Wipeout – Optic Nerve (Official Video) from Cassie Tucker on Vimeo.
Take a bag of glitter, your favorite sugary cereal, and cavernous pedals–crunch it by hand all together in a mixing bowl, and you have the Baltimore band Wipeout. The sludgegaze music of Cassie Tucker and Kayla Goldstein walks a line between hauntingly cinematic and playful glee. And with one single and an album out–the 2017 ripper titled Milkbird recorded by Alex Zhu–Wipeout shows no chance of stopping. I found the band through tattooist Tucker’s visual art on Instagram (@sllackula), which instantly drew me in: neon colors everywhere, psychedelic creatures and humans, and childhood nostalgia tinted with cheeky evil. I got a chance to volley a few questions Tucker’s way while Wipeout was on tour.
Madge Maril: Can you describe Wipeout? What genre are you/the sound/however you see yourselves.
Cassie Tucker: I usually describe us as sludgy synthy post-punk. There’s definitely a ton of shoegaze, coldwave, industrial and psychedelic influences all in there as well. We definitely get a lot of weird comparisons after we play.
MM: What inspired you to start playing music?
CT: I started playing guitar when I was 14, because I needed a hobby tbh, and I’ve been in and out of bands since then, but I wanted to start Wipeout because my bandmate had just started diving into working with synths and was still in the process of experimenting, and I had been writing guitar and vocals that called for an experimental element, so we decided to start this band.
MM: What is your aesthetic?
CT: Definitely off-looking puppets, animatronics, clay characters, anything that’s in the uncanny valley between a cartoon and a human being. I guess that’s how I feel as a person. Best example would be Pee Wee’s playhouse, it’s very chaotic and puppety with a hint of psychedelicism as well. Kind of like our music, an unsettling yet strangely nostalgic and comforting middle ground between a few different genres.
MM: Which bands inspire you?
CT: The B52’s, Clan of Xymox, Lush, Lightning Bolt, The Slits, Sioxsie and The Banshees, X-Ray Spex
MM: Since we’re Women In Rock, do you have any experiences you would want to share about being a non-cis dude in music? Trials, tribulations, joys.
CT: As a femme who has been in bands for 10 years, I’ve pretty much heard any and every condescending comment possible devaluing my music, lumping us into the nonexistent genre “female” (along with other femme-fronted bands who play completely different music) and about my appearance in relationship to my performance. A reason why I like to play with unsettling aesthetics in my performances is to challenge the gaze and expectation of how a femme-fronted band should look and perform.
Advice to men at shows: Don’t ever talk to me
MM: How do your politics play into your art, and vice versa?
CT: I don’t see ourselves as playing music or creating work in relation to it as an inherent form of activism or anything, but our music and videos do serve as a lighthearted play on sexuality and being a femme queer musician like I mentioned above, challenging the expected gaze.