Music can serve different purposes for different people. For some, it’s to calm them down. For others, it’s to pump them up for a run or some other obnoxious physical activity I refuse to do. For others still, it’s to bounce their bubble butts in the club to so they can scrape together enough dollars to buy a nice, mid-range health food for their cat.
For Toronto-based grunge quadrangle Dilly Dally, it’s the expression of rage.
Listen to any song off their brand new album Sore and tell me this isn’t your first thought 10 seconds in. Singer Katie Monk’s voice sounds like she’s been strangled daily for the last decade, like her throat is Ground Zero for strep. From somewhere deep within her being, she projects this certain gravely wrath which escapes her mouth and oozes forth like the growl of a rabid animal. The sheer brutality of the sound makes the hair stand up on your arms and, naturally, your pubic mound. Over hellfire guitars and drums that beat you senseless, she screams ballads of lust and frustration.
It’s easy to accept Dilly Dally’s sacrament of rage; the urgent buzz it gives your auditory cortex instantly conveys the threat of their anger and you harbor no uncertainty about which one of you would win in a fight. But despite its inherent menace and brute force, there’s a vulnerability to their sound; something that hints that this reverberated indignation comes from a place of innocent sensitivity. Which is interesting to me! That’s exactly what I wanted to explore.
So, I called up Katie like two seconds after she woke up at 3 p.m., and we talked about all things anger: where it comes from for her, what the benefit of it is, and why Sore sounds like hate-fucking your soon-to-be-ex. Somehow, the conversation awesomely drifted to video games, Katie’s murderous dominance of The Sims (wait ’till you hear what she did with them), and why MacDemarco’s terminal dildo chillness is played out.
How would you describe your new album Sore to a layman or an alien who doesn’t know what it was? What does it mean to you?
I would be like, “This is a piece of my soul. Carry it gently back to your homeland and give it to all the coolest people.” Also, I would be like, “I know you don’t speak English. You speak alien tongue but I’m pretty sure you’re going to get the message.”
What’s the message?
It’s like reaching real down into yourself and pulling out the meatiest stuff you can find. The realest stuff. The heaviest shit. Then you kind of throw it at other people. Then they catch it and they’re like, “Fuck. I have this shit inside me too. That’s awesome.” It’s kind of introspective and introverted in that way.
Some of those things that you pull out from inside yourself … what are they? Is it anger and rage? That’s what it sounds like.
It’s more like frustration and a sense of urgency, like how come this has taken me so long to get these feelings out? There’s like this undertone of aggression and frustration that is sick of these things not being said or these emotions not being acknowledged. But there’s also love and lust and friendship and sarcasm in there too. I guess it’s the rage that people noticed first because it’s kind of the loudest emotion of all.
What kind of things frustrate you and make you angry?
Little things. Like, the outfit that my roommate keeps changing the Grand Theft Auto character back to. We play a lot of Grand Theft Auto at the place I’m living at right now and they keep fucking changing it to this guy whose wearing a red fucking blazer. I’m like, “No wonder you keep getting arrested. The guy’s walking around like he’s fucking Michael Jackson or something.” Also when I’m not being heard. I think anger is a really healthy, healthy, healthy emotion though.
What are some benefits of anger or rage for you?
Well, anger is the rejection of sadness. When you’re sad you kind of start moving slow. It’s kind of more to take on- sadness. It’s heavy. It weakens you. Anger is like a shield. You’re like, “I’m not going to let that person make me sad. Fuck that.” It’s self-defense. I think it’s vital to have that shield in this world. Especially in Canada there’s this huge lack of aggression here. Everyone is very polite and agreeable. It’s just a load of shit.
It’s like Mac DeMarco … Whip your dick out, man, no problem. Fuck off. This is bullshit. People need to actually start giving a fuck about this fucking shit. We’re all fucking alive and this is crazy! There’s so many things to get excited about and there’s so many amazing opportunities and there’s so many beautiful fucking moments and like incredible people and artists and it just blows my mind sometimes the lack of presence in music today.
