Interview With Eric Sparkwood of Foghorn Lonesome

“I have a video of myself crying!”

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.

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From left to right: Krzystof Rozwadowski (Bass), Eric Sparkwood (Lead Vocals/Bass), Jessica Isaksson (Vocals), Tomas Rosenberg (Drums). Photograph by Bo Reinerdahl.

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.”

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Foghorn Lonesome’s logo

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”.

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Eric Sparkwood (Lead Vocalist). Photograph by Darklark.

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.”

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Eric Sparkwood (Lead Vocalist). Photograph by Darklark.

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?

“Old.”

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.”

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Eric Sparkwood (Lead vocalist). Photograph by Jonas Fransson.

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.”

Any hopes for 2018?

“A fatal heart attack.”

You can find Foghorn Lonesome’s tracks on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Bandcamp, SoundCloud and Spotify.

You can also follow them through their social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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2017: My Gothic Year in Review

So after the soap-opera that my life was in 2016 (if you’re curious to find out about this let me know and I’ll do a few ‘story-time’ posts for you, although they will be verging on all round depressing topics), I hoped for some vast improvement in 2017.

Of course, there were highs and lows to the year (granted there were generally more low points) and I can’t say there was much improvement from 2016. However, I want to look back at the best that came from 2017 and step into the new year with optimism for a better year and greater things to come.

For this post I want to focus on all my favourite experiences and the best things that I lived through in 2017. I know in years time it will be great to look back and see all my best memories.

The Poland Trip:

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I was so amazed at how tiny and detailed the snow was there. I’m used to it falling in big clumps in England.
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January was still Christmas in Poland and it was bitterly cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I kick-started my year off with a trip to Poland with my University. I really recommend people go there, because it wasn’t just a regular holiday. For me it was a learning experience and a really valuable insight into the past. I visited Auschwitz concentration camps, Schindler’s factory, and visited the Jewish Quarter. As well as having a guided tour around Krakow and meeting a holocaust survivor.

 

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Thank you Fed Ex Van for ruining my photo…

 

Mog On The Tyne:

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I visited my first cat cafe in Newcastle! I loved being surrounded by these adorable felines. It was brilliant to see the personalities of each individual cat from the cheeky one trying to steal our milkshakes to the shy one who would hide in a box and peek out at us. It is not just an experience for us, the money goes towards caring for these precious bundles of joy as they now live permanently in the cafe after being brought there from Rescue Homes.

Climbing Roseberry Topping:

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Seems like a simple task, but when you have the elements against you it’s a challenge. I had a really amazing day, my friend drove us all the way there and for a little while we thought we were going to be lost when we took a wrong turn and ended up on some farm land. It was a laugh trying to get up the hill, as it was so windy we thought we might die up there. My friend was freaking out saying “Lets go back down!” as even some big tough jogger gave up halfway. We did manage to make it to the top eventually, and rewarded ourselves when we got back down with some tasty parmo burgers.

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Still smiling even though we feared for our lives!
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Parmo Burgers

 

First Publication in the University Newspaper (Tside):

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I was pretty pleased with my article getting published and also creating awareness for the Gothic Subculture and Sophie Lancaster Foundation. It’s a great feeling to know someone enjoys your work and that it will be shared with others. Hopefully there will be more of my content getting publish as I continue towards finishing my Journalism degree and life as a student, and move on to finding a career.

 

 

New Piercing: 

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I was happy to get a new conch piercing. I had been debating it for a while and I can say that I’m happy I did. For those who aren’t aware the conch is the inner shell of your ear. This is my seventh ear piercing, I’ll go into more detail about the piercing and healing process in future posts.

 

 

 

Whitby Steampunk Weekend:

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My brother and I
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A renovated Volkswagen Type 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the second year that this event has been run, however it was the first I had attended. I usually go to Whitby Goth Weekend every year, so I was interested to see how the Steampunk weekend would differ. I was surprised to find that there were a lot more photographers taking my picture. I felt more dressed down than usual and as a goth girl I didn’t really own anything I would class as ‘steampunk’. However, my style did seem to grab the attention of a lot of people as we developed quite a crowd round me and my brother as we stopped to pose with people. There were plenty of interesting stalls and although steampunk isn’t really my style, I would definitely attend again as I felt really welcome with other alternative people.

 

My First Goth Club:

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Celebrating with friends: James, Luke, Zack, myself, and Jade.

