music review and artist reflections
interview © Mark Fisher 2004
production © Russell W Elliot 2004
images © Sariah Bishop 2004
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Last updated: 20 November 2004
image © Sariah Bishop 2004
Sariah Bishop is one of L.A.'s hottest new offerings. Her debut, Mute Malevolence, is an unnerving mix of goth rock, industrial, and spoken word. She is beautiful, intriguing, and perhaps haunted by things unseen. This turned out to be one of the more interesting interviews I have done. Come along and see the mystery that is Sariah Bishop as she talks about her history, her inspirations, and why a goth artist would be interviewed by a Christian magazine.
Musical Discoveries: To start with, I'd like to know a little bit about how and when you decided to make the transition from modeling to music.
Sariah Bishop: Okay. I'm not modeling anymore at all. I have always been into music and writing. I love to create, and music is my first love. I became interested in literature at a very young age and this is what I did before I started modeling. Once I started modeling I was able to still write and create and work on my album. Mute Malevolence actually came from the money I made modeling.
So you're actually making the transition back to musician and modeling was a sidetrack sort of thing?
Yes, modeling paid the bills! [laughter]
Because you have modeled, which is obvious in your promo shots, do you feel like you have a bit of a handicap in the music world to some people? It seems like a lot of people in the industry have a hard time swallowing a model as an artist/musician.
I think that I have been very fortunate with the musicians that I have worked with. They have taken me very seriously and respect me. They do all they can to help my vision grow. The receiving end of it is where the new ears hear and they are like, "Oh she was a model. Oh great!" The stereotype is certainly that models can't sing so people expect models to take the next step and become a designer or something like that. With me, though, like I said, I was a musician FIRST I'm from Indiana and in high school I was in a band, so music and literature and writing have all been a part of my life for a while. I have a certain "look" about me, though, and when I came to Los Angeles I automatically became part of the fashion/modeling world.
So did modeling bring you to L.A. originally?
No, I love the weather! [laughter] Really. Like I said, I love creating and I'm sort of a loner. When I say "loner" I don't mean that in a bad way, but I used to just sort of close myself up in a room for hours at a time and I would just be thinking and seeing things. Now those hours have turned into days. I lock myself away for days at a time in my own space and I just create and think and write and re-write. I am a very driven and focused individual but a lot of it can't be seen externally. Like you said, people look at me and they think "stupid model" but I love using my mind. My mind is my key and without that I'd be fucked! [laughter]
With Mute Malevolence being your debut, what did you feel you wanted to establish about yourself as an artist with these songs? What did you want to get across to people?
I think a lot of it was simply the need to get across to myself who I was as a person. My music and my writing is who I am as a person and reflects my experiences, and if a person can relate to that or somehow think that that's cool, that part is great. I didn't write with any consideration of what might be a hit or what people might "get" or what people would even think of it, though. I was really writing to be true to myself. This is me and these are my experiences; this is what I've seen and what I've been through. I wasn't really catering to or aiming for any audience, it just so happens that the audience I have been placed in does relate to what I've been through. It was most important to me just to get out what I was seeing because I am a writer. In writing you want to stay true to the colors and if others see the same colors, that's great, but if they don't then at least I was honest to myself.
Have you always related the closest to the goth rock genre?
Yeah, ever since I was very, very little. I think I was about eight years old. My family thinks I'm kind of odd. I'm like the black sheep in my family. I'm the one they just let go and say "That's Sariah!" [laughter] Back in Indiana when I played in a goth rock band I did all the writing and controlled the direction. I have had those sort of thoughts since I was about 8 years old though.
What is it about, for lack of a better term, the "dark side" of things that you think you relate to so closely? What draws you into it?
I don't know if I should use the word "tormented." [laughter] But since you asked, that has been apart of my past as far as seeing things spiritually. Those kinds of things have been in my dreams as far back as I can remember. I have had dreams of being chased. I have actually seen demons in my dreams and a lot of other CRAZY stuff, you know? It's also in my family's past as far as things that went on that I never really took part in. As I grow, all of that becomes a part of me. I'm French Creole and my family touched on certain "traditional" things, not bad things, and even thought I never really took part in them, those traditions still linger on me. There are like little things here and there that haunt me in my dreams.
The song "2000 Sins" is one of my favorites off Mute Malevolence. Would you mind telling our readers a little about the thoughts or inspirations behind that song?
Well the inspiration behind that is from the spirit world and my dreams. I even speak of that in the song. These are things that have haunted me, and I'm really sincere when I say that. [nervous laughter] This is no bullshit. Ever since I can remember it didn't matter how much I sought "the light." If I actually saw these demons and saw those things and this Voodoo and if all of that is real then perhaps there is also a good too. I'm not completely a bad person! [laughter] Because I did sort of turn away from that light, or darkness if that's what you want to call it, that's when the pull kind of started to take place. I started to struggle with "Is this wrong or Is this right?" You know?
I'm not a religious person but I did find pages in the bible, in like Revelation, that I could relate to. It was like really, really odd things I found at such a young age and that all played a part in my growing up and in my writing. It's not only in my lyric writing but also in my novel writing. I could go on and write a whole novel about what I see so vividly in my dreams. Sometimes I can't tell the difference between my dreams and my real world. It's like in the movie The Sixth Sense, "I see dead people." [laughter]
It's something that is uneasy to talk about sometimes because a lot of people choose not to believe it. Even the ones that do believe don't really talk about it. With me, it's very much a part of my life but I don't speak a lot so it ends up coming out in my writing. You won't hear me tell people, "Guess what the fuck I just saw?" [laughter] because they'd be like "What are you on!?" [laughter] That all is able to come out in my writing, though, and I try not to sugarcoat it. You get exactly what I'm seeing when I write and that is where "2000 Sins" came from. It's the struggle of trying to stay sane and move forward and have a good life. If somebody can relate that's great, and if they can't then that's fine as well. I'm not here to shove anything down anybody's throat.
