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Merrill Beth Nisker

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Merrill Beth Nisker (born November 11, 1966), better known as Peaches, is a Canadian-born electronic musician and performance artist currently residing in Berlin, Germany, whose songs are noted for questioning traditional gender norms and use of sexually explicit lyrics.

Her songs have been featured in movies such as Mean Girls, Waiting..., Jackass Number Two, My Little Eye, and Lost in Translation. Her music has also been featured on television shows such as Showtime's The L Word, Ugly Betty, South Park (on the 13th season titled "Butters' Bottom Bitch"), 30 Rock (4th season episode titled "Future Husband"), 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," and on the Chicks on Speed album 99 Cents, on the song "We Don't Play Guitars."

Early life[edit]

Born Merrill Beth Nisker in Toronto, Ontario, she attended a private Jewish school where her classes were taught half in English and half in Hebrew. Kids from the nearby Catholic school frequently teased her. 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 London Observer.[1]

Before she became Peaches, Nisker was an independent music and drama teacher. She plays her own instruments for her songs, programs her own electronic beats, and produces her own albums.


Mermaid Cafe, Fancypants Hoodlum, the Shit 1990-1999[edit]

During the early 1990s, Nisker was part of folk trio Mermaid Cafe. The name was taken from the Joni Mitchell song "Carey".[2] 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 is taken from the Nina Simone song "Four Women" where Simone screams at the end, "My name is Peaches!"[3] In Toronto, before rising to fame, she was a roommate of fellow recording artist Feist.[4]

The Teaches of Peaches 2000-2002[edit]

After creating a six-track Lovertits EP, 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.[5]

Peaches appeared on the British TV show Top of the Pops, but her performance was deemed too racy to be aired.[6]

Nisker signed to a European contract by 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 proportions. Sony dropped her after the music video's release. "Now they want their money back," Peaches said.[6]

In 2001, Nisker's 34AA bust was one of the first female busts cast by famous 60's groupie Cynthia Plaster Caster, who was better known for making molds of male rockers' genitalia.[7][8]

Fatherfucker 2003-2005[edit]

In 2003, Peaches released her sophomore 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 penned and programmed all of her album's music herself. The single "Kick It" features Iggy Pop and which Peaches described to Rolling Stone as "more about rock 'n' roll than sex."[9]

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.[10]

Impeach My Bush 2006-2008[edit]

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.

File:Peaches SweetMachine.jpg
Peaches & Sweet Machine. Photo by Holger Talinski

The Herms (short for hermaphrodites) were formed in spring 2006 as Peaches' live backing band. They played at small and large venues alike with sex and sex related themes as the "shock factor" for the audience.Template:Citation needed "Herms" is a reference to 70's duo Peaches & Herb and blending of 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.

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.[11]

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

I Feel Cream 2009-present[edit]

Her fourth album I Feel Cream, was released on May 4, 2009 in Europe and May 5 in North America.[12] The first single from the project is a double A-side of "Talk to Me" and "More".[13]. 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".[14]

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 a young American fashion designer by the name of 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, and was also the opening act at the sideshows.[14]

On March 14, 2010, Peaches was awarded as the 'Electronic Artist of the Year' at the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards held in Toronto, Canada.[15][16]

In March, the people who owned the rights to the musical Jesus Christ Superstar denied Peaches from performing the 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 March 25–27 at Berlin's HAU1.[17] Gonzales accompanied Peaches on piano.[18]

Peaches will appear in a movie called "Ivory Tower", which also includes spots from Feist, Chilly Gonzales, Tiga and Gonzales' father. 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 Celine Sciamma (who directed/wrote "Water Lilies"), was directed by Adam Traynor and produced by Nicolas Kazarnia. "Ivory Tower" is expected to be in theatres this fall.[19][20]

In May 2010, Christina Aguilera announced via interview that Peaches was among the collaborators on her fourth studio album Bionic. Peaches is featured on a track called "My Girls."[21][22][23]

Notable themes[edit]

Peaches performing in August 2006.

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:


She disputes accusations of "penis envy," preferring the term "hermaphrodite envy,[24] since "there is so much male and female in us all."[25]




Year Title Peak chart positions Album
UK Dance Chart
Belgian Dance
2000 "Lovertits” The Teaches of Peaches
2001/2002 "Set It Off" 36
2003 "Rockshow"
"Operate" 112 Fatherfucker
"Shake Yer Dix" 97 1 27
2004 "Kick It"
(Peaches featuring Iggy Pop)
2006 "Downtown" 50 Impeach My Bush
"Boys Wanna Be Her"
2007 "Wild Thing"
(Tone Loc featuring Peaches)
Non-album single
2009 "Talk to Me" / "More" 99 51 I Feel Cream
"Lose You" 11
"I Feel Cream"




