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everything you need to know about 'Goth'

Lauren Archer

on 4 January 2013

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Transcript of Goth

Goth History 1979 I've taken 1979 as the year when goth as a modern musical movement first began to appear. A case can be made for 1978 since this was the year when Joy Division, the Cure and the Banshees all released their debut singles, but 1979 is the year when the first undisputably gothic music appeared- notably Bauhaus with "Bela Lugosi's Dead" (which is probably the first record that defies classification as anything other than goth). Several other classic goth records date from 1979: "Unknown Pleasures", "Boys Don't Cry", and "Transmission".
Also, the idea of "gothic" as a way of describing an emerging musical style seems to date from 1979.
In a Factory Records interview by Mary Hannon in the summer of 1979, there is the following passage: "One clue to Joy Division lies in their album's title. Another is the description given by Martin Hannett, who calls them 'dancing music, with gothic overtones'. Uninintentionally, Bernard Albrecht gave an excellent description of 'gothic' in our interview, when describing his favourite film 'Nosferatu'." The article goes on to describe Joy Division as "20th century gothic". Later on, on the BBC2 TV programme "Something Else" (15/9/79), Tony Wilson described Joy Division as being "gothic" in comparison with the pop mainstream. By early October, Penny Kiley was saying that ""Gothic' has become a somewhat overworked definition of the genre, but the effect of Joy Division is the same as ...that of the Banshees." in a review of Joy Division's Liverpool gig . Goth Goth History 1980 1980 is the year that some of the second wave of goth bands- Danse Society, Play Dead, Sisters of Mercy- formed, and when several goth classics- "Dark Entries", "A Forest", "Seventeen Seconds", "In the Flat Field" were released. It's also the year when New Romantic started emerging. I've included a sizable quote from a Duran Duran interview at the end of the year which underlines the essential differences between New Romantic and Goth. Towards the end of the year, according to Abbo from UK Decay, came the first slight inklings of a goth "movement": "suddenly there seemed a pool of bands- us, Killing Joke, Bauhaus... and that was when people started talking about a movement, but none of the bands really got on with each other." Goth History 1981 In many ways, 1981 continued what had begun in 1980. Whilst New Romantic bands were riding high in the charts, the second wave of goth bands were out there gigging, appearing on Peel sessions and releasing singles. One of the most important events of the year was Abbo from UK Decay suggesting "gothic" as a tag for the emerging movement of bands in an interview with Steve Keaton of Sounds in February. Whilst it was another three years before the tag "goth" was to become common, Abbo was the first person to suggest "gothic" as a tag for the movement. Goth subculture The goth subculture is a contemporary subculture found in many countries. It began in England during the early 1980s in the gothic rock scene, an offshoot of the post-punk genre. The goth subculture has survived much longer than others of the same era, and has continued to diversify. Its imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from the 19th century Gothic literature along with horror films and to a lesser extent the BDSM culture. The goth subculture has associated tastes in music, aesthetics, and fashion. The music of the goth subculture encompasses a number of different styles including gothic rock, deathrock, post-punk, darkwave, Ethereal, and neoclassical. Styles of dress within the subculture range from deathrock, punk and Victorian style attire, or combinations of the above, most often with dark attire, makeup and hair. How goths dress, and do their make up. Most goths wear all black or white make-up, thick eye-liner, black lipstick, white powder for their face. Goths wear mostly black, from black baggy pants to black hats. Types of Goth The J-Goth The Baby Bat

The Romantic The Victorian

The Cyber The Medieval

The Hippy The Metalhead

The Perky The emo

The Mopey the Geek

The Deathrocker The Gothabilly

The Steampunk Goth J-Goth Japanese “Goth” should probably not be called “Goth” at all. Although the fashions sported by the alternative crowd in Harajuku (Tokyo’s equivalent of Camden) were largely inspired by the Western Goth movement, J-Goths tend to enter this subculture via different roots: either anime “cosplay” (dressing up as your favourite anime character) or through Japan’s own alternative music scene: Visual Kei, often thought to be started by the Japanese rock band X-Japan.Visual Kei bands vary hugely in sound. They can either take the form of heavy metal (eg. Dir~en~Grey) or something more like cheesy Euro-pop (L’Arc~en~Ciel, Malice Mizer). What’s important, however, is the band’s look, which takes Goth, Punk and Glam elements and blends it all into a unique, androgynous combination. Very often, these mostly all-male bands will attempt to look as feminine as possible (to the point of dressing in drag).This style has recently come full circle, with Westerners now borrowing fashion elements from the Japanese. The most popular and distinctive of these is undoubtedly the “Gothic Lolita” look (a kind of cross between Goth, Victorian fashions, Alice in Wonderland and French maid), which has now become a part of the Western Gothic spectrum. The Romantic Goth The Cyber Goth The Hippie Goth The Perky The Mopey Goth The Deathrocker The Baby Bat The Victorian Goth http://www.blackwaterfall.com/viewall.php The Medieval Goth The Metalhead The Emo Goth The Geek Goth The Gothabilly While TradGoths tend to be all about the 80s music scene, Romantic Goths (or "RomantiGoths") focus on the dark, sensual and mysterious world of Gothic created by Victorian literature and subsequent movies. In other words they’re probably more “Gothic” than “Goth,” if that makes sense. Identifying features are velvet and lace, flowy clothes (often Victorian or Medieval inspired), and a love of poetry and literature.It is therefore unsuprising that Romantic Goths are typically emotional, creative and dreamy types. Dead roses, crumbling graveyards and old skulls are things of exquisite beauty to these creatures. Preferred bands tend to be those that focus on “brooding” rather than “horror,” and so may include downtempo ethereal bands (eg. Love Spirals Downwards), and folk-ish bands (All About Eve, Faith and the Muse). The Sisters of Mercy and The Cure tend to go down well too. And of course a bit of atmospheric Classical music, especially Bach or Wagner. Cyber Goths are truly the antithesis of all that is Goth. They like bright neon colours, worship futurism and technology, and listen to dance music that is as different from Gothic Rock as possible.So why are they called Goths at all? It could be because the music scene gradually evolved from Industrial, Goth’s experimental electronic cousin. It could be that the lyrics of their preferred music genre (Electronic Body Music, or EBM, eg. VNV Nation) are generally too deep and too depressing for other dance fans. It could be because they have weird hair.Identifying Cyber Goths is easy: they’ll be the most conspicuous ones in the club with their insane pony falls, goggles, futuristic rave-inspired clothing, towering New Rock platforms, and miscellaneous glowing bits and pieces.Despite being some of the most lively members of the scene, all other Goths seem to loath this type. Especially the Industrial fans. However, it cannot be denied that the cyber scene is huge now, and is getting ever more popular. In the world of Goth stereotypes, you get two sorts: those who think hippies are too optimistic for their own good, and those who are hippies. A relatively abundant species, stereotypical Hippie Goths are nature-loving, follow Paganism and/or Wicca and/or misc. New Age religions, and are into candles, crystals, incense, Tarot, and anything else that can be found at the local New Age shop. The only major difference between hippies and Hippie Goths is the prevalence of black and occult symbols. Like their hippie cousins, Hippie Goths are quite often vegetarian or vegan, and are dedicated eco warriors or animal rights activists. When not campaigning for world peace, however, they usually know how to have a lot of fun eating and drinking excessively and romping around in fields at midnight as part of “an ancient Celtic ritual.” When it comes to music, Hippie Goths may be found meditating to dark folk (eg. Faith and the Muse), ethereal (eg. Cocteau Twins) and Pagan rock (eg. Inkubus Sukkubus), in addition to regular folk and New Age. Older Hippie Goths may listen to Fields of the Nephilim, The Cult and the more psychedelic end of the 80s spectrum (eg. Tones on Tail). More of a general attitude than a true type, Perky Goths know how to have a good time. Abandoning the dark and gloomy Gothic stereotype, these Goths are cheerful, friendly and often bouncy to the point of hyperactive. They see the gothic lifestyle primarily as a way to have fun.Because they often don brighter colours and readily dance crazily to the more upbeat music in the gothic spectrum, Perky Goths are often associated with the Cyber scene. However, you’ll find plenty of Perkies in all other aspects of the scene, from Death Rockers to Victorian vampires. The key point is, these Goths do not make the mistake of taking themselves too seriously.The typical Perky