Camille Berthomier is a Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter, actress, author and musician, professionally known as Jehnny Beth — and as the frontwoman of the Mercury Prize-nominated, critically applauded act Savages. Interestingly, as a member of Savages, the Poitiers, Vienne, France-born, London-based singer/songwriter has developed a reputation for a unique lyrical perspective and a stage presence that has captivated audiences across the world over the past 15 years.
Beth’s solo debut To Love Is To Live was originally slated for a May 8, 2020 release through Caroline Records — but the album was recently pushed back to June 12, 2020, as a result of the Savages frontwoman’s desire to support local, independent record stores by ensuring that the physical album could come out at the same time. “Record stores are where I found myself as a teenager, digging through albums that ultimately shared who I have become,” Beth says in press notes. “To release my first ever solo album in a way that would leave them out felt wrong to me; luckily, we were able to find a date that would allow us to release the physical and digital album at the same time.”
Recorded in Los Angeles, London and Paris, To Love Is To Live finds the longtime Savages frontwoman boldly stepping into and claiming the spotlight as a solo artist, while collaborating with an eclectic array of producers and artists including Flood,Atticus Ross, longtime collaborator and Savages bandmate Johnny Hostile, Adam “Cecil” Bartlett, The xx’s Romy Madley Croft, IDLES‘ Joe Talbot and Golden Globe-winning actor Cilian Murphy.
Thematically, the album sees Beth tapping into and accessing the darkest and least comfortable parts of herself to craft material that’s cathartic, abrasive, fearlessly honest and vulnerable, making the material a dark and cinematic meditation on the very strangeness of being alive.
Earlier this month, I wrote about the album’s second single “Flower,” a brooding and atmospheric track centered around a murky and tempestuous pulse, shimming synth arpeggios and Beth’s sultry cooing and crooning. The end result is a song that’s simmers with a feverish and obsessive lust. Reportedly written about a pole dance at Los Angeles’ Jumbo’s Clown Room, the song details the complicated and confusing depths of sexuality, desire, possession and loss. “Innocence,” To Love Is To Live‘s third and latest single continues a run of dark and sultry material as its centered round an off-kilter motorik rhythm and a swaggering yet brooding trip hop-like air, while Beth purrs, howls, struts and pouts. But at its core is an eerie and uneasy feeling of isolation, loneliness and distance — and although inspired by the very things that its creator’s has experienced and felt countless times in large cities, despite being near people all the time. Recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic, the song sounds like a prescient foresight of what would eventually happen to us right now.
The single is accompanied by live video footage filmed at rehearsals for Beth’s now-critically applauded, incendiary live show, which debuted at the BBC 6 Music Festival earlier this year. Naturally, the video gives the viewer a sense of her live show’s energy with a you-are-there intimacy.
Along with the release of her solo debut, the acclaimed French-born, British-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress will be releasing her first book, a collection of erotic short stories paired with photography from her longtime collaborator and bandmate Johnny Hostile. Slated for a June 11, 2020 release through White Rabbit, Crimes Against Love Manifesto (C.A.L.M.) will help to establish Beth and Hostile as two of the most provocative and forward-thinking voices in contemporary fiction and erotic art.