The provocative Psyclon Nine recently released “More To Hell,” an EP that features new material along with remixes from their thrilling 2022 album “Less To Heaven.” This new EP includes remixes by Skold, Suicide Commando as well as Psyclon Nine vocalist and bandleader Nero Bellum himself. Psyclon Nine released their groundbreaking debut album “Divine Infekt” in 2003. Since that time, Psyclon Nine has continued to drop explosive albums of darkened metal industrial electronics and tour frequently, feeding a thirsty fanbase of devotees. We recently sat down to chat with Nero Bellum, near the end of a lengthy North American tour just as Psyclon Nine were about to headline Dark Force Fest, a packed Goth and Industrial festival and convention in New Jersey.
S & S – Your excellent new EP entitled “More to Hell,” seems more like an extension of your epic 2022 album “Less to Heaven,” was that your intent?
Nero – I look at MORE TO HELL as a companion to LESS TO HEAVEN and as an opportunity to collaborate with artists that I respect. It also allowed me to have a platform for the single FOR THE NIGHT IS DARK AND FULL OF TERRORS. It can certainly be looked at as an extension/continuation.
S & S – I really like the dark ambient soundtrack styled tracks on “Less To Heaven,” one of which “Catastrophic,” was remixed into a dark lullaby by the amazing Tim Skold on “More to Hell.” Tim has been a frequent collaborator of yours over the years and the two of you seem to share an excellent musical connection, can you tell us more about this chemistry?
Nero – Tim and I developed a friendship and mutual admiration over the years. I look at him as a kindred spirit and the only artist that I would ever trust with a song as personal as CATASTROPHIC. As any mother might be hesitant to put their child in the arms of a stranger, I feel a deep connection to the art that I create and especially so with CATASTROPHIC which, felt less like a song when it was composed and closer to an open heart surgery. It could have only been touched by someone who I trust and someone who knew where and how the song was birthed.
S & S – In 2017, Metropolis re-released a remastered version of your debut 2003 album “Divine Infekt.” What are your thoughts of your early material? Do you ever think back to when you originally formed Psyclon Nine and imagine that it would lead you to where you are today?
Nero – I look back on that time and see a teenager attempting to compose his first songs whilst simultaneously learning (by trial and error) the in’s and out’s of hardware synthesizers, drum machines, samplers, sequencers etc. What you hear on that first album is a collection of my very first experiments with song writing. It took a few years to hone my craft and develop the sonic aesthetic that I was aiming for. I often say that CRWN THY FRNICATR was the first “true” PSYCLON NINE album as, I look at DIVINE INFEKT and I.N.R.I. as polished demo’s more than albums. That said, I’m not ashamed of those albums and I feel that there are still a few good tracks scattered amongst them. And although we haven’t performed any of those songs in a live setting in many years… It might be time to pull them out soon.
S & S – You’ve managed to find a way to bridge the gap between dark electronic industrial sounds and aspects of black metal while remaining a very prolific tour de force, has your inspiration and drive for making music changed over the years?
Nero – My inspiration changes constantly. It’s incredibly important to me that I remain authentic to myself and I allow my vision to have a fluidity to it. I’ve always felt more comfortable on the outside of genre. I have no desire to fit in with whatever is popular at the moment and more of a desire to go in an opposite direction if anything. I’m a contrarian by heart. Inspiration comes to me in the form of sounds rather than music. Oftentimes I’ll compose entire songs around a single, central sound. FOR THE NIGHT IS DARK AND FULL OF TERRORS is a good example of this. The entire track was written around a recording of an oil barrel being hit with a tuning hammer in a sewer tunnel. These are the concepts that inspire me. Some artists sit down with a guitar or, sit at a piano and compose melodies that will then be arranged/adapted into a song. I find a unique “instrument” record a “performance” and then manipulate the recordings in my studio. The journey is as important to me as the finished result.
S & S – Do you listen to much new music and can you recommend any up and coming bands that you would like to mention?
Nero – I don’t actively search out new music. New artists need to be forced on me by friends / outside sources. I have a fairly diverse taste and some people might be surprised by some of the artists that I do listen to. If I’m being asked to drop some names for people to check out, I would suggest Surachai, Snakes Of Russia (who remixed SEE YOU ALL IN HELL on MORE TO HELL), and Health (who we just performed with at Dark Force Fest and who put on a great show).
