Sunday, December 18, 2011

Steampunk Comes to Fort Worth Texas this New Year's Eve!

On December 30th in north Central Fort Worth there will be a really new and different type of entertainment for the metroplex! The “Difference Engine“ will immerse you in the creative world of the retro-futuristic imagination. This is something called “Steampunk“, a blending of science fiction and old world charm, elegance, and adventure from the 19th century. 

There have been other Steampunk events and conventions, but this will be the first to present a fully interactive and all “Steampunk” Murder Mystery Theatre LARP event! From midnight through 3:00 am Steampunk Detectives, adventurers, vampires, and sneaky but ruthless killers will go head to head. 

During this 3 day convention you will also be entertained by performers offering music, comedy, and dancing on the main stage.  Cosplay Performers such as Airship Isabella and Kali’s Hourglass will be there interacting with the crowd fully in character. All performances, the Steampunk Fashion show and the Steampunk Costume Contest (voted on by the attendees) will all be presented by our charming and entertaining MC Peter Pixie. 

You will also be enlightened by panels on a variety of topics related to Steampunk fiction in conventions, literature, drama, and the arts. There will be a large vendors area, a gaming room, photography in Steampunk Attire, and many other items for your amusement.  

On New Year's Eve, there will also be a short formal Waltz with Victorian style introduction of any attendees that wish to receive this red carpet treatment.  Masquerade masks and slightly more elaborate attire is encouraged, but not required at both this and the midnight ball!  

Right after that will be performances from Captain Madd, then Darwin Prophet and the Chronus Mirror, and finally the headline musical act, our own world famous Marquis of Vaudville who will play until midnight! After the midnight festivities, we will have a dance to Darkwave Music! 

The entire three day convention pass is only $40.00 and the New Year’s Eve Ball including the three band Saturday night concert and Darkwave dance is only $15.00.  This is indeed a lot of entertainment for the paltry sum of $55.00 

For more details on the fictional back story that is woven throughout this event and includes the colorful characters in the photo above go to:  Art of Steampunk Blog on blogspot under:

Newly Discovered Film Suggests Ada Lovelace May Not Have Died of Natural Causes 

For more information about buying tickets, vendors, artists, schedule, or the back story for the event etc. go to the official website at: The Difference Engine Official Website

For more about the performers and bands got to: The Difference Engine on Facebook

Monday, November 14, 2011

Versailles Philharmonic Quintet

There is a "Visual Kei" (a Japanese term for a type of J-Rock band that is extremely visually interesting) "Symphonic Metal" Band from Japan that puts a whole new meaning to the term "Neo-Victorian"  Well actually more like Neo-Revolutionary Era to be more precise as their stage attire is based on the French court of Louis the 14th, but makes even that look pale by comparison, yet instead of seeming too rococo or overdone, it always seems exactly perfect for the purpose and the wearers that bring it to life! As if that weren't enough, they have a fictional back story as Revolutionary Era French Court Vampires complete with a very detailed and somewhat serious film mini series and an inter-dimensional television comedic series.

Most people that have seen and heard the Versailles Philharmonic Quintet perform know that they are masterful musicians, costume designers, songwriters, singers, and performers, but it goes much deeper that that!  When you see and experience them live, they reach all the way into the hearts and minds of their fans and pour love, affection, excitement, flirtation, passion, and many other things directly into them on a very personal level.  As a result, the fact that most of their lyrics are in Japanese does not appear to be much of an obstacle. 

I have trained in many different esoteric paths and am a teacher of Yogic science, but have never encountered anything like this in the performance arts before.  The band's sway over the hearts and minds of their fans is very powerful indeed, but they use it only to encourage them to be more kind, courteous, and cooperative toward one another, and to enjoy fine art and music wherever they find it. 

This is discussed more often than you would expect as their fans often get so excited and infatuated with the band and it's members that some fan clubs have been known to become rather territorial about who can get close to the band at concerts.    Rather than front row seats, these sought after positions of most venues are often standing locations at the front of the crowd where crowd control rails separate the audience from the stage.  This is because many of these fans are often unable to stay in their seats, so the venues simply remove most chairs in the front of the auditorium and use some sort of numbering system to determine who gets to enter the venue in what order to avoid a stampede.

Unlike most American Bands that achieve this level of stardom and fanatical fan base the members of Versailles don't appear to have fallen into narcissism, intoxication (they do not drink before the show), or taking advantage of their fanatical fans in any way.  They seem to truly love their fans, performance art, the very act of sharing it with others. 

