It’s that dreaded time of year again. All the decorations are pink, sweets and chocolates are overpriced, and sappy gifts fill the stores. I’ve always hated Valentine’s Day, in fact I thought we should petition to have it replaced with a second Halloween.
If you are anything like me, the cliche traditions might put you off celebrating, however, just because you prefer the darker things in life doesn’t mean you and your significant other should avoid the day entirely.
I personally get through this holiday by imagining the hearts everywhere are those of my victims, and renaming the day ‘Frankentine’s Day’. Imagining everything to be spookier than what it is helps me cope with the sickly sweet decor and lovey-dovey themes that surround this day.
There are a number of ways to celebrate this holiday that don’t include red roses and heart-shaped balloons. Here are a few ways to make your Valentine’s Day more gothic.
If you are willing to plan ahead and order early, then it is surprisingly easy to find spooky and gothic Valentine’s cards online. They often have some creepy-cute quotes on them and the images are far less generic than everything else in the regular card shops. You can usually find Valentine’s cards on gothic online stores at this time or by simply searching the internet, however, I think one of the best brands for gothic cards are Nightmoth.
If your are still wanting to get a cute gift, you can often find left-over Halloween teddies in some stores, e.g. TY Halloween collection. You could always search online, there are often collections of zombie teddies or maybe search for brands like: Skelanimals or Gloomy Bear.
If you still want to stick to ‘traditional’ gifts like chocolates, you can add a spooky twist by getting an anatomy heart, skull chocolates or gothic themed boxes. Again, the internet is your best friend for items like these, I tend to find that buying unusual and quirky gifts is a lot easier online.
I’ve never been one for flowers, but I can’t deny the beauty of black roses. You could buy a single rose or a whole bunch, and depending how much you want to pay you can buy them real or fake. They would be perfect as a gift or just as decoration if you plan on having a quiet dinner at home.
Want some mood lighting? Candles are perfect for creating a romantic setting. You could just buy your bog-standard plain candles or get some red or black taper candles. If you want to be extra decorative then skull candles would be perfect (these would also be an amazing gift).
If you’re planning to have a quiet dinner at home, why not get creative with your food and drinks? You could put drinks in these cute ‘love potion’ bottles, or create a vampire theme with bottles filled with ‘blood’.
A heart locket is a sweet way to show your love and is a perfect sentimental gift. You could also opt for other designs such as a coffin or book locket.
Valentine’s day is also great for fetish goth fashion as stores stock up on kink and BDSM inspired clothing. Great just for some fun on Valentine’s or for use all year round. The majority of gothic clothing stores will have this style clothing for sale everyday, however, you might be able to find it cheaper in other stores round Valentine’s day. I recommend checking out the online store, Kinky Angel, they do a lot of alternative clothing, as well as leather and PVC pieces and other gothic Valentine’s gifts.
Deciding what to do to celebrate can be difficult, you might have already booked a table at your favourite restaurant. But if not here are some activities to consider: strolling through a cemetery or graveyard picnic, horror movie night, ghost tour, stay in a haunted hotel.
Alternatively, if you are single, invite your single friends over and have an anti-Valentine’s party, hex your ex or do a Friends inspired ‘boyfriend bonfire‘.
I was in the middle of one of my usual YouTube binges, when in the background of a Gothic makeup tutorial, I heard some music that really appealed to me. It had a kind of dark wave, electro Goth vibe to it. Immediately, I thought “I need to know who this band is!” A quick look in the description revealed to me that the song was ‘Svea’ by Foghorn Lonesome, something I later found out is that ‘Svea’ is the name of Eric Sparkwood’s grandmother.
Eric Sparkwood is the face behind Foghorn Lonesome. He started in 2011 as a one-man band in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2016, he played his first show with Jessica Isaksson on vocals and Nikita Smirnov on bass. In 2017, Krzystof Rozwadowski and, long-time producer, Tomas Rosenberg joined the band.
