We're on the verge of another revolution in music. Mark my word. The tides of discontent have been in motion for a while now and its winding tighter and tighter. Somewhere along the lines, some good bands from abroad started getting noticed in the US. Bands like Diary of Dreams and Wolfsheim (see our CD Review). These bands were based on electronics, but with more emotional lyrics in contrasting difference to typically aggressive industrial music that had been popular. Both bands were hard to get in the US for a while, DJs coveted them, and patrons at clubs were constantly asking, “who are you playing?” Suddenly the underground was full of bands striving to be like them… bands with electronic based dance music. With technology, it was way too easy. Learn how to operate the toys and you can command an entire catalog of sounds and thumpy thump thump music at your fingertips. Suddenly, there are a million two-person button pushing bands taking the goth scene by storm. But something's not quite right. Something's not as sincere, not as heartfelt. Wolfsheim’s been around for years perfecting their sound and honing their musical creativity. It shows. It's felt. Suddenly StarVox is inundated weekly by do-it-yourself home musicians. There's a diamond in the rough every now and then, but 98% of it was crap. I was getting depressed. I heard myself complaining, “Isn't there anyone doing anything original anymore?” and “If I have to sit through one more concert by a boring button pushing band I'm gonna puke!” And its not just me. I hear lots of people complaining lately – music isn't as good as it used to, its too easy now to be a “band”, club music is boring. Synthpop is now melting into something people are calling “Future Pop” – and the same sounds you hear bands like Covenant play can now be heard on mainstream dance radio programs.
In desperation, in an attempt to appease my poor poor ears, I started digging back through my music collection, rediscovering just why it was that I used to be so excited about music. And by god I found it. Real musicians, real music, and hell, real drummers even ! I was beginning to think that drummers were extinct. There were SO many CDs in my own collection that I’d kill to hear played at a club. “I’d love to dance to this…or this.. or this at a club,” I thought. There were so many wonderful CDs that had been overlooked by the vast majority of the scene.
In order to bring these kind of CDs back into the spotlight, and hopefully get them some more exposure and club play and to up the standard for new bands, we’ve decided to add a new category to our CD reviews – Classics – great CD’s you’re not listening to. These will be older CDs for the most part, no new releases, that for whatever reason, got swept under the rug. CDs that we personally love and are excited about. Please check our CD REVIEW section for our first installment and check back every month as we unearth some more gems that are a must for your collection.
out this issue you’ll find more examples and similar sentiments expressed
here in this feature story. From
reviews by DJ Psionic that point out some of the disappointing new
music, to our Women Who Rock feature by Steph on Rhea’s
Obsession where Sue notes some disappointment that musical qualities
in bands are being overlooked. With our CLASSICS CD Reviews, we hope to
turn new fans onto some of our old stand bys and give new bands something
to aim for.
(photos/artwork copyright by Matthew Riley/DBR)
To kick off this category I pulled out one of my most prized possessions – Deathwatch Beetle Repairman. It always floors me that this man’s music is not more well-known and is not played more often at clubs. His CD, Hollow Fishes, has been out since 1998. A friend and former writer for StarVox, Kirin Anderson originally reviewed it for us. She wrote,
“Wickedly quirky, threatening, endearing, morose and profound. Think Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and a dash of Nine Inch Nails; hellish nightmare and blessed sunrise, I've never heard a disc like this in all my life. It would not be possible to recommend it or praise it enough. You would not believe me if I did. I don't know what else to do but encourage you to take a chance on the long shot. It's worth every cent you have to pay for it; much more than worth it. 'Last I checked on the DeathwatchBeetleRepairman website, the CD was $7 in the US. There are NO excuses for not sending this guy a few dollars to get one of the best CDs you'll hear all year. No, I'm not kidding you. Tender, brooding, and elegant-- the aural equivalent to the thinking goth's orgasm.”Intrigued by her description, I asked her about it and she kindly mailed me the CD to listen to. Ah.. heaven. It was more wonderful than I expected. Dark but incredibly beautiful – it filled my head with exotic places and lusty visions. The vocals are very sensual at times, very introspective and mysterious.
