A friend of mine who is a goth music enthusiast but is a little late to the recent rise of post-punk and goth friendly music this last decade asked me the other day:
Where did this boom of goth music came from all of a sudden; I cannot explain it?
This piqued my interest to find out why or how. There must have been the right conditions for this to happen... so I thought about it... and it’s my personal opinion that us goths have adolescents and young adults outside of our scene to thank as they look in on the whole goth thing from the outside.
Here is a chronological mix to go along with this article. The track list is at the end. Enjoy!
The first signs of a post-punk revival happened in the early 2000’s when popular alternative/indie rock bands, which didn't necessarily have to do anything with goth, began to explore 80’s post-punk influences like deep angsty vocals, jangly guitars, and deeper bass lines. But it was initially very superficial. We could see these early elements in bands like The Killers, The Bravery, and Interpol.
But what about within actual Post Punk and goth music scenes during the 2000’s. While some great goth bands existed in the 2000’s (like Cinema Strange, Elusive, and Phantom Vision), it was a time where dark alternative cultures in the club spaces were focused more towards electronic genres like Electro-Goth (which is not goth, but rather a dark Electro/Synthpop/EBM hybrid) along with Industrial and Electro-Industrial ruled the dance floor.
Goths participated in these new scenes but Goth music was a largely forgotten relic. The new generation just entering the scene could now access Goth music through the Internet, but not enough cared about it to do so because it wasn’t well represented in the clubs. But those who did get into Goth music during the early 2000’s had a deeper interest in finding out what Goth was and where the subculture came from.
Most Goth bands in the 2000’s were very stale and unoriginal. Although there was a Deathrock revival that thrived underground during this decade, many of the up and coming bands of the time failed to impress. So many goths ended up focusing their attention backwards towards the past more than ever. And there was now a younger generation of goths that were interested in re-visiting the seminal music of the 80’s and 90’s like never before through platforms like YouTube or download clients.
In the mid to late 2000’s we started to see the early building blocks of the current Post-Punk and Goth/Wave movement. The Post-Punk revival growing in the alternative/indie scene had gained a strong following and while the idea was there, it hadn't been exploited yet on the Goth side of things. Eventually, Goth bands were formed that began to slowly tap into that nostalgic Post-Punk sound and contemporary Indie elements. Since Goth came from the original Post-Punk movement, these experimental elements were already there in Goth formula. And this gave birth to bands like Plastique Noir from Brazil which perfectly exemplifies that interest to return to the Post Punk/Darkwave old school sound, especially on their debut album Deadpop in 2008.
Other bands in the late 2000’s existed more on the border between the Goth and Alternative/Indie music, like She Wants Revenge. Arguments were raised as to whether or not they were actually Goth, but She Wants Revenge ended up being very important to the resurrection of goth. It was because they wound up being the meeting point between the established Post-Punk revival going on in the Alternative/Indie music spheres with the actual Post Punk and Goth acts that had been lingering under the radar. Showing a lot of elements from the Post Punk bands of old but in a more alternative and popular feel, She Wants Revenge even replicated in a video the scene from the movie The Hunger, which is a cult 80s classic that alluded to Goths since Bauhaus and their iconic Bela Lugosi's Dead was featured in the movie with Peter Murphy himself...
It was at this point where artists began to explore that question of... what if we turn back in time and play music like in the old days but with new technology as a homage to those old Post Punk and "New Wave" bands of old? While this was going on of course we cannot block the sky with the hand as we know that in popular culture fashion and styles tend to repeat themselves every 15 to 20 years so it was about due to have the 80’s come back in popular culture somehow. And this did happen in music specially the "Synthwave" genre replicating 80’s music as the 2010’s approached, and we have evidence of the darker bands bringing back this sound at this time like Cold Cave and Phosphor, but at the time the popularity of the current Goth/Wave wasn't there just yet.
Then It happened that the band She Past Away, from the most unlikely of places (Turkey), made a perfect blend of Post Punk, Goth and Darkwave in their 2012 album "Belirdi Gece" which captivated the goths who desperately were looking for something new and fresh in Goth. And what better than a band who payed such a great homage to bands of old.