Kamijo, the bands leader, and all of them, come across as intelligent and playful, sometimes even mischievous, but kind hearted, and sensitive souls.  Kamijo has fans that idolize him, fantasize about him, and would do anything for him, but all he seems to want them to do is enjoy the music, and be nice to the other members of the band and to each other.  He is actually often very concerned about fans giving other members of the band the same attention and respect they do him, and with encouraging fans to treat each other in a more respectful and courteous manner.

Even more surprising is the fact that his attention homes in immediately on any major emotional shift in one of the band members, and he seems very connected and concerned about them.  This is certainly not your typical rock band, but that's what some of their fans love about them.

I also, like most people, expected the reports of his charisma and intensity to be exaggerated, but he turned out to be one of the most likeable, yet utterly compelling human beings I have ever encountered.  When Kamijo wants your attention, for whatever reason, resistance is futile!  Then again, why would anyone want to resist paying attention to such genuinely friendly and charming, if somewhat mischievous, character.  When meeting him in person, it becomes obvious that, while he is amazingly charismatic and attractive in many ways, the "Ladie's Man" character in his performances is as much an act of excellent Kabuki Theater as is Hizaki's excellent portrayal of the ultimate feminine beauty. 

Hizaki, the member in all the red lace and roses above, is an unbelievably talented world class guitarist.  Hizaki doesn't just play electric guitar.  Hizaki falls in love with the guitar and the music and floats upon it like a bird on the winds, so much so, that reconstructing the beautiful notes laid down on album tracks is often necessary after a recording session, before even attempting to reproduce them again when they go on tour.

He is also an incredible method actor.  Yes that's right ...  I said he.  Hizaki is very male and very much one of the guys, when not performing, but Japanese performance traditions call for gender balance on stage, and he is the only one still with them that can perform the role of the ultimate feminine beauty flawlessly.  Picture in your mind, anyone being able to play like Jimmy Hendrix, while dancing, alternating with a more graceful version of headbanging, in a full French Court hoop skirt.  Ok, never mind.  Just watch the videos as trying to imagine it might make your brain melt.

In the past, Jasmine You (their first Bass Guitarist - usually dressed in purple as above), who was also male, portrayed the mysterious, sensual beauty, while Hizaki was the cute, sweet innocent young girl, but since Jasmine passed away, Hizaki has taken on both roles with incredible ability and now puts across a subtle, but powerful passion on stage that is hard to believe!  When Jasmine died unexpectedly in the middle of recording an album, it was so difficult to find a bass guitarist, of either gender, capable of his difficult, yet soulful licks, that Hizaki taught himself bass just to make certain it was recorded exactly the way Jasmine You would have played them.  Jasmine You has now been fulfilled in that her apprentice, Masashi, proved the best possible replacement for the band.  He now brings a power, a feline grace, and great majesty to the stage as a tall, dark, and handsome man, and is the most warrior type of the group.

Masashi is a great bass guitarist, but he still seems a bit shy about spreading his wings fully yet on stage, because the incredible love many fans had, and still do have for his mentor, Jasmine You, has them still in mourning related to Jasmine's very unexpected and untimely death, so Masashi is at all times, the one quickest to honor Jasmine You's memory on stage, often to the exclusion of any form of self promotion.  Hopefully the fans still in mourning, will get through this and soon embrace him as he truly deserves, but some things just take time, and he seems very aware of and respectful of this in all ways.  Masashi is not only a great guy, but he has the irresistible appeal of the brooding romantic in, oh say, James Dean, or even Rob Patterson, from American films.

Yuki, their drummer is poised, graceful, and impressive apart from his drums, and playful and humorous off stage, but when he gets behind the drums, he becomes a true force of nature!  The only drummer I could think of when I first heard him was the drummer from Anthrax back when no one had ever heard of playing drum rolls with double bass drums!  As one of the two "dark Warriors" of the group, Yuki is lightning and thunder and earthquakes all rolled into one and he loves every minute of it!

Teru, who portrays a young and high spirited prince, is both handsome and beautiful at the same time.  On stage, he is graceful, poised, and pure joy incarnate.  He is also, like Hizaki, one of the greatest guitarists I have heard!   Just the same, he practices constantly, like the true perfectionist he is, looking up to Hizaki as the true master and a great standard to live up to!  Of all the members of the band, Teru seems to be the most similar to his stage character off the stage in that he seems to find joy in all things and truly wants to share it with others.