After speaking to Eric Sparkwood I could understand how the music came to be. It was clear he uses his life experiences as influence in his music. Even as someone with such talent to produce this music, Eric revealed to me that he does have his struggles. He came across to me as someone very kind, thoughtful and dedicated to his music and fans.
How did you come up with the name Foghorn Lonesome?
“I never reveal that actually. But with a quick Google search I’m sure people can figure that out.”
What made you want to start creating music? Is it something you would like to pursue full-time?
“I started playing bass when I was 16 and joined my first band. I guess it felt like the natural thing to do at the time, since I’d been constantly listening to music as a kid. I have mixed feelings about having this as a full-time thing since the music industry is in bad shape these days.”
I’m curious to know more about how you feel about the music industry. What do you think the main issue is nowadays?
“I think the main issue is that artists don’t get paid. We’re not signed to a label, but usually they tend to make most of the profits. I grew up before the internet and the MP3, so we had to pay for all of the music we wanted. Most people today don’t. But I’ve let go of all that. Sometimes I offer free downloads on the music on SoundCloud. I’m very grateful if someone purchases the music off Bandcamp or iTunes, but it’s fine if people don’t. The most important thing is that people have access to the music. Today’s mainstream music isn’t for me. But I do wish I could write three-minute pop songs. Then maybe I’d be summering in the Hamptons.”
How did you meet the other members?
“Jessica and Krzystof answered an ad I had online for new band members and I already knew Tomas since he produced all my music. The debut album was done and recorded by the time the band was put together.”
How would you describe your music?
“Melodic, varied and dark I suppose.”
What are the current projects you are working on?
“At the moment, we’re rehearsing for a show in March. I’m also off and on working of two new songs: ‘Strawberry Moon’ and ‘Stockholm, You Have Let Me Down’. There are demo samples of them on SoundCloud. I’m also working on another song, which at the is titled ‘Dumb Boy’, but the song isn’t the priority right now. I’ve also been putting tigether an acoustic rendition of a previous song. But I’m in no rush to finish them. I’m rarely in the mood to work on them.”
Do you have a favourite song you have produced or that you recommend people listen to first?
“No, I don’t have a favourite song. If someone was going to be introduced to Foghorn Lonesome, I would recommend songs like ‘Svea’, ‘Uliecry’, ‘All I Want Is Some Love’, ‘Night & Gale’, ‘Winter Blue’ and ‘Like A Storm’. Choosing just one is difficult.”
Where do you get your influences from?
“I would say my personal experiences are where I draw most of my influences. I think all of the music I’ve been listening to in my life has gone into my musical DNA. But when I discovered Diary of Dreams back in 2003 I was introduced to a new genre that kind of combined electronic music with gothic music. So when I started Foghorn Lonesome I knew that these genres would come together in my music too”.
Foghorn Lonesome seemed to disappear for a while, but you are back with new social media pages and working on a new gig and some songs, was there a reason you took a break from your music?
“My girlfriend left me and I hit rock bottom. Then I hit a level lower than rock bottom and did some things I’m not proud of. Eventually, I started working on new music.”
Do you find that writing helps you deal with that?
“I’m not sure, but usually I would say no. The problem doesn’t go away just because you express it. Sometimes it can make you feel worse. You just get reminded of it when working on the song. Especially when writing the lyrics.”
I’ve listened to your song ‘Like A Storm’, and something that always fascinated me was at the end of it you have a monologue with you crying in it. I wondered if you were crying for real during that recording. Could you talk a bit about that?
“The crying is real. It was the first thing I wrote and recorded for the song. It’s a very personal song, but in that part I took things one step further and let it all out in the moment there. When I recorded that part my sound card wasn’t working because it was old. So the only way for me to record it at the time was through the microphone in my laptop. But the only way to activate the microphone is if you record a video. Then I removed the video part and just kept the audio to use in the song. I still have the video of me sitting in front of the computer crying recording that part which I won’t be showing to anyone.”
What is the song writing process like for you?
