Tag Archives: Darkwave

A Guide To The World’s Largest Goth Festival

Saigon Blue Rain

Saigon Blue Rain

I am in Stasi Museum Berlin on the last day of the world’s largest goth festival when a thunderstorm hits. A flock of goths flee under a set of identical black-peaked parasols (rainproof, apparently). The rest of us are trapped here, on the first floor of the Runde Ecke, a nondescript office building in Leipzig, Germany, the former headquarters of the Ministry for State Security, once home to the East German secret police known as the Stasi. A man in a beige uniform ushers us in from the storm, “Kommen Sie, bitte.”

A teen girl in spiderweb tights rushes in, brushing back the lace covering her pin-straight black hair. A middle-aged couple with matching teardrop tattoos under their eyes drift over from the “Banality of Evil” exhibit. Inside, a set of round tables are spread with decades’ worth of neatly-bound typewritten pages detailing the comings-and-goings of teenagers under official state surveillance by the East German government. Gruftis punks and other negativ-dekadent jungen (“negative-decadent youth”) are the subject of the exhibit, a category which easily describes three-quarters of the crowd (minus, in many cases, the youth).

I turn back the plastic notebook cover on one such report and read, “Frage: Was besagt der Glauben des Gruftis?” (“Question: What do Goths believe in?”)

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The Bedroom Witch Believes the Dancefloor Can Be a Space for Healing

Bedroom Witch

Bedroom Witch. Photos by Kristin Cofer, part of “The Rose Project.”

Los Angeles artist Sepehr Mashiahof, who records and performs as The Bedroom Witch, uses catchy, danceable electronic music as a vehicle to explore—and to heal from—personal trauma. Her presence, both on and off-stage, is both soothing and quietly confident—she almost seems to glide instead of walk. Her performances, often accompanied by background projections she makes herself, are designed to inspire her audience to move. “I want all the struggling, beautiful freaks with whom I exist to find comfort in whatever way resonates with them individually through this other world that I designed for myself a long time ago.” she says, “This album is for them—it’s for us. and for our collective healing. Not for anyone else.”

As Mashiahof sees it, the sense of alone-ness that often comes with being socially marginalized can be both physical and metaphysical—which is why that dancefloor can be such a regenerative space. All of that feeds into the music she makes as Bedroom Witch. “My feelings of isolation from society definitely inform why I chose to set the Bedroom Witch [project] in a detached bedroom, floating somewhere in space and time,” she says.

The first full-length by The Bedroom Witch is set to come out on L.A.-based Practical Records, who have previously released work from Jeepneys, Julius Smack and Wizard Apprentice. The album, bluntly titled Injury, is due for tape release on April 21st. The album is a testament to Mashiahof’s fragility, vulnerability, and resilience in a world that sometimes refuses to make space for her. “My intention with this album,” she says, “was to source my own traumas and to confront them lucidly, in an attempt to make peace with the fact that they’ll never really go away.” The album feels simultaneously present, prophetically futuristic, and indebted to ‘80s dystopian cinema. Mashiahof’s dark electronics foreground her personal lyrics, where she calls upon those on the margins to imagine a future where they play a leading role. “When I think of Injury,” she says, “all I see is a vast land of volcanoes, statues, white balloons and shattered hourglasses scattered along seashores looking out into nothingness. That’s where I’ve been, and now I’m looking for the ones who dropped me off here and erased my memory.”

We talked to Mashiahof at length to explore this vision further.

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Jakuzi’s Glam Synth-Pop Both Subverts and Honors Tradition


Jakuzi. Photos by Berk Cakmacki.

If you’re not familiar with mainstream Turkish music, allow us to set the scene: imagine the most overblown and fantastical elements of modern pop enthusiastically paired with a glitzy, ‘80s aesthetic and a generous helping of traditional Middle Eastern folk. You’d expect the result to be over-the-top— too indulgent, perhaps—but, instead, they’re shot through with a special kind of sincerity. When Turkish pop singers step up to the microphone, they mean every single, rhinestone-studded word.

Fantezi Müsik is both the name of this glammed-up genre of Arabesque pop and the title of the debut album by Jakuzi, the Istanbul-based duo of Kutay Soyocak and Taner Yücel. The pair have created their own 21st century take on their home country’s time-honored sound. Fantezi Müsik finds plenty of inspiration in the duo’s local scene, but it also borrows from classic new wave, synthpop, funk, post-punk, and the British sophisti-pop movement of the mid ’80s. It’s a potent mix that seems unlikely to come from a single band, let alone a single album—and, sometimes, a single song. Imagine Duran Duran imbued with Joy Division’s emotional grittiness, but still embracing the odd saxophone solo or Casio keyboard beat.

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Gearhead: Wax Idols

Wax Idols
Photo by Matt Licari
“To me, what’s fun is being able to synthesize the sound, sequence it out, and physically be able to plug a wire into a pot, turn knobs, and everything like that. I just appreciate anything that’s more of a tangible experience, because I feel like in this time we’re kind of distancing ourselves from that, a little bit. Let’s bring it back.” —Rachel Travers

Wax Idols are known for their intense live performances, but they shouldn’t be underestimated in the studio either. From the fairly stripped-down garage sound of their early recordings to the lush, dense darkwave of their latest, American Tragic, Hether Fortune’s powerhouse band works together to meticulously assemble their sound. Every instrument choice and production decision is conscious—and conscientious.

We caught up with Fortune and drummer Rachel Travers before their recent performance at Slutist’s second annual Legacy of the Witch event to talk about Travers’ passion for modular synths and Fortune’s engineering and production history (and how both prefer analog processes to digital for a number of reasons). This is the first installment of our Gearhead column, where we talk with musicians about the gear they use—and how they use that gear—to get the sounds they want.

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