Kidnapped Week! Guest Blog: Interview with Maynard Blackoak

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Eerie Trails of the Wild Weird West Interview – Horror Tree

1: What made you decide on the Wild West as a setting for these short stories?

I’ve always been fascinated by the old west. Plus, I come from a long line of ranchers and cowboys. Add in my own experiences of wrangling cattle on horseback and it was only natural that I wrote some kind of cowboy stories.

2: How do you find inspiration for writing?

Inspiration comes in many forms. Sometimes a song conjures images in my mind. Other times a story is written in the way the wind blows. There are times looking at an old dilapidated building makes me wonder about the folks who dwelt in it or the history it might have witnessed. There’s inspiration all around me. I just never know when or how it will strike me.

3: Why horror?

My first memories are of watching the old classic black and white horror films with my momma. I grew up loving them and later on fell in love with classic horror literature

4: Who are your writing influences?

I love Poe’s use of obscure words. I love the way Dickens paints images in the mind. Since I was young, I enjoyed the way Conan Doyle challenged my mind with his intellectual approach to storytelling. I’d have to say those three influenced me more than any others

5: You have a couple books under your writing career, these are much different than Wild West. What is your most favorite subject of the horror genre?

To be honest, I don’t have a favorite. Each is fun to write in its own right, but some off more of a challenge than others. Since I don’t prefer one over any of the others, it helps maintain a diverse imagination

6: Do you believe in aliens?

Only if they believe in me and buy my books

7: If you could tell your young writing self something in three words, what would you tell them?

Don’t be stupid.

And if I can add this: put down the pen in pursuit of the mighty dollar. It is possible to keep writing while pursuing a career in the corporate world.

8: What kind of music do you listen to when you write?

Like my writing, my taste in music is diverse. I listened to a lot of cowboy music writing my Wild West tales. Other times I listened to heavy metal and in others, it was goth music. Oftentimes, my playlist is filled with songs from many genres

9: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Being a cowboy, I’d have to be shot if I didn’t say a horse. Besides, there’s no better way to feel free than riding a horse on the open range

10: What should we look out for in the future of your writing?

Look for something totally different than the wild west. Maybe something more like classic literature of old. Also, there just might be something more contemporary and even a little depraved. You just never know what will spin through the splintered windmill of my brain.

Kidnapped! Jessica B Bell Interview

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Interview with Jessica B. Bell 

 

How long have you been writing? What inspired you to be a writer?

 

Oh, I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. I’ve loved reading my whole life – my parents read me Dr. Seuss and such before I could read on my own, but once I figured out how to read stories, I knew I wanted to tell some of my own. Whether or not I’ll ever be able to do it for a living, I know I’ll always have stories to tell.

 

What is the best horror movie you have seen? Worst?

 

I am a huge fan of 28 Days Later, and even the sequel, 28 Weeks Later is great. I also love Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, even with Keanu Reeves’ and Winona Ryder’s questionable English accents, or lack thereof (Gary Oldman redeems it all). The cinematography is phenomenal (those shadows moving by themselves were a nice touch) and the score is perfectly haunting. It came out when I was in high school, and I snuck out my parents’ car to go see it in the theater three nights in a row.

Every once in awhile, I come across a title on Netflix or Kodi that just begs to be seen, if only out of morbid curiosity. I found a movie once called The Shark Exorcist that was as bad as you think it was. Of course, I also think that there are a lot of mainstream, successful films that are just awful, but everyone has their preferences.

 

Why did you choose the horror genre?

 

I like weird things, and I like to try all sorts of different genres, but when I’m taking my writing seriously, I always seem to end up writing strange tales – not necessarily horror, but definitely strange. Like many of us, my parents read Stephen King, and when I was old enough, I started reading him, and Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice. They were okay, but I wanted more, and so I started reading classics like Poe, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, and of course, Dracula, Frankenstein, things like that. I like horror so much that I’m sort of a student of the genre. When I write, I’m very aware of the conventions and tropes that people are familiar with, and try to incorporate them into my own work.

 

When you want to be inspired, what do you use for inspiration?

 

Music, for the most part. Or I’ll go for a drive. I’ll dictate notes to my phone, which is great unless you accidentally reset your phone and lose all your notes.

 

Coffee or pizza?

 

Two of my favourite things, really, and both go great for breakfast, but if you’re talking about as a weapon (like, say, in the game of Clue), I’d go with a nice scalding cuppa joe. Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with a Venti Americano.

 

Which story in Viscera is your favorite? 

 

So, I have a few, of course, but two in particular spring to mind (this time you ask me, anyway – ask me again tomorrow and I’ll give you a different answer). Paraxenogenesis, or, What Alice Found There is the completed version of a story I’ve been trying to write since I was about 15 years old. It’s changed completely, of course, but the crux of it was a nightmare I had as a kid. The other story is the title story, Viscera, about which I initially had reservations. More than any other story in the collection, this was the one that I sent out for beta-readers to give feedback on. The story itself is a bit of chicanery, and I wanted to make sure I pulled it off successfully, and that I wasn’t being obtuse. But I didn’t absolutely love the story until I had a reader come to me in tears, saying how much the story had moved her. She’d seen the metaphors in the story that others had missed, and when you connect with a reader like that, well, there’s nothing better.