“I always start working on the music first. Then the lyrics. Sometimes I have to put some more effort into it. Maybe I’ll go sit at the cafe and listen to the song and try to come up with lyrics and vocal melodies in my head. When I’m really into working on a song I will listen to it a lot. I’ll listen to it when I’m out for a run or on the subway and at the same time be thinking about the lyrics. Usually you reach a point where things just feel done. Then you know it’s time to stop. You can rework things forever if you wanted to.”
You seem very interactive with fans through social media and I noticed on your Instagram page that you have some fans who got tattoos of your lyrics, how does it make you feel to know that your music creatively inspires and also connects so strongly with people?
“It means I must be doing something right. It’s a great honour of course. James Hetfield of Metallica said it well when he said: “It means a lot to me when my darkness can connect with your darkness and make it ok.” So if my shit can help someone else cope with their shit better then that’s a good thing.”
Do you have other hobbies outside of music that would help rejuvenate your creativity?
“I try and run often. I go running for an hour. I get energy from that. Sleeping is probably the best thing I know. It’s the closest to death I can get.”
You recently became a grandfather, how that make you feel?
What is your ultimate goal as a band?
“I don’t think there is a goal. We’re lucky if we can get a gig somewhere. It’s difficult for all bands to get anywhere. Originally my goal was mainly to release an album and hope some people would enjoy the music. Both of which I have achieved.”
Where has been your favourite place to perform?
“We’ve only had three gigs so far. The first one was the best. It was at Klubb Död here in Stockholm. We might be doing a festival in August.”
Would you like to travel and perform in other countries?
“We’ve looked into it. Unsuccessfully so far. Again, it’s hard to get gigs.”
How do you think your music has evolved?
“That’s hard to say. Two songs have been released since the debut album, ‘Like A Storm’ and ‘Neon Thighs’. I think they sound like they could’ve been on the album in the sense that they’re similar in style. Now I’m working on some new music. I don’t know. It sounds similar I suppose. I guess I haven’t really evolved. Hah.”
What has been your greatest challenge?
“Finishing the debut album was a long and tiring ordeal. It demanded a lot of patience. Something I don’t usually have.”
More of a fun question: What would you do if you had £10 million?
“Pay off my debts and buy a house far away from everything and everyone.”
When I started my blog I didn’t think I would get many readers interacting and enjoying my work. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of people were reading and enjoying my content.
My blog started off as part of a University project for my journalism course, but I have grown to love writing content for you all and it is something I will definitely be continuing.
Writing and the Goth subculture are two things I’m very passionate about. So combining the two together to create this blog has allowed me to express my views and opinions and share my interests with you all.
For me, blogging has became a hobby of mine and I put a lot of dedication into coming up with ideas and creative content that I think my viewers would like.
So naturally I was so pleased when Lulu_chan★ nominated me for the 2018 Liebster Award. I’d like to thank her and recommend you check out her blog.
So for those who don’t know about the Liebster Award, here are the rules:
Give some recognition and promotion to the blogger who nominated you.
Create a post about the award on your blog.
Give a reason you are passionate about blog posting.
Answer the 10 questions you were asked.
Nominate 5-11 other blogs.
Inform those bloggers you nominated them.
Make sure you put these rules on your post so everyone else knows what to do!
So here are the 10 questions I have been asked:
If I were to give the obvious answer, being a goth, it would have to be black. But if I had to pick a colour other than black, it would be purple.
2. If you had to choose between your life or your honour which would you choose?
This is a good question. I had to think about this for a while, because I thought it would depend on the context of how your honour would be lost. However, when you define ‘honour’ it means to be respected and I personally am not one to fuss over what other people think of me. I think what you feel about your own self-worth is more important. Therefore, I would choose life, over honour.
3. Favourite band or singer?
This one is difficult! I’m a massive music lover and there are so many people I adore. I think if I had to choose based upon who I listen to most I would say The Cure.
4. Song that makes you dance at the moment?
Snap Out Of It by Arctic Monkeys. This song never fails to lift my mood and get me dancing.