As my teenage years ended and I turned 20, there was conveniently a goth night called Contagion in one of our local clubs. I attended it with a bunch of friends to celebrate my birthday. This was the first goth club I ever attended and it didn’t disappoint. I was so pleased to finally be able to dance to my type of music and to be surrounded by beautiful like-minded people, who were welcoming and happy to start up a conversation with us. It was a great first experience and something that has persuaded me to attend more goth clubs in the future.

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I’m not the best of dancers but I try haha
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My friend Jade and myself

 

More Travelling:

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Pork Of Cork

I took a cruise with my Mam and Nanna visiting France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Gibraltar and Ireland. I loved visiting new towns and cities and it was fun spending quality time with my family. I made an amazing new friend on the ship, who I still keep in contact with through video calls. If you want to see many places in a short space of time then I recommend taking a cruise. It’s so exciting to wake up to a new destination everyday. By far my favourite place was Ireland, I loved seeing Dublin and Cohb and it’s somewhere I’d love to go back to and explore for longer.

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Dublin
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Me in the caves on Portimao beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Hairstyle:

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I’ve had a few hair changes the past couple of years and I never expected to do this, but I did. I decided to get a full fringe cut in. A lot of people were telling me not to do this as its hard for this hairstyle to suit people. But I can say that I do love the way it looks on me and I’m planning on keep my fringe this way for a while as I continue to try and regrow the rest of my hair long again. I think with all the changes made to my life, it’s nice to see a change in myself too.

So there we have it – some of my favourite moments from 2017!

Of course, I cannot forget all the new friends I have made. For a long time I was feeling lonely and, as cheesy as it may sound, they came into my life and helped to brighten it. I want to thank them for sticking around through my struggles, making me laugh, and helping create new experiences and happy memories throughout this year.

Also, the fact that 2017 was the birth of this new blog! It’s only in is early stages, but I’m loving sharing my opinions and stories with you all and I love the interaction I get from you, so thank you to all the people who read, comment and follow my blog, it means a lot to me.

If you have any experiences from 2017 that you want to share then please leave some comments, I’d love to hear your stories too.

Here’s to 2018, hope it’s a Spooktacular New Year!

 

What Not To Say To Goths

So I thought I’d do something a bit fun and light-hearted based on the daft comments I receive regularly for being a goth. Over the years I’ve learnt not to take things people say too seriously, usually people don’t mean any harm by it.

Here’s some of the regular comments I receive and my thoughts on them:

“Oh, I went through a Goth phase. You’ll grow out of that.”

It’s not a phase, it’s a way of life. Do not try to tell me what I will or won’t be interested in. Goth is not just for teens, there are plenty of Elder Goths out there!

“When are you going to stop dyeing your hair?”

Also anything along the lines of changing my hair can be annoying. I often get comments like “If you keep dying it then it will fall out…Your natural hair was such a lovely colour…don’t get it cut like that it will look ridiculous.” It’s my hair so I’ll do what I want with it, the way I look has no impact on anyone else. If I decide to shave my head tomorrow then why is it anyone else’s concern? It will grow back, if not I’ll buy a wig…

“Don’t get that pierced/tattooed.”

I find these types of comments usually come from concerned family members. I’m a girl with 7 ear piercings and I’ve been told if I get more piercings then I’m going to ‘overdo it’. In the past I was going to get a septum piercing to which I was told it would look like a ‘bull ring’ in my nose.

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Old photo of me with a fake septum ring

I also have a few tattoo ideas lined up, to which I’ve been told “You’ll look common” or “People won’t want to hire you for a job”. Sometimes they are worried for my safety, and try to talk me out of it by telling me all the possible infections I could get. But usually their reasons are just superficial. But as most goths know, we don’t look like this to please other people. We choose to look like this because it makes us happy.

“Don’t wear that, it looks boyish”

I’m sure goth guys also get the opposite with people telling them they look ‘too feminine’. I’ve personally been told not to wear certain things because they don’t look flattering enough. One time I was told not to wear a pair of my favourite shoes to a family event because they were ‘too boyish’. News flash: I don’t want to look girly! I don’t care about which gender my clothes were ‘meant’ for, I wear them because I love them.

“You’d look so much prettier without all that makeup”

I think this applies to everyone, not just goths in particular. I don’t wear makeup to look pretty. I wear it because I feel it completes my outfit, I like being creative, and most importantly I enjoy wearing it and the way it makes me feel. It also annoys me when people assume you are wearing it to impress someone. Just no! I’m not going to change who I am for other people, so why would I put makeup on for the sake of them? I wear it because once again it’s a thing that makes me happy!

“Are you into BDSM?”

