Gazelle Twin

Meet John Foxx and Gary Numan collaborator Gazelle Twin, who Grimes has described as “Suicide meets Nine Inch Nails, but really feminine and modern”

With the heavy resonance of both Fever Ray and the Cocteau Twins, Gazelle Twin’s ‘The Entire City’ was John Foxx’s favourite album of 2011. The creation of Brighton-based Elizabeth Bernholz, the record explored metaphysical concerns on Fourth World soundscapes such as ‘I Am Shell, I Am Bone’, while there was also the unsettling paganism of ‘Men Like Gods’. John Foxx and Gary Numan subsequently commissioned Gazelle Twin for remix work, with Bernholz adding her own vocals in the process. 

But Bernholz’s highest accolade came from movie director Ridley Scott, who used ‘Bell Tower’, another track on ‘The Entire City’, in a promotional viral film for ‘Prometheus’. As a fan of the ‘Alien’ franchise, this was a huge boost for Bernholz, who has suffered from anxiety and various phobias since childhood. Her condition ultimately led to her using a series of costumes to help express herself as a performer. Her current persona is a faceless schoolgirl. Designed for her forthcoming second album, ‘Unflesh’, the character made its first appearance in the video for ‘Belly Of The Beast’.

“I’m playing with more personal references, taking on the form of
something recognisable and deceptively innocent,” she declares.

“It’s basically a PE kit!”

The previous Gazelle Twin visual presentation was not quite as basic, but was well in keeping with the hauntronica of ‘The Entire City’.

“The last one was an all-black costume which gave the effect of a silhouette,” she remembers. “The idea came from the film about Joseph Merrick [the so-called Elephant Man]. I had an asymmetrical frame, an enlarged head and was completely covered from head to toe.”

Bernholz does draw a line with these characters, though.

“I have always done interviews out of costume, never ‘as’ Gazelle Twin. My stage persona is one thing, but I am another. I feel no differently to how I did when I first began Gazelle Twin, wearing an old skirt around my shoulders as a cloak and a bit of black curtain fringing across my face. But there has to be a separation point, otherwise it could all become very pretentious or a sort of eccentricity, which it is not. It is a role I play when performing or appearing as Gazelle Twin and at no other point.”

‘The Entire City’ captured an unsettling future primitive world, complete with banshee wailing and eerie operatic stylings. Grimes described her as “Suicide meets Nine Inch Nails, but really feminine and modern”.

For ‘Unflesh’, Bernholz takes an even fiercer approach.

“As the title suggests, it’s getting down to the bare bones,” she says. “It’s tapping into aggression, violence and a sense of retaliation, but in a positive, creative way. I thought a lot about my experiences when I was growing up.”

One of the highlights of ‘Unflesh’ sounds like an industrialised cross between Kraftwerk’s ‘Home Computer’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘On The Run’. The track is called ‘Exorcise’, which is symbolic of how the album appears to have been a heavily cathartic experience for Bernholz. 

“‘Exorcise’ is the hangover of traumatic events that still affect me as an adult – wanting to give into the wildness inside that I felt then and now wanting to avenge my past. The album is less engineered than this might sound, though. It all came from a healthy desire to throw myself at the world. That desire translates into every part of the record”.

The new Gazelle Twin single, ‘Anti Body’, continues where ‘Belly Of The Beast’ left off, with spoken vocals and percussive noise alongside Moog arpeggios courtesy of John Foxx collaborator Benge. To complete the Mathematical equation, Stephen Mallinder adds his gargoyle vocals via the Wrangler remix. But despite the impressive cast of supporting players, Elizabeth Bernholz remains resolutely independent and focused about her future.

“I will always explore physical anonymity as a performer,” she declares.

“I still think there is a very long way to go with it, in fact.”

‘Anti Body’ is out on Anti-Ghost Moon Ray Records. 

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