Interview: Poly Styrene

Very few people have contributed as much to punk feminism as Poly Styrene. As the front woman for X-Ray Spex, Styrene was instrumental in shaping women’s role in punk in late 70s. Styrene remained an influential figure after the 1979 break-up of X-Ray Spex. Recently, Styrene released her new album, Generation Indigo. I had a chance to ask Poly Styrene a few questions about her legacy, her new album, and what social causes she is rallying for.
MP3: Poly Styrene “Black Christmas”

Billboard described you as the “archetype for the modern-day feminist punk”. Is this an image you embrace?
Not really, no. I don’t like labels, you know I’ve done my music and have different images, and don’t have an image that I embrace, because I change my images all the time.

What is your take on the current state of punk?
I don’t really have a current take on it. It’s a music that started in the 70s, Its nostalgia really, I don’t see it as current. Its influenced and has had a bearing on current music.

Your solo output has traditional not been punk. Why such a stylistic difference between X Ray Spex and your solo records?
Because if I was going to make a solo album, why would they be the same? What’s the point of making a solo album if it was going to sound like X-ray Spex.

How is working as a solo artist different from being in a band?
As a solo artist you can break new ground, as a band you’ve got to keep the band’s sound, which is like a trademark.

Your new album Generation Indigo is your first solo album since 1980’s Translucence. How different will this album be?
Its nothing like Transluscence, its kind of upbeat dancey, but lyrically there are some similarities to work I’ve done in the past.

I know because of health issues you are not currently planning live dates, but is touring something that still interests?
Yes, of course I want to get up there and do my new album.

You have always been a very social conscious person. Are there any current social issues you are lobbying for or against?
War, the environment, racism, all these subjects I touch on my new album.