By Morgue Anne
Photo by Morgue Anne
Seattle’s Mercury at Machinewerks is a place that is either packed or empty, but rarely in between. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the first Black List show managed to bring in a good crowd to fill the place out without limiting the ability to get a drink in a reasonable amount of time. This was a good sign not only for the performances ahead but the continuing future of the night.
"There just isn’t anywhere good for local musicians to perform" audio engineer Jades Pain said "It’s time to make our own." And so they have.
With a short but sweet lineup of Dark Matter Noise, Mixed Messages, and Grasp Logic playing live music with DJ Major Tom spinning the spooky tunes in between, few people walked in the door with low expectations. Certainly no one was disappointed. The intimacy of the Mercury’s space allowed everyone in attendance a perfect seat no matter where they stood, and the small bags of candy placed on every table were a subtle but effective ice breaker. Dark Matter Noise started the night off with a bang, letting the early arrivers know that this was not going to be a calm, quiet evening at the goth club. This is the time, and the place, to rock.
As the night went on, Wesley, the lead singer of Mixed Messages, took advantage of the close proximity during his set and pulled people from the audience forward, encouraging them to dance. Finally realizing it would take more than just good music to wake up the crowd, he stole the show by lifting a keyboard above his head and smashing it on the ground, inviting everyone to take part in the destruction. As someone who has always nurtured a gleam of punk rock spirit in my heart, I didn’t let my heels stop me from have a little fun helping the equipment quickly disintegrate into a thousand pieces.
Once the wreckage was cleared away and the stage reset, Grasp Logic taught everyone that appearance isn’t everything and rocked out far harder than two men, a keyboard, and some computers should have any right to. I was only disappointed in the fact that their equipment prevented them from being able to move more, as the few dance steps front-man Garrett pulled out were pretty impressive and would have been far more entertaining in front of the table rather than behind it. But given the physical limitations caused by making his music happen, I was even more impressed by their determination to give their audience a fantastic show as they carried straight through technical difficulties and proved that they have what it takes to help make Black List a night to remember.
The evening wrapped up perfectly with a final setlist from DJ Major Tom which you can find on his facebook page. I am happy to have been able to attend the first Black List show and am looking forward to many more in the future. This is the event the Seattle music scene has been desperately begging for, and it warms my cold heart to see it come to fruition. Just remember - we as the fans have just as much a responsibility to the scene as the bands do. Don’t stay in this Friday night, go support some local music. It will cost less than the sandwich you had for lunch and stay with you far longer.
Black List is fifth Wednesdays at the Mercury @ Machinewerks. The next one will be held May 29th. You can find Mixed Messages, Grasp Logic, and Dark Matter Noise on facebook to learn more info and find out about upcoming shows.
You can also find out more about Mercury at Machinewerks nights go to their facebook for a full list.
A couple of Mercury nights have their own facebook pages. You can follow those pages separately.
By Mandy McGee
Morrison’s Prophecy’s album is available for free digital download. Go get it!!! Morrison’s Prophecy is a goth electronic band from Seattle.
By Morgue Anne
This year, I made a decision to only give handmade gifts. A week before Christmas, while I was frantically assembling pillows at my sewing machine, I realized this was a ridiculous expectation and expanded my gift criteria to include non-handmade items purchased from independently owned retailers. This is my adventure in buying local.
Aaron J Shay
Aaron J Shay is a local musician who plays big songs on a tiny instrument, and was kind enough to perform at a show I put together once a month at VERY short notice. Not only did he impress me by being able to put together a 30 minute set with about 4 hours heads up, he included in that set a cover of my favorite Pulp/William Shatner song. I wasn’t the only person impressed, though. A friend of mine came to the show and was so excited about the music he heard that he bought a CD on the spot. The next day, I realized what a perfect Christmas gift more of his music would make. I contacted Aaron through his facebook and explained the situation, and once again I was in awe of Aaron’s grasp on his art - not only did he remember my friend when I described him, he knew which album he had purchased! We arranged a time for me to swing by his house so I could pick up the right CD as well as a collection of short stories he had written. I was able to get a heartfelt gift for a friend, I was able to put cash into someone’s hand so they could purchase something for their own loved ones. I also made a push for Aaron to record his cover of “Common People”. You’re welcome.
You can also find out more about Aaron here.
(Above drawing is by Meredith Scheff-King)
Fuchsia Phoenix Hair Design
Chivahn of Fuchsia Phoenix cut my hair for me a while back and I was genuinely sad when I had to wash it because of how perfectly she had curled my hair. Given that my Mom has the same un-tamable mane that I do, when I saw a post on facebook saying Fuchsia Phoenix was open for a few hours the day before Christmas I jumped on the opportunity to swing by and buy her a gift certificate. The salon itself is in an ActivSpace, but Chivahn has transformed her space into a girlish wonderland with pink-on-pink circus stripes and some truly amazing artwork framed on the walls. Not only does she work wonders on hair, Chivahn can’t keep her creativity calm and creates a wide assortment of jewelry from Ouiji hairpieces to cameos you would never expect. My favorite was a Rainbow Dash rosary necklace with a lightning bolt pendant. Fuchsia Phoenix may outwardly seem like the sparkly princess palace to end all pretty pink parties, but men are welcome and skulls sit comfortably alongside the little ponies, so no matter where you fall on the freaky spectrum you’ll feel at home.
Le Noir Bazaar
Tacoma is not a place I travel to frequently. Gas is expensive, and there’s a playful snobbery about Seattlites and our smelly Southern sister. The last minute Christmas shipping panic took hold of me the day before Le Noir Bazaar (Formally A Little Touch of Magick) held their “Victorian Christmas” in-store event. This meant that they were open late enough for me to swing by after work AND they were having some awesome sales. I’d been meaning to visit the shop for well over a year now, so I laced up my winter corset and drove the thirty minutes down to see if the buy two, get one jewelry selection had anything my Aunt would enjoy. Spoiler Alert - it did! The shop itself was smaller than I had expected, but before I even stepped through the door I knew I was in for a treat. Le Noir Bazaar holds a surprising collection of locally crafted jewelry, accessories, and even cosmetics. My Mother loved the hand crafted soap I put in her stocking, and the sale meant I got a hair piece for myself with 0 guilt. After several compliments from gentlemen about how good I smelled, there is no question about me returning to figure out which scent I sampled and buy as much of it as I can afford. The owner was energetic and kind, the shop girls were immaculately dressed and attentive without being annoying. I was genuinely surprised at how much variety I was able to find. Le Noir Bazaar isn’t just a go-to for “Goth Stuff”, they’re an irreplaceable treasure of a store, and will be seeing me in the future.
