30 June 2015

Face of the Day: absolutely nothing special

This is a very basic look that takes me only 15 min. I have missed the brown shades and I love pairing this look with a dark brown lipstick, which in the pictures seemed to have worn off. 

Thought including a close up might be interesting for you to see how little I actually did. 
I just put dark brown on the outer part of the crease, the inner upper corner of my eyes and along the lower lid. This and gel liner on the water line gives depth to my eyes (aka fallen eyelids issues). 
I have no idea how this would look on you.  Foundation only under my eyes to hide dark circles and bronzer + lots of powder on face. 

Excuse the crappy lining on the upper lid, I was in a hurry and normally you cannot even see this part of my eyes lol.
This is as natural with makeup as I can get.

Hair is getting long and looks gorgeous in these pictures.
I am happy to be a part of the world again as I can almost fully walk after surgery! I am happy to go to uni again, but more so happy to have the semester over next month to go on vacation!

Pride makeup pics are coming soon!

N. Finsternis

25 June 2015

Interview with Virgin In Veil

I am happy to enlighten you about subculture happenings again after being asked to do an interview with Virgin In Veil.

Virgin In Veil are a new deathrock/ dark punk band based in Helsinki, featuring band members from Secular Plague and Masquerade. They are currently gaining popularity in the scene, and you should be informed!


N: You guys in Virgin In Veil play in other bands like Masquerade and Jacques also plays in Secular Plague, both are well known in the scene. What drove you to start another project?

Jacques: I created Virgin in Veil in January, while I wasn't yet playing in Masquerade. I've always loved deathrock and wanted to create a band of that style... I bet that's the problem of being too much eclectic with music tastes...

Suzi: I joined Virgin in Veil very recently, my first gig with them was in Moscow last month. I actually started to rehearse the synth parts only a few days before we left for Russia. It made more sense to me than staying on the sidelines until I'm a virtuoso. Before joining the band as a full-time member I did backing vocals for the songs.

2. You are currently based in Helsinki, how would you describe the scene there (and in Finland in general), in comparison to the rest of Europe?

Jacques: I haven't even been here for a full year, but I like it so far. There's many punk bands, many gigs... On that point, it's way better than where I previously lived. The problem of the Finnish scene is those fucking strict Finnish laws, venues must close at 4, no alcohol can be sold after 9 in shops, blablabla. This is complete bullshit.

Suzi: The scene almost everywhere is being infected by people who have barely nothing to do in their lives beside of gossiping. They wallow in jealousy and try to excrete their own misery on others, but fortunately that kind of people always end up making complete fools of themselves, unwanted by everyone.

3. Do you feel like the local scene is supportive of Virgin In Veil? Was it different with your other bands?

Jacques: We already have a lot of haters! Which is good, because only the unnoticed don't. Finnish audience is cold. You can play a fucking gig, move around, give everything you have... and they stay 3 meters away from the stage looking like fucking statues. But it doesn't mean they don't like it. 
It's weird from me as it is quite different in France, but yeah, I'm getting used to it!

Suzi: Rather than investing money on shows, goths seem to get stuck at their homes, saving up for a victorian dress and drooling over online videos of the Cure. There's a lot great bands playing live to discover (like us), and as time passes you will regret you didn't see them when they were having a show just around the corner.

4. You use (anti) religious imagery in your artwork and songs, what is the motive behind it and what would you like to say with it?

Jacques: I'm not anti-religious. I don't see anything wrong if somebody believe in a god or whatever. I'm not even an atheist myself, rather an agnostic... 
But yeah, I'm extremely pissed off at people using their faith in whatever cult or religion to harass those who are different or simply don’t subscribe to their so-called truth. Our song "In the Name of God" isn't anti-religious, but rather against religious violence and bullying. 
It's not against people having faith in whatever they choose, it's against people who think that their faith allow them, for example, to harass women who want to have an abortion. Those homophobic pro-lifer bigots can suck my cock, really.

