By Emma Silvers
By Gary Moskowitz
By Alee Karim
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Derek Opperman
By Emma Silvers
By Alee Karim
"Sex and sexuality and the physicality behind sex and the emotions behind sex is really important to me," Stewart half-mumbles. His answers are littered with pauses.
"It seems like few interviewers ask you about sex. I think indie rockers are afraid to talk seriously about it." My voice cracks. I'm hesitant to go there.
"Yeah. There's a little bit of tension there."
"Why do you think that is?"
"Probably because of what you said about indie-rock kids," Stewart answers. A brief fit of laughter follows and then silence. "I can't think of --" He terminates his sentence with a strained chuckle and again falls silent. "I'm physical. I don't know what else to say."
"How come sex is so prevalent in your music?"
"Because I'm not getting laid." He again bursts into edgy laughter. "For most of my life, the majority of the sexual experiences I have had have been really weird. I never have been molested or raped, but I have been in a lot of really strange situations, and, I tend to have nonstandard tastes sexually. But at the same time, both of my parents were totally fucking insane but very loving. Maybe I'm just a bit mixed up."
"Sure, but who do you look to as the measuring stick for normalcy?"
Stewart drops his head a bit; his eyes scan the linoleum. I notice his hands are faintly shaking.
"My sexual orientation is that I'm bi," he patiently explains. "And for years, I was having a real hard time with gender identification, which can be impossible to deal with. And my parents were just really open about sexuality. And all these things, for me, just kind of came together. I was never shy about reading about sexuality and reading some extreme examples of it. I've always had a difficult time maintaining relationships. No matter how interesting they are, I just don't want to continue them. But, sexuality is a really strong aspect of what I think about."
In my humble opinion, reality for Stewart means confusion, lack of identity, vagueness, timidity, and doubt. It's a dizzying maze of mirrors that often makes him reel. It's a thick, gray fog, and he's experienced (and caused) a fuck of a lot of pain attempting to make his way out of it. Stewart's response has been to create this other personality who lives inside the music of Xiu Xiu (inside La Forêt) and who practices a methodical, ice-cold revenge on a reality that the Stewart I'm currently conversing with feels powerless to change.
With its crafted layers of atonal synth-scree, droning harmonium, and crunchy blast-beats, the dirge "Saturn" is one of Stewart's more extreme examples of this response, particularly when he sings, in a hushed, menacing tone, "George, when it comes to bedtime, my sweetness will not go to waste. I will shoot this arrow right up your anus and you'll taste what we taste. I will stab it right through the bottom of your mouth."
"'Saturn' is about George Bush," Stewart informs me. "I have to be careful how I word this. It's about how enraged I am about the actions of the Bush family and the actions of the Bush administration in terms of being so self-serving and so unbelievably violent, and my reaction is wanting to rape the president to death."
"And you are Saturn and Bush is your son?"
"Yeah. Do you know the Goya painting?" Stewart asks. "It's this really incredible and jarring painting of Saturn chewing this corpse. We saw that painting while we were on tour in Spain as Bush won the election, and I put those two things together. So much death for power and profit, I have never in my entire life felt so helpless about a political situation."
"And that kind of helplessness manifests itself in this dream of wanting to rape?"
"Yeah. I'm not a particularly violent person," Stewart reasons out. "I don't think violent solutions are a pleasant way to handle anything. But, what else do you do? It's gotten to that point where I don't know how else to think about it. I never want to think about anybody in those terms, but I don't know how else to think about it. I feel driven to that."
"Was it therapeutic to make this song?"
"It would have been therapeutic if --" Stewart stops himself again. "No. It didn't make anything better."