(Picture above is Extollere’s own Morgue Anne shopping at Le Noir Bazaar. Photo by Dan McCormack)
Otherworlds is another small shop that packs an impressive punch, although since it is in Edmonds it is a lot closer to my usual haunts. Despite being decked out in all the Steampunk Finery that only true dedication to the style can produce, they are not exclusive to the genre and offer a haven for all things geeky. On my next visit I will spend far more time drooling over their bookshelves for my own selfish reasons, but they are a book store the way Le Noir Bazaar is a clothing store - that is to say, they use it as a starting point then do what they want, and I fucking love them for it. On top of a disgustingly impressive library of books available for purchase (I was sick to my stomach by my inability to truly book nerd out), they also have an awe-inspiring assortment of knick-knacks, still more jewelry, and card and board games. If you find yourself overwhelmed by fantasticalness, fear not! You can purchase soft drinks at the counter and have a seat at the large wooden tables to collect yourself and maybe play a round or two of cards. They have events almost every night of the week, including a monthly Steampunk book club as well as dancing on Mondays and gaming nights on Fridays. This means that as well as a really bad ass pair of leather gloves, my boyfriend also received a whole new set of options for date nights.
(Above photo by Bill Hinsee)
Written by Mandy McGee
Winter Parkin (aka Negative Nancy) creates the magic behind Isis and the Ghost. With her dark and haunting vocals and repetitive ghostly beats layered with droning guitar riffs, Winter pulls you into realm inhabited with otherworldly creatures of myth and legend. Isis and the Ghost takes you to a place where dreams and nightmares manifest while heightening your every emotion. I got a chance to sit down with Winter to find out more about who she is and what goes into making her beautiful music.
Mandy: Where are you from or did you grow up in Seattle?
Winter: I was born in San Louis Obispo California, but my family moved up when I was 3 or 4. I like to consider myself from both places. But I grew up here definitely.
Mandy: How long have you been a musician?
Winter: As long as I can remember to some degree. I used to love singing when I was a little kid, or just tinkering around on whatever instrument came my way. When I learned flute in elementary school, I liked to write out renditions of songs I liked and play them in my room as a form of practice. I started really writing songs when I started high school though when I got a hold of my first guitar.
Mandy: how would you describe your music?
Winter: Its dark, and hypnotizing in its repetitiveness. I have a really hard time putting labels on it in terms of genres because nothing seems to really fit. I hear Gothic a lot, but I don’t really think its entirely appropriate, and am not too fond of the connotations that go along with that any more. Someone once told me my set was monolithic, which I loved. So Maybe I would say upon further thought it is Dark Hypnotic Monolithic non-Goth music. Or something to that effect. Its about ghosts and demons and haunting memories, as well as angels and redeeming oneself. Its really a search for light in human imposed darkness.
Mandy: Does anyone else in your family play music or is creative, and do they support what you do?
Winter: Both of my parents are very creative, as are my siblings. I would have to say specifically that my musical inclinations come from my dad however, who instilled a lot of artistic qualities in me. He is an excellent pianist and writer, and was who really introduced me to a world of poetry. My family is very supportive, whether they are completely understanding of it or not.
Mandy:What is your favourite childhood memory?
Winter: Childhood is a pretty magical time, and I have a lot of good ones. Id have to say at least one that comes to mind right away, is the first time my dad read the Raven to me. My brother and I were spending the summer in Atascadero California with my grandparents where my dad lived at that time. It was the summer before I went into third grade I believe and I remember this day my brother and I had found a lizard and brought it inside and lost it. Anyways, we were being read to before bed, and my dad thought I would like this one. So he read through the poem perfectly, you know, all slow and mysterious. It scared the shit out of my brother, but I remember thinking the rhymes were really pleasant. So the poem is over, and my dad leaves the room. Then a tapping on the window outside….the Raven. Tap tap tap….my brother screamed. Maybe cried. I thought it was hilarious, and incredibly exciting. I had him read me the poem constantly after that, and went on to memorize it for a project that next year in school. I was a weird kid I guess.
Photo by Ron Tipton
Mandy: Do you remember the first record/tape/CD you bought? What was it?
Winter: Spice World-Spice Girls, it was a Cd the first record I bought years later was two at a time Wild Love by Smog, and Desert Shore by Nico.
Mandy: What music do you like to listen to? What bands influence you?
Winter: There is a lot more that I like than that which I don’t like. Id say I draw most of my direct inspiration from the whole No Wave thing. I still get excited every time I hear Michael Gira scream at me to go fuck myself with the money of Jesus while he’s writhing on stage and bleeding in those early videos. Or whatever he says. But I like a lot of things. I love the blues. I love Son House. I also like a lot of psych and shoegaze too…..Basically I like any really emotionally driven or poetic music. Things that make me want to drown in whiskey while sobbing, trash things, kill people, or go to church and be saved. Anything that makes me feel something, inspires me.
Mandy: What equipment do you use and like the best?
Winter: Right now Im using a little Vox amp, and a Samick semi-hollow body guitar which I think is from the early 90s. As far as pedals go I use a boss distortion, a eternity overdrive clone (which was custom made for me, and I love dearly) a digitech jamman stompbox looper, and a digitech digi reverb pedal. I use a combination of a little circuit bent casio, a yamaha keyboard, and a boss drum machine to build my loops. Id have to go look at the models of all of those, I’m not good at shop-talk! I like really washed out sounds, but that get contrasted with heavier tribal beats and distorted guitars. I’d also like to get into sampling.
