November 30, 2012 by raconteurmagazine
By Claire Curiosity
If you talked to the average person on the streets about Goths I am almost 100% positive the following words would come up. Black. Pale. Velvet. Vampires. The traditional romantic is what stereotypes Goth as both a genre and a subculture.However nowadays Goth clubs are filled more with neon and circuit boards than lace and velvet. And the music… Well it’s different. What changed?I am of course talking about the overwhelming move from traditional Goth rock, such as classics like Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus, to the bass and synthesiser filled world of EBM (Electronic Body Music for those not in the know). EBM is a relatively new genre, starting out in the early 2000’s but has massively grown in popularity in the alternative scene. A hybrid of early Goth rock and rave music, EBM grew from mid 90’s Industrial music such as Nine Inch Nails and has quickly become the most popular genre in the Goth scene.
The predominance of EBM is largely down to influences from Germany, who love their bleepy, electronic stuff (they did of course give us Kraftwerk!) . Although British EBM is very much alive and kicking in bands such as VNV Nation, Modulant and Deviant UK and certainly plays a large part in the rise of the genre.
Goth club nights such as Wendy House in Leeds and Slimelight in London play almost nothing but EBM and Industrial music nowadays to the dismay of many traditional Goth fans. While trad. nights are still out there (such as Flock in Leeds) it is becoming harder and harder to find them. They tend to be “specialist” nights rather than part of a larger scene, somewhat on par to a black metal night in a small club in Manchester rather than filling out venues across the country.
It’s not just the music that is changing either. The fashions are so different the untrained eye would barely recognize the links between the two. Alternative fashion designer Josie Mico-Gage of Mico Couture said, “The EBM scene is a different bunch of people to the traditional Goth scene. Sure, you don’t see so many crimped, winklepickered souls any more but that’s purely the evolution of fashion. The same can be said about the music, without the winkle pickers of course! If it were left to me I would only actually bother going to the EBM events but with work I get to go to a wider variety and see the vast range of people involved in the Goth scene. Traditional Goth is still there, it’s just a very different crowd.”
The “Cybergoth” style is very different from that of Traditional Goth fans who tend to favour medieval and fantasy influences in their fashions. Cybergoth is filled with neon, UV, progressive fashions, huge shoes and boots, wild hair extensions, goggles, cybernetics and body modification. They could be (poorly) described as Goths of the future at a push.
Not all Goths are pleased with the transition from traditional Goth rock to the EBM takeover. A lot of traditional, old school Goths have lashed out against the EBM/raver scene. It can be seen as rejecting the Goth values and above all as boring repetitive noise. Natalie Perth, writer of blog gothy-two-shoes said that, “It’s generally a joke amongst my friends that I’m an ‘elitist’ Goth because I only like trad. Goth. They like lots of EBM and dance type music, I find it amazingly dull. You can’t be a Goth and dress like they do, it’s a whole different subculture. That’s fine but don’t call yourselves Goths!” Almost all other sub-genres of Goth (or at least taken to their elitist extremes) seem to loath Cybergoths.
So clearly the other big issue the scene have is how you define who is and isn’t a Goth. If you allow that to be self-definition, you run into the issue that the Goth scene has always had. What defines Goth in the first place? With the Traditional Goth of the 1980’s once described as “polite punk”, does Cyber really fit the bill? It could be they are classed as Goth as most EBM evolved from the 90’s Industrial scene (Traditional Goth’s experimental, electronic cousin). Or it could just be because they have fantastically crazy hair! The traditional Goth rock scene has always been a very English genre and there are still some fantastic traditional bands creeping out of the woodwork. Rhombus, a West Yorkshire based band, are still very much focusing on the traditional with massive influences from The Birthday Party and The Cure. Mixing male and female vocals with mystical guitars, driving bass and electric violin, they combine some of the best elements of traditional 80s/90s UK Goth, with their own modern, upbeat approach. They are proud of their traditional roots, although are by no means against EBM.
The main problem is a lot of these bands and their fans are approaching the later side of life now. Traditional Goth had it’s heyday in the 80’s and it’s fans have grown with it. The original traditional style itself has been replaced with sensible work clothes and children’s toys as the first real Goths hit their late middle aged crisis’ and settling down for a family.
It is no wonder the genre is due a change of style as younger enthusiasts put their own mark on Goth. Only time will tell if Cyber is the face of Goth to come.