THE ART OF GOTHIC Interview with author Natasha Scharf

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Natasha Scharf is a writer, author, DJ, and broadcaster. She is the founder of Meltdown magazine and is well known in the UK Alt scene. Scharf has recently released a new book called The Art of Gothic that goes into detail about the Gothic culture, the music that compliments it, the important people involved with it, and more. I was lucky enough to get in contact with her to find out more about her books and work.

Meltdown Magazine was a huge hit in the UK while it was still in print. How do you manage to keep the spirit of Meltdown alive after all these years?

Well, ‘meltdown’ was my baby and, in many ways, it was an extension of my personality so I guess it makes sense that all the things I’ve done subsequently – from radio and television to my more recent books – have also reflected my personality. They have an essence of that spirit, if that makes sense. Of course, ‘meltdown’ also had a wonderful pool of contributors, without whom I couldn’t have maintained a quarterly ‘zine.

Back when I started ‘meltdown’, my aim was to take goth seriously as a subculture, style and genre and that’s something that I still maintain. And I don’t mean that ‘meltdown’ never had a sense of humour because that’s one of the things that readers really liked about it! Goth is such a creative movement and contains some of the most incredible talent so I’ve always worked hard to push that and get goth-related articles commissioned in publications and on websites that you might not necessarily associate with goth. For me, it’s all about getting goth out to new audiences that I know will appreciate it once they hear or read about it.

How do you balance being an author, DJ, broadcaster and a music journalist?

They actually work in harmony with each other because they’re all ways of communicating about music. I’m always listening to new sounds and always discovering exciting new things so by embracing different mediums, I can choose the most appropriate way, or ways, of getting those discoveries out there.

When I first started mixing mediums in the early ‘00s, I had criticism from people who accused me of getting “too big for my boots” because they thought I was on some kind of power trip. I never understood those accusations because that wasn’t what I was doing. In my mind, I was simply looking for opportunities and openings to spread the good word of goth and maximising the mediums that were available. Fast forward 10 years, and it seems like everyone uses multiple mediums now so maybe I was ahead of the trend?!

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Your first book, Worldwide Gothic: A Chronicle of a Tribe, really delved into the origins of Goth culture and how it’s still strong present day around the world. How did the process go for writing the book? How did you know what would be right to put in and what to leave out?

‘Worldwide Gothic’ collated a lifetime’s worth of research into one book. Until I started ‘meltdown’, I hadn’t really given much thought to the different goth scenes around the world and so when I started finding out about them, I was so excited and wanted to know more. Over the years, I’ve interviewed bands from all over the world but no one had actually knitted all those dark threads together into one book. There have been books on goth in different countries and Mick Mercer’s ‘21st Century Goth’, which was a brilliant directory of international goth bands but no one had actually written a book that effectively told the story of goth from a global perspective. So that was my task and it was no mean feat.

The publisher (Independent Music Press) and I discussed the best way of doing this and we came to the conclusion that telling the story chronologically, rather than doing it per country, would be most appropriate. I drew up a paper timeline so I could spot any parallels and it was really interesting to go back and see all the cross pollination with, say, elements of London’s Batcave Club influencing LA’s deathrock movement. They’re things you’re not always aware of at the time. I had just over a month to carry out any additional interviews and write the book to a fixed word count so it was really tough. I tried to include as much as I possibly could but I was governed by time and word limits, although I did have to cut the finished manuscript down to size in the end! Really, the book ended up writing itself from all the raw interviews I’d collected over the years and I only really needed to make sure everything was in the right place and flowed properly.

Music and scenes move so quickly that whenever you write a book, it’s going to be out-of-date by the time it’s published so I was lucky that this one came out soon after I’d finished it so it is still fairly contemporary, three years on. Despite what some corners of the media think, goth is still very much alive and constantly evolving so I knew that it would be impossible to include every single band, every single event and every single everything that had ever happened but, looking back on it, I think the finished book is fairly comprehensive.

Your new book, The Art of Gothic: Music + Fashion + Alt Culture, was released back in October. What inspired you to write another book? What was the funnest part while making it?

Again, my inspiration was simply a desire to tell a story that hadn’t yet been told. As I mentioned before, goth is hugely creative but no one had actually put together a book on the art that’s come out of this scene. Yes, some visual aspects have been featured in books like Gavin Baddeley’s ‘Goth Chic’, Mick Mercer profiled several artists in ‘Hex Files’ back in the 1990s and there was Tiffany Godoy’s gorgeous ‘Japanese Goth’ book, but no one had created a book that was exclusively about gothic art as a whole – that is, art relating to or created by the goth subculture. I was very insistent that it would include both well-known and underground artists, as well as album cover art, sculptures (including hand-made dolls), manga and comics, fine art, photography etc. It was originally intended as the natural progression to Omnibus Press’ ‘The Art of Punk’, which touched on some of the early post-punk album covers and just took on a life of its own. It seems my projects have a habit of doing this!

