Interview with The Cemetary Girlz… By Tzina Dovve (DJ Lady Davinia)…
The Cemetary Girlz… A quintessentially dark/goth band is born in Paris almost twenty years ago… After some years of silence on the underground scene these gothsters rise from the grave ready to take the goth world by storm once again… Frontman AlienSPagan and members Divarre and SiouxSide talk about the early goth days, their relaunch in 2021, new album, upcoming plans and much more… An interesting and in-depth insight on what this band is all about..The Cemetary Girlz… By Tzina Dovve (DJ Lady Davinia)…
Tzina: Welcome to Absolution NYC.. The Cemetary Girlz are a band that have been on the goth/dark/underground scene well over a decade now with some years of silence and a relaunch of the band in 2021.. When and where exactly did you first come to life and who are the current members?
AlienSPagan: I created the band in 2007. I think the band came to life at the first gig in Paris at Le Klub on August 24th, 2007. The current members are: Divarre on drums, Sioux Side on bass and me on guitars and vocals.
Divarre: Hi Absolution NYC, thanks for your interest in our music. I joined the project around 2009. I was in the audience for that first gig in 2007! Alien asked me to join the band later. I used to play in other bands at the time, like Deadchovsky.
Siouxside: Hi! I joined the band around 2018, after AlienSPagan asked me if I wanted to take on the bass guitar, in the cave of The Cantada, an Absinthe bar where he was working. I had a band that had split up and I have my own project ´Mark of the Sphinx’, but I really wanted to play in a band again and participate on a new album. I felt honoured to be asked and I accepted the request of my friend.
Tzina: What prompted you to start this band to begin with in the early days and what prompted the years of silence and the relaunch in 2021… Can you elaborate…
AlienSPagan: My life has always been driven by music. From DJing and organizing concerts to attending festivals across Europe, my experiences have all been building up to a singular goal; the ability to create my own music and inspire other people. The gothic scene is a culture that has always resonated deeply within me. The unique blend of darkness, creativity, and authenticity in this scene is one of a kind. I wanted to produce music that could be an emotional outlet for listeners and provide a sense of belonging , much like the music that had been a refuge for me growing up. I believe the years of silence were necessary. It was a period in our lives when we were overwhelmed, changing jobs, moving to other places, going through health and other issues. Taking that ‘break’ was essential for us to survive, so we could come back stronger and darker than before. My friend Sioux Side has been a huge support in this and our fanbase was a huge motivation for us too.
Divarre: After moving yet again to another place, almost starting everything over again, I felt like I needed to come back to this. Alien and I reconnected and Sioux Side magically appeared at the right time. A perfect alignment of our three spheres, our very own syzygy.
Siouxside: I came into the story of The Cemetary Girlz when there was this silence in the band. It was a difficult time, for different reasons for everyone, that’s true. There were a few abandoned demo tracks that Alien and Divarre made me listen to and I found them different to what I knew by The Cemetary Girlz. They were more elaborate in the compositions, had a different energy, but they were only instrumentals. I believed in the potential of all those sounds. I was sure we could reflect something of what we lived on those tracks, with our own personality, on a different level of course. Alien was in a spiritual process, because of all that happened in his life and was closer to nature and he was interested in old Pagan European lore and magic. This is something we all had in common so I tried to place some bass heavier than what was already there with a few dark sounds of synths and creepy forest sounds. We also made a new logo with a runes style of aesthetic . Alien reconnected with his inspiration and voice and the magic operated by itself. Divarre followed and developed his drums and synths. The motivation to create a new album came and we all worked on it.
Tzina: What is the story behind the band’s name? Any particular reason for the title ‘The Cemetary Girlz’ for your band? Does it have some sort of symbolic meaning? What exactly does this name mean to you?