Mandy: How do you write and record your songs? Is there a method from to start to finish or does everything happen organically?
Winter: Its definitely a combination. Sometimes I start with lyrics, or just a single line. Sometimes it starts with a drum beat. Or it’ll start with a guitar progression. So whatever the first point is, it will normally flesh itself out naturally from there. I write a lot about my dreams as well, so I guess you could say it starts with a dream.
Photo by Peter Thadeus
Mandy: If you could have any super power what would it be?
Winter: Teleporting-I’m lazy.
Mandy: If you could sit down and talk to any fictional character who would it be and why?
Winter: I can think of two, and I am indecisive. Alice from Alice in Wonderland because she’s seen a lot of shit, and if I remember correctly was quite articulate. Or Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea, because I love fishermen tales and I wouldn’t have to keep trying to find an old fisherman’s bar to hear a good story. Those don’t exist….or the doctor, for obvious reasons.
Mandy: If you could tour with any band who would it be?
Winter: Swans, but Swans from the early 80s. Or Silver Mt Zion, less appropriately.
Mandy: Are you involved with any other projects?
Winter: As far as musical projects I’ve been doing keyboard and a little percussion with This Blinding Light. I have a lot of art projects going on at home, paintings, jewelry and crafts.
Mandy: Do you have those on sale anywhere?
Winter: I have some jewelry up on etsy under Northwest Mystic. There is not much up there right now. Its supposed to be a combination of handmade and vintage jewelry and magical tools. As far as paintings go, I’m possessive, I have pictures up on my facebook, and will definitely talk to anyone interested. I haven’t set up a page for selling those yet. Mostly because I’m scared someone will actually take them from me.
Mandy: Do you have any hidden talents?
Winter: Hidden talents…not really any more. I used to be able to lay on my stomach and twist my legs around to touch the floor by my head. I cant do that any more. I do have hyper mobile joints, and have to be super careful with my knees in particular. Not that that’s a talent.
Mandy: What advice can you give others who want to be musicians?
Winter: Just do it. I think a lot of people, especially kids or beginners, are afraid that they aren’t going to succeed. It’s a very evil kind of fear that keeps people from creating, that wants to stop humanity from connecting with the universe. So if you have the inspiration, you should follow it. There’s no rules. And if someone judges you, all the better. Following your creative motivations and ideas is a really important way to discover yourself and the reality happening infinitely around you, and a disservice not to. Keep strong and find what inspires you. Then do it with your entire soul. Never let anyone tell you how you can follow your desires. or rather to full fill your desires.
Mandy: Is there a place people can check you out on the web
Written by Mandy McGee
Atropines Creations and Oddities is artistry made by Atropine Steele who currently resides in New Jersey. She designs Victorian Gothic jewelry, hair accessories, wearable taxidermy, alters clothing, and other various oddities. Atropine also sometimes sells vintage, hand painted clothes and custom made creations. I am going to get her to make me a necklace with a picture of my brain from my MRI. I will show off the picture once it is made.
Atropine by Forma Photography
Mandy: How did you name your company?
Atropine: Atropines Creations and oddities is the name I give my artwork. I couldn’t decide between creations or oddities so I used both. I know the name is a little long but it’s unique.
Mandy: Where were you born?
Atropine: I was born in a little town called Mineola, its somewhere on Long Island.
Mandy: What kind of art do you make? Why?
Atropine: I like to make Victorian Gothic jewelry. I usually let my brain take over, it seems to feel complete when creating this type of art. I also enjoy abstract stuff, but more an a canvas as opposed to a necklace. I also enjoy modeling.
Mandy: Have you always been an artist?
Atropine: I’ve been an artist since I was able to hold a marker. I can thank my loving mother for letting me use her supplies as a small child. She was the one that encouraged me.
Mandy: How did you learn your craft?
Atropine: I taught myself how to make jewelry. In fact, that’s how I learned most of the different mediums I like to work with.
Mandy: What has been a seminal experience?
Atropine: My entire past has been a seminal experience. Growing up in the type of household that I did really molded me into the person that I am today. My parents had undergone the worst divorce I had ever heard of, this is back before divorces were popular. I took a turn for a negative direction forcing me into creating art. I can thank this terrible experience for my artworks.
Mandy: What materials do you use in making your art and why?
Atropine: I like to use metal, bones and paint as these are some of my favorite things. I chose theses materials because they are fun and easy to use. Sometimes I go back to my roots and play with acrylics and a big old canvas.
Mandy: What work do you most enjoying doing?
Atropine: My favorite medium is acrylic paint. I just wish I had more time to paint these days. I am a busy girl, I have many names
Mandy: How has your work changed since you started?
Atropine: Since I started making art, my work has changed drastically since I get bored easily. I used to only paint. I guess the mediums have changed more than my actual work. I feel that I am a better artist today than 10 years ago, I have more time and knowledge on my side.
Mandy: What’s your favourite piece that you have done?
Atropine: My favorite piece is the reproduction of Odd Nerdrum’s “the back”. I think thats the name.
Mandy: Do you listen to music when you are creating? What do you like to listen to?
Atropine: I do listen to music, mostly 80s Goth music and some 70s Goth. 70s Goth is similar to disco but it’s so awesome.
Mandy: What do you think is integral to the work of an artist?
Atropine: The most important thing to me is making people happy. If a something of mine finds its way to someone and they love to wear it, it makes me happy.
Mandy: What role does art have in society?
Atropine: Art in society plays many roles as we are influenced by it daily. Just listen to the radio or watch tv, the stars will be wearing the latest creation from the hottest designer. Without art there is nothing really.
Mandy: What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?
Atropine: The strongest Memory in my childhood, hmmm. I remember lots, sadly they are always bad things that happened. Never the good things. I remember when I fell and scraped my knees on orange bricks that were decorating my Mother’s garden. I think I was 2.
Mandy: What’s your scariest experience?
Atropine: Scariest experience. I’d have to say it was when I almost fell off the side of a mountain while skiing when I was young. I was too close to the edge of the cliff and I slipped. I somehow managed to not fall off, dodge some trees and almost smash into a boulder. My Father saw the whole thing and was amazed at how I didn’t die.
