Better Know a Musician: The Doyénne Wants to Be Wolverine

Simply iconic: The Doyenne is here to flip wigs and take names.
Simply iconic: The Doyenne is here to flip wigs and take names. Peach Girl Photography

Welcome to the next edition of Better Know a Musician, a semi-regular column where serious local artists answer some not-so-tough questions.  

If you have any suggestions for future guests or additional questions you want to ask Valley songwriters, please leave them in the comments section or email culture editor Jason Keil at [email protected]

“I’m the lady-boy who starts the party,” brags The Doyénne on the track “Black Queen.” It's one of several bangers off of their 2011 debut, Body of Work. It is not an idle boast — if you’ve been to a DIY show at venues like Funny World and Trunk Space over the last few years, you’ve seen Syeed Poole back that claim up as hard as he backs that azz up.

The Doyénne are a queer electro-rap artist whose confident, warped songs would be club anthems if we lived in a universe that wasn’t so relentlessly basic. They perform with an intensity that puts many of the punk and noise bands he shares bills with to shame — like a hybrid of Little Richard and Iggy Pop that has an encyclopedic knowledge of house music.

Currently, at work on The Doyénne's new album The Gestalt, Poole says he's eager to work with “dream producer” MCMT. The rapper-singer will be making an appearance at The Rebel Lounge on Sunday, September 8, as part of "Escape — Video Manipulation of John Carpenter's Work." He’s also going to perform at The Trunk Space’s Indie 500 Marathon later this month and is set to release a reworked version of his song “Strange Kind of Love” on The Doyénne’s Bandcamp.

We spoke with him before the John Carpenter show to find out when he started making music, his most embarrassing musical loves, and what flavor his Ben & Jerry's ice cream would be.

What got you into doing music and performing in the first place?

I grew up in the Southern Baptist church, which meant that I was in the choir from a very young age. Obviously, it wasn’t the kind of music that I wanted to write or perform, but I learned a lot and developed my ear for music during those years. Then, in high school, I went through my poetry phase — didn’t we all? — and in 2006 I started producing and recording tracks for myself. So I guess music and, more specifically, music performance has always sorta kinda been what I do and who I am.

If you were condemned to die by being forced to dance to the same song over and over again until your body eventually gave out, what song would it be?

Either “Ass Like Beyoncé,” which is one of my songs, or “Get Me Bodied” by Beyoncé herself.

If Ben & Jerry's made a Doyénne flavor of ice cream, what would it taste like?

It’d definitely be chocolate! I’m thinking double chocolate with a marble fudge swirl and double chocolate bits of cookie dough.

What's the most embarrassing record you loved as a kid/teen?

“Autumn Goodbye” by Britney Spears. It was one thing to like “Baby, One More Time,” but another thing entirely to like the B-side to the single.

If you could go back in time and replace the lead singer of any band with yourself, which band would it be?

If I were able to speak and sing Japanese, then Malice Mizer. They were a pretty big visual kei band in the late nineties, and two out of the three singers they used had really, really dope baritones. If I were going English, then I’d replace Malin Dahlström, the vocalist and co-producer for the two-member band Niki and the Dove. I really, really love their music and would kill to someday work with either of them.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Healing factor, like Wolverine, along with the whole living a really, really long time because of it. I’m not interested in immortality but it’d be cool to, like, not age as fast as other people.

And finally, what would be your dream gig as The Doyénne?

I would love to make it into the Guinness World Records list for most attended concert. I love to make music but I love to perform it just a little bit more so I’d be elated to perform for a crowd of, say, a million? Two million? What can I say: I kinda sorta completely want to rule the world.

The Doyénne are scheduled to perform on Sunday, September 8, at The Rebel Lounge. Tickets are $10 to $12 via Eventbrite.
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Ashley Naftule