:Interview: The Midnight Marionettes
The Midnight Marionettes are a Denver based goth-industrial-rock band that were given life from the myth of the marionettes that haunt the streets of Prague at midnight. The Midnight Marionettes create haunting and dark soundscapes that invite the listener to take a journey along shadowed moonlit paths to some fascinating and personal destinations. Fire up their Soundcloud while you dive into this interview to get a feel for their exceptional musicianship.
The Midnight Marionettes are currently going through a lineup change since Zane moved to Arizona. Have you found anyone to take over on guitar? Are you still interested in adding a keyboardist?
Losing Zane was very sad for all of us. He is an awesome guitar player, and super fun to be around. It will be hard for anyone to fill his shoes. We have tried out two keyboard players that were both great people, but just didn’t quite fit what we are looking for. We were sort of waiting around for a guitarist and synth player, and then we decided that when the time is right, the right artists will find us. Until then, we are going to continue to do what we love as the Three Amigos: Mikey on drums, Justin on bass, and Starla on vocals. The three of us work together so well in the writing process and we are all strong enough multi-instrumentalists that we can hold down the guitar and keyboards until those people find us.
Are the Midnight Marionettes currently working on any projects? Can you share details?
We are close to finishing up our first album, Sacrosanct. It will be done by the end of this year. Once it is complete, we look forward to getting signed, and hitting the stage.
You’ve mentioned that the theme of your first album was the complexity of the human heart and introspection. Have you gradually transitioned to a more outward focus with the album you’re currently working on, or are you continuing to look inward?
As we are still completing Sacrosanct, we continue to look inward at the complexity of the human heart. These themes can be applied to humanity as a whole as well. There is the objective duality of good and evil on the surface of all things humans try to do and understand, but we are attempting to dig deeper into relativity and multiplicity. We hope that our listeners may begin to question love, hate, fear, defiance, and sadness. The songs are meant to evoke all of these emotions. These raw emotions that stem from human survival instincts are within us all. As things go from black and white to grey and three dimensional within our lyrics and songs, we hope to cause introspection and a sort of questioning of how the part relates to the whole.
Where can your Denver fans find you on a Saturday night?
Starla can often be found dancing with her friends at the Milk Bar downtown at the weekly goth night. Mikey is usually running sound or stage production at a local venue. Justin is usually performing in one of his many projects. Otherwise, we are all hanging out writing music or hanging out with our families.
Some musicians are mainly interested in fame and fortune while others make music because it’s truly their calling – the Midnight Marionettes seem to fit into the latter category. How does the band deal with these contrasting sentiments of making music as a passion but also needing to please fans and create a following in order to share your message?
Thank you for observing that we are all inspired to make music for the joy that it brings us intrinsically. Starla remembers a time when talking with Josh Bradford of The Revolting Cocks, and he said, “Whether you’re playing in your basement or in front of a packed auditorium, you must be equally happy.” That pretty much sums up our philosophy regarding music as a calling. If we make music that we love, from a real place in our souls, that will translate to the listener. I think every musician wishes that they could pay the bills with music, ditch their day job, and have their music heard by as many people as possible. Of course we have this desire, but it is not the central motivation.
Working in a band truly polishes one’s patience, communication abilities, and ability to compromise with others. We’ve all had to learn to roll with the ebb and flow of the creative process and respect each other as artists.
Do any of the band members have children? What do they think of your self-described “dark, philosophic, scary soundscapes?”
Justin has a baby boy. He is not really able to express his thoughts on the music yet. Starla has a three year old girl who gets very excited to hear her mom’s voice on the car radio. She often pretends to be a rock star and always wants to do her makeup like Marilyn Manson. It is pretty cute and funny.
Why do you think your fanbase identifies with your music? What do they connect with that they might not be able to find elsewhere?
Goth music has gone through a lot of stages from the post punk era of Siouxsie to Christian Death to Ministry to Skinny Puppy to the current sounds from bands like Aesthetic Perfection. We are borrowing textures from all of these eras to create a velvet quilt of darkness. We want our fans to feel the richness of a female fronted band while experiencing intensity and dance ability. I don’t know that many goth bands who have currently really put all of these elements together, and I think that is what will make us stand apart from other goth industrial bands. Many goth bands feel like they have to choose a goth box to fit their sound in, while we refuse to be boxed in.
What’s the most awkward on-stage situation the band has experienced?
Since most of our time has been focused on putting together a really strong album, we have only played one show so far. It was for a charity, and we were very happy to support the cause. However, we did not have a sound guy, so the guitarist that was playing with us at the time in addition to Zane was way too loud. I guess all bands have to have that awkward first show, and we’re glad to say it is behind us now.
What do the members of the Midnight Marionettes do to get the bills paid? Do you have any interesting work histories?
Mikey mainly works with some of the larger local venues running sound and stage production. Justin works in real estate. Starla is a middle school teacher. She just left a year long career as a teacher in a women’s prison to gain an inside view of what the poverty to drop out to prison pipeline actually looks like.
What’s your karaoke go-to? How many beers/shots do you need before you can embarrass yourself in front of a bar full of strangers?
Anywhere Mark Star or Rockstar Aaron are is where we would go to karaoke. None of us are super into it though, so it would probably take a bit of liquid courage to get us on a karaoke stage. Karaoke is so different than performing with a band. It is almost an expectation that you be a couple shots in so that the experience is on a comical common ground.
What are the band members’ musical backgrounds? Are you mostly self-taught, or do you have a formal music education?
Justin has three years of college level music theory classes, and a lot of self taught skills. Mikey has a combination of self taught and formal percussion as well as music production history. Starla was first taught how to sing growing up in the church, and then took piano lessons from a young age. She taught herself how to compose songs and play the guitar. Finally, she was in band and played flute in middle school and high school.
The members of the Midnight Marionettes are known to geek out on table tennis, science, dead poets, and music production technology. How do you use these hobbies to rejuvenate your creativity?
All hobbies are an outlet, a path to self discovery, and provide experience that shape how we see the world. This has definitely also led to some awesome conversations.
With which artist/band would the Midnight Marionettes love to collaborate?
There are so many bands that we would love to collaborate with! We would love to have Cesar and Sin from Ministry add some guitars or do some remixes for our album. We would also like to work with Cevin Key from Skinny Puppy, Marilyn Manson, and Martin Bowes from Attrition. We have a huge producer announcement but unfortunately we have to hold our tongues on that for now.
Please tell us where we can see you perform next:
We do not have any shows currently, but hope to be playing out very soon as we tie up our album. As soon as we have shows booked we will update fans on our band Facebook. Thank you COMA Music Magazine for the great interview.
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