• Category Archives Aether Whens – Steampunk
  • Featured ImageMeet the Musicians: Frenchy and the Punk

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    Frenchy and the Punk
    Frenchy and the Punk

    Frenchy and the Punk can be seen at conventions and festivals across the US and in Europe.  Their music is a marvelous mélange of mellifluous melodies and deliciously diverse ditties, the best description comes from the source.

    John N Collins (JNC): How would you describe your band?

    Samantha Stephenson (SS): We call it Indie Folk Punk Cabaret.

    (JNC): Who are your band members?

    (SS): Samantha Stephenson – Vocals, Percussion, Drums Scott Helland – Guitar, Live Guitar Looping, Vocals, Drums

    (JNC): Can you give me a bit of a history on the band?

    (SS): Frenchy and the Punk – Imagine Siouxsie Sioux and Dee Dee Ramone had a duo that was inspired by Django Reinhardt, Edith Piaf, Toulouse Lautrec and Deepak Chopra, this is what it might sound like. One part Dresden Dolls, Sonny and Cher and one part White Stripes. Raised on punk rock and ballet, eclectic and uplifting… fun with a capital F!

    In 2005 Stephenson, the sultry French born singer jumped onstage and joined, Helland, the fiery punk rock guitarist from the golden days of the hardcore scene, and Frenchy and the Punk was born. Along the way they became the ‘jewel of the steampunk scene’ and were named one of the ”Top 25 dynamic duos in America’ by Yahoo music. Their show is a carnival of two that will take you from the Moulin Rouge to CBGBs and back again. A rollicking flapper folk punk steampunk indie cabaret with Taiko  meets Rio de Janeiro pounding drum instrumentals.

    Scott Helland whose serpentine guitar lines and creative guitar looping technique perfectly complement the playfulness and spirit of Frenchy’s lyrics. Helland was co-founder and bassist of the legendary Massachusetts hardcore punk band Deep Wound, whose members included future Dinosaur Jr. members J Mascis and Lou Barlow. Deeply entrenched in that 80s hardcore scene, Scott’s follow up band, Outpatients, shared the stage with some of the biggest bands of that underground movement like Black Flag, Husker Du, G.B.H., Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags.

    (JNC): Can you give me a list of your album titles, dates, self produced or record labels, whatever you want to add about each album if you have anything you do want to add.

    (SS): Frenchy and the Punk Albums:

    Happy Madness (2010) EA Recordings
    Hey Hey Cabaret (2012) EA Recordings
    Elephant Uproar (2013) EA Recordings
    Cartwheels EP (2014) EA Recordings
    Bonjour Batfrog (2014) EA Recordings

    (JNC): What are your plans for the future? New albums? Movies? Video?

    (SS): We just released Bonjour Batfrog this Fall and we’re working on some music videos for some of those new songs like ‘Don’t Fear The Rabbit’ and ‘Forever and Ever MC Escher’. There’s always a tour coming up too.

    (JNC): What are your links?

    (SS): They are:

    Website – www.frenchyandthepunk.com
    Facebook – www.facebook.com/frenchyandthepunk
    Twitter – www.twitter.com/frenchyNthepunk
    Instagram – www.instagram.com/frenchyandthepunk
    CDbaby – www.cdbaby.com/artist/frenchyandthepunk
    Bandcamp – www.frenchyandthepunk.bandcamp.com

    More about John N. Collins

    For more photos and fun, follow John N. Collins on TwitterInstagram, Youtube, and Facebook and be sure to let him know your thoughts on his articles!

    Check out some concert video and interviews with Frenchy and the punk!

  • An interview with ArtPrize Steampunk sculptor Anthony Jackson

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    Anthony Jackson from Lake Odessa, Michigan, is an industrial welder and a sculptor that has been entering the Grand Rapids ArtPrize since the first year.  His creative endeavors go back to when he was a kid growing up on a farm where he had the opportunity to use tools and equipment in his artistic explorations that most folks don’t have in their homes.

    While he has worked in other media, airbrushing and such, his favorite is welding and finishing metal.

    His first ArtPrize entry was his well-loved dragon, “Edgar.”  “Edgar” was a metalwork dragon made of scrap metal and was about seven feet tall.  Edgar “wowed” the crowd, placing in the top 50 entrants during the first year of ArtPrize.

    "Steam Baby" at The B.O.B. during ArtPrize 2013
    “Steam Baby” at The B.O.B. during ArtPrize 2013

    Last year at The B.O.B., Mr. Jacksons entry was another dragon with a Steampunk twist called, “Steam Baby.”

    This year, in front of the Gerald Ford Museum, his entry is an amazing, mechanical, steampunk creation called, “Looking for Alice” and has Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter on a tricycle.  “Looking for Alice” is also made with scrap metal and found pieces that he assembled and formed by welding, bolting, and other tricks of his trade.

