A rookies guide to Cold Waves VIII Chicago day 1. 9/19/19

In 2012 a musician and sound engineer much beloved by the scene named Jamie Duffy was taken too soon. In an effort to pay tribute and help his family, a group of bands collaborated to create a music festival. Eight years later it has continued to grow and thrive as a celebration of music, counter culture, and dancing. Somehow in those previous seven years I have never attended this festival. This year I am changing that. I figured I would create a preview of each of the four days line up. Then try to share them before I head to Gotham City this weekend. Friday is sold out but tickets are still available for the other days and I would love to share my Cold Waves deflowering with as many of you wonderful people as possible.

Thursday Sept 19th lineup is a monster one. Lets break down who you will see.


Chicago’s own Panic Priest from Negative Gain records is playing Smart Bar and Jack Armondo will be bringing his honey rich baritone voice over delicious electronic beats and sizzling guitar licks. If you have never had the pleasure of witnessing it live, it is a must see.

This couldn’t happen in Chicago without some old school boot stomping in your face industrial. Sean Payne/Chris Harris and friends doing Conformco will give you that in excess. Get on this dance floor now!

Bootblacks – of New York is a driving post punk electroclash sizzlefest that has to be seen live to truly be appreciated. I saw them play with frequent life partners Actors in Detroit this past year and was floored by the energy and passion of their set. They have a new record coming soon “Thin Skies” produced by Jason Corbett so you might get to see some preview material. Just seeing Panther’s dance moves alone is worth the price of admission.

Far from done here it’s we are still talking about day 1! Curse Mackey with his debut solo album “Instant Exorcism” I have already reviewed this year and it shook me to the core. Curse has a storied history in Industrial music playing with (Pigface/My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult/Evil Mothers) and this personal and powerful record is a ritual charged electronic inferno. I am yet to see him live so I couldn’t be more excited.

Acumen vs 16 VoltAcumen lead by the Novak brothers has been an intense hard hitting metaldustrial band since the late 80s. Their guitarist Jamie Duffy and his tragic passing was the focus that brought this festival together. No doubt making this a very personal show each year. 16 Volt with Eric Powell from LA also lean towards the metal side while adding electronic and synth elements. I’ve always really liked their vocals and cadence. I’m not sure exactly what the combination will sound like on Stage but with that level of talent in one place it is sure to be memorable.

Jared Loche and the Chemlab crew from Washington DC are part of any serious discussion about what Industrial music is. Chemlab has always held that early Throbbing Gristle art piece style of industrial music for me. They push the edge in the best possible way. It’s been a long hiatus since 2012 when they last played. It is a swirling, electronic Pandora’s Box, Like a pressure cooker filled with chaos brimming over into your eardrums. I can imagine what that many years of ideas is going to look and sound like.

Pop Will Eat Itself the UK based dance explosion that has been shaking the cement off clubs since 1986 with napalm bright guitars and electric stage shows and effective rapping. I think it has always been the extreme cleverness of this band that makes it stand out. My dear friend Josh Garman said it best “PWEI is so good they did a diss track of the Jesus and Mary Chain and I still love them” PWEI really deserves it’s own lengthy article about their contribution to the bigger musical picture.

Other important news, WAX TRAX will have a collectors corner set up with both the WAX TRAX documentary film and several rare test press, first press collectors items from the label.

My friends we are only at day one of a four day musical celebration and the names keep this exciting as the weekend goes on. So hydrate, pace yourself, and leave everything on the floor.


Who is going to sift through all the new music in the world to help us find diamonds ?

You might be thinking, Ken, you run a music review page, why would you want to direct people to other pages with the same function? Because I don’t do this for financial gain. I do it to share music that moves me with the world. To help support bands that you need to be listening to. I have continued to try and get better and grow. There are things I feel really good about but the format I do well isn’t everything and isn’t for everyone. I wanted to share some of the pages I am going to and finding great bands and ideas on how I can be better at what I do. In the end we all have the same goal and that is sharing music we believe in to help bands we love get a wider audience. I hope this can also act as a guide for bands looking to share their music and get press. Bands, if you are not sending a copy of your album to reviewers, you are doing yourself a great disservice. I can’t speak for everyone, but personally bands that reach out and interact with me are the ones I am thinking about first. Take the first step.


