Jehnny Beth has everything she needs. This is not referring to the many successful projects with which she is associated, including but not limited to a new music performance program on ARTE which she hosts and of course her band Savages. It has more to do with how she is able to fight for herself and wield the full breadth of her power. Her debut solo album, To Love Is To Live, comes out June 12 and features the single “Heroine,” an ode to self-empowerment.
“When I think of this song, I think of Romy from the xx strangling my neck with her hands in the studio. She was trying to get me out of my shell lyrically, and there was so much resistance in me she lost her patience. The song was originally called Heroism, but I wasn’t happy because it was too generic. Flood was the first one to suggest to say Heroine instead of Heroism. Then I remember Johnny Hostile late at night in my hotel room in London saying “I don’t understand who you are singing about. Who is the Heroine? You ARE the Heroine.” The next morning, I arrived early in the studio and recorded my vocals adding ‘to be’ to the chorus line. Flood entered the studio at that moment and jumped in the air giving me the thumbs up through the window. I guess I’m telling this story because sometimes we look around for role models, and examples to follow, without realising that the answer can be hidden inside of us. I was afraid to be the Heroine of the song, but it took all the people around me to get me there.” – Jehnny Beth
“Heroine” is the latest single to be revealed from the new album; it reinforces a sparse dark rock profile and teases a complex emotional arc. The other singles have further complicated the matter; “Flowers” is a romp filled with queer lust and “I’m the Man” is a satirical feminist lurch. Together they are Jehnny Beth: strong-willed with clear motivations. Typically, guitars wail at gut-punch moments on her new material, but “Heroine” forces Beth to be beholden to a rapidfire percussion pattern. It is the limitation that allows her to come fully out of her shell and save herself, figuratively at least.
Words: Zoë Elaine