Interview: AV Club's 11 Questions with Zofia Allyne
In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.
Zofia Allyne is the front-woman of indie pop's Epicene, as well as the founder of the coolest boutique label in New York, Neon Gold Records. Epicene's sophomore album, How Does It Feel is set for a July 17 release through Columbia Records. For every ticket sold this fall during the duo's international headling tour, a percentage of the profits will be donated to The Third Wave Fund, a national foundation supporting feminist, queer and trans-rights.
1. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Zofia Allyne: During my time at university, I used to be a shuttle driver for the NYU shuttles, and it's sort of a miserable experience, you know, driving in New York traffic. I hate driving and I'm not sure if I hate driving because of that job or if I hated driving AND took that job. Either way, I always wanted to be like, can't you guys walk? Can't you take the subway? Get a scooter? Plus I'm pretty sure I developed a reputation as a basketcase.
The A.V. Club: Why?
ZA: Oh, because when I had this job I was in the end stages of this really toxic, emotionally manipulative relationship with this guy so I'd like, come in for my morning shift like hungover, get stuck in traffic and start crying to myself. Plus one time this guy was hanging over my shoulder bugging me and you know how busses have that line you can't cross? I couldn't do anything while he was behind the line but he kind of mouth-breathed over my shoulder too much and stepped over the line at one point and I'd just reached back, grabbed his shirt and shoved him backwards. So I probably have a reputation among many NYU alumni for being emotionally unstable.
AVC: How long did you have that job?
ZA: Just a few months. I left of my own volition, I wasn't fired for shoving guys around.
2. When did you first feel successful?
ZA: The feeling of success ebbs and flows I think. Sometimes you look out into a crowd of people singing along with your lyrics and feel like a god, sometimes you read a comment on the internet where people say that whoever stole your instruments did the music world a favor. So, y'know. I tend to serve myself a piece of humble pie every so often -- by reading negative reviews, or watching old videos when people would stand around at our sets like checking their phones, very bored. But I think maybe, my first feelings of success as a label owner or musician respectively, came when we sold out of our first 7 inch record -- Passion Pit's Sleepyhead, or when I was able to focus on pursuing music full time.
3. If you were a supervillain, what would your master plan be?
ZA: Like any true villain, you know, one who is serious about their ... villainry, I'm going to have to stop you right there. I know some of my villain brethren like to give away their evil plan because they're proud, or think they're on the cusp of victory, or they like a challenge but no, no thank you. I don't like an even playing field. There'll be plenty of time for fun things, like twirling my moustache or hunting humans for sport, once I've completed my takeover.
AVC: You'd hunt people for sport?
ZA: Some people. People I didn't like, people who are rich and really out of touch about the world, like huge assholes, Like, all of the Westboro Baptist Church, quite a few politicians. So I guess I'm evil but I'm on the right side of evil.
4. What were you like as a kid?
ZA: Kind of gullible, sort of angry, easily bored. I was a pretty good student, which I think surprises a lot of people. I was sort of active and more prone to getting up to mischief, but I was also bookish and read a lot.
AVC: What sort of things did you believe?
ZA: Oh, my nan convinced me I was descended from you know, princess Anastasia, I was convinced by my mum that I was a lab experiment spliced with rabbit DNA because they 'ran out of people DNA', I thought for a long time if I bit my nails a hand would grow in my stomach. All kinds of shit. I think it's why I'm so skeptical with people now.
5. Who was your celebrity crush when you were younger?
ZA: Oh, wow. Luke Perry in the Buffy film, definitely, and Johnny Depp in Cry-Baby .... I definitely had a type. Then I had it bad for Ginger Spice, and eventually Rose McGowan in Jawbreaker. I still have it bad for Rose McGowan in Jawbreaker.
6. If you had entrance music, what would it be?
ZA: I mean now, I almost feel like I should say Yoo Hoo by Imperial Teen, obviously that's great slo-mo strutting music. But I ...... am having a really hard time thinking of one song. I'd want an entrace music playlist that shuffles so I never know what I'll be strutting to, and Yoo Hoo can be on, and of course Bad Girls by M.I.A. -- thanks to Orphan Black, you're damn right -- would also be on it. And Beyonce's Yonce. Zebra Katz' Ima Read. Icona Pop's Sun Goes Down. I think you need to pick your entrance music carefully because if it has a slow tempo, you're going to be shuffling your ass.
