Oct 22, 2013

~About an interview with Aurelio Voltaire~

(A quick life sign from my hiatus...)

Last Wednesday I had the chance to finally see the artist Aurelio Voltaire live on stage here in Germany. Precisely at the MTC Club in Cologne.

Further even: I got the chance to interview him together with Aleksandr (who took part of the photos) for the Clockworker. As the CW is a German online Magazine, I translated the whole interview, you can find it here, in case you prefer reading it in German.
Right after the interview, taken with my Fujiroid
I really like the Vogelfrey poster in the background, I like their music^^

Well but I thought it's a waste if the original English version just lies on my hard drive, unused, so here it comes for you my dear readers.

Voltaire introduces himself:

My name’s Aurelio Voltaire, and… I am an evil clown. (laughs)
Actually I really don’t know how to introduce myself. I do lots of different things; but most of them involve things that are dark and at the same time humorous. Sometimes it’s songs, sometimes it’s books, sometimes it’s films, sometimes it’s toys.

It’s your first time on the European mainland, I guess?

Well, technically I played a show in Oslo, Norway a couple of years ago but this is truly my first European Tour. And certainly my first time ever in Cologne.

The set list
What’s been the main factor to come over here, and especially to Germany?
Well, I tour the United States and Canada and Mexico. And I certainly get lots and lots of emails from Europe and my web store gets lots of orders from Europe, so it was a natural progression that I should come and visit the people who are listening to my music.
Did you do any special preparations for your German show? 
Eeh, No. (laughs) I can’t say that I did. Because I think that it should be what people are expecting from me. I think the people who are coming, already know who I am. Do you know what I mean?
So they should get the same show that I do in America. What I do think about is my choice of songs. I have to think a little bit more about what works sonicly for an audience that may not speak English versus lyrically because a lot of my songs are puns and wordplay and that may be difficult for some people who’ve English as a second language. So I have to think about which songs are going to be easier to understand.
I saw on your tour dates that you’re going to have a day of between the concerts. Do you have special plan? Do you want to visit anything special?
I don’t love days off. I’m a workaholic and love performing. So I don’t love days off.
Tomorrow’s not a day off. I play in Hamburg tomorrow. Yesterday was a day off.  I had a day off in Vienna. And it was nice but now I’m kicking myself because I realized how close Prague was. And I think I should have gone to Prague.
But Vienna is a beautiful city. [Actually I was there the week before^^] 
It is a beautiful city.

Now we come to your new album “Raised by bats” which has been crowd-funded. 
Yes… well, to be more honest, I’ve spend thirty-five thousand dollars on that and now I’m crowd-funding the last ten. That’s technically what’s really happening.
Well, how did you come up with the name?
The title track “Raised by bats”, is a song about when I ran away from home when I was seventeen. And you know when dress a little strangely or if you dress in gothic style there’s lots of people out there who want to make fun of you and who want to call you gay Dracula, killer, all sorts of awful names. Although I rather like being called gay Dracula, that sounds very fashionable tome. But anyway I just realized at some point that a snarky reply would be just to tell people that I was raised by bats, that’s why I looked this way.

You know, I’m wearing what looks like a dark pirate costume in my show. And inside the club people really appreciate it. But whenever I walk outside I instantly become Jack Sparrow, to the stupid normal people.
You know there are worse things than being compared to Johnny Depp, for sure. It’s unfortunately just a sign of ignorance when people have to instantly make some kind of cultural reference connection, so that they can feel comfortable about what they are looking at. I think it’s a sign of stupidity, or insecurity.
Your latest album “Bitrektual” deals with several well-known science fiction series, like Star Wars, Star Trek and even Doctor Who (which I am a big fan of… I got my screwdriver with me.)
Actually… In Case my Tardis brakes down I know who to look for. 
Aside from those, which other Science Fiction Series would you recommend?
Ehm… God I don’t know. You know the album “Bitrektual” is a pornographic collection of Star Trek and Star Wars songs. There’s only a Doctor Who Song because Doctor Who fans are such pushy cunts. And they made me do it.
But you know I like Battlestar Galactica. And growing up I watched Lost in Space and the Twilight Zone. If it has a space ship in it, chances are that I will watch it.