Mandy: Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
Atropine: A real life situation that inspired me was my parent’s divorce. It really fueled my fire.
Mandy: What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Atropine: I’ve had many embarrassing moments, like walking into tables. I do have to say when I was 7 I was afraid of the tupperware lady and ran head first into the corner of a mirrored wall. Blood was gushing everywhere. My poor Mother.
Mandy: What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
Atropine: I have had many jobs, mostly because I get bored. Once I can’t move up anymore I find another job and continue my learning. One of my favorite jobs was being a jewelers apprentice.
Mandy: What is your favourite or most inspirational place?
Atropine: My favorite place is Arizona, mostly Sedona. When I am there I feel at peace. If I can’t get to AZ I’ll take a nice, quiet hike in the woods.
Mandy: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Atropine: Memorable responses to my work. I’ve had people tell me they love their pieces so much that they would wear them everyday.
Mandy: What is your dream project?
Atropine: My dream project, to create an entire line of products so that name brand stores could carry them. Everyone should own an Atropine’s original piece even if it is mass produced.
Mandy: Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
Atropine: I don’t wish to be compared to anyone. I am not here for competition, just to make others happy.
Mandy: What artists do you most identify with?
Atropine: My favorite artists of all time are Odd Nerdrum, Dahli, Ralph Steadman, Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Mandy: What superpower would you have and why?
Atropine: Superpower, to heal people. I hate to hear or see people in pain and there is nothing I can do to help. If I could heal, my life would be complete.
Mandy: Professionally, what’s your goal?
Atropine: My goal professionally is to get my products into name brand stores, I want everyone to own one of my artworks.
Mandy: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given and what advice would you give others?
Atropine: Best advice. Be yourself, wouldn’t you rather be a leader than a follower? It seems there are too many sheep and not enough shepards. I would tell others the same thing and let art tell you what to do, its a way to express yourself and release your inner demons.
Thank you for interviewing me!!
Places you can check out Atropines Creations and Oddities
She wrote this on her facebook page and I really like it.
"I have to give my mother the credit, she taught me to be myself.
At a young age I was given markers to play with, I would doodle endlessly.
Most kids were playing and making friends, I was hiding in my room, drawing, alone.
I was never like any of the other kids at school, they would call me names.
I was told I was too crafty by another student, like it was a bad thing.
I was a loner.
I would always find comfort in art, it was my safe place.”
Written by Mandy McGee
I met Myrrh in 2010 and our friendship has slowly blossomed via the internet since. He lives in Portland and I recently booked him to play at a variety show I help produce here in Seattle. He rocked it! I really hope to see him play up here in Seattle more often. Right before he came up to visit I got him to answer a few questions for me.
Mandy: For our readers pleasure who is Myrrh Larsen in a nutshell?
Myrrh: It’s funny, I used to think that being a performer meant putting on a character, but I’ve come to realize that for my favourite artists, that character is really them: the undiluted, pure, top-shelf stuff of what makes them individuals. I try and take the most real parts of me - not just the stuff I’m most proud of, but also what I’m scarred by or afraid of - the things that affect the choices that shape my life, and express them through music and collaboration like plugging a guitar into an amp: not exaggerated, but enriched, amplified.
Mandy: How would you describe your sound?
Myrrh: We call it “post-grunge glam rock” - the controlled dissonance of grunge and the character-driven melody of, say, Bowie or Slade, by way of more contemporary rhythms and song structures. Like, for example, I play electric guitar in the band, but one of my big influences is Massive Attack and the whole trip-hop movement. Since a lot of my songs are about laying bare deep emotion, we try and build something really musically multi-layered and take the listener through the journey of deconstructing that, stripping it down to what counts.
Mandy: How long have you been playing music?
Myrrh: I actually started on electric guitar on a dare, at the tail end of high school. But before that I was classically trained; before the school band program got defunded I played ‘cello and my first “band” was a string quartet I put together as a teenager. I played ‘cello in rock bands and some electronic acts for a couple of years while I was still searching for my voice on guitar and as a writer. I got signed to produce my first solo record about 7 years ago and since then I’ve been assembling my own band: we just finished self-recording & putting together our first record as a group.
Photo by Libby Bulloff
Mandy: Do you prefer being on an indie label rather than a major label?
Myrrh: I won’t lie: I don’t want to be a starving artist forever. I’m interested in bringing my music to a broader audience, and major labels have the business connections and the experience to make that happen a lot more efficiently. At the same time, I’m really fortunate to be working with Save as Records, they’re really letting us develop our sound without artistic compromise. I wouldn’t give that up, and I hope the success I create as an indie artist will give whatever companies I work with in the future the confidence to let me control my own artistic direction.
Mandy: What equipment do you use?
Myrrh: I play a Pete Townshend signature Schecter telecaster with a modified wiring harness based on the work of master luthier Tom Anderson: it gives me 12 different on-the-fly options as far as how the pickups are combined. I don’t tend to use many effects, outside of the occasional looper, and with the band I play through a pre-CBS Fender Super Reverb amp. I swear I’m not a vintage gear snob; I’m just lucky.
Mandy: What musicians inspire you?
Myrrh: Trent Reznor, David Bowie and Neil Young, for steadily reinventing themselves as artists while always remaining true to themselves. Guitarist and Dischord Records producer J. Robbins (Jawbox), for profound beauty in dissonance. David Sylvian, poetry and vulnerability. Groups like Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group for demonstrating that a group of extraordinary people with a common creative goal can produce something far greater than even the sum of its parts.
Photo by Ken Barton.
Mandy: Have you always wanted to be a musician?
Myrrh: As a kid, I wanted to be a rocket scientist. Not like the way you say that, but, like, I was seriously obsessed with space travel, and I was an ace in all the math and physics classes, the whole deal. Along the way, though, I guess I got kinda hooked on how as a performer you can see your work making a change in peoples lives: that moment of recognition or catharsis comes over someone’s face and it’s so quiet and beautiful and unknowably complex, it’s like looking at the Earth from space.