The opportunity to attend one of their live performances came up recently, when we were scheduled to present gifts of love and devotion from fans throughout North America, directly to the band members after their appearance in Mexico City for the Holy Grail Tour in 2011 as representatives from the North American Revolution International Street Team.  We were in about the 4th row, (or only about 4 feet from the front rail because of how tightly people pressed together) and accomplished getting that close only by waiting up at 4am in the cold and dark in a dangerous neighborhood to retain the position we thought was purchased with the ticket price for front row seats.

The only real problems we had at the actual  concert in Mexico City, can be attributed to problems with some of the venue staff, and the fact that the Mexican fans are so overwhelmingly passionate that it felt like being caught in a rush of Lemmings trying to get closer to the stage.  In fact, in a recent interview with a Columbian Radio Station, Kamijo was asked about the differences between Latin Fans and Japanese fans. He said that Japanese fans are very shy, but compared Latin fans, (who have very powerful emotions that they show in a sometimes overwhelmingly enthusiastic manner), to the powerful Piranhas of the Amazon! He then threw in a little Vampyre humor and said "It's like they want to drink our blood!"  (The band's back story is that they lead a large clan of Vampyres from the times of the French court prior to the French Revolution, remember?)

  If you aren't comfortable with masses of people pressed full body length against you on all sides and constantly jostling to get closer to the performers, and often attempting to climb over, under, or around anyone between them and the band, (much less the pandemonium when a rose or other object was tossed to the crowd) then I suggest doing like most of the older fans, and sit in the elevated rows of chairs near the back of the auditorium.  Another option would be to simply allow all the crazed fans to flow past you early on.  Of course taking that course of least resistance means also dealing with the with poor visibility and somewhat reduced potency of the passion poured out from the band members when you are closer to the back.

It is much easier though to just enjoy the music and the band, if you are tall enough to still see them well enough back there, than dealing with the constant distraction of living through a semi-rugby like experience up near the front. It's not actually violent like a mosh pit, as no one is trying to harm anyone, but they simply press toward the stage so strongly that it can almost knock people over if they are not either very strongly resisting or quickly dodging and gliding back.  Of course this was in Mexico, and one of the staff mentioned that the fans in Mexico and Chile are the most overwhelmingly passionate of all the countries they tour, so this may be much less of a problem in some other areas.

Regardless, it is the experience of a lifetime, especially if you get to meet them in person and feel their genuine interest and passion for their fans.

To learn more about this fascinating group of performers go to their Myspace page at the following link
(as their official site is all in Japanese):  

Meeting the Band in Mexico City as Representatives of the North American Revolution International Street Team
(When not on stage the band, like most 'Vampyres" dresses in somewhat simpler "basic black".)

Kamijo's Homepage 

If you want to see just how crazy it got at the Mexico show, this you tube cell phone video gives you a bit of the idea, but it was far enough back to have poor sound and not so much shoving and jostling as near the stage where we were.
Mexican Fans Screaming 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Halloween 2011 Steampunk Event - The Nightmare Factory

A New Steampunk Event has come to town presented by the Steampunk Illumination Society (DFW Chapter) at the Boneyard Haunted House, in Arlington, Texas!  The headliner band will be the premier Steampunk/Dieselpunk Performance Band of Texas "Marquis of Vaudville".

Joining them in the lineup will be an impressive group of Steampunk and musical performers listed on the flyer above.

There will also be Panels, vendors, a steampunk fashion contest with a cash prize, and the opportunity to meet and make friends with Steampunk Performers and aficionados from Texas and the surrounding states.

For those performance art types that like to come as a Steampunk Personae and stay in character (in order to add to the fun of the event for themselves and those around them) there is a fascinating back story and mystery to unravel that underlies the whole event.


For more information and to reserve your tickets click the link below!

The Nightmare Factory

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Darwin Prophet Rocks The Difference Engine Steampunk Convention!

Darwin Prophet will be performing both Friday and Saturday evening at The Difference Engine Steampunk Convention on New Year's Weekend in Fort Worth, Texas.  She will play a semi-acoustic set Friday with a full on performance Saturday Evening at the New Year's Eve Ball.  (She will go on right before Marquis of Vaudville who will then be playing until the midnight hour!)

In past echos of Darwin's travels; she was a creator in an all female
alterna-prog-rock band named Velvet Hammer, who toured extensively
through the east & southern states, released two records & garnered a
coveted publishing development deal with Island/Polygram. Darwin
co-wrote and released the symphonic popera, "Butterfly Tree" with Rick
Del Castillo of the tejano juggernaught Del Castillo.

