Interview – Teri Gender Bender

Teri Gender Bender is a name many probably recognize as the founding member, lead singer, and guitarist of Le Butcherettes. Formed over fifteen years ago, Teri has not only stood out with Le Butcherettes, but also with her wide array of other projects. In fact, she has led the band Crystal Fairy (consisting of Melvins’ Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover, alongside Omar Rodríguez-López of At the Drive-In / The Mars Volta / Antemasque fame) and the Art Rock act Bosnian Rainbows, but also cultivated quite an impressive solo career. 

Pushing the limits of creativity, she continues to put out solo material that is best described as ear-tingling, thoughtful Pop that fits within no box. Keeping the creativity flowing, Teri returned in May of 2023 with the new EP Catspeak, which will soon be followed by the Outsiders EP on July 7th. Exciting times for the highly talented songwriter and show stopping performer, Teri Gender Bender recently took the time to reflect on her career to this point, her approach to creating, plus much more.    

Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in music for some time now. Working with your band Le Butcherettes you have attained success, but you have also worked with several other projects, including your solo work. Tell us, how would you describe your musical journey to this point?

Teri Gender Bender – It has been amazing. It has been a journey full of love, anxiety, make believe, validating, shattering, but I would definitely say it has been a consistent and determined journey. It has been one of sometimes not knowing what on earth I was doing, but somehow a little inner compass has always been there to guide the way. It has also of course been a journey surrounded by a great maestro of life and learning from mistakes and successes.

Bosnian Rainbows – Bosnian Rainbows / Sargent House (2012)
ORL – Weekly Mansions / Omar Rodríguez-López (2016)

Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it has been quite diverse. Challenges are part of life, and the most redeeming part of life is when we overcome such challenges. As mentioned, you have various musical outlets with the list of projects you have worked on. Each of these projects, from Le Butcherettes to Crystal Fairy, have a different style/sound. As a performance and songwriter, do you enjoy the ability to have the diversity to create in different ways?

Teri Gender Bender – I do enjoy it. I love it. Thank you. I can’t help it; I have a bad habit of being in the present and then suddenly a melody pops up in my head and I have the urge to run to the closet and record it. I have always been like this since I was a little girl. I thought everyone was like this and that it was normal; so, I wouldn’t really feel grateful for my intrusive melodies. If anything, it felt like a burden. 

The thing in my head wouldn’t leave me alone until I purged it down on cassette recorder, or to this day, on the garage band/logic or on the phone recorder; or even in collaborative settings where my friends and family send me instrumentals and I get the freedom to write melodies to them; or being in a room with people and writing songs together from scratch – like in the case with Crystal Fairy or the second unreleased Bosnian Rainbows record. It is so much fun.

Cryptic Rock – It sounds as if you really embrace that part of you. The obvious next question is, seeing you are so active in so many different creative avenues, how do you balance everything?

Teri Gender Bender – I have trouble balancing things. It is a work in progress. Sometimes years can pass before realizing I haven’t seen my friends or family leaving me extremely overwhelmed with guilt. It is an endless loop of using isolation as a form of inspiration to keep the intrusive thoughts flowing, but when I work on it and swim back to the present, it feeds me dopamine and love bathes me… like a reset button.

Cryptic Rock – Very interesting to hear. You are now back with new music in 2023 with two new solo EPS. You recently released Catspeak, with Outsiders set for release in a couple of months. What led to the decision to break these releases into two EPs? That said, what was the artistic inspiration behind this new collection of songs?  

Teri Gender Bender – I’ve been on such an EP roll for a while and it was easier to catalogue my music into EPs. Will release a full LP when I feel the time is right and hopefully someone like Rick Rubin or Jack Antonoff will produce it.

Crystal Fairy – Crystal Fairy / Ipecac Recordings
Le Butcherettes – Bi/Mental / Rise Records (2019)

Cryptic Rock – That is a good approach to have. The new EP Catspeak is really quite enjoyable and full of delicate details. With this EP out, and Outsiders to follow, can we expect anything new from Le Butcherettes in 2023 or 2024?