Describing his music as, "Melancholy music with Eastern influences. A very cinematic music in song form..." Matthew Riley, the sole creator behind Deathwatch Beetle Repairman, said the name first appeared on a compilation called Extracts released by Shrug Off Reality in 1992. Musically inclined, Matthew had taken violin for 2 years when he was young but did not have the patience for music theory, "I just wanted to play." His drive for musical creation and a naturally born fondness for Middle Eastern music unconsciously drew him towards the sitar.
"I could tell you a long story that would blow your mind but I won't. I believe in reincarnation.....sort of. Perhaps we have a collective consciousness, like ants, and we can tap into that and know things. Perhaps we mistake it for past life knowledge, which it could be. I never work in definites with that stuff. Who can really know? You can only pretend to know. Basically I knew how to play the sitar before I ever saw one. I kept trying to play other instruments as you would the sitar, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong. When I finally bought one I sat down and felt a sense of 'finally!'. I had even made a pick to play it. I was meant to play sitar, although I'll never be an Ustad (master)."
When asked to talk about what was in the future for DBR, Matthew replied, " My next CD is going to be free. People will have to pay postage and that's it. What's that you say? I don't expect to ever make money from this. In fact I haven't made a cent. Do I want fame? Hmmmm.....seen any pictures of me on the net? Heard of any live shows? No and no. Fame can kiss my ass. Its nice to be recognized but why would anyone want strangers to adore or admire them? I make music for me and no one else. If others enjoy it that's great. It makes me feel good. Still, I write because I have no choice. If I write a poem its because the words explode out of me. I record them. I keep them."
Similarly humble about his artwork, (seen here and all throughout his site), he says, "Postcards....I have tons! The purchasing page won't be up for a long time. I'm in no hurry. I'm pretty sure no one will buy them. Maybe once I get on my feet I can start distributing them to goth shops around the world. Prices are on the site, as is contact info. If someone really wants them they can go to the trouble. I just make them because I love them."
DBR's CD, Hollow Fishes, has been compared to great exotic bands like Muslim Gauze and Dead Can Dance. Infact, the track “Violet and Green” is one of the sexiest songs I’ve heard since Dead Can Dance -- a Middle Eastern charmer, a belly-dancer’s delight. I know this would go over well at clubs who has sensual patrons waiting to writhe on the dance floor. “King of the Rooks” is another favorite of mine. We debuted that track in Atlanta on the first StarVox LIVE night. DJ Admortem mixed it into a track called “Oppenheimer” off a Six Degrees Comp called Invocation as both tracks had crows cawing in them. Its rowdy and loud and intimidating – indeed like a big rook perched somewhere above screeching his discontentment to the heavens over the invasion of its natural habitat.
"The Carny of Mr. Dark" is one of the tracks I adore for sentimental reasons. Growing up I was a wild Ray Bradbury fan - and the book, "Something Wicked This Way Comes" is something that's engraved into the magic of my childhood. I was delighted that Matthew even knew about Mr. Dark and the sinister carnival. I've actually heard some DJs play this very track at clubs in Seattle and it works well with the black-clad crowd dancing dramatically around and around. Its a waltz for the underground. Its foreboding, mysterious, self-righteous and yet a bit sorrowful and bitter sweet as the music box chimes quietly in contrast to powerful pipe organs.
"Drying in the Sun" is another song with an ethnic feel - more gypsy-like than Middle Eastern, it reminds me of Fiddler on the Roof. Matthew's voice is solid and lamenting, " I saw the sun was dying, I saw our dreams were dying..." "Deeper into This" is kindly reminiscent of Peter Murphy's exploration into the ethnic sounds of Turkey. Full-throated vocals in lush melodies sway inbetween steady, danceable percussion... "the moon has been dead for days, the stars rain down into my heart...nothing will ever take me, deeper into this than you..."
"Dream of the Hollow Fishes" is the song that earns him the comparisons to the brilliance behind NIN. Possibly my favorite DBR song if I *had* to choose, this song is complexly layered with dark melodies and rumbling drumming. Its seductive and dangerous - cinematic to an extent, his voice whispers with sinister intonations. It paints a surrealistic landscape of nightmares and lust. "If I should lose you to the hollow fishes in my dreams... you may as well have died."