Mandy: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (Cliche question-HA)
Myrrh: The band and I are building our first real multimedia show right now - music, projections, we’ve got a butoh dancer we’re working with and we’re going to be adding other bits of movement and theatrical elements to make a really unprecedented narrative rock show. I’ve got ambitious plans for taking this kind of music-driven multimedia concert on the road: in 5 years I want to be touring the world with my own kind of show.
Mandy: Do you play or hope to play out of portland more?
Myrrh: Hell yes! This will be my first time in forever playing Seattle proper, and I’m hoping to make it back up soon, and maybe bring the band next time.
Photo by Mandy McGee
Mandy: What else do you enjoy doing when you are not playing music?
Myrrh: On top of my own group, I run an underground nightclub and fringe arts school here in Portland, I’m the director of the local chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s burlesque drink-and-draw, and the host of a monthly variety show focused on creative works-in-progress. So when I’m not producing or facilitating art, I enjoy reading books, goth/industrial club dancing, taking long walks by myself, and drinking a lot of coffee.
Mandy: What advice can you give to other aspiring musicians (or artists in general)?
Myrrh: Ask yourself the questions you don’t know how to answer. Better yet: find someone else to ask you the hard questions: what does that line of lyrics mean to you? Why does this song have an intro? Don’t be lazy or let yourself fall into routines or habits: if it isn’t meaningful now, you can always bring it back another time, when it will be. Be open to change on every level. Terrify yourself. Find things to jump into and learn to swim on the way out. Practice hard and play even harder. Most of all, enjoy the trip.
Mandy: Where can our readers find out more about you?
Myrrh: A good place to start is probably my website at www.myrrhmusic.com but the best way to keep up with me is probably to follow me on Twitter (@myrrhlarsen) and Facebook (facebook.com/myrrhlarsen).
Photo by Zachary Van Buuren
Written by Mandy McGee
I got to sit down and chat with Nicole about how she got started and how her amazing images are created. I met Nicole here in Seattle and she recently had to move back to her home town in Michigan. She creates amazing dark, gothic and macabre images that could turn someone’s stomach but keeps a certain beauty to them that makes you not want to look away. Nicole has worked with models and bands in the goth/industrial community and has been published by local and national magazines as well as having her stuff on merchandise for bands. The makeup in her images is stunning and sometimes she does the makeup herself. Read on to find out more about this amazing artist and I suggest going to her sites after and looking at more of her amazing work.
MM: How long have you been doing photography?
Nicole: I started messing with cameras when I was 12-13, and started getting paid to do photos around 15. So about 11 years. But I wouldn’t consider my work to be at a professional level until about 3 years ago. It’s been a hell of a learning experience!
MM: What drew you to photography?
Nicole: At first, I was just having fun with it, my sister exposed me to it and I liked the concepts of capturing something through my eyes, which expanded into my own thoughts and expressions I wanted to start sharing with the world. After a while it became this weird way i could start telling everyone my secrets, and they didn’t even know it. Like venting.
MM: Why did you lean towards the goth/macabre side of expression?
Nicole: I became infatuated with goth culture when I was about 9. It wasn’t until later I started expanding to traditional forms. I leaned toward that form of expression because I consider myself a bit closed off, everyone needs a release, I just didn’t want to specifically share the details. But I love the form, it”s a great stress reliever.
MM: Do you always or do you think you will always create these types of images?
Nicole: Well, I think that my craft will always be evolving. I enjoy what I do but I am always teaching myself new things, and perhaps the look will change, or it could not. I think I enjoy not being certain. I just know that I will always be a photographer.
MM: What is your favourite photoshoot you have done?
Nicole: Probably my Reptile shoot I did with Maureen O’Donnell. I have loads of favorites I’ve done, other notable ones being the “Mother of Flies” shoot I did with Lola Babalon and the Horns series with Renee Rockwood.
MM: Your stuff is very makeup heavy and prop heavy at times. Do you plan all this out well in advance, is it a collaboration or both?
Nicole: That all depends on the shoot. Some models do help with the make up. On a few select shoots I have hired a beauty make up artist, but most of the time I am doing the make up. Sometimes I get ideas for make up in advance and apply them, other times I don’t get inspired until I have all the materials and model in front of me.
MM: Where have you been published?
Nicole: Oh, it’s really hard to keep track these days. I’ve been published in Seattle Sinner, The Stranger, Alternative Press, Hot Topic (on their site as well as selling a t-shirt of photos I took of the band Motionless in White), Metal Hammer, Dean Guitars published an AD featuring a photo I took of Wayne Static, a huge assortment of gothic related magazines as well. the Dean Guitar ad was featured in multiple guitar magazines as well as various music magazines featuring the work I did with MIW.
MM: Is there a magazine you really want your stuff in that you haven’t been in yet?
Nicole: I’ve only been published on Fangoria’s website, but have yet to make print, I would love to end up in the actual magazine.
MM: What equipment do you work with?
Nicole: I’m a Canon girl. Currently I am working with a Canon 5D Mark II. I’ve used a lot of lights before, but it’s not really my style(I actually sold all of my studio equipment), I am usually on so many different locations I actually favor using a Speedlite external flash with a diffuser. When used right it can produce amazing results.
MM: Have you learned any new techniques recently?
Nicole: I’m on a bit of a hiatus at the moment, so I have not in recent weeks. I’ve been working on some stuff but as far as techniques go I am at a point where I am trying to refine the skills I currently have before moving onto something new.
MM: What photographers or artists inspire you?
Nicole: Wednesday Wolf, he is a fellow artist and friend, and completely blows my mind with his craft. It’s inspiring. Chris Motionless, while he is a singer and lyricist, he is one of the most brilliant artists I know. He makes music a true art form in a dead industry. It’s brilliant. Michael Hussar, what I would give to see the world through his eyes if only for a moment. Australian artist EXOGEN, Anathema Photography, FlexDreams… there’s quite possibly a lot more. I enjoy beautiful art.
MM: Do you have any words of inspiration for those trying to get into the craft?
Nicole: There is always room for growth. Ask questions. Push limits. And “For Fuck’s Sake” network, network, NETWORK! Get out there and work for it, don’t expect success to come to you.
