and the already-completed Lovertits EP was released in the summer of 2000. The full-length album The Teaches of Peaches, was released that Fall. [15]

Peaches appeared on the British TV show Top of the Pops , but her performance was deemed too racy to be aired. [16]

Nisker signed to a European contract with Sony following the release of The Teaches of Peaches . She later made a big-budget video for the song "Set It Off", in which she sat in a locker room as her pubic and armpit hair grew to Rapunzel length. Sony subsequently dropped her. "Now they want their money back," Peaches said. [16]

In 2001, Nisker's 34AA bust was one of the first female busts cast by famous 1960s groupie Cynthia Plaster Caster, who was better known for making molds of male rockers' genitalia. [17] [18]

In 2002, Peaches appeared in "Hideous Man", a short film directed by John Malkovich. The short was created as a showcase for clothing designed by Bella Freud, and featured the poetry of Gary Sinise. [19]

2003–05: Fatherfucker

In 2003, Peaches released her second album Fatherfucker on XL/Kitty-Yo after years of touring and opening for artists like Marilyn Manson and Queens of the Stone Age. She once again wrote and programmed all of her album's music herself. The single "Kick It", which features Iggy Pop, was described by Peaches to Rolling Stone as "more about rock 'n' roll than sex." [20]

For her album Fatherfucker, Peaches was nominated in the "Outstanding Music Artist" category for the 15th GLAAD Media Awards along with Rufus Wainwright, Meshell Ndegeocello, Junior Senior, and Bitch and Animal, but lost to Rufus Wainwright. [21]

2006–08: Impeach My Bush

For her third album, 2006's Impeach My Bush , Peaches enlisted guest musicians Joan Jett, Greg Kurstin, Josh Homme, Samantha Maloney, Beth Ditto, Feist, Dave Catching, Brian O'Connor and Radio Sloan to perform on several of the tracks.

The Herms (short for hermaphrodites) were formed in spring 2006 as Peaches' live backing band. They played at both small and large venues with sex and sex-related themes as the "shock factor" for the audience.[ citation needed ] "Herms" is also a reference to 1970s duo Peaches & Herb and the blending of the words 'her' and 'him'. Peaches and Herms was the opening act for Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus during the second half of their 2006 summer U.S. tour.

In August 2006, Peaches posed for an anti-seal culling advertisement campaign created by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called "Fur is Dead". The advertisement featured an image of Peaches juxtaposed with an image of a baby seal being clubbed, with the words "Canada's Club Scene Sucks" printed over the image of Peaches. [22]

In 2007 Peaches posed as a model for an advertisement by the Vestal Watches company. The advertisement was shown in The Fader magazine. [23]

Peaches was nominated for her album Impeach My Bush in the category "Outstanding Music Artist" at the 18th GLAAD Media Awards along with the Ditty Bops, Owen Pallett, Pet Shop Boys, and the Scissor Sisters, but lost to the Scissor Sisters. [24]

Peaches played live at the Parklife Festival in Australia, in the fall of 2008, with the German band Sweet Machine.

Her song "Boys Wanna Be Her" is the theme song for the TBS series Full Frontal with Samantha Bee .

2009–12: I Feel Cream and other work

Her fourth album I Feel Cream , was released on May 4, 2009 in Europe, and May 5 in North America. [25] The first single from the album is a double A-side of "Talk to Me" and "More". [26] Peaches enlisted some of her contemporaries to co-produce a number of tracks including Simian Mobile Disco, Soulwax, Digitalism and Shapemod. Long time friend and collaborator Gonzales co-wrote some of the songs on I Feel Cream and Shunda K (the voice of Yo Majesty) featured on the track "Billionaire". [27]

Peaches has been noted for her stage costumes and flamboyant sense of style. Her looks are often both nostalgic and futuristic; aggressive and glamorous; and push the limits of gender identity. Peaches and her band Sweet Machine wear costumes from a variety of designers but most notably she works closely with stylist/designer Vaughan Alexander, celebrity hairstylist Charlie Le Mindu, and young American fashion designer, John Renaud.