Hollow Fishes is a must have if you're a gothic DJ looking to add some texture and substance to your set list; and if you're a fan of dark, well-written music, I shouldn't need to tell you to pick this up. No longer selling CDs off his website, you can get a copy of Hollow Fishes through mp3.
That being said, its my honor to name Hollow Fishes the first of StarVox's CLASSICS. Its an unbelievable body of work that deserves its time in the spotlight. A true artist and musician, Matthew Riley is a rare soul, driven to create by an innate need without the desire for the trappings of a rockstar. Through his artwork and music, we get rare glimpses of a being who's humble gifts are something to be held dear.
The Carny of Mr Dark
Drying in the Sun
Dream of the Hollow Fishes
Deeper into This
Shrine of Lilacs
Season of the Dead
King of the Rooks
Violet and Green
Deathwatch Beetle Repairman is Matthew Riley
~Interview by Blu
(photos by Jack Zeman courtesy the band)
It wasn’t long ago I got a little email from a band called Die My Darling in LA and they sent me a promo EP with two songs and re-mixes on it. (See archived reviews here) Just another band in a long line of pretty faces you think? Not hardly; there’s much more. Having just released promo EPs and singles, they’ve already been signed to the prestigious German label Trisol (home of Die Form and Cinema Strange to name a few) – no doubt an uncommon feat; and are hard at work on their first full-length CD. There’s a triple dose of appeal with this band – they create catchy, danceable songs that go over well at clubs; they’re incredibly photogenic; and for those of you – who like me, are lyric snobs – they’re quite the eloquent and biting writers. What more could you ask for in a band?
Blu: So I'm gonna skip straight the uh "meat" of the excitement: you announced that you got signed by Trisol Records out of Germany! First of all, congratulations! After only having released a debut maxi-single Sleep, and some additional singles, this is pretty impressive. Tell me how you got Trisol's ear? What was the process like? Were you surprised?
Sean D. - Thanks Blu! We are very happy with Trisol, and are elated to be working with them. As for the process, it was rather surprising, for the simple fact that we hadn't shopped any of our music at that point, had only released the 'Sleep' CD, and were busy demo'ing new material in the Crypt. Somehow Trisol became aware of us, and were so enthused with the maxi-single that they approached us with a contract. 'Just Defy My Love' hadn't even been released at the time, so yes, we were very surprised, but after aquainting ourselves with their roster, coupled with Trisol's professionalism and enthusiasm, we felt that it was a good decision to work together. Alex and Johnnie rock!"
Reiche - For me it was a completely unexpected development. Considering the group is so new, 'the sound' of the band is still undefined.
Entropy - I'm willing to deny under oath that I have Trisol's ear or any of it's other body parts.
Blu: So I assume that this means you'll be releasing a full length CD soon? Any details on that and when we might expect to see something? What can we expect from the first DMD CD?
Sean D. - Yes, the debut album should be out by December or January. It's entitled 'Virulent,' and we are recording it at present. What can you expect? Something that will continue to possess the 'DMD sound,' but explore new territory. We have a plethora of material to choose from, which is nice. 'Sleep,' 'Pain' and 'Just Defy My Love' will certainly we included on the album, as well as such new tracks as 'God Has Stopped Speaking,' 'Our Behaviour' and 'The Last Nail.' Other possible songs include 'Decay,' 'Virus,' 'Mourning The Machine,' 'Waiting For Dawn To Come,' '#99' and more. There are just so many we haven't narrowed it down yet. I think people will be surprised by the new material. It runs the gamut from exceedingly aggressive to passionately atmospheric.
Reiche - This collection of material will hopefully insight many different emotions from the listener. Fear, serenity, outrage, blasphemy, bliss, comfort, discomfort and discord all existing in equal amounts in these songs.
Entropy - Well, it will most likely be some combination of words and, most likely, some music. I was trying to talk Sean into doing all the lyrics in Esperanto, but the rest of the guys kinda' nixed that. That's our story and we're sticking to it.