She has been found in off broadway musicals, captured in MTV videos(Testament's
“Nobody's Fault”), on film in “Urban Cowboy”,as house singer at the
world-famous Gilley’s Nightclub, heavy metal front chick for the band
Blacksheep (which started the careers of Marzi Montezzari of Marzi and Blas Elias of
Slaughter), Big Band vocalist, show band vocalist in Atlantic City, touring psychedelic-folk goddess
in Green Crown and solo performer Wyrdgrl,at nationwide pagan & music
fests, and as songwriter for Peer/Southern Publishing in NYC.

The latest releases from “Under the Bed” include “Don't Panic” -
homage to Planet Mi & stories from round a few galaxies, and “Oscar
Wilde's Serenade”, thirteen poems penned by the immortal Oscar Wilde &
translated with love into song by Darwin.

The Chronus Mirror is the device thru which she bends the rings of concentric infinity into a single moment,
passing thru centuries & visiting myriad spaces and places in history.
Through what is perceived by humans as many lives, this artist has collected colors and sounds from the tapestry of the victorian aesthetic brotherhood, the round table of dark age myth, the
sweeping hills of troy, and the oracle at delphi to blend with an
adamsesque humor to invent the dream-machina of tomorrows.

To learn more of her home planet "Mi" (as in Do-Re-MI), visit the Isle of Bliss at
 All this skull feeding thought culminates in facinating lyrics and a fabulous rock show, led by
a mischievous firehead thru the haunting spectrum of legend, woven by the sibyl of Geek Rock.

Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” Darwin dreams of the day when each and all of you will, “Become someone you believe in.”

(click the link below to see one of her live performances)

Steampunk Performance  
by Darwin Prophet

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Music of Psyche Corp.


The music of Psyche Corp. is based loosely off a dystopian period in the future where civilization is ruled by a shadowy dream manufacture corporation that exerts subliminal control through dreams sent through neural implants. Technological advancement has reached the point where fashions no longer have to be 'practical' in the sense we think about in the 21st century, so you can have surreal neoVictorian outfits like what you see in the background of the band's website:

The upcoming album (which will include the song in this music video) also features a mini series of songs based on codes and patterns such as the Fibonacci sequence, Morse code, bar code (2 of 5 interleaved) spelling out phone numbers spelling out words, poliovirus DNA-translated-into-percussion, and other codes/puzzles embedded within the song structure. We're unabashedly geeky here at Psyche Corp.

Poliovirus song (it's a 'dialogue' between a woman dying of polio and her illness):

Monday, September 5, 2011

Texas Now Has an Official Psyche Corporation Street Team!!!

Yes.  That's right.  First we Texans stole most of the American Southwest from our Mexican landlords at gunpoint, then we demanded the American Army extricate us after Santa Anna licked his wounds and got the rest of his Mexican Army together, next we forced a very confused image of Texans on the world with the TV show Dallas, and finally we unleashed Bush Senior's son on the unsuspecting world, so I guess we Texans are due to karmicly contribute to the world in some powerful and truly fundamental way to properly make amends.  Well here it is!

I have already spearheaded a movement to support and create access or venues for performers that are looking for ways to give free spirited self expression through the worlds of Steampunk, Clockpunk, Diesel Punk, and Post Apocalyptic Punk by promoting them through our blogs, our websites, my magazine articles and finally supporting and even program directing events (such as "The Difference Engine") for exactly that purpose.  Now we are moving into assisting our sister realm of Cyber Punk! 

Psyche Chimère - Silky Siren and Mastermind of Psyche Corporation

Texas Now Has an Official Psyche Corporation Street Team!!!  The Members of Kali's Hourglass.

We have successfully helped to promote and endorse performance groups like Airship Isabella, movies like Nickel Children, musicians like Unwoman, and bands like Marquis of Vaudville (who are now playing pretty much every steampunk event in this part of the country).  We have done this directly and indirectly through word of mouth, posting flyers, publishing blogs and magazine articles, and even creating new venues for them to perform. 

Now Kali's Hourglass has offered to take on the role of Official Street Team for the Texas Area and Psyche Chimere has graciously accepted.  I am really looking forward to promoting my absolute favorite music, fiction, performance art, and dance troupe-Psyche Corporation-as their new Southern US Street Team. 

It should be a wild and wonderful ride as all the events and projects of the Psyche Corporation always are!!! Remember  Psyche Chimère(aka the Shadow Queen) and her illustrious co-conspirators just released a slick new music video!

[The Southern US Street Team   services Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisianna.]

