Deli Girls: Experimental rave punk queercore to rock your world

Interview by Stephan Boissonneault
Genres and styles : Electro-Punk / Electronic / Experimental / Hardcore

Additional Information

Deli Girls was spawned around 10 years ago in the vibrant and rapidly growing queer, counter-culture, leftist, abolitionist scene in New York. The noisy rave punk meets digital hardcore group is now a flexible, rotating cast of collaborators, all under the artistic wing of founder, Dan Orlowski. Part of the same scenes as names like Dreamcrusher, Machine Girl, or even Show Me The Body, Deli Girls music is raw and powerful, feeling like a rowdy street fight in the middle of a rave; courtesy of the hair raising screams and vocal work of Orlowski. The lyrics are straight to the point, trading out flowery language for direct vocal bombs about grief, depression, apathy, injustice, and other topics to rightfully scream about. We spoke with Orlowski about the humble beginnings of the group, activism, and keeping healthy for those nail-biting screams, before the Deli Girls’ performance at Taverne Tour.

PAN M 360: What is the lineup of Deli Girls now? Is Tommi no longer part of the band? Is Hatechild now a core member of the live shows?

Dan Orlowski: Deli Girls is now a conglomerate, a flexible entity. I performed and collaborated a lot with Dani Rev, and Hatechild in the last 2 years. They have both been core members in that time, but I want to keep it open. We recently performed with John Bemis on live drums at Pioneer Works. I want to do more with live drums. Maybe guitar.

PAN M 360: You wanted to be a painter originally right? How did you fall into music?

Dan Orlowski: Kind of classic art school to musician pipeline. I became really disenfranchised with the art scene-the galleries, the white walls, the art hoes…the art market is basically just a money laundering front for rich people, right? You start to realize most of the people in the art world came from upper middle class/money. Bourgeoisie values. Music feels much more democratic when it can be. A crowd. The mutual release. Immediate, sweaty. 

PAN M 360: The latest self-titled album is pure madness and straight queercore arcane, what was it like to collaborate with that many talented artists?

Dan Orlowski: Honestly, extremely liberating and inspiring. It was great to get into a flow with other artists/their processes and keep it feeling fresh every track. Lots of possibilities. Hectic to coordinate all myself. New ideas, new directions for ideas. Getting to direct the project felt like a lot of responsibility, but creatively very worth it. My agency and self-realization has been emboldened by that project.

PAN M 360: And to call it Deli Girls is kind of a statement in itself? I know when bands do that it’s like “Here is our best and brightest concoction of songs that make us, us”

Dan Orlowski: Perhaps you are picking up on something there, haha. I wanted to make a non-statement with the title of this record, yet edify what the band IS now. 

PAN M 360: The first time I heard Deil Girls was during a trans march protest I was covering back in like 2015 or 2016 in Alberta. I’m sure you know this, but Deli Girls has been very important for the queer community in terms of empowerment and making statements against hurtful rhetoric… how does that make you feel? And do people tell you this?

Dan Orlowski: I’m fortunate enough to be able to say that people do tell me this. I’m really grateful to the activists who have included me in/around their work…there’s truly nowhere I’d rather be. One of the best things anyone has ever told me was this group of activists in London called Pissed Off Trannies who collected a bunch of trans piss and doused the entrance to the public health building there in order to protest gender markers on ID cards being needed in UK to use public restrooms. They apparently created a public health biohazard, had to lock down the whole building with government employees inside…police were apparently scared of getting piss thrown on them, hahaha. They used a DG track over the documentation footage of this protest, and were lovely to hang with at the show. That was iconic and really inspiring. Things like that make the project feel really worth it. Stories like that cancel out all the social climbers and cringe parts of being a musician. 

PAN M 360: Your screams are just so powerful, they sound like they hurt. Do you have vocal training/ do you have to warm your voice up before a performance?

Dan Orlowski: No warm-ups or training other than trying to build up the scream stamina/always stay active with it like a muscle. Doing it for a really long time. I’m constantly doing a lot of little things to take care of my body to make sure my throat is optimal (no dairy, exercise, gut care, no coffee, no smoking…boring but real).


PAN M 360: Do you have to ‘get into character’ so to speak to perform? Like screaming live, do you have to feel angry or remember your thought process when you wrote the song?

Dan Orlowski: I used to feel more like that, now I guess the process is more automatic/intuitive. I have always felt there is a bit of acting performance involved in vocals because you do have to ‘be there’ for it to feel genuine. It’s a challenge to constantly return to the same place I was in when I wrote the song for the first time.

PAN M 360: What kind of themes always seem to come back to you when writing the lyrics for Deli Girls?

Dan Orlowski: Whatever infuriates me in my bowels. Unfairness, injustice, whatever is hurting me the most at any given time. Sometimes sarcasm, criticism. More recently, grief. 

PAN M 360: I find the vocals very direct, like no real flowery metaphors, but just straight to the point “This country’s abusive / now we’re all abusers”…

Dan Orlowski: I try to be as economical as possible with words. I usually dislike flowery writing because it’s pervasive and often covers up a lack of content. 

PAN M 360: I heard from others at your past shows that your crowd is one of the best for moshing etiquette, y’know having a great time but being safe and having zero discrimination. Why do you think that is?

Dan Orlowski: I’m pretty sure most people who would be at a show we’re playing are already contentious of these things. Queer, leftist, abolitionist, etc. it’s really just a reflection of the excellent community I’m lucky to find myself in. We’ve never had to deal with TikTok or 4chan trolls, skater punks, etc. who might be on the cis/male/edgy end of the spectrum. That’s not who the music or the community is for. 

PAN M 360: Take me back to some of those first Deli Girls shows in little DIY halls in NY or shitty bars…
And now you’ve been able to play places like Berghain, Primavera, Unsound Fest, is it crazy to you how much you kind of exploded and now get these opportunities?

Dan Orlowski: It’s … absolutely crazy, haha. I’m thankful every day. But that’s how everyone starts right? Moshing in the club used to be such a wild concept and now it’s regular. There’s a lot that used to be avant-garde that’s standard now, and I’m thankful for those things (trans rights as a given within the scene, discussions of accountability, prioritizing BIPOC, ethics, criticality of gentrification, harm reduction to name a few). You have to appreciate the wins (while still fighting for a better world) or you will lose your mind. 

PAN M 360: Anything you’d like to add?

Dan Orlowski: Free Palestine.

Deli Girls plays Taverne Tour on Thursday Feb. 8 w/ Slash Need, and Alix Fernz at Le Ministere
FOR TICKETS CLICK HERE

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