AlienSPagan: The name ‘The Cemetary Girlz’ was born from various inspirations, including the song ‘Cemetary Girl’ by Penis Flytrap but more importantly, it was a childhood memory. When I was about eight, at my uncle’s funeral, I saw a gothic girl in black, peacefully reading by a tombstone. Amid the sadness, her presence was serene. Her image stayed with me and subtly guided my choices as a teenager. For me The Cemetary Girlz also means the gothic girl in that cemetary. I’ve been a taphophile ever since.
Tzina: Your music is quintessentially dark and could be described as a blend of goth rock, post punk, death rock with some cold wave elements in the mix.. Who is the main songwriter in the band? How is a Cemetary Girlz creation brought to life? What inspires you most to write such dark melodies and what are your main music influences (apart from the obvious)?
AlienSPagan: I’ve always written lyrics or melodies with a theme in mind. Sometimes I try to capture a dream I’ve had, or just a fleeting moment. When we work together each of us contributes to a song. Creating for The Cemetary Girlz is like a dark ritual, taking place at night in a cemetary. The atmosphere is crucial to immerse ourselves fully. I get inspired by autumn, winter, night-time, romance, death, melancholy and all things dark in general. Our main music influences are Gothic Rock, Darkwave and Post Punk music but also some black metal music (we’re metalheads too).
Divarre: Music for me has always been a cathartic experience that has helped me get through many moments in my life; to survive, learn to feel, explore emotions and to grow up. So far our songs always started with Alien but for our latest album the boundaries have been less distinct and each of us brought a lot to the songs on the album.
Siouxside: As I arrived last the identity of The Cemetary Girlz is mainly led by Alien. We united our three identities with all our different music tastes, from deathrock to black metal, going through to cold wave and dark ambient and we created what we consider like the essence of dark music. I feel like it was really common work and I think it’s a piece of art that honours dark musical culture in general.
Tzina: As I understand you just released your latest album ‘L’Envol Du Corbeau’ (‘Flight Of The Raven’ in English) in April this year (2023) both on CD and vinyl.. An album consisting of six new tracks. What feedback has this album received so far both from your fans and music press of the goth/alternative scene?
AlienSPagan: It’s been a success! It received a very warm welcome. The album got fantastic reviews from all around the world from Mick Mercer and other journalists. We’re incredibly proud and pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response it has received so far because this one was really different for us. It’s actually the album that represents The Cemetary Girlz the most.
Divarre: Surprisingly good, it’s been fantastic reading and hearing about the album. I’m pleased that people seem to be enjoying it and get what we wanted to express with these six songs. A podcast did a breakdown of the album thoroughly analysing each song. That was insane and I loved it.
Siouxside: We are so glad with the response we had by people with our new tracks and all the positive feedback. We were a bit afraid that this new sound would leave fans of old deathrock a bit disappointed or find it too different to what was already done previously but no ! It’s the opposite.
Tzina: What makes this album different from previous releases like the early ‘Smoke my Brain’ and ‘Opus Vitae’ from 2013? What is this album about and how happy are you as musicians with the outcome of ‘L’Envol Du Corbeau’? Can you elaborate…
AlienSPagan: This album is different from the others because of the remote composition process and also having Sioux Side in the band. We experimented with longer and more detailed, more intense songs and ideas. It’s incredibly satisfying to see that these longer tracks, which might have scared some people off, have gotten such positive feedback, both in live shows and listening experiences.
Divarre: Obviously, having Sioux Side in the band made a massive difference as he was really involved in the song arrangements, from everything related to the bass guitar to synths and ambiances. He’s had a huge impact on the overall atmosphere of the album. I think we also tried something different with this album experimenting with structures, ideas and going further than we did before. Most of all I didn’t want this album to sound like our previous ones or other bands. What would be the point otherwise? As a musician, I think I’d do a few drum parts a bit differently but I’m also really happy and proud of some additional guitars I recorded that made it to the final cut. That’s been a real achievement for me and something I always wanted to do.