Please, please, please stop asking us this! First of all, I’m not going to answer that. Secondly, a person being goth doesn’t determine whether they are ‘kinky’ in the bedroom or not.

“It’s not Halloween yet”

Well, Ministry would seem to disagree with you there…

This one is just a classic. For some reason people seem to think they are being funny and have thought up a really clever original phrase to say to us. Nope, I’ve heard this one tonnes of times before. If anyone knows when Halloween is then it’s me.

“Who’s funeral is it?”

Yours…

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There was a brilliant quote being spread round the internet: “If you can dress like this without going to a yoga class, I can dress like this without going to a funeral.” That pretty much sums up my thoughts on this comment.

“Are those your real eyes?”

This may sound like common sense, but honestly some people genuinely believe that bright red contact lenses are my normal eye colour…

“You look so scary”

Sometimes I will actually take this as a compliment, makes me feel like I’ve reached full goth potential!

 

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“You look dead”

Well I am a future corpse…

“You should get a tan, you look so pale and sickly”

Believe it or not I don’t want to risk skin cancer or to end up looking like an oompa loompa, so thanks but I think I’ll stick to my ghostly complexion.

“GOTH!”

I’ve never understood why people feel the need to shout this at me. Yes, I know I am a goth, well done for noticing 👏. I don’t take the word as an insult, it was my intention.

“Look its a vampire!”

I wish I was that awesome!

*Insert sarcastic voice* “Where did you get your coat from?”

Questions are fine so long as you are genuinely interested. But otherwise I don’t see the point in asking. This seems to be a thing chavvy teens love to do. Best one I’ve heard yet was: “Where’d you get your bag from? Toys R us?”. Personally I wish Toys R Us sold goth accessories, it’d be a lot easier to shop!

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My coffin bag

“There’s holes in your jeans”

Thanks for pointing that out, I never noticed that when I bought them…

“Do you worship the devil?”

This is unfortunately a stereotype that comes with being a goth. I’ve had people genuinely ask me if goth is a satanic thing out of pure curiosity. Just to clarify, not all goths are Satan worshippers! Goths can be any religion, just like anyone else.

“Do you cut yourself?”

Hold your horses! Firstly, you should never ask something this personal to anyone, mental health is no joke! Secondly, the stereotype that all goths are depressed is so wrong. We don’t dress in black and listen to this sort of music because we are all mopey. Honestly, if I were to stop being goth I’d be even more miserable, expressing myself in this way makes me happy.

“You have terrible music taste”

I could say the same to you. Everyone has their own taste, just because we don’t listen to mainstream tunes on the radio doesn’t mean my music is any less enjoyable than yours.

I hope you enjoyed these and maybe got a laugh out of some of my experiences. If you have any others, please share them in the comments!

 

 

Music Recommendation: I Don’t Know How But They Found Me

I’m always so excited when I find a new band I love and desperate to share my enjoyment of their music with other people.

So when a new song, ‘Choke’ by I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, appeared in my recommended on YouTube, I was more than willing to give it a listen.

The thumbnail stood out to me, as it had what looked like a skull but the artwork reminded me of that on Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ album cover – two things which strongly appealed to my gothic nature.

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Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

The band itself is an indie rock duo composed of vocalist and bassist Dallon Weekes, formerly of The Brobecks and Panic! At the Disco (another band which I love!). Also, drummer Ryan Seaman, formerly of Falling in Reverse.

The band name I Don’t Know How But They Found Me is a line taken from the 1985 sci-fi film Back To The Future, and so the release date (26th October) of this song is a direct reference to the film as it is the date Doc Brown and Marty McFly intended to travel to in 2010.

This is the second single in a project inspired by a series of 1980-90’s talent shows that Weekes discovered.

Weekes said that ‘Choke’ was written to describe how disenchanted he had become in Los Angeles. He said that he loved the place, but the culture was hard to navigate as he didn’t fit in so it never felt like home.

Listen to the singe here:

Halloween Makeup Haul – First Impressions

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A whole bunch of MUA and Revolution makeup I got in October

So I was intending to save up my student loan and not go on a spending spree, but with the Halloween period being the best time to buy all-things goth, I couldn’t help myself.

I figured why not treat myself – my excuse being that October is ‘Gothmas’.

Every year I get so excited by the vast array of creepy and dark decor, make-up, clothing and jewellery all round the shops.

Honestly this year I was a little disappointed, as I didn’t see many items of clothing around, I at least expected a couple of Primark t-shirts, alas there were none.

I did, however, manage bag myself a couple of pieces of jewellery which I will happily show off in another post.

