by Jason Hart
Milwaukee-based Dites Donc (pronounced Deet Dahnk, French slang for Look here! or Hey!) incorporates irresistible dance music, intelligent lyrics, irreverent attitude, and innovative performance art into an ingenious and sex-saturated amalgam of music, dance, and theatre. Fresh off of a recent tour of points south and a magnificent performance at the Art Bar, Dites Donc members Allison Halter and Lindsay Hayden (producer and band member Mike Stasny was not available) sat down with the Riverwest Currents to discuss seduction, feminism, and men as sex objects.
Riverwest Currents: So what is Dites Donc?
Lindsay Hayden: Were a performance art band, but at the same time I dont like the performance art label
Allison Halter: I like it because its dorky and wrong. Were a feminist performance art band.
LH: People are surprised when they come to our show and see more than music.
AH: I think the way we make music is more like
LH: making art than making music.
AH: We dont jam.
LH: The way we make songs is more like were building artwork, just like we would with a drawing or a sculpture, but were using sound.
AH: I want to make sure you write that we dont jam and we dont play guitars.
RC: How does feminism influence your work?
LH: Were both unrepentant feminists. A lot of things we talk about are things that dont get talked about openly and honestly or often enough.
AH: We as a band are interested in seduction as a persuasive technique.
RC: Can you explain that?
AH: I feel like a common misperception of feminism is that its only didactic or joyless or preachy. But we arent coming down on second wave feminism.
LH: Even sometimes when you read Ms. Magazine and theyre trying to be, Were funny, but its so forced. You get the idea that they are trying to force the idea that feminism is funny.
AH: Its really a way to win people over through seduction, rather than coercion or didactic lecturing. Maybe not win over, but have people consider our viewpoints.
LH: The perception of feminists is that they are dour or unfunny. Its basically a stereotype that gets lobbed against feminists to scare them out of calling themselves feminists, because no one wants to be seen as unsexy or unfeminine or dour.
AH: I want to make sure you write that were not coming down on second-wave feminism.
LH: Its like the old myth in comedy that attractive women cant be funny and funny women cant be attractive.
RC: Your lyrics are very funny…
AH: Theyre completely sincere.
LH: Like when we say, Our ship is big, lets fuck. We mean it. We were thinking, What does this song say? and it says, Lets fuck. Lets just say it. We arent jokey.
AH: The first instinct is to laugh. Its different and weird and uncomfortable to think of men as being sex objects.
LH: The myth of women not being funny is dying.
RC: Your songs and stage shows include a lot of sexual content. Have you ever experienced any harassment?
AH: We own our sexuality; we own what were putting out there. I dont ever really feel afraid.
LH: I dont ever get hassled after the show.
AH: I think people get a little scared. Especially when I take my clothes off.
LH: Its so sexual that no man would ever hit on us afterwards.
AH: Because then were woman-beasts.
LH: When were performing, we are presenting ourselves as a sexual force and a challenge, instead of an object.
RC: What do you challenge?
AH: Its a challenge to traditional ideas about gendered sexuality. Theres that cliché of women being passive, which is being worked on, but there isnt much being done on having men be sex objects.
RC: It seems like its being done in hip-hop
AH: Even female rappers talk about what men will do to them on their body. They might talk about how big his dick is, and how long they will last, but no other parts of their bodies. Its not the same at all.
RC: How does this influence the choices you make in presenting yourselves? Do you consciously seek to dispel stereotypes?
AH: I feel for us a lot of these issues are totally internalized.
LH: We dont have to think about it when were on stage. Theyre issues we dont need to explicitly address because we are implicitly addressing them in our work. We have an idea for a song its funny, its smart, its sexy; it sometimes has the side benefit of pushing forward our feminist agenda.
AH: Living as a feminist, its not something that we have to put a lot of extra work into. Its just the way we live. But we are trying to challenge ourselves to communicate further.
LH: To really live sisterhood not just pay it lip service and be backstabbing bitches.
AH: Sisterhood is powerful and we try to live that in the way we treat each other.
Dites Donc is playing at the Bremen Café on April 9 and the Riverwest Commons on May 9. Their music can be heard online at www.myspace.com/ditesdonc.
Riverwest Currents online edition – April, 2006