MM: Where can our readers find out more about you and see your work?
Nicole: www.gakstudio.com is my official website but it’s still very new and under a bit of construction, so if you’d like to see more than a few photos, I recommend finding me on facebook, which is www.facebook.com/gakphoto
MM: That is all the questions I have for you m’lady. Thank you!
Nicole: No problem, luckily I wasn’t too weird.
MM: Weird is good though.
Written by Grace Ibrahim
Gothique Prince Ken (GPK) is a Gothic/Industrial musician from Australia. His work spans several genre’s; in his Solo work GPK leads us on a dark adventure viewed through the ever changing lens of Electro-Industrial music.
GI: For those who are meeting you for the first time you hail from Australia, where else have you lived?
GPK: Greetings everyone. Thanks so much for this wonderful opportunity for me to talk about my works. I have lived in Australia most of my life and I worked in Japan for the past 3 years.
GI: So for everyone who is unfamiliar with your music how would you describe it to them?
GPK: It’s a mix between industrial and EBM. I wish to go for the darker and heavier sound for my solo project.
GI: You studied fine art how did that transfer to helping you create your music?
GPK: I believe artistic creation requires a level of discipline whether it is music or visual art. I utilize the methodology from my previous academic training, thus strengthening the artistic direction for my music project.
GI: Many people seem to confuse you with being Japanese as well as part of the Visual Kei scene what is the story there?
GPK: I believe it is the fact that I’ve worked with many Japanese artists and my overall outlook representation is somewhat dark and most VK fans would misinterpret that as Visual Kei. This is indeed a serious issue and I would like to clarify this misunderstanding. Musically, I am what you would call Industrial/EBM, whilst VK tends to be more towards hardcore rock/metal. I believe a clear distinction has to be made.
GI: So what are your thoughts on the V-kei and Gothic music and how they intersect?
GPK: To be honest with you. In my opinion, VK is overtly image orientated and it borrows from many different styles to attract various group of audience to gain their attention, hence why there are different types of VK sub genre. I believe VK is a completely different subculture compare to the Goth culture. The only similarity would be the darker visual style in which a great number of bands had acquired.
GI: I agree there is a certain orchestrated quality to a lot of VK bands.
GI: You do both solo work as well as doing Vocals and some composition for “Flood of Rain” two very different kinds of music. Going in to an album how do you decide what story you are going to tell through your music, and do you find that your solo work and your band work unintentionally link with one another?
GPK: I’d like to view it as different aspect of myself. The compositional work I contribute to Flood of Rain is more intimate and sentimental and it fits with the overall concept and direction of the band very well. Adrian has always been the mastermind behind the project, his music has shown a very strong narrative approach and the amount of emotion is overwhelming. When I work with Adrian, sometimes I would add piano arrangement and main vocal melody to the song Adrian had already written or we would work from a short piano arrangement I wrote and to expand upon the initial idea together. As for my solo project it is somewhat a manifesto of the struggle within me. I wish to express the sense of raw human emotion, the primal instinct for survival and ultimately utter transcendence of the self.
Do you have a favorite artist that has influenced your music? Such as if one liked Rembrandt his paintings were full of shadows and deep reds, as a posed to Monet who’s boundaries are watery and have more of a dream like quality.
GPK: I’ve been inspired by artists such as William Blake, Francisco Goya and Francis Bacon. I share much of their ideology on the raw expression and emotion on art. I believe imperfection is to be desired, too much refinement equals restrain and we’ll be truly free when we have nothing to lose.
GI: I understand you are having a European tour this year. Where will you be Will anyone else be touring with you?
GPK: It is too soon to announce the tour dates as we’re still undergoing the planning process. As for supporting member I would have to keep it a secret for now~ But I’ll let you guys know as soon as possible.
GI: So far the three most recent songs you have posted on SoundCloud Amorphous, Logos, Phoenix do not have any vocals are you planning to add some later or do you feel they are complete at this time?
GPK: They are demo tracks only and it is to give people what to expect in my upcoming album, vocals will be added in the full version. I hope to release it before my European tour.
GI: You often don’t post picture’s of yourself choosing instead to let your music paint it’s own picture free from the taint of a preconceived image how did this come to be.
GPK: In my opinion, art is open to interpretation and music is indeed poetry without words. Image should not be the main focus of my project. You are right about the danger of a preconceived idea which could ultimately ruin the audience’s own imagination, hence why I balance the amount of image I give to the world I’ve created.
GI: What philosophy do you live by for both art and life ?
GPK: I would call myself an existentialist. I believe we have the responsibility to give our life its own meaning and to live our life passionately. “The unexamining life is not worth living”(Socrates)
GI: That is a good philosophy to live by!
Art by Denise Kroll
GI: Where can people go on the web to find out more about you and hear your music.
GI: On behalf of the Extollere staff I want to thank you for talking with me today! Is there anything you would like to add in closing?
GPK: Thank you so much for having me, it was a great pleasure! It’s been truly an honor!
Interview by Mandy McGee
She is a wife, a mother, a burlesque dancer, a producer and petite. La Petite Mort is graceful, beautiful and artistic on stage and sometimes a little blood is involved; oh! and some bondage. I have had the pleasure of casting her in shows I produce as well as performing along side her in others. This multi-talented woman knows how to captivate an audience.
How did you get into burlesque and how long have you been doing it?
Around 2004 I was immersed into the scene and thrown into some acts. It wasn’t really anything I was interested at the time. I was really focusing on modeling. Before I knew it I was pregnant with my second child so I took a really long break until about 3 years ago. I started to get the bug again and focused on performance art including burlesque. I realized though I preferred the more macabre styling and the humor and rhinestones weren’t my thing.
How did you pick your name; where is it from?
It means orgasm in French. Considering I specialize in the macabre, I thought it was very appropriate.
How do you come up with your acts or your style?
It’s really what inspires me and what I’m passionate about. I get visions of act concepts. The biggest obstacle for me is music though. Songs don’t generally inspire me.
Photo by Gabino Mabalay
What is your favorite number(s) to perform?
