Interview with dark, surreal, goth artist and musician ZARA KAND

A freelance writer who has written for Paraphilia magazine, LA Review of Books and Toronto Review of Books, John Wisniewski, recently emailed me an interview he has been working on with artist Zara Kand, daughter of Valor Kand (lead singer of the 80’s influential goth band Christian Death). All questions are his work, except the last one which was my question to her. All of the art work you see are her paintings. I have not seen them before until now. Since I like to do dark and strange art myself her works are inspiring to look at. Enjoy! unnamed (1)

John: What are your current projects like, Zara?

Right now (and this is usually the case with all of my work) I’m finishing up a collection of oil paintings that focus on the spiritual and social aspects of humanity, a reflection of our behavior as a species at large, and how we may somehow transcend into a more ungoverned way of being. Additionally, I have just finished my first book “Cry of the Chrysalis: A Venture into Creative Purpose & Development”, which serves as a commentary and guide in uncovering one’s creative potential through autonomous thinking, and includes interviews & artwork from a handful of artists notorious in the underground scene. Now I just have to get it published!

unnamed (5)J: Any favorite artists, music that you like?

Some favorite painters of mine are Goya, Bosch, Rembrandt, Munch, Monet, Blake, Bacon, Tanning, to name a few -these were all revolutionary artists of their time! I like any kind of music that seems to send me into another realm, of dreamy or ethereal quality, or through rawness and excitement… the band COIL seems to have just the right combination of all of these things. These days I mostly use music as a vehicle to drive me to such states, as I have it playing in the background while I paint -music and visual art work as a great team in inspiring one another

J: What is the goth scene like now, who is most popular?

I’m not entirely up to date with any scene happening now, I’m afraid, perhaps because of the artist tendency to lock oneself into a solitary bubble, only coming up briefly for air. But I have noticed the interesting expansion of the goth scene, which now incorporates more musical influence than it did decades before, made danceable in clubs, and embraced by more and more younger generations. My parents, who were some of the originators, will tell me that this is not how it was when it was first began in the late ’70’s – then it was a very obscure scene and followers were considered ultra outcasts of society, not having previous goth history to fall back on, boldly carrying the weight of being unique at the cost of utter alienation.

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J: What is the reaction to your artworks, usually?

I am grateful to receive as much positive response to my works as I do. Sharing your personal visions with the world is a sensitive thing, and not always guaranteed to align with someone else’s brainwave. Some have told me my work is strange and creepy, some find it very beautiful; either way I take it as a compliment. But generally people say they actually relate to my work on a personal level, that it inspires them, sends them into another dreamy realm or makes them think about themselves/their life -this is the best reaction I could ever hope for!

J: What are you usually doing, when not writing songs or painting, Zara?

unnamed (3) In my spare time I like to read books or watch documentaries on other artists or anything to do with science. I love going on walks through nature or just sitting on the grass staring at the sky by day, blasting my favorite music and drinking with good company by night. Every now and then, if there is an exceptional band in town, I’ll go out and see them play, dance a bit. Food is a real pleasure to me -I love going for coffee or lunch at cafes, and I love cooking, challenging myself to come up with interesting new dishes all the time. And if time affords, I really love traveling to new places, be it camping or just experiencing a different city.

Hyde: What was it like growing up as the daughter, of the leader of such an influential band?

My parents, being artists themselves, were always highly encouraging of my creative endeavors. They let it be known from the beginning how significant art’s influence is on the world, and always took any kind of creative expression very seriously. If it weren’t for having creative parents who were very much individualistic thinkers, I would certainly not be the artist I am today.

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Her website

A Tokyo Fashion Flashback!

unnamedWhat was Tokyo fashion like…let’s say ten years ago? I collaborated with my friend Lucia (pictured left), who runs her colorful fashion blog Harajunku, and had her help educate myself and you all on the looks of Tokyo from 2005. What trends stayed and go? Was fashion more kitsch then? What brands were just starting out? Lucia and I provide commentary. All photos are scanned by her from her 2005 Fruits magazine.

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Hyde (me): I really really dig this look because it’s like a twist on 60s mod culture. I get total austin powers vibes.
Lucia: I dig it too! I especially love the psychedelic pattern on the jacket. I don’t know how I feel about those bleach spots on the pants though. I find them a bit distracting. The outfit, overall, is a solid modern take on 60s/70s fashion.

