Lipstick Jodi gives the gift of catharsis in new single “Take Me Seriously”

Photo Credit: Hwa-Jeen Na

In the world of pop music, it’s easy to get put in a category; the “edgy” one, the “hot mess,” the “Queen.” Or, if you’re Karli Morehouse of Grand Rapids indie-pop outfit Lipstick Jodi, the “gay” one. The non-binary songwriter and artist has spent years being labeled and pigeonholed because of their identity and is more than ready to break the constricting molds embedded into the foundation of pop music culture. On their latest single, “Take Me Seriously,” premiering today via Audiofemme, Morehouse brings their frustrations and anxieties to the forefront and gives listeners the chance to do the same. Following the band’s previous single “Notice,” as well as a remix by Now Now, “Take Me Seriously” will appear on the band’s sophomore LP More Like Me, out June 4th via Quite Scientific.

As one of the only openly queer kids in their Midwestern high school growing up, Morehouse has grown accustomed to standing out. And as hard as it was to find people like them in their community, it was even harder to find pop artists that reflected them. Aside from one of Morehouse’s all-time favorite artists, Tegan and Sara, it felt like every big pop star adhered to a very specific set of aesthetic and sonic standards. Nevertheless, Morehouse fell in love with everything about pop music. “This is all I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid,” they explain.  

Raised on ’80s icons like Prince, Cher and Pat Benatar, Morehouse’s songwriting is imbued with nostalgic synths and infectious melodies, as is evident on “Take Me Seriously.” Marrying their power pop instincts with a desire for inclusivity, Morehouse’s lyrics are intentionally vague, leaving room for people to imbue the song with their own meaning. “They’re specific to me, but… they’re kind of vague statements that can give whoever is listening something to hold on to,” says Morehouse.

They explain that this elasticity is inspired by seeing themselves and other queer artists get tossed around in an echo chamber instead of breaking through to larger audiences.

“I’ve always found that a lot of queer artists just end up playing to queer people, which is fine,” says Morehouse. “But I wanted to reach across the board and just play to whoever wants to listen.” They explain that well-intentioned playlists and charts highlighting “women in music” and “LBGTQ+ musicians” can further isolate marginalized musicians rather than integrating them into the pop mainstream. “If anyone calls me a ‘female artist’ one more time, I swear to god,” says Morehouse. “Not only am I non-binary, but it doesn’t matter, I’m a musician.”

And as the lead singer/songwriter for Lipstick Jodi, Morehouse flexes their lifetime of diverse musicianship. Aside from absorbing the romance and robustness of ’80s pop, they were interested in piano and guitar from an early age. Their grandfather, a career musician, gave them their first kid-sized piano and encouraged them to explore other instruments. “My mom didn’t want to commit me to anything and make me hate it, ‘cause that’s kind of what happened to her,” says Morehouse.

From there came countless performances, including a LeAnn Rimes cover, forming their first band in ninth grade and hitting up the Grand Rapids, Michigan coffee shop and brewery circuit. They founded Lipstick Jodi back in 2014, but only started honing in on their sparkly, synth-driven sound in the last few years. Starting out, Morehouse was quickly introduced to the closed minds of certain audience members or talent buyers. “They would call us the gay band and the girl band all the time,” they say. “I was just like, good job for recognizing a haircut? I don’t know why you’re upset.”

In “Take Me Seriously,” Morehouse distills a universal angst, applicable to anyone experiencing heartbreak, setbacks or haters. Razor sharp guitars, bold percussion and potent vocals deliver their cathartic message of pain and resilience. “I’m able to put whatever anxiety, whatever depression I’m feeling into a statement,” says Morehouse, “and kind of hide behind it and give it to somebody else.” 

Follow Lipstick Jodi on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.


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Photos by Alicia Gbur. Clockwise from top left: Christian Doble, Michael Spence, Matt Rickle, and Alicia Gbur.

Whilst record shopping, my eye caught a gig poster featuring none other than one of my longtime favorite local foursomes, FAWNN, and I thought to myself, “these assholes should take that poster down.” I figured it was old, and that the record store should be punished for getting my hopes up. To my surprise, it wasn’t old, and the show hadn’t happened yet. In fact, FAWNN joins Siamese, Odd Hours, and Tart January 30th at The Loving Touch in Ferndale.

When FAWNN formed in 2010, they were already seasoned veterans of the indie rock Detroit culture. Alicia Gbur was front woman of The Nice Device as well as a touring member of The Von Bondies. Christian Doble rocked with Child Bite and Kiddo, and later added drummer Matt Rickle of Javelins and Thunderbirds Are Now!, along with Mike Spence who was a member of the sultry pop force Those Transatlantics. With their rich musical resumes backing them and their irreverent collage of talent propelling them, FAWNN created their first LP, Coastlines, in 2012. Reminiscent of The New Pornographers’ Twin Cinema meets The Shins’ Chutes Too Narrow with a sprinkling of Surfer Blood’s Astro Coast, Coastlines fell into the category of albums that demanded an encore. Four years later, it looks as though we will finally get one.

“We’ve been recording it over the last two years and it’s finished! It’s called Ultimate Oceans and will be out on Quite Scientific in the late spring,” says friend and drummer, Matt Rickle. “We’re stoked about it. The four of us really hit a good stride.” The gap between releases was contingent on guitarist Mike Spence, who split to take a job opportunity. “We didn’t want to replace him,” Rickle said. “But now he’s back! It took a little time to get this album together. It never really felt like we stopped.”

Yes, it’s great news that FAWNN is returning. But after knowing Rickle for as long as I have and learning that he is as passionate of an admirer as I am, it was impossible for me not to mention the magnitude of our shared mourning over the loss of the incomparable David Bowie. “Ever since I discovered my dad’s copy of Young Americans 20 years ago, Bowie has been it for me. He gave me a taste of the strange early on, and my tastes went sideways ever since then,” says Rickle. “I feel like I recognize his urge to always try something different and reinvent your creativity.” I have no doubt that FAWNN’s followup will be an expression of the aforementioned reinvention of creativity, and Detroit can’t wait to hear what that sounds like.

Check out the video for “No Wave” from FAWNN’s 2012 release here: