Sioux performing in 1980
|Birth name||Susan Janet Ballion|
|Born||27 May 1957
|Occupations||Musician, songwriter, singer, producer|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, piano, melodica, finger cymbals|
|Labels||Polydor, Geffen Records, Sioux Records, W14|
|Associated acts||Siouxsie and the Banshees
|Website||Official Siouxsie website|
Siouxsie Sioux (born Susan Janet Ballion on 27 May 1957 in London), is an English singer-songwriter, better known for her work as the lead singer of Siouxsie and the Banshees and of its splinter group The Creatures. She has also sung with artists such as Morrissey and John Cale. In 2004, she began a solo career.
Siouxsie is considered to be "one of the most influential British singers of the rock era". Her music has influenced a variety of artists including LCD Soundsystem, Tricky, Jeff Buckley and Massive Attack.
Sioux was born at Guy's Hospital in Southwark, Southeast London, England, the youngest of three children. She attended Mottingham Secondary Modern School for Girls in Kent. Her mother was a bilingual secretary, her father a laboratory technician who milked serum from venomous snakes in the Belgian Congo. Her father died of complications from alcoholism when Sioux was 14; shortly afterward, she survived a life-threatening bout of ulcerative colitis, which she later said "completely demystified the body for me."
During her teens, she was a self-confessed loner, was into the music of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Roxy Music, T.Rex, The Velvet Underground and The Stooges, and started visiting the local gay discos. She became well known in the London punk scene for her glam, fetish and bondage attire, which became staples of punk fashion.
In the mid-1970s, journalist Caroline Coon coined the term "Bromley Contingent" to talk about a group of eccentric teenagers devoted to the Sex Pistols. Siouxsie was a member of the Contingent, along with fellow Banshees founder Steven Severin.
Sioux's first gig was with her group Suzie and the Banshees, as an unrehearsed fill-in at the 100 Club Punk Festival - two nights in September 1976 - organised by Malcolm McLaren. The group did not know or play any songs; they improvised as Sioux recited poems and prayers she had memorized.
The same month, the Bromley Contingent followed the Sex Pistols to France, where Sioux was beaten up by someone for wearing a black armband with a swastika on it. She claimed her intent was to shock the bourgeoisie, not to make a political statement. To stop controversy, she later wrote the songs "Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)" (to the memory of the anti-Nazi artist John Heartfield) and the single "Israel".
One of Sioux's first public appearances was with the Sex Pistols on Bill Grundy's television show in December 1976. In the course of Grundy's interview with the members of the Sex Pistols, the presenter tried to flirt with her. In reaction, Pistols guitarist Steve Jones called him a "dirty bastard", which created a media furore that had a major impact on the Pistols' subsequent career.
In 1976, Siouxsie formed the band Siouxsie and the Banshees with her friend Steven Severin on bass guitar. Two years later, they released their first single, "Hong Kong Garden", which instantaneously reached the top 10 in the UK. Their first album, 1978's The Scream, was described by Nick Kent in the NME in the following terms : "The band sounds like some unique hybrid of the Velvet Underground mated with much of the ingenuity of Tago Mago-era Can, if any parallel can be drawn." At the end of the article, he added this remark: "Certainly, the traditional three-piece sound has never been used in a more unorthodox fashion with such stunning results." The Scream was later hailed by the NME as one of the best debut album of all time with Patti Smith's Horses. Join Hands followed in 1979.
The 1980 album Kaleidoscope marked a change of musical direction with John McGeoch, considered as "one of the most innovative and influential guitarists of the past thirty years" : it widened her audience, reaching the top 5 in the UK charts. Juju followed the same way in 1981, reaching the number 7. During the recording sessions, the singer decided to form a second act The Creatures with Banshees drummer Budgie, to record music more based on percussion. The first record of the duo was the ep Wild Things. In 1982, the British press greeted the Siouxsie and the Banshees's album A Kiss in the Dreamhouse enthusiastically. Richard Cook in the NME finished his review with "I promise. This music will take your breath away." 
In 1983, Siouxsie went to Hawaii to record The Creatures's first album Feast, which included the hit-single "Miss The Girl". Then with the Banshees and guitarist Robert Smith of The Cure, she revisited The Beatles' "Dear Prudence", reaching number three on the UK Singles Chart. Two other records followed Nocturne recorded live in London and Hyæna in 1984.
