Ever since their song “Lick It” was included in the fourth season of Showtime’s The L Word, God–des and She have been lauded as the high priestesses of lesbian hip hop.
The dynamic duo (their real names are, respectively, Alicia and Tina) are openly gay, and a lot of their music – especially on their first two CDs – was stuff you probably wouldn’t want to play for Mom and Dad (you’ll want to keep the “Lick it” video off the TV when Granny comes over, too).
There’s electrifying grooves on God–des and She records, and a rich vein of silky rhythm ‘n’ blues flows through “Love You Better,” a song from their second release. “Love You Better” was one of the most–played videos on MTV’s gay network, Logo.
The ladies met in Madison, Wisconsin, which has a vibrant hip hop scene, and six years ago, they moved operations to New York City, which is where they met Public Enemy’s guitarist and producer Brian Hardgroove.
Hardgroove produced the new (third) God–des & She album, titled Three, and while its beats are intense and its lyrics clever, there’s more melody – and musical styles – than ever before.
God–des and She are new residents of Austin, Texas, where they both say the warm weather is much appreciated. Their Feb. 9 show at the Tantra Lounge is the duo’s first local appearance.
“We’ve been to Savannah, but we’ve never played before,” says God–des. “So we’re really excited to play. We’ve gone on some really funny ghost tours that weren’t really scary.”
Why did you leave New York for Austin?
God–des: I guess we feel like we did what we had to do in New York. Our ultimate goal of moving there was to become full–time musicians, and we’ve been able to do that. We had great, great exposure in New York, and we were able to meet a lot of people – that led us to get on The L Word, and all of our MTV connections – but we’re in a position now where we tour for a living and we wanted to move somewhere nice, and warm, inexpensive and kind of low–key.
Are you finding enough work?
God–des: You know, we never just play in our home city. We never have. Even when we lived in New York, we weren’t doing a lot of our big money–making gigs in the city. We are going to start doing a bi–weekly or a monthly residency here in Austin, and we’re actually going to put together a live band. I don’t know how much we’re going to be gigging here, but it really doesn’t matter because we gig literally all over the world.
She: We’re definitely working on putting a live band together, and that’s very much a goal of ours, to start traveling with a band. But we make our living as musicians; it’s kind of hard to pay people. It’s usually just a split. When we’re on the road, it’s usually just her and I doing our thizzle.
I was in a rock band for a number of years before God–des and She. I play a number of instruments, and we’re defnitely going to incorporate that pretty soon into our sets.
Sometimes we travel with a DJ. We’ve actually had Spinderella be our DJ before, and DJ Johnny Juice – the DJ for Public Enemy – is going to come down for our CD release party in Austin on March 6.
You were in a rock band? How much of a jump for you was this?
She: It was very different, an extremely big jump. I always liked rap and hip hop, but I never thought I would be creating it and writing it. But because both of us really love all different kinds of music, we really incorporated different styles into what people traditionally look at as hip hop. She (God–des) is a percussionist, and she was the drummer in a punk band before this. So it’s all there, and right now we’re doing this.
What did the L Word exposure do for you?
God–des: It was pretty crazy. I guess we expected there would be some good things to come out of it, but we didn’t anticipate the chaos that would happen after. I remember the day after it aired I was at work at this beer company in Manhattan, and I looked on my cell phone to check my e–mail. And I had 200 messages in my inbox.
She was cutting meat in an Italian deli, and She was so ready to be done with that job! It got to the point where we were being asked to do so many gigs. She called me up and said ‘Hey, man. We have to quit our jobs. We didn’t move to New York to sell beer and slice meat.“ She said ”We moved here to be musicians. We just gotta take the risk.”
I like the R&B groove on songs like “Love You Better,” and the pop of “Get Your Bike.” Is there a feeling that you can only take strict hip hop so far, and that you’re expanding what you do? Did Hardgroove encourage that?
God–des: Our manager had introduced us to him. We vibed with him really well, and he said “I want to take the music home and listen to it.” And literally the next day he said “You know what? Count me in.” And he said “What I like so much about the direction you guys are going in is that it’s not JUST one thing.” He really understood.
Is the "gay aspect" still a big selling point, or has it become a novelty thing that you get tired of hearing about? Would you prefer to be just called musicians?
God–des: Yeah ... as you know, and everybody knows, yeah, I’m gay and that’s obviously who I am. But you’re absolutely right, it does get frustrating for us because we’re musicians, and we’re really talented musicians. And our music is totally universal. I’m gay, and I’m never going to pretend I’m not gay, and I’m very proud of who I am. But we really want to focus on the music, and we want to bring change for a lot of people that don’t have a voice. And we want to show the music industry that you don’t have to look like a Britney Spears, and sexualize yourself in that way, to be successful female musicians.
She: I’m bisexual, so it’s not even an issue for me, ‘cause it’s everything. I don’t have, like, one or the other. Obviously we have a lot of gay fans, and we’re really grateful for them, but I think our music can inspire everyone and really bring people together. It isn’t about a sexuality thing, it’s about great music and people feeling like a million dollars when they leave our show.
God–des: You know, there’s a ton of gay people in the world, so who cares any more? People love Ellen because she’s Ellen. They think that she’s great and she’s charming and she’s funny. That’s kind of where we want to be. We want people to respect us for who we are, but love our music for what it is.
What would you like to happen, ultimately?
She: We want to be on mainstream radio next to Lady Gaga and Beyonce. We want to be the voice for all marginalized people, and speak the truth. And be role models and uplift people’s spirits. And spread the love, you know? cs
God–des and She
Where: Tantra Lounge, 8 E. Broughton St.
When: At 10 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9
Phone: (912) 231–0888
Artists’ Website: www.god–desandshe.com