the season of festivals we turn our sights to Area 51, where this
weekend some of the darker sides of entertainment take full reign of
The Dark Arts Festival kicks off tonight, bringing together elements from the underground culture in fashion, film, music, art and more into a three night celebration. Bringing in people from all over the state to witness and take part in the festivities. I got to chat with a number of organizers behind the event about what to expect this year, as well as thoughts on local art and music. Special thanks to Donna for most of the pictures provided below.
Alanja Oliver, Brandi Turner, Donna Folland & Jeremiah Stratton
Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us about yourselves and what you've been up to the past year.
Alanja: I'm in my 9th year of working on the festival. I love having a good time, between the Dark Arts Festival and Nightmares I've spent a decade just trying to make cool and exciting things happen so that there's something fun for everyone spooky to do, I love party time! This year I've mostly focused on organizing the Performance Art in the festival, which is really just the catch all for everyone who gets on stage that isn't performing with a band. There's dancers, spoken word and film and some acts do blur the line performing on an instrument without the backing of a full band.
Brandi: Well, my name is Brandi Turner. I started out as a contributor to the art gallery and the fashion show and have been a committee member since 2002. I chair the art committee and help with sponsorship and marketing. I've done a little bit of everything on the committee though. I am also a derby girl and started my own local business. I'm busy.
Jeremiah: My name is Jeremiah Stratton and I have been doing the festival since the very beginning. Originally I started out as a volunteer/Roadie that worked with a lot of the headlining bands, in about 2004 or 2005 I started working as the main band person. Since last years festival, I have been working way too hard on other things, and trying to focus a bit on finding good bands to follow up last years.
Gavin: Recaping a bit from the last interview, how did last year's festival go for you?
Brandi: I was sick the entire time so it was pretty miserable for me! But I had a great time anyway. I look forward to the festival each year. It's a chance to do something for our community that otherwise wouldn't happen. I get to see friends from all over and meet new people every year. The festival has many people who come back year after year from all over the place. It's like a family reunion of sorts when we all get together. It's my stressful, super busy vacation. I'm a mother of three and a derby girl; I need it.
Jeremiah: For me, the festival itself was sort of miserable as I was sick the whole time too, but I think that I still had a chance to meet a lot of great people and see how the scene as a whole can come together year after year to bring this stuff to the people. I also personally think that we did great with getting a headliner that has been in and around the goth scene for years. I guess it doesn't hurt that they put on a great show too.
Alanja: Last year's festival was awesome. It was amazing having London After Midnight perform and aside from the show itself it was a great reminder of how far the festival and the scene here has come. Everyone had a blast as usual and every year things just get better and better.
Gavin: I was told there may have been a venue change this year. Can you elaborate on that?
Alanja: Just one of those rumors, Area 51 is the home of the festival, I really don't think it would be what it is today without their support. I do know that people at other clubs have talked about making the festival a multi-venue event, where your pass could get you into different clubs with different events, but realistically the committee is too small to pull off the logistics of that and one of the great things about the festival is how it brings everyone together once a year, splitting it up would take away from that I think.
Brandi: No venue change. We are still at Area 51. Alan Moss has been very good to the festival. He has always cared about the goth/industrial scene and giving us a place to call home. When Sanctuary closed, Area was the logical choice for a new venue. And the staff has always been very helpful and wonderful to work with.
Gavin: Has the Foundation gone through any changes this year while planning and gearing up for it?
Jeremiah: I think its safe to say that every year we go through some changes. We lost a couple people and gained a couple more on the general committee. That said I think its not necessarily a bad thing to have that happen. People burn out, they get tired of doing this, as its a lot of work, and adding new people to the mix always helps to generate more ideas. I think as a whole we have a great committee again this year.
Gavin: Who did you manage to snag for music this year?
Alanja: This year we have Written In Ashes, dark sexy rockers from Portland, Oregon. Espermachine, The S1nd1cate is a cyber-punk, electro-industrial act (with a full live band). Discard The Day. Domiana are musical prophets of the end-times, an unholy blend of goth, rock-a-billy, new wave, punk and electrotrash. Elegant Curses... Dark-Experimental. Members are previously of Muses of Bedlam, Ashes of Fall, Thy Opiet Eye, QsfQ. Redemption redeems the Goth Rock tradition started by the Sisters of Mercy and Mission UK. The band's charisma on stage, mixed with mysterious smoke and dramatic lighting, make live shows a unique experience not to be missed. Riverhead. Spooky DeVille, Fun. Horror. Comic Books. Psychobilly. Yay! And Tragic Black, they've been around for almost nine years, toured all over the US, Europe, Mexico City and always puts on high-energy shows. Their music is a fun mix of old school goth, glam rock, new wave, deathrock, post-punk, industrial & electro.
Jeremiah: I think once again we have a great line up, although there are a few bands that I really will miss not having this year, that were staples of the local band scene.
Gavin: For fashion, who will be on showcase this year?
Donna: We're featuring Arsenic Fashions, Co/Ma Clothing, Accentuate! and Rigor Mortis Designs and Tombo Studio.
Gavin: Same question, but for the Arts and Performances areas.
