Last year I experienced a heartbreak so abrupt and painful it made every day after our breakup feel like a nightmare that I couldn't wake up from. I wept like Marianne Dashwood, vowing to never love again. I spent my nights listening to Skeeter Davis's "End of the World" on vinyl while lying in bed during the day, sobbing for hours. During what I now refer to as my "time of mourning," I resigned myself to perpetual sadness. I forced myself to believe that love wasn't real, and as soon as I did, my friends and family proved me wrong with all the phone calls, hugs, and late-night texts that they sent when I felt most alone. Their acts of love and empathy supported me and helped me heal. It's so unoriginal to say it, but in so many ways it saved me.
For Jehnny Beth, the front woman of Savages, love is always the answer. Adore Life , the band's follow-up to their 2013 debut, Silence Yourself , is composed of distinguishably raw emotions and full-throttle riffs. It all serves as the perfect backdrop to previously uncharted thematic territory for the band: love. At first, Jehnny considered it to be trite, viewing love as something that people only wrote about because it was easy to talk about and relate to. But then came songs like "I Need Something New" and "Surrender," and in the end, the very thing that Jehnny resisted in her songwriting became the central focus of her creative and personal life. I talked to Jehnny about her approach to lyrics, how she learned that love can be courageous rather than vulgar, and how performing informs the band's songwriting.
Dianca Potts: Adore Life is your sophomore release. How did the experience of creating this album compare to working on your debut?
Jehnny Beth: It's a continuation, things that you learn along the way lead to where you are once you start writing a new record. Each record has its own history and its own context, things that happen to each member individually, and then where we are as a band. I think that Silence Yourself was very much so a photograph of who we were at the time. It was done quickly, recorded live, with the energy of the night in mind. We pretty much wanted to just lay down things and not think much more about it. For this one we took some time to write, and when that was done we felt like we were missing adrenaline, which is a very important ingredient in our music. We went to New York to perform and finish writing the songs. There was more trust and confidence between everyone, and we gave each other some time alone to work on ideas that each of us wanted to explore. In the end, Adore Life has more nuances in the songwriting because of it.
DP: While listening to your album, the theme of love, or at least a desire to experience and understand love, felt very present throughout, especially in tracks like "I Need Something New" and "Surrender." How did this LP reshape your definition of love?
JB: There were a lot of lyrics that I had written since Silence Yourself that were about love, and I didn't know if they were appropriate for Savages. When we started writing together, it was the question "Can I use these lyrics? Can we talk about love?" I think that personally, I learned that love is the answer, literally. I think there were moments in my life where a sentence like that wouldn't have resonated with me. I thought it was just a clichéd thing to say, that people would talk about love because it was an easy subject to talk about, but I realized that talking about love could be really deep and was something that touched me more profoundly than I thought it would. It was the answer for me: in my relationships, in my private life, in my work, in everything. I thought that love was vulgar, superficial, which it can be, but then I saw another face of it.