STYLE ICON: ANNA WILDSMITH
I love Sow. I've always loved Sow. Well, I've loved Sow since 1998, when she released Sick. Sow is the name for the recording and performance projects of Anna Wildsmith. She began the project in the late 1980s, originally coming out of a collaboration with Raymond Watts (a.k.a. Pig) whom I believe she was also dating at the time? This is part of the mythos.
Sow makes really beautiful music which primarily consists of industrial, electronic and generally fucked-up music with Wildsmith's dark, sexy, often violent spoken word performance.
Her first release was a 12" called Manripe.
Accompanying press release from 1989: "SOW is ANNA WILDSMITH, a lusty beast from the Basque country with a faible for disturbing frames of mind. At 13, she developed an obsession for blood-letting and at 15 was caught manipulating small boys with dentistry tools in the forests near her home. It was a much publicized case and for a year Anna did not speak a word. Her despaired parents decided to place her within the walls of a french convent. Deranged by the effects of Anna's newly discovered vocal chords, the mother superior personally chastised her, motivating a resurgence within Anna's wickedly rebellious enzymes, so she ran away to Paris to give lessons in vocally transmitted sexual hedonism. Anna's famous activities led to her voluntary incarceration in a psychiatric clinic, where she was successfully diagnosed as suffering from Erotomania. Anna discharged herself and certificate in hand, went to hunt the streets of Berlin. Roumors of her powers of seduction and unique anatomical expertise soon come to the ears of one RAYMOND GEORGE WATTS alias PIG and celebrated musical megalomaniac. PIG MATES SOW - MANRIPE IS BORN - A CULMINATION OF 2 WEEKS IN HELL - THE COLLABORATION OF THE 90'S - EAT IT."
In 1994 Sow released her first proper album, Je M'Aime (it was later re-released in 1999 with "Pig vs. Sow"-- which I considered horribly tacky at the time). I remember buying this CD off of eBay for like $18, since it was only released, initially, in Germany.
Obviously, I love this record. It features re-workings of the songs of her 12", some kind of jazz-y music, and totally fucking psychotic / beautiful writing and reading. The phrase "Je M'aime" has taken on a great deal of significance for me. I used it as the title for Scorcher #3, it seemed especially fitting as a reappropriation. I had buttons printed with the phrase as a 2008 New Year's gift. (I still have a ton, if anyone wants one).
But for my money, the best Sow record has to be 1998's Sick.
I loved this record so much. It is catty, it is cruel. It is hyper-intelligent. It's also sort of romantic. Not 'romance' in some Quixotic sense of perfection or beauty, necessarily. But 'romantic' as an ache towards the impossible. Anna Wildsmith indulges in the impulses which propel us to describe our most improbable fantasies, our most 'out-there' feelings. It remains a favorite. It featured music by Hoppy Kamiyama (who many including myself consider to be the Japanese Brian Eno, and also he is a tranny). Kamiyama's various bands, particularly Optical*8, Pugs, eX-Girl and O*N*T*J are total touchstones for my life, immensely shaped my whole thing. So he's on this record, and it's great, too. One of my most favorite things ever, though it's not sweet or really easy to listen to all the time.
Her hair is so black that it is blue, natch. AKA perfection to 14 year old me. CONFESSION: I still think it's perfection and I'm going to be 26 soon. ANOTHER CONFESSION: In high school I was really into e-mail groups and I started and maintained a Yahoo! Sow fan discussion group. Trust.
And very recently, in fact in preparation for doing a blog post about her, I found out that she just put out a new record!
Here's the video for "Crybaby" off of Dog.
It looks amazing. I just ordered my copy from Sow's website. And I suggest you do the same. I am thinking a lot about making Spoken Word Albums (hint motherfucking hint), and Sow is a big reference point for me (along with Kathy Acker's brilliant posthumous Redoing Childhood).
Anyways. Anna Wildsmith, welcome back.
In an interview with Sphere Magazine, Anna is asked if she has any advice she'd like to pass on.
Anna: "Do as many drugs, smoke as many cigarettes, drink as much booze and eat as much as you can ‘cos Life kills…"