Blu: Is there a visit to Germany on the horizon?
Sean D. - Without a doubt. We'll be going to Europe and the UK to support 'Virulent.' Most likely we'll be playing the Wave-Gotik-Treffen Festival, which I am really looking forward to.
Blu: Backing up, when was Die My Darling formed? I know Sean had a pretty successful stint in another band before that, what brought about the change?
Sean D. - DMD was formed in May of last year. While in the Hollywood Hills, I ran into Reiche on a balcony who was attempting to find some solace from the chaos inside (a fashion shoot), and we pretty much had no choice but to converse. Fate works mysteriously. I am a rather solitary creature, as is he, although we hit if off immediately, both musically and spiritually. Entropy came on board immediately thereafter, as did Lance, who is no longer with the band. Due to Lance's departure, we had a spot to fill for a lead guitarist, and we were quickly blessed with Vulgar, who played with Reiche's previous project, Immaculate Corrosion.
For me, there really never was anything musically before DMD. My previous projects left me feeling rather empty, in that I don't believe I was able to truly express myself.
Blu: I know there's been a great push from your fans to get your music out there. They seem to be pretty dedicated to you in LA. What's the scene like for you there and how has the reception been in other cities? I assume you've been getting a lot of club play these days?
Sean D. - Our fans our the best, and we love them! They have been very dedicated to the music, as have several local DJ's who have embraced us as their own (namely DJ Xian and DJ Lach, as well as Tommy and Amy at Bar Sinister). Jack Dean of Gothic Radio has been amazingly supportive as well. There is even a US Army battle tank named 'Die My Darling' stationed at Fort Irwin in Cali. It's a Sherridan in the Opposition Force with the bands' logo painted down the cannon muzzle and the DMD skull emblazoned on the rear. How industrial is that? We love our fans.
As for L.A., the Goth-Industrial scene (I feel) is very healthy, receptive to new music and constantly evolving. We have been embraced with open arms in other cities as well from what I understand, from Seattle to Munich. I am really in awe of the response.
Reiche - I hear reports of such ongoing, but I seldom venture into the clubs these days. The reception has been astounding and has encouraged me to stretch the sound of DMD in many directions.
Entropy - We're actually getting a ton of club play. I do a BDSM playroom at one of the clubs here in town and it's always a bit surreal when suddenly 'Pain' or 'Just Defy My Love' comes blazing over the P.A. Every time I still have a 'Wow...that's US!' moment.
Blu: You guys released a cover of "Just Defy My Love" (Madonna's "Justify My Love") on Valentine's day. What kind of response did that get?
Sean D. - Overwhelming! People love that song! I can't go to a club without hearing it, and I am thankful for that. Also, I would like to extend my gratitude to Dawnee, who contributed much by her vocals.
Blu: Will you be playing live concerts in the US outside of California?
Sean D. - If fate continues to shine on us, we'll be playing everywhere! I would like very much however to, even if we only for a short tour, hit some cities upon our return from Europe, namely New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.
Blu: In one sentence tell us what DMD is all about.
Sean D. - Intellectual defiance.
Entropy - We're hoping to bring about the end of all that is just and good while turning millions of innocent, god-fearing children into drug crazed satanic zombie cultists. At least that's what some minister suggested on our website's guest-book. I'm not entirely sure I believe him.
Vulgar - A cascade of sounds, personalities and ideals funneling their way to earth.
Blu: Describe each member of the band with one word.
Sean D. - Reiche: genius. Entropy: wit. Vulgar: dedication.
Reiche - This is impossible, I can speak volumes about everyone.
Entropy - Reiche: godlike. Sean D: focused. Vulgar: riotous.
Vulgar - Sean D.: poet. Reiche: guru. Entropy: technician.
Blu: What clubs do you like to go to in LA?
Sean D. - I am so busy that I don't get out as much as I should (I'm shackled to the vocal booth, and considering it's July, drenched in sweat), but I rather favour Bar Sinister and the Pretty Ugly Club. And I miss the Fang Club, Communion and Antiquity. I miss the ambience, the dancing.
