Updating the brash artiness of '90s indie rock for the 21st century, Speedy Ortiz began as the solo project of singer/songwriter/guitarist Sadie Dupuis. As the project became a full-fledged band and its sound grew more polished, Dupuis and company remained committed to the knotty guitars and vulnerable yet literate lyrics that defined Speedy Ortiz's music.
Dupuis started making music as Speedy Ortiz in 2011, recording songs on her laptop while also working on her M.F.A. and teaching songwriting at a summer camp in Northampton, Massachusetts. Taking the name Speedy Ortiz from a character in the comic book Love & Rockets, Dupuis released the lo-fi Cop Kicker EP and album The Death of Speedy Ortiz in this incarnation of the project.
At the end of 2011, Speedy Ortiz grew into a four-piece featuring Dupuis, bassist Darl Ferm, drummer Mike Falcone, and guitarist Matt Robidoux. The band's members worked day jobs (as a college writing instructor, a guitar teacher, a librarian, and a burger-stand employee, respectively) while playing shows in and around N.Y.C.'s five boroughs. Early in 2012, they recorded the self-released single Taylor Swift/Swim Fan with veteran producer, mixer, and engineer Paul Q. Kolderie; that June, the band made its debut on Exploding in Sound Records with the Sports EP.
A single for Inflated Records, "Ka-Prow!/Hexxy," appeared the following April, a few months before the release of Speedy Ortiz's debut album, Major Arcana. Recorded in four days with engineer Justin Pizzoferrato, the album earned acclaim upon its July 2013 arrival. For the February 2014 EP Real Hair, which the band recorded in between tours, Speedy Ortiz reunited with Kolderie and Pizzoferrato on a set of songs inspired by pop and R&B. The band also issued the track "Bigger Party" as part of Adult Swim's Singles Program, as well as the single "Doomsday," the digital proceeds from which benefited the Ariel Panero Memorial Fund at VH1 Save the Music. Also in 2014, former Grass Is Green guitarist Devin McKnight replaced Robidoux.
For their tighter second album, 2015's Foil Deer, Speedy Ortiz wrote the songs during a retreat in the Connecticut woods and recorded them with producer Nicolas Vernhes at Brooklyn's Rare Book Room studio. The following year saw the release of the remix EP Foiled Again, which included Foil Deer outtakes as well as reworkings of the album's songs by Lizzo, Open Mike Eagle, and Lazerbeak. The debut album from Dupuis' subversive pop solo project Sad13, Slugger, also arrived in 2016.
Speedy Ortiz returned in 2017 with "In My Way," which appeared on the politically minded benefit compilation Our First 100 Days, and "Screen Gem," which was McKnight's final work with the band and a benefit single for the criminal justice reform nonprofit CLOSErikers. After discarding an album's worth of songs in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Speedy Ortiz recorded their third album with guitarist Andy Moholt at Brooklyn's Silent Barn. Mixed by Mike Mogis, 2018's Twerp Verse featured some of the band's poppiest, and most overtly political, music. ~ Heather Phares