 

What theme do you enjoy writing about? Space, aliens, zombies, death etc etc?

 

Yes. Actually, it’s strange. I don’t usually like writing about space or aliens, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t. Ridley Scott’s Alien is, in my opinion, the best sci-fi horror movie ever – and Giger’s creature (as well as his other art) was hugely influential, not only on my nightmares, but in my stories as well, particularly Paraxenogenesis. I like writing about broken characters trying to make their way through unusual situations. I really like writing about cults, strange gods, human sacrifice, ancient rituals, and the like. My upcoming novel, CHUK, deals with all of those, and a swamp monster to boot.

 

You have a story about alien abduction in this collection, do you believe they are real?

 

I, ahem, want to believe.

 

What is a scary night / nightmare you can’t forget?

 

One year on Halloween night, a friend (I use the term loosely) took me to an old, unfinished tunnel that went halfway under the Welland Canal. There was a ghost story attached to the place, of course – some legend about a spurned lover who accidentally stumbled into the tunnel and dropped her lantern, burning herself to death. We went into the tunnel, in the dark, and my friend’s flashlight batteries conveniently died. So of course, we had to resort to flicking our lighters to light the way, but even that was short-lived, as our thumbs began burning. At some point, my friend stopped walking as I continued toward the back of the tunnel. We were so far in that if I turned back, the opening of the tunnel was only about the size of my fist. It was about then that my friend decided to tell me the rest of the legend – that if you lit a match at midnight, the sight of the fire would cause the ghost to scream. Well, we didn’t see a ghost, but when my friend lit a match, blew it out, and began to scream, I may or may not have ran so hard toward to the open end of the tunnel that I knocked her over and together, covered in mud and laughing, we stumbled our way back out into the night air, where I gave her hell for scaring me so.

 

Cats or dogs?

Either is good if prepared correctly. But you mean… anyway, I like cats but I don’t trust them. Something inherently evil about them. Dogs are great companions, but they’re dumb as dirt.

 

What made you want to do a collection of short stories?

 

I’ve been writing short fiction for years now, in between bigger ideas. Even if I was working on a novel, there would be ideas that came that were smaller. I was given a tattered copy of Night Shift by Stephen King when I was a teenager, and between that and a collection called Sandkings by George R.R. Martin, I fell in love with the short story format. I hope that readers will get a taste for my writing with these small chunks as an appetizer, and hunger for more.

 

I saw that there is a poem in the collection. I liked it… and woah by the way… What made you decide to include it?

 

There are actually a couple of poetic works in the collection, but if you are referring to A Visit to the Doctor, then I’m glad you liked it. I love the ambiguity of what’s actually going on in the poem. A lot of my writing uses normal, everyday occurrences (like going to the doctor) and juxtaposes them with something twisted. The result is something quite horrific.

***Editor’s Note: I was talking about A Visit to the Doctor and Woah… I loved it.

 

Last question: What should we be looking out for in the future from you?

 

2017 should bring at least two new books – CHUK is my first full-length novel, and is currently being edited for publication – and I am working with a handful of other writers to finish Incarnate, the third and final book in the meta-fictional Jessica series. I’m also working on a book cycle called The People of the Manatii. The first book is already written, and the second is brewing.

 

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Jessica B. Bell is a Canadian writer of strange fiction. It is rumoured that she lives in a damp, dark basement, writing her twisted tales in her own blood on faded yellow parchment. Her stories have been published in various anthologies, the most recent of which is Voices. She also writes under the name Helena Hann-Basquiat, and has published two novels on the metafictional topic of Jessica B. Bell, titled Jessica and Singularity. A third and final novel is planned for 2017.

Find more of Jessica’s (and Helena’s) writing at whoisjessica.com

Lacrymosa Aeterna

Recently, HorrorAddicts.net had an opportunity to interview Lacrymosa Aeterna and this is what we found out!

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1. HA- Who are all the members? What instrument do they play? Who writes your lyrics?

Lacrymosa Aeterna is a dark classical crossover duet project from Thessaloniki,Greece. George Palousis is the composer and producer and Vamptessa Debbie is the vocalist and lyricist. Occasionally, we also collaborate with Daniela Paleohorinou,who is a talented upcoming poet/writer.