I think the most interesting Halloween items this year were TK Maxx’s home decor. But with me not being a home owner yet, there was little I could purchase. But I did get some great inspiration for when I do get my own place in future, for now I’ve just stuck to getting a few candles for my bedroom.

As you can imagine, I get pretty excited whenever I find the Halloween section in a store.

So I went in Superdrug, after purchasing ‘MUA Luxe Velvet Lip Lacquer – Panache’, only intending to buy another one of these matte liquid lipsticks, but in the shade ‘Splash’.

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MUA Luxe Velvet Lip Lacquers (in shades Panache and Splash) – £3 each

However I came out with 6 other make-up products.

I was freaking out when I found a Halloween make-up section and had to persuade myself to only buy a few of the items and not the whole lot.

So without further ado, here are the products I bought and my first impression:

MUA Luxe Velvet Matte Metallic Lip Lacquer – £3

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I bought these liquid lipsticks in three different shades to try out: Purple, Green and Black. I loved the way they were shimmery and glittery in the light. They aren’t your everyday wearable colours, but I wanted something bold that I could get creative with. I did try these on my lips to test them out, but not for a prolonged period. I found that the green one was particularly more drying the the others on the lip. So far all the liquid lipsticks I have tried (not just this brand) seem uncomfortable for me. It might just be because I tend to be more of a lip-balm kind of girl, so I hate that dried up feeling. It’s going to have to be something where I test out other brands to see if I find one comfortable enough.

Obviously these are cheaper drug store brands, so I wasn’t expecting anything amazing. I was very impressed with the colours, however I found the metallic colours crumble away more on the inside of the lip than the plain matte ones I had previously tried. However, when it comes to washing them off, I used a baby-wipe and found that previously the matte versions of Panache and Splash wiped off pretty easily, whereas the metallic shades take a lot more scrubbing.

I’m pretty happy with these colours however, I don’t think these are something I will be wearing regularly on my lips. My plan for these is to do some more creative artsy eye looks with them, because they only tend to crumble on the lips. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you should check out Drac Maken’s YouTube channel. She regularly uses liquid lipsticks for her eye art pieces and they always turn out amazing.

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Liquid Lipstick swatches: First 3 from the Metallic range, last two are from the matte range in colours Splash and Panache

MUA Shimmer Highlight Powder (Aqua Shine) – £3:

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I already own two MUA highlighters and I’ve been pretty impressed with their quality for the price, so I thought I’d get a new one. This time I went for this really bold metallic blue colour. Again, this is not something wearable for everyday, but will definitely come in handy for some more creative looks or even as an eye-shadow.  It has a good pigment and definitely highlights as the shimmer to this really stands out. Their highlighters are definitely something I would recommend if you are looking for some good quality, but cheap drugstore brands.

Revolution Ghost Lights Vivid Baked Highlighter – £3:

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This has got to be my favourite make-up purchases. I love everything about this product! First of all, the skull print within the powder got me so excited – it’s so cute I almost didn’t want to touch it in case I ruined it. At first glance it looks like a white base with gold tint to it. However, when applied to the cheeks and viewed in the light you can see these stunning pink shimmers. It’s the perfect glow for any ghoul! The pigment has just the right balance, not too pale that you have to apply loads and not too strong that you look like an instant ball of light. I have been using this as my everyday highlighter since and I’m still really impressed with it.

Revolution Ghost Sculpt – £2:

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This is a product I got super excited about when I first saw it. I’m already really pale in complexion, so I find that when I buy contour palettes they always look too orange-toned for my skin and don’t look right. I took to trying to use black eye-shadows to create a light grey contour, however this was never easy when the eye-shadow palettes were so small and highly pigmented. So when I found this I knew I had to try it out.

When it comes to the white-powder side I wasn’t that impressed. I was hoping it would work well as a highlight or at least make my face more ghostly white, however, I found it just blends into my natural skin tone (granted this could be because I’m already as white as a sheet!). However, if you are looking for a good translucent powder this would be it.

When it came to the black-powder side, I applied it way too heavy! This product has some strong pigment, so I’d say use it carefully otherwise the contour can end up looking way too dark. Obviously this was intended for dramatic Halloween looks. I’m pretty happy with this product and again I use this as my everyday contour, it’s just something I find I have to be very careful over how much product is on the brush and do a lot of blending to make it look natural. I will be continuing to use this though and would buy it again. If you was those heavily contoured cheekbones, this will definitely do the trick.

So that’s all the makeup I got in October. I hope everyone had an awesome Halloween, let me know what you did to celebrate or any of your spooky finds in the comments.

 

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