1986's Tinderbox and the 1987 cover album Through the Looking Glass both reached the top 15 in the UK. In 1988, Sioux changed of musical direction with the critically acclaimed single "Peek-a-Boo" described by the NME as "oriental marching band hip hop with farting horns and catchy accordion". The Peepshow album which included "Peek-a-Boo" was considered by critics as her most successful album in years.
Sioux then reformed the Creatures with Budgie and went in Spain to record Boomerang. In its review, Melody Maker said that it was her "most inventive and invigorated music since A Kiss In The Dreamhouse.".
In 1991, the singer scored a hit in the Billboard Hot 100 singles, with "Kiss Them for Me" peaking at number 23. After the release of Superstition that encountered enthusiatic reviews, she co-headlined the first Lollapalooza tour further increasing her American following. Sioux then recorded the single "Face to Face" in 1992 and marked a pause of a few years. Sioux then released the last Banshees studio album The Rapture. After the accompanying tour, the Banshees announced their split during a press conference called "20 minutes into 20 years".
In the middle of the nineties, Sioux started to make one-off collaborations with other artists.
In 1995, she released the song "The Lighthouse" on the French producer Hector Zazou's album Chansons des mers froides which mean Songs from the Cold Seas. Sioux and Zazou adapted the poem "Flannan Isle" by English poet Wilfred Wilson Gibson.
At the same time, The Creatures, the band she ran for years with Budgie as a side-project, became the main attraction.
In February 1998, John Cale was the organizer of the "With a Little Help From My Friends" festival that took place at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. The concert was shown on Dutch national television and featured an unreleased composition of Siouxsie, "Murdering Mouth" sung in duet with John Cale. The colloration between the two artists worked so well that they later both decided to tour the USA during the summer, singing each night together certain songs of their repertoire like Sioux's "Murdering Mouth" and Cale's "Gun".
The following year, Siouxsie & Budgie released the first Creatures album since the split of the Banshees. Anima Animus was described by The Times as "hypnotic and inventive". The singer later made another collaboration, making this time a duet with Marc Almond on the track "Threat Of Love".
In 2003, Sioux was asked to compose and sing the title track to Basement Jaxx's album Kish Kash : the record then received a prize at the Grammy Awards Shortly after, Siouxsie published the last Creatures album, Hai! which was in part recorded in Japan. Peter Wratts wrote in Time Out : "her voice is the dominant instrument here, snaking and curling around the bouncing drumming backdrop, elegiac and inhuman as she chants, purrs and whispers her way around the album" and it's a "spine-tingling achievement".
One year later, she toured for the first time as a solo act combining Banshees and Creatures songs : a live DVD called Dreamshow captured the last London concert of September 2004 performed with the Millennia Ensemble. Released in August 2005, this DVD reached the number one position in the UK music DVD charts. Due to that success, Universal signed her on the W14 label.
Her first solo album MantaRay was released on September 2007 to critical acclaim. Pitchfork Media wrote "She really is pop" before finishing the review by declaring "It's a success." Mojo magazine stated "a thirst for sonic adventure radiates from each track".
In 2008, Siouxsie took part in The Edge of Love soundtrack by composer Angelo Badalamenti, frequent collaborator with director David Lynch. She sang on the title "Careless Love". She later performed another Badalamenti number "Who Will Take My Dreams Away" at the annual edition of the World Soundtrack Awards.
Siouxsie's influence on modern music has been considerable. Her work has been covered and hailed by many major bands.
Siouxsie had a strong impact on two main trip-hop acts. Tricky covered "Tattoo" to open his second album Nearly God and Massive Attack sampled "Metal Postcard" on their song "Superpredators (Metal Postcard)" for the soundtrack to the film The Jackal. Siouxsie's songs have also been revisited by other acts. LCD Soundsystem covered "Slowdive" for the b-side of "Disco Infiltrator" : their version was also released on a Itunes Remix Album in 2006. Santigold confessed that one of her tracks is based on the music of "Red Light". "'My Superman' is an interpolation of a Siouxsie Sioux song, 'Red Light,'" she explained. Jeff Buckley who took inspiration in various female singers, covered live a Sioux's song called "Killing Time", originally composed in 1989 for the Creatures album Boomerang : Buckley first performed it in 1992 for radio WFMU. In 2003, The Beta Band sampled "Painted Bird" and changed the title in "Liquid Bird" on their Heroes to Zeros album. Red Hot Chili Peppers performed "Christine" at the V2001 festival and introduced it to their British audience as "your national anthem". DeVotchka covered "The Last Beat of My Heart" on the suggestion of Arcade Fire singer Win Butler : the musicians later considered it as the "centre-piece" of their Curse Your Little Heart Ep. Jeremy Jay also covered "Lunar Camel" on his "Airwalker" Ep in 2007 and cited her amongst his main influences.
