May 27, 2024

SPEAKING WITH AURELIO VOLTAIRE

Voltaire
Voltaire, photography by Josh Wagner

Atlanta, GA, USA– AURELIO VOLTAIRE is a creative human who has been working steadily for decades. He is a singer, performer, author, and creator of comic books, films, animation, toys, and home decor. He is hard-working and his hard work is all about passion.

What can you say about your new album and other upcoming albums?

Voltaire -“I worked 4 years on the new album, Black Labyrinth, it is a 20-song musical inspired by the film Labyrinth 1986 film in which David Bowie played the goblin king it is my homage to David Bowie, my musical hero. I started working on it when he passed.  Full time, I worked on it for four years with 15 members of David Bowies’ band, so anyone from the pianist from Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars to the guitarist from Diamond Dogs to the sax player from Let’s Dance all the way to the flute player from Black Star, his last album, so it’s really quite an incredible amount of talent.   It is a proper musical, and it has the villain and a villain’s song, I would have thought that after working for 4 years, what is truly my magnum opus, I truly honestly never worked harder on any one thing and I am a hard worker, I was a stop motion animater so that is saying a lot. I really would have thought I would not be making more music for at least a few years.  I’m Already working on the next album, it is a short album, it’s probably only 8 songs. And my fiancé recently pointed out to me, ‘That’s a full-length album’, I was like yeah, but I just did a 20-song album though. It is a Halloween album. Technically it’s a Halloween, and it’s called The Last Halloween Party and Other Holiday Hits, so there are a couple of Christmas songs on it as well, as well as a song called Bunny Apocalypse, about Easter that I wrote many years ago that’s been on the internet a while but never had a true recording.  I’m hoping that is going to be out in time to be enjoyed by Halloween and if I don’t get it out in time there will be at least some part of it, like 3 or 4 songs. Then I go back into the studio the minute I leave Dragon Con with Bowie’s drummer it’s like, now that I worked with you there, you’re just the band now so Sterling Campbell, Bowie’s drummer who recorded all the songs on Black Labyrinth, is coming into the studio to record all the drums for the record. Then I begin working with some of Bowie’s guitarists and I’m not trying to have this be another Bowie tribute album but it’s starting to shape up like it might be some of the same musicians. I guess to get into a little bit of detail about the album, there is a song called, Its Always Wednesday, which I’d been playing at shows, and you know people typically don’t get super excited about the new songs because they don’t know them. So, while they might be singing along to their favorites and their clapping along when you play a new song people kind of stop and take a step back and kind of serious because they’re kind of analyzing what they are hearing, and that has not been the case with this song, It’s Always Wednesday. People after one chorus begin to sing along. The minute I drop the line that says, ‘I guess our daughters an Addams after all’, they suddenly realize after a verse and a half that is in fact about Wednesday Addams and people get very excited.   I think the excitement for the Wednesday series has certainly been very infectious and inspired this song and a lot of people seem to dig it. There is a song on the album called the Skeleton Dance which is very much like Cab Calloway-style 1930s big band that kind of feel. I’m trying to keep it Halloweeny. So, I have a certain number of Spotify followers, I’m going to say an average of 160,000 a month which is pretty good, but it doubles the moment it’s October. I cannot believe it took me 25 years to figure out that I am a Halloween musician. I honestly had no idea. Yet, I have somehow never made a song with the word Halloween in it but none the less my listenership increases 100 % around the Halloween season as people start to rediscover my music and they add songs I did for  The Grimm Adventures of Billy and Mandy the cartoon network show and they add those to Halloween playlist. They add my song The Night, they add my song When Your Evil, they add Cannibal Buffet, Zombie Prostitute, Raised by Bats, all these songs that have a kind of dark theme to them. get added to Hollywood playlists. You would think because around November those numbers plummet back to normal instantly like the minute Halloween is over, I’m forgotten about by 50 % of my listenership and I’m 1000% okay with that because I love the idea of that because I’m such a lover of Halloween I absolutely love the idea that people associate me with Halloween. Now there are of course the die-hard fans and they listen all year long Cthulhu blessed them but I really, just love that there are all of these people who only think of me when they think of Halloween. So, I’m going to really pump the gas on that, not the brakes but the gas. I’m going to put the pedal to the metal and make a Halloween album and make sure that people understand that I make Halloween music.  Halloween for Aurelio Voltaire officially starts in April and that’s true really because, first of all, April is around halfway to Halloween so we will do halfway-to-Halloween episodes, I have a show called Gothic Homemaking with Aurelio Voltaire and we do halfway-to-Halloween episodes we do halfway to Halloween parties, there’s a lot of Halloween inspired things around April and May. Then we get into summerween and we will absolutely celebrate the summerween which is now a holiday too. In June, believe it or not, as somebody who reviews Halloween home décor, June is when it starts to come out in the stores and a lot of people might find that horrifying, almost as horrifying as hearing Christmas music in August. But we love it as people who wish it was Halloween all year long. At Home is a chain that puts out Halloween stuff in June by July the Halloween offerings are in Home Goods and Home Sense. By late July, or early August there at TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls. By the end of August Micheals Arts and Crafts, Joann’s Fabrics, and then by September Pottery Barn. At that point, everyone put out their Halloween stuff. So, for us, the Halloween season starts in April, and it is going to be in full force until October 31. Then we cry and wonder when it can get started all over again.”

What can you tell us about Gothic Homemaking with Aurelio Voltaire?