I started work on ‘The Art of Gothic’ back in 2011 and it was wonderfully indulgent to spend hours, days, weeks, months looking up so much gorgeous art, tracking down the artists, discovering some of my favourite pieces were by the same artists and learning the stories behind them. I really enjoyed that and I loved uncovering new art too. Probably the toughest part was cutting down my original wish-list of artwork so it would fit into the book, which is part of a series on genre-defined art.

How has the overall response been to your books?

It’s been really positive. I’ve had some great feedback from my signings and it’s been especially gratifying to have goths come up to me from countries like Czech Republic, Brazil and Israel saying they were so excited that I’d included their favourite local band in ‘Worldwide Gothic’. I also really love it when people tell me that they’ve discovered certain artists or artistes through my work and even more so, when I’ve had them tell me that they’ve actually rediscovered goth through my work.IMG_8422-By_Taya_Uddin

What are some of your favourite bands that have influenced you?

I have so many! I make new music discovery almost on a daily basis so I have the longest list of favourites and they’re always changing but one constant is definitely Siouxsie And The Banshees. I’ve been a fan of theirs since the late ‘70s and was over the moon when they gave permission for us to use some of their single covers in ‘The Art Of Gothic’. Their music has influenced the way I edit and pace my radio documentaries and features – I use a lot of experimental music production techniques to add colour and create unexpected textures to my sound work, which has become a bit of a trademark.

What style of Goth are you more drawn to? (Gothic Lolita, Cybergoth, Deathrock, etc)

I’ve always considered goth to be more of an umbrella for all things dark and interesting so I would say that I’m simply drawn to goth, in all its shapes and forms! I like to mix and match.

Do you have any other big projects in the making? If so, can you give us a hint of what they will be?

Yes, I do but I’m not allowed to talk about any of them yet! Let’s just say, I will have more books coming out in the future and there may even be some fiction too!

Here is a short ad for it, featuring gothic model Lady Amaranth.

‘The Art of Gothic’ by Natasha Scharf is out now through Omnibus Press (UK and Commonwealth) and Backbeat Books (North America). For news of signings and events, visit: www.facebook.com/artofgothic 

*all photo credit goes to Taya Uddin

INTERVIEW with La Carmina, Japan fashion blogger and TV host

lacarmina-goth-fashion-blogger-gothic-style (3)(Lacarmina for Kirameki magazine)

INTERVIEW with La Carmina, Japan fashion blogger and TV host

If you’re a big fan of Japanese and gothic culture, or just fashion in general you may have heard about Lacarmina. Starting all the way back in 2007 with a small fashion blog, she is now an author to popular books such as, Cute Yummy Time (how to make meals look adorable) and Crazy,Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo. She also became an experienced TV fixer/producer, working on shows like World’s Weirdest Restaurants for the Food Network. Lacarmina has her own TV fixer company called Lacarmina & The Pirates that focuses on consulting, guiding, translating, connecting, scheduling, and any other ways they can assist you with your travels. I have been a follower of hers for years, so this was an exciting opportunity for me to get to know more about her.

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1. Who are your major fashion inspirations? Were you always into Alternative style?

Growing up, I was always drawn to the alternative side of things, and was inspired by the edgy street styles I saw in Japan as a child. I started experimenting with these alt fashions as a teenager. This scene remains one of my biggest fashion inspirations, although I like to mix and match a number of different looks, from Jpop to the 1920s.

korea-fashion-blogger-street-style-seoul(La Carmina, Japanese street style, Japan fashion blogger and TV host)

2. Did you see yourself having an exciting job like yours when you were younger?

Even though I loved visiting Japan and wearing Jpop fashion, I never imagined it was possible to have a career like mine, let alone travel to so many places. I went to Columbia University, and then Yale Law School – but my heart lay in the experimental scene in Harajuku. I needed a creative escape, so I started my La Carmina blog in 2007. Every day, I posted about the hidden spots I loved in Japan: such as the Butler Cafe where anime-styled waiters treated you like a princess, or fairy kei boutiques where the fashion is inspired by the 1980s. I did this all out of love, and didn’t imagine that my La Carmina site would lead anywhere. But then some of my posts about theme restaurants and cute food became popular… and long story short, it led to publishing books, hosting TV shows, traveling the world, and all the dream projects that make up my life today.

3. Your first few books were a big success for you, do you plan to write more in the future?

I had a lot of fun writing these books, and definitely will be publishing more in the future. At the moment, though, I am most interested in travel and TV hosting work, and pursuing this path most actively.


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4. I see you’re obsessed with Italo Disco! It’s one of my favorite genres. What are some of your favorite tunes?

