Peaches (musician)

Not to be confused with Peaches & Herb.

Peaches performing live in 2015
Background information
Birth name Merrill Beth Nisker
Born (1966-11-11) November 11, 1966
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Genres Electroclash, electropunk, dance-punk, punk rock, alternative hip hop, synthpop, alternative dance
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, disc jockey, performance artist, actress
Instruments Vocals, synthesizer, drum machine, guitar, keytar, laser harp, theremin, bass guitar
Years active 1990–present
Labels XL, Kitty-Yo, teenage USA
Associated acts Chilly Gonzales, Feist, Mocky, JD Samson, Samantha Maloney, Radio Sloan, Iggy Pop, Mignon

Merrill Beth Nisker (born 11 November 1966), better known by her stage name Peaches, is a Canadian electronic musician and performance artist. Her songs are noted for disregarding traditional gender norms, and for their use of sexually explicit lyrics.

Born in Ontario to a Jewish family, Peaches began her musical career in the 1990s as part of a folk trio, Mermaid Cafe. In 1995, she established a rock band, The Shit. That year she also released her first solo album, Fancypants Hoodlum. Moving to Berlin, Germany, it was here that she was signed to the Kitty-Yo label and released her second album, The Teaches of Peaches (2000). Touring as the opening act for bands like Marilyn Manson and Queens of the Stone Age, she subsequently released her third album, Fatherfucker (2003).

Her songs have been featured in movies such as Mean Girls, Waiting..., Jackass Number Two, My Little Eye, Drive Angry, and Lost in Translation. Her music has also been featured on television shows such as Lost Girl, The L Word, Ugly Betty, South Park, 30 Rock, True Blood, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and has been used for the promotion of Dirt. Peaches performed guest vocals on Pink's album Try This, on the song "Oh My God", on the Chicks on Speed album 99 Cents, on the song "We Don't Play Guitars", on Christina Aguilera's 2010 album Bionic, on the song "My Girls" (which was produced and co-written with Le Tigre) and recently on Major Lazer's 2013 album Free the Universe on the song "Scare Me" featuring Timberlee.

Early life

Born Merrill Beth Nisker in 1966 in Toronto, Ontario, she attended a private Jewish school where her classes were taught half in English and half in Hebrew. Nisker was a class clown, who "wasn't particularly smart. I was interested in creative performance stuff, but that turned out to be difficult for me because it was all so structured," she told Kitty Empire of The Observer.[1]

Her family was culturally Jewish, though they were not religious.[2] Her grandparents immigrated to Canada from Poland; her paternal grandparents were from Galicia.[3] In an interview in URB magazine, alongside Princess Superstar, she recounted how growing up she experienced antisemitism from local schoolchildren; on her walks home from school, students from a nearby Catholic school would throw stones at her and call her a "dirty Jew".[4]

Before becoming famous, Nisker was a music and drama teacher at Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto.[5]


1990–99: Mermaid Cafe, Fancypants Hoodlum, the Shit

During the early 1990s, Nisker was part of folk trio Mermaid Cafe.[6] The name was taken from the Joni Mitchell song "Carey".[7] She later released her first album, Fancypants Hoodlum, under the name Merrill Nisker in 1995, and subsequently developed the style and persona that would take her to international fame as Peaches. In 1995, she started the Shit, a noisy four-piece combo with Chilly Gonzales (a.k.a. Jason Beck), bassist Sticky (later of Weeping Tile and Music Maul), and Dominique Salole (a.k.a. Mocky). Their absurd, highly sexual rock music was a harbinger for what Nisker would become, as it was during this time that she adopted the Peaches name.[1] The Peaches moniker was taken from the Nina Simone song "Four Women" where Simone screams at the end, "My name is Peaches!"[8] Alternately, the name may have come from the Joni Mitchell song, "Carey."[9] In Toronto, before rising to fame, she lived above Come As You Are with fellow recording artist Feist.[10][11] Feist worked the back of the stage at Peaches' shows, using a sock puppet and calling herself "Bitch Lap Lap".[12] The two also toured together in England from 2000–2001, staying with Justine Frischmann of Elastica and M.I.A.[13] M.I.A. went on to video document Peaches' 2000 US tour and made clothes for the musician, while Peaches inspired M.I.A. to use the Roland MC-505 in her own compositions.[14][15]