S & S – You have a reputation for being an avid admirer of vintage 1970s synthesizers and sounds. Can you share with our audience some of your favorite electronic gear? Do you have any favorite artists amongst the 1970s synthesizer electronic pioneers?
Nero – I have a love for unique instruments in general. I do prefer modular to fixed format synthesizers as they lend themselves to experimentation and a lot of the modules that I use are modern interpretations of classic 60’s and 70’s Buchla, Moog and Arp designs. It’s never been about chasing a sound from that era for me. It’s all about pushing boundaries and the modular domain is where I find the most interesting technology. What’s attractive about Eurorack to me is being able to integrate modern / digital synthesis methods (granular / sampling etc) with vintage / analog components. I like to have as many “colors” at my disposal as possible when composing
S & S – Psyclon Nine just recently completed a large tour of North America that included an appearance at the Dark Force Festival. Do you have any other tours planned?
Nero – Nothing that I can discuss at the moment but, definitely keep an eye on our Instagram for updates.
Punk Icon, Music Journalist, Scene Historian, in so many ways John Robb has made a career of lifting up great music and art in equal measure to creating it. Starting in Blackpool in 1978 The Membranes walked the razor line between introspective darkness and fiery blue-collar aggression. In 2010 he started “Louder Than War” an independent website of reviews, interviews, and live shows to shine a light on the fringes of music which might never get attention from mainstream pop coverage. This aspect was personally relevant to me, by proving one person could champion a movement to share and humanize the artist of the underground. When John released his new book “The Art Of Darkness” about the history of my chosen genre “Goth” and I had the opportunity to interview him my cold dead heart fluttered with joy. A giant who paved the way for me like few others.
Things that struck me about the first read through of this book. The historical research is first rate. How could it not be, John lived this time. Loved these bands. When I hear someone talking about something close to my heart, I need to hear that same reverence in their voice. This is the voice of a true believer. The facts aren’t enough. I need a bit of novel to set the backdrop. I was born in 1977 and never had a chance to go to the Batcave, to see Joy Division live. In this book we are taken through those damp streets, smell the clubs, see the fashion. A great history paints a picture in your mind that makes you a part of what happened years later. That was the ultimate magic of this book. Finally, my beloved goth scene always wants to put itself in a box. It’s a scene obsessed with the past, the idea that what came before will always be better than what comes after. This is a book about history, but one that flexes and expands the definition and connects those bands to the future. I’ve read several books and articles about goth history. None of them sparked something in me like this. If you are a lover of dark macabre music, this book is a must have.
This interview was my longest to date. Sometimes as an interviewer you need to navigate the flow of conversation to help the person you are interviewing tell their story. John is a lot better at this than me. So my goal was just to set him up and let him move from story to story. I am proud that although I could have listened to him discuss all the amazing things he has done and people he has known, I did get him talking about how the history of this scene impacts it’s future. The interview clocked in at 1.5 hours but in the end there was so little I wanted to cut. So we have broken it into 3 parts. I really hope you find something to learn and love from this conversation with one of the foremost experts in the modern darkscene.
Learn about the past. This book is a great way to do it. Start a review page. Tell bands you appreciate them. Go to shows. Stand in front. Wear crushed velvet. Smoke cloves. Drink the blood of your enemies from a skull. There is no wrong way to appreciate and be moved by music. Just do it with all your heart and leave space for everyone.
Greetings my friends, it is once again time for the S & S Darkscene singles chart. The top 10 singles in February 2023 chosen by our group of Artists, Djs, Producers, Promotors, and Super Fans. We receive no compensation and every month I am astounded to find an incredible new bands I was not aware of. I welcome you all to do the same and dive in for the best new Goth, Industrial, New wave, Post Punk, Darkwave, Witchaus, or any other genre we decide suits our fancy. If you have a single in March or know someone who does, join the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group and add them to the poll.
AL1CE – The Lucky Dead Theme Song
IAMWARFACE – Say My Name
Sawtooth (feat. Sapphira Vee) – Walk Into The Ocean
Matt Hart (feat. Daniel Graves) – To The Core
Microwaved (Featuring Gaby Gustafson of Eva X) – Propaganda
Bellhead – I Would Die 4 U (Prince Cover)
A Cloud Of Ravens – Requiem for the Sun
Self Titled Album – The Unicorn Tornado Of Hurt
The Picassos – Under The Floorboards (With You)
Carrion – THERE IS ONLY HELL
The Bellwether Syndicate – We All Rise –
AL1CE – The Dead Lucky Theme Song – (Los Angelos CA) Animated raindrop synthwave track with an explosive bassline and jet engine guitar roar. I love the multi media connection to a comic called The Lucky Dead by Melissa Flores. Tash’s vocals are elegant and abstract weaving an image over the rhythm sections drive. Every new track I hear impresses me more.
