This month I got to talk with Li of Pussycat Dolores and it was awesome! I’ve never really considered Umbridge before (besides how much I hated her) but Li definitely changed that!
Hello magical friends, especially Crystal, Morgan, Jenn, Christie M. and Autumn! It’s time for the eighth episode of WZRD Radio. I’m your hostwitch Bess and let me tell you, I’m a little nervous about today’s guest! It’s not often Dolores Umbridge drops by and gives you a piece of her mind. Send a strengthening solution my way, friends, I just might need it.
Before we get to that, though, we’ve got some music to play! Let’s get started with “If You Didn’t Come To Party (Pink Version)” by Swish and Flick.
That was “If You Didn’t Come to Party” by Swish & Flick [lyrics
note: lyrics are original version, with the slur censored lyrics are updated!], “Cheer Up, Cho” by The Curse Breakers, and “I Wanna Go To Durmstrang” by the House of Black.
The new edit of “If You Didn’t Come to Party,” which is free to download off the Dandy Decadance SoundCloud, was a special request by WZRD patron Kevin.
And now I want to introduced my distinguished guest Li of Pussycat Dolores! Thank you so much for joining me today.
Li: Hi! Thank you for having me.
I’m really excited about this.
Li: Me too.
You were one of the first requests I got—
Li: Aw, really?
Li: That’s so cute!
For anyone who is unfamiliar with your band, could you tell us a little about Pussycat Dolores? When you formed the band, why you chose the name, etc.
Li: Well basically I think it started out as a bit of, like, a joke kinda. No, but I’ve been really really into the wizard rock scene here in Sweden. I think I was one of the first to start a band. Not a really good one, but like back in 200…6, I think. And then I’ve kind of been like just moving around and trying to find some new bands to be and hanging out with all the wizard rockers here in Sweden. And me and a friend were starting to talk about how we like Dolores Umbridge because she likes cats and she’s pink and all of that and that we should have a band. And then I think it was just like a joke and we were like “Yeah, we’re gonna write these really cheesy, boy-band-ish songs” because we wanted to be a boy band. And we started to build it around the joke that we were a boy band and that we were going to have management like all the boy bands have all the problems. And then—I think it was just a joke, really—I think it was at an event, I think it was a Christmas/Yule Ball kind of event here in Sweden and we just started talking about it when we should have been sleeping. And then I had a dream, actually, like a week after that we formed a band called Pussycat Dolores and everyone was like “That is too good of a name not to do something with it. So we just started to record some songs and kind of wanted it to be, like, a bit…a bit more pop than I think usually wizard rock is. I don’t—I’m not really sure that’s the right word but yeah. A bit more pop-y, boy band-ish kind of thing. That’s kind of the band.
I love that.
Li: I think we started in 2012…
That’s when your first music is on BandCamp so…
Li: Yeah, yeah exactly. So I think we started around there and like just wanted to record some stuff. And since I live with Erik of the Swedish Shortsnouts he helped us out with getting the music to actually sound a bit great.
You said in 2006 you started a band as well?
Li: Yeah. I had a band with a friend because we were, we were kind of jealous that, like, America had all the bands and we were just starting to listen to Draco and the Malfoys, Harry and the Potters… And we were just like “Oh god, it’d be so cool if we had a band.” So I think we started a band. I’m not sure what we were really called, I think we were called the Slytherin Sweethearts? We had a few songs. It was on MySpace and I think, sadly, it’s all gone.
Oh no! Well, you never know where we’ll find music.
Li: No, exactly. Then I think it was kind of like around that time that the Swedish wizard rock scene kind of exploded. The Swedish Shortsnouts started around that time as well…a lot of other bands. And we just had a really fun time with the music, just being ridiculous and having fun and all that. So it’s been a long time in the wizard rock scene.
WZRD patrons want to know what genre of music you think “The Ministry Has Fallen” falls under? It’s one of my favorites, but I guess the style has been causing some debates.
Li: Oh, god. I’m not really sure… The reason why I made Ministry Has Fallen, or why I wanted to, was kind of like, because we were making a joke that Pussycat Dolores was going to have a come back because we had been off the scene for a few years or basically since we released our Christmas album. And me and Erik, we were talking about how when a boy band starts out they’re all, like, bubble gum and cute, like, cute little mother dreams, just like cute boys, and then they get all cool and stuff so I was like “Let’s make a song that’s like super cool and a bit more different than what you usually hear in wizard rock.” But I’m not really sure what kind of genre I should put it in. I know that Anna of the Swedish Shortsnouts thought it sounded a bit like the K-pop scene. I’m not really familiar with that but she said it was kind of like a modern K-pop, Blackpink-ish…I’m not really sure but yeah, something like that.
Okay. So I guess we’ll leave the debate to continue but I like the idea of it being ‘modern K-pop.’
Li: Yeah. I think it’s the genre you want it to be, really.
That’s a great answer. I like that.