Teri Gender Bender – Anything is possible, but for now in my foreseeable future I sense even bigger things (most importantly spiritually) for my solo career.

Cryptic Rock – It sounds like you have a lot of interesting new work that will follow and that is really exciting. You have always been known for your one-of-a-kind live performances. We often talk about how the audience feels watching a performer, but what are you feeling while on stage performing?

Teri Gender Bender – Upon the moment my foot touches the stage, I am overcome by something else, and feel many things at once. I am thinking about many things at once (intrusive even), but I just let myself get overtaken by the emotions; as if it was the last event of my life. What I feel before going on the stage, now that is a different story. I’ve been battling stage fright, and life fright (Laughs), all my life. However, it is certainly amazing once you face the face of anxiety (which can be confused with death many times). Looking at the audience definitely grounds me while also taking me out of the world. The audience collectively united feels like going out to look into the eyes of a dragon.

Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) at Crescent Ballroom Phoenix, AZ 7-21-15 / Isadora Images credit

Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it is cathartic in many ways for you. You recently wrapped up some touring as support for The Mars Volta, but will soon be performing more shows with them through June, before a list shows this coming fall. How excited are you for the European tour?

Teri Gender Bender – I’m so excited and nervous. Like I mentioned, before stage fright tightens up my body but I am so ready for it. I am so lucky to be going on tour with my family and best of friends; their crew is amazing and everyone takes good care of us. Also, honestly, traveling just in general has always been a dream of mine and has encouraged me to overcome my fear of getting out of the house as well!

Cryptic Rock – It should be a great experience and filled with memories that will last a lifetime. Beyond your talent as a musician, you have always been a very free-thinking individual. Do you feel that music has given you a place to explore such mental freedoms to think as you wish? Moreover, do you feel music has given you comfort to be who you are and grow?  

Teri Gender Bender – Of Course. If it weren’t for art in general, I may not be here at all. It is because of this outlet that I have been able to attract the life that I live now which I am entirely grateful for. It has helped me reach deep within and to find a love for myself that no one would ever be able to fill except for God itself; art, music, that is God. It brings me closer to the universe.

Teri Gender Bender -Catspeak / Clouds Hill (2023)
Teri Gender Bender – Outsiders / Clouds Hill (2023)

Cryptic Rock – It is inspiring to hear your outlook and spiritual connection to music. Last question. On Cryptic Rock we cover all types of film, but concentrate on Horror and Sci-fi films. If you are a fan of Horror and Sci-Fi movies, what are some of your favorites and why?

Teri Gender Bender – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Titanic (1997). They are complete masterpieces in every sense of the word. Movies you can watch over hundreds of times over the years and still discover new things that you didn’t quite pick up on before. Titanic is a pure gem because we think it is a movie about the tragic event and the romantic couple, but it is in reality a time travel movie. I believe in this theory with all my heart.

Teri Gender Bender 2023 Tour Dates:
June 16 – Glasgow, U.K. @ Barrowland 
June 17 – Manchester, U.K. @ O2 Apollo 
June 18 – London, U.K. @ Troxy 
June 24 – Berlin, Germany @ Verti Hall 
Sept. 13 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ Uptown Theater 
Sept. 15 – Grand Rapids, Mich. @ 20 Monroe 
Sept. 16 – Cleveland, Ohio @ Agora Theater 
Sept. 19 – Richmond, Va. @ The National 
Sept. 20 – Baltimore, Md. @ Rams Head Live! 
Sept. 22 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Kings Theatre 
Sept. 25 – Montreal, Quebec @ MTELUS 
Sept. 27 – Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Stage AE 
Sept. 29 – Louisville, Ky. @ Paristown Hall 
Sept. 30 – Cincinnati, Ohio @ Brady Music Ctr 
Oct. 1 – Nashville, Tenn, @ The Ryman 
Oct. 3 – St. Louis, Mo. @ The Factory 
Oct. 8 – Kansas City, Mo. @ Uptown Theater 
Oct. 9 – Denver, CO @ Red Rocks 
Oct. 11 – Salt Lake City, Utah @ Union Ctr 

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