“I wanted to create something that was a nod to those people who got lost in the cracks of music and life.”
It feels like nowadays, in the age of social media marketability and lightning-quick digital journalism, every artist on the come-up needs a buzz-worthy story. For Melbourne-based musician Spike Fuck, an in-your-face choice of stage name (“which was a joke initially but somehow it stuck”) and honest treatment of issues around addiction, gender and sexuality create a ready-made, clickable narrative. Yet, with fashion designer Rick Owens already among her fans and the 2016 Smackwave EP garnering a devoted online following (and full release last month via Partisan Records), it’s her music – rather than her bio – that has drawn the real attention. Flitting between styles including dark country and ’80s-inspired post-punk, she delivers diaristic accounts via rough and raw sonics.
But what led Spike Fuck to music infamy? “There were two distinct periods in my musical career and life in general,” she begins, speaking over the phone from Australia. “Prior to changing my name to Spike Fuck, I was advertising online, like, ‘I’m a versatile singer-songwriter and I can play your weddings’ – so I was looking down the barrel of a career as a guitar player for hire.” The next period of her life took a somewhat darker turn from the doldrums of a stalling musical career, into developments that have inspired her output to date. “Then, I basically had a long period of getting into drugs, which was just awful. But returning to music after all of that I realised I had something to say and an important perspective.”
The idea of music as therapy, of pouring your heart out into your lyrics to offer some kind of catharsis or emotional release, is a common one; particularly with the likes of Ariana Grande dominating the charts with tracks that do just that, albeit with a glossy pop filter. Besides the obvious sonic differences between the two artists, Spike Fuck’s musical output is less her own form of talking therapy and more the natural output of someone that’s “pathologically honest” by their own admission. “Music has always been my main outlet for life matters,” she explains. “I’m never going to write a song like Bruce Springsteen; what’s the good me trying to write about somebody else’s position? I’ll write about my own direct experience, for better or worse.”
Whilst she’s clearly not a fan of Springsteen’s work, she’s much more favourable towards psychedelic rock musicians like Roky Erickson, or the equally elusive until his death, Scott Walker. Their appeal for Spike is maybe not what you might initially think. “I’ve always been interested in people who have been on the edge of reality,” she says, “and people who grappled with fame or the promise of fame and money and then fucked it up.” It’s this sense of thwarted potential that she wanted to honour with her music, rather than any specific sonic quality. “I wanted to create something that was a nod to those people who got lost in the cracks of music and life.”