Reiche - My fave clubs seem to be in a state of evolution or have faded away. But some of them have been, Sin-a-matic, Perversion, Helter Skelter, Kontrol Factory. It's and odd time in the LA club scene. Something is going to break out soon, but nobody knows what.
Entropy - Bar Sinister, Sin-A-Matic and an ever-growing list of defunct ones.
Vulgar - Cheetahs.
Blu: Great lyrics are part of the appeal of DMD, at least for me, I know that Sean has or was going to write some poetry? A collection of poetry and prose called 'Blood, Milk & Sky" ? What's the progress on that?
D. - Thank you for your kind words in regards to the lyrical content,
but unfortunately I cannot take sole credit for this. Reiche is an astounding lyricist, and continually moves me with his prose. We work well due to this. At times some of the tracks are lyrically solely written by one or the other, and at times they are an amalgamation, but our voices and perception are similar enough that our muses are pleased, I think.
As for 'Blood, Milk & Sky,' the book is actually complete, although due to the demands of DMD a finalized draft hasn't yet gone to the publisher. It's a collection of poetry, prose and short fiction which I wrote over the last few years. The majority of it is actually quite personal, while other pieces have been published elsewhere previously. To tell you the truth, while although I look forward to delivering it, there is a piece of me which would rather not share those moments with the masses. Perhaps that sounds arrogant, but those pieces, and what they revolve around, are very special to me, and I have shared them with only a select few. I suppose that eventually I'll just have to bite the bullet.
Blu: Outside of music, what other interests do the band members have?
Sean D. - Literature (Rain Graves, Valmont, Bukowski, Parker, to name a few), theology, architecture, my family, equestrian activities, New Orleans and most particularly a certain blonde angel. And I don't mind perforating some paper targets with Entropy every now and again.
Reiche - Studies of dead languages, history in general, museums and galleries of all sorts.
Entropy - There are interests outside of music?! Actually we do have one: there is a plan in the works for a daring coup d'etat of Reseda. I can't go into any real detail here, but I can tell you that it involves ducks.
- Computer geek.
more information, visit DMD on-line at http://www.diemydarling.com,
or TRISOL MUSIC GROUP, GmbH at http://www.trisol.de/
Who Rock: Sue Hutton from Rhea's Obsession
~article and interview by Steph
(photos by Gordon Hawkins and Jerry Bennet)
It was one of those moments when your soul inhabits every pore of your skin. I was in the back room of the Rivoli, that hot, crowded little room where I used to go to hear local bands play. It was a benefit show for a campus radio station, and DHI, one of my favorite industrial bands was playing. Opening for them was Rhea's Obsession. Just a week before, my editor had raved about them, comparing them to the sublime Dead Can Dance.
I was willing to be convinced, so I showed up early, sweating under my leather jacket in the humid summer air. I remember Sue, her hair loose and wild, attacking her djembe, abandoning herself to the music and the motion. Even more than that, I remember listening with closed eyes as she sang "Waves (Take Me Alive)", a song so full of beauty and promise that it almost hurts to listen to it.
"rush me out on your tide/before the waves take me alive"The music took me that night, moved through me like love and breath. Sue's voice was pure, knowing and timeless. I bought a copy of "Initiation", their debut album that night. The next morning, I put it on, wondering if the intensity of the night before could possibly be captured on CD. It could. Six years after I first bought it, Initiation is still one of my favorite albums.
"Hold me deep when the body's undone/go deep/go deep/completely believe"Going deep, going beneath the surface is what art used to be about. Rhea's Obsession found us all floundering in the shallow waters of pop culture, and dragged us out into the depths of their music with them. As musicians, they immerse themselves in their craft, and they demand an equal surrender from the listener.
Sue Hutton is the timelessly beautiful voice of Rhea's Obsession. When she sings, you can feel that every breath is carefully placed, every nuance articulated to perfection. It is not surprising to hear that Sue undertook some opera training, which she says she used to "add a twist" to the traditional Celtic music and Bulgarian folk songs that she was singing. This led to performances at Celtic festivals, doing traditional songs with unconventional arrangements.