2000–02: The Teaches of Peaches

After creating a six-track EP, Lovertits, Peaches moved to Berlin, Germany. While visiting her old friend Jason Beck, who was enjoying modest European success as Chilly Gonzales in his new home base of Berlin, Peaches landed a one-night gig. On the merits of that show alone, Berlin's Kitty-Yo label signed her on the spot. The label offered her the chance to record a new album, The Teaches of Peaches, back home in Toronto, and the already-completed Lovertits EP was released in the summer of 2000. The full-length album The Teaches of Peaches, was released that Fall.[16]

Peaches appeared on the British TV show Top of the Pops, but her performance was deemed too racy to be aired.[17]

Nisker signed to a European contract with Sony following the release of The Teaches of Peaches. She later made a big-budget video for the song "Set It Off", in which she sat in a locker room as her pubic and armpit hair grew to Rapunzel length. Sony subsequently dropped her. "Now they want their money back," Peaches said.[17]

In 2001, Nisker's 34AA bust was one of the first female busts cast by famous 1960s groupie Cynthia Plaster Caster, who was better known for making molds of male rockers' genitalia.[18][19]

In 2002, Peaches appeared in "Hideous Man", a short film directed by John Malkovich. The short was created as a showcase for clothing designed by Bella Freud, and featured the poetry of Gary Sinise.[20]

2003–05: Fatherfucker

In 2003, Peaches released her second album Fatherfucker on XL/Kitty-Yo after years of touring and opening for artists like Marilyn Manson and Queens of the Stone Age. She once again wrote and programmed all of her album's music herself. The single "Kick It", which features Iggy Pop, was described by Peaches to Rolling Stone as "more about rock 'n' roll than sex."[21]

For her album Fatherfucker, Peaches was nominated in the "Outstanding Music Artist" category for the 15th GLAAD Media Awards along with Rufus Wainwright, Meshell Ndegeocello, Junior Senior, and Bitch and Animal, but lost to Rufus Wainwright.[22]

2006–08: Impeach My Bush

For her third album, 2006's Impeach My Bush, Peaches enlisted guest musicians Joan Jett, Greg Kurstin, Josh Homme, Samantha Maloney, Beth Ditto, Feist, Dave Catching, Brian O'Connor and Radio Sloan to perform on several of the tracks.

The Herms (short for hermaphrodites) were formed in spring 2006 as Peaches' live backing band. They played at both small and large venues with sex and sex-related themes as the "shock factor" for the audience. "Herms" is also a reference to 1970s duo Peaches & Herb and the blending of the words 'her' and 'him'. Peaches and Herms was the opening act for Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus during the second half of their 2006 summer U.S. tour.

In August 2006, Peaches posed for an anti-seal culling advertisement campaign created by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called "Fur is Dead". The advertisement featured an image of Peaches juxtaposed with an image of a baby seal being clubbed, with the words "Canada's Club Scene Sucks" printed over the image of Peaches.[23]

In 2007 Peaches posed as a model for an advertisement by the Vestal Watches company. The advertisement was shown in The Fader magazine.[24]

Peaches was nominated for her album Impeach My Bush in the category "Outstanding Music Artist" at the 18th GLAAD Media Awards along with the Ditty Bops, Owen Pallett, Pet Shop Boys, and the Scissor Sisters, but lost to the Scissor Sisters.[25]

Peaches played live at the Parklife Festival in Australia, in the fall of 2008, with the German band Sweet Machine.

Her song Boys Wanna Be Her is the theme song for the TBS series Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

2009–12: I Feel Cream and other work

Her fourth album I Feel Cream, was released on May 4, 2009 in Europe, and May 5 in North America.[26] The first single from the album is a double A-side of "Talk to Me" and "More".[27] Peaches enlisted some of her contemporaries to co-produce a number of tracks including Simian Mobile Disco, Soulwax, Digitalism and Shapemod. Long time friend and collaborator Gonzales co-wrote some of the songs on I Feel Cream and Shunda K (the voice of Yo Majesty) featured on the track "Billionaire".[28]

Peaches has been noted for her stage costumes and flamboyant sense of style. Her looks are often both nostalgic and futuristic; aggressive and glamorous; and push the limits of gender identity. Peaches and her band Sweet Machine wear costumes from a variety of designers but most notably she works closely with stylist/designer Vaughan Alexander, celebrity hairstylist Charlie Le Mindu, and young American fashion designer, John Renaud.