I love my sugar skull act with the roses. It’s a very introverted piece and there’s not a lot of audience participation, like most burlesque acts. The audience get emotionally attached and lose themselves for a minute.
What is your day job?
I’m a financial analysis. It pays the bills and funds all my crazy ideas.
How do you make the switch mentally from your day job to performing burlesque? Does your job know about you being a burlesque performer?
I’m very open about what I do. Everyone knows. I wouldn’t really have it any other way. It is hard to come back to reality though after a string of shows. I like to take a day or two off to decompress. It doesn’t make work easier, but it does give me a needed break.
Photo by Mandy McGee
You have a day job, perform, produce shows and have a family; how do you balance it all?
Obviously family comes first, then my job and performing fill in the gaps. My girls like to help me costume too, so it can be a family affair. Because of the girls, I don’t get to travel much. I am planning a Portland and LA trip in the next 6 months. I just can’t do it very often. I also get a lot of disappointed groans when the girls know I have a show. I miss out on bedtimes. As with all relationships, it’s good to miss each other from time to time. I appreciate our “lazy days” that much more.
If you have time for other hobbies what are they?
I recently started singing, and have taken up the violin after a very long break. I’m thinking about buying a ukulele as well. I played guitar when I was nine and picked up the violin at that time as well. It clicked in my brain recently that I didn’t take dance classes because I was playing instruments. It’s a talent I need to tap into again. Playing an instrument and singing sets me apart. Time to practice is the biggest challenge.
What’s the most rewarding thing about doing performances?
It’s getting my art out of me and onto the stage. People liking it, is just a bonus. I need a creative outlet more than anything.
(With Twisted Monk)Photo by Mandy McGee
Who are your favorite performers?
I adore Twisted Monk. We work really well together and he is a true showman.
Who inspires you (famous or not) in life and in your work?
That is a tough question. I really try to shelter myself so I can be unique. I try to avoid outside influences. My girls are constant life inspiration though. Being a kid is really tough but they keep on at it. They are both really artistic and I’ve been teaching them music and instruments. The older of the two is gifted and goes to a special school. They enamor and amaze me daily. I am so in love with them.
Do you ever get nervous when you perform?
Singing scares the bajesus out of me still. I’m playing my violin for a show in 2 months, and I haven’t played in front of people in 15 years. I’m pretty nervous about that. I keep reminding myself most of the audience is tone deaf, so if I suck it’s not the end of the world.
What are your thoughts on burlesque versus being a stripper at a strip club?
Burlesque is stripping, but stripping certainly isn’t burlesque. I do know a lot of girls dabble in both. On average there’s a lot more money in working at a strip club. Costumes can be really expensive.
What do you want to say to the girls out there who want to become burlesque performers?
Be original. Be passionate about it and find your own inspiration. I see many of the same things over and over. It’s an old art form, and there’s a lot of girls that do it so it’s expected. Originality is always awe inspiring for me.
Why did you start producing your own shows?
There’s not enough dark shows, but plenty of performers and a crowd for it. Nightmare Before Christmas is certainly a cult favorite and a niche market. Add boobs and I think it’s pretty fun. I did start producing my own show and the response was overwhelming. People were scalping tickets. I’m trying to duplicate that recipe again.
Photo by Gabino Mabalay
Where can we see you next?
Franks’ Wild Years is an upcoming show I’m in. It’s a Tom Waits themed show at Columbia City Theater April 19th and 26th. I’ll be playing my violin for the first time in over 15 years in front of an audience.
You can keep up with La Petite Mort at her website www.glitterandgore.com
You can follow her on twitter at @misslapetite
Interviewed and Written by Morgue Anne
Delightfully Deviant is the loving clothing creation of a Seattle-area couple. I had the opportunity to meet Pandora and do a fashion shoot with her, and was blown away by the quality of her work as well as the impeccable Victorian-Gothic style.
Morgue Anne for Extollere. How did you get into clothing design?
Delightfully Deviant: High School. I used to put Jolly Rancher suckers into my hair and made dollars into hair fans and drilled holes in quarters and hung them in my hair. I liked things that were odd and slightly off. Things that would make people stop and say, “What is that person doing”. I made a whole outfit out of safety pins once in 11th grade and was sent home. I would cut intricate designs into my shirts and skirts. I couldn’t be too creative because I was kinda closeted (christian) as a child.
MA: What did you want to be when you were younger?
DD:I wanted to be a botanist because I like plants. I don’t like dirt. It has poop and worms in it and I hate worms…but mostly the poop. I wanted to be a teacher, but hated kids. My first major was English. I graduated high school as highest in English but couldn’t pass English in college. So I moved on. Then I went for mortician because I meet a guy in the OC Goth meetup. He was a Mormon and Goth. He had a hearse and I loved it. I kinda fell in love with hearse before I “became” Goth.
MA: How do you feel being a Military wife has impacted your seamstress career? DD: Being a military wife has enabled me to work at home without having to get a nine to five. I was able to also network with other wives to get photography, accounting and other things. Out here on the navy base island we all stand together to get things done.
MA: What project are you most proud of?
DD: I am most proud of an outfit ordered for new years by North County Portraits. They were doing a photo shoot in a dungeon. I stressed and stayed away for three days in a row and mailed it out overnight. It made it on time and its now my profile photo. I loved his work, the model and tell everyone about him.
Photo by North Country Portraits
MA: Tell me a little about your goals. Why did you set 200 in first year, etc?
DD: In 2008 I bought my website, actually my husband Ricky bought it for me. I came home crying after getting kicked out of a bellydance troupe because the person who ran it said I wasn’t dedicated enough. The main lady had taught me how to make dread falls so when I came home crying my husband said why don’t I just make my own company. Ricky came up with the name of the company and its history from there. I started making clothing for friends and random Goths in San Diego in 2008 but it really got kicked off here in Oak Harbor when I worked at the casino. When I left the casino I didn’t want to go job-hunting anymore so I started my esty site. My first sale was on March 5, 2011. After looking at how many sales everyone else had made I figured with a no name or a un-known name on the market I figured 200 was a reachable goal, in some degree.