Obscura Undead – I love this site. They are always posting and do a lot in terms of news and happenings. They focus mostly on Goth/Industrial/Synth and keep right on the cutting edge. Megan and Sherri put out some of the best review videos around which are always interesting and have a fresh take. High production values and lots of personality and humor.


Post Gothic – Run by Oskar Terramortis who has been a part of the European goth scene for ages. This page focuses on Goth and modern traditional in particular. Very in depth and knowledgeable, Oskar knows his business and is a true pro writer. When he says something is good you can feel confident it has been through the paces and proven.

Industrial Island – This is an awesome podcast run by Michael J. Carrasquillo formerly of Wax Trax. Focus is on Industrial which is an area I am never as up to speed on. Michael knows everyone in the business and is always up to date on hottest new tracks. He spent long enough with the label to know it when he hears it.


Dread Music Review – This is a more eclectic page with a pretty wide range from Metal/Goth/EDM/Hip Hop. Really professional look that covers a ton of ground.


Post-Punk.com – This is a widely followed page run by Alex Baker along with contributors Frank Deserto and Andi Harriman . It’s widely followed for a reason….it’s really good. Great writing and huge reach. A lot of bands do premiers with Alex because the level of quality here gets everything he releases in front of a lot of eyeballs. I had the good fortune to meet him when I was in Berlin and he is a wonderful human who cares about music.


Cat vs Bat – This is a wonderful podcast that does the latest in music reviews as well as discussion or a variety of music culture topics and interviews with artists. Always a lively conversation and I’ve found some real gems listening to the show.

Michael Nagy – Runs an awesome youtube channel that does reviews focused on Industrial but has some goth/metal mixed in. I really like his interview style and they always are shot with a professional look and interesting questions that draw great background out of your favorite new bands.


World of Goth – I really like this online zine for the attention to aesthetic and goth culture in addition to in depth reviews. It really comes at the goth scene as a culture rather than just a music style which adds a nice element.


The Infidel Network – A really cool promotion sharing page with a pretty wide range of styles. Videos, interviews, reviews they really cast a wide net but aren’t afraid to get into some of the more experimental music.


Luminous Dash – Cool online zine from Belgium with a focus on Indie and minimalist. They do news coverage, interviews, reviews with a lot of great European stuff I don’t otherwise see.


ElektroSpank – Online music magazine covering Goth/EDM/Industrial. They do a really cool format and their reviews are longer and pretty deep. In fact i should really figure out how he sets this page up 🙂


White Light/White Heat – In a way I think they really set the standard. It looks about as pro as you can get. when i was first starting out i got feedback from them because I really like their page. They handle an enormous amount of content and do a lot of quick hits along with longer pieces.

Dark Music Net – Out of Germany run by my friend Michael. This page was actually the first to share Sounds and Shadows reviews before i got my own page. I feel like we really share a passion for music and doing less pieces but more in depth. Sometimes I think this page is the other side of my coin in Europe, highly recommend

Rule of Three – Incredible mix cloud Show and magazine featuring Pete Burns of Kill Shelter and Christian Schaefer. They focus on Shoegaze, Coldwave, Darkwave, Goth. Both are certified musical experts and they comb through the vast wasteland to bring you the goods. This is a must listen

Sounds and Shadows – Wait, you are already here 😉

Who are the great ladies of the Goth/Industrial scene today?

Music in general has always been a bit of a boys club. Sadly I feel like ladies have always faced an uphill battle particularly as producers and song writers. The goth/industrial scene has had it’s share of amazing and talented ladies as well as a progressive view, but it has never been a 100% fair shake. Since I have been getting back into the cutting edge of new music I have been overjoyed and amazed at the influx of talented female led performers currently putting out wonderful art that adds to the discussion and furthers the diversity of this scene. So I thought I would take a moment to highlight some of my favorite new artists creating music that places emphasis on the female perspective and makes this genre richer. I can’t add everyone I am listening to but i feel excited that it took me just a few moments to have several amazing artists currently enriching this scene. These will be quick hits, but I have more extensive reviews of many of the ladies featured.