(click the link below)

Also see my previous article about this group below:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Thakery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities

I was recently contacted by someone purporting to work for the marketing arm of Harper and Collins, the super size publishing house, stating that they would like to send me a new book titled "The Thakery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities" for my perusal and hopefully public review.

Whatever the source of my good fortune, I was very happy to find myself in the possesion of such a facinating collection of bizarre and very "steampunk" stories and odd Victorian Era science like reports.

The book is a beautiful diversion into the bizarre and a wonderful anomaly of anomalies.  It is even stranger and more fascinating than the books about Ripley's Believe it or not museums I used to read as a child.

It really is a collection of stories...decide for yourself...fact or fiction, (but note that most of the writers are award winning fiction authors) about an English collector of antiquities by the name of Thakery T. Lambshead, and his most absurd, strange, and bizarre collection of  inventions, oddities, and art from around the world.  It describes, with lovely illustrations, a variety of gadgets, clockwork animals, strange magical objects, and some sort of tractor like device he calls a "clockroach" about the size of a super riding lawnmower that the Dr said had "a ridiculous habit of starting itself up and massacring his garden and occasionally a stone wall driving his gardener and housekeeper mad!"

In a later chapter it even details a functional and successfully marketed robotic Victorian nanny.  Unfortunately the inventor had a few problems as, like in so many stories about the replacement of humans with seemingly superior robots, it had a few problems that are sometimes fatal. I think you will find this book well worth looking into if you find stories about strange inventions, discoveries, and objects as a good source of diversion as I do.

Well better go make sure the "clockroach" or some other contraption isn't tearing up our garden at present. 

Fair Winds!!!


PS the author is listed only as "edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer"  Thus the mystery continues.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Crow Collection Museum of Art Japanese Street Fashion Show

We joined the Crow Collection of Asian Art Museum Fashion Show once again this year for their "Japanese Street Fashion Inspired" Fashion Show and Costume Contest.  This ranges from Lollita and anime all the way through "Original Character" creations such as our Steampunk Personas.  Steampunk fashion is less common than straight anime in Japanese street fashion, but it does exist in a very visible way and is ever present in their art, comics, and anime.  The show was judged on quality and attention to detail in the "costume" (we actually consider this to be just being ourselves and our work clothes are actually what we think of as a costume, but in this setting the term is used as one of respect for carefully crafted special attire)  and overall presentation on the runway.  

The crow Collection Museum site described the show like this:   "Cosplay, or costume play, is popular in Japan where enthusiasts dress as their favorite anime, video game, or fictional characters. Join fellow anime-lovers, Harajuku Girls, and comic book fashionistas for this Japanese street fashion inspired show including the winners of our Next Top Cosplay Model competition!"

We purposely wore fabrics and styles that were more Japanese street fashion inspired for the show, and this was apparently appreciated since we won the Grand Prize for the show.  


Radha is wearing her "An Octopus Ate My Dessert" skirt which is a special custom print with octopus tentacles being very "cute" with a dessert in each one, that was cut and sewn in Lollita style along with waist cincher, parasol, and other accents in an overall medium blue color base.  

I tried to use similar color base wearing a Hakima styled pair of wrap pants in a Japanese print and a very Japanese Visual Kei style vest along with my characters other normal accents such as lightweight (we are sailors after all) partial armor with extensive embossing and decorative work.  

The runner up is standing to the right of me in the group lineup photo dressed as one of the bosses from Final Fantasy 10.  


There were many other wonderful outfits, and, most importantly, everyone had fun performing or watching, so we will definitely do it again next year!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Heidi Wunder Brings Belly Dance to the Dallas-Fort Worth Steampunk Stage

Heidi in full tribal regalia
Heidi Wunder is just as her name suggests...a wonder!  She not only performs and teaches Tribal Belly Dance, but also lives the concepts that she teaches.  She has a deep love of music, dance, nature, and of people.  She is bringing all this and more to the stage on June 4th as the fictional "Delegate" from Persia in a supporting role in a "steampunk" Murder Mystery Play at a new event called the "Difference Engine" in Fort Worth, Texas. 

In fact the entire event is a celebration of the performing arts in all it's forms as they intersect with the facinating and exotic world of Steampunk Fiction.  Heidi will also be bringing real world performances of Tribal Belly Dance to that same stage later in the day as one of the main performers for the event.  I was recently honored to interview her about her dance, her influences, and her impressions of performing in the Steampunk Community. 

