Thursday, 6 September 2012

Spotlight on: Siouxsie Sioux

I'm sure you've heard of Siouxsie Sioux by now, but as one of the musicians often credited with bringing life to the Goth scene as we know it today, as well as a style icon to many of those involved in dark culture, I felt it was almost stingy not to dedicate an entire post to the Banshee who became a big-haired, eyeliner-besmeared idol to spooky kids everywhere.

Siouxsie is best known to Goths as frontwoman of post-punk group Siouxsie and the Banshees, where her trademark strong black brows, backcombed hair and swastika armband (courting controversy rather than any particular political affiliations) drew plenty of attention, and then with The Creatures, alongside fellow Banshee, Budgie (whom she married in 1991 and reportedly divorced in 1997). She now has a successful solo career and has dueted with the likes of Morissey.

Banshees track Face to Face was featured in the Tim Burton film Batman Returns, and their music has also been featured in Goth cult film The Craft; in episodes of True Blood and Daria, and in the soundtracks to films such as Jeepers Creepers, Doomsday, Monster House and Marie Antoinette.

The Banshees' sound has been cited as a strong influence on modern artists from a variety of genres, and cover versions of their songs abound. Their music is most often described as punk, post-punk or Goth rock, although Siouxsie herself has denied any personal connections with the 'Goth' label.

As a young punk in the subculture's heyday, Siouxsie (born Susan Janet Ballion, or possibly Dallion, depending on your source) was well-known around the clubs of London and was a part of the Sex Pistols's 'Bromley Contingent', a group of rebellious youngsters who followed the infamous band around the country (and to France, where Siouxsie was beaten up for wearing her swastika armband). She was on the sofa for one Sex Pistols TV interview where a drunken Bill Grundy, presenting, received a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse on live television from guitarist Steve Jones for suggesting that Siouxsie meet him after the show.

Her first public performance was with Steven Severin, who also became a member of Siouxsie and the Banshees, as a support act at the 100 Club Punk Festival. Neither knew how to play an instrument, so they improvised for 20 minutes whilst Siouxsie reeled off poems and prayers.
Nils Stevenson, manager of the Banshees, described Siouxsie as a 'female counterpart' to Johnny Rotten. The band's first proper gig took place in 1977 (a year after the 100 Club debacle). Stevenson said, "Siouxsie's face launched a thousand looks as fans of the Ice Queen, as she was dubbed in Sounds magazine, started copying her style."
Now in her mid-fifties, Siouxsie still receives attention from the press for dress as much as for her music, including in 2011 when she turned up to collect her Q Award (for Outstanding Contribution to Music) in a black and white rubber catsuit.

Essential Siouxsie Sioux...
Album: JuJu or The Scream
Track: Arabian Knights
Other purchase: the Dreamshow DVD of Siouxsie's solo tour
Random fact: Siouxsie described herself as a 'loner' in her teens and mentioned that her first memory was of 'lying on the kitchen floor pretending to be dead'.
If you like Siouxsie Sioux, you might like: Bauhaus, Xmal Deutschland, Skeletal Family, The Glove, The Cure.
Get more Siouxsie:


Nightwind said...

I just love Siouxsie! She might be a bit older but she's still awesome!

App'y said...

Good post, nice to remember the seventies and by coincidence I played the first Album The Scream in the car today on cassette, the next four I have on vinyl, but have nothing to play them on.

Laura Morrigan said...

My boyfriend introduced me to who Siouxsie Sioux was. At first I was just wowed by her awesome name, and all her fantastic outfits, now I adore her music as well. A recent highlight of my evening was dancing to Cities in the Dust at at a club.

The HouseCat said...

I don't think Siouxsie herself is a Goth; she was a punk to begin with and then meandered off in her own creative way without sticking to any particular label, but her influence on what Goth became was, and still is vast. She really became a style icon. Her music is FABULOUS and my essential Siouxsie has got to include more recent things like 'Into a Swan'. I've got a lot of her back catalogue on vinyl and as MP3s, and she's my go-to singer when it comes to Goth stuff to listen to, make-up inspiration and a bit of an idol/inspiration to me :)

Anonymous said...

I like Siouxsie for her banshee wailing vocals and I have the Juju album and I mostly love the halloween track. I also have seen the Bill Grundy Interview and I found it amusing of the likes that John Lydon cussing on the TV. Speaking about Siouxsie denying the 'Goth' label. Because she isn't just an actual Gothic rock musician like Nosferatu. Just a punk and 80's proto-goth icon which helped to create the subculture as it is today.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

A swatiska? For non-nazi purposes, I hope.

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