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Jarboe 2009.jpg
Jarboe performing live in 2009
Background information
Birth nameJarboe La Salle Devereaux[1]
Also known asThe Living Jarboe
BornMississippi, U.S.[2]
OriginNew Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
GenresVocal, experimental rock,[3] industrial, psychedelic folk, art rock, blues
InstrumentsVocals, keyboard, organ
Years active1984–present
LabelsAtavistic, Touch and Go Records, Revolver, Alternative Tentacles, Caroline, Neurot Recordings, The End Records, Season Of Mist
Associated actsSwans, Neurosis, Jesu, World of Skin, Vampillia, Veil of Thorns,

Jarboe La Salle Devereaux, known mononymously as Jarboe (/ˈɑːrb/), is an American singer-songwriter and keyboardist who came to prominence as a member of the New York City-based band Swans in 1985. Jarboe and Michael Gira, the founder of Swans, were the two constant members of the group until it broke up in 1997.

Although absent from the group's lineup when the band reformed in 2010, Jarboe contributed background vocals and voice collage for the band's 2012 album, The Seer.[4] She has released numerous solo albums and collaborations, many of which have been self-published. She also co-composed the soundtrack of the 2009 horror game The Path.

Life and career[edit]

Jarboe was born in Mississippi, and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana and Atlanta, Georgia.[2] As a child she learned to play a Hammond organ,[5] and studied opera at the insistence of her father, who hoped for her to have a career as a singer.[5] She has described her father, an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI),[6] as "the ultimate law-enforcement man".[7] Both of her parents were employees of the FBI, and met through their respective jobs.[8] In a 2015 interview, she revealed that her father died before she joined Swans, though she commented that her mother was "very interested in what I was doing."[8]

Jarboe described herself as "obsessed" with Swans since hearing their first album, Filth (1983).[7] She came into contact with Michael Gira and attended the band's practice sessions before, after several auditions, joining as a vocalist and keyboardist and debuting on Greed (1986). Prior to Swans, Jarboe's musical background had consisted of training as a jazz and choral vocalist.[9]

I had to unlearn proper singing technique and pronunciation. There is a tremendous difference between the vernacular of jazz and choral work and the way Michael Gira molded me. I think Michael Gira is the one who made me a ‘rock’ singer. He told me, ‘Drop your g’s.’ It’s not ‘going into,’ it’s ‘gonna go.’ ‘Drop your consonants and relax.’ He said to me, ‘You’re an American, sing like an American.’ He really ripped into my singing style and changed it around for me.[9]

Between 1985 and 1996, she worked as a vocalist and keyboardist in the band, appearing on albums including Children of God (1987), The Burning World (1989), and Soundtracks for the Blind (1996). Jarboe's inclusion in the band marked a departure from their previous noise rock sound to a more melodic industrial and even folk rock sound.[5] She also collaborated with Gira, forming their side project, The World of Skin in 1987, releasing several albums and singles.

Jarboe left Swans in 1997 when the band broke up and embarked on a solo career, releasing various experimental records (many of which she has self-released and distributed over the internet)[10] including Sacrificial Cake (1995) and Anhedoniac (1998). She has continued to self-release solo albums and, despite not returning to the group, recorded vocals for two tracks on the re-formed Swans' album, The Seer (2012).

Jarboe completed a world tour in the autumn/winter of 2013, with Veil of Thorns' P. Emerson Williams on guitar.[11] She released an experimental soundscape album, With Sun Falling, with Veil of Thorns in June 2015.[12]



  1. ^ Andreas Faust (2008-10-15). "Interviews: Jarboe Interview; Kiss of Life". Heathen Harvest. Archived from the original on 2012-10-11. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  2. ^ a b Radford, Chad (October 27, 2016). "Creative Loafing Jarboe Interview / Atlanta Show Preview". Young God Records. Archived from the original on March 24, 2019. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  3. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Jarboe". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-12-20.
  4. ^ Turner, Karen (2012-05-29). "SWANS: New album details". The Quietus. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  5. ^ a b c House, Daniel (December 27, 2008). "Exclusive Interview: Jarboe". Rock n' Roll Dating.Com. Archived from the original on April 20, 2009.
  6. ^ "JARBOE: LIFE AFTER SWIMMING WITH SWANS". Please Kill Me. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Chonin, Nieva (1995). "Birds of Prey Archived 2015-11-09 at the Wayback Machine," San Francisco Bay Guardian, 1995
  8. ^ a b Moores, J. R. (April 26, 2015). ""My Mother Was a Sharp-Shooter," and Other Revelations From The One And Only Jarboe". Vice. Noisey. Archived from the original on March 24, 2019. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Ohanesian, Liz. "This Is Life: An Interview with Jarboe". Pop Matters. Archived from the original on 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  10. ^ Zero, Frank (2012-05-02). "Interview with The Living Jarboe". The Examiner.
  11. ^ "Jarboe / P. Emerson Williams Tour 2013". www.panicmachine.com. Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  12. ^ "Veil of Thorns: Music". www.veilofthorns.com. Retrieved 2017-04-17.

External links[edit]