Siouxside: What I can say about the last album (and what I find very interesting). There is no particular style that can define it. We just wanted vibes, dark and sensitive ones. Like if we took your hand and brought you to a dark forest at night, guiding you to an old pagan cemetary, forgotten and hidden there. We wanted something we consider to be ´true’ in music without paying attention to what people expect to listen to and I think the auditors felt and understood that well. Alien managed to find something deeper in his voice, sometimes as if Rozz Williams had possessed him. The guitars are more elaborate and deep. Divarre has always had an impressive drums composition, ideas of synths and did some awesome mixing work. We all put something very personal in it and I am personally very proud of this album.
Tzina: You have released three videos from this album on YouTube.. ‘Eternal Night’, ‘The Wanderer’ and most recently ‘Last Kiss.. How important are videos to The Cemetary Girlz? Do you believe the visual side of a band is as fundamental as the musical side? Do you enjoy the process of making videos?
AlienSPagan: I believe that videos are essential for bands in today’s digital landscape. Everything goes through social media, and the image a group projects to its audience is very important. For ‘The Last Kiss’ we wanted to get our fans involved, as they are the reason we exist. The cemetary theme was perfect for World Goth Day. We’re hoping to create many more videos in the near future!
Divarre: They definitely changed my mind on making videos. This is a lot of work and Alien puts so much time and effort into them. I’d personally just focus on making music but these videos have given another dimension to these songs, another existence and I really like them.
Siouxside: We are attached to the visual aspect of dark culture and we want to continue to create quality content. I don’t really like this time where we have to do digital content to exist, but we have to play the game too. That’s why we try to respect our fans and people who like dark culture with beautiful videoclips. We have the luck to have a talented realisator who helped us with ‘Eternal Night’ and we were very happy to create ‘The Last Kiss’ with every goth around the world that wanted to participate. I can’t wait to make more videos.
Tzina: The Cemetary Girlz have been an active live band over the years with a number of shows under your belt not only in your home country but also with a tour of Mexico and participations in major goth festivals such as Wave-Gotik-Treffen just to name a few.. As I understand there are some upcoming shows this year but 2024 will be your year.. What do you enjoy most about performing live? Can you elaborate…
AlienSPagan: Yes, we have concerts lined up, starting in May 2024. It’s going to be our year. We’re still looking for a manager/booker, as we get many requests to play at various places, and organizing everything can be quite challenging. We’d be thrilled to tour more extensively in Europe and also finally tour in the USA! What we love about performing live is the spontaneity and the genuine connection that concerts bring. We’re usually immersed in our own world when we’re on stage. We don’t necessarily put on a flashy show, but we keep an eye on the audience. Our goal is to have everyone in a trance experiencing our music right alongside us. It’s a fantastic feeling.
Divarre: It’s been insanely good being back on stage, meeting with our audience and reaching new people as well. That’s the best way for me to connect with others and share something together. I enjoy playing live a lot. I push myself to my limits and give all I have. Come say hi if you’re at one of our shows!
Siouxside: To play on stage is a very intense experience and we really work hard to deliver beautiful shows. As I joined the band recently I play the tracks composed by the previous bassists and I can feel the total different vibes but it’s a pleasure to play the first Cemetary Girlz tracks. It’s very ´Deathrock’ like the old days; powerful and very good. I remember the energy of the public in Mexico that was on fire. Fabulous experience! We can’t wait to play all those future dates.
Tzina: There has been a number of bands emerging on the scene during the past few years around the globe… Both new bands and older bands.. Do you think there is some sort of goth revival happening at the moment? Do you follow the contemporary scene?
AlienSPagan: I follow the current music scene and there’s been a significant ‘Goth/Dark’ revival lately, which is really fantastic. There are some amazing bands emerging like Shrouds, Forever Grey, Noktva, The Desires, Twin Tribes, Nox Novacula, Witch Hands, Death Church, This Cold Night, The Waning Moon, Antipole, Cemetery Echo, Vision Video, Altar de Fey and many more. However, there are also many bands that don’t resonate with me at all. Many non-goth bands are trying to emulate the goth style. There’s a noticeable lack of authenticity in those cases.
Divarre: More drummers please!
Alien: YES ! Goth and Deathrock need more Drummers!
