The State Of Goth

No longer just a genre, the gothic subculture continues to pervade pop culture, with artists such as Voltaire carrying the torch

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Though skeptics have quipped that gothic music is "dead, undead" (to paraphrase Bauhaus), the genre has transformed into a subculture that continues to thrive and survive in a constantly evolving music landscape. While gothic progenitors such as the Sisters Of Mercy and Siouxsie And The Banshees cracked the Billboard charts in the '80s, the '90s featured an underground cross-pollination of ethereal, dark wave and industrial groups. By the 2000s, traditional gothic began waning as electropop and industrial acts took over and gothic magazines and club nights dwindled.

Today, the gothic spirit is far from dead. Its aesthetic continues to pervade pop culture, from emo bands to horror films and the dark-haired Abby Sciuto (portrayed by Pauley Perrette) on "NCIS." Additionally, the gothic and symphonic metal subgenres, which encompass such artists as Lacuna Coil, Nightwish and HIM, have endured, while crossover artist Emilie Autumn, whose unique "Victoriandustrial" sound has attracted dark music fans, performed on the Vans Warped Tour this summer. Veteran artists such as Peter Murphy, Monica Richards, and William Faith have remained active on the touring circuit, while newer bands such as the Birthday Massacre, Combichrist and Bella Morte are infusing their music with electronic elements.

"Gothic music was once the [province] of [romantics] Byron and Shelley and late 1800s Victorianism expressed in music," says Ronan Harris of English/Irish electropop group VNV Nation. "Suddenly there's this whole new generation describing very different metaphysical things, a new form of poetry appealing to both crowds. Some of the fashions are being crossed over and everything is being called gothic culture. Even industrial clubs are being called gothic clubs."

Patrick Rodgers, owner of Philadelphia-based gothic, industrial, alternative, vampire, and underground special events promoter Dancing Ferret entertainment group, sees a big change in today's gothic subculture.

"Three to five years ago, if you asked some guy named Jim about being a goth, he'd say, 'I go to gothic events and listen to gothic music because that's an integral part of who I am. I'm a goth.' Now, his answer would most likely be, 'I go to all sorts of subculture events like anime conventions, goth parties, burner events, fetish [clubs], and stuff like that because being involved in the subculture is an integral part of who I am.'"

Richards, who released her third solo album, Kindred, in 2013 and headlined the World Goth Day festival in Mexico on May 31, mirrors this view in her own career.

"I'm not sure anymore about scenes," she says. "I'm just putting it out, and whoever loves it loves it. I'm becoming myself more and not worrying about [fitting into a] genre. On my fan page I put photos of myself in my ranch jeans. Fifteen years ago that would have mortified me."

Cuban-American dark cabaret musician Voltaire, whose 2014 album, Raised By Bats, marked his first "true goth rock album," says gothic music is a "big black umbrella that encompasses so many different styles of music and different philosophies, all of which, at the core, have some fascination with darkness and inner pain."

Voltaire acknowledges that appealing to audiences at U.S.-based events as diverse as the Steampunk Empire Symposium and Dragon Con has expanded his reach.

"My first career was as a stop motion animator, and if I had to rely on that my family would starve to death," he says. "I feel the same way about goth. If my audience was nothing but an entire gothic audience, I wouldn't be doing so well."

Ed Klein, aka Joe Radio, who is a DJ at San Francisco's Death Guild, the longest-running weekly gothic club night in the United States, says that "goth is still an all-ages style. If you asked our patrons what music qualifies as 'goth' these days, you'd get a bunch of different answers."

According to Klein, some of these answers would include subgenres such as classic goth (the Cure, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Joy Division), classic industrial (Skinny Puppy, Front 242), dark wave (Zola Jesus, Florence & The Machine), dark synth (Legend, Mr. Kitty, Trust), and the "witch house" underground, which includes groups such as Blvck Ceiling.

"There's a whole new young audience I see going to clubs with Sisters [Of Mercy] and ['80s German industrial band Einstürzende] Neubauten tattoos [who] are too young to ever even have seen those bands live," adds Ashkelon Sain of Trance To The Sun. "The legend of what gothic was and could be is gaining steam from what I can see. It feels way fresher than it did."

In Europe the goth scene is attracting a younger audience.

"Here the scene is healthy with a majority of the audience under 24 [years old]," says Ronny Moorings, frontman for veteran Dutch group Clan Of Xymox. "There has always been a healthy interest …  in this type of music, so it is still going strong, especially in Germany. … Don't forget that the gothic scene is the only scene where adolescents can express themselves, so it will always have an appeal to the younger audience."

Germany also boasts the largest goth music festival in the world with the Wave-Gotik-Treffen, which features approximately 20,000 fans and 200 artists a year, spanning subgenres such as dark ambient, neo-classical and post-punk. The 2014 installment took place June 6–9 in Leipzig and featured approximately 250 artists.

"In Europe, electronic bands took over a prominent part of the dark music scene within the last [few] years," says Cornelius Brach, spokesperson for Wave-Gotik-Treffen. "However, traditional goth plays an important role. You still have a lot of parties where such music is played more than any other stuff, and there is a growing number of newer bands whose music clearly stands in the tradition of the old goth or guitar wave heroes. And people still want to see the old heroes."

While the music remains dark and brooding, the outlook for the continued evolution of goth is bright.

"Now you have all these 18- and 19-year-old kids [playing] music that is inspired by what they think are the sounds and moods of music they've heard their older brothers play and [they] are creating a whole style of music that could be called a post-goth new evolution," says Harris. "I think that's a laudable thing. At the end of the '80s, goth didn't die, it just evolved into a new format. A lot of scenes from the '80s have gone by the wayside, but goth has been very lucky to have persevered and is still a major force in musical history, whether people like it or not."

(Bryan Reesman is a longtime closet goth. But he just outed himself.)


GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.


Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year


Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy


Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images


Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards