Features, Music

Poppy: The nightmare behind the internet’s dreamgirl

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To be free is a concept that we universally aspire to.

So, when Los Angeles-based Poppy tells us that she feels her new record, I Disagree, has helped her achieve that, it’s only natural that we dig deeper into what it means to her. “Freedom from my thoughts”, she expands, “freedom from people that I used to be involved with”.

She may be referring to former collaborator Titanic Sinclair, who she recently announced a cutting of ties with. “This person glamorizes suicide and has used it many times in the past to manipulate me…and the last time I finally had enough”. She added that she felt “trapped in a mess that” she “needed to dig” herself out of.

It’s awful – what Poppy has gone through – but it does explain the drastic transition that her sound has undergone from bubblegum pop to heavy. It’s hard to believe that the Poppy who once sang that she was “softer than a daisy” on debut album Poppy: Computer now stands on top of the bodies of corporate zombies in her new record’s titular track, ready to set them on fire. “It was just a dream that I had to yell at the people that have been trying to hold me back and hold me down”, she flagged. “And I had fun filming it”.

She’s not labelling what she’s transitioned to. Poppy is just making music that she enjoys, combining her experience with light hooks atop sludge guitars, a combination that she describes as “pop-heavy”.

“I think it’s important as artists to evolve and if you stay the same it’s going to be boring for the artist and for the listener. You need to go with your gut….at the beginning I was in a situation where I just really wanted to make dance-pop music and now I just want to make heavier music”.

“At the beginning I was in a situation where I just really wanted to make dance-pop music and now I just want to make heavier music.”

It proves that not everything is sunshine and daisies, but it hasn’t been easy for Poppy to define herself by her music rather than the bot girl that went live in 2014 and was popularly spoofed by the most-subscribed PewDiePie. Despite being in YouTube Rewind, a yearly wrap-up featuring the platform’s top creators, she doesn’t consider herself part of the “community”, titling her position on the “outskirts”.

“I think [YouTuber] is a similar title to what somebody might use for a quote, unquote, ‘SoundCloud rapper’, which is sad because it’s pretty demeaning in a way to the art. I don’t think all SoundCloud rappers make art necessarily. Attaching this platform name to an artist is a little strange to me. I think you should just say artist”.

“Attaching this platform name to an artist is a little strange to me. I think you should just say artist”.

It certainly makes sense in the world we live in right now, where the internet is a necessary channel and every artist has to use some platform or another to get their message out. Despite a quiet, automaton-like exterior, Poppy wears her heart on her sleeve when she mentions Soundcloud, indicating the diversity of the artists that she thinks about. Indeed, her influences vary, from MGMT to Gary Numan, something that you wouldn’t expect from the girl in the “Scary Mask” video wearing a Viktor & Rolf “Go to Hell” couture dress, who seems to want to disassociate from everything and everyone.

Her appreciation of others in music also extends to her fans. While most artists denounce fans ambushing them at the airport, Poppy was pleased to see fans greeting her in Australia, shyly stating that “that was the first time that there were that many people”. As we talk, she wears Quay sunglasses, gifted to her by one of Australia’s most successful brands, hiding perfectly shaped eyeliner underneath.

It proves, if nothing else, that Poppy freeing herself with the truth is attracting more fans than ever before, a vision that is endearing in its authenticity. Luckily for us, Poppy’s performance at the Good Things Festival late last year was a teaser for her unveiling her full show, a trailer for the movie, which she’s going to bring to Australia “a lot sooner” than expected. “2020”, she says. We’ll be here waiting.

I Disagree is out now.

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