2. What singers or bands inspired you growing up? Who are your favorite artists today?

Debbie: As a teenager, I was mainly inspired by old Tristania, Draconian, Myriads, Epica, Nightwish, Lethian Dreams, Dark Sanctuary, Artesia, Elend, The Sins of thy Beloved, Nox Arcana and Midnight Syndicate.  I used to listen to atmospheric/melodic/symphonic/doom gothic metal & dark neoclassical music at that time. And of course, Disney! I still love Disney movies and I really hope to give my voice to a Disney princess some day. I think it’s about time they made a Gothic romantic princess!

My favorite artists today are Hayley Westenra,  Meav,  Eurielle,  Anna O’ Byrne,  Secret Garden,  Destini Beard, Emma Shapplin, Abel Korzeniowski, Jeremy Soule, Camilla Kerslake, Narsilion, Dark Sanctuary, Artesia, Aythis

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George: In my early years, I was inspired by various metal bands such as Nightwish, Epica, Within Temptation, Tool. Slowly, I turned to film/symphonic music and my favorite artists are: Howard Shore, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, Abel Korzeniowski, Yanni  and several classics.3.  When did you first know you wanted to be a musician and how did you start out?

Debbie: At the age of 16, when I took up my first singing lessons, I decided that I wanted to make a living by being a vocalist. My beliefs were and still are that life is short and everyone should follow their heart’s desire by choosing to pursue their careers according to their dreams and what they love doing the most and not by only being dependent on the amount of money they will earn. The first step that I took towards my dreams, was to join a gothic metal band at the age of 17. It was more of a school project and it only lasted about a year.

George:  At the age of 19, I quit university, so that I would have time and energy for music and it was at this age  I started composing and producing my own music. I began learning to play the piano by myself and I slowly discovered the whole symphonic orchestra and the music production.4. What non-musical things inspire your music? Is there a place where you go to be inspired?

Debbie: My inspiration lies in anything magical-derived from fairy tales. Also, I get motivated by dreams I had, favorite movie scenes, soundtracks, paranormal romance literature, life experiences and silence… I find great inspiration in dead silence, that’s when my imagination runs wild. I love taking long walks in the woods during twilight hours and when there’s a full moon. The atmosphere is so eerie and darkly enchanting during these times,that my mind always drifts away and I feel like the figments of my imagination can become real.

George: Anything could inspire me. There isn’t anything in particular worth mentioning,except long walks in nature,which are utterly rejuvenating and inspiring.thatbandphoto2

5. What’s been the greatest achievement of your band? Or, where was the coolest place to play? Where did you enjoy yourselves the most?

 We feel that our greatest achievement so far is that we got discovered by a movie producer based in Hollywood a year ago and we had the privilege of writing the whole score of the Gothic Horror film “Pale Horse” which will be released soon this year or next. It should be noted that this work is unrelated to our Lacrymosa Aeterna music. We worked on this score as individual artists.

6.What are your favorite horror movies?

George & Debbie: Our list is huge since this is one of our favorite genres,so we’re gonna name the first ones  that come to mind right now. Insidious movies, The Ring movies, Mama, The Conjuring I,II , The Orphanage ,Silent Hill I, Haunter, Whispering Corridors 3:Wishing Stairs, Whispering Corridors 4: Voice, Cello, The Uninvited, Mirrors I, Dead Silence, Case 39, The Dark and the list goes on…!

7. What was the scariest night of your life?

We really can’t recall any night that would be described as a scary one. Maybe it’s because we love the night!

8. What is available now that the listeners can download or buy? What is the website they can find it on? What is the best social media site for listeners to connect with you on? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? Other? Bandcamp? What are your web addresses?

We have released an EP called “Fables”, which contains all of our 5 songs,not including our yet unreleased 6th installment “Shrine of Eternal Elegy”. It can be purchased directly from us by sending a personal message to our facebook page or sending an email to: lacrymosaaeterna@hotmail.com or by contacting us through our website: http://lacrymosaaeterna.wixsite.com/lacrymosaaeterna

You can also find our songs  on Bandcamp,Soundcloud , and our YouTube channel.9. If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your opening band?

We would love to perform live in a large venue in Prague. We admire everything about this city and we’d really like to share the stage with  our talented dear friend, Destini Beard.

 

10. What are you working on now for a future release? Are you on tour? Where can they see you?

We are currently working on the video clip that will accompany  our song “Shrine of Eternal Elegy” and they will both be released hopefully by the end of fall 2016. We are also working on a new song that will feature Destini Beard’s vocals. For the time being, we don’t do live performances.

Finale Guest: G TOM MAC

For the finale, Dan Shaurette interviewed with one of our favorite musicians, a legend in the industry of soundtracks for TV and film as well as playing on tour, Mr. Gerard McMahon, aka G TOM MAC.

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2017 marks the 30th Anniversary of The Lost Boys! Of course his song, “Cry Little Sister” is forever linked to the movie.

All through the 80’s and 90’s and beyond he left his mark on many film and TV soundtracks. The compilation album Full Circle of Mad Years runs the gamut from Fast Times at Ridgemont High to Chasing Amy and more. Hell, KISS covered his song “Is That You” on their hit album Unmasked.

