How does it feel to have your band’s songs mistakenly appear on the special vinyl edition of Beyoncé’s iconic album Lemonade?
For Canadian punk band Zex, it’s a normal Monday.
The Ontario-based group is more than a little amused that songs from its new album Uphill Battle have accidentally ended up on many official releases of Queen Bey’s newly released record in place of her songs “Pray You Catch Me,” “Hold Up,” and “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” All through Monday, the band members have been hearing from the Beyhive about the mishap while sharing videos on Facebook of their punk music coming from the lemon-yellow vinyl.
In a conversation that has been edited and condensed for clarity, we asked Zex what it’s like to be the lucky band whose music somehow ended up on one of the biggest albums of recent years. Turns out they have a few things in common with Sasha Fierce.
Slate: How did you first find out that your album had been pressed onto the A side of Beyoncé's Lemonade?
Guitarist Jo Galipeau: We first found out through a friend who works at Rough Trade East in London. One copy was returned because of [the mix-up], and they found out it was Zex because they seemingly used something like Shazam which determines what an artist is. And then my friend alerted me, and then within hours there was tons of very confused Beyoncé fans writing to us who had also done the same thing.
Have they been positive messages or negative messages?
Galipeau: Not much negative messages to my knowing. They thought it was either funny, and a few people—it's becoming more and more—have bought the record, and a lot of them have said, “Oh I like the surprise that I got on the other side, it’s good music,” even though it's not what they paid for. So who knows if they'll keep it, if they'll try to get a refund. I just read that Columbia Records issued a statement saying there will be a recall.
So you haven't heard from Columbia or Beyoncé's team directly?
Galipeau: No. I just actually started reading [press about] it now. There's quite a lot actually, it's surprising. [laughs]
Do you know how many copies went out?
Galipeau: I have no idea, that’s the thing. I have no idea how many went out or how many were meant to be released.
Do you know if you're going to be getting any financial recognition for your music being sold?
Galipeau: No, we can't discuss this right now.
How does it feel to have this happen, and to be linked to Beyoncé’s Lemonade indefinitely?
Galipeau: I think it's a bit funny. It adds to the daily circus that is Zex I mean this is a regular Monday for us. It's always one weird thing after the other.
I noticed on your Facebook pages that you've tried to get your hands on some copies. What are you going to do with those?
Galipeau: Personally I have a copy coming to me. Some people have been writing to the band offering to sell their copy to us, at exorbitant prices, so we're not really that interested. Several record stores that have big orders of them have also contacted us. A large number of them seem to be in Australia for some reason.
And they’re trying to sell your own music to you?
Galipeau: In a way.
Are you guys Beyoncé fans?
Galipeau: I just heard of Beyoncé. I had heard of the name; I'd never heard the music. But our lead singer Gretchen Steel, she's a big fan. She likes that song “Sorry,” always singing it. She relates.
Gretchen Steel: I just got home from work. My two bandmates lead a leisurely life so they've been looking at the internet all day, and I didn't until just an hour ago.
How does it feel as a Beyoncé fan to have your music on a Beyoncé album?
Steel: [Jo] found out through our friend in the U.K., and he told me and I just thought "that's weird,” but it didn't really hit me. And then I checked our Zex page, because I'm the one who runs that page, and when I looked at the messages, there were about nine messages from random people in Denmark; I had somebody in the U.K.; I had three people in Australia; and a couple of people from other places, with messages saying like, "Hey, so why are you on my Lemonade record, what's going on?" And I was like "Are you serious?" And then I got two videos sent to me from two different people, and then I was like "How is this possible?" I mean I know how record printing presses work. I can't imagine that somebody actually pressed the A side with our plates and didn't realize what they had done. Like the negligence involved is unreal. I guess it happened, and they went out, and it's pretty shocking, but we're all laughing really hard. We think it's really funny.
It must be exciting to get more exposure for your music.
Steel: Yeah, the people in Australia, they were like "I actually liked what I heard, and I went back to the record store and let them know about it, but I bought your record too!" And then this one guy was like "I kind of just want to keep it, 'cause I imagine how rare this is going to be." I've had maybe 300 messages in my inbox alone of just people wanting to buy a copy, all over the comments and things like that, it's probably like hundreds and hundreds of people. I told them of the three record stores that I knew of 100 percent for sure that have them, because they told me every single record they had in stock was the one with the Zex songs on it. Yeah they're all excited and everybody's trying to find them.
Do you think there would be much overlap between your fan base and Beyoncé’s fan base?
Steel: From being in this band for four years, you'd be surprised. We've had Andre 3000 come to our show in Atlanta, Georgia. He came to our show and he bought one of my cassettes—I didn't realize that a big star would even have a cassette player. But we have our music available on cassettes, it’s available on CD, on vinyl, even on 8-tracks—we sell Zex 8-tracks. We have every kind of way possible a person could listen to music.
He bought a cassette and I was like, "Really? You have a cassette player?" And then he bought a T-shirt, and I was like "This is super weird, like why would you be here?" He’s like, "Oh I heard some things about your band; I wanted to come check it out." And I'm thinking, "Who do I know that you know that you've heard about my band?" I just felt like, how small is this world? And from that meeting I've felt like [the music world] isn't as big as people think it is. It's actually pretty small.
Could you ever see yourself collaborating with Beyoncé after this, now that you've been on the same album?
Steel: Uh—I would love to. I know I’ve seen her do that telephone song with Lady Gaga—I feel like I could beat the shit out of that song. But I dunno; I totally would, if I could. I mean, I'm totally insane, that's what my band is thriving on, it’s the fact that I always go crazy. And then Jo makes awesome music, and I write good lyrics. We played in Japan, and I started bleeding everywhere from my face and people were running away from me scared. For me it's like, being crazy like an animal. And then I guess that kind of ties in with Beyoncé, because she's Sasha Fierce onstage. I mean I totally understand that logic, because I’m the same way when I'm onstage.