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In Anticipation of the Darkest Dark Mofo Yet We Asked Savages’ Jehnny Beth About Pagan Rituals

The aggressive UK post-punk quartet are one of the brooding and dark musical acts that have just been announced for Dark Mofo 2016.

Image: Colin Lane

Jehnny Beth is into astrology at the moment. She says that she’s interested in anything related to stars, the cosmos and the origin of humanity. “But I'm a realist—I don't believe in superstitions—actually I dread them,” she tells us via email. The winter solstice better not be a superstition as Beth and her aggressive UK post-punk quartet Savages are one of the brooding and dark acts that have just been announced for Dark Mofo 2016.

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The music line-up for Hobart’s annual twelve-day winter solstice celebration that runs from June 10-21, also features melancholy electronic sorceress Chelsea Wolfe in her only Australian appearance, ZHU, European metal gods Cult of Fire, Lubomyr Melnyk, Dead Congregation, Inverloch, Songs of the Black Arm Band, Jarboe, JG Thirlwell, Tribulation and Greece’s blasphemous death metal outfit Dead Congregation.

The mid-winter festival, that also includes, art, film, communal banquets and a nude solstice swim, will be the perfect backdrop for Savages dark and complex punk. Led by Beth on vocals, the London band, dressed in uniform black, are known for their mesmerising performances that have drawn comparisons to Ian Curtis, Siouxsie Sioux and Swans' Michael Gira.

In anticipation of the darkest Dark Mofo yet, Noisey chatted with Beth about festival crowds, their new album Adore Life and the cosmos.

Noisey: Dark Mofo is presented by Hobart’s Mona art gallery. Do you think there’s a connection between live music performance and public art installation?
Jehnny Beth: Live music is 'alive' whereas an art installation is normally more 'fixed' but they're both art forms, the expression of an artist, so maybe that's the link.

How do you go playing to festival crowds - is it a different experience in terms of intimacy and connection?
We love both, they are different but in the end you always have to adapt to the crowd in front of you so it's more about being open minded and being able to welcome anyone into your world. We think every show is equally important so we bring the same amount of care.

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The new album Adore Life seems way more optimistic than your debut - even on songs like “Sad Person”. There are some love songs in there too? How is the experience of playing these more euphoric tracks live?
It's been great to have the choice between songs from the first album and songs from Adore Life. They are contrasted and different, but they respond to each other really well. Playing "Adore Life" every night has definitely been a great experience. People love this song and it tends to have different meanings depending on the city we play in.

Where did the newfound optimism come from - why the need to “adore life”?
We've always been a positive band. I think in order to be positive in life you need to be able to point out what's wrong in the world, otherwise your positivism is based on nothing. "I AM HERE" on the first record is a very positive self-affirming song.

Do Savages normally observe the winter solstice or any other pagan rituals?
I'm into astrology at the moment so I'm interested in anything related to stars, the cosmos and the origin of humanity. But I'm a realist—I don't believe in superstitions—actually I dread them.

Savages bring their rocking lust for life to Hobart's Odeon Theatre on Saturday 18 June.

The full Dark Mofo lineup can be found here.

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