He is still writing and performing. His music can be found in two upcoming movies. The new Lionsgate film Grey Lady which hits theaters this later this year, and you can spot G in the movie singing the movie’s theme song, “Eyes on the Prize”. Plus there’s the upcoming comedy The Best Thanksgiving Ever which he wrote all of the music for.

In 2017, he’s releasing a new album called THOU and he will be playing gigs around the country to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Lost Boys.

We hope you join us for the season finale, premiering October 22, to hear the interview with G TOM MAC. To find out more about him and his music, please visit GTOMMAC.com.

Terror Trax: Gild the Mourn

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Recently, HorrorAddicts.net had the opportunity to interview Gild the Mourn about their music, band, achievements and of course the scariest night of their life. Here’s more…

HorrorAddicts.net: Please introduce yourselves, what you play and how you write your lyrics:

Gild the Mourn: We’re Gild the Mourn, a multi-instrumental two-piece Fairytale themed Gothic Rock band. I (Angel Metro) am the vocalist and my husband, Gopal Metro, does backing vocals and lead guitar. We co-write all of our music together. We play bass, program our synthesizers and produce the tracks in our home studio. Occasionally we pull out a flute, banjo, acoustic guitar, or some strange instrument Gopal built.

We write our own lyrics and they’re highly collaborative.  One of us will generally sit down and write up the skeleton for a song and the other will come in and flesh it out, then we sit down together to polish the whole thing up and make certain the lyrics work well with the music. We take a lot of inspiration for them from mythology and fantasy.

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HA: What singers or bands inspired you growing up? Who are your favorite artists today?

A – As a child I really enjoyed Rockabilly and Blues inspired music. Elvis was king. Being a huge movie buff I also really liked movie soundtracks. As a teenager I got into Punk, Goth, and Psychobilly. Some of my favorite artists are The Bolshoi, Camouflage, The Cure, A Spectre is Haunting Europe, Mount Sims, Faith and the Muse, Sisters of Mercy, Igorrr, Switchblade Symphony, Dr. Steel, Story of the Running Wolf, Specimen and Rosetta Stone.

G – Pre 1990: Einstuerzende Neubauten, Severed Heads, Skinny Puppy, Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Cranes, The Cure. 1990-2000: Faith and the Muse, Switchblade Symphony, Bella Morte. Post 2000: Tying Tiffany, O.Children, The Good Natured, HTRK, IAMX, Valravn. Pretty much anything dark in sound. Production wise: Sinead O’Connor (the vocal treatments on her early works are incredible!), Moody Blues (vocal distortion, rich synths, crazy mixing and mastering techniques), Tyrannosaurus Rex’s albums “Unicorn” and “Beard of Stars” (absolutely bizarre music that certainly is not for everyone), in a similarly strange vein PIL’s “Flowers of Romance”,

HA:  When did you first know you wanted to be a musician and how did you start out?

A – I’ve been involved with music throughout my life in one form or another. I sung and played a variety of instruments like bass and saxophone. I applied to attend Berklee College of Music Online in the Fall of last year, and when I received my acceptance letter that’s when I decided to go full force as a musician and build out Gild The Mourn.

G – I have been playing or performing music since I was a little kid, but I don’t think I knew that I wanted to do it professionally until I was about 11, when I first heard the Severed Heads song ‘Army’. I didn’t know music could sound like that, but knew that I wanted to learn how to make more!

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HA: What non-musical things inspire your music? Is there a place where you go to be inspired?

A- Gopal and I take inspiration from a lot of the same areas, it’s what drove us to form the band in the way we have. One of my favorite places to become inspired is in the woods. Whether I have an audio book or just my own thoughts, it’s a perfect place to connect and be inspired.

G – Fairytales, folklore, ghost stories, myths, legends, high fantasy, ancient works of religion. Our studio is the best place of inspiration for me, but we did our best to design it that way.

HA:  What’s been the greatest achievement of your band? Or, where was the coolest place to play? Where did you enjoy yourselves the most?

A – Thus far we’ve gotten international airplay, magazine features, and even have been honored by a few of them which has been pretty freaking amazing. One of the most fun things we’ve done was speaking at DragonCon on the Horror Track’s “State of the Goth Scene” panel. We were there with several other musicians, many of them being our friends as well and we had a blast talking about music.

G – So far, we released some songs and people liked them. *grins*  Truly, though, we are deeply grateful to everyone who has supported us to date.

HA: What are your favorite horror movies?

A – The Evil Dead, 28 Days/Weeks Later, Sweeney Todd, Nightmare on Elm Street, Jaws, Silence of the Lambs, Interview With the Vampire, Hellraiser, As Above So Below, The Number 23, Battle Royale, and The Babadook.  Also, an honorable mention for the Attack on Titan Series.