I mean that dildo brushed the outer corners of my soul, but please elaborate.
It’s all this drifter beach wave stuff. If you want to chill and be beach wave, I’m not going to hate on it. I should chill. I’m just happy to bring something new to the table is all.
Do you think you can sing these kind of like angry, grunge-y, punk-y, songs without anger? Could you be in the happiest most peaceful mood ever and still sound like you do?
I could sing the songs different but they wouldn’t sound as good. But … my answer to that is yes. I can chill. There are moments on that record where I’m singing very chill and have these little pockets of just relaxation and relief. The whole thing isn’t just getting socked in the face. It’s a different … It gives you a hug, sometimes.
To me, lust is kind of a form of anger because it’s an expression of frustration of something you can’t have.
Oh my god … I’m thinking about anger and the record the kind of anger it is like, and this is the first time I’ve realized this, and it’s like angry sex. Sort of like breakup sex. But specifically like angry sex.
Yes! That’s exactly what it sounds like. Have you ever hate-fucked anybody?
Yeah, that’s a time. Last person I dated, we just argued all the time. We would just fight and it was really dysfunctional, but weirdly enough, that’s the same person who helped me make the record cover. There was so much romance and it just didn’t work.
Sometimes something that is the most romantic … You’re in love with it so much that it’s also bad for you. There’s always a battle there. When you’re following your emotions and your desires and then you kind of get slapped in the face but it’s all about is it worth it?
What’s “Purple Rage?”
There’s like sexy anger, and there’s like don’t fuck with me anger, and there’s like frustration. Purple rage is like empowering anger. That’s the rejection of feeling sad and that’s the adrenaline and channeling it into something positive. I think it’s very universal. It’s beautiful. It may be like how Purple Rain is like a really beautiful love song and it’s really epic. Purple Rage is like that times a million.
What about the video? I heard people were like weird to you guys in Toronto when you were filming that video and like making remarks at you?
People were assholes. We were trying to film this fucking thing and people just kept interjecting and feeling like they had the right to interject, interrupt, and fuck us. At the end make mean comments, make jokes, take photos, almost like they were interrogating us, like, “Hey what are you doing? What are you guys working on?”
It’s like, “Man, the camera is rolling. Get out of here.” It was just phenomenal that we were able to catch some of it on camera but there’s a lot of stuff that didn’t make it on the video that went down like there was this one time I turned a corner and this woman like fucking screamed. It was hilarious.
There were all these construction workers who were like, “Baby, come over here. Like, sexy.” Whistling and shit. I’m getting catcalled. Still? This is bullshit. This one super posh lady walking down the street in her high heels and she’s just so genuinely gross and I just felt like I was oppressing her with my presence. The whole thing was unreal.
I read that your favorite one was Killer Instinct … what’s your favorite character?
Fulgore. He’s like basically a robot from the future who’s also like a medieval knight. His hands are just these cones he uses to zaps people with blue lightning. He can melt into electricity and shit. He is so futuristic. He is so cool. Nobody can fuck with him on Killer Instinct.
What other video games are you playing right now?
Grand Theft Auto. The new one. Brand new one. Normally I rep old school video games because that’s what I grew up on but like this GTA stuff is like heroin.
GTA reminds me of X-Rated Sims sometimes.
Let me tell you about the Sims. When I was a kid … I got all the cheats. It got me infinite Sim money. I basically beat the Sims. This is when I was like twelve. I created this house that was like a death house and this was all in the shape of D for death. I was creating these Sims and killing them in different weird unique ways. This one dude I put like a bunch of refrigerators around his bed and then he could never get out bed and he died in bed. Then there was this other lady Sim who was on a toilet taking a shit and I just put all these other objects and stuff around the toilet so she died on a toilet. I was doing this with all these different imaginative ways of killing the Sims and then all these gravestones pop up right and then I was killing more Sims and the Sims start getting haunted by the ghosts. Then one day I killed the fucking Grim Reaper in the Sims.