|Interview by Burt Wolf with Sean Yseult!
Interview done November 11th, 2008.
FIRST OFF, I KNOW YOUR VERY BUSY & I REALLY APPRECIATE YOU DOING THIS INTERVIEW.
THANK YOU. SO HOW HAVE YOU BEEN LATELY?
Busy but good, thanks!
YOU RECENTLY STARTED YOUR OWN DESIGN COMPANY
CALLED YSEULT DESIGNS. CAN YOU TELL US SOME
INFORMATION ABOUT IT?
In college I got started, since me & Rob met there. I always promised
myself after WHITE ZOMBIE that I would get back to the design
world..., with this company, I have accessories and prints available of
designs that I hand draw. My first boutique was Fred Segal, then I got
across America, into a lot of great boutiques and department stores
overseas, and recently I just got an account with Bendels on 5th avenue.
That was a nice score for me!
YOUR DESIGNS HAVE A 60'S & 70'S STYLE TO THEM. CAN
YOU TAKE US A LITTLE THROUGH THE PROCESS OF HOW
YOU CREATE YOUR DESIGNS?
I was a kid, just starting with a dot and then filling up an entire page. I never know how they are going to turn
out, which is half the fun for me. The other half is getting to color them in. I've always been obsessed with color
relationships and impact.
YOUR DESIGNS ARE MOSTLY DONE ON HUGE SCARVES & SOME METAL CASES. WHY DID
YOU CHOOSE TO GO WITH SCARVES & WILL WE SEE YOUR DESIGNS ON ANY OTHER TYPE
For some reason I just had a vision of them printed on shiny silk. The fact I was able to find people to help me
do this is amazing, as I now learning how hard it is to have other things made! I still have the enameled metal
cases, and I have added on a few things with my newest line: clutch wallets, sleep masks, and blank journals.
DO YOU FEEL YOU'VE KIND OF COME FULL CIRCLE, GOING BACK TO YOUR ART ROOTS, BY
STARTING YOUR OWN DESIGN COMPANY?
Definitely. It is really a satisfying feeling to keep this promise I made to myself. It has already taken me into a
few directions, sometimes showing in art galleries and collaborating with other artists.
YOU ARE CURRENTLY PLAYING IN ROCK CITY
MORGUE WHICH YOU FORMED WITH RIK SLAVE
IN 2002. CAN YOU GIVE US SOME MORE
INFORMATION ON THE BAND? HOW DID YOU
COME TOGETHER? WHAT STYLE OF MUSIC YOU
PLAY? RELEASES YOU HAVE OUT? ANY TOURS
ROCK CITY MORGUE formed out of me and Rick's
friendship, which goes back to early New York WHITE
ZOMBIE days. If you look at his 1st band - THE KRETINS
7", you'll see my name for the photo credit! He moves back
and forth from New York to New Orleans a bit, and we ran
back into each other in New Orleans. It is so hard to say
what kind of music we are - people have compared us to
PIL and Nick cave - Rik has always loved THE DEAD
BOYS, MISFITS, I guess we're definitely Punk and Goth
influenced, as always! We have 3 releases out, working on
our 4th now. The only tour we have definitely is one for
Europe in the spring.
YOU GOT A NEW DRUMMER IN JOHN GREY THIS YEAR. HOW DID HE BECOME PART OF THE
John is another Rik connection - they played in a Punk band in New York for a few years called THE MAN
SCOUTS OF AMERICA. I saw them in a club in New Orleans once; the guitarist & bassist shot fire out of the
end of their guitars and practically hit the back wall!
YOU ALSO OWN A BAR CALLED THE SAINT, CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THIS? HOW
YOU CAME TO OWN IT? DO YOU HAVE BANDS PLAY THERE?
A friend pretty much offered it to us back in 2002 - us being myself and my husband, then boyfriend Chris Lee.
It seemed like fun, and it was! We loaded up the jukebox with the best 100 records ever - KYUSS,
PARLIAMENT, EYEHATEGOD, DEVO - you name it! People come from all over to hear that jukebox and
"soak up" the atmosphere!
WHICH DO YOU PREFER DOING MORE, YOUR MUSIC OR DESIGNS?
That is really 50/50 for me. Maybe the music, because you also get to perform.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO DO IT WITH ALL THE PROJECTS & STILL KEEP SANE?
It's not easy - I'm starting to feel a little swamped right now to be honest! But usually the two things balance
each other out nicely.
WERE YOU IN NEW ORLEANS
WHEN HURRICANE KATRINA HIT?
Yes - but we evacuated, of course. After
decided we needed a home somewhere
else - I ended up in New York during that
time anyway, and it was great to be back.
Chris and his band SUPAGROUP spent
most of the time on tour with ALICE
COOPER, so it worked out well for him.
