Alternative music is rife with horror influences. From the bludgeoning attack of Necrophagia to the 50's inspired punk of The Misfits, music and horror go hand in hand. Imagine my surprise when I was contacted by Venus de Vilo, someone who practically embodies the very essence of horror in her music, videos and artistic work. I was granted my request to interview Venus de Vilo, so what follows is a journey into the mind of a true artist. Prepare to enter the world and mind of Venus de Vilo.
Please introduce yourself to the readers of World of Horror.
I am The Voice Of Horror and Queen Of The Pumpkin Patch: Venus de Vilo.
You combine horror, rock and shock very well. Was it always your intention to combine these areas, or did you concentrate on one, and the others materialized as your career moved on?
Nothing I ever do is intentional. All that I do creatively feels quite "pre-destined" and almost subconscious. It' just "in" me, like being held hostage by a warped inner demon who likes to sing and if I don't just play along, I die! That being said, everything I've ever done in my life, be it primary school show & tells, high school talent shows to now has been scary and theatrical. This is very much an internalised thing. For me, horror and music go skipping hand in hand into the deep dark woods, anything else just wouldn't make sense- and I don't want it to.
What came first, your love for horror or love for rock music?
In my strange little world Horror and Music is a Siamese curse. It just develops and evolves the longer I live and embeds itself further into my creative psyche. I am truly fucking lost down the rabid little rabbit hole that is horror-music- and I have NO intention of being found.
You have made music videos, which come off like mini horror movies. What made you create your videos this way?
One thing I am adamant about in EVERY song I ever write is that it WON'T be just another throw novelty song about some trivial nothing that no one cares about and never stands the test of time. Henceforth - my songs are stories. I make sure every single one has a set beginning, middle and end. There is descriptive imagery, metaphor and other assorted poetic devices.
I want my listeners to to be able to perfectly visualise what's happening in the song (and hopefully, relate!) and be able to walk away from the song saying "This was about that."
That's why with the "Crazy For You" and "Fangtasy" music video - and the next few I have lined up - ARE genuinely like mini horror movies - because ALL my songs are horror stories. All we're doing in the videos is re-enacting and living out the song on camera.
I've been very lucky in regards to the fact that I've had a fantastic director (Helgard De Barros) for both videos. He was perfectly happy with just interpreting the songs and allowing them to be an extension of the original song - not try and change them or me or miss the point completely and just have me bounce around some shopping mall or some shit. He "got it" and that's why the videos work.
Is horror and rock/metal music eternally linked?
FUCK YES! As long as there's been music there's been songs about Satan, demons, virgin sacrifice, demons, devils, Hell, the apocalypse, witch burnings, soul selling, death, dying and the damned. To name but a very few - this list goes on. As long as there is darkness and as long as there is music (specifically alternative music) - the two are going to carry on their age old and kinky as hell love affair! And who am I to judge them?? Hitch a ride along with them is what I say!
Tell us more about the songs you create?
I like your use of the word "create". It does feel like every song is a little Frankenstein's Monster - painstakingly hand crafted through and from the heartbreak and misery that are the grim realities of life. And like with all monsters one creates musically (or through any artistic medium) you know there is only doom. For if you do not destroy the monster nightly on stage, it WILL destroy you.
My three EPs "Edgar Allan Ho" - 2012. "Till Death Do Us Party" - 2013 and "Handle With Scare" - 2014 - are all monuments to the above - and living proof that you can take stupid shit like heartbreak and depression and alcoholism and so forth, face them - know thy enemy, after all - and turn them into something that doesn't control you, but YOU control and will manipulate creatively what ever way helps YOU best.
What instruments do you play?
Guitar. And BADLY. Alarming and Hellish screeches and assorted caterwauls are also know to explode out of my face/mouth on occasion.
Is there a specific mood you have to be in to create your work, or does it all come to you naturally?
It happens when it happens. The right song comes at the right time. Yes, discipline and routine are everything, but ultimately with something as fragile and intangible as "art" - you can't force it. When you are ready, it will come.
I like to think of songs like "mini-funerals". Something in your life lives, then it dies you mourn for it and then you MUST bury it. Then, one day you will be able to celebrate and commemorate the experience through verse (or whatever other art form.)
Each personal "Death" that one immortalises in song is different. It all depends on the rate of catharsis. Some take time to craft, some are easily exorcised before you even realise you were possessed and then sadly, some never get written at all - but float around in limbo.
Not only are you a talented musician, but you have also drawn and written comics. Please tell us more about them.
Since April 2014 I have written & illustrated three comics. Although they're more illustrated stories than actual "comic" comics - I should really stop referring to them as "comics" !!
I adored drawing since childhood, but was never properly trained or taught. For that reason when it became time to leave high school and focus solely on music college - non-music related hobbies WERE sacrificed - art being the main one. It always made me sad that I'd given it up and then in April 2014 when I both gave up drinking alcohol and was going through a patch of writer's block - I needed a serious distraction, and for reasons to this day I still don't understand or consciously decided - I took up drawing again. A comic. An illustrated version of my cannibal-stalker anthem "Crazy For You."
