Bandspeak: Fat Shuggy (Part One)

Fat Shuggy's New Albums The Rotten Snot in Forgotten Emotion and Never Stop Killing OUT NOW


Few artists in the Boston scene are so unique as Fat Shuggy, frontwoman of The Corpsefuckers, spoken-word rap lyricist, jazz multi-instrumentalist, and gore enthusiast. In anticipation of her new album, we sat down over energy drinks in a Cambridge park one cool fall afternoon to talk music, composition, disembowelment, and so much more.

Boston Hassle: Right off the bat, how would you actually describe your own music?
Fat Shuggy: I don’t know. I think about that a lot. I feel like music is an interesting category where I don’t know if I’m comfortable fitting into music where music was forced upon me because I’ve always done some sort of creative outlet and my family was musical and I kinda felt like I had to play an instrument or be part of music to succeed within a creative field. I’ve always been a story writer first of all. Anything I do musically I consider it a form of telling a story more than I consider it as a song. Instrumental parts I often try to think of environments more than notes. So I guess storytelling would be the answer to what I do.

BH: Is that where the whole Queen of Pus thing came from? Your albums seem follow a, concept feels wrong.
FS: What do you mean by the concept feels wrong?

BH: Describing your work as just a concept album feels wrong somehow.
FS: I don’t really understand that term, concept album. I feel like every album has some underlying concept. I feel like it can be applied to anything in some regard

BH: That’s a reasonable assessment.
FS: Yeah, it all goes off my first album, Espro Cru Oyni si Luo Sym, all my albums are canon with each other.

BH: Can you elaborate on that?
FS: Yeah. My first album, Espro Cru Oyni si Luo Sym, is the story of the Entrail Princess. It was a very interesting time in my life where I wrote those songs. Puppy was the first song where I felt really good, like this is what I wanted to do. I felt really good when I made the song Puppy. All the songs, some of the songs I don’t remember, but other stuff on that record, I wrote it before Puppy and I didn’t know what to do with it until Puppy came into existence. All the songs have her at different ages of her life and I released that record. What’s interesting is that I didn’t think of it as a lyrical record at all. I was considering myself much more of a guitarist at that time. When I was doing the shows live and getting more into character and developing her and thinking about how the Entrail Princess lived. Then I released Revada Casa Enoy Reve which is a much more developed character of the Entrail Princess. Then from there I felt like I really developed who I was as an artist. From there I did my Christmas album which is a fucking terrible album. Then I did Queen of Pus and I’m always trying to add more characters. My next album, that I’m releasing on Halloween, is going to have a lot of characters. It’s very personal to me and it’s very narrative. It’s going to have an easier narrative to follow than Espro Cru. I enjoy having a narrative that’s hard to follow because it makes the audience do their own interpretations of what I’m thinking

BH: I got a bit of a cut-up vibe. You know that, this is pretentious, what I’m going to say is pretentious, you know the part in Naked Lunch where the dude’s asshole consumes him?
FS: Slightly. I love that movie, love that book.

BH: For some reason, the way you write reminds of that very intense disjointed…
FS: Oh yeah, I dig that. Ornette Coleman’s one of my biggest influences, and the Master Musicians of Jajouka.

BH: I was going to ask you about that shit later.
FS: Oh, you were?

BH: Yeah, like inspirations and stuff.
FS: I thought you meant about the Master Musicians of Jajouka.

BH: No but that’s good too.
FS: When I was looking for colleges, I was looking at colleges in Morocco because I was really into them. I didn’t end up going but it inspired me to travel. I ended up learning jazz in Guinea, West Africa. I really want to go back. I have some friends, Corpsefuckers, yeah, Corpsefuckers will be doing a West African tour, I will say that. In terms of influences, John Frusciante, I love all of his solo work, Guerilla Toss, Melt-Banana, oh Salad Fingers too, David Firth is amazing.

BH: I’m just surprised you cite that as an inspiration. I don’t know why.
FS: That was all of me as a teen was watching Salad Fingers and crying. What stuck with me to, right now I’m homeless but I grew up in a very rich family and school, it was really fucked up was seeing how racist the world was from that perspective. Growing up in that kind of community, I have to have some kind of tolerance for filthy fucking Nazis. It was really weird to have only white teachers in school and then I got really into Tupac and I actually learned about issues I should have been learning about. I really found myself in hip hop, Tupac especially. I remember bursting into tears when I first heard Brenda Got A Baby. That’s such a beautiful song. I love the storytelling too. I found myself there too. I knew I wanted to write stories. Tupac was doing that.

BH: That’s really tight. I also wanted ask, I noticed the term “lightning metal” in some of your releases and you have a track called Rest in Peace Danny.
FS: Lightning metal? I don’t know that term. I think Danny Cruz said that.

