Betty X

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For the educator and civil rights advocate, see Betty Shabazz.
Betty X
Betty X
Background information
Also known as Zoe Kaylor, Zoe Pierce
Origin Seattle, Washington, United States
Genres Industrial
Industrial metal
Art rock
Occupation(s) Performance Artist, Vocalist, Musician, Artist
Instruments Vocalist, singer-songwriter
Years active 1995–present
Labels Anti-Social Records, iMusic
Associated acts Salon Betty, Satan in High Heels
Website www.bettyx.com

Betty X, (born Zoe Pierce-Gibson) is an American musician, artist, activist and writer known for her controversial stage persona and image as the lead singer of the eponymous band Betty X. Her stage name was formed from the combination of names of 1950s' American icons: domestic goddess Betty Crocker, pin-up model Bettie Page and the human rights activist Malcolm X. Betty is also the founding member of Satan in High Heels and works with guest musicians to co-write songs. She was the founder and front woman for her previous punk cabaret band Salon Betty. She is also well known in the underground art/music scene for her guerrilla art and outrageous on-stage antics. She is currently releasing sociopolitical videos on her new video company Brave New Video, and writing a fictionalized auto-biography titled Memoirs of a Pain Junkie.

Early life[edit]

Betty was born and raised in Seattle, Washington into a musical family. Betty is the third child of Janice (née Pierce) and Michael Thompson-Gibson. Betty is of English and Irish descent on her mother's side, and 11th cousin of former President George W. Bush. She is also of Cherokee descendent and great-granddaughter of Chief John Ross (Cherokee chief) of the Cherokee Nation on her father's side.

Betty began singing at the age of five she was encouraged by father, a jazz drummer, her mother a pianist/accordionist and sister, a flutist/guitarist. She studied music, theatre, and fine arts throughout her childhood.

As a child, she attended a Protestant church, but left organized religion as a young teenager and studied Native American spirituality and shamanism instead. After she traveled to Japan at age fifteen, she developed an avid interest in Buddhist philosophy.

Betty was accepted into Cornish College of the Arts at fifteen years old into the Fine Arts program, the youngest student to be accepted into Cornish at that time. She graduated early from high school at age sixteen. She earned a BA in arts studying performance art, video, mixed media, interdisciplinary arts and painting. During college years she started spoken word nights, art happenings and she designed clothes for local rock bands in Seattle. She designed costumes and hats for the psychedelic rock band Sky Cries Mary and Malfuktion.

Biography[edit]

Betty X has been making music since the mid-1990s, when she formed the controversial art rock band, Salon Betty, which received international attention and positive reviews by audiences. Though a native of the United States, Betty has previously lived in Prague, which she credits as being the creative inspiration for Salon Betty. In 1995, she was credited by i-Music (now Artist Direct) as the first female performer to be broadcast live on the Internet. She was also featured in the first Interactive Paper Doll on the Internet, created by Scott Blum, founder of iMusic (Artist Direct) and in association with Real World Studios. Both projects received awards and rave reviews.

Audiences and reviewers often describe her work as caustic and controversial as well as surreal. She is best known for mixing performance art and video installations with her live performances. She is also well known in the underground art/music scene for her guerrilla art and outrageous on-stage antics, particularly with her first project, Salon Betty.

After Salon Betty disbanded, she decided to pursue a solo career, releasing Bad Side of Love in 1999. She worked with music producer, Vincent Saletto (Genitorturers) in Tampa, Florida, at the now defunct Hotter Than Hell Studios to produce an album that was much darker and heavier than anything she had previously released.

In 2004, several songs on her second solo release, Dystopia, found their way onto the soundtrack to independent filmmaker Craig Kovach's sci-fi horror film, Unearthed, featuring Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, From Dusk Till Dawn). Around the same time, she began collaborating with Martin Atkins (Pigface, Ministry, PIL), providing a live guest performance with Pigface and vocal recording for Sheep On Drugs' Machine Sex. Martin asked Betty to join the Pigface tour in spring of 2005, but she declined because of health issues. She was replaced with Hanin Elias of Atari Teenage Riot.

During the course of her music career, Betty X has shared the stage with many notable performers, including Asesino (band), Prong, Patti Smith, Powerman 5000, Machine Head, Pigface, Aiden, Professional Murder Music, Zeke, and Tim Cridland (a.k.a. "The Torture King").

Genre[edit]

Betty X's earlier sound with Salon Betty has been described as gothabilly, death lounge, dark cabaret, punk cabaret, new wave, or, most commonly, art rock. Jamie Hook, a reviewer for The Stranger, described the music as, "Neu-Wavo Ranchero" and referred to the fans as "Bettephiles". Salon Betty was the first band to spearhead the dark cabaret movement in Seattle in the early 1990s.

Salon Betty had a large local cult following. Many of the fans would dress as Betty or other colorful characters from her songs such as "Courtney Hate" and bring food such as whipped cream, sausages and jello to throw during cues in songs. The shows were three quarter in the round and interactive. Live shows were often compared to My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Rocky Horror Picture Show meets GWAR by reviewers and critics.

After Salon Betty disbanded, Betty started to experiment with darker themes, more experimental vocalizations, and a heavier sound in general. The side-project turned into a full-time pursuit.