  • The song "Fuck the Pain Away" was used in a scene in the film Lost in Translation in which Bob and Charlotte, the two main characters, find themselves in a strip club. The song does not appear on the soundtrack CD. It was also featured in Jackass Number Two, in the Old Man Balls scene, a "South Park" episode called "Butters' Bottom Bitch" and in the horror film My Little Eye. It is also Liz Lemon's Ringtone on the Future Husband Episode of 30 Rock.
  • "Operate" is played during the Halloween house party scene in the film Mean Girls. It also appears in Waiting...and during a wet t-shirt contest in the episode "Nevada State" of Las Vegas.
  • She performed the song "I U She" on season two of The L Word, in the episode titled "L'Chaim". The same song appeared on the show's season two soundtrack when she performed live in an episode.
  • "Boys Wanna Be Her" was played at the end of the fourth episode of season 4 of The L Word, when Katherine Moennig's character, Shane McCutcheon, modelled underwear for Hugo Boss. It also was played in the Ugly Betty episode "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", advertisements for the FX series Dirt and the soundtrack for the 2009 film Whip It!. A remix version of the song is also in the EA game Need for Speed Pro Street.(The remix is called Tommie Sunshine's Brooklyn Fire Retouch)
  • The Gap used the song "Do Ya" in their Fall 2006 TV ad campaign titled "Jeans Take Shape".
  • On The Mighty Boosh Live DVD, Bollo is singing "Fuck the Pain Away" in the tribute song to Naboo.
  • "You Love It" was played at the ending of the CSI: New York season 3 episode "Oedipus Hex".
  • Peaches' "Kick It" with Iggy Pop is on the soundtrack for Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition.
  • "Set It Off" is heard in the movie Cashback. This is the second time a Peaches song appears in a strip club scene, the other being Lost in Translation. "Set It Off" is also used in "The Cut" (episode title: Rewind Me).[30]
  • "Kick it " is featured on the commercial in Australia for the 2008 Subaru impreza.
  • The song "The Inch" was used in the film Itty Bitty Titty Committee in the scene where Shulie and Calvin are hooking up in the car while Anna and Sadie are doing the same in the motel room.
  • The song "Mud" was used in the second episode of The Vampire Diaries (episode title: The Night of the Comet) when Elena confronts Jeremy about his behavior.
  • "Show Stopper" was featured on an episode of Gossip Girl in 2009.[31]
  • The song “Fuck the Pain Away” was used as Liz Lemon’s cell phone ringtone during the episode of 30 Rock entitled "Future Husband". The lyrics “Huh, What, Right, Uhh” can be heard. "Operate" is played during the Halloween house party scene in the film Mean Girls, a film scripted by Fey, creator, writer, producer and star of 30 Rock.
  • The song "Take You On" was used in promos for Kell on Earth.

Covers and samples[edit]


Year Film Role Notes
2001 Chromezone XXX[32] Herself Super-8 bike porn that Peaches directed and starred in
2002 Hideous Man[6] Beat poet Part of ensemble for short film collaboration with John Malkovich and Bella Freud
2010 Ivory Tower[19] Marsha Plays performance artist in collaboration with Gonzales, Feist and Tiga

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Category Genre Recording Result
GLAAD Awards
2004 Outstanding Music Artist Music & Theater Fatherfucker Template:award-nom
2007 Outstanding Music Artist Music & Theater Impeach My Bush Template:award-nom
MVPA Awards[33]
2007 Best Make-up Music Video Boys Wanna Be Her Template:award-nom
UK Music Video Awards[34]
2009 Best Styling Music Video Talk to Me Template:award-nom
The Independent Music Awards
2010 Electronic Artist of the Year Dance/Electronica — Template:award-won

See Also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Taylor, Ken (2003). Peaches Biography Musician Guide. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  2. (2008-01-31). Mermaid Cafe The Canadian Music Forum. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
  4. "All mouth, no trousers". The Age. 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-13. </li>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Meter, William V. (2003-06-23). Peaches: She's a Very Kinky Girl SPIN Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  12. I Feel Cream release date
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Shunda K
  19. 19.0 19.1 Harper, Kate (2010-04-07). Peaches, Feist, Gonzales, Tiga In Indie Flick Chartattack. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  21. (2010-04-24). Christina Aguilera Interview Saturday Night Online Retrieved 2010-04-03.
  22. Retrieved 2010-04-03.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  24. "She tells interviewers she has hermaphrodite envy, not penis envy." Jessica Suarez, Review: "Peaches - Impeach My Bush (XL)," Rhino Review.
  26. Chart Log UK : Rodney P.;Pussycat Dolls. URL accessed on 2010-04-15.
  27. "Peaches". Retrieved 2010-04-15. </li>
  28. Peaches - Lose You Ultratop Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  29. Peaches-Shake Yer Dix Ultratop Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  30. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
  31. How to Succeed in Bassness Retrieved 2010-04-2.
  32. Lee, Albert (2001-03-21). Peachy Keen Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  33. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  34. (2009-09-28). UK Music Video Awards 2009 – here are the nominations! PromoNews. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  35. </ol>

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