BH: Yeah, I wanted ask if there was any connection to Flaming Dragons of Middle Earth.
FS: Yeah, that’s Danny. He was a really big influence on me. It was really shocking when he died. I knew he would die at a young age. I have CMT which is in the same family as muscular dystrophy and Danny has Duchenne which is a very severe form of muscular dystrophy. I relate to him so hard. I remember when I first saw him performing with a big smile on his face. He’s so moving, especially to me as another disabled performer. I don’t know any other disabled performers. It’s so fucking difficult. He’s an amazing musician. I’ve never seen anyone lead a band in the way he did. I got to play flute at one of his shows. There was no practice at all. I played a solo set before he went on. I had a flute with me so I was playing it. It was really cool seeing him be like “I want the guitar to go ‘boink-a-doop-boop’” and then the guitar goes “boink-a-doop-boop” and that’s the song. He’s grooving on that shit. Danny starts singing over it and that’s how you’re composing the music. It’s such a simple yet complicated mindset that creates such amazing music.

BH: It was amazing music. I just wanted to ask that as a clarification.
FS: Where’d you see my music tagged as lightning metal?

BH: On Disembowelment Choir, and then there was another release. Hold on, I’ll pull up your Bandcamp. It was on your last thing, I’m dumb though.
FS: I don’t remember tagging it like that.

BH: Experimental, hip hop, metal, spoken word, trap, free jazz, hardcore, horror, lightning metal…
FS: Oh that’s weird. Maybe it was Bandcamp. Or maybe I tagged it and don’t remember. That’s hilarious. Okay. I guess yeah, I must have done that as a Danny reference. I was processing a lot when that happened.

BH: Oh boy, I’m sorry. So now we get to the disembowelment. Given that body horror comes up so much in your work, what specifically draws you so much to the removal of intestines?
FS: What specifically? It comes from the Entrail Princess. Even without her, my piece Gruesome on my spoken word record, I was in Guinea when I wrote that. Actually that piece goes back way further than that. That was when I put that down on paper. I thought of that when I was like ten or so. And The Window too, I wrote that when I was eight I think. That’s one of my oldest pieces. It’s always been there. I’ve always associated with horror. I think horror is one of the most wonderful things. It’s so ridiculous to get scared of something that isn’t real. Like I’ll get scared of a guy with a fly for a head. That’s fucking hilarious. In that second where I’m afraid of something on a TV screen and that makes something like depression or being in pain feel less scary. There’s a lot of fucking scary shit in the world and it’s hilarious that Salad Fingers is fucking horrifying and it’s a fucking flash cartoon. It’s really wonderful to me.

BH: I think your aesthetic has a big draw to horror. I don’t know where I was going with that. Just a follow-up, was Cronenberg an influence?
FS: Yeah. I went through a phase, and with Naked Lunch

BH: I take it they combined?
FS: Yeah. The Fly was pretty cool too. I dig. I love Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, that’s who I was thinking of. Frank Miller was huge to me. I read every Naked City book. I don’t read a lot too. I remember when my brother showed me the movie and it just really drew me in. There was so much to it that really inspired me. I was thinking of directors, I just lost track.

BH: Frank Miller, Rodriguez, Tarantino…
FS: Oh yeah, I mean David Firth of course I watched all of his work. I already said that. Lydia Lunch too, she’s not a director, she’s probably a director. I got that same vibe feel from watching a movie from Lydia Lunch. I was studying jazz music at prep school. I couldn’t think of what I wanted to do. I was way behind the other kids, then I heard Lydia Lunch and said “That’s what I want to do”.

BH: That’s fantastic. I’m just bad at reacting. So there’s a large visual component to your work. How’d you first get into the combination of the two?
FS: Good question. Don’t even know. I played maybe one show, my first show I didn’t have much visuals other than my instrumentation. I had some interesting instrumentations when I was first starting off. I think I was seven when I first made this. It appears on every record cover of mine. It was like Led Zeppelin, like each band member had their own logo.

BH: Oh, like a sigil?
FS: Yeah, I thought that was cool and I wanted my own logo so I created the twelve sided star that’s on all my covers. I wanted that star somewhere at my performance so I took a Sharpie and drew it on my forehead and went, “Huh, I kinda like that.” so I put more Sharpie on my face and covered the star with a hat. Then I started playing and halfway through, I threw off my hat while they could see Sharpie around my eyes. I went “Hey, that’s funny, the idea of that, like I have more shit under the hat”. So I elaborated on that, I drew more stuff on me and halfway through the set threw off my shirt. I also had duct tape on my nipples before I knew I was trans either, that was a statement about nipples. I liked that statement so I went more with that statement and started shaving my armpits on sets and then eventually I started shaving my pubes on sets too. I was using red Sharpie a lot because it looked like blood so eventually I just said “Let’s get some fucking blood”.

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