Life & Culture

Exclusive: Sons of an Illustrious Father Release Queer Cover of Don’t Cha

Lilah Larson, Ezra Miller and Josh Aubin reveal the story behind their cover of The Pussycat Dolls’ song, which turns a pop song into a celebration of queerness

Sons of an Illustrious Father have always worn their queerness on their sleeve. Two thirds of the band identify as such and they describe their sound as “genre-queer”, while their 2018 LP Deus Sex Machina: Or, Moving Slowly Beyond Nikola Tesla tackled subjects including the Orlando Pulse shooting in the track U.S.Gay. Today, the trio have released a new and exceptionally queer song: a cover of The Pussycat Dolls’ 2015 track Don’t Cha. Successfully reworked into their own style, the song is accompanied by a video, directed by Rafe Scobey-Thal and choreographed by Bobbie Jene Smith, which sees Lilah Larson, Ezra Miller and Josh Aubin riff on the original – in matching black leotards.

Larson explains that the idea for this cover came when she and Miller were dancing at a queer party in Nashville, Tennessee, while on tour. “It was clearly the best thing happening in town that night and was therefore being infiltrated by ostensibly hetero couples, who were sort of uncomfortably ogling the frolicking queers – including us – in a way that belied their envy and lust,” she explains. “The original song came on and Ezra and I in a typical moment of psychic connection looked at each other and agreed that the track, sung from our perspective, would perfectly encapsulate this common experience.”

While she’s a fan of the original, Larson doesn’t hold back from critiquing it, describing it as coming from a “very destructive, dated, distinctly heterosexual male perspective on women and discourses of desire”. Through their cover, she says they aimed to “ridicule and invert that mentality, while also absolutely celebrating the genuine pleasure possible in being an object of desire”.

And that it does – their cover takes the sugary pop song and transforms it into something altogether more sinister, a mood that is taken even further in the video.

Miller says that his favourite part of the song lies in what he calls “the descending catatonic scale” that Larson plays in the middle of the hook. “This grating and harsh aspect of the cover’s composition was another idea we had somehow agreed upon and solidified before ever even playing the song,” he explains. “Again, to us, this all seemed like the obvious thing to do... but, like, obvious in a way that was kinda hot. But, like, hot in a way that was kinda gross. But, like, gross in a way that was kinda irresistible.”

As for Aubin, he admits that he was initially confused by the idea of covering The Pussycat Dolls, not least because he had no prior connection to the group, or this particular song. That all changed when they started to play it, however, and now he feels like they’ve turned “a gross pop song” into “a celebration of queerness”.

Sons of an Illustrious Father are currently on their world tour, tickets are available here and they play London’s Village Underground on May 21.