Sioux has also been hailed by other critically acclaimed groups. Morrissey said that "Siouxsie and the Banshees were excellent". "They were one of the great groups of the late 70s, early 80s". He also stated of modern groups in 1994: "None of them are as good as Siouxsie and the Banshees at full pelt. That's not dusty nostalgia, that's fact."  Another ex-member of The Smiths, Johnny Marr mentionned on the BBC Radio 2 in February 2008 that he rated very high McGeoch for his work on Siouxsie's single "Spellbound". Marr qualified it as "clever" with "really good picking thing going on which is very un-rock'n'roll." PJ Harvey put on her website the Anima Animus album by Siouxsie's second band The Creatures in her top ten favourite records of year 1999. The Cure's Robert Smith declared in 2003 : "Siouxsie and The Banshees and Wire were the two bands I really admired. They meant something." He also pinpointed what the Join Hands tour brought him musically. "On stage that first night with the Banshees, I was blown away by how powerful I felt playing that kind of music. It was so different to what we were doing with The Cure. Before that, I'd wanted us to be like The Buzzcocks or Elvis Costello, the punk Beatles. Being a Banshee really changed my attitude to what I was doing." For his record The Head on the Door in 1985, he stated : "It reminds me of the Kaleidoscope album, the idea of having lots of different sounding things, different colors."  Radiohead cited John McGeoch'era Siouxsie records when mentioning the recording of the song "There There". U2 selected "Christine" for the track listing of a compilation made for Mojo's readers and The Edge presented Siouxsie with an award at a Mojo ceremony in 2005. Garbage's singer, Shirley Manson has cited Sioux as a main influence on her and wrote the foreword of the 2003's Siouxsie biography by Mojo magazine journalist Mark Paytress. In a text of several pages, Manson wrote : "I learned how to sing listening to The Scream and Kaleidoscope."  The singer of Garbage also told the Melody Maker that Siouxsie embodied everything she wanted to be as a young woman. Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction has made a parallel between his band and the Banshees: "there are so many similar threads: melody, use of sound, attitude, sex-appeal. I always saw Jane's Addiction as the masculine Siouxsie & the Banshees." Gossip also named Siouxsie as one of their influences for their 2009's Music For Men.
(In 1981), the press began to describe them as a goth band. I never thought of them as goth. Goth has never been particularly angry, just a little dismayed. It had a weak, submissive side to it. Siouxsie & The Banshees always had a real edge to what they did. There was so much articulated spite, humour, politics with a small 'p' there that I never felt they went down that simple, gloomy path. People try to pass them off as a goth band because they find them dangerous and don't understand them. Today, I can see and hear the Banshees' influence all over the place.
In an interview with The Sunday Times in August 2007, she clarified that she and Budgie had divorced. In an interview with The Independent, she said, "I've never particularly said I'm hetero or I'm a lesbian. I know there are people who are definitely one way, but not really me. I suppose if I am attracted to men then they usually have more feminine qualities."
For her works with Siouxsie and the Banshees, see Siouxsie & the Banshees discography.
For her works with The Creatures, see The Creatures discography.
Film appearances of songs include The Punk Rock Movie (Don Letts, 1977); Jubilee (Derek Jarman, 1977); Out of Bounds (Richard Tuggle, 1986); Batman Returns (Tim Burton,1992); Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven, 1995); The Craft (Andrew Fleming, 1996); Grosse Pointe Blank (George Armitage, 1997); The Filth and the Fury (Julien Temple, 2000); 24 Hour Party People (Michael Winterbottom, 2002); Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola, 2006); Monster House (Gil Kenan, 2006); Notes on a Scandal (Richard Eyre, 2006); Doomsday (Neil Marshall, 2008)