In 2010, Peaches and backing band Sweet Machine once again toured Australia performing at the sold out Big Day Out festivals and at a series of sideshows. Peaches was supported on this tour by Shunda K who performed their collaboration "Billionaire" at BDO festivals and at the sideshows,[28] and was also the opening act at the sideshows along with Evil Beaver in Melbourne.

On March 14, 2010, Peaches won the 'Electronic Artist of the Year' award at the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards held in Toronto, Canada.[29][30]

In March 2010, the copyright owners of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar denied Peaches permission to perform her one-woman version of it that she was planning to stage in Berlin. After receiving the attention of several media outlets, Peaches successfully negotiated with those rights-holders, and the musical was performed on March 25–27 at Berlin's HAU1.[31] Gonzales accompanied Peaches on piano.[32] Travis Jeppesen stated in his review for Artforum, "Not only did Peaches set it off, she managed to surprise us all by showing off an expansive vocal range, a musician's natural sensitivity to the dynamics of Andrew Lloyd Webber's score, and an emotive prowess that is rarely if ever displayed in her own, less holy, music."[33]

Peaches appeared in a film called Ivory Tower, which also includes spots from Feist, Chilly Gonzales, Tiga and Gonzales' mother. Peaches stars as Marsha, a performance artist engaged to a man named Thaddeus (Tiga). Things get complicated when her ex, Hershall (Gonzales) comes back into her life. The movie is set in Toronto and was shot over 13 days in late Winter/early Spring 2010. It was co-written by Gonzales and Céline Sciamma (who directed/wrote Water Lilies), was directed by Adam Traynor and produced by Nicolas Kazarnia. Ivory Tower was given a limited theatrical release in August 2010.[34]

In May 2010, Christina Aguilera announced that Peaches was among the collaborators on her fourth studio album Bionic. Peaches is featured on a track called "My Girls".[35][36] The song was co-written and produced by Le Tigre.

On August 30, 2010, Peaches released a new single titled "Jonny". The single is part of a tribute series to Alan Vega from the band Suicide. Other musicians who have released tribute singles as part of the series include The Horrors, Primal Scream, Klaxons and Bruce Springsteen.[37][38]

Peaches also appears as a guest musician on R.E.M.'s 2011 release Collapse into Now, contributing vocals to the song "Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter".[39]

Peaches' song "Boys Wanna Be Her" is featured in an online teaser for the live action feature film Bad Kids Go to Hell (2012), based on the best selling graphic novel of the same name.[40]

2012: New music and Peaches Does Herself

It was announced in 2012 that a semi-biographical musical/concert film would be premièred at the Toronto Film Festival, utilising 22 songs from her back catalog and backed by Peaches' band the Sweet Machine.

Peaches Does Herself premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2012.

On October 2, 2012, Peaches released her new single "Burst!" as a digital single backed with several remixes.

2015–present: What Else Is In the Teaches of Peaches and Rub

Photographer Holger Talinski collaborated with Peaches on a book of photographs, What Else Is In the Teaches of Peaches, released on June 2, 2015. The book, published by Akashic Books, also includes text written by Peaches, R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe, artist and singer Yoko Ono and actress Ellen Page.

Peaches' sixth studio album, RUB, was released September 25, 2015. It was produced by Vice Cooler with Peaches in her Los Angeles garage. In June 2015 it was announced to contain guest vocal appearances by Kim Gordon, Feist, and Simonne Jones. [41]

An unused track from the RUB sessions titled "Bodyline" was released by Adult Swim on July 20, 2015. The Vice Cooler produced track features Nick Zinner on guitar and was described as "a heavy, chugging guitar line over which Peaches half raps, half sings a high-octane space jam." [42] In May 2016, Peaches appeared in a fourth-season episode of the Canadian TV series Orphan Black as herself, performing "Bodyline" in a club.