Goth loves all the cheesiest and silliest aspects of Goth, including cute things, 80s cartoons and TV shows and anything to do with Halloween. While music tastes are diverse, typical Perky Goth bands include 80s electropop (eg. Strawberry Switchblade), silly-as-hell Death Rock (eg. Alien Sex Fiend) and comedy artists (eg. Voltaire). The most common Goth stereotype held by non-Goths, the Mopey Goths are the ones who take the whole “dark and gloomy” aspect of Goth far too seriously. They feel that to be Goth, one must never appear to be remotely happy. They will most often be found at home in their rooms, writing angsty poetry or diaries of their doom and gloom, or else lurking in shadowy corners of clubs, waiting for someone to come and try to talk to them (so they can tell them that they’d rather be alone).As for music, anything goes provided that it is as dark and as torture-ridden as their souls. They’re also the type who will most likely wear the most black, and will most likely paint their room black (and possibly the lightbulbs, too). Other Goths tend to find this type annoying for their self-centered nature, their attention seeking behaviour and for moaning about their life which usually isn’t really all that bad. But one shouldn’t be too hard on the poor old Mopey Goth. Most of the time, they are simply moody teenagers (and we all know how bad it can be to be a teen), and they’ll soon see the lighter side of the dark and start enjoying their chosen lifestyle. They may, alternatively, be any other type of Goth on a bad day. In which case, just give them a snakebite & black and a hug and they’ll eventually come around. These creatures are regarded by some as the “missing link” between Punk and Goth, hence their extremely similar appearance and musical tastes to the Trad Goths. However, while the Trad Goths tend to believe that Goth is dead, the Deathrockers see that Goth is still alive and twitching, in a suitably zombified form. Most easily recognised by their layers upon layers of ripped fishnets, band logos and enormous hair, Deathrockers listen not only to the 80s Goth Rock classics (Christian Death, Specimen and Alien Sex Fiend being notable examples), but also a new breed of crazed artists such as Cinema Strange and Tragic Black, as well as other genres such as Horror Punk and Psychobilly. As long as it’s mad, bad and features zombies / bats / death, it’s all good. Deathrockers may also be characterised by their love of old horror movies (the cheesier the better), and very often, a good (if slightly twisted) sense of humour. Spooky kids, Kindergoths, Mansonites, Mallgoths...these pre-teen or early-teen types are known by many names, most of which are derogatory. They are often regarded with scorn and contempt by older members of the Goth community. Their crimes? Generally, not being old enough to remember the 80s, not being rich enough to afford a “proper Goth” wardrobe, and not being wise enough to know the “right” music to listen to or the “right” amount of make-up to wear. It is true that, while Baby Bats often consider themselves “Goth,” they show quite a number of differences from members of the original scene; they tend to show a preference for metal (Marylin Manson and HIM being typical “Baby Bat” music), wear clothes that reflect metal/skater fashion, and tend to go for a “shocking” rather than “aesthetic” appearance. As the older Goths are painfully aware, the media also considers these kids to be “Goth.” While this can be annoying for Goths who do not want to be associated with the Baby Bats (particularly the ones who are in it for shock value), one must remember that it was the media in the first place who popularised the term “Goth” to decribe the original music scene. So how we define what is and what is not Goth is very difficult these days. Very frequently, Baby Bats will start to grow more “sophisticated” in their clothes and music tastes, and become some of the most passionate members of the Goth community. For this reason too, they are to be respected, not shunned. One of the biggest influences on Gothic fashion has been the imagery in Gothic literature and their movie counterparts, particular that of Victorian writers such as Edgar Allen Poe and Bram Stoker. Victorian fashions like corsets, lace, frock coats and pale skin are popular throughout the scene, but maybe none wear them with as much style as the Victorian Goth.Like their Victorian role models, the Victorian Goths wish to convey an image of decorum and dignity. Clothes must be smart and, for many, historically accurate (corsets are to be worn beneath one’s garments, of course). Ball dress and mourning garb are particularly prominent in the scene.Victorian Goths may also indulge in activities that were popular in Victorian high society, including theatre, masquerades, tea parties and poetry. And, naturally, any kind of Dickensian or other Victorian festival that gives them an excuse to parade around in costume (not that they need an excuse).As for music, opera and classical are the true Victorian Gothic genres, but Victorian-inspired bands such as Rasputina are also acceptable. “Gothic” is normally used to refer to castles, cathedrals and other such ancient masonry, hence the prominence of Goths who have a particular interest in all things medieval. Dressing in garb (loosely) based on that of the medieval period, you may find these Goths at Renaissance Fairs or re-enactment society events. Of