G – Pumpkinhead; As Above, So Below; Alien; The Others; Let The Right One In; Ringu; Dellamorte Dellamore. Pretty much any quality supernatural or sci-fi horror.  Recently watched the short film, The Birch, and absolutely loved it!

HA:  What was the scariest night of your life?

A – We recently had a family member pass away and without going into detail watching someone walk out and not come back, well that’s pretty damn scary.

G – It’s been quite a while since I last truly felt scared.  I haven’t had anyone threaten or try to kill me recently, which is a good thing. I also haven’t felt haunted in quite some time; also a good thing.  Even in the worst of times, I always trusted that I would make it out okay.  Thankfully, that has been true so far. As a husband and father, though, the biggest fears I have are for the safety and wellbeing of my wife and son.  Not too dramatic, I’m afraid, but honest.  If anything ever happened to either of them, I would truly be heartbroken.

HA: What is available now that the listeners can download or buy? What is the website they can find it on? What is the best social media site for listeners to connect with you on? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? Other? Bandcamp? What are your id’s/ web addresses?

A- You can find all of our music, including our album “I-VIII” on our website: http://www.gildthemourn.com/, and you can also sign up for our mailing list there to get the latest news and freebies!

As far as social media goes we are all over the place and love connecting with fans! We’re most active on Facebook, so connect with us at: https://www.facebook.com/gildthemourn/

We’re also really active on Instagram, which gives some fun behind the scenes and daily life content. You can check us out here: https://www.instagram.com/gildthemourn/

You can follow us on YouTube to catch our upcoming vlog here: https://www.youtube.com/gildthemourn

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HA: If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your opening band?

G-Once we get on the road, we would love to play Wave Gotik Treffen; any slot would be awesome.  Same goes for Whitby Goth Weekend.  Opening slots for The Cure, Peter Murphy, Faun or Depeche Mode would all be a dream. Truly, we would love to play shows with any other band in any genre that’s devoted to what they do and who are open to cross-genre pollination.  Music, art, film-making, writing, they are all about passion, dedication and storytelling!

A- We’re also planning on playing within the convention scene.We have an avid love for comics and videogames as do our fans, so we will definitely be making some con appearances!

HA: What are you working on now for future release? Are you on tour? Where can they see you?

A- The next big thing we’re working on is the release of our 2nd music video for our song “Greed”. We’re really looking forward to sharing the video with our fans. We’ve had a killer team to help us make it reality and we’ve also bought back Sam Eberle who some fans may recognize as the videographer from our 1st video “Shade”. Sam is crazy talented and we’ve been really fortunate to work with him.

We’re also developing a crowdfunding campaign with kickass perks so fans can help support us on the road for our first tour! We’ll have it launched later this year and we’re shooting to be on the road in the Spring/Summer of 2017. There will be lot’s of merch including the the Deluxe Edition of “I-VIII” on CD, our first physical release ever!

If you want to see us live get in touch with your local promoter, venue, or band and let them know! We are open to play pretty much anywhere as long the logistics work and it fits in schedule wise. You can contact us about playing your next show at: gildthemourn@gmail.com.

We’re also shooting to launch of our vlog soon, so even if you can’t catch us in person you’ll be able to interact with us Youtube. You’ll be able to ask us questions, leave comments, and maybe get a shout out too!

About the song Greed:

A- Greed is about a person’s greed manifesting into an entity and consuming them, which ultimately leads to their demise, or rebirth depending on how you take it. It’s written from the entity’s perspective as it confronts them. Having a King or another person being consumed by want or a magical object is a common theme in fantasy, so it was a relatively easy song to craft. While composing the music for it I had some personal matters that related to these stories, and it also inspired me to take it in that direction. We released it in February 2015 and are releasing the music video this Fall! Keep an eye out for it by subscribing to our YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/gildthemourn

 

Terror Trax: Jill Tracy

TerrorTrax

HorrorAddicts recently had the joy of interviewing Jill Tracy about her music, inspiration and some of her achievements…..

HA: Do you write your own lyrics/where does your inspiration come from?

JT: Yes, I write both the lyrics and music. Although the music always comes first for me. That’s the “way in.” The vocal melody will reveal itself early on, then words begin to emerge. I am a meticulous wordsmith to a fault. Some songs lay frozen in notebooks for years because I was never happy with one particular line. But then the perfect line may come to me, pop in my head, at a random time. The process of letting it go will often bring it back to you. As far as what inspires—it’s never any one thing specifically; that’s the beauty of it, the sheer randomness. It’s more of a sensory response to the immediate; a word or phrase, an image, a story, a mood, a fragrance, textures, colors, he allure of the unknown, the forbidden, anything that enables me to ‘slip into the cracks.’ It’s a process of being alive in that place, allowing the flame. My music is like a portal, a transport into another realm. When I write, I’m conjuring a magic place, getting out of this world for a while. It’s the grand escape hatch

HA: What singers or bands inspired you growing up?

