Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Interview with David Uhrlaub A.k.a Dante DarkChilde of Hypnotic Subliminal Records by Dave Wolff

Photo by  R.J. Sloup
Interview with David Uhrlaub A.k.a Dante DarkChilde of Hypnotic Subliminal Records

You started Hypnotic Subliminal Records to reawaken your local goth scene and became a nonprofit label supporting about sixteen bands and giving them most of the live proceeds. Explain the label’s evolution?
I want to first give credit to its founder Sammy Devil aka Sammy D. He was the one who approached me to help him with this idea. He had noticed that the scene had died down and it was harder for the new goth bands or ones from the U.K. struggled to get hold and traction in the U.S.A. unless they had a label backing them, so he researched what it would take to make a label that didn't need to take the lion’s share from the bands, that we would promote, book, and have a gathered place to put them for others to find. Also how to have area directors that had connections to venues and other bands to open for those from the U.K. and those in the U.K. open for our American and Latin goth bands who we promote and book. I pitched the idea of expanding past just bands and D.J.s to artists, models, sideshow performers, burlesque and Cabaret groups. Sammy D already had our original sixteen bands gathered and our first area directors. He began the first tour for My Own Burial from Barcelona, Spain and brought them here. We never promised them what we couldn't deliver. We made sure they got all merchandise and 80% of the show. The area director kept 20% to some of our cost. We are not in it for the money, we are in it for the community. We are expanding into sideshow performers, models and artists that carry a gothic edge. We will promote their work and sites and book performances and festivals bringing all of the dark decadence of our world to the masses.

What was the goth scene’s level of activity before it started to wane? Did the labels that take the majority of profits from bands play a role? Did other factors contribute to the problem such as lack of advertising or high admission prices?
OK, so the Goth scene was a large community from the early 1990s to the early 2000s. It began its wane in, I would say, 2008. Don't get me wrong, there are still pockets and groups that are strong and out there, but instead of actual full blown goth clubs and gatherings there are some places that have a weekly or monthly goth night. Most of the time it seems that it is mostly DJs or can music playing on those nights, and often you don't see a lot of goth based bands local or otherwise playing in these venues. This seems to come from either the venues or the label charging exorbitant amounts either to the promoter or the booking agent to use their facility. That falls back onto the label due to the fact that it is the label that books and promotes, so it has to come out of the artist at 50%, up to 90% of what a band or entertainer makes. So only those that can pay get to play. Sadly that cuts the throat of great bands. Slowly they lose interest and fall to the wayside or end up only in their local scene. Sure you can put your music on streaming services but that does not provide the experience this generation craves. I do believe the high cost and take from the bands is what has caused a decline in the gothic subculture. As it is a music-based community it stagnated and needs new music and bands to help rejuvenate it. So I do believe the lack to properly promote and book and having to charge high admission prices has created a huge rift in keeping the gothic community alive and thriving. Alongside the elitist mentality that has formed within the community and the lack of wanting to evolve and grow makes it difficult for some of the younger generation goths to want to participate.

How much research did Sammy D conduct while preparing to form the label? What resources were at your disposal to build it from the ground up?
Sammy D, had done a lot of digging and research to see what was going to be needed, and he looked into how some of the groups in the U.K. got their scene to rejuvenate. That was by having people look for venues and bars that were struggling that we could utilize for new bands and places to create goth havens in. That would create a boost in their revenue and pull the goths out into one place to enjoy the scene as it should be in real life. Most of the goths are like bats, we are in some ways very social creatures and like to hang out in what I have begun to call colonies. We noticed these colonies tended to gather around bigger cities. Like in my area you will find pockets around Boise, Salt Lake City, Moscow, Lewiston, Portland, Seattle and many different areas in California. Then you have large areas with smaller pockets that tend to have a very clique-minded situation due to the fact that a lot of those areas are rural and spread at least two to four hours away from those larger colony areas. Often the cost of travel and ticket or cost of entry is not worth the drive, except for the larger label bands that are mainstream and well known. So with this knowledge in our hands we decided to see what we could do to bring new bands into the area and expand out to those smaller areas. This is why we like to create a tour with a U.K. based band instead of a singular show. The bigger areas help bring in larger crowds while the smaller areas provide more intimate venues to help move the bands into the larger colonies. What we like to do is an 80% plus all merchandise to the headliner, then 20% to the area director to help cover the cost of the venue and advertising they do for the band in their area, use our local music scene to bolster the shows and help our local bands with a little for their work. We like to keep our shows all-ages, unless otherwise specified, due to content or location (such as cabaret or adult-themed or a bar of course). What we had at our disposal to start was a simple website Sammy D created. He had already done the work for our first sixteen bands, then got the tour for My Own Burial going here. He reached out to me and tour area directors, and we got things rolling during this time. Sammy D for personal reasons handed the label over to me to take the helm and finish the My Own Burial tour. This was our first run at doing this, and it seems the label has gained some traction. Now I am planning to bring more into play over the next year to continue with Sammy D's legacy and continue to build and grow. And we did this on 150 dollars to start. I am planning to have a new website built by the beginning of March that will be under the name Hypnotic Subliminal Records and Nightside Entertainment, combining the music and entertainment aspects of the label.