Hante – Hélène de Thoury has an amazing voice and textural songs of beauty and effortless grace. She has such an unspoken coolness to her songs that paint a picture in your mind. I am transported every time i listen to her.

Sunshine Blind – Caroline Blind was an artist I grew up listening to that helped shape and mold me and changed my worldview of music. She has continued to make amazing music with the power and beauty of her voice. I always describe Sunshine Blind as a Steel gauntlet in a velvet glove. This is a cover she did of the Swans “Godamn The Sun”. It’s simple, striped down, and amazing.

Black Nail Cabaret – Emese Arva is a freaking force of nature. Her presence and power remind me of the first time i heard Annie Lennox. Her voice is pure raw energy, strength, and beauty. Wonderful range and a revolutionary song writing style that makes me want to charge up a hill and believe in a better tomorrow. I challenge you to listen to this song and not feel inspired!

S Y Z Y G Y X –  Luna Blanc has a voice that feels like a slow drink of whiskey in a club owned by David Lynch. It’s smokey, immersive, and full of desire. Can’t get enough.

Tearful Moon – Sky Lesco from Texas has such a haunting and lovely voice. It redefines barriers and has such an authentic concept and sound. She charges headlong into any subject matter while writing. It is deep, rich, and isn’t afraid to delve into the deepest concepts of the human experience.

Cliff and Ivy – Ivy Silence is a dear friend and all around wonderful human. Hailing from Alaska with her husband they do a sharp edge stabbing dark goth rock full of punk sensibility. Her voice is raw and unapologetic and as it crashes through you with sultry fierceness.

Kaelan Mikla – From Iceland is an amazing female group that hits on every level. It’s driving, fierce, gorgeous music filled with simmering intensity and textural beauty. They are truly a cutting edge sound for the modern age. Every time i listen to them i get lost in the picture they paint with every song.

Corlyx – Holy shit i love this band. Caitlin Stokes has a clear and fearless beauty and style. She really captures the raw sexuality and intelligence of the modern scene. This new album has a filthy glittering glory reminiscent of the 90s but with modern flare and strength.

Audrey Burne – I always love when i can give props to a fellow Michigan band. Lilith Gates of Audrey Burne is a immensely talented and haunting vocalist that has a lovely Natalie Merchant lilt and wonderful stage presence. I’ve had the honor or sharing a stage with her and they have a wonderful driving dark rock feel that really captures a room.


Fires- Aedra is a freaking force of nature. She sings with such intensity and burning passion about her experience and her song writing ability really pushes the boundaries of industrial electronic music. This album really changed the game for me this year.

Angel Metro – Soft, sultry, understated glory. Virginia’s Angel Metro does a wonderful blend of subtle dance beats and lilting tender beauty. She really exposes her inner most feelings for every song and this courage lends the tracks a real power.

Schedule IV – Stephanie Strange again from Michigan is a friend and amazing energy on stage. This is perfect precision post punk glory that blends her high range intense vocals and intelligent lyrics to create an entrancing and intimate experience. One of our favorite bands to play with and wonderful people.

Lorelei Dreaming – Laura Bienz leaves it all on the floor every night. I’m starting to reflect on how many of these amazing ladies i actually got to share a stage with. The energy, stage presence and political savvy combines with the intelligence of the lyrics to create a wondrous and unique experience. Do yourself a favor and bask in the fiery glow of this album.

I Ya Toyah – Chicago based Ania Tarnowska brings a fierce and rocket fueled electronic dance symphony of raw sensual strength to every performance. I love these explosive pop hooks blended with crashing dance rhythms.

Leathers – Is the sultry synth dream darkness of Shannon Hammett of Actors. It’s so great to see when a performer in a band of the quality of Actors finds her own voice and shows the ability to create such staggeringly beautiful music like this with her as the center piece. I love how far this reaches from the sound of Actors to really allow her voice to shine because it is one that deserves to be front and center.

Ego Likeness – So Donna Lynch has had a long, successful, and storied career and I could have picked a lot of songs newer than this, but it’s my favorite so I’m going with it. Donna is a hurricane of passion and darkness. She has been taking on intense topics in her art for a decade and creating beautiful songs about the horror which resonates with the feminine experience and having an intimacy of truth for decades.