Alanja: For Performance Art please visit our website to see a full list of all the performance artists with a description of the spell they will cast on you. This year there are a variety of different types of dance performances, short films and spoken word. Our belly dancers are Anaar (coming in from California, her performances are always a highlight), Obscure Mudra, Dragomi, Nepenthe and The Skirts are veterans of the festival and new this year is Barefoot BellyDance (dancing with fire!), Oasis Fyre, After Dark and Notura. There will be burlesque performances by Rue Morgue Burlesque and Miss Tree. There are four short films this year. Adrian H and The Wounds will be returning from last year and screening two music videos from their new album, with a special performance afterward. SORP Films will be returning from Denver in their flaming hearse (no, the hearse really shoots fire) to bring us "Industrial Retards", a spoof on the Industrial Scene and "My Life In Poo", which I don't even know if I want to talk about. And new this year from Alexius OmniMedia/Surgical Dalliance Films is "The Sex Doll She-Bitch", a short B Gore Horror Comedy Film about a disgruntled middle-class housewife who goes on a murderous rampage. Spoken word this year features Chad Painter, who this time will be accompanied by his own musical composition, Lilith Gaia returns and new this year is Norm.
Brandi: We have many local artist who are returning to the festival and some ones that this year will be their first year. The art gallery this year seems to have a bit of a theme; decay. The decay of our culture, our selves, and our way of life. It should be interesting. I love being able to help local artist get their work out to an appreciative audience. If your art isn't mainstream it's a lot harder to make a name for yourself. I particularly enjoy having young artists in the gallery; art is a very important part of our childhoods and if it's not fostered as we grow we tend to lose it.
Gavin: With all that will be on display, who and what are some of your recommendations to check out?
Brandi: Everything! I live at the club during the festival; I don't want to miss anything.
Alanja: I really recommend that you catch as much of the festival as you can, part of the fun is seeing new things and discovering new artists. Everyone deserves a plug here, but some of the things I am personally looking forward to seeing from Performance Art will be Anaar, who always leaves me breathless and having seen a preview of the show from Rue Morgue Burlesque I know everyone is in for a sexy treat and I just hearing about the tribal fire show that Barefoot Bellydance is putting on is getting me excited. I fell in love with Adrian H's mix of brooding piano in the vein of Nick Cave and Tom Waits when they performed as a full band last year, so I'm really excited to see their new videos and buy the new CD there, the last one I bought was in such heavy rotation after the festival last year I need something new!
Jeremiah: As far as music goes, I would say make sure to check out Spooky Deville, Written in Ashes, The S1nd1cate, and Espermachine, as all of them are making their first appearances at the festival this year. As for other stuff I don't know all the Artists and such but I would say check out Madelyn Boudreauxs photos as she is a great abstract/nature photographer.
Gavin: What's your take one year later on both the art and music scenes?
Jeremiah: You know this is an interesting question. I feel like we have some great bands that are up and coming but in a lot of ways I feel like our personal scene is shrinking a bit. It gets harder and harder for me to find a band that fits in the genre each year. Not to mention its really hard to identify a certain band that everyone will like at a festival. With the advent of the Internet we have had both and good happen in music. Good being that we have been able to find out about bands that never would have made it to Utah before, including a large portion of our headliners over the past few years. But the bad is that the market has become so oversaturated with certain types of bands, that some are a dime a dozen.
Brandi: I am glad that we still have such a great local music and art scene. So many artists love coming through here again and again. But if we don't keep supporting their efforts, we could lose that.
Gavin: Since I didn't get a chance to ask it last year, what are your thoughts on the fashion scene, both good and bad?
Brandi: Wear what makes you happy. Just please, I don't want to see your underwear. It's just not classy. Buy a belt.
Jeremiah: I have no fashion sense for myself, but as someone that can appreciate fashion as a whole, I think that there are a lot of great clothes not only coming out of this scene but out of SLC as a whole. Unfortunately though in the last couple of years we have lost one of the great voices of fashion in SLC, when Jared Gold moved away.
Gavin: Is there anything else we can expect to see at Dark Arts this year?
Alanja: Other than everything listed on the website, there's just going out and having a good time with your friends and making new ones. Even without everything going on stage it's also a whole weekend for everyone that appreciates the darker side of life to come together and have a great time with each other!
Brandi: Me, drinking a beer.
Jeremiah: I keep telling everyone that if they can get money together I will go on stage in a thong and flip flops, but for some reason no one wants to do it.
Gavin: Besides the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Jeremiah: I would personally like to thank everyone that helps out with this and puts in countless hours to make this go on every year. Without the people there would be no Dark Arts.
Brandi: It's so important to support your local community. Buy local, support local music, and support your local derby girl! www.slcderby.com. Go Salt City Derby Girls!
Alanja: Of course everyone that's working and performing at the festival is great, but I'd also like to promote everyone that's making music, art and fashion, from the people that do it just for themselves to those that making it their living. Please support all the arts that you can from a show at a bar, to hand crafted items at boutiques, to the guy playing cello on the corner and shop at your locally owned independent businesses! Support your scene!