IAMWARFACE – SAY MY NAME – (Brighton UK) – This one surprised me from the first beat. A blistering prog pulsed synth slammer that teetered between live and electric drums. The vocals are outstanding with a real Brett Anderson energy and sass against the hard rock thunder. Writing this down on paper this should not be my cup of tea, with every choice and change I kept finding myself won over. The quality and complexity on display here are undeniable.
Sawtooth – Walk Into The Ocean (feat. Sapphira Vee) – (Lowell, Massachusetts) – I love everything about this team up. Two amazing people that impress me every time working together. This beat slithers like an anaconda slithering along a slutty muted trumpet. Knowing both these artists, the way both voices shine is my favorite thing about this heavy air banger.
MATT HART – TO THE CORE (AESTHETIC PERFECTION REMIX) – (London UK) – Industrial Pop tender destruction remixed by the master of the genre. Glitchy and cruel with crystal clarity. This is not Matt hart’s first trip to our singles chart, it most certainly won’t be his last. The rising strikes like visible heat rising from the pavement. The bassline is a diamond tipped drill seeking out minerals below the curst.
Microwaved – Propaganda (Featuring Gaby Gustafson of Eva X) – (Des Moines, Iowa) – Gabe Wilkinson teaming up with Gaby is a beautiful synthesis of deadly EDM beats and a gatling gun cadence from the breathy vocals. Music to hunt the wastelands to.
BELLHEAD – I Would Die 4 U – (Chicago IL) – My favorite Chicago double bass duo with a Prince cover that is weird, disturbing, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work. Ivan Russia summons some Steven Malkmus vocal delivery that leaves such a dissonate aftertaste to the familiar melody. I don’t know what I was expecting, it wasn’t this, it somehow hit for me on every level.
A Cloud of Ravens – Requiem for the Sun – (Brooklyn, New York) – what a bright future the Brooklyn post punk standouts have. Leaving for tour and every new single that comes out on this record is a bonfire banger. This bassline is Peter Hook worthy crude oil pipe. Matt’s vocals show range and creativity. People really need to get on board with this band. Don’t be the last.
Self Titled Album – Unicorn Tornado of Hurt – (Price, Utah) – Ok number 1, I didn’t think Utah had sweet bands. number 2, The title of this song is epic. That is before I even hit play. This track is a fuzzy level of bass I have not heard since Monster Magnet. Filthy and psychedelic with a retro 90’s engine.
thePicassos – Under the Floorboards (With You) – (Detroit MI) – One of my favorite haunting indie shadow sonic flavors from Detroit. Organic, emotive, and original driving into a concealed truth without fear. Charle’s vocals and haunting and original. Every time I hear this band I wonder where they have been all my life.
Carrion – THERE IS ONLY HELL – (Kingdom of Norway) – Our moderator and reviewer Hide has been locked away drinking torture juice pressurizing emotion for a new string of synth driven terror abstraction. Vocally flinging broken glass at our jugular at random precision. It’s always new, always distinct.
For this month I am going to add a special mention. The Bellwether Syndicate had a new single release that didn’t come out until 2/24/23 but it is such an absolute BANGER it felt wrong not to mention. The tone of this guitar is like walking in your door after an especially long day of work. William Faith’s voice is distinctive and raw. These drums slash us in reckless assault. A modern day classic.
Two things I love dearly are goth compilations and Florida based review/interview page Obscura Undead. Azy and friends have been such amazing supporters of the scene. They are a huge inspiration for me, and this is the fourth volume of awesome new Darkscene music. I’m so angry at my laziness that I didn’t submit an Amaranth song to be added. Compilations like this are so important to helping fans cut through the tidal wave of new music and find things that inspire. So I am going to take this journey that Obscura Undead laid out and find some great new bands I love.
Obscura Undead is a collective of goth creators passionate about new and obscure goth, darkwave, post-punk, and other dark alternative music. Created by Tampa, FL DJs Maus and Azy and backed by passionate fans turned writers from all over the world.