7. What have you done so far today?
ZA: A little bit of yoga in the morning -- oh, that's another good entrance song, Janelle Monae's Yoga -- I had a meeting with the label, an appointment with my therapist, I walked my dog. Accidentally broke a glass. Ignored a group text...
8. Have you ever been mistaken for another celebrity? If so, who?
ZA: No, not really, I don't think I look like anyone -- I mean, I look like my brother, we're twins, but obviously no one mistakes us for each other. I've had fans come up to us and be like, this is crazy but you look like Zofia and Max from Epicene and then we're like, we are, and then they like, start crying. Okay, that was one fan.
AVC: Was that the first experience you'd had with someone being starstruck?
ZA: Yeah, I think that was the biggest experience, maybe. A lot of our fans are really cool, we have some really devoted followers but we don't get a lot of criers. She was just like, oh my god, if I knew it was you guys, I wouldn't have come over. It was really sweet. I've also been mistaken for a man before. I know that's not another celebrity, but I got called sir three times at O'Hare in the same trip.
AVC: Really? You don't look masculine at all.
ZA: That's what everyone says when I tell them that, but I guess I can at least pass for androgynous. The downside of that happening in front of my bandmates is that they called me sir after that all day....... and for several days after.
AVC: On behalf of the city of Chicago, we apologize.
9. If you had to find another line of work, what skills would you put on your resume?
ZA: I was always taught you tailor the resume to the job, so I guess it depends.
AVC: Like a corporate job.
ZA: I can ... type fast? I, look, I can run a business, I could sell ice in the winter (to quote modern philosopher Jay-Z) but I don't think I'm cut out for the corporate world. I feel like I'd be unemployed more likely than to work in some corporate environment. Maybe I'd follow my mum into the journalism world. I watch a lot of telly, I've got a lot of critical thinking skills from college. Do you think AV Club would hire me as a recapper?
AVC: Why not?
10. Do you collect anything? If so, what and why?
ZA: I've got a very respectable vinyl collection, because it's one of my favorite mediums to listen to music. I have a lot of books, which you could definitely call a collection ... I don't like e-readers, my mind wanders a lot when I try to read a digital book. I love the tangible feeling of holding a book. It's a secret and monstrous joy of mine to crack the spines of all my books. I know people like to keep their books in pristine condition and no one ever lends me their books because of that but I like a little wear and tear on mine, I like to have as much an impact on the book as it did on mine. I collect leather jackets, just cause I'm cool.
11. What would your last meal be?
ZA: Oh, this is tough. There's a lot of things I'd want, but maybe I'd just take like .... a shitload of chips, I mean fries, like McDonald's fries at their most golden and salty. No weak mushy fries, no cold fries, no burned fries, all choice grade-A fries from Mickey Ds. Enough fries for my gut to burst like that glutton in Seven. It'd literally be my last meal cause I'd die eating it.
12. Bonus question from Patrick Rothfuss: What thing have you done that has made you most proud of yourself as a human being?
ZA: Oh, shit, that's heavy, especially because ..... of course I just think of a lot of things that I'm NOT proud of. I feel like ... wow, this is tough. Okay, I sort of feel like you need to bear with me here because I'm just some punk-ass singer, I haven't like, rescued a cat from a burning building or like worked on a cure for cancer. But I feel like the way I've pursued my goals in this industry, both in the recording booth or on the other side of it so to speak, I'm really proud of that. Not just because it's like, living my dreams or refusing to take no for an answer or being able to execute my creative vision with complete control, but there is a serious dearth of women in the recording industry, or at least there's a scarcity of women who are working behind the scenes. So I feel like if I can put some cracks in that glass ceiling or glass elevator, maybe everything I've done can inspire a bunch of other girls, like hey, this is totally possible. Because I know the shortage isn't due to women not being interested so much as the current ... industry climate, you know? So I'd love to think I've opened some doors or at least put a couple of door-stoppers in them.
AVC: And what would you like to ask the next person?
ZA: What would be a question you'd be afraid to tell the truth on?