TAMAGOTCHI MASSACRE feels trapped in her own body in Fantasy and Morbid Obsession. The story goes like this- surrounded by ever morphing and ruthlessly cruel gender norms, trans women have to pass a kind of gender Turing Test. As first outlined by closeted gay visionary and father of computing, Alan Turing, the Turing test is a measure of an AI’s ability to present as human. TAMAGOTCHI MASSACRE expresses her frustration for having the ever present cis-gaze judging her womanhood.


Rei: In Fantasy, you sing, “I'm so angry with myself for letting you hate me. / I know its fucked, but I feel like a failure,” What is it that you feel you’ve failed?


TM: I think alot of the time queer people are made to believe that we are to blame for the bigotry we face in the world- that the trauma inflicted on us is at least in part due to personal failure. I found that after I was harassed for being trans in a public bathroom last February, I could barely leave my dorm room to pee. I couldn’t see my friends, or go to class, or anything from being so freaked out. I remember laying in bed for hours at a time just replaying the events of that night like over and over in my head trying to figure out what I could have done differently. I felt like if I had just done my makeup better, if I had dressed more femine, if I had taken up less space, or I had spoken softer and more high pitched then this terrible thing wouldn’t have happened. I felt that I failed at so much: I failed at passing, I failed at standing up for myself, and I failed at being a woman, and this was the weird proof of that. 

Rei: Why is it socially acceptable to expect people to pass or challenge trans peoples’ personal autonomy?

TM: Obviously it shouldn’t be, and even within the trans community, there can be this focus on passing. That’s really unhealthy and really unfair and like-

Rei: Really unproductive to trans liberation and living your life?

TM: Yea.

Rei: There’s some reference to videogames in the bridge of Fantasy as the samples used and lyrics evoke gaming imagery. Do you sometimes gamify passing? Is it kinda like reaching a minimum score?

TM: I think it’s more than that. I think more than anything I’ve been gamifying womanhood as a whole. When I started my transition, I was so obsessed with becoming a woman, that I didn’t take time to think about what being a woman meant to me. I think in the moment it meant hormones, clothes, hair, nails, voice training, surgery, and whatever, and without realizing it, I became consumed with this idea-

Rei: That it would complete you?

TM: Yea if I could check off enough boxes then I would finally be a woman and that would be that. It wasn’t about looking cis- it was like, “Ok, I’ve got to do all of these things.” I think this way of thinking was heavily reflected in my early music. My first mixtape was called Feminitiy.exe. I conceptualized woman as- 

Rei: As a program you download?

TM: As a file yea. The first track of that project is called Girl Simulator, and it has a monologue from Hunter Schafer about how womanhood was about mana, potions, and leveling up to your full power, and I think in the moment, that was how I conceptualized womanhood. It was a video game, and if I get enough achievements I win. But obviously that is an unhealthy way to look at gender, since if I can win at being a woman, I must also be able to lose.

Rei: So it’s more like a gradient and accepting where you're at?

TM: Oh absolutely.

Rei: There’s absolutely a therapeutic aspect to transitioning. But do you find there’s like internal work to do from a therapy standpoint? It’s not like a cure-all right?

TM: Yea and that internal work is what I’ve been trying to work through on this album. I’m reassessing where these bad feelings are coming from. Because I feel like at some points there's a healthy reason to feel bad. 

Rei: Yea there’s definitely a purpose for negative emotions as long as they're not self indulgent or self destructive. It’s important to know the boundaries between that.

TM: I think this album is trying to find that boundary. As a production tag on this album, I have a clip of this character saying, “It’s never enough.” That’s really been what I’m feeling. The album is called I guess I’m a woman now. And I look into the mirror sometimes, and I see all these boxes checked that two years ago I would have loved to see. Now I need to do more.

Rei: Is it like a treadmill?

TM: I think that’s because I keep trying and trying to reach this impossible standard of femininity that most cis women don’t live up to.

Rei: Yea there’s that whole precedent of gender affirming surgery for cis women, and that standard should be “more accessible” for them. 

TM: Yea totally.

Rei: On Morbid Obsession, there’s elements of body horror and self-loathing contrasted with a cutesy melody. Is there a metaphor between outward beauty standards and inward struggle as the result of those expectations?

TM: Yea, I think you got to the core of it with that question. Morbid Obsession was originally written as a slow creepy guitar ballad. I had the song completely written, but was struggling to get it past the demo stage. I just seemed really self-important, and I wasn’t vibing with it. Then I realized that this song is about being obsessed with superficial appearances, so of course this song has to be cute as hell. I think the cutesy sound and the gory lyrics emphasize this idea that beauty can be dangerous. 

Rei: It can have a cost.

TM: Totally.

Rei: In hyperpop’s early days, many trans-woman artists used pitch shifting to make their voices more feminine. Do you think hyperpop has been somewhat cis-washed from it’s originally radically trans roots?