Siouxside : I follow the new Goth scene too and I find it very good and interesting. It seems like there is a revival, but not like what we knew from the past two decades. It’s like the new bands just take what works the best technically from the 80’s and make something just efficient and powerful. It’s all about mixing new sounds with old sounds and sometimes it’s absolutely brilliant. We have the pleasure to listen to different styles crossing each other, something like what we try to do in a way. No more defined styles, just creativity and experimentations.
We can’t deny the impact of the streaming platform that pushes new bands to hit hard for each song the same way. This can lead to a ‘standardisation’ of what works and what doesn’t. We have to be careful with it…
Tzina: How do you veiw the goth/dark/underground scene in France today? Do you believe it has changed immensely since your early beginnings? Do you believe it differs from the rest of the world?
AlienSPagan: The scene has evolved significantly since our beginnings. I remember in the past seeing mostly Batcave, Deathrock and Goth styles. Fantastic looks, reminiscent of the Batcave era in London. In France now however, although the audience is still there, it seems to attract people from other scenes and backgrounds. I’ve attended concerts by bands like Lebanon Hanover, She Past Away and others and I sometimes felt like I stood out in the crowd, haha. It’s quite different in other countries. We were pleasantly surprised in Mexico as they have a strong scene there and live their passion to the fullest!
Divarre: Not sure about France as I don’t live there anymore, but it’s definitely been reaching more people than before, though it remains quite underground. I’d say people are more curious and less judgemental. There’s less stigma around the scene and people are enjoying it, even when they’re not particularly from the scene.
Siouxside: I saw the evolution of the Goth scene in France since I came to live in Paris twenty-three years ago and now based in Toulouse two years. It’s very different now as we have lost things that attracted me to this scene at the time. There was more creativity in fashion, looks and personal investment to keep the scene alive. There were almost three parties per week full of goths, people with strong musical and general culture. There were festivals, shops, clubs and bars. The sounds were more deathrock, punk and cold wave or industrial and we could go to concerts every week. Unfortunately, there were so many toxic and judgemental people too and each time a new generation came, they had an awful feeling discovering a more and more rotten community. It was true. I don’t regret that time for those people. The young generation are more open I guess but they are less and less interested or touched by the old sounds. I mix old and new sounds at Goth parties in Toulouse sometimes. I can see there is no huge goth community anymore like it was before but we have to attract people with modern sounds of the past three-five years only. The bands in France can’t really pretend to make interesting live shows like they did before. There are no good labels that do their job. They can’t find promoters that can bet on them because of the little community that still exists. There is still passionate people that try to organise festivals, like in Toulouse, The Set Mana Santa Festival, where we played last year. People are here every year but it only works with bands that have a name the past three years or so. It’s a hard communication job and a lot of money to lose. There are a few goth parties that still exist in Paris but the bigger on the ´Péniche’, still survive. The new bands in France (for those who try to exist) are drowned in the sea of musical projects on streaming platforms…
Tzina: What are your ambitions for The Cemetary Girlz? As difficult as it may be for bands and artists today are there any particular goals you would like to achieve for your band? Can you elaborate…
AlienSPagan: We’ll keep going, although the concert landscape has changed significantly. Our goals include releasing an EP and another new album, hopefully this year. I’d like to focus on our visuals, videos and more.
Divarre: Playing Deathrock, releasing new material and going to our favourite cemetary. Playing shows has definitely been challenging with rising travel costs.
Siouxside: We are still working on demos right now and preparing for our next live show in Poland with Corpus Delicti in October. The year 2024 is our year too. We will still represent the traditional (but not annoying) goth spirit and give our enthusiasm to people that love the dark culture.
Tzina: Thankyou for your time.. Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans? What can they expect from The Cemetary Girlz in the near future?
AlienSPagan: Thank you for this interview. We’d also like to thank all our fans for their support.
Siouxside: Thank you for your interest in our music! I also thank every fan for their support and creativity on social media, we can see every day. Long life to bats and vampires!