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’.
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
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
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,
© Pietra Wexstun