In The Name Of God played at VIV´s recent gig in Helsinki

5. You are now planning a tour in the US. Do you think the support from the scene there would be different than in Europe?

Jacques: People from the US and Mexico are extremely enthusiastic about both Virgin in Veil and Masquerade and have been extremely helpful to us, finding gigs, offering to drive us from city to city, etc. We are really looking forward to it and I'm sure the support will be amazing.

6. Are there any other places/ events where you would most like to play?

Jacques: The more unusual the better. With my previous band Sleeping Children we almost played in Morocco and I'm very pissed off that it finally didn't happen. I'd love to play in Africa, fuck yeah. No bands go to Africa, while there's a real underground scene in several countries. 
Same goes for the Middle East... To make it short, we'd play anywhere.  I would play in fucking North Korea if we get the chance. 
Bands who boycott specific countries for political reasons are losers. Yeah, Russian government sucks, is that a reason to say to Russian punks and goths that they can go fuck themselves? People aren't responsible for the actions of the government of the country they live in. If someone like our music, he or she is welcome, whatever the place you live in, your gender, age, skin color etc.

7. What makes Virgin In Veil stand out from other bands of the contemporary deathrock and dark punk genre?

Jacques: Haha, it's quite hard to answer that question ourselves, you should ask our audience! But well, I think Virgin in Veil has punkier sound and attitude than many other contemporary deathrock bands, so it can be a turn on to some people. Also, unlike many deathrock bands, we don't give a shit about singing about vampires or witches, we prefer our lyrics to be either perverse poetry or politically oriented. Seriously, some actual bands have great songs, but their lyrics stink shit.

You can listen and download Virgin In Veil´s EP on their bandcamp page, or here:

So if you are thirsty for deathrock and lots of attitude, stay tuned and follow these guys for future releases and gigs!

Any more bands out there interested in making an interview? Write me an email to deusexmachina.blogspot@gmail.com.
Or if you guys know any interesting bands tell me about it in the comments.

N. Finsternis

22 June 2015

Return To The Batcave Festival- an interview with Tomas Woodraf

In October last year I went to Return To The Batcave, a festival in Wroclaw, Poland. I had a ton of fun, and wanted to make a zine about the old school goth scene including an interview with the organizer, Tomas Woodraf.
The idea of the zine did not came to realization unfortunately, but I did make the interview and Tomas recently poked me to post it, which is great since I completely forgot about it.

So if you are interested about the DIY scene in Poland and the festival in particular, here is the interview. Return To The Batcave takes place in October again this year and I hope this interview will urge you to buy a ticket and celebrate with us all!

N.: Tell us about Return To The Batcave, how did it start, what was the original idea? 

Tomas: Since the beginning Return To The Batcave has been strictly related with Bat-Cave.pl webzine which was launched in 2006 – the main idea behind this webzine was the promotion of some not much known underground music genres like deathrock, gothic-punk, old school gothic, “batcave”, post-punk, cold wave and similar with direct origins in the 80’s and of course with some touch of art – there is soooo many ass-kicking music around that shouldn’t be forgotten and is just waiting to be discovered so as madcaps we had to do this and help a little bit to make our beloved sick music undead. 
Our second goal was to build the “batcave” community here in Poland, somehow with other folks at Bat-Cave.pl we hit on an idea to arrange Bat-Cave.pl parties in several Polish cities - to meet each other, dance, drink and have fun together during gigs organized by ourselves - it’s better to organize something yourself than complain about the lack of events. 
I was in charge of Wroclaw’s edition of “Bat-Cave Tour” – I called it “Return To The Batcave”  - it was in 2008. My editorial friend Mike “Mss” joined as a DJ from the first edition. I had some experience with organizing gigs during grammar school years and I’ve been a DJ since 2000 or something – so I knew what it looks like in terms of organization, it was quite natural for me. We had a lot of fun during the first Return To The Batcave, so we knew we wanted to continue it.

N.: How do you find the organization of such a relatively big event? Do you feel like the people from the scene are supportive?