TM: Yea I don’t know. I think I have mixed feelings on this. I don’t care what sixteen year old boys on tik tok are doing. I think it’s cool to see hyperpop develop as a genre and reach more people. Also, it’s really fucking annoying to see cis artists get signed to major labels before anyone else in the scene right? Like glaive or someone. Plus their music is twice as boring as anyone else's. On the other hand, of course cis boys are going to get commercial success before anyone else. Saying it’s been cis-washed is a really big stretch. From my perspective, all of the artists on the cutting edge of the scene are trans-femme: Quinn, dynastic, Jane Remover, DJ Re:Code, Galen Tipton, Phixel, Iris Day, on and on and on. Of course cis boys can sell out the genre, but I don’t give a fuck. If I do see another brakence clone, I’m going to throw up, but I think radical transness is still there. 

Rei: You’re doing a release party in LA, what can readers expect from a TAMAGOTCHIMASSACRE show? 


TM: My live performances have been known to sterilize cis men and turn them into homosexual furries.

Rei: Nice. There we go.

TM: I weave a lot of performance art into my live show and elements of drag. I kind of do whatever will contribute to a cool experience for the people watching. I’m more concerned with making sure the audience has fun than doing a virtuosic performance. It’s pop music; it’s not that serious. I’m really excited for that show. Babebee just got added which is really exciting. I’m also playing a crazy stacked show in LA November 5th. It’s got tracey breaks, digifae, RYLO, and Nebita.

Rei: How was it switching from a guitar driven chippy aesthetic to something more akin to digicore or HexD for the single?

TM: I think genre is not something I think about actively. I think I don’t do it to a fault actually. I have a cover of a Soccer Mommy song that goes from orchestral to hyperpop to bossanova to ambient in the span of 50 seconds. I think I use musical style to enhance the meaning of a song than use a song to enhance my own musical style. I think if a concept of a song fits a different aesthetic, then I’ll change it. That’s what I did with Morbid Obsession, changing it from a guitar ballad to a girly dancey beat.

Rei: What is the reason for the CD-rot/bitcrushed aesthetic you had on your earlier songs? And why do you like to play with digital distortion in general?

TM: That’s a good question. When I made that first mixtape, I had this idea of using digital distortion as a way to represent gender dysphoria. The metatextuality- that sounds so pretentious, the metatextuality of bitcrushing brings attention to the fact that you are listening to a recording, and it can be super jarring to the listener. When you listen to music, you’re not actively thinking, This is a recording, right? When you add some weird digital distortion you become very aware that you're listening to a recording. This is the way dysphoria affects me. Like you're going about your day, not really thinking about it then, bam, something happens. Then you become hyper-aware that you’re in this body. 

Rei: That’s a really good answer. If you ask any traditional analog engineer [about digital distortion], they’re like, “Digital distortion is bad,” and you’re like, “Yes, I know it’s bad.” I love that. How has your songwriting process changed since you started releasing music?

TM: On this new record I’ve been way more intentional with songwriting than on any of my previous stuff. My first mixtape was super raw and unpolished, and half of it I wrote before I even realized I was trans. So, I barely knew who I was. I had only just started making electronic music, had only just realized I was trans- so I was experimenting with music and myself. I was super emotional, so the whole result was super chaotic. There was an explosion of feeling and sound. It was a good mixtape, but it’s been two years. I’ve had time to reflect on my songwriting and identity. Now before I write anything, I sit down and generate a kind of thesis to work from. I think about what kind of ideas and emotions I want to work through with my music. For Fantasy, I felt like I was naive for thinking I could go into Publix without being harassed. And for Morbid Obsession, I realized that my unhealthy fixation on my appearance was going to kill me. From there, I pull bits of lyricism and broader themes from those ideas. Taking imagery from a broken fantasy to paint myself as an unwanted princess. The idea of vanity in the context of horror, and the juxtaposition of the cute and the grotuesque. Once I’ve got the concept and lyrics fleshed out, I try to think about what instrumentation and musical aesthetic would complement those types of themes: an RPG soundtrack for Fantasy and girly dance beat to contrast these horror lyrics. The rest is just pressing buttons on the computer.

Rei: What do you think the future of gender relations are?

TM: Government mandated femboys, estrogen in all the burgers, and the illegalization of men. 

Rei: There’s a certain youthful energy to your lyrics, and it lends itself towards emotions associated with teenage years like angst and insecurity. However, there is an almost playful disregard for these negative emotions in your actual music. Why do you use contradiction by writing angsty lyrics with happy melodies?

TM: It’s to remind myself that in the end, nothing is really that serious. Sure, being trans is terrible and I’m going through puberty again, and the world hates me, and I hate myself. But also, that's stupid and I don’t care. Transness is so beautiful. I’m so beautiful. My community is so beautiful. At the end of the day, I try to remind myself that I want my transness to be fun more than anything. No matter how much it sucks, I’m really glad I get to be a girl. I get to wear cute clothes and do my makeup. I get to connect with other women. I get to fall in love with boys, and do all of the things I love. It’s so fun. So I think I try to reflect that duality in my work. My music is sad. It’s uncomfortable; it hurts. Sometimes it’s really hard to sit through. But other times it’s fun and it’s silly and it’s weird. It makes you want to laugh. 


Spotify: open.spotify.com/artist/1IDj0ZtIuaELIVrTOGjJow?si=vim-JO2nSRulwkaC2D1sPA 

Written By Rei Low: twitter.com/_rocktimist