Hexes+Numbers is a new interview series where all the questions are randomly generated hex color codes (#000000), and randomly generated numbers without any context provided. It’s up for the interviewee to interpret the questions and answer them however they want.
This week I invited Sadie Dupuis–lead singer of Speedy Ortiz and a multi-instrumentalist for her pop project, Sad13–to answer some questions. She also put out a poetry collection with Black Ocean–Mouthguard–which can be purchased here.
The Hexes+Numbers graphic is designed and credited to Alex Saunders.
Andrew Byrds: #cd0e5d?
Sadie Dupuis: Red and red-adjacent lipstick somehow always comes out exactly like this on me – a little too Jazzercise. Fuschia might be the color I’m most attracted to that does not look good anywhere near my body. Googling jewelry at 2 am I learned this may mean my skin has “olive undertones.” Although I did inherit a plaid-patterned cashmere sweater in exactly this shade, which I wore all through college even though it came to me with many enormous holes in it. My first roommate had unflattering names for that sweater.
SD: Looking at Central Park on Google Maps, I see that my favorite playground – Ancient Playground, with kid-friendly pyramids inspired by the adjacent Met’s Egyptian collection – is only a few blocks from the Alice in Wonderland statue, the boat pond, the Three Bears, all the things I thought of as such a trek from one another as a child. Before I moved away in my early 20s I once walked from Morningside Heights to Coney Island and other ridiculous schleps my feet did not necessarily agree with. And certainly once I began touring all the time, crossing from one side of a city to another feels like no distance at all. But since stay-at-home my sense of distance is back to a kid’s sensibility. If I walk five blocks from my apartment and back, I feel like I’ve put in a pretty good effort for the day.
SD: My first guitar came in a Fender “Strat Pack,” a little student bundle that included a “California Clear” instrument cable in seafoam green. I took a couple lessons to start, and one day I realized I hadn’t come home with my cable. I was not even 13 and didn’t know much about what parts of a guitar were valuable or what were replaceable so I assumed EVERY part was crucial and that I was in BIG trouble for losing one. So I panicked. At the next lesson, seeing that the instructor had a blue-ish one that looked just like mine nestled in with the rest of the black instrument cables, I asked for it back. He told me it wasn’t mine and was sharp with me for accusing him. Conflict averse grudge-carrier that I am, I stopped going to guitar lessons after that. But almost twenty years later, I pretty much only buy colorful instrument cables. It’s easy to know when someone’s trying to walk off with one of mine.
SD: My parents were 36 when they had me. They’d both had all kinds of interesting gigs in the arts, lived in other countries, been part of cool music and arts scenes, and settled into more straitlaced jobs by the time I was born. I’m 32 and nowhere near interested in having a family or changing my job but it’s probably inescapable to think more and more about your parents’ lives as you approach the age they were when you met them, right?
SD: I’m finally finishing the fourth Neapolitan Novel four years after starting the first. I tried to space them out so I wouldn’t blow straight through them, and because I can only take so much gossip at once – there’s more than enough in indie music world. But it makes it hard to remember who’s who in all these families, even with the character index. I took a pic of my half-drank Thanksgiving-at-home wine bottle on top of the book and I’m gonna tweet “fuck you nino sarratore” with the picture when I finish it (the wine, the book, both?). The wine bottle says “Save The Ocean” on it in huge and embarrassing text and it came with a free seashell and that’s why I bought it. Nino Sarratore feels like a lot of the people I’ve met in bands.
(I wrote this paragraph yesterday and have since finished this book and also tweeted exactly this but there is still some Save The Ocean wine and maybe when this Q+A comes out I’ll drink that.)
SD: August 8th, 1988 – 8/8/88 – was my due date. I came out exactly a month early. But I grew up in apartment 8, and had a few 8s in my address, so “8” was an obvious choice for childhood lucky number. 88 is a symbol of good luck in Chinese numerology; palindromic numbers are also attractive to me in general. I even titled a song “Lucky 88” a couple years ago, vaguely named for the slot machine of the same name. I didn’t know then that the number had also been misappropriated by Nazis as a hate symbol (I resent that I have been forced to know a lot more about the dog whistles of contemporary racists in 2020 than I did in 2016). Anyway, I wasn’t born in 1989, but I almost wasn’t born on July 8th, either.
SD: A few days before I started working at UMass I got extremely disoriented during a teacher’s training and was sent to the hospital. After a lot of confusion the doctors decided I had lyme meningitis and put me on a heavy course of antibiotics for a month. I’m pretty sensitive to drugs and if I didn’t take my pills at a very exact time relative to eating a very specific portion of food, I’d puke and get the most intense migraines I’ve ever had. But sometimes timing and planning made no difference and I puked anyway. It was, to put it generously, an interesting experience trying to teach college students for the first time ever while constantly trying not to throw up. Lots of classes that first semester I had the students freewrite for longer than scheduled on the lesson plan, because antibiotic-induced nausea had a different lesson plan for me.
SD: Someone asked me recently if I was “Sad13” because of “@taylorswift13” which is a great guess. But it’s really a numeronym for Sadie (S4D13 if I was really going for it, 3RA1N1AC style.) That’s only half the joke; the rest is that as a songwriter, I feel I’m tapping into sad teenage emotions – like an extended state of mopey adolescence on the permanent cusp of bat mitzvah angst. Its unlucky connotations also appeal to me. A number so powerful builders are afraid to put it on their elevators actually feels auspicious to have in my stage name.
SD: My first school was Catholic and required uniforms. My dad was Jewish and was not so into that. When I switched to public school, I asked my mom if I could keep wearing the old school’s uniform. It was a several day fight that, thankfully, she won.
SD: The last non-virtual gig I played in 2020 was Hot Stove Cool Music, an annual fundraiser in Boston that brings together a bunch of musicians and baseball players to form supergroups, play some covers and raise money for education. I added Squeeze’s “Another Nail in My Heart” to the setlist, not really thinking about how famously involved that guitar solo is and that having to pull it off quickly might be a hurdle. My favorite place I practiced it was at my dad’s grave, weirdly a good place to play unamplified electric guitar. Of course during the performance the part I messed up was a few notes I had all along considered “the easy part,” go figure.
Sadie Dupuis is the Philadelphia-based guitarist, songwriter & singer of rock band Speedy Ortiz, as well as the producer & multi-instrumentalist behind pop project Sad13. Sadie heads the record label Wax Nine and edits its literary journal, and her poetry has been published in outlets including Rolling Stone, Jubilat and Sixth Finch. She holds an MFA in poetry from UMass Amherst, where she also taught writing. Mouthguard, her first book, was published in 2018 (Black Ocean), and her most recent album is Sad13’s Haunted Painting, released this year. Find her @sad13.