Her current self-titled solo project is much heavier and darker than previous material; with heavy, loud and grinding guitars, breakneck tempos, apocalyptic distortion and noise, moody sound-scapes and extremely aggressive, distorted vocals, the music is best described as industrial metal, art metal and noise. Betty coined the term Apocalyptica Noir to better describe her punk "torch singer" style in stark contrast of apocalyptic punk/industrial/metal/experimental/noize fusion in 2000. The newer songs cover a range of genres, however: "Human Disease" has the totalitarian/Orwellian flavor of Marilyn Manson, "Dystopia" is a poppy, bass-driven tune à la Nine Inch Nails, "Mons Venus" is a dark and sultry rock piece akin to P.J. Harvey, and most of Memoirs of a Pain Junkie could be considered straightforward alternative metal in the style of Ministry's Psalm 69.

Albums[edit]

With Salon Betty:

  1. The Big Hair Sex Circus, 1996 (iMusic)
  2. Arizona, 1997 (Anti-Social Records)
  3. "It Came From Planet X", 1999 (Anti-Social Records)

Bad Side of Love[edit]

Betty X's debut solo album, Bad Side of Love (2000), was written and co-produced by Betty X with Vincent Saletto (Genitorturers). The album's heavy and dark industrial trip-hop vibe was a drastic change from the campy, light-hearted Salon Betty material. Betty X covered "Sex Dwarf" with producer Vincent Saletto and guitarist Bizz aka Bryce Bernuis (both formerly of the Genitorturers) on her EP Bad Side of Love.

Dystopia[edit]

Betty X's second solo release was Dystopia (2004), an EP of six tracks plus one bonus track. This album, co-produced by Betty's silent partner, Hate, featured heavier guitar riffs and more violent sonic tones than the debut album dubbed as dystopian or dystopic rock and/or post-apocalyptic rock. It was fairly successful, gaining some national attention via and an internet cult following, corporate and college radio play and also spawning a national tour. Several of the album's tracks, including "Shoot'em Up" and "Aurora," were featured on the movie soundtrack to Unearthed, starring Tom Savini.

Behind the Music "Human Disease" and "Two Minutes Hate" were inspired by George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and were the inspiration for the title and concept of the EP . Hidden last track "Mon Venus" is loosely based on Homer's Odyssey and a sleazy strip-club in Tampa and inspired the creation of a Medusa and Kali hybrid demon Mons Venus, who is a recurring lyrical character throughout songs in Betty X's lyrics

Memoirs of a Pain Junkie[edit]

Memoirs of a Pain Junkie (2006) is Betty X's third solo release and first full-length album. It is also her heaviest and hardest-hitting material to date. "Memoirs of a Pain Junkie" is based on Betty X's fictional auto-biography. Released in summer of 2006, the album features a new version of "Shoot 'em Up" remixed by Martin Atkins of Pigface on drums and Siebold of Hate Dept on lead guitar. "The Snakepit" is a drug induced frenzy with demonic vocalization and screams in the vein of Diamanda Galas.

Religious Reich[edit]

Religious Reich (2009) is Betty X's official fourth solo release, released September 9, 2009. The album broaches the controversial topic of the unholy alliance of Church and State in a dystopian society where civil liberties have been stamped out. The Group Suicide Show, a song from the album, was previewed exclusively on KAOS Radio Austin on September 9, 2009.

Other appearances[edit]

She is mentioned in Nick Cave's song "More News From Nowhere" on his 2008 release Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!! and is also mentioned in Martin Atkins' book Tour:Smart in 2007. Betty has appeared in two low-budget films; In Your Blood (1995) and Psych-o-tropolis (1995) directed by Jeffro Brunk. She recently appeared in black comedy film The Birthday (2010) by David Bessenhoffer that was featured in the Austin Film Society SXSW Film Fest 2011. In 1996, The Stranger reported that fans incited a riot during one of her performances that led to a dumpster being set alight and hundreds of her fans rioting on the streets when the venue wanted to stop her show prematurely.

Betty X interviewed various bands and artists: Hanzel und Gretyl; Raymond Watts of PIG; Curse Mackey of Pigface, Grim Faeries, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and Evil Mothers; cartoonist Charles Burns; illustrator Krysztof Nemeth of Charm School for various periodicals and magazines The Sinner, The Seattle Underground, The Stranger, The Rocket, and Hypercult E-Zine.

She was a guest vocalist on Sheep on Drugs Sex Machine on the F**CK Album 2006.

She was the first hostess of Go Kustom TV in 2001, and interviewed Charles Burns, Kirsten Andersen, Art Curator/Owner of Roq La Rue, Rick Klu, Sabrina Rockarena of Cookie, and Big John Bates and The Voodoo Dollz.

Betty X also collaborated with Jeremy Gloff and RhondaK in a live cabaret performance of Sham-Pain 2001. She recorded Champagne Blonde and Bohemian Sekt with Jeremy Gloff recorded in producer Vincent Saletto's Hotter Than Hell Studios.

Sources[edit]

  • Betty X Unmasked Interview by Guitar Doug, The Sinner, June 2008
  • Underground Magazine March 2006
  • Official Betty X Website
  • Interviews with Betty X
  • The Stranger, 1996, 2006
  • Site-Seeing, Seattle P-I, January 1996[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fry, Ted (1996-01-07). "Business & Technology | Site-Seeing | Seattle Times Newspaper". Community.seattletimes.nwsource.com. Retrieved 2014-08-12. 

External links[edit]