For what reasons do you think goths gathered in big cities as well as rural areas? Where does the attraction lie in your view?
I think goths began to gather in larger cities because that is where they were able to find their niche close to where events were going on and a higher chance of finding a group to belong with. As I said, goths are a social group that is heavily music-based, and it is also human nature to like to be close to like-minded individuals. The ones in the more rural areas, I have found, seem to be the ones that either stayed because they have a tight knit group there or because they have work or other reasons they choose to stay outside of the bigger cities but will go to larger events or concerts nearby. I think the attraction truly lies in a social and financial aspect in that situation. I have a home group here in Pocatello, Idaho, friends and other people that are out of state and some that are across the world. I am in Pocatello because of my normal job. As for refueling the Goth scene throughout the U.S., yes that does include creating new communities and helping find new venues in places like New York and New Jersey. In New York I hope to work with already established groups with in the area as it seems to have a pretty solid community same with New Jersey, Colorado and other bigger areas. What I seek to do in those areas is bring new talent and find new talent in the goth scene and give them a taste of new bands and entertainers.

When you began signing and promoting bands, how long did it take to see results for your efforts?
With the My Own Burial tour it seems that there are more asking for another tour and what other shows or events that we might provide. So now I am in the stage that I am looking for new bands, area directors and venues to add to aid in refueling the gothic scene in areas throughout the United States. What we are doing seems to be ringing in a new era to the scene and helping to bring the new and old to common ground.

Does refueling the scenes include building communities in other areas such as the Bible Belt?
New bands and entertainers so that the community doesn't stagnate and continues to draw in to keep the communities fresh and break the gatekeeping within those communities. I plan to have the bands and entertainers stop in some of the smaller areas to create a movement again in those areas. And inspire the new generation to come out and get away from everything and make new groups and colonies that will help shape the next phase of the gothic world. As for the Bible Belt, I will still build there. If I can work around the religious aspects of Pocatello and southeast Idaho then I can take on the Bible Belt. Once you can bring in something like a local band they support, then bring in one of our bands and shows, it seems next thing you know people are talking and soon enough you see a goth in a church, then the church has bats in their belfries so to speak, and we end up with the pastor at a gothic ball. It is great when I see the ignorance of both groups melt away and both aspects appreciate each other.

What is the nature of the gatekeeping you mention having seen in some areas? What steps have you usually taken to lessen it?
Pretty much others saying you’re not a real goth or being nasty bullies to baby bats that are new to the subculture. So now I will take my moment on the proverbial soap box. To all the elitists out there, time to wake up and shut up. The gothic community is like the Visigoths, they helped fall the Western Roman Empire through art and free thinking. Wait, sound familiar like us? The gothic subculture fighting Rome, our music and fashion have influenced society’s music and fashion. We even inspired the emo scene subcultures. I really don't see why in some ways we hate our own children. We inspired some their music and their fashion. Even our own styles and tastes have spread from Victorian Goth to pastel goth. So in many ways we have success in what we have sought to do. We are found in every scene, we are found even in the corporate world, and even all of us are different in one fashion or another. You will find at least Paramore or Within Temptation, and on about every girl’s playlist you will find bands such as Type O Negative or one of our bands that happened to go mainstream on playlists… oh wait Marilyn Manson there you go right there. You find our fashion on runways all over the world and movies in theatres. So honestly gate keepers shut up, sit down, realize that we have done our job and help make sure our youth are not sucked into the trash of the community that seem to like to prey on the newbies. Introduce them to the seedier side of our community as in any other community, yes we have one. Do I like that fact? No. Can I do something about it? Yes, by working with the youngers and helping them navigate the scenes safely and leave that final choice to them. Usually I use a dose of education and snark to end a gatekeeper’s tirade.

