SXSW Music: An Interview with Emily Nokes of Tacocat



Upon listening to Tacocat, you can’t help but dance and groove along to their energetic power pop-punk tunes. Self described as “feminist sci-fi”, Tacocat’s quirky melodies and tongue in cheek feminist lyrics were a breath of fresh air last week at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Vocalist Emily Nokes took a moment to answer some of our questions about their record label Hardly Art (be sure to purchase Tacocat’s upcoming album, Lost Time, on April 1st), the punk scene in Seattle and Nokes’ picks for feminist music and media.


ANON: Your upcoming album title, Lost Time, and track “Dana Katherine Scully” make reference to sci-fi classic TV show The X-Files. What are your thoughts on the most recent season?

Emily Nokes: The most recent season was alllll over the place. I felt like it started a little slow, then peaked at episode three with that funny/campy were-monster episode (except for the trans-phobic jokes that were really not cool—c’mon, writers and everyone involved, it’s 2016, get it together). OH MAN, and then the second-to-last episode was the worst thing I’ve seen in a while! Like, fascinatingly bad! I was really stoned and at first wasn’t sure if it was me… but yeah, beyond the slipshod plot, whoever chose and designed the garbage music for that episode (and then turned it up WAY up) must have actually been on mushrooms. I think the series ended okay, all things considered. They love a cliffhanger, and maybe they’ll come back with a non-shitty movie or something. Gillian Anderson is wonderful forever and ever.


ANON: What is your relationship like with Seattle-based record label Hardly Art?

EN: They’re great! We’ve been with them for two records and one 7-inch now and it’s been pretty fun. They’ve been signing more and more rad local bands recently and it’s been fun to watch the up-and-coming music community get that support. The Sub Pop family is really sweet and accommodating too, though I wish there were a few less Werther’s and root-beer barrels in the candy bowl at the front desk… just kidding, the candy bowl is usually off the chain.




ANON: What was the process like creating the theme song for the upcoming Powerpuff Girls series? What was your favorite cartoon to watch when you were a kid?

EN: I didn’t grow up with a television, but I loved watching Duck Tales and The Simpsons at my friends’ houses! The process for the Powerpuff theme song was pretty surreal. When Cartoon Network first reached out to us, it seemed like one of those things that would be too good to be true. We did a few rough versions before working with a composer who flew in from LA for the recording process. We’re so stoked to be a part of it! These days I’m a Bob’s Burgers gal, and will always love Futurama, Metalocalypse, and Home Movies.




ANON: How would you describe the current punk scene in Seattle? In what ways has it changed since your formation in 2007?

EN: When we first started playing music, Seattle was very much dominated by dudes—from beard-rock/folk music to heavier bands, it was rare to see bands with a predominantly female presence. And the fact that we were yelling about UTIs and stuff at the time, there wasn’t a lot of, um, support from the aforementioned dudes, ha ha. Seattle now is a totally different scene! Women and queer folks rule everything I care about! Everyone is super supportive—we play each others’ record releases, sing backups on each others’ records, and encourage the younger generation to get out there and play. I feel like the visual art scene is part of that as well. I’m so proud of the Seattle punk/art/music scene.


ANON: What has been your favorite SXSW experience so far? Have you discovered any favorite Austin spots?

EN: I love the experience as a whole—it’s hard to pick anything out specifically because the whole experience is such a kaleidoscope of Lone Star beer, music, people, and sunshine! Tamale House is something we’re often late to the airport/next tour stop for. Love those cheap tacos.




ANON: The bands’ assertion of feminist issues from periods to UTIs to cat-calling are always very prominent in your lyrics. What other feminist and social issues would you like to bring to light in your songs?

EN: When I sit down to write lyrics, I never really have a list of issues or anything, it just all comes out from real-life experiences and conversations with my bandmates and other inspiring friends. Lost Time has a song called “Men Explain Things To Me,” a song called “F.D.P.” (First Day of Period), and a song about the Plan B pill. But it also has songs about night swimming and dancing around in the living room with your friends… I suppose it’s all feminist because it comes from us and that’s just an integral part of who we are.


ANON: What other feminist media (music, books, films) are on your recommended list?

EN: I’m on a feminist sci-fi streak right now. I love Ursula K. LeGuin’s short stories. The Female Man by Joanna Russ is a great place to start if you’re interested in the genre. For music, the female-centric Seattle bands Mommy Long Legs and Hardly Boys are newer favorites, as well as our pals Chastity Belt and Lisa Prank. Two Seattle visual artists I would place in the feminist category are Brittany Kusa and Andrew Lamb Schultz—they’re so good!


ANON: Despite the bands’ busy touring and recording schedules, what do you enjoy doing when you find a bit of downtime?

EN: We’re all pretty into karaoke, hanging out at other friends’ shows and DJ nights in Seattle, throwing elaborate Libra birthday parties, eating candy, getting stoned… Lelah and I like to make visual art, Eric is a huge MMA fan, and Bree and I are also freelance writers.


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Trish Connelly is the Austin-based guru who does booking and promoting at Cheer Up Charlies under The Nothing Song. She’s always down to collaborate and plan a show or event in town. She’s an expert with mixtapes (for all musicians out there you’ll want to send her your stuff!), and making connections with the cool kids. She may have a tad obsession with comics and Corgies, but she keeps it under control. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


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