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copied from a reply to my flat (Natasha) who gave me the heads up of the article further below:

"haha... I will try to repress telling the world "I told you so".

Steampunk is just waiting for a band to swarm around and create a viable movement. Abney Park have been playing the steampunk tag for quite some time so it's not a real wonder that they're getting the exposure with people and the press desperately looking at how to announce the steampunk subculture as the new and viable youth movement it's been so-long dying to become.

Actually I think I might make this into a LJ post :p


Yes, gentle readers. Steampunk has been boiling under the radar for YEARS and it's been an amazing experience watching the subculture grow at an ever increasing velocity over the last 4-5 years (along with the new burlesque and gothic bellydancing movements - although the latter has gathered pace more in the last couple fo years) and vying to becom the NEXT BIG THING(tm).

I've mentioned numerous times that all it needs is for a 'steampunk' band to get some attention and break out. To give people a musical style to start clinging to, to emulate and to evole around. It doesn't have to be a single style of course. Look at the Goth movement back in the 80's - you had everything from pop to punk, from psychedelia to thrash to folk represented under the 'goth' tag. It was about the style, the following and a vaguely defined ethos.

I personally think that Steampunk will be the NEXT BIG THING (that's not to say that it'll be the only NBT - but it will be one of them). I've seen Steampunk gaining in popularity so much and at GenCon Indy this year you saw a lot of the tradition 'goth' kids replace their eyeliner for googles, cogs and gentlemans jackets - the amount of neo-victoriana and steampunk costumes in attendence was startling obvious - their was even a Steampunk Ball held at one of the official GenCon  after parties! The scene is waiting to break out so much it hurts.

That's not to say that the people in the scene necessairly WANT it to become the NBT. But then many people in many scenes like thinking they're cuttign edge, cool and unique... and just because it becomes the NBT doesn't demean this or them. But Steampunk is reaching a critical mass as a subculture below the radar and is slowly bursting through. This is a trend I think will carry on happening until one day we'll wake up and it's... everywhere. People will wonder where it came from (like we did with EMO or Grunge) but it will be with us.

I'm going to be watching it carry on evolving with immense interest (and not only because we publish the Victoriana RPG and have several oteher steampunk-esque things in development) because, having been into Steampunk and Victoriana since the late 1980's, it's been a fascinating opportunity to watch a truly underground scene pick up steam (excuse the pun) and evolve over the last two decades (and let's face it - stemapunk has been around longer than that) to a point where it's within touching distance from being a truly impressive scene. From art, to theatre, from customes to music and beyond. It's been great to study the evolution and the rise and rise of the Steampunk Subculture...

Tonight I'm Gonna Party Like It's 1899 (The Guardian; Friday 17th October 2008)



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 21st, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)

...it's kinda gay though, innit?
Oct. 21st, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
Abney Park is not what I would imagine Steampunk music to sound like. They've got the trappings but with my eyes closed it sounds something like Dead Can Dance meets Voltaire. I don't know what Victorian Steampunk music should sound like, but I do think that it's not this.

I daresay, this is the equivalent of Billy Idol calling himself a cyberpunk.
Oct. 21st, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
I've always had a bit of a problem with Abney Park as the thrusting piston of the steampunk engine. I mean...they sound like any old computer-in-the-bedroom goth band to me.

Surely a steampunk band should sound...well, a bit more mechanical. Not like a smoothed-out Cruxshadows who just happened to open the style directory at 'brass' instead of 'chrome'.

If someone formed a band that sounded like the Tiger Lillies if they recorded all their stuff on Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, and used a fairground steam organ instead of keyboards...now then we'd be talking. But normal programming 'n' electronics goth stuff in a slightly different costume? I'd like to think there was more to it than that.

[It probably should be noted that Emilie Autumn has been doing steampunk for years, except she calls it 'Victoriandustrial'.]
Oct. 21st, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)

Which I have always thought was a brilliant name for it. Shame the t-shirt I have with it on doesn't fit :(
Oct. 21st, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
No, they're not what I was hoping for either. Certainly a few more musical cues from the Victorian era wouldn't go amiss.

Now this I do like, simply because of its peculiarly British eccentricity.


Though it's certainly not goth and not particularly steampunk either. Steam-hop anyone?

Oct. 21st, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, for sure. I don't think Abney Park will be the biggest nor the best band that jumps on the Steampunk bandwagon or gets inadvertantly labelled as such.
But the scene needs to start having recognised bands calling themselves 'steampunk' and looking the part to take it's next step in evolution.
There are, actually, a number of bands calling themselves 'steampunk' at present. Many of them are pretty terrible and cover several different musical styles (several seem to be a bit Nick Cave-esque, but at a much, much lower level of brilliance). I wouldn't really call them 'Steampunk' as far as the sound I'd imagine either. Although as I mentioned earlier, it's not really about ONE sound. I think you could have so-called Steampunk bands from a variety of genres.
Oct. 22nd, 2008 09:05 am (UTC)
A good article, very much inclined to agree.

Oct. 22nd, 2008 12:24 pm (UTC)
I'm a little underwhelmed by Abney Park, for much of the reasoning given on other comments. They certainly do have a retro-sound but not quite far enough to be steampunk except for the subject matter of their songs and their apparel. Dressing like you've just stepped from the pages of Girl Genius does not automagically grant your musical style steampunk. With somewhat better instrumentation (it need not be real instruments but at least not sounding quite so synth) their music could be potentially enjoyable. Sometimes I think NIN better captured the sound of steampunk except without the hopeful outlook that I think the genre captures.

This is something of a shame since I, too, really like the steampunk genre and I have to admit that a lack of suitable music is very notable, and I'll be honest in saying that I actually have no idea what kind of music would necessarily adequately represent steampunk. Cyberpunk is somewhat a somewhat dystopian genre and is represented well by bands such as Juno Reactor or some electro darkwave even trance music. A technology-addled society that's on the verge of collapse is really one of the most defining aspects of the genre.

However, steampunk (at least to me) is almost the opposite of that. William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's steampunk book The Difference Engine while not filled with crazy mad science galore is a great example of it. Yes, there is the somewhat gothic nature of the Victorians, but despite all this the Victorian Era was filled with hope for the future. The positive reinforcement of the march of progress with the industrial revolution reaching its steam-powered pinnacle (and the "glory" of the Empire).

The real problem with trying to capture a contemporary sound for steampunk is that it isn't contemporary. The popular music of the day included Elgar and Strauss. This, by rights, means that to really capture the essence of steampunk with a contemporary feel, I think, would require a fusion of classical structure/influence underneath an industrial sound in much the same way that Juno Reactor blends orchestra and electro.

From a practical viewpoint I'm keen to track down steampunk music because I always like to try finding appropriate music for the games I run and if I were to run Victoriana I currently have no idea what music I'd play to accompany it.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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