The band Angels Of Liberty did a similar thing with Gothic Rock - playing a more digital homage of the gothic rock bands of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Along with them many other bands followed like Selofan in Greece playing a Minimal/Post Punk/Wave; Helene de Thoury, using the French Retro-Synthwave revival, created the Darkwave projects Minuit Machine and Hante.; Winter Severity Index and their album Slanting Ray in 2012 staying more traditional into the Post Punk/Shoegaze sound reminiscent of the early Cocteau Twins; and numerous other musicians (which by nowadays in 2019 we cannot even count them or keep track of all of them) began to replicate the avant-garde sensibilities that created Post Punk in the 80’s, creating a new wave of Goth friendly music.
Now how this music born from this has become so popular...? a most likely explanation to this you will find it outside of Goth. How? those who were goths from the 90s and back they had to work hard to know what goth music was, you had to go to the club, go to concerts, ask the DJ, go to record stores. But those teens and young adults in dark alternative scenes from the 2000s forward who by the most part were somewhat ignorant of goth in the clubs in the 2010s using their access to internet multimedia caught on to this resurgence of Post Punk along with many teens and young adults that had nothing to do with goth at the time probably have realized that this style of music appeals to them in some way regardless if they know what goth is or was... to begin with. This is very evident in the Mexico City Goth Scene 2 main goth clubs "El Real Under" and "El Centro de Salud." In El Real Under you will notice the more elitist crowd or I should say the more traditional goth, but on the other hand in el Centro de Salud which hosts this new Post Punk/Goth/Wave revival, where you might see your occasional goth (Of course because Goths enjoy this new wave of Goth music) but the majority of the packed crowd are more subtle in their look and are clearly people who are fans of this new wave of goth music but they don't necessarily care if the music is goth or came from Goth to begin with.
It is my opinionated conclusion that the recent rise in popularity in Post Punk/Goth/Darkwave music in the 2010’s into the 2020’s is most probably due to a combination of those well established Goths that were desperate to find new music and fresh ideas that appealed their Goth palette over the electronic onslaught they dealt with in clubs for most of the 2000’s. Along with the new generation of teens and young adults who are discovering this type of music for the first time (due to the accessibility that technology today allows them) regardless if they know that it’s a homage to or a return to avant-garde sensibilities or Goth Itself...
Maybe those who are discovering the music now, they might have a potential Goth in them or probably don't give a rat's ass as long as the music is good. And let me tell you this is a good sign because if you look at the current bands of this new wave of Goth music, a lot don't use the "Goth" tag to describe their music or dress Goth to be edgy; they just make music and we Goths see it as Goth because of the obvious influence to which they have based their sound. Do you see something similar to the original Goth artists and musicians which didn't associate with the tag?
To talk about Goth is always a complicated and thorough subject on which you can write an entire book... I too am surprised not by the resurgence of Goth, but rather it’s exponential growth in popularity which has spread like wildfire. Keep in mind I came into the scene in the 2000’s looking to the old history of Goth, that for me in those early days was a like myth, a story that has been passed down from generation to generation. So to see how Goth has risen in this decade, is something new and enticing to me and to other Goths like, because we have never seen the genre and the scene so vibrant like this since those romanticized elder bats stories from the 80’s. And I'm really looking forward to what the next page in Goth's history will look like for future generations.
Mix track list:
1. The Killers - Smile Like You Mean It (2004)
2. Interpol - Slow Hands (2002)
3. The Bravery - An Honest Mistake (2005)
4. She Want Revenge - Tear You Apart (2006)
5. Plastique Noir - Imaginary Walls (2008)
6. She Past Away - Kasvetli Kutlama (2012)
7. Lebanon Hanover - Gallowdance (2013)
8. PHOSPHOR - Skull (2013)
9. Angels of Liberty - Touch the Daemon (2014)
10. Winter Severity Index - No Will (2014)
11. Minuit Machine - Honey (2016)
12. Selofan - Shadowmen (2017)
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