MA: Is this your full time job? Are you able to support yourself with Delightfully Deviant yet?
DD: I tried to get a second job in the beginning because we went from being “Dinks” (Double Income No Kids) to one income to support us both. My husband told me not to. He wanted me to sit down and sew and get the website and business off the ground so he could get out of the navy. Without the support of my husband I would have been unable to get this done.
MA: What style do you identify the most with? Goth, punk, cyberpunk, steampunk, etc. DD: Personally I wear Neo Victorian Goth but the styles that I work with and the styles that my creations touch is Victorian, Goth, rockabilly, steam punk, pretty much every alternative life form.
Photo by James Waechter
MA: Where do you draw your inspiration for new clothes from?
DD: Mostly my designs just “come to me”. I am most influenced by the work of Laura Jones at Retroscope fashions and have in the past year become a HUGE fan of her work. I was in Seattle and I had heard about this shop on Queen Ann. I picked up a book I had heard about and started reading it. It was full of patterns and ideas from the 1800 and that’s what started me in the direction of historical reproductions but I am still a long way from being able to reproduce one exactly. Most of the time when I want to make something I draw a picture of what I want and my husband makes it come alive on paper. I give him the inches and sizing and he makes the pattern.
MA: What is your “Signature Item”? What sells the most?
DD: Cyber Goth headbands and mask are my signature item. I have the best price and quality and I have become the go to person for this, especially in Italy. 75% of my cybermasks and headbands have gone to Italy.
Photo by Marie Winton
You can find Delightfully Deviant’s work at http://www.etsy.com/shop/delightfullydeviant.
Written by Grace Ibrahim
Benjamin Linden is a photographer from Virginia with a unique vision (and often times twisted) of contemporary portraits. He is fascinated with outrageous themes and exquisite fetishism. His work is a broad spectrum of the bizarre, creepy and gothic.
Grace Ibrahim for Extollere: It has now been six years since you started Benjamin Linden Photography How are you feeling about it now?
Ben Linden: Damn. Has it been that long? I’m still feeling pretty psyched about it. I always love shooting with people that I’ve worked with before, but I always look forward to meeting and shooting with new people. There is always fresh ideas or concepts that I want to do. I’m still loving every minute of it
GI: Are you happy with the way things have gone?
BL: Very much so. Things have progressed naturally and at a good pace. Every once in a while, there is a new skill that I want to learn, either on the computer or on location with certain settings. I learn them on my own time and it’s much easier learning that way for me.
GI: Have you learned anything cool lately?
BL: I’ve been learning how to create space/planet landscapes digitally in Photo-shop. Some of those images that others have created are absolutely breathtaking. I hope to be as good one day.
GI:Anything to tell your self from six years ago?
BL:Get a Mac now instead of waiting 3 years! Lol
GI: How about 6 years in the future?
BL: In six years, I hope that I still love doing photography. Photography and music are my main outlets for being creative. I can’t imagine not doing either one, so I really hope that my passion never goes away.
GI: Who would you say has influenced you most musically and in your art ?
BL:I would say musically: Metallica, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Tom Waits, VNV Nation, Rammstein and many others more. Artistically, I am influenced by Charles Gatewood, Eric Kroll, Collin J. Rae, Chad Michael Ward, David Hilton, H.R. Giger, David Lynch, and Philip K. Dick. I never really know where to stop when asked that type of question.
GI: Where are you from?
BL: I spent my first years near Arlington, VA but I spent most of my time growing up in King George, VA.
GI: How was it?
BL: Good, but boring at sometimes. King George was so small that you had to travel to the next county just to get to a Wal-Mart. But it was safe for the most part. I met a lot of my dearest friends during my time in KG. I’m now living with my wife in a small town in Virginia called Scottsville, which is about 17 miles south of Charlottesville.
GI: Where are you going or do you think you are here to stay?
BL: I think we’ll be in Virginia for a good while to come. We spent about 4 years in Colorado and while it was a great experience to go there, there’s no place quite like home.
GI: Why photography and music?
BL: Most of my family have been musicians, so I was always around it growing up. I learned how to play trumpet in 5th grade and continued playing trumpet until 12th grade. When I discovered Metallica, I knew I wanted to play guitar. A lot of friends I knew were also interested in playing guitar, so I made a choice to learn bass guitar instead of a regular six string. I picked up my first bass when I was 14. Haven’t stopped since. My father in addition to playing music was also a hobbyist photographer and I first got introduced to the world of photography by him when I was around 13 or so. I never really got back into it again until 2005 when I bought my first camera. The rest as they say is history.
GI: what is a message you have for our readers?
BL: Be excellent to each other! Life is nothing if you have to go at it alone. Being around good people has saved my life many times. Be good to people, and you’ll never be alone.
GI: Is there a memorial set up for your nieces ? (Read the article here)
BL: Any memorial donations can be made out to the Cherub School 3263 Old Church Rd. Mechanicsville, VA 23111. This is where they went to pre school.
GI: The out pouring of support from the area for your family was quite large, and I understand that you made a tribute video for the girls is it on your website ?
BL: I can’t thank everyone enough for all of the love and support. It really meant the world to my family and I. I did make a video. It’s only on my Facebook page right now.
GI: Has this tragedy effected your art or has your art helped you to deal with this?
BL: It has helped me deal with it more, particularly through music. My band mates have been especially supportive during this time and through music, I am able to release a lot of anger and rage that I can’t release anywhere else.
GI: What is the name of your band?
BL:I’m currently doing vocals for Sawbone Suicide.
GI: Our goal at Extollere is to showcase independent art in all forms. We seek to present a Sex positive view but not a sex-centric one, believing that all things can be created with love. Many of your photos are shot beautifully in a sex positive light. Do you have any thing to say to our readers about this?
BL: Many things are beautiful in this world, even things that arouse our body as well as our minds. I would say that one should always remember that things, no matter how erotic or plain, should be seen as a beautiful thing first.
GI: How can our readers contact you about your work, do you have a website?
BL: I’m currently working on my own website, but you can also find my work at facebook.com/benjaminlindenphotography and at modelmayhem.com/benjaminlindenphotography.