  1. How would you define your dance style or genre?
    1. I am an American Tribal Style Belly Dancer, and I have mostly done more of the world/gypsy type genre

  1. What artists do you think most influenced your current style or styles?
    1. Carolena Nericco, as being the creator of ATS, but there are too many Tribal dancers to name that have influenced me in some way, either dance technique or costume. I also take inspiration from the Ghawazee tribes of Egypt and the Berber tribes of North Africa

  1. What types of music do you use, and how do you use them in different types of dance?
    1. I use a lot of ethnic music that has drum rhythms from the middle east and India.  I also use some more modern Techno, and groups that infuse techno with middle eastern and Indian rhythms.  When I am using the more ethnic music, I tend to be doing traditional movement, the modern techno, I tend to be more expressive, and carry the energy of the music through out my dance.

  1. What was your first exposure to this style of dance and what effect did it have on you then?
    1. I am active in Amtgard, and have been since I was a teenager, there is where I was first introduced to Tribal by some friends who wanted to create a dance troupe. They needed a third person, and told me I had no choice!  It looked cool, the way the costumes looked, the way the dancers danced just reached into my heart and grabbed it.  I knew instantly this was the dance for me!

5  When did you decide to focus on this as a form of performance art and what influenced that decision?
                  I had danced ATS since I was 17, but wasn’t until I was 24 and moved here to Texas, that I decided this was going to be my path.  I had just moved, so I didn’t have job, and my husband was super supportive of me exploring this more.

6  What sort of expereince do you have in terms of public performances, paid performances, and/or teaching dance?
I have been dancing the style for 11 years, and teaching and performing for 4 years.  I have taught in dance studios and yoga centers.  I have performed at festivals, restauraunts, open mic nights, and stage shows.

7    When did you first encounter people in steampunk attire that was distinctive enough to really draw attention and what effect did it have on you?
                  At a local meeting, is when I saw folks in the flesh in Steampunk attire, I have seen many movies, folks on the internet, and even Steampunk in the Tribal Belly dance culture.  It captivated me as it was different, and funky, and just plain cool.  I knew I had room to integrate this cool style and culture into my dance.

8    What percentage of your music do you consider to be Steampunk related?
                  I say about half of the music I use is steampunk related.

9  What do you think about the influx of steampunk fashion into dance performances?
      Over the past 5 or so years, as I have seen more and more steampunk fashion, and it has been an alternative to the traditional tribal garb.  I enjoy the Steampunk fashion, and what it has done for Tribal Belly dance

10  Do you think there is such a thing as Steampunk Dance at this time and why?
                  For Belly Dance, I see mostly Tribal genre dancers wearing Steampunk fashion.  I know that the costume really helps shape the way you dance, your character while dancing, so I do believe there is an evolution of Tribal into a Steampunk Belly dance.

11.  How would you define or describe what aspects of music, wardrobe, instruments (acoustic versus electric for instance), styles, and lyrics, make you think “Steampunk” when you see another band perform or when looking back at your own performances?
                  When I think Steampunk, I really think a melting of classic with electric.  A Mandolin with an electronic beat box, or out of this world sounds.  I see classic Victorian garb with a hint of mad scientist tinkerer, or Lightning pirates.  This crazy alternative look that has become more prominent is what makes me jump to think “Steampunk”

12  What was your first exposure to Steampunk as an actual subculture.  (as opposed to say Steampunk movies or fiction books)
                  Actually Ramon and Radha of Kali’s Hourglass.  They open my eyes to “steampunk”

13   Can you talk a little about the difference in general dance styles that you like and how this works together to make your own approach?
Well, I am only trained in American Tribal Style, which has a set dance vocabulary, but when dancing solo, I try to be as expressive, but still maintain the tribal look, it works great for me

14  What can you tell us about the local Steampunk Community close to where you live?  Is it very active and in what ways? In other words what sort of events do they set up, are they involved in charitable, political, or educational projects?
                        Well I know a little bit, the Steampunk community seems to be pretty active, I am not to well entrenched yet to give a detailed answer.

15.  How deeply are you involved in these events, and do you always perform musically, or do you sometimes interact there in other ways?
                  So far I have only performed, but would love to have more interaction!

16.  What sort of public performance art, classes, or other activities have you not done so far, but that you would like to try in the future?
                  Well it something I have not done a lot of, but would like to, is play doumbek for a solo dancer, I am not too bad, but I don’t get to do it with my troupe, cause I am usually dancing

17.  How much difficulty do you face getting event organizers to understand the needs of performers for adequate compensation for time, travel, lodgings, and wardrobe costs?
                  Generally event organizers have no clue about all the time and effort a performer puts into his or her trade, but that is just generally, there are some folks I have worked with that are really great about this.