Draining Kiss – Draining Kiss – Gainesville, Florida artist with a lovely ambient EDM shadowsynth blended with Projekt Records romantism. The five song E.P. was released Oct 2022. The music has a vibrating 90’s techno feel with wonderfully layered vocals of ringing clarity. This appears to be the debut EP, but it gets me excited for things to come.
Chrysanthemum Ballroom – Mirrorball Explodes – Fortunate that the Chapel Hill, North Carolina band had just reached out for review which I can do now. So this track has a lovely ringing organic death rock feel. The vocals stood out in a unique and captivating Brian Eno way. I just don’t hear enough of this cadence and inflection in the modern darkscene. The guitar and basslines twirled and overlapped with cascading echos. I was an instant fan.
Element 104 – Blue In Heaven – Miami Florida fury tempo synthwave artist with wispy climbing Cocteau Twins ethereal vocals. Blending boot stomping dancetensity with effortless grace. Djs take note, this needs to spin in your clubs.
hororhaus – bloodlust (feat. Tokyo Teens) [Jimmi B. vocal version] – Woodstock, New York artist and frequent S & S contributor Scott Harris with this thrumming heart hammer dance beat. A runaway ghost train on a laser track. One of those tracks that packs a dancefloor.
Sequential Zero – The Last One To Fall – Multi country collaboration with Aussie Ant Banister (Sounds Like Winter) , Bruce Nullify (Orcus Nullify) , and Colin Gallagher (Burnt Souls AU) form up for this spiraling darkwave single. Thick resonant vocals with great Mark Burgess flavor and 80s Killing Joke frantic turns. This crew never disappoints.
Cyborg Amok – Black Well House (A Ghost Story) – New Jersey father son duo with this bleak and beautiful building ballad. I love the power of the drums while maintaining this slow droning tempo. Understated and haunted vocals, the chorus harmony in particular create an emotive blend. An edgier Psychedelic Furs feel that lives up to the name ghost story.
Flores de Tchernobyl – Black Plague – Lots to be excited about here. There is always something when you get a new compilation where you stop and say holy crap how have I never heard this. Plus they are from Mexico and I am always looking to shout from the rooftops that people need to pay attention to Mexican Darkscene music. Also I LOVE the cover art. So this track is electronic brush rolling across the desert. Powerful sultry vocals and a nice cold minimal build. The voice rings with such power and creates bold contrast to the beats behind them. This was an instant buy for me.
Uncanny Chamber – Escaping The VoidFeat: Pedro Code – From Portugal another band I didn’t previously know, one thing I know very well is that Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) makes everything he is involved in amazing. This track is of course no exception. Ethereal still water expanding in every direction while Pedro poles this boat through the darkness. I now have another darkscene band in Portugal to be excited about.
Byronic Sex & Exile – Taking it back to where it all begin in Leeds, I’m not sure how I first found this band but I was blown away. Delicate and engaging like a lace cuff with a hint of mystery. The piano line for this track is captivating and the baritone croon is a magnificent contrast. I dare you not to fall in love with this band.
I feel like I could be here all day writing about every band on these compilations. Azy and crews taste is always first rate so everything here is worth trying. I hope you take the journey and support the wonderful community at Ubscura Undead.
This past weekend I traveled back to my roots. To a goth industrial festival in downtown Detroit. My first in many years. I grew up going to the legendary City Club, travel regularly to see bands at Smalls. I still have a nostalgic tie to East Michigan. I learned about the Skull Fest late, yet quickly was got excited at the idea of an ambitious goth industrial festival in Detroit. I quickly reached out to offer support anyway I could. I was welcomed with open arms both as a pretend music journalist and getting to play with my band Amaranth. Those of you that follow our blog and podcast know that I have a dreamer’s optimism about our scene. In B.P. LeGault I felt the kinship of a mutual dreamer dedicated to bringing together our community while creating an inclusive environment. Four days, major acts, vendors for art, fashion shows, giving a chance to goth adjacent new sounds sometimes over at festivals. He also did something I feel is important to a festival’s success, he included and promoted local talent. Detroit artists were a prominent part of the stacked lineup. I was also impressed by outside the box thinking. Day four, Sunday was an all-ages show. Taking a chance to help encourage both young fans, and parents who love the scene but have a hard time attending a music festival which often start around 9pm and go until 2-3am. This allowed them to take part and share an experience they love with their kids. This also was wonderful for goths who don’t drink and feel uncomfortable. I got the chance to attend on Friday and Sat, then play on Sunday with our amazing photographer Whitney Flaherty. So please follow along for the highlights of a truly uplifting experience for the goth scene.
