Negative Gemini is on her grind. Along with her boyfriend and frequent collaborator, George Clanton, she co-runs 100% Electronica, the label that specializes in electronic music with a DIY flavor. Born Lindsey French in Richmond, Virginia, she began releasing music on the label in 2013. She now has two full-lengths and several singles under her belt, with another EP called Bad Baby on the way; she released the woozy title track last week. Her music takes cues from several genres under the umbrella of moody underground music; French blends rave, shoegaze, and pop into a cohesive whole, like Britney Spears singing The Prodigy through the fog at a dim karaoke bar.
French has taken hardship—specifically, the murder of her sister in February of 2017—in stride. “I saw her the day before,” she told me, her voice cracking, when we spoke last week. “She didn’t even seem scared. She didn’t even seem upset.” After the tragedy French relocated to her hometown, where she’s harnessed this harrowing incident into a source of spiritual energy. The name “Negative Gemini” seems to reflect the way she copes with life’s brutal vicissitudes. The gemini—in astrology, a symbol of twins—represents balance between positive and negative experiences. French uses the dark side of her life as inspiration for the beauty in her music.
OLIVER KINKEL: I listened to “Not Kurt Vile,” your playlist on Spotify. I saw an interesting mix between stuff like My Bloody Valentine and rave classics like “Trip to the Moon Part 2” by Acen, and The Prodigy. Do you locate your music in the middle of those influences?
FRENCH: I’m not gonna compare myself to someone like The Prodigy, but I definitely do use them as an inspiration. Bringing such different sounds together is really hard but I think it’s really interesting too. I like really mixing grimy, noisy, ambient background washes—that you can hear in My Bloody Valentine or something—with a breakbeat. If I cut them up and slow them down they become more applicable to a pop song.
KINKEL: How has your Virginia upbringing affected your sound?
FRENCH: I don’t know how I got started into all this, being from Virginia. Everywhere that I lived had a big heavy metal or punk scene. I’ve just been on the fringe of everything. When I came to New York it was like, ‘Yes! Techno! Clubs with actual systems where it will sound good.’ I was pretty psyched when I came here.
KINKEL: Why did you end up leaving New York?
FRENCH: Initially I just wanted to take a breather and see some trees again but then my sister was actually … there was a tragic series of events. My sister was murdered [by her husband] this year in February. He was a complete psychopath hiding in plain sight. I knew him since I was a kid. He was practically like my brother. They were having relationship issues and she wanted to leave him.
It happened in my hometown where my parents still live. After that happened I couldn’t see myself leaving my parents. They needed me. It’s such a huge part of my life and has had a huge effect on my music that it would be strange for me not to talk about it.
KINKEL: I’m so sorry to hear that. Can you tell me a bit more about the effect it’s had on your music?
FRENCH: It’s just like a big reminder that we could die at any moment, so what are you doing with your life if you aren’t following your passion. It also kind of reminds me…It’s changed my life in so many different ways. You have to celebrate your victories where you can and see beauty when you can. It has been kind of hard. As far as my music is concerned it kind of makes me feel like I have no option but to succeed. For her.
KINKEL: You have an upcoming EP, right?
FRENCH: Yeah, Bad Baby. It’s kind of a narrative of my life recently, it starts when my life was still normal and I could write a song about riding around in a car fucking around. After everything that’s happened, the other half of the EP is coming to terms with everything that’s happened since. I’m using my music more as a spiritual communication with my sister. My sister got me into music. She loved the Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, Nirvana, Blink-182.
KINKEL: Is there any Blink-182 in your music?
Probably, because I listened to it so much when I was younger. Dude Ranch is probably my favorite album of theirs. It’s probably up there with my favorite albums of all time. I think it inevitably comes off in my music without thinking about it.
KINKEL: Were you an emo kid?
FRENCH: Oh yeah, I went through a big phase. I loved My Chemical Romance and Dashboard Confessional. I still genuinely love The Get Up Kids. Four Minute Mile was my favorite album they did.
KINKEL: What do you want people to know about your upcoming EP?
FRENCH: It’s on 100% Electronica, I think it’s gonna come out on vinyl. It’ll probably be around five or six songs and I’m focusing a lot on singing and having more pop songs. There are no instrumentals. It still has traces of the trancier side of things that were more present on Body Work, but I think pop songs are the more challenging songs for me to write. They mean the most to me and it just has to be that way. They just write their own identity and become their own thing when they have more of a message.
BAD BABY COMES OUT JANUARY 9TH ON 100% ELECTRONICA; YOU CAN PREORDER THE CASSETTE HERE.