“We’re still viewed as a collection of body parts—That’s how we’re idolized and valued in society”
There is a fascinating aura of power, mystery and awe that surrounds Miss Me and her murals —- A top-notch, artful street vandal who’s notorious for hiding her identity, preferring instead to let the ART speak for itself, as opposed to having her face attached to it. Captivating at first glimpse, the raw and assertive style that Miss Me possesses, allows her to create art pieces that at first sight sucks the very air out of you leaving you virtually breathless. As a feminist, she is not one to restrain her tongue, being very outspoken as she expresses her concerns about issues women face in modern society. Get familiar with Miss Me, because if you haven’t then you are definitely missing out.
514: Where are you from?
MM: I’m from planet Earth. Have you heard of it? It’s a pretty weird place
514: I think I’ve heard of this place, I live in it too (lol).
MM: Oh! yea, (lol) What are the odds?.
514: Where are your parents from?
MM: It’s somewhat complicated. I was born in Geneva, Switzerland. Each generation on both of my parents’ side had to move from where their parents were born, because of multiple reasons e.g economic and political reasons, so I’m like an internal refugee. You can’t really say I’m from there, because their parents weren’t from there, so how do you pin point where you’re from when you’ve been kicked out of all these places. so how do you call this place home. So that’s why for me home is Montreal.
514: How long have you been in Montreal?
MM: 16 years.
514: In which area did you grow up in Montreal?
MM: I did not grow up here, I am not 20 years old (lol). I came here as an adult. But I lived in a bunch of places.
514: When you came to Montreal did you come here (alone) by yourself?
514: That must have been pretty scary to come to live in a new city all on your own ?
MM: No, Montreal is not a scary place. I came and went to University, I didn’t come here to figure sh*t out. I came in a program so I don’t think that’s scary at all. You know what you’re going to be doing for the next year, you have a plan schedule, you have courses, and you know where to live. I didn’t think it was scary, I thought it was exciting.
514: What were you studying when you came here?
MM: Graphic Designing.
514: How did you go from graphic designing to becoming a street vandal?
MM: I was doing Graphic designing, working for really good advertising companies, getting my way up Graphic Companies when I just quit everything.
514: How long were you at your job before you decided to call it quits?
MM: I worked for a few places, but the latest one that I was at–I was there for 5 years.
514: So after five years of working a good job, you just decided to jump off the building and fly on your own, and take a risk creating Art?
MM: Pretty much.
514: What pushed you off the building to make that decision?
MM: Everything the building was (lol).
514: You felt like the building was toxic?
MM: I believe so. I’m not going to speak for others and say that it’s toxic for them.
My opinion and my life, and the way I see that it affected me. Yeah, it was killing me from inside.
514: So Graphic Designing wasn’t really your passion or what you wanted to do?
MM: I don’t know. It’s not about that. I didn’t think in those terms, I loved doing it at first, it made sense and I found a lot of pleasure in doing it, but then I realized it wasn’t fulfilling anything. It was like eating candy and thinking that it’s going to feed you—I was getting really sick, I was going to die if I kept eating those candies.
So I started doing this (ART), and it is not because I always wanted to do it. I never thought of it. I always drew and painted since I was a kid, but there was never a thought process like when they ask you “When did you know you wanted to be an entertainer” and you’re like “since I was four years old”.
No I’m not like that, I was not that focus or thought through with what I want to do with my life. It just happened because that was the only way I could express myself in a way that would feed me as well.
514: You took a big risk quitting your job. How long after did it take for something to pop?
MM: Well that’s the thing. I didn’t think it was a risk because I wasn’t planning anything. That was just me breathing. I had no plan; I quit and had zero plans. I didn’t calculate it; I didn’t understand the risk because I didn’t even think of it.
514: Looking at your social media you are very socially conscious about what’s happening in the world with politics and inequality. From where does this notion of wanting to understand come?
MM: I’ve always cared/historically my family comes from bullsh*t of the world. So it would make no sense that I would come from an environment like that and just not care. You have to care, because first of all it can impact you at any time, and if it didn’t impact you it would impact other people. I grew up with parents that taught me empathy, and just caring about what happens in general.
514: Who are some of your influences growing up that mold you to become who you are today?
