Ditto Wrote The Book On A Whole Lotta Woman

by Dan Reilly SOURCE Spinner / YouTube
Photo Credit: Eamonn McCabe

For Beth Ditto, the perfect way to describe the recording sessions of her upcoming self-titled EP and first solo release would be "relaxed."

As the Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto says, "I work really well under pressure but I really hate doing things on a timeframe. It's like going to college from the sixth grade: don't do it unless you're Doogie Howser."

The EP features Ditto reteaming with electro duo Simian Mobile Disco for four club-ready tracks. The always-outspoken singer recently chatted with Spinner about the project, the Madonna-inspired video for 'I Wrote the Book'.

Why did you decide to do this now at this stage in your career?

Probably because I don't really consider what I do as a career. I don't really think things through like that -- I just wanted to do it. I just turned 30 and the reason it felt really good to put all that under my belt, put out a little solo thing, because Gossip have been [together] since I was 18, so 12 years now. It felt really good to do something with other people. I always compare it to having a baby, like having a love affair with someone else just to see what the baby is going to look like. It was really fulfilling.

Were you nervous about going solo?

No, because I don't really see it as going solo. I don't really have any nerves because there's not a lot of expectation. I was really happy with it and wanted to do something I was sonically happy with and visually happy with. I just had an idea and went with it, so the whole thing was really relaxed. It was more like "Can I do this without Nathan and Hannah," my bandmates from Gossip, "How was that going to feel?" It can be such a codependent relationship, songwriting with the same people.

After singing on Simian Mobile Disco's 2010 album Temporary Pleasure, how did this EP come about?

I had some time and Simian had some time. It's really hard for me to sometimes put myself out there, like "Hey, how do you feel about making music together?" because maybe I'm afraid of rejection or I don't want to put anybody out. It's the Southerner in me, like, "I don't mean to bother you but do you mind making a song?" I had already worked on things with them, so the ice had been broken and it all fell into place.

Who had the idea for the 'I Wrote the Book' video?

A friend from London, [who] I've known for a long time, from the Ladyfest Riot Grrrl days. She said, "I had a dream that you were running down hallways like Madonna, Truth or Dare-style." I was like "done and done. Can I use that idea? That's great." My friend Price James, who did the 'Heavy Cross' video, did a really good treatment for it. I said, "I want Voguers in it, full-on amazing dancers, all boys." It was really fun. It was all about makeup and hair and stuff. I'm not a good actor at all, so there's a lot of distraction. The bigger the eyebrows, people won't look at your mouth and see you don't know the words. That's why Groucho Marx did it.

Lots of people criticized Lady Gaga for ripping off Madonna with 'Born This Way,' but the way you did it was more of a funny, loving tribute.

Yeah, I'm like "Give me that video, Madonna." It's also funny to see a little short fat girl do Madonna. I think that's hilarious. And there's a lot of criticism for Lady Gaga, but I don't understand it -- welcome to pop music. What do you expect? Guess what -- Madonna didn't think of 'Vogue' on her own. That was a movement long before she came onto the scene. If you see Paris Is Burning, you'll be a lot more forgiving of Lady Gaga. That's my advice to people. That's not bad-mouthing Madonna either. That's the way s--- goes.