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H: Now these are my kind of people. Straight up 70’s influence and they went all the way. The leopard tights on the second girl throw it off for me a little but I love her green strange carpet-like jacket haha. The girl on the left looks right she’s ready to go to a recording of Soul Train.
L: Yeah, the leopard tights and even the pink creepers throw it off for me too. Maybe solid brown or black tights would suit it better? I also think white shoes would bring the outfit together since the messenger bag doesn’t have anything to match it.

The girl on the left looks really captured the essence of 70s fashion though! The entire outfit is perfectly coordinated. Her shoes are a big point of interest for me.

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H: This is more of a decora/fairy kei inspired look. This is when it was just starting to form I believe?
I know this look isnt particularly one of those things but I can see the influence here. Her little guitar is decked out and she’s covered in bright accessories. Her tiara and the splash of pink under her shirt are my favorite parts of this. I also love those pants, they look like something from Lisa Frank.
L:  The overabundance of a jewelry, a toy accessory, and the mismatched layers of clothing say decora. But, to me, this looks too punk to be decora because of the plaid, red, and black. At the ame time though, the outfit is too decora to be punk. I dig the combination of the two styles!
H: It’s so weird how fast they’ve evolved and grown in ten years. I love the idea of “punk decora” I wish I could see more of that look in today’s fashion.

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H: This look seems more decora influenced than the last. Again, lots of mismatched layers and some toy accessories. The barbie luggage case on the side ads more of a touch to it. The barrettes in the left girl’s hair are another decora factor. Though it’s not as crazy as it will be in the next upcoming years.
L: I agree, this is pretty tame for decora. I really like the hot pink and black theme going on here though. The girl on the right has some punk influence with her striped dress and plaid bloomers. The girl on the left’s forest green track shorts seem kind of out of place with the rest of her outfit.

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H: I absolutely love this look. I can’t find one bit of it I dislike. The matching skirt and legwarmers is cute along with the smiley patch and hot pink leggings. This cheery childlike style is great. 
L: As a person who is obsessed with rainbows, this outfit is like a dream. It’s just so cute and well coordinated! A few points of interest for me are the sweater with the big heart buttons, the crocheted rainbow doily purse, and the knitted hat with the balloon headpiece.

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H: This outfit combines the elements of dark and psychedelic fashion. They remind me of a witch. The V bangs and lace up boots balance the green and red out. I also just realized that their tights have scenery on them. That’s really groovy. A simple yet really detailed outfit. What do you think?
L: The bat wing sleeves and the V bangs definitely scream “witch”. But, the blue-green 70s print gives the look a cool vintage feel and the combat boots are a classic choice for punk. I really dig this entire outfit. Who wants to help me start a new fashion subculture called psychedelic witch punk?
H: I’m already wayy ahead of you. 

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H: I like these outfits too. The girl on the right is clearly inspired by strawberries and I like how she put the flowers in her pigtails. The girl on the left is total fairy kei. The rainbow armband is a cool touch. It looks like something Haruka Kurebayashii would wear, I think she’s worn an outfit just like this before. 
L: I love both of these girls’ outfits so much! The headpieces are fantastic. When I think of FRUiTS magazine, these types of looks are what come to mind.

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H: This is a gothic look with some visual kei inspiration I see telling by the makeup and hair styles. The person on the right gives me boyish creepy doll vibes. 
L: Their makeup is totally old school visual kei! The person on the left has a lot of classic goth elements in their outfit such as black velvet, striped stockings, black combat boots, and a long sleeved blouse. The coffin necklace adds a nice touch too!

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H: I really dig how she added a big, bright, purple jacket to bring out her look. It still looks like a good punk outfit to me. This reminds me of how I used to see edgy kids dressed back in the early 2000s.
L: I’m getting Robert Smith (The Cure) vibes from this one! Especially that hair. The outfit colors may be mismatched, but, it all goes together for some reason. I really like this look!
H: Yeah that’s what the hair reminded me of! 

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H: Here’s a simple look I dig a lot. I love the traditional touch with the yukata wrapped around.
L: Now this is punk! She took a yukata, a traditional piece of Japanese clothing, and pinned it up with a bunch safety pins to create this cool off-the shoulder jacket. I love when clothing is worn differently from its intended wear.

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H: In the first photo we have a young woman is a super girly, cotton candy-esque dress. This is sorta looks like a hime (princess) lolita outfit.

The second photo has a girl with a slightly toned down form of gothic lolita. I love her huge skirt with a simple cardigan from Vivienne Westwood.

I would say I prefer the latter more though. What do you think?

