Hether Fortune has presence, and not simply because she’s usually one of the tallest people in the room. As the founder and leader of the Oakland post-punk band Wax Idols, Fortune has become well known for her dramatic, powerful singing and forthrightness on what it means to be an independent artist in a world shaped by inequality and bias.
On a recent evening at the Royal Cuckoo, a dimly-lit organ bar in San Francisco, Fortune engagingly chats about Wax Idols’ upcoming fourth album, Happy Ending, which the band will perform in full on Apr. 14 at the Great American Music Hall, ahead of the record’s May 16 release. Fortune speaks with clear focus about a key theme in her recent work, which she calls “post-body.”
“It’s people being able to retain consciousness, or to somehow express themselves purely through that, not via how their body presents them to the world,” she says, barely pausing to gather her thoughts. “I’ve always felt uncomfortable with bodies — not that there’s anything wrong with them. But there’s too much weight placed upon the suits that we’re wearing. I like fantasizing about being a floating orb!”
Happy Ending, Wax Idols’ fourth album, is the band’s first full-length release on their own label, Etruscan Gold. Owning a label has been a lifelong dream for Fortune, but the push to start Etruscan Gold came when Wax Idols got caught up in what the singer wryly terms “a series of unfortunate events.” Most notoriously, the band’s previous label, Collect, turned out to be funded by the now-imprisoned “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli — news that broke in 2015 just before the release of Wax Idols’ last album, American Tragic. Fortune emphasizes that the fault was not with Collect’s founder, Thursday singer Geoff Rickly.