Voltaire-“Gothic Homemaking with Aurelio Voltaire is a YouTube show, it’s been around for about 7 years.  I was very lucky that last October the New York Times wrote a story about me, and the show and they referred to me as the ‘Martha Stewart for macabre homemakers’, and once they did that there were suddenly a lot of eyes on the show and a lot of interest from people like Joann Fabrics and Micheals Arts and Crafts.  A lot of people who may not have noticed me before noticed. I signed a book deal with Quarto and I’m releasing a gothic lifestyle, Halloween decorating book that will be in 20024. If you watch the show you know that I buy a lot of my own decor around Halloween but our philosophy on the show is not to decorate for Halloween but rather to use the excuse that that’s when you can find all of this stuff, to find the things that don’t scream Halloween but are spooky and macabre and high quality and presumably would look good in your home year round and that’s really the kind of focus of the show.”

 

I love Charo, and you are a great guitar player. Who inspires your guitar playing?

Volyaire-“I love Charo too. I am going to be very honest with you, while I appreciate the compliment, I’m a terrible guitar player.  I do not know the names of the strings on the guitar. This is a true story I picked up the guitar for the very first time 3 months before my first show and the only reason I know how to play at all is because I bought a book of tablature of pictures of where to put my fingers. But if I had to re-string the guitar, I know that the top and bottom strings are E and that’s all I know. I do not know the names of the other strings on a guitar so I play primarily by ear. I know maybe 6 chords in total. I sometimes think I find and invent some and so I say, ‘I invented a new chord it sounds so good, oh my god listen to this’, and someone will go ‘That’s and Minor’. So, I really do not know much about the guitar, but I play by ear, and I play passionately. There’s a lot of emotion involved and not really any academics. I’ve never known how to read music. In fact, my very first show ever, this is a true story, I was placing my fingers on the guitar one finger at a time, it was my very first show in New York about 1995 or so, and then strum and then place them again and strum and that is how I played at my first show. There was a fellow in the audience who was the lead singer of a band called The Psychedelic Furs and I was an enormous fan of The Psychedelic Furs, he happened to become a personal friend. He lived in the neighborhood and one thing led to another and we ended up going to coffee together and he became friends.  I invited him to my very first show ever and I played a cover of The Ghost in You by The Psychedelic Furs. I played it like that just placing one finger at a time and then strumming and playing it really slowly and then at the end of the show someone came up to me and said ‘Is that Richard Butler from The Psychedelic Furs ‘and I said ‘yes it is’ and he asks ‘’did you play a cover of a Psychedelic Furs song and I said  ‘yes I did’ and he goes ‘oh my god you have balls of steel’. I just didn’t see it that way, everything I approach I approach out of a child-like desire to have fun and to do something interesting and do something fun I didn’t look at it as like I’m going to embarrass myself cause I’m going to play this song poorly. I looked at it as I really want to honor this guy who is such an inspiration by playing this song of his that means so much to me, I’m not good at this and its probably not going to be very good but the jester is still there like the little drummer boy did not do a drum solo he did not show up with a lot of drums and play a drum solo he just did his thing.  So, I don’t know much about the guitar.  I don’t typically play any lead, it’s all strumming.”

What are you enjoying the most with our fans and being here about Dragon Con, being around the fans and the costumes and inspirations, and what Dragon Con brings to it?

-I play every weekend of the year and I might take a month off, maybe December and or January off but I largely play every weekend of the year. I’ll do roughly 40 to 50 shows a year and this is literally the only show where I am surrounded by Klingons and stormtroopers and elves and furries and visually speaking right there’s a lot of eye candy there for an artist to begin to be inspired by.  But believe it or not, what inspires me vastly more than the visual aspect of it is the fact that every one of those people is in love with that fandom. Every single one of those people is passionate about Firefly or Pokémon or whatever it might be, and it doesn’t matter what it is and everyone is under the same roof, how often does that happen? Even in music, you go to a club and you got the goths over here and maybe a punk or raver walks in and it’s like ooh who’s that why are they dressed that way you know, or if a goth walked into a party that was like country music party everybody would go what’s up with Dracula so the fact that everybody is welcomed it’s so inclusive, it’s so full of passion. We live in a very cynical world and I could name any number of parties in New York where you walk in and people just look at you like you are not cool enough to be here you know and this is the antiphrasis of that I like to refer to us (Dragon Con)  as lovable weirdos you know like everybody’s got their little thing like this one loves star wars and this one loves star trek. I’m bitrackaual because I’m in the middle I’m on both tracks, but everybody has got their thing and it’s just okay to love whatever it is that you love and I just think that the rest of the world could learn something from Dragon Con. I always like to say as long as you keep your hands to yourself, ask permission if you want to hug someone and you’re not hurting anybody then go crazy and celebrate whatever weird thing you love to its full extent.

Aurelio Voltaire has been referred to as a modern-day Renaissance man. He has been referred to as a Cuban pirate. He has been referred to as the Martha Stewart of macabre homemaking. He may remind people of Wolfman Jack. At Dragon Con, he is the macabre folk hero we all love. He is artistic talent at its finest. He is a legend. He has been referred to as Thank you Voltaire for the music and for taking the time.  For more information, please check here. https://www.youtube.com/@TheLairofVoltaire

Check here. https://open.spotify.com/artist/2ZCG1aukcb5fjBDgizvDbD

For more information about Dragon Con, check here. https://www.dragoncon.org/

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