Gender identity is one theme of Peaches' music, often playing with traditional notions of gender roles representation. Her lyrics and live shows consciously blur the distinction between male and female; for example, she appears on the cover of her album Fatherfucker with a full beard. When asked if she had chosen the title for shock value, she commented:

Why do we call our mothers motherfuckers? Why do we stub our toe and say, "Aww motherfucker!"? What is a motherfucker? ... We use it in our everyday language, and it's such an insanely intense word. I'm not one to shy away from these obscene terms that we actually have in our mainstream. Motherfucker is a very mainstream word. But if we're going to use motherfucker, why don't we use fatherfucker? I'm just trying to be even.[43]

She disputes accusations of "penis envy", preferring the term "hermaphrodite envy,[44] since "there is so much male and female in us all."[45]

Age has been another theme of Peaches' music in recent years. The lyrics from several songs from her 2009 album I Feel Cream tackle the issue of age, including Trick or Treat ("you lick my crow's feet"), Show Stopper ("Never mind my age, it's like we're breaking out of a cage") and Mommy Complex. Peaches has criticized ageism directed against her,[46] telling the New York Daily News that "I'm going to make aging cool".[47]


Peaches lists John Waters, Cindy Sherman, Paul McCarthy and the films Tron, Grease, Liquid Sky and Phantom of the Paradise as inspiration for the visuals in her live shows.[48]


Main article: Peaches discography



Year Film Role Notes
2001 Chromezone XXX[49] Herself Super-8 bike porn that Peaches directed and starred in
2002 Hideous Man[17] Beat Poet Part of ensemble for short film collaboration with John Malkovich and Bella Freud
2009 Life on the Road with Mr. and Mrs. Brown[50] Herself Documentary film about James Brown and Tomi Rae Brown
2010 Ivory Tower[34] Marsha Thirteen Plays performance artist in collaboration with Gonzales, Feist and Tiga
2012 Peaches Does Herself Herself Musical film about Peaches' life and career. Debuted at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and went on to play at the 2012 Festival du nouveau cinéma, the 2013 Sundance London Festival and the 2013 Locarno International Film Festival, where Peaches was a member of the official Jury.
Television appearances
Year Title Role Notes
2001 SexTV[51] Herself 1 episode
2004 Clash of Cultures[52] Herself TV documentary about the electroclash music scene
2004 Sex 'n' Pop[53] Herself 1 episode, TV mini-series
2004 Durch die Nacht mit...[54] Herself 1 episode alongside Heike Makatsch and Marilyn Manson, TV documentary series
2005 The L Word[55] Herself 1 episode
2006 Current TV[56] Herself Episodes unknown
2006 Flight of the Conchords: A Texan Odyssey[57] Herself TV documentary aired in New Zealand
2006–2007 The Henry Rollins Show[58][59] Herself 2 episodes in 2006 and 2007
2008 What Perez Sez[60][61] Herself 1 episode
2008 Nightline[62] Herself Interview
2009 Last Call with Carson Daly[63][64] Herself 2 episodes
2009 House of Venus Show[65][66] Herself 1 episode
2009 Canal+ Album de la Semaine[67] Herself 1 episode
2010 Q TV[68] Herself 1 episode
2010 Subterranean[69][70] Herself Host for 1 episode
2016 Orphan Black[71] Herself 1 episode

Awards and nominations

Year Category Genre Recording Result
GLAAD Media Awards
2004 Outstanding Music Artist Music & Theater Fatherfucker Nominated
2007 Outstanding Music Artist Music & Theater Impeach My Bush Nominated
MVPA Awards[72]
2007 Best Make-up Music Video Boys Wanna Be Her Nominated
UK Music Video Awards[73]
2009 Best Styling Music Video Talk to Me Nominated
Independent Music Awards
2010 Electronic Artist of the Year Dance/Electronica Won

