By Mandy McGee
I launched Extollere into universe (or just here on Tumblr) in February 2012. It has been a great year for us full of wonderful reviews, random articles and interviews. I had the pleasure of bringing on two wonderful writers to help me start this project, Grace Ibrahim and Morgue Anne. I owe them a huge thanks for writing amazing things. Also to the few guest contributors over the past year, THANKYOUTHANKYOU!!!
I complied the 15 most popular posts for 2012 by the number of views, not likes or comments. I have my favourites but the readers have spoke.
15. Pride Celebration with Anime! Our writer Grace Ibrahim loves anime and for Pride month found the gayest anime out there to review for you. Read the full review.
14. The handsome, talented and handsome Steampunk maker, Jake von Slatt makes it on the list. Check out some of the new things he has made and the things he has to say on his site. Read the interview.
13. Seattle erotic and fashion photographer, Gabino Mabablay has been up to amazing things since we last talked to him. Follow his tumblr for the most recent updates on his photo projects. He has had very sexy shoots (as usual) and just as beautiful as ever. I had him show his work at a club I curate art at and he (at no surprise) sold half the show with in the first week of it being up. Read the interview.
12. The faboulous and beautiful, Andie DeRoux has been up to great things since the interview I did with her. She is still creating amazing art and having art shows. She is still modeling and has now taken to photograph models as well. Watch out for her in 2013. I am sure she has lots of great things in store for us. Read the interview.
11. Steve Schiltz of the bands Longwave and Hurricane Bells has been traveling a lot over the last year. He sometimes tours with Blue October playing guitar and most recently has joined James Iha on stage. Another great and amazingly talented person to watch out for in 2013. Read the interview.
10. 2012 was a good year for the band Caravan of Thieves. They had an album come out, which we reviewed, and toured the country. I didn’t have the chance to see them when they came through Seattle, but I hope to see them in 2013. Check out their music video and review in this post.
9. Actress, Brandy Kopp makes it to number 9. She appeared in the movie “Matt’s Chance” (the one I did still photos on) by Nicholas Geyney and will be in his next movie, “Unknown Son”. Read the interview.
8. The eccentric musician, Annie Hardy from Giant Drag, had a tough year and is slowly coming back out of her shell creatively. She tells all (she can) in the interview I had with her. We have stayed in touch and I will be helping her with her new music label, Full Psycho Records. Stay up to date with what goes on in the Full Psycho clan. Follow Full Psycho on twitter. Read the interview here.
7. Director Nicholas Geyney was great to work with and get to know. I had a blast working on “Matt’s Chance”. I photographed the premiere and I loved the work the crew and cast did. He will be touring with it in 2013 with some of the cast and crew in tow. Look for it in your town as well as “The Unknown Son” when that comes out. Read the interview.
6. I had the pleasure of interviewing Richard Stevens, the creator of Diesel Sweeties and laughed my ass off (a lot). He is great! Read the interview.
5. The Beautiful and talented model and actress, Kelly Polk makes it to number 5 most popular post. She just finished a short called “Honestly, Honestly” and she traveled around at the end of 2012. She is back in LA and I can’t wait to see what she does in 2013. I full recommend keeping up to date with her projects and buy her modeling pictures on her website. Read the interview.
4. One of my favourite interviews of 2012 was with Jenna Busch. She is beautiful, talented and a GEEK! Since our interview she has been involved with a bunch of new projects, one including being the Stan Lee’s co-host on his web show “Cocktails with Stan”. I know she will have amazing things happening in 2013. You better keep up with her! Read the interview.
3. I am so pleased that Professor Elemental is one of the most popular posts on Extollere and it is one of my more recent posts. He was a hoot interviewing him. Definitely an entertainer to keep up to date with. Read the interview.
2. It is no surprise that this article made it to one of the most popular posts of 2012. This was a fantastic post by Morgue Anne. Her letter to Geek men who put down Geek girls is only one of the many out there but it still needs to be read. We all need to speak up about issues such as this or nothing will ever change. I have read and seen tons of videos of responses to the “Fake Geek Girl” buzz. I am glad to have this on my site and be one of the most read. Please pass it around and chat about it. Shit like this needs to be dealt with. Read the article.