Where do I start? Nothing peps me up like Italo Disco / Hi NRG songs! Some favorites are Yoko Oginome’s Dancing Hero, Let The Night Take The Blame by Lorraine Mckane, Patty Ryan – “You’re My Love, You’re My Life”, Savage -Don’t Cry Tonight, Marc Fruttero – Disco Silva and way more.

5. What is the strangest location you have visited recently?

The Rainbow Village in Taichung, Taiwan was rather trippy. This old village consists of several old buildings and paths, with every surface coated in vivid, primitive, colorful strokes. The images range from pandas to demented ghosts, and is all the work of a 90-something year old grandpa. I love discovering eccentric and inspiring places like these, during my travels.                                                                 


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6. Has there ever been a destination that you’ve visited that was dangerous or questionable at the time that made you nervous?

Ironically, I’ve felt the most unsafe in the USA. I unknowingly wound up in some unsafe parts of Chicago and St Louis years ago (before starting the blog). If it weren’t for police cars around to warn me and give me a ride to safety, I might have gotten in trouble. On the flip side, my experiences in Jerusalem and Cape Town’s townships were positive, and I felt safe.


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6. How’s your adorable Scottish Fold cat, Basil?

He’s as soft and sweet as ever. Scottish Folds are an incredible breed: they are unbelievably gentle and cuddly, and love being around people. Basil Farrow is irresistible when he sits like a Buddha, stands up on his hind legs, or lies upside-down. You can see his daily antics on my Twitter –
http://www.twitter.com/lacarmina and Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/lacarmina)

7. Can you give us a hint about your upcoming destinations or projects?

I have a big TV appearance coming up in the next few weeks, which you’ll be able to watch on a major US network. This job is taking me to two destinations before the end of the year. I’ve been dreaming of visiting one of these cities for years, and it’s known as one of the world’s most Gothic places. And I’m embarking on an interior design and hotel ambassador project, which are new for me. Finally, I hope to visit more of my “bucket list” travel destinations in 2015. Stay tuned to my La Carmina social networks (@lacarmina) and my blog to see where I end up next! g 

seoul-la-carmina-hongdae-art-lacarmina-blog (Lacarmina in Seoul)

You can find her on her social sites:
URL http://www.lacarmina.com/blog
Facebook http://facebook.com/lacarminaofficial
Instagram http://instagram.com/lacarmina
Twitter http://twitter.com/lacarmina
YouTube http://youtube.com/lacarmina
Pinterest http://pinterest.com/lacarmina

*all photos are credit to La Carmina of http://www.lacarmina.com

***This interview and more will be in the winter issue of Carpe Nocturne magazine!

Strange EXCLUSIVE artistry at an art festival

After going through a tough time in my life lately, I thought a great idea would be to hit up a downtown arts fest, called the Texas Avenue Makers Fair, in northwest Louisiana. Art festivals of all kinds can be tremendous inspirations. I grabbed my camera and notepad and went on the look out for alternative and bizarre but talented art work and individuals.

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The first booth that caught my eye was the dark, horror themed art work of Mad Molly.  She had many paintings and sketches out.

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IMG_5599                                      I immediately had to talk to her and learn more about her work.

IMG_5598            She gave me a free print of the middle sketch and of course I asked her to sign it. She was very sweet. You can also reach her at madmolly666@gmail.com

When I left I ran into another interesting individual with bright purple hair named, Ashley Griffin, who runs LipstickKitten.  Her artwork is inspired by a plethora of things:  Nightvale, Anime, Rocky Horror Show, and lots more.

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She showed me a big book of her prints, which featured bearded pin-ups and even Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.
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Pillows, prints, tote bags, buttons, clips, she makes an excessive amount of things. You can reach her at her etsy, tumblr, and facebook. You’re definitely going to find something you enjoy.

Click the read more for extras!  Continue reading

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Things have been not so great but there will be new posts soon. Here’s a Halloween playlist I made:
1. Everyday Is Halloween-Ministry
2. Drac’s back-The Bollock Brothers
3. Soul Dracula-Hot Blood
4. Haunted House-Bee Gees
5. Feed My Frankenstein-Alice Cooper
6. Zombie Lady-Minitel Rose
7. Strange Days-The Doors
8. Angela’s Theme-From Sleepaway Camp
9. Riboflavin-45 Grave
10. She’s My Witch-Kip Tyler
11.Werewolf-The Frantics
12. Season of The Witch-Donovan
13. Black Magic Woman-Fleetwood Mac
14. Black Mass-Electric Wizard
15. Suspiria Theme
16. Somebody’s Watching Me-Rockwell
17. Voodoo Idol-The Cramps
18. Dead Disco Dancer-O. Children
19. I Put a Spell On You-CCR 

I went as Eddie Gluskin from Outlast. Pictures will be posted soon. Hope everyone had a groovy time!