The word Posso means “I can” in Italian, and the phrase assumes its fullest meaning as you cross the threshold into Marylouise Pels and Vanessa Giovacchini’s stunning modern Victorian home at the foot of the Hollywood Hills. The living room is filled with bright white, soft leather furniture, with a black grand piano by a window looking out at the Hollywood sign. The room reflects the same aesthetic meticulousness that has seen them swan from a career as designers in the fashion world into the upper echelons of dance music, challenging the political and hierarchical structure of both realms in the process––Oh, and looking fabulous while doing it.
In truth, Posso‘s entire existence looks pulled out of a shoot for Vogue Magazine. Sex permeates every detail. From their casually bikini-clad press shots down to the now-infamous booty shorts the duo wore at Create in Los Angeles—you know, the ones with swollen penises markered on them in homage early 90s design by Vivienne Westwood—Posso is taking a jab at conversations about the lopsided gender representation in dance music.
Last year, Posso published a manifesto titled Sex Is Power on Style.com (unfortunatey, it’s not longer accessible online). When I read it, I fantasized that the goddesses who wrote the blessed words within were rock star legends eating men for champagne brunch. Between the phallus-happy sartorial incident above and the words below, you can see where one might get that idea.
“…You can’t talk about being a woman in a male-dominated industry without addressing it (#girldeejay, #letsmoveon). This leads us to discuss the necessary paradigm of old-school feminism: a term that has unfortunately become a “bad word” because of the reactionary, anti-male “complain-y” philosophy that it originally had to be….Now us badass chicks can address this stuff with the proper 20/20 hindsight that change can’t ever happen by fighting against something or blaming someone else (men). The real power of any change comes from an awareness within.”
Photo courtesy of the artist.
The statement reflects a sentiment that’s been brewing in the minds of Marylouise and Vanessa long before they became Posso in 2007. The pair has been subverting expectations with a cavalier sense of agency since they were besties in high school. The first manifestation of Posso came about when the duo were high schoolers in California wine country. Senior year, proto-Posso put on a fashion show and sold out 2 nights at their school auditorium. “We dideverything,” Vanessa explains. “The outfits, music, the lighting––we staged an entire production.” It was the genesis of the Posso Universe and an early signal of their refusal to recognize creative boundaries.
In 2007, only a few years later, Posso had their first major break in the fashion world with their designs for spats, an antiquated boot accessory worn over the shoes and popular amongst gentlemen of distinction in the 1800s. Think of it like a hat for your shoes, except less useful or popular.
Posso’s rendition of the accessory, titled Posso The Spat, recontextualized the spat as a fashion accessory for women and pairs of them have appeared around the ankles of Rihanna and Katy Perry. When the economy (and thus the luxury shoe accessory market) collapsed in 2008, Posso the Spat lost half of its vendors in a single day. Broke and sitting on tons of inventory, Posso quit producing the spat to focus on developing classically trained pianistMarylouise’s latest passion project: DJing.
“We realized DJing can market the Posso brand and there’s no overhead,” explains Vanessa, the design genius behind the Posso Universe line. In 2009, Posso began producing original pop music with a distinct house flair, and touring while continuing with fashion design on the side. Their fast-growing multimedia empire was now integrating music, media and fashion. Oh, and of course sex. Don’t forget about sex. As the Posso Manifesto goes on to state:
Real power isn’t about putting men down or having power over anyone else. It’s about owning your power. Money is power. But, then again, so is sex: own your sexuality and redefine it. Own this, and you own it all. Now forget about what you’ve been taught to want, and know what you are capable of.
This begs the question of what owning your sexuality as a female artist looks like in practice. “In a nutshell, its consistency in your character, dress and morals,” Marylouise says. “Once we knew what we wanted to say and what we stood for, everything came together within the brand naturally. It’s about knowing what you want to say and being consistent about it.”
“Real power isn’t about putting men down or having power over anyone else. It’s about owning your power.”—Posso
If there’s one thing Posso has been consistent about, it’s been cashing in on the endless buffet of man-ass that finds its way onto their plate while on tour. “But it gets old, using someone,” says Marylouise, who is by far the more outspoken of the two. “You end up getting drunk, and then drunk on the power of having a great DJ set. We’ve pointed out dudes in the crowd and been like, ‘Diplo-Channing Tatum, you’re coming with us’. Then the next day you’re like, ‘Who the fuck am I’?”