18.  Would you like to share any information with our readers (and potential hiring clients) about typical compensation levels for performances of different types or would you prefer to keep that something discussed on a case by case basis?
For Performance, I would like to always talk with somebody interested in hiring me, as situations vary, but I can be reached by going to

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sarasvati Bodhisattva (aka Summer Spillman) Grants an Interview

1.   How would you define your musical style or genre?

My style and genre are both eclectic. They say that variety is the spice of life and I wholeheartedly agree. In life as well as music I love creating each day differently. I am a constantly changing being and anyone who listens to me perform live multiple times will see this if they are paying attention to the subtleties in the energy. Each song is its own animal no matter how many times it is played, and no song will ever sound *exactly* the same way twice because the energy present during the song is never exactly the same way twice, even if a musician is singing and playing the same notes every time. Each moment in life is unique and this carries throughout everything we do, even if it is not obvious to us.

2.   What artists do you think most influenced your current style or styles?

Everyone influences my music, whether they are artists, plants, animals, or universal archetypes. As far as human music goes, I love Danny Elfman, Neko Case, Jamie Reeves, The Cure, Interpol, The Demigods, Marquis of Vaudeville, Muse, Nina Simone...too many to list. I feel very lucky that many of my favorite musicians are my friends. Nature plays a HUGE role in influencing my music. If I listen to the plants and animals and as they tell me their stories, they will sing their way into my music. Spider is really, really good at telling stories. Little Miss Muffet would have benefitted from the proverb about having two ears but only one  other words, not speaking, even internally, but listening and absorbing. Ghosts influence my music as well as time travelers, gurus, shamans, and each and every person I meet as they all have stories to share which, to me anyways, are divine. I have been told that some of my music seems very dark by various people, but this is in fact not the case at all. The darkest music I have played have actually been the rare covers that I play. Just because I sing about a fly or a bat or a spider does not make the music dark. This is all a matter of perspective. To me these creatures are teachers and allies. I shun pesticides like vegans shun bacon.

3.   What instruments do you play, and how do you use them in different types of music?

All instruments are a tool that become an extension of the artist's soul. I am known for playing the sitar, which I use as a vehicle to transport myself and the listener to a higher frequency of being. I have witnessed many intense moments with this instrument, however those moments are constructed via intensive focus and meditation, not necessarily by the tool itself (sitar). In other words, the levels in frequency can change using any instrument. It's the musician, not the tool. And yet, the musician IS the tool. Funny how things work! ;-)
The vocal chords are an amazing gift. Their sounds can be used for healing and transforming. But again we come to the purpose behind the sound, and the frequency of the musician, who when doing things properly becomes the Tool.
I play the mandolin but usually as accompaniment to other artists such as Blaming Grace, Luna Solarium, The Demigods, Jamie Reeves, and The Pirate Tramp Orchestra. Every now and then I will perform a folk song on mandolin or banjo, but this is a rare event. I like to play the guitar with alot of my songs, but will sometimes adapt the songs with other instruments. I love to have many versions of my songs because I find I learn more about them that way. I also play Piano, Drums, French horn, Trumpet, and various ethnic instruments, such as the churango.

4.   What was your first exposure to Steampunk as an actual subculture.  (as opposed to say Steampunk movies or fiction books)

My first exposure to the culture was June 20th, 2009, when Marquis of Vaudeville did their first show at the Curtain Club. It was a wonderful night and very magical.

5.   When did you first encounter people in steampunk attire that was distinctive enough to really draw attention and what effect did it have on you?

When I first encountered all of the costuming (which was at the 2009 Marquis show) I became captured by the magic of it. My mind shifted to other times and places and reveled in the sense of past and future intertwined into N O W. Which, when you strip away the illusion of our calendars and watches, is a truth in more ways than one.

6.   When were you first exposed to music that you believed was directly linked in some way with the Steampunk subculture, and what effect did that have on your own musical styles?

Truly, I owe a lot to Marquis of Vaudeville. My music style is different from theirs in many ways, but they are an enormous inspiration to me. They are the ones who brought me into the Steampunk community. I can't say enough good things about them. Their music is exquisite and they are some of the kindest, most humble crew you will ever meet. I recently completed a collaborative track with Bryan Geddie, their guitarist, and Karen Morales, my percussionist. If you are reading this and you haven't heard their music, please download immediately. ;-)
7.   What percentage of your music do you consider to be Steampunk related?

