The Garbage frontwoman speaks out on playing it straight and being authentic
Andrew Trendell
21:00 1st October 2015

"I'm obsessed with Tracey Emin, mostly her attitude," smiles Garbage's Shirley Manson, flicking her pink hair as she gazes longingly at the ceiling. "I love her writing, her visual work, how honest she is, how she doesn't hide things. She's always just so willing to stand behind what she has to say. It always just touches me in some way. There are tonnes of visual artists that excite me, but as a figure, she excites me."

It should come as no surprise that Emin and Manson may well be spirit animals. They do share that innate ability of communicating without the obstacle of bullshit - able to drill down to the raw truth of the matter, no matter how disconcerting or taboo it may be. 

"Ultimately, I think what I am most drawn to is people who are honest to say 'this is who I am, I'm not perfect, I'm fucked up, this is what's wrong with me, this is what's right with me, I love this and hate this about myself'," Manson tells Gigwise.

"I guess it's because when I meet people, I see people. It's like my greatest strength and my greatest curse. When I meet people I can see their bullshit in like a nanosecond, I can tell when they're not confident, when they hate themselves, when they love themselves, blah blah blah - there's millions of people like me, but I want the truth from someone. Life is short and we don't have time to fucking around with your ideas and why I might be looking at you. Just give me who you are and see if we get along. If we do, that's great and if not let's both move on."


Tracey Emin with 'My Bed' - Photo: WENN

It's that same honesty and never wanting to 'fuck about' that has landed Manson in hot water on a few occasions. She's known and loved for her open, and often brutal, blog posts online and on her Facebook page. Earlier this year, she made headlines when she took online to slam Kanye West's GRAMMY stunt, accusing him of being 'petty, spoilt and a complete twat'. We asked the Garbage icon to reflect on the furore that followed. 

"I didn't feel like I was attacking him, I just felt like things had gotten so bannanas - including Kanye himself," Manson tells us. "I think in some ways his success has turned his compass around, because I know he's a rebellious character - I have loved him and admired him since he came out."

She continues: "It wasn't geared towards him. It was partly my outrage at poor Beck being humiliated like that in public, because he's such a delicious and worthy artist, you know - a true artist. Not a popstar but an artist, and for Kanye to attack him the way he did was just a sign of how crazy the media can churn you around and spin your compass around.

"I love Kanye West's music, I think he's an incredible artist and the world needs someone like that, he's a real provocateur. But I think he drank the cool-aid in regards to how he viewed music awards. It's like 'really dude - you really think awards shows are awarding the very best of the best?' I mean, come on, they are laughable at best."

Watch our interview with Shirley Manson below

"I was shocked that it got picked up the way it did," Manson goes on. "It spread like wildfire and I was like 'really?' I just wrote it for me because it was cathartic, you don't expect anyone to pay attention. So I was really shocked when it was picked up all over the world. It actually freaked me out, truth be told. I didn't like it that much. 

"I don't want to be calling out another artist who I respect, but something had to be said for how ludicrous awards shows are. I mean, please."

Check out the rest of our Garbage Gigwise takeover below:


We talk to Manson about the impact of their debut, culture in the 90s and how she 'hated' fame


Watch Manson talk us through what went in to each and every track on this classic record


Watch Manson discuss how she's 'not so tough' and her deep connection with fans


Manson tells us about her favourite new + classic bands, as well as 'the power' of female artists


Manson tells all on the band's upcoming, long-awaited and 'romantic' new album