Tomas: I think that organization of events like Return To The Batcave Festival is really cool, it’s a great opportunity to meet with people from many other countries – with music’s maniacs - people who think in a very similar way. It’s not really important where they come from – there are no borders – we are one big crazy family and should keep this spirit alive. 
It’s also a chance to meet artists, bands who perform music close to our hearts. A lot of people from the scene support us – they offer help with promotion, share their ideas and want to be a part of this event. They really care about it - that’s the point! It’s also some extra motivation for our crew. 
Taking the opportunity I would like to thanks for all our supporters for any help, for all the kind words, basically for everything – without you it would not be possible to organize this mad circus!

N.: How would you describe the alternative scene in Poland?

Tomas: If we talk about oldschool goth / dark / post-punk scene I have to say with regret that’s not so big and popular – it’s underground like probably everywhere! :) Alongside of the ocean of shit we happily have some active treasures like Wieże Fabryk, Alles, Już Nie Żyjesz, Hatesory, DHM, Chaplin&Chapman, The Proof, Kandahar, Hyoscyamus Niger, Augen X, Nacht Und Nebel, Ukryte Zalety Systemu, Schrottersburg, Cabaret Grey, This Cold, Deathcamp Project, Joanna Makabresku, 1984 or Psychoformalina (who are on hiatus now). These are not all the bands for sure since new bands also show up, but a lot of them die very quickly. 
There are not many regular events in Poland except the awesome Old Skull in Warsaw which is a real Polish goth-punk mecca for me, we are also quite active with Return To The Batcave events in Wroclaw. I also know about some other events in cities like Szczecin, Lodz, Poznan, Gdansk, Rybnik, Krakow, Lublin but these events aren’t regular, so if we’re talking about Polish “goth/post-punk” cities then these would be Wroclaw and Warsaw. 
A big “dark independent” (I don’t know who invented this stupid term :) ) festival having place in Bolków is also worth to mention – it’s the Castle Party Festival. It’s line-up is very varied and maybe not “killa” but it has an amazing, addictive atmosphere, it’s something like a dark carnival in the middle of summer – if you ever have a chance to come to Castle Party, don’t think twice – just come!

N.: What was the best moment for you so far in the festival´s history?

Tomas: There were a lot of fantastic moments – seeing and hearing fantastic gigs, meeting fantastic people – crazy and touching things I will never forget, but my favorite moment is every time I see smile on faces of all the people who come, often from various parts of the world. It’s a real honor to have them here and see that they really enjoy it.

N.: A lot of effort is being put in working behind the scenes, what is the hardest part for you when it comes to organizing the festival?

Tomas: I would lie if I said that it’s a piece of cake, organizing of a festival takes a lot of time – it’s logistics, promotion, agreements with bands, hotels, catering, venue etc. It all eats up a lot of energy and can also be stressful – you must be prepared for everything, for any worst-case scenario you can imagine, you have to keep an eye on every element and be ready to quickly solve any problems. Right now we have crystallized the Return To The Batcave crew – everyone here has his tasks and is focused on them – so it’s not that complicated at the moment. 
The biggest headache and heartache is with bands’ booking, it’s always a hard decision which bands to book – if it was possible I would book all these great bands contacting us about the possibility of playing at our festival, but it’s simply impossible. But when the festival starts there’s no time for cry – it’s party time! :)

N.: How do you see Return To The Batcave in the future, is there a vision you are aiming for?

Tomas: We are not planning any bigger changes in the future  – we will still spontaneously organize regular Return To The Batcave events with 2 or 3 bands from time to time - there is still a lot of ideas and great bands we want to bring to Wrocław. Lots of  new bands show up and it’s very pleasing – it’s good there is fresh blood because stagnation means death. 
Our crew is also in charge of oldschool afterparties during the Castle Party Festival in Bolków so you can join us there and feel the touch of the unique atmosphere of CP too. 
Of course have also started working on the next edition of Return To The Batcave Festival which is our main goal, it will take place in Wrocław on 16-18.10.2015 – I hope you will enjoy it, I want to see more and more happy faces there!  We will inform about our future projects at our page: www.return.to.the.batcave.pl.