"It ended up shocking some of the [folk}community, some of whom are very purist." Sue recalls, grinning. "The organizers were like 'lovely songs, but too bad about the non-traditional treatment'. I thought then that the folk festival scene was not working out, and that it was time to head in another direction. Around that time I met Jim [Field, guitarist for Rhea's Obsession and Sue's partner] at the El Mocambo, a club in Toronto where all the musicians were hanging out at the time. The following week he was offered a soundtrack gig, and when he came to see Rhea's Obsession, he thought he'd steal me for the soundtrack. It was wonderful because I was able to do all those experimental things that the folk community was rejecting."
Wait a second...did I hear that correctly? Rhea's Obsession existed before Jim joined the band?
"Only for a couple of gigs." Sue clarifies. "It was a much more traditional thing back then. We had an electric violin. It was very cool."
The soundtrack was to an avant-garde dance film called "Tabulae Anatomicae Sex", a that collaboration turned out to be a pivotal experience for both Jim and Sue.
"Working on the soundtrack allowed me the flexibility to be a lot more experimental with my voice, and it allowed Jim, who had been playing in the punk rock, hardcore scene, to venture into a more traditional world, so it was a perfect bridging for both of us. We just went in and freaked out some strange music! That was the birth of Rhea's as we know it. That was when she truly became born."
Sue's reference to Rhea's in the third person catches my attention. She does this often, talking about the band as an entity unto itself. I venture the theory that she and Jim experience Rhea's Obsession as an organic entity, one in which the band and the songs create themselves , instead Sue and Jim imposing an external structure upon the music.
Sue looks straight at me with her disconcertingly direct gaze. I've met Sue several times, but I can never remember what colour her eyes are. The intensity of her gaze is too distracting.
"That's beautiful. That's a beautiful way of looking at it." she says.
"After touring for a while, one begins to want to impose a certain level of control, especially with Jim being the studio and production fanatic that he is. Now we're really playing with that balance. We've always found that if we don;t have to room to breathe and improvise naturally and spontaneously while playing live, we may as well not bother. My dad is a jazz musician, and he always talks about the right and left brain integration that he gets from improvising."
The organic quality of Rhea's Obsession is due in part to the eight months that Sue spent in India when she was 19. She speaks of the honesty with which she approaches her music, the refusal to have a gimmick for Rhea's Obsession.
"The more in touch with the universe we can become, the more flowing our whole existence will be." she says, "All the principles I learned about life when I was in India are the same principles I apply to the band."
Sue's path to India began when she was 16, and suffering from migraines. After one migraine lasted for three days, she was admitted to the hospital. The doctors thought that she might have meningitis, and performed a spinal tap, after which Sue had to lie flat on her back for three days. Unable to lift her head even to read, Sue listened instead to the tapes her brother brought her.
"My brother brought me three ninety minute tapes by Ram Dass." Sue recalls. "He used to be Richard Alpert, who was Timothy Leary's cohort. He was a clinical psychologist from Harvard University who discovered LSD and then went on to discover spirituality in India. I listened to three ninety minutes lectures by Ram Dass, and by the end of it, I knew I had to go to India. It was just clear as day. Everything became clear for me."
At the start and close of every yoga class, the students and teacher join voices in chanting Om. The sound carries long after the voices have stopped , hanging in the air as everyone sits with closed eyes. The warm swell of sound aids in uniting their energies, and it was though this practice of chanting and meditation that Sue was initiated as a musician.
I comment that sixteen is a fairly young age at which to be having such a transformative experience.
"My family was not an easy family to grow up in." she says carefully. "My mother died the year after I came back from India. There were many suicide attempts before that. I've done a lot of healing, but I definitely grew up with emotional challenges. I see it as a blessing that I got introduced to the whole healing path so early. It really saved me."
There is no self pity in her manner or her voice. When she says that she's healed, you believe her.
Sue sings with her whole body. The sight of her as she sways and shimmies is entrancing, constant musical motion. As I blissed out in a sensual reverie that first night, I was unaware that other members of the audience were paying their own homage to Rhea's unique ambiance.