L: This is a tough one! Personally, I really like the style of the skirt in the secnd one, which I believe might actually just be a petticoat. But, I prefer the overall coord of the first one. Then again, I’m a sucker for old school sweet lolita.

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H: The first look is giving me some circus realness for some reason. It also looks very late victorian era inspired,

Here we have more cool and simple gothic lolita fashion. I notice they’re fans of Moi-meme-Moiti which is a popular brand by Mana, the guitarist from legendary visual kei group malice mizer. It’s still around today and just as big. It’s nice to see a good brand like that stick around for so long.

L: I think you get circus vibes from the red paired with the lace stripes! To me this looks like a modernized version of what a young child might have worn in the Victorian era.

Now this is old school gothic lolita. No crazy color scheme or print, no huge petticoats, and no over the top accessories. Lolita fashion sure has changed in the past 10 years! I still love the simplicity of the old school though.

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L: I actually get 70’s British punk vibes from these two! The doc martens, plaid, leather jacket with pins, and striped sweater are all punk classics.

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H: This couple has totally embraced the spirit of 70s punk and it’s all in their excited faces and poses! I love how “into” it they are.

This girl (right) looks like a “school punk”, shes toned down but still looks like she’s gonna meet you after school to beat the shit outta you.

L: They seem totally into the punk spirit and each other! I like how their outfits are different colors but, still have similar elements like the bleach stained shirts, doc martens, and spiky jewelry.

Oh yeah, she totally looks like a school punk. The letterman jacket, long skirt, and tennis shoes say “school”. But, her spiked hair and the abundance of red, black, and white in her outfit say “punk”.

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H: This girl looks right she’s part of a Japanese girl gang. A very cool modern twist.
L: I really like this look. It’s a fairly simple coordinate. But, I get some visual kei undertones from the darkness of the yukata and the hair and make up.

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H: I see lots of weird psychedelic and tribal patterns. What’s that hanging from his neck? I thought those were dreads for a second. Not sure how to feel about this look…What do you think?
L: I’m pretty sure that’s a scarf! This whole outfit is really harsh on the eyes, to be honest. There’s so many textures, prints, and colors that I don’t know where to look first. I’ll give him props for being confident enough to this in public though!

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H: The girls pants are so cool! I also dig the guys cage skirt and his eye piece. I just realized he doesnt have a right hand??
L: Not only does he not have a right hand, but, he also has a karaoke machine, haha! I’m a huge fan of bright neon colors so, I really dig these looks too.

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H: Ah this girl looks like a cute watermelon! The girls in the second photo are exactly what I think of when I think of an old school fruits magazine.
L:  I’d wear this outfit, to be honest. Maybe not with the leopard tights or red heels, but, I really like the blue/green/pink color scheme going on. The lingerie camisole used as a cute top is a big point of interest for me too!

I’m absolutely in love with her rainbow crocheted dress! Crocheted clothing is actually making a come back this year, so, it’s really cool to see fashion repeating itself!

Small discussion time!

H: Lucia, what trends have you seen that have stayed till today and what trends have went away?

I noticed that fairy kei and decora have only gotten much more popular within the last ten years.

L: For a while there, decora kinda died in the mid 2000’s. It seems like it’s making a come back thanks to fashion bloggers like Haruka Kurebayashi and Mahou Prince, for example. To me, modern decora is a lot less chaotic and more coordinated than it used to be. Decora is a difficult fashion to pull off so, I’m not sure if it will hold its renewed trendiness.

Fairy kei is actually a modern fashion trend. It was birthed from decora and Spank! style which was modeled after the pastel 80s and 90s toys and clothing in the Japanese used clothing shop, Spank!. Some of the elements of fairy kei bleed into western styles like pastel goth and nymphet fashion. So, I don’t think the popularity of fairy kei will be going away any time soon.

You don’t see too many people who wear bosozoku fashion anymore. I think it has been replaced with rokku gyaru. What do you think?

H: I think modern Decora is more out of control but in a good way. It’s also taken more influences from children’s fashion these days. It’s definitely more involved.

I agree. I know we didn’t cover it really but gyaru fashion has drastically died out. It was really a 90s/early 2000s thing. Though I have seen a few gyaru that still exist.

What do you all think about Tokyo fashion ten years ago? Did some of these outfits inspire you? Again, a big thanks to Lucia for doing this with me and providing me with the photos. We’ve been working on this for WEEKS. I didn’t expect this to take so long but I learned a bit! I hope you all did too.