The latest singles, produced by Dylan Brady of 100 Gecs, are total art pop anthems, as mesmerizing and juicy as Gao’s whole oeuvre. office sat down with Gao ahead of her recent East Village show with Cashmere Cat to hear about the rise of the Rich Bitch herself.
You’re a multi-hyphenate: Chinese-born, New York-based DJ, singer, and artist.
Well, yeah, I used to make sculptures and art installations, and I played piano since I was four. I tried to go take a serious, musical college path, but I didn’t succeed. So then I went to a quote-on-quote “normal” college in Boston. I studied philosophy, communications, did some theatre arts, because I could use those for my credits, religion, and then after I moved to New York I started doing music as a way of living.
Do you like performing?
Yeah, I do. I started out by DJing. People always need DJs, but they probably don’t need someone to sing for 30 minutes. Now I have my original songs, so I sing. I just love all types of things I could do to express myself.
I think my music is best when you see it live. I like to do a lot of stand up comedy, and I joke a lot, so it’s fun to watch. My music taste—it’s quite special, and I hope people fuck with it.
How does it feel now that you get to sing your own songs?
I don’t know how to put this, but I guess in New York especially, everyone is trying to look like someone. So there’s a lot of bullshit in music. I should put it this way, actually: I just feel like it was time for me to have my own original music, because I’m more than playing other peoples’ music. It was hard for me to distinguish myself from other DJ bitches. The competition is very hard.
Your music is super unique, though. It's ethereal, kind of Grimes-y.
Yeah, I love Grimes, I adore her, I think she’s brilliant as an artist. She has a real vision. I think at the end of the day, my music is a lot about the message. I guess it’s related to what I studied in college, which was philosophy. Now I put that philosophy in my music.
What’s your message?
Well, take “Rich Bitch Juice.” At the end of the day, I feel like I’m always chasing something. I live in New York, and I would say that’s my home, but I also live in LA now. But living in New York, especially doing what I do, is very stressful, because it’s not like you do this one thing and you get money five days per week, you know? So obviously, you get higher goals, higher and higher, but at the end of the day you just feel so empty. If I don’t think about the chase, what else can make me happy? That’s why, you know, I’m exhausted.
I love that lyric.
Yeah. I guess because my face structure—I love my mouth, because when I was younger, people would always say I have a beautiful mouth shape, but somehow if I don’t do anything with it I look super upset.
Resting bitch face!
Literally! That’s why homeless people on New York streets will stop me and tell me to smile. Don’t tell me that. I’m crying, I’m happy, I’m both, on the inside.
Your new video is sick. If we saw your YouTube history, what would it look like?
Oh, there’s a lot of Nigella Lawson, the sexual cooking queen from England. I love that. And I love this YouTuber Nina Montagne, I just love watching her videos because I think she just brings me peace. I watch her vlogs to make me fall asleep.
Obviously I watch a lot of music videos. I’ve been watching a lot of Cashmere Cat, who I’m opening for tonight. I’ve been watching his live set and all the other song he did for Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, The Weeknd, everyone. It’s just a lot of music, cooking, or vlogs that put me to sleep.
If you had to choose your favorite Rich Bitch in the world, anyone alive or dead, who would it be?
Mara Hoffman owns a lot of museums in France and here in New York, and I love museums. That’s one of my favorite things to do is to go to museums. I would love to own them like that.