I suppose about 80% could be considered Steampunk related, and this would likely be due to the fact that I am a Storyteller and love to tell Stories, especially when they have actually happened right before my eyes.

8.   How would you define or describe what aspects of music, wardrobe, instruments (acoustic versus electric for instance), styles, and lyrics, make you think “Steampunk” when you see another band perform or when looking back at your own performances?

The costumes certainly play their role, but when I think of Steampunk music, I think of Stories. I think of music that will take you into another world altogether. Ethnic instruments are widely appreciated in Steampunk music. A percussionist I work with has all kinds of interesting tools she uses in her percussive ensemble.

9.   While many bands have clearly stated that they do not want any rigid definition for Steampunk Music, your personal opinions about this topic are still of great interest to your fans.  Has your own definition of what is “Steampunk Music” changed over time, and if so how?

Steampunk Music is music that makes magic. My definitions of Steampunk Music changes with my levels of awareness. As I travel deeper and deeper into the white rabbit's wormhole, I understand the stories from a different level altogether. The stories have meaning, and just like you would learn something new from a sacred text the more you examined it (and sometimes the less you examine it), the meaning of the stories grow deeper into a Universal understanding. Glean what you will of these stories...they are no less important or pertinent than the Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer's Odyssey, or even the Bible in some cases, though many may (or may not) disagree with me.

10.  Can you talk a little about the difference in general musical tastes among members of the band and how this works together to make your unique sound?

So far, what I have done with other musicians in my sets has been the result of backwards engineering. I want a certain sound for certain shows, and sometimes I will use many musicians and sometimes will perform solo. I suppose at some point my nature of going with the flow will take me right into a more stable performance crew, with a different name.

11.  The following questions will related more to Steampunk Community where you live and perform, your own style of interacting with them, and how this affects you as a group.  First off, do you use any sort of Steampunk Character personae that affects your choice of clothing and self expression at performances?

I am Sarasvati Bodhisattva. Teacher, Music-Maker, Entrancer, Scientist, and Awakener. What she wears depends on what articles of attire find their way to her. There's that backwards engineering thing again.

12:  Are you involved in local Steampunk Events?  

I performed with Marquis of Vaudville at a private concert and again as an opening act for them at Allcon 2011.  Additionally I performed at Clockwork Wonderland 2011, Carnivale of Creatures, and at the Aetherfest (first ever for Texas) Steampunk convention in April 2011.  I will also be the Headliner musical performer for the Difference Engine Summit, Steampunk Murder Mystery Event on June 4th, 2011.

13.  Do you always perform musically, or do you sometimes interact there in other ways?

Sometimes I dance during my sets. I have been belly dancing for over ten years now, and integrate other styles of dance into my Egyptian belly dance background. I am also a merchant, though when performing there is not a lot of time for me to interact with the public as much as I would like.

14.  What sort of public performance art, classes, or other activities have you not done so far, but that you would like to try in the future?

There are so many...and many of my plans I prefer to keep secret, lol. I would admit however, to a wish to be an avid hoop dancer.

15.  What aspects of the various activities you, or affiliated support crew, do publically, other than music of course, do you enjoy most.  Examples could include demonstrating Steampunk fashion, modeling, posing for pictures, spontaneous character acting, rehearsed character skits, answering general questions about Steampunk lifestyle, teaching classes and/or holding panels, or vending goods, fashions, weapons, goggles or other things you or your crew have made?

Right now I've been creating Steampunk Art. I recently fell through the floor of an old 1800's house floor digging up Steampunk supplies. Now I have some interesting scars on my leg, but also a story to go with them. ;-)
My family has been in the franchise business for a long time. I am developing a concept for a Steampunk-related Franchise...which to my knowledge would be the first steampunk franchise in history. More info here:

16.  How much difficulty do you face getting event organizers to understand the needs of performers for adequate compensation for time, travel, lodgings, and wardrobe costs?

I have learned to be flexible in all situations and to live in the moment. If something doesn't go the way I would prefer, I trust that there is some sort of reason for it, even if I may not yet be aware of it.

17.  (optional of course) Would you like to share any information with our readers (and potential hiring clients) about typical compensation levels for performances of different types or would you prefer to keep that something discussed on a case by case basis?

It's all case by case my dear! ;-)

18.  Is there anything else you would like to add about any aspect of Steampunk Performance Art or about Steampunk as a lifestyle?

I love Steampunk because I feel that there is an element in it that teaches sustainability. Turning trash into treasure. Creating exquisite beauty while keeping things out of the landfills. Landfills and trash should not really exist...what a silly human invention.