MM: My parents. My mother’s mother is someone I look up to a lot even though she died a long time ago. But she was someone that had a beautiful strong caring heart. She’s very tough and she had a really hard life. But she never let life beat her down to the point, to not be deeply kind. And I find balancing that is such an amazing strength. And that’s something I admire.
514: Looking at your portraits, you come off as an Artist who is rebellious, and who does not care about rules and agendas that society try to push on people. Is that a good depiction of your art?
MM: Yes and No. I care about rules and understanding them but I never let anybody’s rules have an effect on me if I don’t agree with them.
514: Growing up were you a popular kid in school?
MM: It’s not like America where there’s the popular kids and the geeks and stuff like that where I come from. I come from a small city, and my school was called ZEP (Zone D’education Prioritaire) and it was kind of tougher, with violence.
514: Is this a special school for kids who are deemed to be bad?
MM: No, it’s kind of like you have the worst teachers, and a lot of people from poorer families and areas of the city where there’s not a lot of education and people don’t really care. So the school ends up having more problems, and there’s more violence, and it’s just a little tougher. So there’s no popular group, to be popular was just a way for you to get beat up.
514: Usually the popular person or group has more clout?
MM: Yes. But that’s what I’m saying. It’s not like the States where there’s the popular group or the prettier blondes. All that stuff would probably get you beat up. So I was popular –the one who had a lot of friends and who always managed to stay out of trouble.
514: You recently did a TED talk, how nerve racking was it to be on stage talking in front of people?
MM: Yooooo! it was so nerve racking (lol).
514: How many people were in attendance?
MM: There wasn’t many people in attendance, it wasn’t a huge TED, maybe 300 max. Like Creative Mornings was like 500 people and that was just for me. So this TED wasn’t a really big one because each one has a budget. And they have different allowance of the amount of tickets that they are allowed to sell. But it was still super nerve racking, I never had done any speeches before, and I never had writing anything before.
514: What made you want to do TED?
MM: I love TED. I just really like that platform, and the idea of knowledge and sharing. I like smart people, like “wow that’s what you do; you’re a brain surgeon that’s insane! You like to study planets WHAT” I love that. I always wanted to do one, so when they said “do you want to do it” I was like sure.
514: How long did it take you to write your speech?
MM: I wrote it in two or three weeks.
514: Is it hard to come up with a concept to speak about that no one has heard before?
MM: It has to be different from anything that you heard. Otherwise, what’s the point right. And then you gotta make it try to fit to what you truly do. And intellectually the exercise was making knots to my brain.
514: Is there any rehearsals before you go on the stage for TED?
MM: No nothing, I had no help. I have a friend and thank God he did a TED but when he did it they had a speaking coach. And he said it helped him so much, so the last week he helped me.
514: So they just threw you on stage just like that with no preparation?
514: But did they proofread your speech?
MM: No nothing. So in my case it was all me. And I’m happy with it, and I’m happy with myself. And I was really afraid because whether there’s 300 people or two thousand, it’s still the same spotlight.
514: In that TED Speech you said “That we’re not celebrating the right accomplishments for women as the glorification of beauty and the normalization of vanity aren’t really an accomplishment. Can you elaborate on that more?
MM: They are not accomplishments, they’re celebrated like they’re accomplishments. We’re confusing so many things and I think it’s a huge disfavour to us and insulting to what we can be. Instagram and social media stars is like a fuc*ing thing now, it’s like you’re good at taking selfies of your fuc*ing face and showing your butt in the right angle enough times that people start to like it, and then you matter in this society that people give you free shit and you make a business out of it. I mean good for you, but that is not an accomplishment. It’s good, fine, but you cannot celebrate that, like you celebrate the movie that Janelle Monae is in, Hidden Figures. That is an accomplishment. But that’s not cool, funny, glamorous, that is not fuc*ing sex. But as a society, we put them so high or even higher just because they represent more easy money. And it’s just fucking up our vision of ourselves and young women, because what are we telling the young women, don’t try to be a sex tape star and show your butt everywhere, and then the Kardashians are invited at the White House at the same level as a great writer or activist. So the kids are like Sure!, Sure! Mom.
514: In your point of view what are some of the difficulties that women face in this society?
MM: Some. Just some? There’s a lot. We’re still viewed as a collection of body parts that’s how were idolized and valued in society. You will see a man and he’s seen as a person, and then you will see a girl and you see her as she’s cool but she’s got great breasts or a great ass. It’s like there’s this equation of body parts that makes us who we are. That’s one of them.