That was mildly successful amongst the unwashed masses - people saying that the rough, untrained and childlike drawing just added to the blood drenched terrifyingness that is "Crazy For You." - and I have since made two further illustrated efforts.
Halloween 2014 will see the launch of Venus de Vilo's illustrated re-telling of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." 36 pages of TERROR! (And greatly improved drawing!)
Then Christmas 2014 - Venus de Vilo's "The Night Before Christmassacre!" A rip off/new version of the classic Xmas poem. I have a recital of my new version up on soundcloud from 2013 if anyone fancies a pre-view of the festive fear!
Does the visual medium you are involved in ever conflict with the music you write/play, or does it influence it?
No. Not at all. The two completely complement each other. I've found myself unlocking a whole new level of creativity within since I re-discovered drawing and assorted other creative do-hickies. Yes, I can't work on songs when I'm working on an art project and vice versa, but it's all creativity, so it's all good! And also, I am now going to draw and design the entire art work for my upcoming full length album "Handle With Scare/Dead Boys Can't Say No" - therefore, unique and bloody weirdness guaranteed!
Who and what are your influences in music and in the visual mediums you are involved in?
Art wise, I adore Tim Burton, Roman Dirge and Edward Gorey - and I think it's clear I blatantly (and badly!) rob from their odd styles and mash them together horribly - thus creating a new abominable form of illustration! Victorian themed and bloody - with unnecessary amounts of semi-dressed ladies - ALL THE WAY!
Musically I adore Emilie Autumn and Ville Valo.
Emilie I believe could easily be some form of long lost soul-twin! Her style, music, the meaning behind it - I 100% heartily endorse the aweomeness of that woman! Living proof that darkness into great light IS achievable.
The dark, broody, Byronic pouting and miscellaneous musical moping of Ville Valo from HIM is what first guided my lost little 13 year old self onto the path of dark music in the first place! Ten years ago this October actually!
Both of these artists have been integral roles in the utter corruption of character and desecration of my musical morals.
Who are your favourite movie directors?
Don't make me choose!! Anyone who directs terrifying J-Horror with long haired ghost girls, freaky children and haunted apartments is all right in my book!
Your songs are amazingly well crafted, and seem to touch the soul with their dark but humorous themes and ideas. Is this soul baring honesty and passion something that means a lot to you?
Yes. Of course it means a lot to me. It IS me. If I don't have that in a song, then I don't have ME in a song and I'm not writing a song that doesn't have me in it. If I can't relate to my own song or don't care about it or whatever, I have no fucking right to expect anyone else to -and that's goal numero uno for any and every song writer ever in existence. And at the end of the day (and the world!) all anyone has is themselves.
Is playing live an important part of what you do?
Yes. In the extreme. For basic reasons, such as artist promotion, testing out new material - seeing what works, honing your skills and so forth But it's a whole new level and experience for the song.You can sit nicely at home writing the best fucking songs in the world till the cows come home - but where's the fun in that? Yes, you should write for yourself, but bringing it "to the people" so to speak, is what it's ALL about.
Particularly for me, as my stage shows are so theatrical and in essence live re-enactments of the songs themselves - usually involving glitter filled balloons,, feather, blood soaked women and mad audience participation (and increasing in the weirdness and full on production with every gig!) - I'd be missing out on ALL that if I never performed.
Is image as important as making great music, or does making great music create a great image?#
Image and music go hand in hand. You MUST be the full package. As much as I revel in shocking people, people still need to be able to look at you and make wild sweeping assumptions about what's about to go down on stage. I feel that some people put either too much effort into appearance & promotion etc while their songs and musicianship suffer greatly, on the other hand there are some truly talented artists with no image or good promo-sense and they too suffer. Full package. You're only as strong as your weakest link.
Being brutally honest, my stage costumes, for example, would be far more elaborate and such if it wasn't for the fact that - I WANT to be able to play guitar, sing properly, and move around the stage without killing myself! Ultimately, as much as I want the outside of me to represent the inside of me, I want to do a good bloody show, they're not going to get that if I can't move my arms around the guitar or am unable to stand up straight in my shoes! Image is crucial, but the music comes first - forever it was, forever it will be!
You can 'Follow' Venus de Vilo on Twitter by clicking HERE.
You can check out Venus de Vilo's Souncloud, where you can listen to her incredible music, by clicking HERE.
You can 'Like' Venus de Vilo on Facebook by clicking HERE.
You can watch Venus de Vilo's music video for 'Crazy for You' by clicking HERE.
You can watch Venus de Vilo's music video for 'Fangtasy' by clicking HERE.
Many many thanks to Venus de Vilo for an incredible interview, and a look inside the mind of an exquisitely talented madwoman!!