So I didn’t get to attend Thursday, but I wanted to share what was there 🙂
-Noir Leather Stage- CYANOTIC, Chicago Second Salem, Detroit Eprom Colony, Detroit Triangulations, Tri Cities Access to Concrete, Ypsilanti EnD, Ypsilanti Opening Ceremony House Deejay: Remnant, Defiled, Ypsilanti
-Russell Industrial Stage- Darks Choir, Ination, Toledo Havok, Ination, Toledo Audioflesh, Ination, Toledo Misanthropia Narcissus, Detroit Gates Of Janus, Novi
Friday 11-18-22 *Fetish Night 6pm-Midnight 18+
-Noir Leather Stage- HIDE, Chicago Noelle Solringen, Detroit Crune, Detroit Noir Leather Fashion Show B.P. LeGault, Detroit Vazum, Detroit House Deejay: Raedy Lex
-Russell Industrial Stage- EXT EST, Detroit Justin Carver, Something Cold, Hamtramck Marc Church, Detroit Engine, Detroit Udenjoe, Detroit
Walking in the door I was greeted by the liquid translucent shadowgaze sounds of our friends Vazum local to Detroit. Zach and Emily bring an organic and emotional DIY style that always stands out. It feels like the prevailing wind in goth is to emulate the 80s synth or early Batcave sound. Vazum shows their influence more in slushy guitar-based shoegaze with dark themes and balanced communicative vocals. They have a new EP out called “The Precious Ones” with a punk rock tempo and thundering drumbeats. Vazum is a staple of the new Detroit goth scene. The live show feels so thunderous and organic. If you are 3 feet away from the stage or 100 feet, a Vazum show always feels intimate.
BP. LeGault who made this all possible did the next set. I was enjoying bopping around the dance floor when 50 absurdly hot people walked past in a large block. I remember thinking to myself something must be happening because that was too much attractiveness in one place. It of course marked the beginning of the visual extravaganza of Noir Leathers Fashion Show. If you grew up in the Detroit suburbs like me the Royal Oak store was a big part of your counterculture life. It was the main place to get alternative clothes and learn what was happening in the scene. This was an impressive spectacle, but also called attention that unlike other festivals I have attended the people of Detroit on average were all rocking a full-blown look. A commitment to the aesthetic I just don’t see all the time.
Crune – Next up was Detroit’s own CRUNE. I knew nothing about this band going in other than an introduction from amazing Dj Noelle Solringen. Without previous knowledge coming into this performance, I was absolutely floored. This band was my favorite surprise of the weekend. I couldn’t stop talking about it to anyone who would listen. “Sassy Yee Haw Goth with a Theremin” was something I had no idea I needed. I did. A searing energy captivating performance with engaging lyrics and a vocal delivery that made the hairs on my arms stand up. Do you know when you see “IT” even if you can’t put your finger on what that is? You know when you see it. Picture being a music reviewer that listens to 200 bands a month, then you feel “IT” happen. That was CRUNE for me. As gods are my witness I have made it my mission to make the scene aware how blistering talented this project is.
HIDE – After a Dj set from Noelle Solringen Chicago based electronica band HIDE took the stage. I have heard the legend of the intensity from their stage show. I have listened and loved their albums. Nothing I heard prepared me for the jagged glass introspective emotion which fell on me like a firestorm. If you have never seen HIDE play live, I don’t know how to describe the experience to you. I know others tried to describe it to me, and now I understand what an impossible task was being ask. It is not a simple thing to witness. It is the full intensity of overpowering conflicting emotions dragging you back and forth at maximum velocity while you question every truth you have been fed. Does that sound over the top? Well trust me, unless you have seen it and you know, you don’t know.
-Noir Leather Stage- COMFORT CURE, Detroit Textbeak, Cleopatra Records, Cleveland/Detroit Spike Hellis, Los Angeles Veganinblack, Chicago SOROS, Grand Rapids/Detroit Wraith & Remnant, Defiled, Ypsilanti Schedule IV, Detroit House Deejay: Niko Fierro
-Russell Industrial Stage- Absynthe Of Faith, Minneapolis Satanic Hispanic, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago Plvgues, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago Sain’t, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago Doc Colony, Detroit
So Saturday I knew my way around the festival site and was excited to take everything in. I knew I had to play on Sunday so I took at easy on the Maker’s Mark to be fresh for our performance. Saturday’s line up featured mostly bands I had not seen live yet. Once again, the surroundings were inclusive, friendly, and focused on highlighting new exciting dark music. I loved the shadow market of vendors featuring everything from bondage gear, art pieces, and magic. Noir Leather once again had a shop set up. A wonderful space set up to plunge in and out of performance engagement and leisurely stroll through darkscene art.
