Sean Yseult is probably most recognized as the co-founder/bassist for the heavy metal band White Zombie, a group which dominated MTV with its hit song/video “Thunder kiss 65” in the early 90’s. Since the groups disbanding in 1998 Sean went on to play with several other acts such as The Famous Monsters and Rock City Morgue. In November of this year, Sean will showcase a different part of her artistic abilities in “Retrospective”- a love letter to her long-time muse, New Orleans which will be on display at Sacred Gallery in NYC through December 31st. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Sean recently about the exhibits creation and her return to New York City.
Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about your upcoming exhibit “Retrospective” which opens in November?
Sean Yseult: The exhibit is going to have a little bit of everything. There are pieces from shows I did in New Orleans 10 years ago. Mostly I am going to be showing my large 4ft by 6ft pieces I did recently for a show in New Orleans titled “SQIREE D’EVOLUTION”. It’s kind of a tongue and cheek yet morbid setting of a party in New Orleans set in the 1870’s. It’s based around a secret societies party that has gone wrong. It’s a really fun show. The exhibit will also have some pieces from my “MISSISSIPPI MERMAIDS” show where I figured out how to put girls inside of bottles on the ocean which is a little different. (Laughs) I also have some pieces from way back that are old black and white Polaroid’s done in the style of Joel-Peter Witkin and Bellocq. There is a lot to look at as they gave me a tone of space so I am going to fill it out. (Laughs)
AL: Where did your influences come from for “SQIREE D’EVOLUTION” and “MISSISSIPPI MERMAIDS”?
SY: I really don’t know where I got the idea for “MISSISSIPPI MERMAIDS” and having girls in bottles. Maybe I watched too much “I Dream of Jeanie” when I was growing up. (Laughs) For “SQIREE D’EVOLUTION” I was hugely influenced by the Dutch Masters. I made an enormous black back drop and the photos have a serious light/darkness to them with an intensity of color. A lot of people walk up to them thinking they are paintings. I am very happy with how those turned out. I definitely draw from a few different areas.
AL: With the pieces that are coming from different exhibits how did you go about choosing those selections?
SY: I looked at everything I had done and it all has this sort of timeless quality to it. You can’t really tell which era the pieces are actually from. Even my new pieces which are in full color and set in the 1800’s have those elements. It’s very hard to tell the time as they are a bit ghostly and a lot of them are portraits of women in various states of dress or undress. It all sort of fits together somehow. (Laughs)
AL: What is it that draws you to this type of subject matter?
SY: I moved to New Orleans and became entranced with the people and the beauty of the city. The city is in this sort of state of decay and things are falling apart. In the summer especially girls are running around in slips and things so it’s hard to tell really what period you are in. It’s pretty amazing. To me it’s just so beautiful and there are so many lovely people. I just enjoy photographing it all.
AL: Coming back to New York for your first solo show is sort of a home coming for you. What do you think the experience is going to be like?
SY: I am really excited! I originally moved to the city to attend Parsons School of Design for photography. Its finally coming full circle that I get to come back there with my photo’s after all these years. Parsons is where I met Rob and we started White Zombie which sort of derailed my photography for awhile but after the band broke up I moved to New Orleans and started back up with my photography. I have shown off and on at different galleries but it’s going to be so great to show at Sacred Studios. I have been making visits up there ever since I was offered the show.
AL: How did the opportunity to show at Sacred Studio actually come about?
SY: I was at an opening last spring at a private gallery at the Chelsea Hotel for Dee Dee Ramone. My old A&R guy from Geffen Records was there and he pointed out this artist that he loved named Vincent Castiglia. We started talking and he had shown at Sacred Gallery and thought they might like my work. He put me in touch with them and I talked with Kevin Wilson the gallery director and from there things moved pretty quickly.
AL: With being so involved with your photography as of late do you feel your music has sort of taken a back seat?
SY: Not always. I sort of flip flop back and forth depending on my schedule. For the last year though I would have to say yes. I spent 2 years putting together “SQIREE D’EVOLUTION” which was a lot of very intense work. Now I am more curating and gathering things to put a show like this together. I do have a new band called Star and Dagger which will be recording with the amazing Chris Goss later this year. We have a lot of songs written but just haven’t had time to get everyone together.