“We were a bit indulgent,” admits Vanessa, recalling a week Posso spent performing at the Cosmopolitan in 2011, when they brought a dozen pro-skaters back to their suite and hung out with them in the hot tub. “I made this one dude carry me everywhere.” She is definitely the more soft-spoken of the two, but she’s also the wit, sneaking in one-liners you’d never expect including a now-legendary comeback she made to Borgore at the 2014 EDMbiz Artist Panel.
Photo from Posso’s website.
While participating in a Q&A hosted by Jason Bentley and also featuring Carl Cox, Destructo, Carnage, Arty, Steve Angello and Marylouise and Vanessa fielded questions about unique challenges faced as a female in the industry. At one point, Borgore quipped, “Why do you girls always DJ in duos? It’s like how you go to the bathroom.” Without missing a beat, Vanessa replied, “Because one of us has to fight off the douchebags.” The audience erupted in laughter and applause.
The moment perfectly captures Posso’s condition. They are often the hottest women in the room according to traditional standards of beauty, which can make it hard for them to be taken seriously. Still, they somehow own the whole situation in a way that’s disarmingly likeable. Their whole image playfully asks the question: “Who says boys get to have all the fun?” Upon posing the question in enough situations, Posso are proof that that boys don’t have all the fun. Here’s why:
“One time in Vegas, when I was briefly into chicks, this girl wanted to take us to the strip club after our set. She paid for a private room and went down on me while I got a lap dance. And my boyfriend was waiting outside! It was the most rock star status moment of my life,” says Marylouise over a cup of tea. If Borgore were telling this story it would sound so ordinary—trite almost—but coming from Posso, it feels like that five minutes of lips-on-vag at a Vegas strip club was a win for gender politics around the world.
Photo via OhDagYo.
“We’re rewriting the rules for how we want to be sexy and this is 100% who we are,” says Vanessa. “We’re not going to not do something because we’re worried of being thought of as a Playmate DJ.”
Not everyone is so supportive of Posso’s tendency to express their sexual power. As regular contributors to Style.com, which re-directs straight to Vogue, Vanessa and Marylouise were surprised to find a post on their Vivienne Westwood big dick booty short homage didn’t make it onto the latter site, presumably urged by the question:
“Why the dicks?
Because who doesn’t like a big dick. Because we can. Because we wanted to. Because Vivienne. Because if you own what you are wearing you can wear whatever the fuck you want. Because if you OWN WHO YOU ARE you can be, do and say whatever you want. Because it’s fun. Because we wanted to rock out with our cocks out.”
It’s not so much about what kind of statement we wanted to make by wearing this but about your own reaction to us wearing it.”
For one reason or another, Vogue didn’t get the dicks. They didn’t even try to understand them. “The people who don’t get it,” says Vanessa. “There’s no point in focusing on them.” And for those of you who do get it, here’s Posso’s stunning cover of “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life.” Follow them on all social platforms at PossoUniverse and if you’re so inspired, feel free to send Snaps of your dicks.”Shoutout all the Snaps of your dicks,” Vanessa laughs. “We try to keep it classy and not reply, but some of y’all have really nice dicks.”
Perhaps a little more of their manifesto is the icing on this whole jizz and champagne-stained, spat-clad, post-feminist dance party. Posso finish it up with by asking us to really consider the EDM demographic in the US. Many people think of the fanbase as male-dominated, but according to a 2015 Nielsen report, it’s actually only a 55% to 45% male to female ratio. “If there’s anything we’ve learned about business, it is, know who you’re selling to…so who’s giving these ladies something to rave about, really? The music culture is at this critical point where it needs something real, something that describes what this generation is feeling.” I’m feeling a lady boner coming on at this very moment from all this sexy real talk.
Posso is currently in the studio finishing up their EP due out some time next year.” If you’re in the Los Angeles area on December 20th, you can catch them at the Roxy. Otherwise, look out for their new collaborative track with Maestro, “True,” when it comes out on February 22nd via Armada. The girls are currently in the studio finishing up their EP, due out some time next year.
By: Molly Hankins