TAMAGOTCHI MASSACRE: womanhood and what comes next


What does it mean to become a woman? On Tamagotchi Massacre’s quest for gender euphoria, she did everything right: she took her hormones, she did her makeup, and she stopped eating. So why was she being screamed at in a Whole Foods bathroom by another woman? Why was she made to feel like all of her efforts still weren’t good enough? For the LA-based artist, her transition to womanhood wasn’t a simple solution to a complicated problem, but rather another series of nuanced, gendered experiences. These frustrations and triumphs are apparent in her debut album, i guess i’m a woman now … Much like the nuance of her lived experience, it’s a record that traverses a wide range of stylistic choices to mirror the realities of a world functioning on an invisible gray scale. The archetype of womanhood has been achieved, sure. But what comes next?

Spending her teenage years in the Arkansas DIY scene, Tamagotchi Massacre gravitated toward counterculture nestled amidst the conservatism of the Deep South. A member of an extensive list of local bands, she reflects, “There wasn't a lot of music happening, but the punk scene was great there.” While her earlier experiences were informed by a hardcore ethos, the discovery of hyperpop pioneer SOPHIE ignited a radical shift in her music taste. There’s still hints of rock-leaning roots in her music — take the sombering, acoustic reflections of the lead track on her new LP — but it’s readily apparent that electro-charged catharsis sits at the center of her evolved artist oeuvre.

It’s easy to place Tamagotchi Massacre within the overarching hyperpop^TM^ bubble due to those surging electronic elements woven through much of her work, but she reflects on how the term has lost its meaning. “I think hyperpop as it is, is so broken as a genre already. There are so many kinds of people making so many different kinds of music and calling it hyperpop. So why tie yourself to one sound?” With that mission statement, she indeed transcends a homogeneous approach. See: the garage-esque drum patterns on “cloud emoji,” the Jersey club bed-squeaks of “heartsore / heartsoar,” and the electro-rock grooves on “clean plate club” with healthy helpings of sonic fuzz. That breadth of stylings is best summarized by Tamagotchi Massacre’s personal playlist aptly titled, “one hyperpop, hold the hyper, hold the pop,” a collection of songs she’s created for what she considers to be a “really close community” rather than a demarcated sound.

That community approach bleeds through the foundation of i guess i’m a woman now… with a list of synergistic collaborations. While much of the hyperpop scene is connected through URL Discord channels and Twitter group chats, “heartsore / heartsoar” was the product of an IRL connection. She recalls that her and fellow LIPGLOSS PARTY member Lu-Ee “literally sat in a room together and tried to ‘outproduce’ each other” until the final track manifested. As artists continue to tread into the wilds of a post-quarantine world, the ability to strengthen artistic bonds is readily manifest. That physicality continues with the album’s key co-writer and co-producer messyroom* who Tamagotchi Massacre notes is “my roommate, my best friend, and one of my greatest musical inspirations.” There are of course digital connections streaked through the record as well. Standout track “wrong time, wrong place” came about through the right-timed direct message between Tamagotchi Massacre and buzzing artist babebee. Within a day of Tamagotchi Massacre’s cold reachout, babebee sent back their ethereal verse and magic was born.

i guess i’m a woman now… is a kaleidoscopic wonder of sounds, but it also functions as the thematic staging ground for Tamagotchi Massacre to explore the intricacies of life throughout her transition since the release of 2020’s FEMININITY.EXE. She recalls, “When I started transitioning two and a half years ago, and when I released my first mixtape [FEMININITY.EXE], I was so excited to be a woman … and I was so happy and free that I quickly set about making myself into a woman without really dissecting what that meant to me. And so I think I became obsessed with this cisnormative idea of womanhood. I became really focused on checking off these boxes, you know, of, ‘Oh, I grow my hair, I do my nails, I do my makeup, I fix my body, I take the hormones.’ And I think I started to envision womanhood as like, this RPG … where I had to beat all the levels and then I would win.”

At the outset, her RPG build was more of a preset model envisioned by society’s development team rather than a custom collection of attributes. While that idealized standard worked for some time, Tamagotchi Massacre eventually began to buckle under the pressure of others’ expectations. She candidly remembers that “this cisnormative ideal of womanhood that I was just striving to live up to … I could never reach it and it was killing me.” With that struggle of gendered self-image came disordered eating, a development that she morbidly reflects as the genesis of her new album’s title: “I was in therapy and I was talking about disordered eating … I was like, ‘I guess this is how I know I'm a real woman now.’” Yet again, she found herself at a crossroads where she realized ”this is going to kill me if I keep treating myself like this and I keep treating my femininity like this.”

As her internal voice was rife with criticism, Tamagotchi Massacre also began to receive disparagement from the outside world. While in a Whole Foods bathroom, a woman screamed at her to leave because “you’re not allowed in here.” It was a traumatic moment that moved the criticism back inward. “I think that's the thing a lot of queer people do … they're convinced that this hatred directed towards them is in some way their fault,” she lucidly expresses. Within the deep pain also comes inspiration, though, as the track “fantasy!” evolved from the emotional fallout of the Whole Foods incident. She affirms, “I think that song, and just the whole process of writing this record, has helped me gain a lot of clarity about my attitude towards womanhood and the harder things in life.”

It would be much simpler if Tamagotchi Massacre’s transition led her from point A to point B, but her journey through womanhood continues in a much less linear fashion. ”It's this lifelong process,” she explains. “And I think I tried to reflect that with the record … the same little ambient loop that starts the album is the last guitar strum on the record. If you listen back, it can just loop over and over and over again. And I think that's, you know, my experience with transitioning.” i guess i’m a woman now… will fittingly carry on its own journey as Tamagotchi Massacre prepares to release a deluxe edition of the record and play more shows for the community that’s embraced her on the path from point A into the unknown.

Mike Giegerich

Mike Giegerich is a Los Angeles-based writer who earned his stripes as a teenager in the metal scene. He has since branched out towards new genres in perpetuity over the last decade, and is a long-term Björk advocate who firmly believes she can do no wrong.