Schedule IV – Starting off with one of the most underrated talents in the Detroit scene. Powerful emotive lyrics and delivery by Steph Strange and precision post punk music that flows with the energy generation of a V8 engine. This was a new lineup from the last time I saw them play. When post punk music is done with this level of fine-tuned twists and turns it takes the listener on a journey. Schedule IV always brings that ferocious driving energy and it really set the tone for night 3 of the festival.
This festival featured two stages, one primary where full bands played. Then another for Djs and individual electronica artists. The set up again reminded me of old school raves. On Saturday this second stage was dominated by Blvsphemy Records from Chicago. Primarily known as a Chicago VVitchaus label with the added twist both sonically and aesthetically of Black Metal. As someone new to the Witch house scene it was amazing to see a “Goth/Industrial” festival embrace this subgenre and give it a place to bring in new fans. Seeing people catch word of the crackling energy and ritualistic thrum, packing the room with wide eyes and flailing limbs showed me that this is a part of the future of our scene.
Satanic Hispanic – Furious slow grinding back beats of house and triphop, with terrifying expulsion of anti religious emotional outbursts. The imagery and sonic assault projected a punk DIY ideal into a chaos magic lens. This set made me a believer in how this music fits into the future of the scene.
Plvgues – The final set from Blvsphemy was the Plvgues, which took the concept of everything the label had exposed me to, then turned it to 11. The massive presence of this hooded giant had an undeniable magnetism. His voice flowed beneath the sliding evasive beats to surface with shattered glass fury when you least expected it. Keep a close eye on this artist. They have star power.
Spike Hellis – Next up on the main stage is a LA based electronic explosion Spike Hellis. I have seen them before at Cold Waves, but never before in this intimate underground setting. In 2022 Atari Teenage Riot got involved in some NFT Crypto madness that tainted my image of furious electronic anarchy. Spike Hellis brought that sonic image back with crystal static anger and EMP pulse which writhed out in shockwaves to assault the adoring crowd. I enjoyed their performance at Cold Waves. I was memorized here. Impressive emotional transfer from stage to crowd. The aggression and intensity doing something this inclusive is a bizarre combination of feeling but the most accurate description.
TEXTBEAK – Another Detroit band. More festivals need to take note, if you are holding a festival in a city, then show love to the bands that are a part of that scene. I can’t remember a time I saw this ideal held up more than at the Skull Festival. Michael Szewczyk is such a warm overlapping part of the whole Detroit scene who’s talent and glowing spirit are never more on display that in his primary project Textbeak. As someone who grew up on Detroit electronica Michael seems to have the core concept written on his DNA. Every track has a brilliant and unique composure yet somehow resonates with that distinctive house sound that transports me to a warehouse on Hastings Street. Michael is also a part of the previously mentioned Crune and continues to impress with their talent and vision.
COMFORT CURE – Closing out the night was another Detroit talent. I am always left impressed lately by solo electronica artists who manage to unleash the energy necessary to captivate a crowd alone. Percussive EDM with a lashing distinctly Detroit beat and poetic vocal delivery that reminded me of Underworld. I didn’t know nearly enough about Comfort Cure going into the weekend. They left an impressive mark on me. As an added bonus while watching the set I noticed Detroit Electronic music royalty ADULT was standing in front of me enjoying the set. I love seeing artists I associate with a city coming out to support.
This Sunday matinee was special to me for many reasons. I got to play on the stage, I had just watched so many amazing bands. We got to open for one of my favorite bands in the modern darkscene Wingtips. I also appreciated the vision and concept of B.P. doing an all-ages daytime event as part of the festival. Too often it feels like goth culture is not focused on the next generation. It is a scene that tends to worship and embrace the past. Also A lot of folks my age do not get to attend goth festivals anymore because they have children. Who can get a sitter from 10pm-3am two or three days in a row? Having an event focused on family inclusion as part of a major festival spoke a lot about how this event felt different in thinking outside the box.
