It takes a special kind of human being to completely redefine a word - especially one that dates back to 1350. Female deities were once only mythological creatures defined by their supernatural powers and/or beauty, but now in a world where ANDIE RHODES lives and breathes and battles for self-empowerment, one only has to accept their own humanity in order to bring to the surface their inner Goddess.
Rhodes has transmorgified an impossible aspirational trope, finding inspiration instead in the real world - welcoming wholehearted honesty and what it means to be human and flawed. She says, "Everyone feels low sometimes, feels broken or damaged. But people feel powerful and strong too. One doesn't make you better than the other, both are what make you who you are, the kind of person you are. But accepting them and using those emotions to empower yourself instead of letting them tear you down, that's what makes you strong no matter what you're going through."
With lyrics like, "What if I said I have problems that made me mean?" and, "So I got edges that scratch," Rhodes has re-tooled the Goddess archetype to instead be a honest reflection upon the fact that life is not simple, but everyday human struggles are no less important than those chronicled in legends or celebrity tabloids. Rhodes is a Goddess, but so are you, so am I, and so is everyone else in your life that you love and cherish. We are all Goddesses - be you male or female - so be courageous.
Whilst in Auckland for Laneway Festival 2015, Rhodes caught up with Coup De Main on a Summer’s afternoon, encompassed by the tranquility of a 19th-century church...
COUP DE MAIN: You spent nearly all of last year on the road and now you are back at it again. How have you found adjusting from normal-living to tour-life?
ANDIE RHODES: It can be really hard, it can. It's a challenge. Physically, the constant time changes and the flying to new cities every day and living out of a suit case and eating whatever you can grab, it can be really hard on your body. Sometimes it sort of tears you down. And for me, it can be really hard on my mind too. It feels pretty isolating sometimes, being so far from the people I love and care about, from someplace I can just feel settled. You're always on the go. It's definitely still an adjustment for me. But the high that comes at the end of the night, crowds singing back to you or meeting someone that really does get you through your lyrics, that makes it all worth it.
CDM: From talking to musicians with rigorous touring-schedules, one of the big myths seems to be the 'non-stop party' vibe of tour-life. It seems more of a rather exhausting and draining way to live.
RHODES: I don't know how you can do that, honestly. That's not the life for me. And it's just not possible to sustain that. Maybe for one leg of a tour or something, but I'm sure it catches up to you, all the late nights and everything. You can't balance all that.
CDM: In an interview with The Huffington Post, you mentioned that you’d talked to Ellie Goulding about the highs and the lows of performing-life. What advice did she give you?
RHODES: I'm still really so new to the business that to have someone like Ellie just to talk to is the most amazing gift. She's been through so much in this industry herself and she's obviously toured so much, it's nice to have someone who knows what you're going through. She understands.
CDM: I was looking at your past set-lists and you very rarely perform ‘You Should Know Where I’m Coming From’. I couldn’t even find a set-list with ‘Under The Table’ on it. Is that a deliberate decision not to sing those songs live?
RHODES: My songs are all really personal to me. I write when I'm most emotional, when I have things to say that I don't know how to say to someone's face or when I don't think I really have the words. So that emotion seeps into the song, always. And then to go back and sing it in front of all these other people, I'm not always really emotionally prepared for that. I didn't have a lot of time between finishing this album and going out and performing things, so at first I was just going with everything, equal opportunity. But it became clearly evident really quickly that some songs just fuck with my heart too badly. And that's not to say that I don't still sing some of the ones that do, but there are some things I've dealt with and some things I'm still working on and I mean...I'll get there eventually. But I've only played 'Someone New' I think maybe three times ever and just all three times I've cried. I don't want to be a mess like that. So I have to get my shit together again first before tackling some songs again.
CDM: When you’re singing those songs live night after night, do you have to emotionally distance yourself from them?
RHODES: Yes and no. That's what makes those songs really, the emotion behind them. You can't separate that, because that takes away the life from them. But I can't really always let my brain go real into it, either.
CDM: Some artists find it hard to relive songs night after night.
RHODES: It can be hard, yeah. And I'm a pretty sensitive person, so yes. But a lot of time it just feels kind of...like an out of body experience or something. But some songs do get hard, especially.
CDM: Back in November you tweeted: “Thank you for connecting with my music. Sometimes I feel too sensitive for this business. Then I see you wonderful people doing covers of my songs and it brings a smile to my face and a light to my heart that couldn't be more genuine. Thank you for inspiring me to continue doing this. I know this is where I'm meant to be." What aspects of the music industry do you not like, or are uncomfortable with?
CDM: It must be tough being a creative in a financially driven industry, where there are always factions who are trying to offer their opinions as well.
RHODES: There's that too, but that's not really me. I mean, I don't have a business mind and at a certain point you just have to say, that's not what I'm about and turn your head to that. My music is me. My lyrics are my feelings and my experiences. I've never been tempted to change something or write something because it would have more fiscal potential. And really, I make my music for me. If I didn't sell another record, I would still do this. And maybe this is naive, but I really feel like the people who are truly fans of what I write, they'd still find it to enjoy. It would be fine.
CDM: Beyoncé backed a campaign last year to ban the word 'bossy' because it deters girls from wanting to be leaders. Queen B said: "I’m not bossy. I’m the boss." I feel like there’s a stigma attached to female artists who know their own mind and are unwilling to play 'the fame game'. I’ve watched Lorde grow these last few years and I personally find it frustrating when the media labels her as "difficult" because you know as well as I do, that she’s a wonderful human being, not difficult at all - she just knows what she wants. Why do women continue to be harshly judged for just wanting to be in control of their own self?
RHODES: Beyoncé is such a wise, wise woman. But yeah, I get that. I feel like I'm pretty often told that I care too much. Which, who are you to tell me that I'm too invested in something? Especially something like this, my music is me. It is literally my soul set to a tune. And recently I've really been learning how to just, well, stand up for myself, I guess. Not take that from people. How to communicate what I want and what I need and be the boss of my own career.