course, their dress and activities do not have to necessarily be strictly “Medieval:” blending with Tudor or Celtic elements seems perfectly fine too.Naturally, Medieval Goths have an enormous sense of history, and may also be found in museums, castles, churches and ancient monuments. And when they go to cemeteries, they actually look at the names and dates on the gravestones. When they get married, they have medieval-themed weddings and live in a house filled with pre-Raphaelite prints and gargoyles.Medieval Goth music may comprise of classical and Gregorian chants combined with folk (Loreena McKennit), ethereal (Faith and the Muse) and, of course, Mediaeval Baebes.Generally, all female Medieval Goths would secretly like to be Morgan-le-Fay from the Arthurian legends, and all male Medieval Goths have a fixation with swords. Where Metalheads fit in the Gothic spectrum is an incredibly complicated issue, and a controversial one. On the one hand, many Goths (and Metalheads) point out that the two subcultures are separate entities, having different origins and music tastes, and other disparities in clothing and habits, and that the common confusion between the two is merely the fault of an uninformed public.But on the other hand, the two groups do have enough similarities (particularly in a tendency to wear black and a love of things dark and spooky) for the two groups to mix, and more and more these days one will find crossovers in fashion and music. Clubs that play both metal and Goth music are certainly not uncommon.Moreover, there are a number of Metal genres and bands that both sides can be found listening to, including the so-called “Gothic” or “Doom” metal genre (Type O Negative, Theatre of Tragedy) or bands that use Gothic imagery (Nightwish, Lacuna Coil), and arguably sound more “Gothic” than the original Goth bands. Not to mention the confusion the “Industrial Metal” genre (Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein) puts on the issue. It all ultimately depends on one’s definition of “Goth,” and whether it is sound, image or behaviour that determines the subculture. Although the term “Emo” has been around for over a decade or so to describe a particular genre of Punk, it has recently become a buzzword of the 21st century to describe the features of the contemporary youth fashion movement. Visually a hodgepodge of many different styles including Punk, Retro, a touch of urban Japanese and Goth, it was inevitable that Emo would start demonstrating crossovers with Goth at some point.Those Emos who cross over more than most into the Goth spectrum can be identified by their dyed black hair, black nail varnish, black eyeliner and a love of skulls and piercings. They will blend all these elements with other “typical” emo elements, such as Converses, horn-rimmed glasses, stripe and star patterns, and accents of bright colour (very often pink).Emos, like Goths, enjoy their music, and Emo Goths (or Gothy Emos) may listen to My Chemical Romance, The Rasmus or Funeral for a Friend (great Gothy name after all).Emos have a reputation for being rather moody, as do Goths (see Mopey Goth), so one would expect an Emo Goth to be ultra-moody. This may be true of some, but many are too fond of children’s cartoons, old computer games, cute accessories and Tim Burton films to really be considered uber-dark. Essentially, all Goths are Geeks. After all, how can one devote so much time into dressing up, reading old literature and collecting obscure music without being somewhat Geeky? You will hence find typical Geek traits in all Goths, but some will be more Geeky than others.The typical Geek Goth tends to place less emphasis on Goth as a fashion, and more on its overtones of dark fantasy. So while they may not look as spectacularly Gothic as other Goth Types, their knowledge of the symbolism and artistic influences behind Goth is very often superior. They are more inclined than most to indulge in role play, read sci-fi, fantasy and horror novels, and watch cult TV shows and films with Gothic appeal. Geek Goths are also more likely to be into computer games and anime than other Goths. You are far more likely to find them in Forbidden Planet than in a goth club.Geek Goths are some of the most intelligent, creative and open-minded Goths you’ll meet. Fittingly, they frequently have diverse and eclectic taste in music, although they may be more attracted to bands who regularly sing about Lord of the Rings, Cthulhu or other subjects with a high Geek interest. What do you get if you mix Elvis Presley, The Cramps, a bunch of old horror movies and a splash of lounge? Bizarrely, you get Gothabilly - a rare and exotic breed of Goth with rather eclectic tastes in both music and wardrobe.With styles originating from “Rockabilly” (American 1950s rock n roll) and “Psychobilly” (1980s punk with a heavy rockbilly influence), Gothabilly is visually and musically a play on retro, kitsch aesthetics - but with a dark twist. Like Deathrock, which often shows many overlapping traits with Gothabilly, the music and imagery is frequently tongue-in-cheek and deliberately cheesy. As such, many Gothabilly bands sport such creative names as Nacho Knoche & The Hillbilly Zombies, Cult Of The Psychic Fetus, and Vampire Beach Babes.Gothabillys tend to be some of the brighter Goths out there, with their vivid tattoos, cherry accessories and ubiquitous polka dot clothes.
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