I can tell you I am completely thrilled for October this year, since the festival will include bands such as 13th Chime, Masquerade, Elvira and The Bats, Kandahar, Frank The Baptist, Wieze Fabryk (fucking a!!) and many more. Here is the official FB event.

Hope to see some of you there (I am not talking only to you, Polish bloggers!).

N. Finsternis

17 June 2015

Blast From The Past: first "goth" picture

The year is approx. 2005, and I am approx. 14 years old. I am deep into baroque music: going to an arts inclined middle school and majoring in music, visiting private recorder lessons with my incredible tutor and doing so many musical activities that have since then changed my life.

In the picture I am playing at the Abu-Gosh (Arabic village near Jerusalem) music festival for the first time. I would play there 2 more times in future years with the baroque ensemble my tutor organized.

You can hardly see it, but my hair has bleach strikes from the washed pink I´ve had in, first time coloring hair as well! I was the only one at school with pink hair and was almost banned for it XD.
I am tanned!
These pictures were taken by my mom, she was very proud of me learning music, and I have enjoyed it a lot.
This is one of my first "alternative" outfits (mind blown!!!), with one of the only black pieces I owned.
At the time I way very fond of old victorian things, I fancied different fabrics like lace, mesh, silk or whatever, architecture of the time etc... and I loved the aesthetic of the baroque era too, respectfully. I´ve always wanted to dress a lot more creatively on stage, but that was sort of an issue with the classical music audience. My tutor always told me not to give a shit though.

These pictures are still one of my favorite, mom took very nice shots.

Still recovering from surgery, so I thought I´d show you pictures from when I was young and healthy.

N. Finsternis

12 June 2015

My Problem with the Caitlyn Jenner Story

Take a deep breath before I take you and myself into a controversial post.
The reason for me addressing a story that is first and foremost a pop culture publicity stunt (and has frankly nothing to little to do with the theme of this blog) is because it is a very important one and one that should be talked about.
Another reason is because I was moved (from various personal reasons) to write about the subject of the portrayal of trans* people in the media after reading about Caitlyn´s story, especially after reading Julia Serano´s book Whipping Girl which deals with the a similar subject. I wrote shortly about the book in my May Favorites post and how it has moved me greatly, and Caitlyn´s coming out sensation painfully and directly connects with it.

A post like this deserves a big fat disclaimer, so here we go:

  • I cannot in any way speak for any trans* person out there, since of course I am not a transgender person myself. I do however have questioned my own gender for a lot of years and identify as both female and male at times, and have difficulty deciding which between the two speak to me most. I wrote a little about my gender questioning before (hopefully more to come), which has made me wonder about gender roles in our society and what femininity and masculinity means to me and how do I connect with the two. It has also inspired me to educate myself on the subject. Moreover, having my partner explore his gender identity has put the subject a lot closer in our every day life and relationship. I tend to see myself both as a woman and a man sometimes (variously) and to some degree, the story I am about to address today did speak to me.
  • I do not of course know Caitlyn Jenner personally nor was I familiar with her personality (as well as before the transition) up until her coming out. All speculations are based on the information that I found on the internet and what Jenner has said herself.
  • I cannot provide any authority on the subject nor do I mean to. While reading the post please keep in mind that this is a personal blog where I share my personal opinion. My opinion is based on the people I have come to know who had alternative gender expressions and the literature that I´ve read on the subject.
Courtesy to Vanity Fair
When I first came across Jenner´s story, it made me very excited. I remember seeing an article about then Bruce Jenner coming out to the world as a woman a few months ago. Then came the photo shoot reveal in June. 
The first this I thought of was that it must have taken a lot of courage to come out to the world as transgender at such a late age, and especially as a celebrity, where everyone is constantly talking about you regardless. I imagined it to be quite a journey in the life of a person to hold themselves back from their true identity for so many years, and the support that person needed from his family and loved ones throughout (needless to say that transitioning is evidently a complicated process where any person regardless of age, gender or color would need great love and support). So coming to terms with her own identity must have lifted a great burden off of Caitlyn shoulders and I was sincerely happy for her.

