Forget the Batcave, Highgate or Camden Market, Leeds is going to embrace its dark heritage as the true capital of UK Goth with the welcome return of Goth City Festival in just a few weeks time.
A smorgasbord of live music, DJs and traders catering to a vast influx of black-clad fans, it’s popular with old-school and bleeding-edge goths alike. I dropped GCF Comandante Joel Heyes a line to chat about the event, as well as challenging some old-fashioned thinking in the scene!
Hello, welcome and happy World Goth Day all! I hope everyone is celebrating in whatever manner they can. I had a vague thought of actually putting this on YouTube, but time was against me so I’ve had to commit to ‘merely’ an article. In reality of course the blog is the heart of my online presence, so I’m delighted to publish today…
I really wanted to get an overall look at the UK Goth scene this year – with restrictions lifted, how was this long-lived music subculture rallying back? From the regional nights, through the national festivals to how our flagship bands are faring on the international stage, even a cursory glance shows black shoots pushing up through the lockdown earth!
Strange times are these indeed. Despite official government guidelines giving the figurative green light to all and sundry events, the expected roaring return of the Goth Weekend to Whitby has ended up more of a tentative toe in the water.
Happy International Women’s Day all! Every year, I relish seeing this awesome picture taken by rock photographer Michael Putland pop up all over the internet. A small but vibrant collection of alternative music makers from 1980, they stand out for being women playing in music genres dominated by men. They all left a visible legacy behind them of defying expectations and charting their own course, and we celebrate that every year on IWD as is only right.
And yet… as much as it lifts my shrivelled black heart, this photo is 42 years old! Not to detract from the immortal achievements of these musicians, but they’re from genres famous for innovation and creation. Even at its mildest, when we think of ‘classic’ goth the same faces are enshrined at the top of the pantheon – Peter Murphy, Robert Smith, Ian Curtis, Andrew Eldritch, and so on. The recognizable female faces of goth are few and far between in the leading line-up of goth pioneers.
Where are the new women stepping up to carry on the legacy of fearless creators in a field riddled with – like so many others – misogyny and sexism? Well, I knew they were out there so in 2018 I put together a simple collage of more women you’d hear at the goth club, and even dared sneak in a couple of musicians from after 2000! Daring I know, but I was so determined to share with the world all the new women making music for goths to dance to!
Of course I missed many off as well – and what about the female DJs, the women who wrote, who designed, engineered, produced, sketched, presented and overall imagined? I am encouraged by any positive story I hear of women succeeding in goth when the odds seem so stacked against them.
I really must stress this isn’t to do down the trailblazing down by musicians like Siouxsie, Pat Morrison, Nina Hagen, Dinah Cancer and more. It’s to show that so many others are picking up the torch and contributing to this vast and evolving scene. I want women getting into goth to see that photo from 1980 and be inspired – and then to see my collage from 2018 and know there’s a place to them. Then to search out the music and hear women absolutely dominating the sound – women like Zoe Zanias, Chelsea Wolfe, Jae Matthews, Larissa Iceglass, Leah Lane and more.
Below is a playlist helpfully curated to feature women in the goth scene both classic and new. Check it out, and see what inspires you! Might you be a creator we celebrate next 8 March…?
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