The Impossible-To-Ignore Solo Artist, Jehnny Beth

The Impossible-To-Ignore Solo Artist, Jehnny Beth

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The Impossible-To-Ignore Solo Artist, Jehnny Beth

With her beau behind the lens, the incendiary frontwoman spills her soul.

With her beau behind the lens, the incendiary frontwoman spills her soul.

Photography: Johnny Hostile

Styling: Aryeh Lappin

Text: Ilana Kaplan

Jehnny Beth spent years as a slick, strutting frontwoman: first of mid-2000s duo John & Jehn, opposite her longtime creative and life partner Johnny Hostile; then of Brit-pop quartet Savages. But this year, the chameleonic French singer evolved once more—this time as an impossible-to-ignore solo artist. Her June debut, To Love Is To Live, flaunts her command in the art of mood-building, with a delivery that alternates between fierce and tender. “It’s about the complexity of being human: the different emotional states, [and the] violence,” she says of the LP. “It’s a journey in what it means to be human.”

Layering lo-fi and lush instrumentals, all in service of her impressive vocal range, the singer pours her darkwave heart into each line. While Beth assumes an aggro stance on the lead single “I’m The Man,” her vulnerability seeps through on “Flower,” a track originally intended for St. Vincent’s Annie Clark. “I did try to imitate [Clark’s] style of singing,” she says. In addition to Hostile, the album’s au courant guest list ranges from The xx’s Romy Madley Croft to actor Cillian Murphy, who contributed vocals in addition to starring in the “I’m The Man” video.

Beth’s seductive journey has extended beyond music. In July, she released C.A.L.M., a book pairing Hostile’s S&M-laced portraits with Beth’s erotic short fiction, the latter exploring a tapestry of fantasies, from sub-dom dynamics to light necrophilia. The inspiration for C.A.L.M., an acronym for “Crime Against Love Memories,” was a trip to a private club in Paris, wherein guests found “libera[tion] in anonymously showing their bodies on camera,” Beth explains. Though she avoids further explication, saying simply, “I don’t feel it’s my job,” the book’s imagery and text speak for themselves. Whether she’s in or out of a latex getup, Beth’s multidisciplinary power heeds no boundaries.

This article appears in the pages of V126, available for purchase now.

Jehnny Beth wears Tom Ford.

Jehnny Beth wears Celine.

Jehnny Beth wears Celine.

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