Fluid - #07 (November 1999)
So Sioux Me
The Creatures' Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie have proved they've never lost the ability to shock - they've just brought out an album of trip-hop, house and trance remixes to prove it. Siouxsie chatted to David G. Taylor about her modelling debut, Creature comforts and being a bad influence.
Since former Banshees Siouxsie and Budgie resurrected The Creatures (their experimental alter-egos) last year, they've hardly paused for breath. With the release of their album Anima Animus last February, a show-stealing duet of 'Threat of Love' at Summer Rites with Marc Almond, and this month, Hybrids - an album of Creatures tracks given a contemporary dance spin by the likes of Howie B, Black Dog and The Beloved - these punk perennials are far from obsolete.
When I caught up with Siouxsie, she was preparing for a 'Trick Or Treat' mini tour of the states. 'I'm looking forward to Hallowe'en in San Francisco,' she says. 'I've heard San Francisco takes the biscuit. I think they go all out. I think it's costumes a go-go.'
Siouxsie herself has gone through a kaleidoscope of styles over the years. From the in-yer-face swastikas and whips of her punk years to the calf-length black skirts and gothic pallor that disaffected teenage girls (and guys) are still aping today. What does she think of those kids perpetually stuck in a 80s style timewarp?
'I think they should get a life,' she laughs. 'I was always wearing lots of different things... the black and the fishnets and all that was one thing, but I had lots of fun with the way I looked as well. I think I was just encouraging people to have fun with it -and quite honestly, a lot of them look like they're not having much fun with it [laughs], which really breaks my heart. Get a life, have some fun!!! Put on some eyelashes!!! Get those ankle-breakers on!!!'
It was pure luck that prevented Siouxsie from breaking an ankle for real when she modelled for fashion designer Pam Hogg's recent Spring/Summer collection show. Poured into a sleek white leather corset, boots and riding crop, Siouxsie strode down the catwalk to the Howie B remix of her own track, 'Prettiest Thing'.
'It was fantastic,' says Siouxsie, 'but I was dreading it, - and I was shit-scared. The boots were these white, thigh-high, leather things with 7" stilettos, with lace-up's at the front, made by Terry De Havilland. They looked fantastic, so I tried them on and they only just fit. I walked up and down in them and they were killing me. So, I tried walking in the boots thinking, "fucking hell I'm just gonna fall flat on my face", and this was without being strapped into the corset. By the time of the show, I see the flooring, and it's white vinyl, with these flashing lights which like white-out! But it turned out OK, I didn't fall over, which was a huge relief, as it was the big finale of the show. Actually, we kept it as a surprise that I was turning up, and after, she [Pam Hogg] had loads of people saying, "That girl that looked like Siouxsie Sioux was fabulous." They wouldn't believe that it was me!'
In contrast to her whip-wielding stage persona, this afternoon, as she chats from a French studio with one of her three cats curled up beside her, Siouxsie betrays a mellower side to her nature.
'[He] woke me up at five this morning," she says. 'He's the smartest one, Spider. He does nightly calls on me. We have to lock the catflap so we don't get strays in, but he now climbs up to my window and scratches the shutters. If they're open, he claws the glass - it's like nails down glass, and he's so persistent,' she groans. 'He's a vampire, and if you ignore him he's got this pitiful cry, so I have to let him in. They're all moggies that have been rescued. Spider's got a bit of Burmese in him - he's got that long face, and the howling cry like a dog. He's the lap cat and follows you around. Spooky's a little orange Toulousian rescuee and Dandy, he was half of two brothers called Beano and Dandy. Beano went walkaways about five years ago while we were on tour in Australia. My gardener told me that a lot of the Spanish eat cats!'
When we finally get around to talking about the new Hybrids album, I discover that Siouxsie and Budgie's involvement came about from a chance meeting in the street with fan Doug Hart - who just happens to run dance label Hydrogen Dukebox. 'He was just really eager,' says Siouxsie. He also knew loads of musicians who were gagging to work with The Creatures. The result is an eclectic album that pits Siouxsie's distinctive vocals against a bunch of trip-hop, house and trance interpretations of material off The Creatures' recent album, Anima Animus, and last year's 'Eraser Cut' EP. 'It was great introduction to people we hadn't heard of, like Icarus,' says Siouxsie. 'I think they're such great remixes, they defy being called remixes; they're re-workings almost.'
Though the Hybrids album is being released through Hydrogen, the relationship with Hart has evolved into The Creatures launching their own spin-off label, Sioux Records.
'We were just coming to the end of realising the old route was the wrong route for us,' says Siouxsie. 'They still have Hydrogen, but we're all working together, a kind of open workshop really [laughs]. It's a union of all of us, and it's been really refreshing having the enthusiasm back again and the lack of cynicism. It's meant a new beginning,' she says, 'it's also meant just really starting to have fun with making releases and doing what we want. Not having to wait for an OK from higher up. I think with the end of the Banshees there was this whole thing about the conveyor belt. If you just want to be a Muppet and a part of a cog in the many wheels of the machine, then sit around and wait for somebody else to steer you.'
And will Sioux Records be steering other hopefuls?
'Maybe when we get ourselves going a bit more. I don't see us as... mirroring a corporate label at all,' says Siouxsie. 'I just think it's more of a springboard. We're busy helping ourselves [laughs] and using ourselves as guinea pigs, and I'd only put us through that really. It's fun as well the best thing is learning and doing things that you haven't done. At least it's just us that pays the price if it goes wrong.'
I'd heard The Creatures ran into Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love recently. I asked her how that came about?
'One of the festivals we did in Italy had Hole on the bill, it had Marilyn Manson, it had Placebo - so all of those bands were backstage, and the funniest thing was seeing everyone's security trying to out-do each other with their walkie talkies [laughs]. There were a lot of egos bouncing around the corridors there. I only heard that Marilyn Manson had said something pretty nasty directed at Courtney Love. Really nasty! It was Father's Day in America and he mentioned that Courtney's daughter was missing a father, because of Courtney Love - Oh my God [laughs]. We saw Hole's set, and there was a strange moment when Courtney went into one and wanted everyone to sing the Italian National Anthem. [Laughs] Everyone just went "What?!" Most of the kids there were Italian, but they certainly didn't know the National Anthem. She just went into one and wouldn't carry on playing. They still wouldn't sing it, so there was this unbearable [imitating Courtney] "Okay... yeah... I wanna hear it". It was the cue to start singing... and nothing. [Laughs] A very pregnant pause in the set '.
After the Columbine High School massacre, Marilyn Manson found himself at the centre of controversy, when he was singled out by right-wing reactionaries as having had some kind of influence over the teenage killers. Has Siouxsie ever thought of herself as a bad influence?
'Definitely. I'd like to think myself a very bad influence.' After The Banshees performed at London's 100 Club in early '77, Siouxsie recalls, 'the posters for their first few shows were all captioned with the line: "Your Mother Wouldn't Like Her".' [Laughs] 'Who'd want to be someone your mother would like?', she wonders, before pondering the Manson situation: 'They show pictures of these guys, and they look nothing like they'd be fans of his,' says Siouxsie. 'I think it's purely scapegoatism. Nobody went on a shooting rampage for us," she laughs. 'Damn it! We have not got that accolade.'
As the conversation draws to a close, I ask Siouxsie if there's anything else she'd like to mention, she laughs: 'Just tell your readers, if they don't have a copy of Hybrids, they're fools.'
Contributed by Bonnie Bryant.