Photo by Nicolas Mönch
Justine Electra is a tomboyish 25-year-old Australian who lives in Berlin where she gets up to all the usual stuff: singing on other people’s records, DJing, bar work, remixing, journalism, sleeping late, boozing and partying. She says she’s “lacksadaisical and humorous and a bit slapdash”, which is also a useful description of her debut album, Soft Rock. Like a lot of records out at the moment, it’s a tuneful mish-mash of all sorts of things—Mazzy Star and DJ Shadow spring to mind—glued together by Justine singing sweetly about her bawdy Aussie past.
A couple of months ago she played a showcase upstairs in a pub where her frosty performance made everyone there feel horribly uncomfortable. What was funny was when she’d stop a song near the end on the CD player and then when she pressed play to start the next track, the end of the last song would still be playing. Like she says, slapdash. When we meet, she has a bruised knee and scuffed jeans from a three-day-old cycling accident and twice coughs up phlegm and spits it over her shoulder, which you don’t often see girls doing.
Vice: What’s that hat you’re wearing?
Justine: It’s a Chinese policeman’s hat. My ex-boyfriend brought it back from The Wall. Once when I dressed up in this hat and my red dufflecoat and went out in Berlin I got an unbelievable amount of attention ’cos people thought I was police. They’d be like, “Oh no, military”. Then they’d look again and see it was just a girl in a police hat and dufflecoat. That would intrigue them.
Ever been arrested?
No, but once my mum got arrested for drinking with the Aboriginals in Alice Springs and we had to go and rescue her. She was in a pretty bad state, she had a big fight with the police. Out there in these small places, police and Abos have a strange relationship, have done for 200 years, probably since they started poisoning the Aboriginals’ flour. They used to poison their flour and watering holes to kill them off—ugly.
Anyway, the police were like “no mixing” because races aren’t allowed to mix, but my mum was. She didn’t wanna leave and so they put her in the divvy van and drove her to the cop shop. I remember she was wearing this T-shirt that said, “If you love something set it free. If it comes back it’s yours. If it doesn’t it never was”.
The single “Blues & Reds” is out now on City Slang. Soft Rock is out in August. myspace.com/justineelectra