In 2010, Peaches and backing band Sweet Machine once again toured Australia performing at the sold out Big Day Out festivals and at a series of sideshows. Peaches was supported on this tour by Shunda K who performed their collaboration "Billionaire" at BDO festivals and at the sideshows, [27] and was also the opening act at the sideshows along with Evil Beaver in Melbourne.[ citation needed ]

On March 14, 2010, Peaches won the 'Electronic Artist of the Year' award at the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards held in Toronto, Canada. [28] [29]

In March 2010, the copyright owners of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar denied Peaches permission to perform her one-woman version of it that she was planning to stage in Berlin. After receiving the attention of several media outlets, Peaches successfully negotiated with those rights-holders, and the musical was performed on March 25–27 at Berlin's HAU1. [30] Gonzales accompanied Peaches on piano. [31] Travis Jeppesen stated in his review for Artforum, "Not only did Peaches set it off, she managed to surprise us all by showing off an expansive vocal range, a musician's natural sensitivity to the dynamics of Andrew Lloyd Webber's score, and an emotive prowess that is rarely if ever displayed in her own, less holy, music." [32]

Peaches appeared in a film called Ivory Tower , which also includes spots from Feist, Chilly Gonzales, Tiga and Gonzales' mother. Peaches stars as Marsha, a performance artist engaged to a man named Thaddeus (Tiga). Things get complicated when her ex, Hershall (Gonzales) comes back into her life. The movie is set in Toronto and was shot over 13 days in late Winter/early Spring 2010. It was co-written by Gonzales and Céline Sciamma (who directed/wrote Water Lilies ), was directed by Adam Traynor and produced by Nicolas Kazarnia. Ivory Tower was given a limited theatrical release in August 2010. [33]

In May 2010, Christina Aguilera announced that Peaches was among the collaborators on her fourth studio album Bionic . Peaches is featured on a track called "My Girls". [34] [35] The song was co-written and produced by Le Tigre.

On August 30, 2010, Peaches released a new single titled "Jonny". The single is part of a tribute series to Alan Vega from the band Suicide. Other musicians who have released tribute singles as part of the series include The Horrors, Primal Scream, Klaxons and Bruce Springsteen. [36] [37]

Peaches also appears as a guest musician on R.E.M.'s 2011 release Collapse into Now , contributing vocals to the song "Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter". [38]

Peaches' song "Boys Wanna Be Her" is featured in an online teaser for the live action feature film Bad Kids Go to Hell (2012), based on the best selling graphic novel of the same name. It also serves as the theme music for the late-night television series Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. It was also featured in an episode of Orphan Black.

2012: New music and Peaches Does Herself

It was announced in 2012 that a semi-biographical musical/concert film would be premièred at the Toronto Film Festival, utilising 22 songs from her back catalog and backed by Peaches' band the Sweet Machine.

Peaches Does Herself premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2012.

On October 2, 2012, Peaches released her new single "Burst!" as a digital single backed with several remixes.

2015–present: What Else Is In the Teaches of Peaches and Rub

Peaches performing in 2015 Peaches at Summit Music Hall.png
Peaches performing in 2015

Photographer Holger Talinski collaborated with Peaches on a book of photographs, What Else Is In the Teaches of Peaches, released on June 2, 2015. The book, published by Akashic Books, also includes text written by Peaches, R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe, artist and singer Yoko Ono and actress Ellen Page.

Peaches' sixth studio album, RUB, was released September 25, 2015. It was produced by Vice Cooler with Peaches in her Los Angeles garage. In June 2015 it was announced to contain guest vocal appearances by Kim Gordon, Feist, and Simonne Jones. [39]

An unused track from the RUB sessions titled "Bodyline" was released by Adult Swim on July 20, 2015. The Vice Cooler-produced track features Nick Zinner on guitar and was described as "a heavy, chugging guitar line over which Peaches half raps, half sings a high-octane space jam." [40] In May 2016, Peaches appeared in a fourth-season episode of the Canadian TV series Orphan Black as herself, performing "Bodyline" in a club. She performed "Boys Wanna Be Her" at the Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 29, 2017.


