Friday, 12 April 2013

Electronic Body Music and the cybergoth scene

At the end of last month (Easter weekend), my boyfriend and I attended our first goth/EBM music festival together called Resistanz. The festival is in its third year, so a baby as far as UK festivals are concerned, and takes place at club Corporation in Sheffield. It runs over three days, and we opted to go for the final night when one of our favourite bands, Celldweller, was playing. It was Celldweller's first time in the UK so clearly a lot of people had traveled decent distances especially to see them. Luckily we'd only had to endure a 45 minute train journey! I did speak to a guy who'd traveled by himself from Bulgaria for Celldweller's 45 minute set - that's dedication for you! Here's a video from the gig taken by a fellow Celldweller-obsessed fan who was standing directly behind us (you can see the top of my head at the beginning!) - thank you to Michael Stokes for this.

Our rather epic view of Klaton from Celldweller!

The reason I want to talk about Resistanz is because I think people who aren't in the cybergoth and EBM music scene aren't aware of what it is about and the kind of people we are. First off, I should probably explain that EBM stands for electronic body music, a term coined by Kraftwerk who described their music as "Kรถrpermusik". It has since been used to describe dark electronic industrial music of the cybergoth scene, speaking generally of course. It has a pounding, often somewhat monotonous beat, but a dark, industrial edge that you won't find in regular techno or electro/dance music. I think EBM is a very apt name for it, as people tend to really use their whole body (arms especially) to dance often rather enthusiastically to the music - there's a certain kind of dancing style that's become quite common as exemplified here.

The festival not only caters for music tastes, but it has a large area (part inside, part outside) devoted to alternative clothing, band merchandise and accessory stalls, such as Bela Boutique, as well as a couple of hot food stalls for the peckish. It's a long day if you stay for the whole thing - theoretically you can stay for 14 hours each the weekend day!

Something that really stands out for me though is the community spirit that is undoubtedly present in this scene. I remember saying to my other half at the time how un-judgemental and friendly the people seemed. My positive observations were put to the test when I found out after the event that a friend of mine had lost her handbag containing money, driving licence, make up and Samsung Galaxy S3, which at the majority of gigs and music festivals you'd have a 1% chance of getting back (I got my phone nicked from my handbag at a Prodigy gig at Christmas, definitely still bitter). However, the finder of my friend's handbag used the money inside it to personally post it back to her a couple of days after the gig. Ah, I love stories that help restore one's faith in humanity.

So I suppose the moral of this story is one of not believing stereotypes about people who dress unconventionally etc etc. I've found this scene to be consistently welcoming and full of interesting people from many different backgrounds and walks of life. If I could have neon pink hair and synthetic dreads in my hair at work then I would. Unfortunately we haven't quite got to that aesthetic level of acceptance in society yet. My clients would wonder who the hell they'd entrusted their advertising to if I rocked up to a meeting with a face full of piercings and a lime green hair-do. But if we consider how far things have moved on in this way only in the past decade or so then perhaps one day this could become a reality! Advertising is a creative industry - how people dress and express themselves should reflect that - just as people are experimenting all the time with quirky office spaces to aid creative thought.

If you want to get into the cybergoth scene in the Manchester area, I'd recommend going to the club night Analogue Trash which has just found a new home at the Zoo off Oxford Road. There are also lots of other nights dotted around the North West. Next weekend, my partner and I will be going to Leeds' big monthly alternative night at their Students' Union, Wendy House, which comprises of two rooms - the main room with balcony and bar and then the goth/industrial/EBM room where you will find a slightly older crowd and cybergoth dancing! We can't wait! Through its weekend programme (brochure pictured above), Resistanz has alerted me to just how many events and club nights like this are happening in the North of England. We have already booked the Travelodge in Bradford for August bank holiday weekend, as Infest goth festival takes place then - an event now in its 15th year that I'd always been curious about but never had a friend who was interested enough in that scene to come along with me. Luckily, my other half and I share a passion for heavy electronic music (in particular 'metalstep' which is a new mix of metal sounds and dubstep beats - Celldweller being a perfect example in his newer material) and the fashion that goes with it. We're hoping to meet some like-minded people in the coming months. 

For your fashion needs, Cyberdog is, by a long shot, the largest cyber goth clothing retailer in the UK. They have a small shop in Affleck's Palace but their main store is in Camden - three floors of neon heaven! As with nearly all cybergoth clothing, it is pretty pricey. There's a definite gap in the market for a brand to come in, price themselves below Cyberdog and do very well indeed. In fact, I'd say that's the case with a lot of goth fashion. Why it is always so expensive and/or tricky to find? Even Affleck's Palace itself used to be much more a goth/alternative offering than it is today - it seems that this wave of vintage-obsessed, cardigan-clad Indie culture that has been so in the mainstream since Franz Ferdinand has swept over Manchester's Northern Quarter and engulfed Affleck's in the past few years. Nevertheless, Cyberdog reins on - a Mumford & Sons-free haven!

I leave you with a pic of me taken in the Northern Quarter of Manchester looking somewhat cybergoth-esque - back in those uni days when I could have any hair colour I wanted!


  1. Excellent. I've been to Corporation more times than I could possibly count. It's a fantastic club even more than 13 years after I first went.

    It's a great scene. I don't particularly follow the dress style but the people are always brilliantly friendly and there is a spirit of comradeship you rarely see in any other genre except maybe metal.

    1. Thanks Rob! Completely agree - the metal scene is also a bit like one big family, as everyone has their music taste and often fashion in common.


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