Which song off of Mute Malevolence do you think best represents where you are right now in your life?
Definitely "Still." Well, I mean, I am a hopeless romantic. [laughter] I'm not perfect you know? "Still" talks about innocence lost with the hope that something can be saved but then again, it could be nothing more than a hope.
I noticed on your website that you have done an interview with Heaven's Metal magazine, which is a Christian music magazine. Especially given our conversation here, I'm intrigued as to how that came to be. Would you mind telling me a little bit about that and how it fits with you?
Well, Mr. Van Pelt had connected with me after hearing my CD and he had certain--questions. [laughter] Just like you! [laughter] Considering the content and the literature in my album—as I said it depicts a lot of religious themes—his question was, "Would you consider yourself a Christian artist?"
That was sort of an odd question to ask, given the fact that I didn't think that there was anything that veered toward that. Really I thought it all would be seen as me criticizing religion. That's why it was an odd thing for me. Like I said, I am not a religious person, but I am a spiritual person. I want to put that out there again. I would not say that I am a Christian or a Christian artist only because that view from my perspective is nothing like what I am. I would be totally misrepresenting myself by saying that I am Christian because I don't see myself under that law in that way.
There are certain things in my life that Christians would look at and probably want to stone me. So for me to say, "Yes I am," would carry a huge burden that I know I probably couldn't carry. I have Christian fans and I have goth fans and they both "get it." I don't put a label on myself; I'm JUST who I am. Both sides seem to be able to see something in me that they can relate to. It's an odd sort of thing because I'll say "No, I'm not a Christian." and Christians will be like, "What?!" They just understand my dialect.
In a way it's like when they pointed the finger at Scott Stapp from Creed. They were all like "You're a Christian," and "You're a Christian band," and he was like, "No I'm not!" [laughter] They just wouldn't accept that Creed wasn't a Christian band and they are going to hear what they want to hear anyway you know? They just understand the dialect. It's kind of ironic that both sides understand my music and writing.
You said that you have some Christian fans. Were you surprised that they interpreted your music that way and sort of latched onto you?
Oh yeah, I was very surprised! I was extremely surprised that I was being received by the Christian community, given some of the content of my music and how it could be viewed or taken. I was like, "Wow!" Then of course I have a lot of gothic fans and they were like, "Yeah!" Not in a bad way, but it was their way of saying that they were happy somebody is finally putting it like it is from a female's point of view. Traditionally it has been really surface but I want to get down to the brass balls of what is going on and what I've seen without sugarcoating it like so many others have done. People get offended but this is me. My life hasn't been all roses.
Now since Mute Malevolence you have been working with some members of Godhead, right?
Yes. They are not on the Mute Malevolence though. On the album are Julian Beeston from Nitzer Ebb and Mike Miller and the others came on after the fact. They have been playing with me live and I did collaborate with Jason Miller on a song that will be on the new album I'm working on. They are more involved with the things I'm working on right now.
How has their presence affected the music you've been making?
Well, they are great visuals for me! [laughter] They are very dedicated guys and very good guys as well as musicians. I want to achieve and be my best. Knowing where they came from, under Marilyn Manson's wing, and having toured with bands that I could only wish to tour with -- [laughter] -- for them to want to be a part of what I'm doing is just awesome. I could not have asked for more. That's given me a lot of strength and I see that I'm being recognized for something in that genre. Like we talked about earlier, when you asked if people take my music seriously since I have been a model, I'd say they have. Absolutely. Modeling certainly hasn't hurt me any.
I very much appreciate your time and have enjoyed talking with you. Do you have any particular parting thoughts?
I don't think so, if you don't have any more questions. I just want people to know that I'm not on either side of all the things we've talked about, but both sides are a part of me.
Dark Alternative/Industrial-Rock Mute Malevolence (silent hatred) the album. Enter the mind of Sariah Bishop, a intriguing seven song limited edition album that explores the depths of betrayal, hurt, pain and temptation, through the eyes of an innocent, who's "peered through death". Its heavy electronic industrial metal sound takes you on an adrenaline high.
Recently compared to Rammstine and KMFDM with female vocals, in the spirit of Nine Inch Nails 'Hurt', Sariah's pull of influences display the condition of "A beautiful mind." She depicts the victim, the predator, the faith, the fear, the salvation and the sin.
Sariah, the new fire starter, says media. "She's created a new genre I'd like to call "Beautiful Goth", which means you don't have to be covered from head to toe with tattoos and piercing to create dark and moody music, just take one look at her CD cover and you'll see what I'm talking about."--All Access Magazine
Super moody and extremely vivid, Sariah Bishop is recognized for her outspoken, unapologetic lyrics that cut like a double edge sword. Rock and Religion have had their toil at the crossroad and Sariah embraces the clash, love and hate on a path that's torn. In a recent interview when asked about the content and lyrics of "Mute Malevolence" and the target song "Virtuous" how it could be looked at as criticizing religion and if criticism has come encountering this aspect of her work?
align="justify">Sariah answered, "Criticism comes and I have been through the war of religion-lyrically it gets kind of touchy in places. "Virtuous" is simply about temptation... similar to a Picasso painting, the viewer can look at the same painting and get a million different interpretations."
The most dangerous truth of all lies in the area beyond dark and light, savior and sinner, where all shadows coalesce and real demons abide. A young artist and author going beyond the reality of expectation and delivering nothing less than "the truth of darkness made visible."--amazon.com
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