- Jesse Draxler
- Poppy, with VOWWS, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 8 p.m., Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood, $22/adv, $25/door, ages 16+, 303-788-0984, gothictheatre.com
Poppy is an artist who needs no introduction, given that her first viral video was devoted to her staring into the camera and repeating the sentence “I’m Poppy,” with varying inflections, for a full 10 minutes.
In the five years since, Poppy’s oddly beguiling YouTube videos have amassed more than a half-billion views. Drawing upon the deadpan art-pop of Andy Warhol and the eerie otherness of David Lynch, she and behind-the-camera collaborator Titanic Sinclair have gone on to post hundreds of short Zen-damaged videos that feature the doe-eyed actress speaking in a borderline-ASMR voice about topics like fame, immortality and not being a cult leader.
As her profile rose, the 25-year-old performer diversified her portfolio: Sanrio, the company that gave us Hello Kitty, made her the brand ambassador for a new line of makeup. She published her own parody of the Bible. And, of course, she got a major-label record deal.
Currently, Poppy is heading out on the road to promote her third studio album, I Disagree, which spikes her sugary synth-pop with significant doses of industrial-strength headbanging.
Recent months have also found the Nashville native, whose real name is Moriah Rose Pereira, beginning to step out of character, even while talking to the press, something she strictly avoided in the past. In the following interview, she talks about the lure of music, the return of the “small Poppy,” and the big problem with social media.
Indy: You’ve been playing music for more than a decade, which is a pretty long time to be doing anything. Is it gratifying that you’re now being recognized for it?
Poppy: Um, it’s interesting. Maybe gratifying is the word. But it’s something that I’ve always done, so it doesn’t really feel any different to me. It’s nice that people like it. When they come to shows, I can see them moving to the music, and that didn’t exist before. So back then it was an idea, and now it exists, and people can consume it. That’s a cool feeling.
The new album is quite a bit heavier than its predecessors, which is not surprising, given the single [“Scary Mask”] you released last year with Fever 333. What is it that draws you to that type of music?
Well, I’ve grown up listening to heavier music. Previously my music was pop — I felt like I had to fulfill that kind of vibe — and now I’m thinking back into what I was listening to when I was a small Poppy.
What specifically did the small Poppy listen to?
Nine Inch Nails and Gary Numan, Skinny Puppy, and heavier music.
Well, I wouldn’t say that I’m stepping away from anything. I’m just exploring new ground and opening myself up to new endeavors. But, you know, as you mature as an artist, I think it’s your responsibility to test the public, test people, test yourself and other people’s opinions. And if you are making the same kind of music, or dressing the same way, or saying the same stuff — whether it’s in a conversation, or in the songs, or in interviews — people will get bored. I get bored very quickly.
A sample from one of your videos — the one that begins with “Do you ever wish you could just restart” — is currently trending on TikTok. How do you feel about social media at this point, and to what degree will you continue to be involved with it?
I plan on being part of it no more or less than I am now. But I think it can be a problem when it comes to creativity. It can put your mind in a space that it probably shouldn’t be in. And I’m very sensitive to a lot of that.
I don’t really like to know what other people are doing. I think that offering up too much information is a little redundant and boring. And I don’t really like to see photos of people without makeup on. I think there’s a reason why people wear makeup; the reason why I like to wear makeup is because we don’t need to see you au naturel all the time. People look better with makeup.