Savages’ Jehnny Beth has very big plans

Courtesy PhotoLondon-based Savages are touring to promote their debut album “Silence Yourself.”

Courtesy PhotoLondon-based Savages are touring to promote their debut album “Silence Yourself.”

French-born, London-based art rocker Jehnny Beth isn’t content with her new, all-girl, quasi-goth combo Savages, nor her sidelined duo with longtime beau Johnny Hostile, John & Jehn, nor the record label they run together, Pop Noire — about to issue the Savages’ debut recording, “Silence Yourself.” She knows it sounds corny, but the singer, who also acts, really wants to direct feature-length films. That explains the sweeping Cinemascope sound of tracks such as “Husbands,” “No Face” and “Hit Me.” The opening number, “Shut Up,” was inspired by one of her favorite directors, John Cassavetes, and his wife, Gena Rowlands.

You had roles in “Sodium Babies” and “Through the Forest.” What got you into acting?

Well, I was supposed to be an actress, really, because my parents were both really into theater, and my dad is a drama teacher and a director. So when I was growing up, they were both very active in that, we were touring, and I was playing in my dad’s plays. And there were always a lot of actors in our house, theater people and writers. So then I went to drama school, but then everything changed when I turned 19. That’s when I met Johnny, who’s been with me since. And I just decided with him to take kind of a different turn, and make music with him and go to London. So I just dropped everything else for that, really.

What parts did you play for your father?

I was the daughter of Louis XVI, I think. And then in “Peer Gynt,” I was a child, as well. It’s hard to remember them all, really. I did some Moliere stuff, definitely “The Misanthrope.”

How did your folks react when you quit the family business?

They let me do what I wanted to do. But they obviously didn’t understand it at first. It was only when John & Jehn started to happen in the U.K. that they started to see that there was something going on. But that took about two years.

How did Savages come about?

Well, John found Gemma (Thompson, Savages guitarist), and he really loved the way she was self-trained, and mainly a noise guitarist — she had her own style and she was very quiet and charismatic. And she wanted to start a new project, and she wanted to do it with Ayse Hassan, the bassist. Then Gemma came up with the name Savages, and I thought, “That’s really funny, because I’m writing a lot of things that relate to that name.” So I said, “Do you want to try it with me?” and she said yes.


  • Where: Independent, 629 Divisadero St., S.F.
  • When: 8 p.m. today
  • Tickets: $15
  • Contact: (415) 771-1421,

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