1. I am so happy that the most read/watched post is the video interview Morgue Anne and I did with the ladies of Vaginal Fantasy Book Club. Felicia Day started this online book club with her lovely co-hosts (Veronica Belmont, Kiala Kazbee and Bonnie Burton) in January of 2012 and it has been going strong since. We also learned a lot about technology failing you too. This video is better as audio but still a great interview. These ladies also are responsible for bringing fantasy/sci fi smut into my life. Read the post and watch the video.
Thank you for reading Extollere and I (along with my staff writers and contributors) look forward to bring you more articles, reviews and interviews in 2013!
Written by Mandy McGee
Sepiachord was created by Jordan Bodewell and is supported by numerous other writers, researchers, photographers, etc. This website is dedicated to music that fits the description of Steampunk. Jordan says the website is “dedicated to exploring music that takes pre-modern elements folding them with contemporary sensibilities to create a sort of “side-step” to pop culture.”
Mandy: What is it the format of Sepiachord?
Jordan of Sepiachord: We do standard music magazine things like reviews, interviews, photo essays, videos and the like. Spiritually we’re closer to a punk zine than to Rolling Stone (though we’ve been called “The Rolling Stone of Steampunk”) because we’re really just enthusiasts: fans of music who love talking about it, exploring it and getting others excited about it.
Mandy: How did Sepiachord get started?
Jordan of Sepiachord: I’ve been talking people’s ears off about the ideas behind Sepiachord since at least 2001 when my friend Matthew Simmons and I were discussing the concepts of punk rock, retrofuturism and Victorian music. At the time the word “steampunk” was only being used by a small cadre of fans and aficionados. We batted around the idea of bands sampling telegraphs and calliopes or working elements of Gilbert & Sullivan into some kind of sea-shanty hip-hop. We were both already fans of Tom Waits and Nick Cave and around the same time another friend of mine, Greg Dare, was working with Seattle’s Circus Contraption. Greg introduced me to the Tiger Lillies and soon I was intrigued by the sonic connections between all of these artists and performers like Voltaire and The Doors. I seemed to being seeing a “genre that wasn’t there”. Right around this time Jennifer (co-founder of Sepiachord.com) introduced me to Rasputina and it felt as if I was really on to something.
I was doing a lot of DJing at the time and my sets became less about punk, rockabilly and country music and more about well…. “sepiachord”.
It would just take a few more years and a LOT more discussion before we decided to do a website. We finally went live in 2006.
Mandy: Why steampunk music? And what is steampunk music?
Jordan of Sepiachord: One of the biggest discussions we had was whether or not to call what we were talking about “steampunk music”. My roots are in the American hardcore punk scene so, as funny as it may sound, I take the word “punk” pretty seriously. I felt that if we included the word punk (even if coupled with steam) folks would be expecting some vein of aggressive rock & roll, since we didn’t want to confuse people I came up with sepiachord.
I’ve been interviewed a lot and the “why steampunk music” comes up every time, and that’s just a focused phrasing of “why steampunk”? I think we live in a contemporary culture where we’re swimming in a sea of idea, images and artifacts. Many of which go way, way back. To me it seems inevitable that some folks would be drawn to a culture that welds seemingly disparate ideas together into something that both celebrates and gives a nod-and-wink to absurd technology. Technology is both amazing and a bit dehumanizing, so why not take it back and make it fun? We’re fascinated by machines, but we don’t want them to run us.
Musically I think we’re in a mix-and-match culture. And I don’t think it’s anything new. At the heart of “pop” music is the idea of taking various sounds and styles and giving them a spark of newness. I remember hearing a quote from Neil Young back in the 80s about how rock music is a beautiful mongrel, it’s better because it’s not pure. Look at hip-hop, it’s based on the idea of taking sounds and rebuilding *re-imagining* them. But again, that’s the nature of pop music. In the 60s bands like the Doors, the Kinks and the Beatles were mining music-hall, vaudeville and cabaret for inspiration.
"Mack the Knife" is a great example, it’s become a schmaltzy American standard but it’s really a murder ballad from a German Epic Theatre piece from 1928!
Taking things apart and putting them back together is at the heart of Western culture, it seems inevitable I was drawn here.
I suppose the fact that I literally grew up in a country & western bar and was weened on polka music didn’t hurt either.
Here’s my working definition of steampunk music: Just as steampunk in general takes pre-modern elements and re-imagines them into something beautiful and strange so does steampunk music.
Mandy: What are some of the artists you talk about on your website?
