“Music is the one thing that ties everything together. Without it, there wouldn’t be much keeping it all in place,” said local goth musician Styk.
The local gothic community is bolstered by two different Web sites and a Yahoo group forum devoted to keeping its members involved. Information on everything scene-related can be found at www.stlouisgothic.com and www.stlgothic.com.
The local scene has several fashion designers, each with his or her own area of expertise, from corsetry to leather bondage gear to clubwear to period clothing. Designers put on gothic fashion shows and sell their wares over the Internet, in stores, and at national conventions. These include: Lady Maeve’s Custom Corsetry, Sestra Koza’s Leather Fashions, Matt Worsdell, Rose Mortem, and Silks of Newe Making.
But, ultimately, the music is where it counts. Music is the lifeblood of the scene. “Music is the one thing that ties everything together. Without it, there wouldn’t be much keeping it all in place,” said local goth musician Styk.
“Not only is music utilized as a vehicle of expression, it also helps bind a society together, inciting a common modus operandi. We exist in an environment where individuals and groups define their identities by and with the music they indulge in,” said Tripper.
Old and new, favorite acts repeatedly listed by those interviewed include: Alien Sex Fiend, Apoptygma Berzerk, Assemblage 23, Bauhaus, Bella Morte, Bowie, Cannibal Corpse, Christian Death, Cocteau Twins, Cradle of Filth, Cruxshadows, The Cure, KMFDM, London After Midnight, Love & Rockets, Marilyn Manson, Mission UK, Peter Murphy, Nosferatu, Gary Numan, Razed in Black, Seraphim Shock, Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Skinny Puppy, Speciman, Son of William, Sopor Aeternus, Stykfactor, Visions of Passion & Torture, the Wake, and Wumpscut.
A startling amount of variety is represented in this list. The artists mentioned span obscurity to mainstream exposure, not to mention the globe. The list touches threads of subgenres of new wave, industrial, darkwave, metal, synthpop, deathrock, and punk.
Artists rely on DJs to spin their music to gain exposure and on venues to provide club nights for spinning and opportunities to perform live. The number of DJs spinning goth music in St. Louis can be counted on two hands. The Complex hosts a club night called the Den every Wednesday for the 21-and-over goth scene.
The Galaxy has hosted thousands of goth events over the years, sometimes even opening its doors to all-ages shows. KWUR hosts a goth radio show called Lily’s Crypt every Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The South Grand Coffee House supports goth music on Friday nights. Also, the occasional show with appeal to a goth audience can be found at the Creepy Crawl.
Still, most goths feel strongly that the scene needs more club support, more bands and stronger attendance at events. “I really feel for all-agers. PostMortem and Berzerker have done a lot for the scene. I would like to see more events on weekends, and more events that people under 21 can attend,” said VanTassel.
“We need more numbers by having the support of the minor crowd, but most of our events are 21-plus. Even more so, we need for the people that complain about nothing to do, to support the nights that we do have. I would like to see new goth nights and more variety of goth events to attend. We have hit a dry spell lately. I would like to see more goth bands tour through the area. We don’t have many venues that will support us and bring these bands in except Berzerker; thankfully,” said Salour.
Berzerker Studios’ Zoo Room is an open palette for bands to promote themselves and promoters to showcase bands. But individuals must take initiative and responsibility for creating nights in order to make it happen.
St. Louis currently has several original bands and artists falling in the realm of the subversive. These include, but are by no means limited to, 6, the Coil of Sihn, Fleshmerchant, Groantechno, Harkonin, Lackhalo, Rock God Superstar, Shinma, Son of William, Stykfactor, Subsurface, Thee State Machine, Tripelexir, Tory Z. Starbuck, and Visions of Passion & Torture. Stykfactor is a local project which mixes synthpop with traditional goth vocals. Stykfactor have an upcoming four-song EP called Sparkle Fade due out in March and are planning an upcoming show, possibly in April. Tripelexir is another local goth project which began in 1998 with Jeff Lawrence, Zap Tripper, and Barbara Strange. Tripelexir have two full-length albums, completed their latest recording in February, and have other darkwave projects in the works, one called Krankhaus and another called the Devil.
When asked about obstacles befalling these projects, the answer is all too familiar. “A shortage of venues and a lack of forums make it difficult, if not impossible, to broaden the focus and spread the gospel,” said Tripper.
This is an issue that can be resolved. The solution, according to Tripper, is simple. “Spend less time searching for oneself and more energy creating oneself. Want opportunity to knock? Build a door,” he said.
Amy Bidz is co-owner of Berzerker Studios and Berzerker Records, Inc., manages Son of William, and is Spence’s wife.