However, the story demands an observation, and a lot came to my mind the more I thought about it.

Before taking any stand regarding the story, one must admit that this is a celebrity we are talking about. This is clearly a person who had his personal life in a spotlight since his success as an athlete. And inevitably this person is very rich, and therefore is in comparison to most people- privileged.

So my next thought after being happy for Caitlyn was: oh, getting access to an optional medical procedure one can chose to do must have been a lot easier for Jenner than most trans* people. And by "most" I mean those people who struggle for every penny to get access to hormone therapy; people who are forced to prostitution in order to get the money for surgery, or simply- people who might have lost their family because of identifying as transgender. 
The list goes on and on, and it is most important to understand that no trans* person is a representative of all trans* people. Generalizing women is wrong, generalizing a race is wrong, so any kind of generalizing will bring little understanding to one person´s intimate world.

Needless to say that you and I cannot assume the identity of any person whatsoever, straight, gay, lesbian, bi, trans*, intersex or whatever. Each person has his own world, his own life and understanding of himself, and no one knows you better than you know yourself.

Now you can ask yourself- did I keep that in mind when introduced to Caitlyn Jenner? This is where the media comes in, and this is where my problem begins.
I have decided to sum up my opinion in titles in order to have it more organized:

1. Everything is very subjective

As mentioned before, every person is different, as well as every person´s transition would be different. So when Jenner talks about how being a woman is having "girl´s nights" and putting on dresses and nail polish, I only pray that the common idiot will not assume that this is what womanhood feels like, to all woman alike. It is such a dangerous subject, because it grounds society´s sexist views on women.
On the other hand, every person is different, so you can imagine people describing being a woman in many different ways, and Jenner is entitled to her point of view as much as anyone of us. 
But do we think about it when reading the interview with her? I deeply wished to know more about the struggle she must have been through, about finding out what womanhood meant for her personally and her connection with herself. But you cannot expect every person, trans* or not, to talk about this matter because again- everything is very subjective, and people who identify as women or men may express that as they wish. 
I just found it dreadful that it´s all the impression that we get from Jenner, and in my opinion it´s a very flat point of view on what womanhood is about. 

2. The photo shoot

Which brings me to my next point: we get to see the perfect finished product- beautiful hair and skin, feminized face- a person who looks like a supermodel. While it must be very empowering to present yourself to the world as you truly are, and it definitely must have felt like the true freedom Jenner was talking about, it made me feel like this was another freak show coming; or should I say reality show, since it´s a major difference you see. The grand reveal, everyone goes "Oh! Ah!".
I feel like this is targeting another very banal point of view- that one needs a fancy photo shoot in order to feel like a woman; that the point of transitioning is investing millions on surgery in order to look a certain way. 
I can very well assume that a lot of people who identify as transgender don´t feel the need getting any kind of surgery, nor "revealing" themselves as the new me. I imagine coming out in any way is a scary experience in many cases, and most people wouldn´t want to make a theater out of it.
The "making a theater out of it" is another point which centers on a problematic perspective the media likes to position trans* people: as exotic beings shedding their skin in order for us to marvel at the "before and after" (and the legitimacy to ask about what´s in between their pants as a result, because everything is so revealed that question would come very naturally).

