Great LezBritain: Interview with Skin of Skunk Anansie

"Great LezBritian" is a fortnightly stroll through the very best of British lesbo-centric entertainment and culture. Plus there will be some jolly good interviews with the top ladies who are waving the flag for gay UK.

In the mid 1990s, the UK music scene was taken over by Britpop, a movement awash with big-haired, skinny fellas singing about quaint British things like beer, pigeons and living in the country.  One band that arrived during the Britpop era but didn’t quite fit into its cigarette shaped box was Skunk Anansie. Their music grabbed you by the scruff of the neck and then slowly licked you into submission whilst enlightening your mind with such fine lines as, “Yes it’s f—ing political."

While this musical era, like most, was male-dominated, a few notable female fronted bands did manage to make waves in the charts, including Louise Wener’s Sleeper and Sonya Madan’s Echobelly and, of course, the wonderful Elastica. But in our opinion, Skunk Anansie frontwoman Skin rocked harder than any of her peers, male or female.

Apart from having an incredible pair of lungs, Skin also stood out because she was black, bisexual, openly feminist, bald and beautiful. She also deserves kudos for coining the phrase “clit-rock” to describe Skunk Anansie’s music.

The band’s three albums, Paranoid and Sunburnt (1995), Stoosh (1996) and Post Orgasmic Chill (1999) were hugely successful selling millions of copies and giving the musical landscape interesting and controversial songs like "Selling Jesus," "Charlie big potato" and "Hedonism" while Oasis were still telling people just to "roll with it." Britpop imploded as the 90s rolled towards the decade-end and Skunk Anansie split soon after Post Orgasmic Chill, much to our sorrow.

Ten years later, Skunk Anansie has decided that now is the time to once again shake up the music scene. So we caught up with Skin after an awe-inspiring performance on the main stage at Scotland’s T in the Park festival. We ask her about plans for the band’s new album, Wonderlustre, how it is being back in the fold, and what she thinks of the current state of women in music.

AfterEllen.com: Hello, Skin. How has your year been thus far?
Skin:
Well, it’s been a bit of a mad one. Firstly we wrote an album, then went straight into recording the album and then we went straight on tour. So I feel like we haven’t really stopped since January.

AE: I read that Skunk Anasie’s reformation happened last year but people have only just been hearing about it now?
Skin: It happened the year before but we did it under the radar with a greatest hits record. Now we have our new album, Wonderlustre, coming out in September, and hopefully with it, we will shake off the old comeback tag and just be seen as a new band.

AE: What sound can we expect from Wonderlustre?
Skin: It is a collection of very melodic, very interesting songs that came out of the band just sitting in a room jamming together for months on end. It’s quite sporadic but it’s the band’s album and a very different sound. It is nothing like Post Orgasmic Chill. It is the sound we would be making if we were a fresh new band. I love it and everyone who has heard it is raving about it. I hope people listen to it with open ears because it isn’t like the old Skunk Anansie.

AE: Was it a conscious decision to move away from the old Skunk Anansie sound?
Skin: We couldn’t make a Post Orgasmic Chill today even if we wanted to because that was ten years ago. Like everyone does, we have grown and changed. Plus it would be really boring and uninspiring for us and for our audience to try. 

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