You answered this a little earlier because I asked it a little earlier,but my patrons were also curious why Dolores Umbridge? Was it because you saw something of yourself in her or is it, like, fun to be just a fully evil character. And you said there was the pink and the cats but was there anything else?
Li: Yeah…My friend really likes Umbridge and I like Umbridge too—basically because of the pink and the cats—but we are also very fascinated with how hated she is. I think in some senses people hate her more than they hate Bellatrix or Voldemort even.
I think you’re totally right.
Li: Because she’s like, she’s evil in such a fluffy way. And we were kind of debating like is it because she’s a very female woman in some ways? And I’m not really sure. We just think it’s really interesting the way the fandom views Dolores Umbridge and the way she’s written in the books. Like, she is, I agree, she is purely evil like the way she like tortures the kids and all that. But she’s also really trying to think she’s doing it for the best of the magic world, kind of. But I think it’s really interesting the way people absolutely hate her. Like with a fiery passion. I think people go “Oh, Draco and the Malfoys, that’s a cool band” because they come up with all these things like “Draco is a good character” even though he’s kind of not a very nice person either. But people make excuses for him. And people make excuses for Dumbledore and they make excuses for Snape and some have even made excuses for Voldemort…and then there’s Umbridge.
Li: And people just hate her. Like there’s nothing good about her. And I think we kind of liked that.
Yeah it’s true. I think I would agree, she’s the most hated character in the series.
Li: Yeah. And it’s just super interesting. People absolutely hate her, it’s so hilarious. And she doesn’t get, like…it’s not like with Snape that he seems like a really bad person and then Rowling tries to, like, make him a great person in the end of the seventh book. It’s like Umbridge is always pure evil.
Yeah she’s—there’s less nuance for her.
It’s time for us to take a little break, but I’ll be right back with more of your questions for Li from Pussycat Dolores right after these songs.
Starting with “Wizard Quarantine” by Ludo Bagman and the Trash.
So Li, WZRD patrons want to know what wizard rock shows are like in Sweden?
Li: Oh, good question. I think, sadly, that the live wizard rock shows haven’t been as exciting as they are in other countries. We have a lot of music and I think about ten years ago they were a really big thing, we had a lot of bands and all that. And we have a fandom that really likes wizard rock and I think if Harry and the Potters come over here there’s always like a great crowd. But people are not that much into live music as I would wish that they would be…but I think we’re seeing a change in that because we have a lot of younger fans that have now started to really like wizard rock and they are big fans of especially the Swedish Shortsnouts that have all of these really catch songs, so they have been asked to play at libraries and stuff. I think that the other parts of society here in Sweden have started to see that okay, wizard rock could be a fun thing for libraries and such. But it’s been a bit slow. But yeah, a wizard rock show in Sweden is really fun because everyone is friends with everyone and we don’t have a lot of people that play so a lot of people are in very many of the different bands. Like I think poor Jimmy is in all the bands playing the drums. And then we have Erik from the Swedish Shortsnouts, he’s helping everyone out with, like, music and stuff. So it’s a really tight-knit group of people and it’s really, really fun but in my dreams I think I would love more wizard rock so we could have more live shows because they’re super fun and there’s not really a market for it right now. Okay, not with Corona and everything, obviously not.
Li: Even before that it’s been a bit difficult to get people to really like it. And I think it’s been a change in that like this year and the year before that. The people are starting to see that okay, it’s more fun. I think the younger fandom and everyone who’s coming into it really like it and think it’s fun. And I like that a lot because it’s fun to record music and it’s even more fun to play it live. I love to be up on the stage.
I’ve never seen you live but just your energy on the live streams is incredible.
Li: Oh, thank you. No, but I love to be on stages. It’s honestly really, really fun. So we hope for more of that.
I hope so for you as well!
Related to that, how often do you travel to neighboring countries to neighboring countries for wizard rock shows. Is there, like, a difference between going somewhere else and staying in Sweden?
Li: I haven’t performed anywhere else but Sweden but I’ve been to a lot of wizard rock shows in other countries. I think there’s a difference because people—I think, like, in general with concerts there’s a change where if you go to a concert in Sweden and you go to a concert, let’s say, in the U.K. or the U.S. it’s a difference with how people are around the crowd and how they act and all of that. Swedes are a bit—I’m not sure how I’m going to say this without offending anyone—people don’t really want to go all-out. I think that people, there’s a lot more crazy energy when I’ve been to the shows in the U.S. Like when I’ve been to conventions and all that. It’s a bit of different energy. But we have traveled to a few places to see other bands. But we’ve been that Harry and the Potters wanted to come to Sweden so they’ve been here a few times so that’s been awesome—that’s been really cool.
There’s nothing like a Harry and the Potters show, for sure.
Li: No, that’s the best thing. I really love it because we had so many people to be like “I don’t like wizard rock, Harry and the Potters they sound a bit weird on this album” and then they see them live and they’re like “Oh my god, I love Harry and the Potters, I love wizard rock” and I can be like “I told you so.”
It’s a whole different experience, for sure.
Li: It really is.
So the Swedish shows are more reserved? People are more afraid to just go wild?