First act i saw Sunday was Detroit’s own The Picassos. A glorious darkternative band I recently discovered who seamlessly blend The Pixies, Nick Cave, and Violent Femms. I had the pleasure of doing an interview which I will post below. When I spoke to Charles and company they told me of their connection through theater. I loved seeing this translate into their stage show. A funeral set where all the listeners could take part in the production. The sound was everything I want in a live show of a band I know and love the recordings of. Everything I loved in the song writing and emotional connection was here, with an added layer of projection and emotion. Charles voice is unique and captivating. I found myself lost in the performance. This is a must-see live band if you ever get the opportunity.
FAUX FEAR – Next up was a post punk dark wave duo from Reading PA. I had the pleasure of speaking to them in the green room and instantly felt a kinship with their devotion to DIY inclusive grass roots promotion of the dark scene. The music was sleek and sophisticated with driving baselines and cascading synths. The vocals had a resonating Terri Nunn vibe with more understated delicacy. They did a fantastic Cure cover. This is a band I will be looking to connect with for a show exchange soon. My only regret is I had to spend part of the set behind stage getting ready to play.
We got to take the stage next. It was a great honor to play with so many talented people who I love. I grew up on this side of the state and being a part of the energy here was a transcendent feeling. The sound staff were all wonderful. We played songs about Ninjas, Assplay, Feminism, and Onlyfans. In my mind it was one of the best sets we ever played in modern Amaranth. After I helped get our gear off, I was walking with Collin. A young lady locked eyes and started walking towards me. I assumed I was in her way and tried to speed up and change direction. I turned back to Collin and she tapped me on the shoulder asking if she could take a picture with us. I get a bit of that from Sounds and Shadows at music festivals. This was for Amaranth, this was different, this was a young person who really enjoyed what we played enough to chase me crossed a warehouse. I forgot how special that can feel.
WINGTIPS – When I spoke to Hannah and Vincent after the show I told them something I aspire towards. I have seen them about 7 times live now, and every time I see them is the best time. The darkest side of retro melodrama and beauty blended with furious emotional outburst and shocking realism. The amount of star power dripping from this duo is something you feel in your bones. They closed with “Last Minute” which was my first introduction to them. The song that was my first love. The perfect close to a wonderful event of memories.
Images by Whitney Flaherty
Now a brief interview with B.P who made his dream a reality.
Ken: What made you first fall in love with this music and scene?
B.P: My passion for dark music is deep rooted. I started attending goth nights in Detroit back in the 90’s. The scene just felt like home. Goth nightlife, music, fashion, and subculture has been a part of my identity since those early days. As well as writing and recording dark-wave and industrial music. Throughput the years Detroit deejays and bands have kept the music alive in the underground. And I love that.
Ken: I really felt a sense of kindred spirit in you. You are a Dreamer like me. Tell me what you wanted to accomplish with this festival? What was your vision ?
B.P. : Thank you, Ken. After getting to talk with you a at the festival I felt that too. I remember telling someone, Ken is a great guy, he is sincere, passionate, and sees the big picture. The goal of SKULL was to bring together as much of the regional talent possible to provide an opportunity for Detroit’s goth music scene to build a stronger community and more support for the musicians and deejays as well as the artists, vendors, and lovers of all things goth. I truly hope everyone met someone great that they didn’t know before. Or made friends with an acquaintance. Because we have so many wonderful people in our scene.
Ken: Tell me about some of the people who helped you pull off this ambitious undertaking?
B.P. : Remnant aka Casey Discursion of Defiled was the first person I had a conversation with about bringing together the older and younger music fans of goth and industrial in Detroit. There is a great divide in ages and genres and he understood how all of the sounds could compliment each other and that creating a stronger community was possible. There are a couple silent partners behind SKULL that believe in the mission. The SKULL managers Xaina, Marie, Stacey, and Jai Jay all did an amazing job in their leadership roles. There were also several friends of mine and deejays that helped physically put the event together and promote it for months. I am grateful for all of their efforts.
Ken: Why was it so important to include an all-ages day for the festival? Why should more festivals do this?
B.P. : There are a lot of young goths out there. One, they deserve to have a place to experience the subculture, and two, they are the future of our community.
Ken: 5) What is your hope for the future of Skull Festival as well as the Detroit scene?
B.P.: We have several meetings coming up with the main people involved in SKULL and I know there are a lot of creative ideas floating around on what to do next. All things will be taken into consideration and once we decide on our next goth adventure we will make an announcement. Stay tuned Ken, thank you for your time and your efforts in the world of dark music.