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    Pietra Wexstun  

 

Pietra Wexstun is an electronic musician and singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, California. She has fronted for the band Hecate's Angels since 1996, and has performed with her husband Stan Ridgway since 1986. She has contributed to all of Ridgway's solo and Drywall albums, performing backing vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, and theremin. She has also composed and performed music for several art exhibitions in Los Angeles, including Christi Ava's ‘Nice Ladies in Cages’, Barry Fahr's ‘Visuadelia’, and (with Ridgway), Mark Ryden's ‘Blood, Miniature Paintings of Sorrow and Fear’.

 

 

   

Q: Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?


A: Parts of them.


Q: Do you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?


A: No, not necessarily, though mine tend to. Rhyming does make it easier for me to remember them (especially after having indulged in a bit of the grape or the grain), and rhyming can be fun. Bob Dylan once described it as a ‘game’ that gave him a ‘mental thrill’. Also, I find that rhyming, chanting, and the reciting of senseless syllables help access the subconscious to make fresh, new associations in sound and meaning. That’s why I love Captain Beefheart.


Q: Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures such as clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can also be like free verse?


A: I don’t think song lyrics need to conform to anything. Anyone can string a bunch of words together, start caterwauling and call it a song. The question is: What is it that makes me want to continue to listen? What is it that moves me, amuses me, keeps me intrigued or having fun? I would say more often than not, it’s the use of those tried-and-true structural devices, coupled with the unexpected... a twist here, a turn there. It’s imagination and emotional truth coupled with craftsmanship.


Q: When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to the music you enjoyed?


A: Probably one of the earliest poems I remember learning in school was Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Bells’. I found it thrilling. The repetition and onomatopoeia made it very musical, but then why shouldn’t it have been musical, it was about bells, wasn’t it? I suppose by today’s standards, it’s considered old-fashioned, but I still love to recite it!


Q: Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your songwriting?


A: I think it was the richness of the poetry I read, its multi-faceted and layered quality. Keats’ advice to Shelley to ‘fill every rift with ore’ really struck me. Great literature can be wonderfully inspiring, but it can also make you a little tough on yourself.


At the same time, I can appreciate songs that are simple and direct or just plain silly. Tone Loc’s ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Funky Cold Medina’ come to mind, along with Cypress Hill’s ‘Insane in the Membrane’. I like the cartoony, nursery rhyme quality of these lyrics and the way they merge with the infectious grooves and quirky electronics. Zappa’s stuff can be like that too.


Q: Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?


A: Well, song lyrics often have the added dimension of melody, sonic texture and a pronounced rhythm. People can listen to a song, without knowing all the words and feel moved one way or the other. Music is just more visceral, I think.

 

 

 

   

 

copyright © Pietra Wexstun