JT: As far as bands go—most definitely Pink Floyd. They captured that cinematic mood, that dark, mournful beautiful devastation that transported you completely. Also Led Zeppelin, The Cure, David Bowie, T. Rex, early Elton  John, The Doors, Japan, later period Talk Talk, The Pretenders, Gang of 4, Psychedelic Furs, The Cult, Roxy Music, The Who, early Peter Gabriel, old Moody Blues, early Aerosmith and Black Sabbath, ahhh, so many! It was only after I began performing live that I became acquainted with more of the classical composers, oddly enough because I was always getting compared to them. My very first-ever review in the 1990s (Bay Guardian) described me as “Erik Satie meets The Cure.” And later it was a fan who compared my mysticism to Alexander Scriabin. I am forever honored that my work is resonating with people in that realm.

Jill Tracy Portrait by Audrey Penven

 

HA: When did you first know you wanted to be a musician and how did you start out?

JT: I have always been drawn to the mysterious— fantastical, otherworldly imagery. Worlds sans-time. I was obsessed with Alfred Hitchcock, Bernard Herrmann, Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling, Jean Cocteau. As a child, I tried to build a time machine in my bedroom closet. I thought one could travel through the shadows. I just wanted to live in those worlds. I read about time travel, the belief in other dimensions, spirits, ghosts—I would lecture to my stuffed animals about the solar system and constellations. All I wanted to do was to discover or manifest hidden worlds. I knew they existed. My mission was to figure out how to find them. I began making frequent visits to an  lderly widow who lived next door. Her home was encrusted with bric-a- brac, old photos and dolls—porcelain-painted Siamese cats with jewels for eyes. In the basement was an ancient upright piano, covered entirely in beige and gold-flecked paint. It sat next to the washer and dryer, under buzzing fluorescent lights. There was something atrocious, yet reverent about this thing. It kept calling me. I knew nothing about the instrument, but I kept venturing next door, poised on the golden bench for hours, letting thoughts and spectres rush through my fingertips, as it transported me far away. I didn’t know what I was doing– but didn’t want to do anything else. This became my portal. It still is. To this day, I don’t read or write music, it’s all intuited.

HA:  Can you tell us about your Musical Seance work?

JT: I’ve learned to channel music spontaneously via various energy sources, whether found objects, environments, etc. The Musical Séance is a live traveling show, my long-time collaboration with violinist Paul Mercer. It’s a collective summoning driven by beloved objects the audience brings with them. Items of personal significance—such as a photo, talisman, jewelry, toy. This is a very crucial part of manifesting the music. Every object holds its story, its spirit— energy, resonance, impressions from anyone who has ever held the object, to the experiences and emotions passed through it. These compositions are delicate living things. They materialize, transport, and in the same second— they vanish. That’s the amazing thing about The Musical Seance— you never know what to expect, and each experience is entirely different, extremely emotional, for us, as well as the audience. It creates this rare synergy with everyone in the entire room. Often, the curiosities themselves are just as compelling as the music they inspire. We’ve encountered everything from cremated cats, dentures, haunted paintings, 16th century swords, antlers, x-rays, gingerbread man, a lock of hair from a drowned boy. But one thing I’ve learned is––everyone in the world has a story to tell that will break your heart.

Jill Tracy portrait by Neil Girling

HA: What is clairaudience?

JT: It literally translates in “clear-hearing.” As with clairvoyance, which means “clear-vision,” being clairaudient means the ability to hear things not of this world. I have always heard strange unexplained music. Often heavy and harsh, but compellingly exquisite, alluring, complex. I can’t even begin to describe it! It maddens me that there is no way that I could ever harness it to compose or record. It’s beyond anyone’s grasp. For the past few years, I have begun to hear people’s voices talking, it’s usually very urgent and fast, like they need to relay a message. I do believe in simultaneous realms, and that we have the ability to share a frequency, be an antenna, if sometimes only for a second. It’s a mingling of Time. I’m learning more about harnessing this gift, it plays such a key role in my ability to find hidden musical scores when I compose in unusual locales. I used to be leary of it, but now find it strangely comforting.

HA: What non-musical things inspire your music? Is there a place where you go to be inspired?

JT: It’s really about finding the quiet, so I can be fully receptive, like an antenna as I mentioned before. The Soul lives in the silence. You must be able to tune out to to truly tune in. Unfortunately, these days of on-demand, constant world-at- our-fingertips connection has destroyed our sense of mystery and childlike wonder. That breaks my heart. Monsters, marvels, lore, and legend—these are the things that make us feel most alive. Now there is so much constant NOISE—we think it enriches us, adds something, but really it is soul-stifling. We’ve lost our own identities inside the din. The Internet is a blessing and a curse. The ease to obtain information and connect with the world is glorious. But at the same time it’s destroying our individuality. Everyone is getting their news/views from the same sources and absurd algorithms, not looking outside, or challenging themselves to think further. We’re trapped in a giant echo chamber. There has never been a greater need to venture outside the cage, to seize our truth and authenticity. To be an individual now takes a great deal of effort. But so vital!