See also


  1. 1 2 Taylor, Ken (2003). "Peaches Biography". Musician Guide. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  2. "Peaches Christ Superstar - 3SAT "FOYER" feature". YouTube and 3sat. Retrieved 2012-10-06.
  3. "Peaches First Time in Poland [Teaches of Peaches, 2001]". YouTube and TVP Wrocław. Retrieved 2012-10-06.
  4. "Urb Feature 2003 (with Peaches)". URB Magazine. Retrieved 2012-10-06.
  5. "Associated music teacher pioneers electroclash". The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  6. "Mermaid Cafe 1990 (with clip of Sweet Jones)". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  7. (2008-01-31). Mermaid Cafe The Canadian Music Forum. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
  8. "Exclaim! Canada's Music Authority". Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  9. "The Celluloid Peaches". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 2013-10-19.
  10. "Feist documentary to be released soon". September 24, 2010.
  11. "All mouth, no trousers". Melbourne: The Age. 2006-07-02. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
  12. Everett-Green, Robert (2008-02-09). "Grammy girl: Feist". The Globe and Mail. pp. R1, R19.
  13. Feist (2005-05-05). "A Torch Singer with an ancient sound". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
  14. Presenter: Sackur, Steven (2009-02-21). "BBC iPlayer - Profile: MIA". Profiles. London. 13:33 minutes in. BBC. BBC Radio 4.
  15. Harrington, Richard (16 September 2005). "M.I.A., No Loss For Words". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 January 2009.
  16. "Peaches Biography: Contemporary Musicians". Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  17. 1 2 3 William V. Meter (2003-06-23). Peaches: She's a Very Kinky Girl SPIN'.' Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  18. "Cynthia Plaster Caster". Cynthia Plaster Caster. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  19. "Cynthia P Caster". Cynthia P Caster Foundation. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  20. "Hideous Man". Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  21. "Pop Show!". Nme.Com. 2003-04-17. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  22. "Nominees for the 15th Annual GLAAD Media Awards". GLAAD Publication Archives. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  23. "Peaches Thinks Canada's Club Scene Sucks!". PETA. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  24. "Electric Raunch to High Fashion in 60-Seconds". Advertising Age. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  25. "GLAAD: 18th ANNUAL GLAAD MEDIA AWARDS NOMINEES". Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  26. "I Feel Cream release date". Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  27. "Peaches Leaks Cream". CHARTattack. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  28. 1 2 "Shunda K". 2010-01-28. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  29. Stevenson, Jane (2010-03-14). "Pop-punk band Marianas Trench top Indies". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  30. "XL Recordings / 'Favorite Electronic Artist of the Year'". 2010-03-14. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  31. "News in Brief: The Strokes, Peaches, Dr. Dog, Ether Festival". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  32. Veronica (2010-03-27). "Peaches Christ Superstar". Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  33. "Teaches of Peaches". Artforum. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  34. 1 2 Harper, Kate (2010-04-07). Peaches, Feist, Gonzales, Tiga In Indie Flick Chartattack. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  35. (2010-04-24). Christina Aguilera Interview Saturday Night Online Retrieved 2010-04-03.
  36. "Retrieved 2010-04-03". 2010-04-24. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  37. "New Peaches Single Due: Tribute to Alan Vega". Clash Music. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  38. "Peaches to Release Tribute To Alan Vega". URB Magazine. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  39. "Video Of The Day: R.E.M.'s "Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter" (Featuring Peaches)". Chartattack. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  40. "Peaches teams with Feist and Kim Gordon for new album, Rub". 23 June 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  41. "Peaches and Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner join forces for "Bodyline" — listen". 20 July 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  42. Kitty Empire (2003-08-17). "Ripe for stardom". The Observer. London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  43. "She tells interviewers she has hermaphrodite envy, not penis envy." Jessica Suarez, Review: "Peaches – Impeach My Bush (XL)", Rhino Review.
  44. "Profile from Peaches". 2006-11-07. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  45. "Urb Feature 2003 (with Peaches)". Princess Superstar. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  46. Jim Farber (2009-05-14). "Rock star Peaches promises to make aging cool". Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  47. "Interview with Peaches". Lifelounge. 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
  48. Lee, Albert (2001-03-21). Peachy Keen. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  49. "Life on the Road". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  50. "Burlesque/Beyond Gender/Peaches". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  51. "Clash of Cultures". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  52. "Justify My Love". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  53. "Heike Makatsch und Peaches". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  54. "L'Chaim". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  55. "Current TV". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  56. "A Texan Odyssey". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  57. "Henry Rollins Ep 301: Promo". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  58. "Marilyn Manson/Peaches". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  59. "What Perez Says About Divas". VH1. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  60. "About Divas". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  61. "Full interview with Peaches – Video". 3 News. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  62. "T.V. Eye: June 15–21". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  63. "TiVo Party Tonight: Peaches". Magnet Magazine. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  64. "THE HOUSE OF VENUS SHOW – EPISODE #13". Mark Kenneth Words. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  65. "Episode #3.1". Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  66. "Talk to Me – CanalPlus". Canal+. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  67. "Peaches (Christ SuperStar) on Q TV". Qtv's YouTube channel. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  68. "Peaches Gives a Quick History Lesson". MTV 2. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  69. "Peaches on MTV2's Subterranean". Peaches' Official Website. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  70. "Peaches Performed on 'Orphan Black' Last Night, Providing Blissful Queer Background Noise". Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  71. "Retrieved 2010-05-26". 2010-04-06. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  72. "UK Music Video Awards 2009 – here are the nominations!". Promo News. 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
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