Meet Post-Punkers What Would Tilda Swinton Do

Meet Post-Punkers What Would Tilda Swinton Do

It’s not a question—it’s a statement.

It’s not a question—it’s a statement.

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

Life is full of unanswerable questions, as an investigation into the origins of “What Would Tilda Swinton Do,” the interrogative by which singer Suzie Léger and her four-piece neo-punk band are collectively known, soon proves. “The only thing I say to people is, ‘It’s not a question, it’s a statement,” Léger disclaims. My interrogation tactics fail to produce a resolution: “Yeah, so, what do you mean by that?” 

“There is no question.” 

I still have questions: “Does that mean that there is no right answer, or that it’s open to interpretation?”  

“It’s literal,” chimes in guitarist and synth player Tom Fiset. 

“So It’s just, ‘What would Tilda Swinton Do.’” 

“Yes, it literally is not a question. It’s philosophical...” 

“Alright, I am going to have to wrap my brain around that,” I conclude. What Would Tilda Swinton Do laughs. Rounding out the quartet are drummer Tania Kass and bassist Jason Smith, who also refuse to capitulate: “We appreciate who [Swinton] is as an actress and what she does, but that’s as far as it goes,” says Smith. 

What Would Tilda Swinton Do (photo: Aline Mueller)
What Would Tilda Swinton Do (photo: Aline Mueller)

As I ponder, the specter of Scottish actress Tilda Swinton looming like a winged question mark, certain at-least-incidental parallels emerge: both Léger and Kass are trained actors, having met at New York’s Stella Adler Studio. That performative streak is apparent in WWTSD’s musical and visual presentation: Kass routinely drums shirtless (a common practice, predominantly among male drummers), compelled by aesthetic as much as social equality. 

“[It’s something] all drummers [are permitted] to do—male as well as female drummers, [or at least] those who are skinnier. They’ll wear a sports bra or something, because, yeah, it’s hot up there,” says Kass. “The [main] difference when I [take my shirt off] is that I actually have curves, and that I consciously wear lingerie [rather than a sports bra]. I’m not just taking my shirt off [for practical reasons]; I’m making an aesthetic [statement].”  

Spearheaded by Léger, a graduate of Austria’s University of Applied Arts Vienna (fellow alum have influenced Beyoncé), the band’s visual oeuvre is now expanding with the release of the video for “Kill.” A glut of food-based schadenfreude, the video draws on influences from Caravaggio to nihilistic French cinema. “[The concept] comes from the French film La Grande Bouffe,” summarizes Léger. “[It’s about] a group of guys who come together at a villa to eat until they die.” 

See WWTSD’s radical interpretation here.

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