5. Best 2017 decision?
Setting up this blog!
6. Cat lover or dog lover?
I’m a big animal lover, but if I had to choose one it would be cats.
7. Why WordPress and not the app Blog on Google?
I had a blog on here a few years ago, but I didn’t have a main theme and it didn’t feel personal enough, so I never felt the dedication to write for it and gave up. So when I decided to set up this blog, I used WordPress just because it was so familiar to me and I find it easier to navigate. This time I feel like I’m more focused on subjects that interest me, so I find the motivation to write comes a lot more easily.
8. Perfect day?
Not sure whether this means a day that I have lived through that was perfect or my idea of what a perfect day would be like. So I’m going to say visiting a cat cafe and being surrounded by fluffy companions comes pretty close to perfect!
9. How did you create your blog name?
My blog name sounds simple, but it actually took me ages to think of something suitable. In the end I decided on ‘The Everyday Alternative’, because being goth is not just a phase or a costume, I will continue to be alternative everyday.
10. What do you think about the Liebster Award?
I think it’s great because it gives small blogs the recognition they deserve.
So recently in my hometown, Middlesbrough, a pub called Doctor Browns banned female-fronted bands, with the excuse that ‘women can’t sing rock’. You can read more about the incident here.
I personally thought this was a sexist and unjustified complaint. Fair enough, if you don’t want your business to fail then you only hire the best musicians. But saying ‘women can’t sing rock’ and therefore aren’t welcome to perform there is discriminating.
They claimed customers ‘didn’t like’ previous female rock singers they hired – I don’t think this justifies an outright ban on female rock singers. This simply suggests they didn’t hire a good enough singer.
Banning all other female singers based on someone else’s less-than-impressive performance is incredibly unfair. People shouldn’t be refused a chance based on their gender.
I found it appalling that gender discrimination is still happening in my area. I personally believe women can be incredible rock artists, so I thought I’d respond to this by listing some of the best female rock artists I know.
I realise genre of music is rather debated, but I’ll just say these are the artists that are loosely described as rock. Obviously their music may incorporate other genres, but in my opinion they deserve a place on my best female rock artist list. So here it is, my favourite 20 female rock artists in no particular order:
#1 Siouxsie Sioux:
Siouxsie was an obvious choice for me to mention on this list. As the lead singer of one of my favourite British bands, Siouxsie and the Banshees, I think she represents the best of female gothic rock. Siouxsie has been adored since the 70’s with her iconic look and haunting music – and all but invented goth.
#2 Stevie Nicks:
Stevie Nicks is an American singer best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac. She had a chart topping career and is often referred to as the ‘Queen of Rock and Roll’, so she definitely earned her place on my list of the best female rock artists.
#3 Lzzy Hale:
Lzzy Hale is the lead singer from the band Halestorm. Lzzy pretty much sparked my interest in rock music. She has one of the most powerful female vocals I’ve heard. I’ve seen Lzzy sing live and at the time she had a bad throat, but powered through and I can honestly say she still sounded better live and I couldn’t even tell she had been ill.
#4: Amy Lee:
Amy Lee is the lead vocalist of Evanescence. Critics vary on whether Evanescence should be classed as a rock or a metal band. Personally I refer to them as symphonic metal, but I think Amy Lee still deserves a place on this list. If you check out other symphonic metal bands you will see the majority are female fronted, such as Epica, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Delain and so on… all which deserve a mention as they are amazing bands, but I’ll try to keep this list to strictly rock.
#5 Patricia Morrison:
Patricia Morrison is probably most known for her backup vocals in The Sisters of Mercy, and although Andrew Eldritch takes main stage as the lead vocalist, I think Patricia Morrison still deserves a mention for her musical talent and contribution to goth rock.
#6 Taylor Momsen:
From the sweet little actress who played Cindy Lou in The Grinch to the lead singer of the American rock band The Pretty Reckless, Taylor Momsen has come very far. Taylor Momsen is a talented actress and model, but the music she produces is worth some recognition for her contribution to female-rock.
