Wendy Bevan 'Sweet Dedication' EP
by Katie Alcock
With a piercing blue-eyed stare and fingers dripping with heavy metal, Wendy Bevan is every inch the dark chanteuse this generation is missing. Dancing between music, performance and photography Wendy's practice is panoptic. Treating her photography as an extension of the stage, her work explores the complexities of womanhood against the backdrop of the modern archetype of female identity. Unapologetically breaking away from the mainstream, her work welcomes in the femme fatale and celebrates the theatricality of the gothic. The first song from a two-track EP, 'Sweet Dedication' coxes us down the darkly-lit corridors of her universe to the throb of the synth. With her self-directed video set to be released later this year, we spoke to Wendy about her debut album Rose and Thorn and she gave us a sneak peak of the visuals.
Can you start by describing your sound to us?
Cold-Wave, minimal synth, with a post punk edge; it’s been compared to Suicide, Tuxedomoon, Siouxsie Sioux, and KAS Product.
I read somewhere that 'Sweet Dedication' was written after you read Aleister Crowley’s 'Book Of Lies', can you tell us a bit about the book?
For me it’s more about his world that he created, and I find the theatricality of myths surrounding Crowley absolutely fascinating. I was reading a lot about mythology surrounding magic and the occult, at this time and a few lines in the 'Book of Lies' that really struck a cord with me which were the inspiration for the lyrics With all my songs the lyrics are an assorted mixture of my thoughts and random references I collect along the way. But yes, with this one, the seed was sewn with Crowley, and I liked the irony of writing a confessional song after reading the 'Book of Lies'.
Previously you have treated your shows with Temper Temper as a piece of performance art, how are you going to bring your solo work to life on stage?
I’m developing the show at the moment….I’m afraid I can’t give too much away… but the first performance will be in September in Paris. My full vision is that the show becomes a piece of immersive performance work and I’m collaborating with a great team. My songs tend to be narrative based and I see that my performances will explore this, and echo the techniques i developed in the past, with Temper Temper. I want people to walk into the world of Wendy Bevan, and really feel it in their soul; I want this to come across in the sound, the lyrics, the voice and the visual experience…. where the cracks of light in the darkness meet; its something that I can’t express through spoken words but, i can sing about it, and I can perform it on the stage.
Marc Collin (Nouvelle Vague) produced this album, what was he like to work with?
Marc’s an excellent producer and an amazing visionary person it was a fantastic experience working with him. We met about 7 years ago and kept in touch over various music projects. We finally decided to write this album together in 2014.
We've heard the single, what can we expect from the rest of your album ‘Rose and Thorn'?
Each song is a little story in themselves, just as dramatic, and lyrically led it’s a good slice of what’s to come; in a way the album is like a soundtrack. So if you enjoyed Sweet Dedication, and In Ghosts We Trust; which is the other track on the EP, then I'm sure ‘Rose and Thorn’ may be to your taste. The album also features string arrangements by the Balanescu quartet, which really adds a sense of warmth some of the songs; juxtaposing the synths, and the cold, electronic drum beats.
You approach the Gothic manifestations of the female, like the idea of the Scarlet Woman and the femme fatale, in your photography and music, what is it about it that you find so powerful?
I love the power of strong, strange woman. In history woman with such strength have often been associated with witch craft and darkness; but there is so much light to be found in that identity. If you belong no where, and don’t fit into any particular box that society may choose to put you into, then this should be celebrated as a sign of individuality and strength. You shouldn’t be scared of the dark; we should embrace it and enjoy it’s unfamiliarities. As with all of my work in which ever form, the theatricality surrounding this notion is something i endlessly explore. Some of my work in a literal sense is an expression of the self, and i often use the photograph as an extension of the stage, especially with my self portrait work. The shifting shapes of sexuality and our identity surrounding this is so powerful and finally, we have chosen to celebrate this more in society. But I’ve always loved the femme fatale characters…and drag kings and queens, and I’ve always loved the ‘Gothic’….everyday life needs a bit of theatre, and I’m certainly not afraid of that….
Prints of a selection of the film stills, and more prints by Wendy are available online, at the COB Gallery London