Video Vision: The San Francisco Music Portal

Skunk Anansie :
Skin   (Lead & Backing Vocals, Theramin, Vibraphone)
Ace   (Electric & Acoustic Guitars)
Cass Lewis   (Electric & Acoustic Bass, Programming)
Mark Richardson   (Drums & Percussion)
May 1997

Skunk Anansie : Live at Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco

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Video Vision (VV): First things first, tell us about the band name.

Skunk Anansie (SA): Cass (C): A skunk, children, is a bushy black and white animal that Stinks and Anansie comes from a Jamaican fairytale for children and he's half man, half spider and he plays tricks on all the other animals. So he's a bit of a trickster.

VV: Which gives us a smelly trickster?

SA: Skin (S): No, it doesn't really mean anything when it's put together. It just has a nice ring to it. When we were coming out, all these other bands were naming themselves things like Blur and Oasis, and this and that...we wanted to call ourselves something that announced we were completely different from everyone else.

VV: True, it has a nicer ring to it...

SA: (C): Yeah, people in Finland may have a bit of a time with it...

Skunk Anansie : Interview (left to right) Skin, Cass, Ace

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VV: We have a copy of your new video,Hedonism, that I also heard was banned from MTV...

SA: Ace (A): Yeah, they've got the kissing girls one.

SA: (S): Ahhh, yeah, two girls kissing (rolls her eyes and laughs)...

VV: Do you have any feelings about the video being "banned"?

SA: It's ridiculous, pathetic, etc (all members provide an adjective). (S): In this day and age- a little bit of tongue- like anyone notices. (A): We think it's a good thing to ban this from the kids we have so much influence with them. We don't want to corrupt the nations youth. Like all bands do - you can just make the kids notice sex and corrupt them. I'm really glad they banned it.

Skunk Anansie  Mr. Hot Potato Video Still

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VV: Has it been banned in the U.K. and in Europe?

SA: (S): No, they just don't play it. Or they don't play that version. We did another version (bloody wankers) at the same time to safeguard ourselves because there's no point in making a video if nobody is going to see it.

VV: People in San Francisco will go wild for it, we don't need to censor things like that... SA: A lot of countries do play it, like Italy and France.

Skunk Anansie : Interview -Skin

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VV: Do you have any interesting stories about making the video? Any comments you have about the video medium?

SA: (A): The people in the video are just normal people. The guy who made the video just picks them out on the street. Like he was shopping with his wife, and he sees these two kids...they're just shopping for their groceries on a Sunday morning...and he asks them if they want to be in the video. The people in the video aren't models or actors, they're just people they knew or met. (S): The video includes lots of hedonistic images, like the sugar. The video is all about hedonism. And being in a band. You know, when you're in a band you're like a little kid - you can do anything you want in some ways. But you have to have a moral conscience about it. When you wake up in the morning. (some general band commiserating about "the night before skin")

{ed. note - The chorus of the song, "Hedonism" is: Just because it feels good Doesn't make it right}

Skunk Anansie  Mr. Hot Potato Video Still

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VV: There's some pretty strong images in the video. Who conceptualized the video?

SA: (S): We came up with it with our director, Thomas. (C): About the video medium though, we're musicians, and we don't pretend to be video directors. So the fact that we employed a director means that we respect that director's work. We had seen Thomas's work and we loved the texture, the feel and the kind of people he uses and the way he expresses himself. So we had an initial concept and he elaborated on it. And I mean elaborated with a capital E. (S): Because it's his art form...but we do get involved. Mark (M): And he also did another one with us after this video, called "Brazen".

Skunk Anansie : Interview - Cass

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VV: So you currently have two videos?

SA: (S): We actually have eight videos.

VV: So I take it that means that you really like the video medium?

SA: Yeah, we do. (S): For us we're interested in all of the art forms, whether or not they're connected to the band. Art and fashion, art and music, they're all connected through history. We want to have a connection to everything about this band, which includes all of the art. I think it's important to have artistic control over the things that relate to the band. There's no point in just doing the music and not being involved in the videos, or the album covers, all the design. In order to control all of that, you have to learn about all of those mediums. Cass knows an awful lot about photography. We all write. We all flim around with our video cameras so we can understand what's going on and be involved.

Skunk Anansie : Interview (left to right) Mark, Skin

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VV: I've read that you are also politically involved, and that politics is important to the band's lyrics?

SA: (S): Definitely. For example, we were recently in Paris when Lady Di died. We were playing the Versace show in Rome when Gianni Versace was shot...we were in Spain when some people were kidnapped...a bomb went off when we were supposed to play in Jerusalem...My point is that we travel so much and see so many countries that have intense political situations that it would seem impossible to travel through all of these places and not take an interest. Going to these places with these situations, how could one not be influenced by those events? Our songs are about what is happening to us on a daily basis and because we travel through soooo many countries, it (political situations) affects us. So you get sexual songs, emotional songs, and political songs. So we're not a political band, but the songs are about us as we experience things. (C): Yes, social commentary...but because we are people who see things. Because we have a political viewpoint, just as we have a sexual viewpoint and a sense of humour...(S): and a bisexual viewpoint...

Skunk Anansie : Live @ Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco

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VV: Do you think that all artists have some obligation to express a certain viewpoint, that's socially-slash-politically pertinent?

SA: No.No.No. (M): Each to their own. (S): Music describes every single viewpoint, every single decade, in every single way from a personal perspective. If all bands were like us, how boring would that be? That would be so fucking boring. But in my record collection I have everything - Mary J. Blige, Wu-Tang, Foo Fighters, Supergrass, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin...all sorts of things. And that's the beauty of music, free expression in any way that you can find. I'd be the first to say that if all bands were like Skunk Anansie, I'd go do something else. (C): And sometimes you just want to listen to some guy or girl who's just done an album of love songs. And so we don't prescribe that everyone needs to be political or everyone has to do love songs. And if anyone does come out and say that you all need to do "this" and there's no place for "that" in music...well that would be a very fascist statement. And anyone who does say that needs to be nailed up against the wall and shot.


Interviewer: Catherine Lee

Camera: Rodwin Pabello

Photography : Rodwin Pabello

Transcription: Catherine Lee

Other Skunk Anansie Links:

The Official Skunk Anansie Web Site

Fan Sites:

All In The Name Of Skunk Anansie

Annu's Skunk Anansie Page

Vivian's Skunk Anansie Page

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