Are there sufficient goth communities in Bible Belt states to form a larger community capable of maintaining contact with those in other states?
As for the Bible Belt, there are already gothic groups and of course the Vampire community that thrive. The only problem I have really seen in that area is the fracture and lack of willingness to work together at times within those larger groups. So I figure I will work with these groups to see if I can give them something to get behind rather than fight over. I also know the political garbage that can happen in these areas. It can be a challenge to navigate but I do believe this can be done. Our scene seems to be taking what I have begun to call the reawakening with Wednesday and other gothic toned shows. We are slowly coming back from the Columbine High fiasco where our community was harshly scapegoated by the media. It will take some time to get the scene unified again. But with great shows in some of the venues and maybe some of getting together and opening a few venues of our own to propagate our subculture and create a pipeline again, I believe that unification can happen. As for examples, there are resources out there for advertising such as New Goth City website and soon the website where those people could easily put their clubs and venues and shows etc. It is just about leveraging these resources. I plan on doing so in the upcoming year.

How much did media sensationalize the Columbine High incident to the point of prejudging the goth community who had nothing to do with it? How has goth positively influenced mainstream culture?
The Columbine incident was massively sensationalized with the gothic scene in its prime. All it took was the fact that these kids listened to Marilyn Manson as did most of the teenagers back then, wore all black and wore trench coats they labeled them as goth. In doing so it caused a pandemic of judgement and prejudice of kids that followed or were a part of the goth scene to include their friends, parents and even churches to even further push these kids away. It caused law enforcement to start to profile goths and make it hard for us to gather together and hang out in larger groups, thus making it difficult for events and goth based clubs to remain open, especially in smaller rural areas. It pushed the U.K. scene further from America. Even with all of that, we were still able to influence music and fashion, now even becoming a trend. We are starting to see a gothic renaissance form, with the Munsters movie, Wednesday and other gothic icons reemerging into the spotlight. Also we see the goth influence in a lot of the newer bands in dress or in musical inspiration. So in many ways we have paved the way for so many other alternative lifestyles to form, such as emo and scene and smaller subgroups that could all fit under the goth umbrella.

Are there other goth icons who cast the lifestyle in a more favorable light, besides Christina Ricci, Ditta Von Teese, Fairuza Balk, and WWE wrestler Paige? How do you see this contributing to a better understanding of goth?
You will find Jennifer Ortega, the newest incarnation of Wednesday Addams, and of course the upcoming new Crow movie with Bill Skarsgard as Eric Draven. These with the old ones such as Elvira and so many others have been well dug up by the new baby bats and we are starting to see an uprising not only in goth but in many other scenes the goth lifestyle had spearheaded. I see these individuals bringing an understanding of goth to the younger generation, and help the other alternative groups realize where their roots come from.

Who are some of the bands you have gotten in touch with lately, who are interested in working with you and being booked for performances?
The bands I am working with for shows are My Own Burial, Trobar De Morte, The Vaticants, The Acid Bats, Hideous Monster and others I am in negotiation with. On the entertainment aspect we will be getting Dead City Side Show and others to come and help bolster events. So instead of just a concert you get a show.

What led you to the bands you’re working with, and how strongly would you recommend them to newer fans? What’s currently available on the New Goth City website.
I was brought on to the label and Sammy D had me listen to the bands. I would recommend them to those coming into or already part of the gothic subculture. New Goth City was created by William Wells to help promote and tell people where shows are in the USA. it is a promotional tool for bands and events in the USA to help get information into the hands of fans of the subculture and help inform people of the groups out there working to make our scene just as strong as it was during the 1990s.

Can you tell the readers how well known you hope the label and website you are working with will become? In the future would you like to spearhead major music festivals and national broadcasts? Would you eventually want to involve gothic metal bands in your promotions?
I hope that our label and website becomes strong enough that not only pulls the goth but also the mainstream together and becomes a place respected for its shows and events, that we are the go-to name for events in the gothic community. Not only here in America but also the funnel for the U.K. goth scene to help influence the scenes of both areas. We do plan on spearheading major festivals and we are working now on our broadcasts for the Gothic scene. We want to include all gothic entertainment and bands within our label to help promote the scene as a whole, from the post-punk roots to the evolution of our music and fashion.

For your work and involvement in goth communities, how would you most like to be recognized and remembered?
Honestly how I want to be remembered is as a forerunner to keep our beautiful lifestyle alive, and someone that helped make the scene grow, helped bring it back to the frontlines and helped bring new bands to the scene.

-Dave Wolff

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