Do you know Firefly?
I do know Firefly but I have never watched Firefly. A very good friend of mine, who’s also a singer writes songs about Firefly, his name is Mark Gunn. And Marc gave me the entire series.
But… I don’t watch TV. I haven’t had a TV in twenty years. And if I watched TV I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now, I’d be at home watching TV. It’s because I don’t watch TV that I get so much done.
I had to have an operation and not be able to leave the house to watch the new Battlestar Galactica.
I got my ears pointy and basically wasn’t able to leave the house for a few days so I watched all of Battlestar Galactica.
So the next time I injure myself I promise I will see Firefly.

Well I asked that because Firefly is often referred to as kind of Steampunk or Dieselpunk series, and when talking about Steampunk music, your music is often named, so where would you see the connection to the genre?
I think it’s a really organic connection. Because to me Steampunk is Science Fiction from the perspective of Victorian England. And there are very, very few bands, that use instruments that existed during the Victorian era. So when you look at bands that say we are Steampunk bands but they are playing keyboards and electric guitars and then they have to come up with some crazy philosophy like “we travel time and collect keyboards from the 90s”.
But for ME the most organic thing that can happen when the Steampunk world started developing, was when people said: “what kind of music do we listen to”, the most natural answer for me would have been: music that could have been made in the Victorian Era.
And for me the first two bands that come to mind are Rasputina and Tom Waits. They are two heroes of mine and they are bands that inspired me to make music that also could have been made two hundred years ago. So I think it’s a very natural evolution.

I may lose my Steampunk Membership card, because my new album is a Goth Rock album and it’s the first time I’m using electronic instruments. Electric guitar, electric bass, keyboards and things like that. I hope I will always be at least be an honorary member of the Steampunk world. 

Which song of yours would you suggest to be your most Steampunk-y song?
The Mechanical Girl.
When I made that album “Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children” I actually asked my constituency what kind of album do you want to hear me make and people said folk, and people said cabaret, and somebody said Gypsy punk, and somebody said Steampunk and someone even said acoustic heavy metal. And I said: Okay.
And I did them all. So that album, not only was it named by a fan, but it was kind of dictated and suggested by fans. So “The Mechanical Girl” was really very conscious attempt on my behalf to create the Steampunk song on that album. So if I do a Steampunk convention it’s guaranteed that I’ll play “The Mechanical Girl”.

You often play at Conventions like Dragon Con…

15 years in a row
… but too far for us…
I may be fixing that. There’s talk about me performing at a Steampunk Convention in England next year.
Back to the question: I just wanted to ask: At those conventions you also see Steampunks, so what is your main reaction to them?
I mean Steampunk is something that is very natural to me. You have to understand something: I’m ooold. But even I am not older than Steampunk. People think Steampunk is new. But when I was a small child, my favourite film was “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, which is a purely Steampunk movie, and then there was the series “Wild Wild West” which was a purely Steampunk show. This philosophy of creating Jules Verne inspired science fiction from the Victorian era is not new only the cultural phenomenon of people gathering, doing cosplay and listening to bands, that part is new.
When I was small child we had a very baroque brass lamp and it broke. Well I should say it baroke. And I asked my mother: can I have it? And she said: sure, why would want this piece of junk? And I took it apart and I built a space ship and it was the most ornate brass space ship you’ve ever seen. So it brings together things that I already very much love: Science fiction and things that are antiquated. So… I forgot the question… Oh yeah: What do I think when I see Steampunks? I see people that are into the same things that I’m into. My brothers and sisters.
Voltaire with Aleksandr
 Some last words for your German fans?
It’s really really exciting after many many years of wanting to tour in Germany it’s really really exciting to finally be here and really look forward to meeting people who’ve been listening to my music for years and I’ve never gotten to meet in person and I hope this will be just the first of many many meetings to come.
We hope that, too. Thank you for that interview!
My pleasure! Thank you very much.

I hope you enjoyed reading that ;)
Man, I was so damn nervous doing this! (Sometimes even so concentrated on my questions I didn't got the jokes Voltaire made >_< (If you read this: I'm still sorry!) )

If you ever get the chance to see one of his shows: Go see it! It's totally worth it!
Although he himself only describes them as "Watch an old pirate getting drunk"
And to be honest: I never met an artist that was so close to his fans and took that much time to answer questions, take photos, sign CDs etc.
(During the show, we even got on stage to sing with him.)
And another Polaroid picture
Yep, that man is tall! (Okay, and Yes I am small...)
So to come to a conlusion, you might notice, that I'm still totally amazed, so well: Go see him, listen to his music, buy the CDs and really try to see him live on stage!

Voltaire's Homepage