Gender identity is one theme of Peaches' music, often playing with traditional notions of gender roles representation. Her lyrics and live shows consciously blur the distinction between male and female; for example, she appears on the cover of her album Fatherfucker with a full beard. When asked if she had chosen the title for shock value, she commented:

Why do we call our mothers motherfuckers? Why do we stub our toe and say, "Aww motherfucker!"? What is a motherfucker? ... We use it in our everyday language, and it's such an insanely intense word. I'm not one to shy away from these obscene terms that we actually have in our mainstream. Motherfucker is a very mainstream word. But if we're going to use motherfucker, why don't we use fatherfucker? I'm just trying to be even. [41]

She disputes accusations of "penis envy", preferring the term "hermaphrodite envy, [42] since "there is so much male and female in us all." [43]

Age has been another theme of Peaches' music in recent years. The lyrics from several songs from her 2009 album I Feel Cream tackle the issue of age, including Trick or Treat ("you lick my crow's feet"), Show Stopper ("Never mind my age, it's like we're breaking out of a cage") and Mommy Complex. Peaches has criticized ageism directed against her, [44] telling the New York Daily News that "I'm going to make aging cool". [45]


Peaches lists John Waters, Cindy Sherman, Paul McCarthy and the films Tron , Grease , Liquid Sky and Phantom of the Paradise as inspiration for the visuals in her live shows. [46]




2001Chromezone XXX [47] HerselfSuper-8 bike porn that Peaches directed and starred in
2002Hideous Man [16] Beat PoetPart of ensemble for short film collaboration with John Malkovich and Bella Freud
2009Life on the Road with Mr. and Mrs. BrownHerselfDocumentary film about James Brown and Tomi Rae Brown
2010 Ivory Tower [33] Marsha ThirteenPlays performance artist in collaboration with Gonzales, Feist and Tiga
2012Peaches Does HerselfHerselfMusical film about Peaches' life and career. Debuted at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and went on to play at the 2012 Festival du nouveau cinéma, the 2013 Sundance London Festival and the 2013 Locarno International Film Festival, where Peaches was a member of the official Jury.
Television appearances
2001 SexTV Herself1 episode
2004Clash of CulturesHerselfTV documentary about the electroclash music scene
2004Sex 'n' PopHerself1 episode, TV mini-series
2004 Durch die Nacht mit... Herself1 episode alongside Heike Makatsch and Marilyn Manson, TV documentary series
2005 The L Word Herself1 episode
2006 Current TV HerselfEpisodes unknown
2006Flight of the Conchords: A Texan OdysseyHerselfTV documentary aired in New Zealand
2006–2007 The Henry Rollins Show [48] Herself2 episodes in 2006 and 2007
2008 What Perez Sez [49] Herself1 episode
2008 Nightline [50] HerselfInterview
2009 Last Call with Carson Daly [51] [52] Herself2 episodes
2009 House of Venus Show [53] Herself1 episode
2009 Canal+ Album de la Semaine [54] Herself1 episode
2010 Q TV Herself1 episode
2010 Subterranean [55] [56] HerselfHost for 1 episode
2016 Orphan Black [57] Herself1 episode

Awards and nominations

GLAAD Media Awards
2004Outstanding Music ArtistMusic & Theater Fatherfucker Nominated
2007Outstanding Music ArtistMusic & Theater Impeach My Bush Nominated
MVPA Awards [58]
2007Best Make-upMusic Video Boys Wanna Be Her Nominated
UK Music Video Awards [59]
2009Best StylingMusic Video Talk to Me Nominated
Independent Music Awards
2010Electronic Artist of the YearDance/ElectronicaWon

See also

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