The Way We Get By: Jehnny Beth Has Been Reading a Million Books At the Same Time

The Savages frontwoman is into Élisabeth Badinter, erotic graphic novels, and the universe at large.

I always read a million books at the same time — I sort of have more time to do that now. I’ve been rereading The Demon by Hubert Selby. I bought a few secondhand books about the film director Buñuel, and a French book about Satanism, which is really interesting. I’m also reading a book written by a French thinker named Élisabeth Badinter, called The Wrong Road about the limits of feminism. I also read a lot of science magazines, about the universe, and graphic novels as well, particularly by an artist I really love called Apollonia Saintclair. She does erotic drawings, and she’s published three volumes called Ink Is My Blood. Each volume has a foreword where she’s interviewed by different people — one of the books’ foreword is by Erika Lust.

I’ve also watched Sex Education twice, and I’m watching a lot of beautiful old black and white film noir movies by Jean-Pierre Melville. But also a lot of TV shows like That ‘70s Show and Twin Peaks and Cheers.

I’m in Paris, and we’re not allowed to go out unless we have a piece of paper, for food, walking a dog, or visiting a parent in hospital, or going to a doctor’s appointment. But I’m good. It’s not very different from the creative isolation I usually go through. I know isolation — I have to isolate when I write. Removing myself from society is something I do on my own time any way. Sometimes I could not come out of my home for three days, and that’s fine. Or when I wrote my book C.A.L.M, which is coming out in June, I would write for four or five hours a day and keep myself locked up. That feeling of isolation is great, because when you come out, things are more vivid. The sounds are louder, everything appears more strongly to your perception. So I like the feeling of staying in and eventually coming out. So I don’t feel like I’m in a particularly different situation. The anxiety of this situation comes from the unavoidable economic crisis which might result of this. I don’t believe the world will suddenly be better after all this, I actually think that this crisis will increase inequalities. The small will be eaten up even more.

The coronavirus has hit many people financially, and it’s been especially tough on musicians who rely on touring to support themselves. If you’re able and inclined, check out Jehnny’s website and order a T-shirt, some vinyl, or whatever they’ve got on offer. Every little bit helps.

(Photo Credit: Steve Gullick)

Jehnny Beth is a solo artist and the frontwoman of the band Savages. Her latest album, TO LOVE IS TO LIVE, is out May 8.

(Photo Credit: Johnny Hostile)