Viv Albertine talks Dionne Warwick, the Slits, feminism, and more (full transcript)

The following phone interview conversation took place on June 24, 2018. It has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Carly Jordan: Thank you so much for talking to us for the show. I was really psyched that you wanted to talk about Dionne Warwick.

Viv Albertine: Oh, Dionne Warwick, yes! You don’t think that was a weird one?

CJ: No, I didn’t think that was weird at all.

Carrie Courogen: No.

CJ: We didn’t think that was weird.

CC: We thought it was really interesting.

CJ: Because in your first book, I remember reading about all of the different artists that influenced you when you were coming up in the ‘70s, and none of them were what I thought they were gonna be, and they were so varied and so interesting. So, I was not at all surprised that you chose Dionne Warwick.

VA: Oh, good! [laughs]

CJ: So, when did Dionne Warwick first come to your attention and what about her voice stuck out to you in particular?

VA: Well, I think I first probably heard Dionne Warwick in the ‘60s when I was just listening to chart music, because she had a couple of hits, but the reason I chose the album was because it was one of about four albums we had within the Slits, when we all sort of lived together and shared everything and had to go everywhere together because just the way we dressed enacted — we were being attacked all the time, so we spent so much time together and we just sort of pulled the few things we had. And, back in those days, you know you had a few albums ‘cause they cost so much. We got Dionne Warwick, I think, Golden Hits, Part One, which is her singing the Burt Bacharach – Hal David songs, from the record exchange shop, so, it was a used copy. And we absolutely sort of studied it, you know?

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Episode 2.10: JUJU

siouxsie-and-the-banshees-juju

Juju – Siouxsie and the Banshees – Polydor – 1981

In 1981, British rock was in a transitional phase. Punk had, by then, all but completely faded out, and new wave and post-punk were shaping fresh ideas of how rock could sound. It was in this environment that Siouxsie and the Banshees were set to record their fourth album Juju. After going through a lineup change before their previous release, and with guitarist John McGeoch now cemented as an official member, the band was ready to experiment with their sound, to create lyrical and melodic concepts that would mesh together cohesively as one work. The band created and molded the songs for Juju while on tour, working the songs out live and letting them take the dark, theatrical, romantic shape that would give the album its singular sound, the final product of which would help define the subset of post-punk that would come to be known as “goth rock.”

In this episode, we discuss this move from punk to post-punk, detail the Banshees’ stylistic choices and conceptual soundscapes, and (surprise) have a conversation about feminism and punk rock.

Listen to Juju: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • Hello, and welcome to our first post-punk/goth rock episode!
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees use a ton of romantic imagery in their lyrics. We highly recommend following along and checking out the lyrics to each song here.
  • Shoutout to Budgie for hitting those drums for his life, henny!!!!
  • @ VH1: We are full of fun facts and available to host a revival of Pop-Up Video. We’re cheap. Call us.
  • Hello, we’re never not on our feminist-soapbox bullshit, and Siouxsie and the Banshees are no exception.
    • See our further reading notes below for two woke as hell essays about the intersection of punk and feminist identity.
    • Siouxsie’s stylized look totally comes out of a stylized ‘60s girl group aesthetic — except she’s the one in charge, and you can tell she’s a totally unfuckwithable baddie.
    • Revisit our episode and our liner notes on Blondie’s Parallel Lines. We had A LOT to say about the way female artists created and controlled their own images — and the way that got twisted and co-opted by the media and their legacies.
    • Friendly reminder, though, that women can be smart and stylish at the same time!!! Women are complex creatures!!!
  • Be sure to follow our master soundtrack on Spotify for all the song references we’re dropping, from Brian Eno to Sonic Youth.
  • Shoutout to “Monitor” containing, like, three different meanings in one song. Words! They’re fun!
  • Is Sonic Youth the Kevin Bacon of rock and roll? Hit us up and tell us what you think, because we’ve talked about them in three episodes now, so.
  • We’re never not talking about how songs that were accepted in decades past would come off as problematic today. “Head Cut,” banger as it is, is definitely one of them.

Favorite track: Monitor and Spellbound (Carly) | Spellbound (Carrie)
Least favorite track(s): Night Shift (Carly) | Night Shift (Carrie)

Album credits

  • Siouxsie Sioux — vocals, guitar on “Sin in My Heart”
  • Steven Severin — bass
  • Budgie — drums, percussion
  • John McGeoch — guitar

Further watching:
What is Goth Music? A Brief Overview of Goth Subgenres | 2017
Rock Family Trees: Banshees and Other Creatures | 2001
Juju Live Tour | 1981
“Spellbound” music video | 1981
“Arabian Knights” music video | 1981
“Voodoo Dolly” live | 1981
Spellbound: The Story of John McGeoch (radio doc) | Date Unknown

Further reading:
The Story of Goth in 33 Songs | Pitchfork (October 2017)
In Romanticizing Riot Grrrl, We’ve Forgotten the Women of UK Punk That Paved the Way | Noisey (April 2015)
Siouxsie and the Banshees: “We Were Losing Our Minds” | Uncut (October 2014)
Dissecting the Deathly Mystique of Siouxsie and the Banshees | AV Club (July 2013)
Siouxsie and the Banshees: “We Were Losing Our Minds” | Uncut (October 2014)
Juju Re-Release Liner Notes | 2006
The Image of Siouxsie Sioux: Punk and the Politics of Gender | Academic paper (April 1995)