514: Why did you start wearing the goon mask and have a certain mystique about your identity?
MM: Well I always covered my face, and that just came to me and happened in my head. It felt really weird and fuc*ed up and it felt just right. It’s the perfect balance of aggressive, kindness, and bubble gum childhood and naiveness. So it just felt right to me about this mix that doesn’t really fit well together but somehow it really is what I am. So I always covered my face because of what I do, because the consequences can be big or small. And the second is, I kind of like the idea that I don’t want people to put a face on what I do because it doesn’t matter.
514: Where did the idea of posting your Art in the streets come from?
MM: It just felt free, and it was outside of all the rules that I knew. It felt like the opposite of everything that everybody always expected of me and what I should be. And it just felt free, it felt like a giant Fu*k you to everything that I learned, everything I was taught, and everything that bothered me. It made me feel like my voice is louder and had a longer echo. And I just did it, and like I said I didn’t really think it through.
514: Did you ever get caught doing it?
MM: I don’t answer that question.
514: What about the museums that display your ART. Do you contact them or do they reach out to you?
MM: For the last one it was through Mur, they reached out to me because they were curating this whole floor for the Gala. They contacted me and I was very happy. They are wonderful, super nice, and it’s all ladies which is really nice. And it went super well, it was super cool.
514: What happened to your eye, recently you cut your eye and had no vision for two days?
MM: Yeah I cut my eye in a dumb ass way. But I cut it for real though, I cut my cornea and it hurts like a motherfuc*er as you could imagine.
514: How did it happen?
MM: I had this new plant, beautiful big plant but the leaves grow really sharp and pointy. So yeah, once you hurt one of your eye especially the cornea, since it’s an open wound you have to close the other one. Because as soon as this eye move, both eyes move. They both move together. So I had to close the other eye and had no vision for two days.
514: Pussylluminati is something you reference heavily, what does that mean to you?
MM: That’s just pussy power, pussy propaganda, the love of one self in a funny kind of way. It started as a joke, we’re all made in the vagina, and everybody is always Illuminati this and that and the big conspiracy. The real big power of the world is vagina, but that was the one that was always put down and always oppressed in a million different ways. And I think it’s important for women to relearn about that essential part of our body and love it and know it, because knowledge is power, and through that we will regain our power and reshare it with everybody, and understand the true power that comes from it. I didn’t come from your ribs you came from my vagina.
514: Now you’re selling your own merchandise do you have any expectations for that?
MM: I’m hoping I can make people happy because I know a lot of people wanted it, and I hope I can deliver.
514: Where can we get your merchandise? Do we have to go on your website for that?
MM: Yeah. Just having a website was a big deal for me, to have to reorganize everything. But yeah I’m happy and this is me getting reorganized.
514: What’s the first app you open in the morning?
MM: BBC News. I don’t touch any social media for hours. I get up and do any type of sports, and right now I’m doing yoga. Once I’m done with yoga, I go and get my coffee and bagel. I usually read for about an hour.
514: Where is the best place to chill in Montreal?
MM: Byblos. It’s an Iranian cafe/ restaurant. I love this place so much, I love the food and the vibe.
514: Who do you listen to musically?
MM: A bunch of people, for now I’ve been really listening to Frank Ocean’s Blonde for the last two days, a lot of Neo Soul, a lot of old 90’s R&B, a little hip-hop.
514: My last question is usually based on an article that we are writing. How can racism ever end?
MM: Racism is a weird thing, because racism in French and English means two different things because of language. In English they will say for example you and I are from two different races, which is impossible to say in French, because in French the only race is the human race. If you ask people what race are you, you are automatically racist, because it’s crazy to pretend that we’re not from the same race. Which I believe is more true because all these distinctions are artificial because you have to start them somewhere. And where you decide to start them is arbitrary. And I’m a huge mess of a lot of different types of people, so to define my race is to me impossible. In our society it’s possible ish, I think we could do so much better. I do believe that, but I do believe that we’ve come from very far. In North America, we’ve done good for the advancement of a lot of minorities. It’s still bad, I think in one hand you could say it’s good, and still say it’s still bad. We still have a lot to do.
Photo Credit: @gcastrophotographe
Written By: Vlad Pierre
Edited By: Yvonne Sam