A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Siouxsie Sioux - Goth Banshee
Sunday, November 02, 2008

When Vancouver Magazine rock writer Les Wiseman and I met up with Siouxie Sioux at the Sandman Inn on a rainy, early October afternoon I did not have a clue who she was or what kind of music she sang with her band the Banshees. All I knew was that she was English and was avant garde. I had purchased her just released Juju and the music, particularly Spellbound pushed me into greater depression than my then favourite album for achieving the same feeling, Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue.

At the time I was in my sort of minimalist rock photography style. I took a roll of used seamless paper and I would masking-tape it to a hotel room wall. I had just discovered that by carefully using my Pentax 20mm wide angle I could make my pictures look almost as if I had not used such an extreme wide angle. The point of using the wide angle is that it forced me to get close (and intimate) to my subjects. Of the interview these words by Les Wiseman I have always remembered fondly:

"So how about all this mysticism and occult stuf on your new album [Juju]? I heard myself asking a few minutes after tuning on the tape recorder. Thus far the interview had been like trying to reach a mayonnaise lid that has slipped under the frige. Siouxie looked bayfully sweet in oversized trousers prevented from falling right off by a pair of old braces, and a blousy pullover shirt appliqu├ęd with a snarling leopard, her hair a jet elfin hat skyrocketing from her skull. Travel-weary and over-interviewed, she lay propped up on the bed, drinking vodka and smoking like some Twilight Zone Garbo."

It is only recently that I have found out that Siouxsie was really one of the biggest influences on the goth movement. I went to her concert that evening and I was mesmerized by her singing as she droned and shifted from side to side while wearing the tiniest of mini skirts over a pair of beautiful legs in fishnets.

Or as Les Wiseman described it:

Then, bounding and writhing to center stage, Cleopatra-eyed, her hair freaked froth rising from a blur of body language stolen from a Haitian dervish, Siouxsie appears a gorgous vison of rock'n'roll energy in high leather boots, miniskirt and fishnet stockings. The ways that she moves make Mick Jagger and Peter Wolf look as though their shorts are starched with fiberglass. "Oh severed head/I'll feed your head with bread/and paint you lips bright red/I'll keep it fresh on ice/it will look very nice." She chants, incants, moans, shrieks, commands. "And don't forget/when your elders forget/to say their prayers/ take them by the legs/ and throw them down the stairs."


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