Jordan of Sepiachord: Early on I was afraid that we were going to have to talk about the same 10 artists until the end of time, then I realized how many wonderful artist were out there… I could list hundreds of artists, and I actually hate doing this because I’m bound to leave someone out, but here goes:
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys
The Bad Things
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing
The Peculiar Pretzelmen
and about a gazillion others…
(If I missed mentioning you in this list you are free to lambast me publicly for the oversight)
Mandy: Do you have a musical background?
Jordan of Sepiachord: Well I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of musical performers, written for punk zines, dived off my first stage 1984, lectured on the history of punk, ska and rockabilly, booked dozens of shows, DJ’d since 1988 (both in clubs and on radio), and was an embarrassment to my high school band (sorry Mr De Fries)… but, no, I don’t have a lick of musical talent and can’t carry a tune to save my life.
Mandy: What conventions do you go to?
Jordan of Sepiachord: Any one that will have me! Cost is always a factor so we really can’t travel as much as we like. I’ve had the pleasure of coordinating the live music at Steamcon since its inception, and I must admit that I still love it. I try to attend as may of the local events as possible, including the Steampunk Exhibition Ball. I’ve travelled to the inaugural World’s Fair in NJ and visited the fine folks of the Chrononaut Club down in San Diego during Comicon. Last year we made it out to the first ever Gearcon in Portland OR. And I always try to stop down at Norwescon.
Mandy: Do you like conventions?
Jordan of Sepiachord: I’ve been told I have a knack for enjoying myself no matter what I’m doing. But, yes I like conventions by and large. It’s a blast to meet new people and (hopefully) check out new music. I’m *really* tall so traveling is always a joy for me, but I do love to be new places.
Mandy: What are your plans for Sepiachord in 2012?
Jordan of Sepiachord: We’ve released a new thumb-drive of music, and we’re already well into the heart of getting all the music together for this year’s Victorian Monsters themed Steamcon. The major project is a redesign and rebuild of ALL of our websites:
Mandy: If you could have a super power what would it be and why?
Jordan of Sepiachord: Ha! I’m known for asking interviewees the question “What would you do if you were invisible for a day?”*, so I guess I should say “Be invisible… for a day.” I play lots of Role Playing Games and for some reason I’m drawn to characters who can either walk through stuff or fun incredibly fast…I just wish I could sing. That way I wouldn’t ruin great songs by amazing bands when I try to sing along.
*Which I stole from my old buddy Rev Norb and his zine Sick Teen, and he
stole it from another punk zine sometime around the beginning of time…
Written by Mandy McGee
Jake von Slatt is an IT professional living in Massachusetts with his wife and two girls, who has a passion for hacking mechanics and turning them from an ordinary object to an extraordinary work of art with Steampunk flair. I first met him almost 3 years ago through mutual friends via the internet and then in person at Seattle’s first SteamCon. He is a hardworking, kind-hearted, brilliant, DIY artist. I could spew out a bunch more adjectives to describe how awesome this guy really is but I think I will let my interview with him speak for itself.
(Click on the pictures to view the build of that object)
Mandy: For our readers who are not familiar with you, who is Jake von Slatt?
Jake: That is an interesting question! Initially Hieronymus von Slatt was my D&D character in high school, a Chaotic Good/Gnome/Thief. A kind of a trickster character. In the late 90’s I started my first blog and I was surprised to find that my real name was way more common that I thought! Plus several of the folks out there that shared my name were also creatives doing various kinds of art. A quick AltaVista search confirmed that “von Slatt” was a unique string on the net so I resurrected my old D&D character for this new purpose. I adopted “Jake” as a “nickname” because “Hieronymus” just seemed too fussy for daily use. The “Jake” is a homage to two characters; Jake Cutter of the TV show Tales of the Brass Monkey and Jake McGraw the interstellar truck driver protagonist in my all-time favorite novel Starrigger by John DeChancie.
"Jake" was never very different from me, but he’s always been a little bit out ahead, and in the direction I myself wanted to go. I’ve followed him on many fun adventures!
Mandy: What is it that you do?
Jake: I make stuff and I show people the things I make and tell them how I did it. This in-and-of-itself gives me pleasure. But it turns out that doing this inspires other folks to make things, and they send me pictures of what they make and tell me that my work was their inspiration. I didn’t really expect that when I started and certainly didn’t understand how much greater a pleasure it would be!
Mandy: How long have you been doing engineering Steampunk contraptions?