"I heard that there were people having sex at the back of the room that night!" Sue exclaims. "I think it was that show. It was one of the early shows where we were opening for either DHI or Masochistic Religion. There was a line up of people after the show saying 'I'm really embarrassed to admit this, but I have sex to your music all the time'."
Sue is obviously very pleased by this.
"I thought that was amazing!" she says with a wicked grin. "A friend of ours said afterwards that there were people having sex right by the soundboard and that all the women in room were getting really horny, which was incredibly cool to me. That was such a beautiful thing to hear."
"We just played the La Femme Nikita convention last month, and it was a really neat experience introducing that crowd to that whole sensuality because they're more conservative people. That was a real trip for us to see a whole room of people turning on to it for the first time. Sometimes it's a challenge to try and bring that energy to the audience."
Some of those challenges have come from within the goth scene, where Rhea's Obsession has garnered a substantial following. I've seen people posing languidly at their local shows, and wondered why they're not dancing instead.
"I think that there are times when the gothic scene promotes judgement and conformity. I don't think I've ever witnessed such a conformist subculture." she says.
Sad but true. We've all seen the scene queens glaring at those who dare show up in anything other than regulation black. Perhaps we've even been guilty of it ourselves. None of us were cool kids growing up, and now that we've found our own version of cool, we throttle it's life-force in a deathgrip.
"We don't go back to non-receptive environments anymore." Sue commented. "I think that the gothic scene is looking more for big productions, and what Jim calls 'show business', rather than music. He always talks about bands that use backing tapes and bands that are sort of doing karaoke. You're no longer playing music, you're just acting in front of backing tracks. That's when it crosses over into a more superficial angle, which is what the gothic scene seems to enjoy more. I will say %100 after touring quite a bit over the past 4-5 years. "
In the early days, Rhea's was known around Toronto as a 'musician's band', when local musicians would often hang around after gigs wanting to know how Jim got a certain guitar sound, or wanting to get a closer look at the array of instruments the band had onstage. This approbation from the music community gave rise to the Rhea's buzz.
"There were writers who were actually writing about the music." Sue recalls. "When we entered the gothic scene, there wasn't as much appreciation of the musical integrity. It's very interesting world to be in, coming from a musician's background and a spiritual background, and being in a scene which does not equate with either of those things. A lot of the bands that we meet on the road are there strictly for the clothes and the posing, and they admit that. We feel somewhat isolated. "
"It's been an interesting experience doing the spiritual, musical practice which talks about stepping out of ego, and being in an environment which promotes ego. However, I think we've come to a good balance. Even if the audience is busy judging the person next to them for wearing the wrong shoes, the people who are real gravitate to us."
For Sue, her commitment to truth and authenticity has included being aware of and involved in her native heritage. Her grandfather's great aunt was a Mohawk woman, and her father kept photographs of her all over our house because it was important to him that this woman be remembered. As a native woman married to a white man, she faced the prejudice of the white community, who used to believe that if you were native, you were destined to be an alcoholic.
"She was dressed up and paraded around as though she was a white woman, but she also remained secretly in touch with her roots. " Sue tells me. "She passed this information on to the people around her, and my grandfather so valued this knowledge that he made sure he passed it on to us. My father has been very involved in working with native communities, so as a kid, I was taken up to the native reserves in Northern Ontario and we'd live in these huge teepees while my dad was launching an education program."
Sue has worked with native women's resource centres, the Canadian Alliance of Solidarity of Native Peoples, and helped organize benefit concerts for Temagami. A lot of people are shocked by human rights atrocities that happen in places like South Africa, she observes, and yet don't realize that similar violations are happening much closer to home.
"It's difficult to reach out in so many different directions at once. I'm also quite connected with the Tibetan community, and Jim is doing some work on a CD to benefit the protesters who were wounded at the Quebec summit. I want to be working 24 hours a day for all these different causes."
Rhea was an ancient Greek goddess, the daughter of Gaia and Uranus. When Cronos rose to power through devious means, Rhea collaborated with Zeus and Gaia to overthrow him. Festivals in honour of this spirited goddess were marked by wild, abandoned music and dancing . How fitting that Rhea chose Sue to be her messenger.