YOU PLAYED WITH THE CRAMPS
FOR A LITTLE BIT. HOW DID YOU
GET INVOLVED WITH THAT & WHY
DID YOU NOT STAY WITH THEM?
I saw them live on Halloween, and they took my band FAMOUS MONSTERS out later. At one point they called
and asked me to do. I think knowing this, they called this time just to see if I wanted to do a tour, which of
course I jumped at the with them.
I ALSO READ THAT YOU USED TO JAM WITH PHIL & THE GUYS FROM DOWN. HOW COME
NOTHING EVER WORKED OUT THERE WHERE YOU STAYED WITH THEM?
Boy's club. Good ol' boys club. Nothing against them, just how it is. Love those guys, and me and Pepper wrote
a mean song in one of those jams!
FAMOUS MONSTERS WAS KIND OF A SIDE PROJECT & BAND YOU DID AFTER WHITE ZOMBIE,
WHICH WAS A GARAGE SURF BAND. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THIS
It was an idea I had for awhile: a monster surf band that combined JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS with THE
MUNSTERS, along with a cocktail lounge vibe. I started it during WHITE ZOMBIE's peak, as an outlet for fun.
WHITE ZOMBIE had a rule that no one could ever do a side project, so the incognito image was perfect - I
never wanted my name attached to the project anyway; it was supposed to be a mystery, cartoon characters!
I HAVE TWO RELEASES FROM FAMOUS
MONSTERS. ARE THERE ANY OTHER RELEASES?
DO YOU STILL STAY IN TOUCH WITH THE OTHER
GIRLS FROM THE BAND?
There are two 7"s on ESTRUS ("FAMOUS
MONSTERS...ARE GO!!!", "KNOCK, KNOCK.
HALLOWEEN!") along with a CD combing them both with
silly extras ("AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 BIKINIS"), and
one full length record on BONGLOAD ("IN THE
NIGHT!"). I see Katie in New Orleans quite a bit. She was
NASHVILLE PUSSY and now plays in a Canadian band
YOU MET ROB IN ART SCHOOL WHILE IN NEW
YORK. DID YOU GUYS HIT IT OFF INSTANTLY OR
WAS IT A FRIENDSHIP THAT SLOWLY GREW?
I'd say instantly - the day we met we pretty much moved in
together and were not apart for the next 7 years.
WHITE ZOMBIE WAS PART OF THE NEW YORK UNDERGROUND SCENE FOR AROUND 10
YEARS, THEN YOU HEADED OUT TO LOS ANGELES? WHY THE MOVE?
Luckily I had the intuition that we needed to make this move. We had just received a minuscule advance from our
label, GEFFEN, which was based in Los Angeles. Financially we could budget out the money for 5 months on
what would get spent in 1 month in New York. Our record was coming out soon, and we felt like we needed to
be there to oversee the artwork, which Rob and I were used to doing ourselves, and to meet everyone there. It
turns out that had we not made this move and gotten in good graces of the label, we would have been dropped!
Our A&R guy quit while we were out there, before the record had been released.
WHITE ZOMBIE STARTED OUT AS KIND OF A NOISE ROCK BAND & THEN SWITCHED STYLES
& SOUNDS? DID THE MOVE TO LOS ANGELES HAVE SOME INFLUENCE ON THIS OR WAS IT
No. Our sound was completely honed before we made the move, if you notice J. joined the band with the EP
"GOD OF THUNDER", and we recorded "LA SEXORCISTO" while still living in New York. The sound changed
over the years mainly due to the ever changing guitarists, but also our influences and what we were trying to do.
In the earlier days we were definitely big fans of Gregg Ginn in BLACK FLAG, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY and
THE BUTTHOLE SURFERS. Later we were influenced by METALLICA and SLAYER also.
I'VE SEEN YOU LIVE A BUNCH OF TIMES
WHEN YOU CAME THROUGH THE
PHILADELPHIA AREA. ARE THERE ANY OF
TIMES WHEN YOU CAME THROUGH THAT
REALLY STANDS OUT FROM THOSE DAYS?
Philly does actually stand out in my mind, as does
Detroit and the whole state of Texas. We had some
great shows and amazing fans! I can remember
being excited to sleep in the van, at a truck stop, in
the rain, all 5 of us - it was better than our rat
infested apartments back in New York!
THE BAND SPLIT UP IN 1998. WAS THIS
SOMETHING EVERYONE SAW COMING OR
WAS IT KIND OF A SURPRISE? WHY DID
THE BAND OFFICIALLY CALL IT QUITS?
We definitely saw it coming. Rob had actually stopped speaking to us, especially me the last two years, and hired
his own tour bus. It was pretty unbearable even for the crew, when it should have been the best time of our lives!
JAY HAS PRODUCED SOME OF YOUR ROCK CITY MORGUE MUSIC. DO YOU STILL STAY IN
TOUCH WITH OTHER MEMBERS OF WHITE ZOMBIE?