Li: It depends. A few are really wild like, a few of us really go all out like all the time. And we’re trying to teach the younger fandom to go all out. So I think we have a lot of work to do, sometimes, but yeah people are a lot better. There was this—the Swedish Shortsnouts had this awesome show at this library. I think it was last year around the fall time. Yeah, around Halloween I think it was that. And there was a lot of different families coming to join in and they brought their little kids and the kids were dancing and it was just so cute, and it was so much fun. So we’re trying to do more like that, like, really get people to see that it’s great and it can be fun and there’s fun songs and it’s fun for kids and all of that. So that’s what we try to do and I like that.
Yeah, that sounds like some of the clips that Tonks and the Aurors have posted where the little kids are just getting so into it, they’re so invested.
Li: Yeah, it’s so much fun. I think it’s absolutely adorable. It’s so cute.
I think that’s a good place to be getting started for getting your fans to just go wild—get ‘em while they’re really young.
Li: Exactly. Yeah, so they don’t learn that they should be ashamed of themselves. Just go all out.
Yeah, no shame in wizard rock.
Li: No. Exactly.
So you said the scene is sort of revitalizing in Sweden right now, which is really exciting. I think we’re having a similar effect here in the U.S. For people who are considering following in your illustrious footsteps, people who are starting bands or considering it, what’s the best advice you have for them?
Li: I think the best advice is just go with your heart and don’t be afraid to be bad. I remember when we had an explosion of Swedish bands back in, I think it was 2006 or 2007, I remember that there was this Swedish podcast that were like “We want more Swedish wizard rock bands. You don’t even have to know how to play an instrument! You can play on a cookie jar, you can play on anything you want, just write us music, record it with a crappy microphone, just get it out there. We wanna listen to it and we wanna support it.” And I think that’s something to really remember: You don’t have to be like this super produced, awesome, know everything to have a wizard rock band. We just want to hear you. Like, I love to listen to people that are just trying out different things. It’s so much fun. And then you can try if you want to be like “okay, maybe I want to learn to play the guitar” or “I want to learn how to use this music thingy on my computer to just get my songs better” but it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is to have the heart and get your music out there because we want to hear it. We really do.
We really, really do and I will play it here.
That’s part of why I ask for that advice, because I just, I want more music. I need music for the show! I wanna share it with the world.
Li: Exactly, yeah. And we need it.
We do, for sure. There’s so many untapped perspectives left to be had.
And finally, do you have any projects that you’re working on? New music or a show…What should your fans be getting excited for?
Li: Actually, today I finished recording my vocals for a new song that I will be sending in to the wizard rock sampler.
Li: So there will be a new song and, not to brag, but I think it’s one of my best songs ever.
Oh wow, that is—
Li: So you’d better get excited because it’s really good.
I am super excited!
All of your music is amazing and for this to be the best one ever I can’t imagine it.
Li: It’s gonna be fun and it’s gonna be great.
So is that the start of a whole new album or is it one song to tide us over?
Li: We’ll see. We’ll see how this summer turns out, if there will be new, more music. But hopefully so; it’s really fun to write to write music so we’ll see. We need something to do now that we’re all in quarantine and can’t go anywhere so might as well write some songs.
That is also very good advice for everyone. Can’t go anywhere? Write songs.
Li: Exactly! Give us the music!
It’s time for more music, starting with “Ministry Has Fallen” by Pussycat Dolores.
“Ministry Has Fallen” was a special request by Moritz, one of WZRD Radio’s wonderful patrons.
I want to thank Li so much for being here and talking with me. Where can WZRD Radio listeners find you?
Li: Thank you so much for having me. We have a Twitter, we have Facebook, we have a YouTube. Just search for Pussycat Dolores and don’t pick Pussycat Dolls and you will find us. Instagram as well. We’re everywhere. BandCamp. Just type it in there.
Yes, definitely the BandCamp. Go buy all of their music.
Li: And send me pictures of your cats!
Yes! Definitely go to the BandCamp, buy all of their music right now. Pay it, then send a bonus cat.
Li: We love the cat pictures. So yeah, all of the cat pictures you can send us, we love them.
All right, and that’s it for this episode! I hope you had as much fun as we did.
We’re going on two months with no one being able to guess the musical themes! But I have faith you’ll figure it out.
The transcript at WZRDRadioPod.WordPress.com has links to all the artists you heard today, including Pussycat Dolores. Make sure you go support them, because without our wizard rockers we wouldn’t be here.
And don’t forget! WZRD Radio’s Patreon supports both the show and the Yes All Witches grant. For two dollars a month you get to request music and suggest interviewees. If that sounds like a fun way to support new wizard rockers, check it out at Patreon.com/WZRDRadioPod.
If you want to guess the musical theme, say hi, or catch me up on a cool event you know about, you can find me on Twitter at WZRDRadioPod. If you’re not on social media you can email me at WZRDRadioPod@gmail.com.
And here for the grand finale, is Pussycat Dolores!
Witches Unite plays