3. Woman? What woman?

Speaking of the photo shoot and the way transsexuality is being positioned through it, it can shed a very negative light on transsexual people (especially FTM) and femininity in general.
How? In the way that looking feminine and becoming a woman (in a case of the sex assigned at birth) is presented to us in a very artificial way: you can buy your face, you can buy your boobs, and we see a photoshopped picture in the end.
Going from the speculation that femininity is exaggerated and being made as something artificial in our modern society. the way Jenner´s transition is presented won´t change how society views women in general, and transsexuality in particular. In fact, it will again ground a sexist point of view on women (and what it means being one): that women need to appeal as some mannequin from a fashion magazine; that being a woman means having your hair and nails done; it means wearing red lipstick and wearing heels.
I would beg to differ on that, since how many of us women, of every gender identity and sexual orientation, don´t feel like we need all those things, nor do we feel like those things make us women in the first place.
I would go further and speculate that MTF transsexual people don´t need their femininity reassured by all those things, and that the average idiot will think that for a MTF transsexual person to feel like a woman would mean "fixing" and "reconstructing" through surgical and other procedures the things they were born with- out with the old, in with the new.
Do you think society will perceive Jenner as a woman after her transition is being presented that way? Would people regard her as a woman and not as a product?

Courtesy to Vanity Fair
4. Money makes the world go round

Look the truth in the eye: we have a rich person being able to not only afford surgical procedure, but a photo shoot and a reality show. Caitlyn is entitled to do with her money whatever she pleases, but this is a very one-sided way presenting a transition to the public. It is majorly important to make the world aware of trans* people and their journey in order to make the world a better place where everyone can be accepted (even just slightly with a sensation targeting the western world more than anything. And you would probably be more accepted if you´d make a scenery out of yourself and nothing else). 
But do you really think the article about Caitlyn doing it the right way? I would rather wish people would speak about making the journey within themselves rather than focusing on the way they look. Moreover, could one really expect to get a deep insight what a person´s like from a reality show? This is fast food info we are getting here, which might get the viewers to be more open about trans* people, but only from a very shallow perspective. Of course it is a lot easier to sell the people something pretty and not talk about the difficulties getting there.

So after all argumentation, is Caitlyn Jenner´s story wrong? No, it is not, but the way it is presented in the media is. It is presented in a way that makes you believe in a sort of fairy tail regarding transition, featuring the polished finished product. It does not touch the tip of the iceberg (nor have I in this post) of the different stages of transition and the difficulties transgender people face in their everyday life. In Jenner´s story we see a rich white person being literally transformed in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible, and automatically accepted in western society just by being a celebrity. And you and I can very well assume that in 99% of the time it is not the case.

I found this video very educating as well, where some of what I wrote is being told by transgender people:

Transgeder people react to Caitlyn Jenner´s coming out

I hope that I´ve summed my opinion respectfully in this post, it was truly important for me to share it. I would love to hear your opinion on the matter as well, and thank you for everyone who found the time to read this post.

N. Finsternis

9 June 2015

B Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin 1979-1989

A while ago Boris and I went to a screening of B-Movie, a documentary featuring footages from the underground scene in west Berlin during the 80s. We live for everything 80s and everything Berlin, so we were very excited.

The best part about the film is that it is basically about how this one guy from Manchester moves to Berlin and has a video blog about what is going on- clubs, gigs, subcultures; god knows where those films have been lying, but the cluster was amazing. You get to see a tour of West Berlin: the peek of squats and music genres like post punk and new wave, featuring bands like Malaria! as well as Blixa Bargeld, Nick Cave, David Bowie and other musicians that I admire.

One of my favorite captures from the film of one of the pedestrians in the Kreuzberg district.
The story is very simple- it is about how one enjoys all the things the city has to offer, over does it and gets tired and disappointed, and then moves on to something new- different subcultures emerging, different music and of course with it- the fall of the wall, which literally breaks the little bubble people in west Berlin were living in. I liked how the film combines history and music altogether.

We took the film personally, as Boris and I too came to Berlin for a change of scenery and for the freedom and the music, so we had a very tender feeling throughout it :)

I really recommend watching this film, it was kind of a follow up for us after The Wings Of Desire, which also depicts west Berlin, its music and atmosphere during the 80s. B-Movie is more DIY and less romantic, but you still kind of wish you were there.

So much for news. It has been almost a week since I´ve had my knee surgery and am currently resting at home. I will probably need 2 more weeks. All is well, but I do miss using my leg normally now and am kind of bored.

N. Finsternis