Jay and Johnny I see and talk to all of the time - both great guys! I want to get in touch with Ivan and Tom now
that this box set is finally happening.
WOULD YOU EVER DO A WHITE ZOMBIE REUNION? ANY HOPES OF ONE HAPPENING?
We've always said never, but someone posed the question of doing it with a Rob replacement, which would be
pretty funny since he ran around the country with a WHITE ZOMBIE cover band for years! Our manager tried
to get J and I to do that right after breaking up, but it just seemed tacky at the time. I have to admit now it might
WERE YOU IN ANY OTHER BANDS BEFORE WHITE ZOMBIE? ANY OTHER BANDS YOU WERE
IN BESIDES THE ONES I MENTIONED AFTER WHITE ZOMBIE?
None to speak of. I filled in for a few shows in a Lower East Side Punk band called LIFE, which is where I met
Ena (our first guitarist) and Ivan.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY BASS? YOU ALSO PLAY PIANO, DO YOU PLAY ANY OTHER
INSTRUMENTS? ARE YOU SELF TAUGHT?
Bass was easy to pick up and play right away for me, because I was classically trained on violin. The bass, is like
a violin with a cheat sheet! I am self taught, but I was also classically trained on piano, reading and writing music
before I could read the alphabet. My classes were also heavy on Blues, composition and improv so I was
performing with Blues bands in nightclubs by the age of 8. I also play banjo, guitar and am learning the theremin.
HOW WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED
TO MUSIC? WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR
INFLUENCES IN MUSIC & IN LIFE IN
My dad was always blasting THE STONES,
HENDRIX, SGT. PEPPER, pretty good stuff.
My mom liked Classical music. I started on the
piano as soon as I was old enough to crawl up
on the chair, so it is hard to remember a time
without music. As for influences, I've always
been drawn to things that are slightly atonal -
throwing in sharps and flats where they don't
belong - this goes all of the way from
CHOPLIN to SLAYER.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST ALBUM YOU REMEMBER BUYING? WHAT WAS THE FIRST CONCERT
YOU EVER WENT TO?
First album: IGGY POP, METALLICA K.O. I hate to say it was because it was in the $1.00 cut out bin, but I
was a young broke kid and I was also drawn to the cover. First "concert": JOAN JETT, two bucks at a small
club in North Carolina, with a fake I.D. Boy did THAT show make an impression!!!
WHO ARE SOME OF THE BANDS YOU HAVE CURRENTLY BEEN LISTENING TO?
BURNING BRIDES, BIRDS OF AVALON, EARL GREYHOUND, THE FELICE BROTHERS - all cool
new bands that have passed through New Orleans lately that impressed me. Always NICK CAVE.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE
HORROR & NON-HORROR MOVIES?
SPIDERBABY, BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR,
FRANKENSTEIN, GODZILLA VS. MONSTER
ZERO, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, the original
NOSFERATU, anything with Lon Chaney.
Non-Horror/Monster: HAROLD AND MAUDE,
BABY DOLL, AUNTIE MAME... I also have to
watch everytime FAST TIMES or THE JERK
comes on TV, or any Bruce Lee movie (even
though I own all of these also!).
HAVE YOU SEEN ANY OF ROB'S FILMS?
WHAT'S ONE THING YOU'D THINK PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO FIND OUT ABOUT YOU?
After this interview, there's not much! Ok - maybe one thing: despite all my years training in music, I wanted to
move to New York City to be a ballet dancer, and was on a scholarship at N.C.S.A. living on campus from ages
12 - 18 in training, until I broke my foot senior year. That is when I was forced to make a temporary switch that
became permanent when I did well in the Visual Arts program, which led to a scholarship to Parsons.
WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT FROM SEAN YSEULT?
Hopefully more graphics, and I am making them available on my website soon as ready to frame archival prints,
signed and numbered.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS
INTERVIEW? WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW
THAT IT'S DONE?
I am in the middle of scanning all of my old
photos beginning until the end - we are prepping
for the release of the WHITE ZOMBIE box set,
FINALLY, which is due to come out November
25th. METAL EDGE is doing a huge
comprehensive article on the band, and we are
doing more interviews, but you are the first. I am
working on liner notes as the box set got released
sadly with none. Hopefully they will make the next
pressing, either way I will start a WHITE
ZOMBIE website or Facebook so people can read
what the hell they are looking at and listening to!
I am scanning the photos for the same reason, as Rob turned in the art without J and I getting to approve it.
There are not only liner notes and credits missing, but a lot of the story, pictorially speaking. The box set DOES
have ALL of the old vinyl, tons of old photos, the CDs, videos, and rare live footage so it is still a cool time - just
look for something online under my name to get the full story soon!