HA: What’s been your favorite achievement so far?

JT: My life’s work is about honoring the mystery…One of my greatest pleasures of late has been immersing myself alone in unusual locations, or a place with a strange story, and composing music as a reaction to that environment. The intense purity and immediacy is so exciting. You are hearing my raw emotional response at the piano. I’ve found myself conjuring the hidden score in decrepit gardens and cemeteries, on the antique Steinways of the (supposedly haunted) Victoria B.C. 1890 Craigdarroch Castle, an abandoned 1800s San Francisco medical asylum, and the Los Angeles mansion of a 19th century murderer. The lovely and difficult thing about this work is that I can’t prepare for it, as I never know what to expect. I must allow myself to be completely vulnerable; simply feel, and react. It’s not about me anymore; it’s about the music, the story. It becomes so much bigger than any of us. That’s the beauty of it. My huge dream-come- true is that I am first musician in history to ever be awarded a grant from Philadelphia’s famed Mütter Museum, to create a series of work inspired by its spellbinding collection of medical oddities. I spent nights alone at a piano amidst the Mütter’s grotesque cabinet of curiosities, which includes the death cast and conjoined liver of original Siamese twins Chang and Eng, the skeleton of the Harry Eastlack “the Ossified Man,” Einstein’s brain, The American Giant, books bound in human skin, and the Mermaid Baby. It was vital for me to be in the presence of these long-lost souls, as I composed and recorded. They become an actual part of the work and not just the subject matter. The project will include not only a music album based on the Mütter collection, but also an art book and memoir of my chilling experiences inside the museum after dark. All of my work will be factual. I’m done extensive research at the museum, even utilizing excerpts from letters and doctors’ records. I began this project in 2012, and have become completely swept up in the research.

HA: What was the scariest night of your life?

JT: This is a great question! People always ask me if I got scared inside the Mütter Museum alone in the dark, or if I get frightened when channeling music in a cemetery, asylum, etc. The answer is no. I am completely immersed in that moment— it is a feeling of hyper-realism. Being fully alive. Super-charged. It’s that same feeling when I’ve acted in classic Grand Guignol plays (famed Paris Horror Theatre 1897-1962.) Letting yourself be completely terrified onstage is a strange, exhilarating catharsis. Screaming at the top of your lungs in front of an audience is profoundly liberating. I’ve died onstage in many bizarre ways: Torn apart by a savage wolf boy, killed in a violent train crash, leapt off a balcony to my death, hypnotized by a mad scientist, locked in a castle tower with a demon, etc— The underlying thing is you know in your soul, underneath the fake blood and the layers of prosthetics and costumes, that you are going to be okay. BUT—I have been in some quite scary REAL-LIFE situations. I was in a near plane crash, as the airplane’s brakes went out. We had to prepare for an emergency landing on a foam-covered runway, hoping to slow down the plane. We had to remove all jewelry, belts, sharp objects, hold a pillow over our head, eyes closed, as we bent over our lap awaiting possible impact. I remember passengers screaming and sobbing. I was also mugged at knifepoint in a New York City subway alone at night. I instinctively ran after the mugger shouting within the empty concrete labyrinth. As I rounded a corner, he grabbed me. I was almost kidnapped in Paris by a strange man with pink hair and his two accomplices who locked me in the back room of a restaurant. I have discovered 3 dead bodies in my lifetime, in 3 different situations. In the midst of this real terror, your brain locks into that fight or flight mode— no time to feel afraid, you just do what you need to think clearly and get through it!

Jill Tracy composing music inside the Mutter Museum. Photo by Evil Numen (courtesy of the Mutter Museum)

HA: What are your favorite horror movies?

JT: I prefer the chilling, classic psychological horror, over the slasher-gore fest. For me, it’s all about the story, getting drawn in, and the fear of the unknown. (Our imagination is truly the scariest component of it all.) There are many great movies, but these come to mind: Eyes Without A Face (1960), The Birds (1963), Rosemary’s Baby (1968)—also Mia Farrow in the great lesser-known thriller The Haunting of Julia (1977), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original 1956), Mad Love (with Peter Lorre 1935), The Sentinel (1977), The Shining (1980).

HA: What are you working on now?

JT: I’m currently writing — resuming work on the Mütter Museum book and music project, as well as other new songs. I just began a lovely hibernation from live gigs to focus on creating again. I am also designing what will be a subscription-only series called The Noctuary (inspired by my love and lore of the Night,) which will feature exclusive music, videos, stories, private concerts, behind-the- scenes interviews, and more for subscribers only. I am excited to reveal the details! Please sign up to my inner email circle at JILLTRACY.com and you’ll be first to be invited to join The Noctuary!

HA: What is available now that the listeners can download or buy?

