(Option May/Jun '95)
BACK TALK with Siouxsie Sioux
by Sandy Masuo
In 1976, Siouxsie Sioux was in the thick of things at London's 100 Club Punk Festival, bashing out a wrenching 20-minute rendition of the Lord's Prayer. Twenty years later, the reluctant High Priestess of Goth explains how all this led to "The Rapture."
IN THE EARLY DAYS, YOUR MUSIC WAS RAUCOUS, YET THERE WAS STILL THIS
ELEMENT OF ELEGANCE BEHIND IT.
SIOUX: I wouldn't call it raucous. I mean, our formative years were very much just learning to find our own particular language with music. What excites me now about new bands, or even discovering old bands that I've never been aware of, is that they have their own vocabulary within the confines of orthodox music, something quite unique and only to themselves.
SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES HAVE CERTAINLY HAD AN IMPACT ON VARIOUS
VOCABULARIES OVER THE YEARS, ONE OF THEM BEING GOTHIC. . .
AND IT BECAME A WHOLE GENRE.
SIOUX: It also became very warped and limited. I don't think anyone likes being lumped within a kind of terminology for explaining what they do. I mean, if I was in a new band I would hate to be described as a "grunge" band or a "death-metal-funk" band. The same thing was quite repellent to us when we started. We were called a punk band, a new wave band, a postmodern nihilistic band -- we've always distanced ourselves from being labeled in that way. Whatever you do people are going to put a label on you and turn you into this cartoon character to get that lowest common denominator of whatever they think you typify. I'd like to think it's a bit more complex and there's a bit more subtlety than that.
I WAS JUST LOOKING AT THIS MADONNA BIO AND WAS STRUCK BY SOME OF THE
PARALLELS BETWEEN YOU AND HER. . .
SIOUX: Oh God, no! Heaven help me. Oh, no, please. Apart from neither of us having a penis -- I think that's the only similarity we have.
BUT YOU BOTH DRAW ON CERTAIN COMMON ELEMENTS -- A KIND OF STYLIZED
GLAMOUR, CERTAIN CONFRONTATIONAL ELEMENTS 'A LA MARLENE DIETRICH, THOUGH
YOU'VE TAKEN THEM IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS.
SIOUX: I think that she's certainly courted the media and relied on it to draw attention to herself. I'm certainly a lot more reclusive as far as the media is concerned. Image is important but I don't think it's THE most important thing. It's just who I am. I've always played around with images. Not necessarily just to be glamorous, but to confront a bit. I'm not of the school that idolizes Marilyn Monroe; I'm much more into Bette Davis and Louise Brooks. They're kind of within the system but fighting it as well.
IT SEEMS THAT OVER THE YEARS THE BANSHEE SOUND HAS SOFTENED.
SIOUX: I suppose there comes a point where you're not really bothered about being perceived as, not necessarily weak or vulnerable but certainly not being protective or defensive in certain ways. "The Rapture" is something that sums up a kind of love of life and of spirituality and emotions. The French version of "the rapture" is "l'extase," which is like "the ecstasy," and it's really more of a celebration, but it's not an easy ride. There's kind of acceptance that there will be disappointment and sadness, a kind of resignation that you have to accept the rough with the smooth. It's actually just being able to accept life. It's not particularly kind but it's not just cruel either.