Interview with Debbie for morethanjustaprettyface.com webzine, February 2001
Debbie Lime, frontwoman in stylish Venini, talks about music, Amsterdam and Seedy Glamour
Venini burned brightly, but for such a short time... formed by Debbie and Russell Senior, ex-Pulp Guitar and Violinist ("He's retired now"... Debbie says. "He's got his pipe and slippers out!") the sometime 6 piece set out to bring style to the drab world of the fin de siecle charts.
"People don't generally want to see a bunch of lads on stage that look like you've just pulled them off the street. They want to see something different, something uplifting."
Something more showy?
"Yes! That's the word."
Aesthetics played a large part in the Venini mind-set. Quoted as saying "There's no excuse for not looking good." they tried to achieve what few do - Style and Substance.
"I think that in this country [England] indie bands in the NME, if the look good they can't have good music, that's basically what's said. Travis or Stereophonics - they're not glamorous bands, they're just four . . . geezers in a band supposedly making decent music. Then you go to the other side which is like, Steps, who've just got image, and the music's criticised a
lot. Venini tried to get a good image as well as play good music." The idea that you can have one thing and not the other pains Debbie. Russell has described the band members as "style fascists" in one interview for Borrow or Rob webzine, and the majority of press cuttings on www.venini.co.uk seem to include the word Glamour at least once. What's the difference between
being "sexy" and "glamorous"?
"You don't get real glamorous icons any more. You just get sexy little things tottering around on high heels. I do think there's a certain image that the media portray as sexy. That's one of the problems of the Pop world or the Acting world at the moment."
A problem in what way? Are these kids being manipulated?
"I do think some of them are manipulated. Say Billie - I mean, pre-16 Billie was just an innocent schoolkid, and as soon as she hit 16 it was, "Tits out for the Lads". I think the music industry does manipulate girls into doing stuff like that."
But for example, Madonna used to be quite raunchy too, with all the S&M gear - but she always seemed to be in control. "She's glamorous and sexy. She's very ballsy. She knows how to sell music."
Coming from the West Midlands, Debbie did a degree in Manchester before moving to Sheffield and then London. Along the way, she lived in Amsterdam's Red Light District for about 5 months. Amsterdam has a reputation for being one of the easiest cities in the world to get laid in... mostly thanks to the legalised brothels and plentiful supply of drugs and prostitutes. What on earth was it like living there?
"It was alright when I first moved out there but it just gets to you a bit. It's a bit like Soho really. I thought Soho was Ok before I actually moved to London . . . and once you're there, it's basically pimps, drug dealers and prostitutes. You think it's going to be glamorous, and it's not. Seedy Glamour doesn't really exist. It's just . . . horribleness."
Seedy Glamour is...?
"Hmmm . . . Sexual imagery. 'The story of O', that's Seedy Glamour. Emmanuelle is Seedy Glamour. But it doesn't really exist when you're in the middle of it."
So, after some weeks of uncertainty about the future of the band, Venini issued a press release confirming they'd split up. At the time of this interview, things were still sketchy.
" We're thinking of maybe making more dancey, more computer-keyboard music rather than indie guitar. It might be more me working with Ash [Venini keyboard player] and coming off with a different project. Something's going to come out of it, and we'll be using some of the songs from Venini."
'Tokyo Lucky Hole' is the duo's new working title, and Debbie hoped to have some material and/or a tour afoot by September.
"I'm just a bit sick of indie guitar and I want to see how far we can push the songs. I think they could be really, really good pop songs and I want to see if we can create that with a keyboard and computer. We're changing into something else. There's a French label called Trickatelle . . . hopefully a cross between that and something Moloko-ey.
"Look out for us, Mark Sturdy will be updating the website and we'll be putting some stuff out & touring around September. Hopefully playing in London & Sheffield... we're thinking of going into France too."