JT: I have 5 full length albums, plus various film scores, and singles, even a Christmas album— my dark classical interpretation of some of the more haunting old carols. Definitely the holiday collection for people who prefer The  Dark Season. As an intro to my work, I would start with albums The Bittersweet Constrain and Diabolical Streak.

Jill Tracy in front of the Hyrtl Skull Collection, Mutter Museum Photo by Evil Numen (courtesy of the Mutter Museum)

 HA: What is the website we can find it on?

JT: I offer some exclusive titles on my site unavailable on iTunes, Amazon, and other corporate shops. Plus no middlemen taking money for nothing.

HA: What is the best social media site for listeners to connect with you on?

Jill Tracy: Twitter: https://twitter.com/jilltracymusic

Official: http://jilltracy.com/jt/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jilltracymusic

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jilltracymusic/

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/jilltracymusic

Bandcamp: http://jilltracy.bandcamp.com/

 

Terror Trax: Scream Machine

TerrorTrax

 

HorrorAddicts.net recently had the opportunity to interview SinDelle M Morte of Scream Machine about their music, inspirations, and of course horror movies.

 

HA: Do you write your own lyrics/where does your inspiration come from?

SinDelle Morte: Yes, I write all my own stuff. I always wrote poetry and things like that as a kid, so this was really just a natural progression of that. Mostly my inspiration comes from current events and things like that, though I have written quite a few songs about serial killers and things like that. Basically, anything that horrifies people. LOL.

HA: What singers or bands inspired you growing up? Who are your favorite artists today?

SM: Are these supposed to be different? LOL. Mostly a bunch of hard rock and metal bands, to be honest. I take some inspiration in certain things, like from Rob Zombie or maybe BILE but most of it is stuff that would not even make sense at this time in relation to my music. Most of the stuff I listen to is the same kind of thing but I also like rap and punk, along with a huge dose of adult contemporary kind of stuff. If you can sing to it, chances are I like it.

HA: When did you first know you wanted to be a musician and how did you start out?

SM: I mean, I was always a singer but I think if I had to pick, I would say when I was about 13 that’s when I really knew that I wanted to make music. I started out just messing around with music programs on the computer. It progressed from there. My early shit is God-awful but you know, luckily it got better. Lol.

scream machine

HA: What non-musical things inspire your music? Is there a place where you go to be inspired?

SM:I read/watch a lot of Stephen King and true crime stuff. I’m what we could call a “real life horror buff” too. I am very interested in that kind of stuff. I used to have a huge collection of crime scene photos and things like that on my old computer. I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from that. I think I’ve written at least 3 songs about episodes of First 48. Lol.

HA: What’s been the greatest achievement of your band? Or, where was the coolest place to play? Where did you enjoy yourselves the most?

SM: We had a chance to be part of a compilation that benefits people with cancer called, “Electronic Saviors.” We are really proud of that.

HA: What are your favorite horror movies?

SM:Oh man. The first one is probably the Halloween franchise. I love those movies. They are simple and terrifying. The Nightmare franchise is a favorite. I love the Child Play movies and most Stephen King movies. I’m old, man. I really liked the first SAW movie. It gave me hope for the genre as a whole. I saw Sinister a few years ago and was genuinely creeped out by a horror movie for the first time in YEARS, so that was really cool. I think “The Exorcist” is the scariest movie of all time, but I wouldn’t call it a favorite. It’s too scary to be liked. Lol.

HA: What was the scariest night of your life?

SM: I remember I had a dream one night about something in the closet in my room, kind of like how it is in “Cujo”.  I was an adult, not a kid. When I woke up it was pitch black in my room. I was so scared I could not  move. That is probably the most afraid I have ever been. I was too scared to even piss myself. LOL.

HA: If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your opening band?

SM: Man, I don’t know. Anywhere where the people are cool and it’s not 1000 degrees. 🙂

HA: What are you working on now for any future release? Are you on tour? Where can they see you?

SM: We have a new release on the horizon called "Savages." That is slated to drop sometime this fall – probably around Halloween, of course. It’s done so we are just waiting for that. Then there might be a hiatus of sorts, because we are moving to an off grid property and may not be able to work on music for a while. We have to see what happens.

HA: What is available now that the listeners can download or buy?

SM: We have a LOT of stuff, from EPs to LPs and singles. About 30 releases.

HA: What is the website we can find it on?

SM: HorrorAddicts can find all of our stuff on Bandcamp . There is some that are free and some that isn’t. Our stuff is also available on most major digital outlets, like iTunes, Amazon, all that kind of thing.

HA: What is the best social media site for listeners to connect with you on?

SM: Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? Other? Bandcamp? Facebook is still the best one to hit us up on.

HA: What are your id’s/ web addresses?

SM: Scream Machine Bandcamp ,    Scream Machine Facebook  Scream Machine YouTube   Scream Machine Soundcloud