Bess – Aussie dark alternative rocker Bess Linda is making churning sultry dance beats full of world beat toms and off kilter warm toned vocals to shake a dance floor.

Bones Uk – This recommendation came from Collin Schipper, filthy wide room fresh sounds. It’s pop hook sensible but cutting edge in your face intensity. You aren’t wrong “Beautiful is boring”

Death Loves Veronica – Veronica Campbell is a slow, back beat, sultry drive down a long empty road. It’s effortless tension, and subtle whispers of reality laid barren with brutal honesty.

SINE – I must admit I heard about SINE and Rona Rougeheart  through her collaboration with Curse Mackey. However once i dug into the power of her art for itself I found an intense flurry of disco dance beats underneath powerful vocals and world building soundscapes which captured me and brought me to my knees to beg for more.

VV and The Void – Valentina Veil has a wonderful whispering smoke swirl style. Really great at building tension in her songs to feel like a story.

Dissonance – Cat Hall has such a rich soulful voice with I feel gives a unique flare to her dark dance electronic sound.

I know I have missed so many impressive female artist which drive and push the boundaries of this scene. Just looking through what popped into my head without much through fills me with hope for a brighter, stronger future of diversity of the dark music scene. I hope you find something here you give a try to expand your horizons with.

Kat Squared was kind enough to put all these bands together on a Spotify playlist

Continue reading “Who are the great ladies of the Goth/Industrial scene today?”

DIY Band Promotion for 2019: by Steven Archer

Dear bands and other independent artists/ business folkin, there are two types of you out there.

Type one: You do the thing because you enjoy the thing, it’s a hobby. But you don’t feel a pressing need to bring it into the world at large. If it happens, cool, but you aren’t concerned either way.

Type two: You make beautiful horrible things because it is what you do. You have total faith in not just the quality of what you make but the content. You have things to say, and you want the world to hear those things. You recognize that you’re not gonna get rich in the industry so let’s assume you’re in on that particular joke.

All you type ones can read the following if you want but it doesn’t apply to you. Now for the rest of you type two vampires…

As I have said before, this new record is the one for me. The one I’ve been promising myself I would make for years. Consequently I’ve taken everything I’ve picked up over the last 20 years in the industry and gone full force with it. Unfortunately almost everything I learned prior to a few years ago is no longer relevant. A few ideas still apply.

Rule One: If you think that you can just sit back and let your label, publisher or other infrastructure do all the work for you, you deserve your lack of sales.

Rule the Second: WORD OF MOUTH IS ESSENTIAL, and cannot be purchased.


Rule the Third: People pay for what they respect. And they respect things when they understand the work and ideas involved in it. Pulling the curtain aside to whatever degree helps build that relationship. People steal (download) things they don’t have a personal stake in. Getting a glimpse behind that mask at the actual person who made them makes a huge difference. I dealt with two and three by creating a special “support the artist” package. Where people would get access to a special Facebook group to that I uploaded demo files of the songs, broke down process stuff showed early versions of the videos, and they got copies as soon as I got the masters back.

“But Steven aren’t you worried that one of them will upload the files somewhere?”

No, I know my fans, and just to be safe, the versions of the files I gave them are slightly different than the final release. Nothing anyone will notice. I changed the length of the space between the songs, and customized the ide tags so that I could track them if they ever popped up. In addition to creating the eternally needed income, it also helped develop a rabid and vocal set of fans for the record. People who were invested in the record as well as building a personal relationship between myself and the fans (which is awesome!) Which was essential when it first dropped.

Rule Four: The world is a distracting place. You need to go to your customers. Be the squeakiest of wheels. Don’t want to be annoying? Too bad. You love the thing, you believe in the thing, if it’s really that good people you know will understand or at least tolerate it and everyone else is just a potential customer.


Rule Five: NO ONE WILL JUST “come to you,” because you are good. I’ve known a few people over the years who said shit like “I don’t need to book shows, if they want me they will come to me.” It’s a buyers market, galleries/performance venues, THEY DON’T NEED YOU. There are thousands of artists and bands coming to them. You are not special, and in fact if you adopt this attitude you will not just not be special, you will be seen as a problem.