Jake: All my life. But I didn’t start calling them that until late 2006 when I started http://SteampunkWorshop.com
Mandy: Why and how did you get into Steampunk?
Jake: I was always into it as a genre of Science Fiction, and I mean the original dystopian Steampunk not the modern airships and corset stuff which is actually a throw-back to the 19th century penny dreadful.
Mandy: What are your favourite projects that you have done?
Jake: I’d have to say either the Wimshurst machine article I wrote for Make:Magazine because of the great numbers of people who have built their own, or the Victorian RV which is a project I continue to enjoy with friends and family whenever I take it to a con or on vacation.
Mandy: What project has been the easiest to create? The hardest?
Jake: The little etched and copper plated Altoids tins were the easiest. I love simple projects like that! The CNC milling machine I resurrected was one of the hardest. Simply moving the 5000lb thing from the machine shop that sold it to me to my own shop was a big challenge. I also learned a whole lot during the conversion process and the education continues as I learn how to write G-Code to program and operate it.
Mandy: Do you find any project too challenging and scrap it or keep going?
Jake: Occasionally, but I am getting really good at conducting feasibility experiments so I don’t put a tremendous amount of energy into something that cannot work. Recently I had the idea to create some etched brass backs for the iPhone 4. Rather that dive in I made a prototype with no art on it—and discoverer that a pretty brass back on your iPhone sacrifices two bars of signal! It was a failure but has lead me to a new technique which I will be publishing a step-by-step article on very soon.
Mandy: Do you just remake things or do you create from scratch too?
Jake: It’s usually a blend of the two. Found objects very often suggest the direction to go, but to get there you need to make pieces from whole-cloth to bridge the gaps.
Mandy: Any new projects you are working on?
Jake: Faux-daguerreotype iPhone back panels—post should be up in a week or two!
Mandy: What do you do with your work once it is done? Do you display them somewhere, sell them, do custom work for people etc?
Jake: Some of each. I’ll show them at cons and sometimes I’ll give them away. I am hoping to make a small business of the custom iPhone back panels; for as long as the iPhone has a back panel!
Mandy: What or who inspires you? your work?
Jake: I think I am most inspired by people who are making a living doing art. That is an incredibly hard thing to do in a world that values consumerism over being a patron. My work, on the other hand, is inspired by history, fantasy, and what I happen to find in the trash that week.
Mandy: What do you do outside of the mastery work of Jake Von Slatt?
Jake: I’m an IT manager for a small aerospace firm. It is all very dull except for the occasional seminar on blowing up asteroids with nuclear weapons.
Mandy: What book(s) have you read lately? Suggest any for our readers.
Jake: Beyond Power by Marilyn French is a comprehensive history of patriarchy and a proposal for how to begin to dismantle it. It’s had a huge influence on me and has helped shape my personal philosophy. Here are some representative quotes:
"The only true revolution against patriarchy is one which removes the idea of power from it’s central position, and replaces it with the idea of pleasure."
"The starting place is within the self, in an investigation of our needs and desires, a reconsideration of what gives us pleasure, what make living seem desirable; and of our pursuit of power or control. The goal, as I have suggested, is not to eschew domination, aggression, or conflict, but to find ways to thread such drives through our lives so that they produce pleasure rather than misery, disconnection and the ill will of others. The goal is not the impossible but the possible, for the end is not transcendence but felicity."
For more recreational reading; I am a fan of Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon Series and Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford series. Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha’s Sex at Dawn was a fascinating book, and Dean Koontz audiobooks are always good for scaring the piss out of myself when working late nights in the workshop!
Mandy: Do you plan on appearing at any conventions this year?
Jake: I will very likely come out to Seattle for SteamCon IV. It’s a bit early to tell, but how could I miss The Nathaniel Johnstone Band AND Rasputina!
Mandy: If you could have a super power what would it be and why?
Jake: Immortality. For the obvious reasons; I want to see how it all turns out. Barring that, teleportation so I can visit far away friends whenever I want. And steal stuff from locked vaults.
Mandy: What advice can you give to those who want to hack, mix or make?
Jake: Take stuff from the trash and take it apart. It doesn’t matter what, VCRs, microwaves, dead auto parts. Just take it apart and by doing so you’ll learn how things go together, then you’ll start seeing the new ways they can go together. Break it until you make it.
You can follow Jake on twitter
or go to Steampunk workshop online
All images are courtesy of Jake von Slatt. Don’t forget to click on the images for the full build article.