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SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES – "SWIMMING HORSES" (Promo video, 1984)

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zoot1969

Costas

SIOUXSIE: "I wrote it after watching a series called 20/20 Vision about a female version of Amnesty, called 'Les Sentinelles'. The group is a French organization, mainly men, which rescues women (trapped in certain religious climates in the Middle East) from honor killing, religions that view any kind of pre-marital sexual aspersion as punishable by death - either by the hand of the eldest brother in the family, or by public stoning. And there was this instance of a woman whose daughter had developed a tumour, and, of course, gossip abounded that she was pregnant. The doctor who removed the tumour allowed her to take it back to the village to prove that, no, it wasn’t a baby - but they wouldn’t believe her. The woman knew her daughter would have to be stoned to death so she poisoned her, out of kindness, to save her from a worse fate. Now this organisation has all these escape routes for women like her, mainly through the elder brother who pretends to have killed them. But once they’ve been saved, they can never go back. So the song starts, ‘Kinder than with poison...’ I also used the imagery of, ‘He gives birth to swimming horses’, from the fact that male sea horses give birth to the children, so they’re the only species that have a maternal feel for the young. It was, I suppose, an abstract way of linking it all together without being sensationalist. I remember just being really moved by that programme, and wanting to get the sorrow out of me."
SEVERIN: "We chose it as a single because it’s ended up being the most commercial out of everything we’ve been doing and it’s sufficiently different from everything we’ve ever done to gain special attention and show there’s been some change in the past year. It came from a whole different way of working – Robert on piano and Budgie on drums – and that’s just basically how we recorded it, not knowing what it was gonna turn out like or even why we thought it was worth putting on tape until we started to work on it. In a way, it’s kinda of a reaction to all those guitar bands."
It was the 1st single off HYÆNA released on 16 March 1984 and peaked at #28 in the UK charts.
Its video was shot in March at Battersea, London by Tim Pope of GLO Productions, with Nigel Talamo & Caroline Greville-Morris as set designers.
SIOUXSIE: "The video was a fiasco. The idea was that we’d have these coloured screens moving in and out of focus behind us. It was meant to be abstract and blurry, but it came out looking flat and really cheap. We’d already done a few videos with Tim Pope and in this instance he decided to work with a new cameraman, assuring us that he would be fantastic. At the screening - apart from the shots of the horse in water - I was very disappointed by the shots of the band and myself, 90% of the video! […] The whole thing was a complete disaster and we never allowed it to be shown on TV."
SEVERIN: "It just looked like some awful kids' TV show."

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