Rule VI: Go to the DJs. Sure your label has a DJ pool. And those DJs get shit from them every month. And by shit I mean a bunch of files and rows of text. That’s all you are to them visually, they have no attachment to those words, those ones and zeros. Go to the DJs directly. Ask them if they want copies and send those files personally. That’s the kinda shit people remember. And it helps build and maintain those relationships. Are you still just a line of data? Sure, but at least they have a more personal connection with you.

Rule Seven: Talk to blogs, talk to Facebook groups, do giveaways. Go to club nights, have cd release parties. Do online listening parties. “But Steven people will download my music for free from those.” So what? Does it get them to the shows? We have people come up to us all the time at shows and say “I downloaded you’re entire catalog and now I’m going to buy them.”

Rule Eight: Put real effort into promotion. We live in the future, this year alone I’ve made seven music videos. Not clips of footage pulled from YouTube. Videos with sets built, homemade green screens, that I shot by myself on my iPad, and edited in premiere. You don’t have to know a ton of tech stuff. If you can use a DAW, you can use premiere. If you don’t have a visual eye, work with someone you know to help plan the shots.

(Free Pro Tip: set up the video as a series of static shots. This allows you to control the lighting and you only have to worry about shooting from one place. )

You don’t have to spend a ton of time. The most involved video I did for the Stoneburner record involved four days of set building in the garage and one of shooting. The one I did right after that took three hours to build the set and two hours of shooting. Minor Monsters I did in the living room in maybe five hours. Stick to good solid concepts and keep everything as simple as possible. Because….

Rule Nine : FACES MATTER. Sure you can be artsy if you want on your cover and other promo material, but the simple fact is our brains are wired to respond to faces. Seeing them creates empathy with the person they are looking at. It creates the perception of a relationship or at least an understanding of the other. That’s part of why the videos are so important. The other reason is because it gives you an easily digestible (and not so easily downloadable) way of sharing your music. People don’t like just sitting and listening to some random song. But if you give em something to watch it’s much easier to hold them.

Rule X: Put your fuckin money where you’re fuckin mouth is. We are not even close to stable when it comes to our finances. But Facebook advertising is really inexpensive and it’s worth it. In the last month my least viewed video had been seen 6k times and the most viewed, over twice that number. Each video was boosted once for $30.

Rule XI: No one will love your child as much as you do. Not your friends, not your label (they have a whole nursery to worry about, work with them, but do your own as well) not even your biggest fans. And more importantly it’s not their job. It’s your child to raise, it’s your brand to make, it’s your art to let drown in an ocean of lists of file names and distracting media.

Rule 12: Think outside the box. For instance, write “how to” articles for webzeins….And finally, merchandising is your friend. You can print on demand pretty much anything these days. Shirts, mugs, bags, towels, prints. Portals are easy to set up and once they are up and running you don’t have to do anything. The orders come in, the jank is shipped directly from the manufacturer. Is it more expensive than the traditional way? Sure, but you don’t have a room full of stock rapidly losing value as time passes. Obviously for situations where you need to have the merchandise on hand you will have to go through printers. But for day to day sales, it’s a great way to go.

Steven Archer is an award winning artist, author, a founding member of Ego Likeness (along with his wife Donna), and Stoneburner, as well as a few other projects. He’s a hired gun drummer for various industrial bands including Velvet Acid Christ, Mindless Faith and others. His has written music for NASA and film. Donna and his most recent book “witches,” was nominated for a Stoker award

Editorial: Goth Culture is it time to bury the past?

When i write reviews one of the common traps I try hard not to get lost in is comparing every new band I review to one of the sacred dark gods of the 80’s and 90’s that the group I am listening to sounds like. It’s a pretty common tactic and lets face it an effective one. It’s easy to associate with what is familiar when it often feels like the world of goth/industrial/darkwave/new wave/ect has pretty much been discovered and artists are searching for more subtle ways to test the boundaries of what is possible and find some new ground, I figured I would take a moment to acknowledge this is a reality for a lot of people.

Continue reading “Editorial: Goth Culture is it time to bury the past?”