#7 Hayley Williams:
Hayley Williams is known as the lead vocalist for Paramore. Their music has vastly evolved over time. I started listening to them back in what I like to refer to as my ’emo’ days, but I still have lots of appreciation for the music they are creating today.
#8 Avril Lavigne:
Often referred to as the ‘Pop Punk Queen’, but releasing many tracks I would consider punk rock and alternative rock, Avril Lavigne has been massively successful. The Canadian singer is known for presenting a ‘rebellious’ attitude and looking eternally like a teenager, how does she do it? I grew up listening to Avril Lavigne and she has always been one of my favourite artists.
P!nk has released some incredible pop rock tracks and is an all around badass. She definitely represents the best of a girl-power attitude, just check out her motivational speech to her daughter here. I personally find her inspirational as an artist so I had to include her in this list.
#10 Emelie Autumn:
Emelie Autumn’s music is very different from any other music I have heard. Sometimes describes as ‘fantasy rock’, her creative and unique music alone earns her a place on my list. This quirky style of music is not for everyone, but I adore it and her work and talent is still to be admired.
#11 Dolores O’Riordan:
Dolores O’Riordan is an Irish musician known for leading the rock band The Cranberries. They have had worldwide success and produced some iconic tracks such as ‘Zombie’.
#12 Courtney Love:
Courtney love gained a notable presence in the punk and grunge scene in the 1990’s and rose to prominence as front-woman for the alternative rock band Hole. She had a highly publicised life after her marriage to Kurt Cobain (lead from Nirvana).
#13 Chelsea Wolfe:
I hadn’t known about Chelsea Wolfe long, but I fell in love with her haunting music. She is continuing the evolution of goth rock with her modern experimental sounds. If you are looking for a modern gothic artist then she is worth a listen.
#14 Ellie Rowsell:
Ellie Rowsell is part of a four-piece band called Wolf Alice who have been going since 2010. Their early work sounds folk-tinged but has evolved to a more rock-orientated sound.
#15 Natalie Bassingthwaighte:
Natalie Bassingthwaighte is known as the lead singer of electronic rock band Rogue Traders. I listen to their most popular song ‘Voodoo Child’ on repeat. For me it is a song that never gets old and will always be a favourite. I also come across a lot of fellow Whovians in the comments of this music video from when this song was featured in a Doctor Who episode.
#16 Debbie Harry:
I couldn’t miss Debbie Harry off this list. Most known for being part of the rock band Blondie. They pioneered early American new wave and punk scenes from the mid-late 70’s.
#17 Tina Root:
Tina Root is the vocalist of the band Switchblade Symphony who were prominent in the goth scene throughout the 90’s. As this is mostly an Alternative/Goth based blog I think it’s important to mention female vocalists who have had impact on the goth rock scene. Again, this is something that might not appeal to everyone, however, as this is the type of rock music I prefer to listen to, it’s worth a mention.
#18 Johnette Napolotano:
Johnette Napolotano is best known as the lead singer from American alternative rock band Concrete Blonde. Concrete Blonde built up their popularity in the 90’s with their top 20 singe ‘Joey’.
Chibi is the lead singer of The Birthday Massacre, a band well known in the Goth scene. The Birthday Massacre’s musical style has been described as new wave revival, electronic rock, gothic rock, and dark wave. As an ongoing goth band and one with an amazing sound, Chibi deserved to be mentioned on my list.
#20 Theresa Jeane:
Last but definitely not least, Theresa Jeane is the lead sing from The Nearly Deads. I found this band a few months ago and have loved their music ever since. They appealed to me when I found their song lyrics relatable and was pleased to find they are rather interactive with their fans on social media. They quickly became one of my favourite alternative rock bands and I’m looking forward to seeing what their future in music will involve.
I think this list proves my point that women are totally capable of being successful rock singers. If you want to share your opinion on this debate or if I missed any of your favourite female rock singers off the list, then feel free to leave a comment. I’m open to discussions and hearing new music.