    Anthony Jackson's "Looking For Alice" at the Gerald Ford Museum during ArtPrize 2014
    Anthony Jackson’s “Looking For Alice” at the Gerald Ford Museum during ArtPrize 2014

    The art enthusiasts can spin the front wheel and watch The Mad Hatter’s legs pump and the mechanical, winding key on his back rotates.  His use of negative space in the sculpting allows the viewer to look inside the figure and see his heart and other internal workings.

    When not creating works of art like “Edgar” or “Looking for Alice” he also makes beautiful, handmade knives.  Be sure to go to the Gerald Ford Museum before ArtPrize 2014 is over and check out “Looking for Alice.”  In case you can’t make it, the video interview with Mr. Jackson starts with views of the sculpture.  Also stop by his website – DontCutYourself.com/Welcome.html – and check out more of his creative works.

    More about National Art, National Music, and Grand Rapids Social Issues Examiner John N. Collins

    For more photos and fun, follow John N. Collins on TwitterInstagram, Youtube, and Facebook and be sure to let him know your favorites at ArtPrize 2014!

  • Did IBM kill Steampunk’s 15 minutes of fame?

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    According to Google Statistics, Steampunk made a steady rise in popularity from 2007 to the end of 2012.  On January 14, 2013, IBM announced that, “‘steampunk,’ a sub-genre inspired by the clothing, technology and social mores of Victorian society, will be a major trend to bubble up, and take hold, of the retail industry. Major fashion labels, accessories providers and jewelry makers are expected to integrate a steampunk aesthetic into their designs in the coming year.”

    Many of the Steampunk fans who took note of IBM’s statements were excited that it was poised to permeate the art and fashion of our modern society.  However that does not seem to be the case.

    For those who like statistics and watch charts, if you look at the Google chart showing interest in the topic based on the Google Statistics, it appears that interest in Steampunk peaked out in October of 2012 and only reached that same peak once in October of 2013.  Looking at the chart today, October 9, 2014, it is at 91% of its peak.  It looks as though it may not reach the peak that it hit the two previous Octobers.

    When watching the charts for buying and selling stocks it is advisable to buy when it is low and sell when it is high and one might think that IBM picked up on the peak of Steampunk and “bought into” it then when it was at its peak and it was just a poor understanding of the charts.

    Alternatively, in this case the observer may well have effected the results based on their prediction.  They may well have been correct in predicting that the fashion world was about to embrace the Steampunk art and fashion but when they announced it as fact, they may have adversely impacted the trend.

    How could IBM impact a social, art, and fashion trend?  To be quite blunt, IBM is known for its innovations in technology, not fashion.  Fashionistas create the trends and for them to be “predicted” would not set well with them.

    With IBM, whose reputation is stereotypic of a nerd in a suit with a pocket protector, predicting a fashion trend, it wouldn’t be surprising for fashionistas to drop any plans that they had in favor of most anything else.

    Did IBM’s prediction deal a blow to Steampunk fans?  Not really.  While their prediction may have diverted the fashionistas from letting it become IBM’s expected bubble, it did not kill nor even damage Steampunk as a fandom.

    The truth of the matter is that Steampunk fans tend to be more strongly individualistic and mostly don’t care what IBM has to say about their fandom.  They also tend to be artists, writers, costumers, creators and innovators of many fields.  Is the average steampunk fan upset that the fashionistas have, apparently dropped out of the fandom?  By no means!  Steampunk is known for quality and creativity, not cheap, mass produced trinkets.

    IBM’s prediction may have brought Steampunk to a plateau in what had been a rapid rise but the genre has some major fans, alot to offer, and much still in the works.   Bruce Boxleitner (Tron, Tron II, Babylon 5, and many other works) and his partner Trevor Crafts are working towards a Steampunk television series, Lantern City.  Jimmy Diggs (screenwriter noted for his scripts from Star Trek: Voyager and Deep Space Nine) is developing his creation, “The Crypto-Historians.”  With the lovely Susan Downey producing the third Sherlock Holmes movie, it is likely she will be able to pursuade her husband to reprise his role as Sherlock to the delight of Steampunk, Sherlock Holmes, and Robert Downey Jr. fans.

    Author Leonardo Ramirez is working on an animated short based on his Jupitor Chronicles which will be steampunk fun for kids.  Grant Wilson, of Ghost Hunters stepped down from the show to start a gaming company, Rather Dashing Games, with his childhood friend, Michael Richie and they have steampunk projects.  Pop Haydn, World Class Magician and winner of several Magician of the Year awards at Hollywood’s Magic Castle, amazes and entertains his audience with his steampunk style.

    So, while IBM and the fashionistas may have created a plateau in what had been a steady rise, the genre still hasn’t lost its, well, you know…  Steam!

    More about National Art, National Music, and National Steampunk Examiner John N. Collins

    For more photos and fun, follow John N. Collins on TwitterInstagram, Youtube, and Facebook and be sure to let him know your thoughts!


  • Three entertaining events steaming onto the scene

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    Letting off steam at Her Royal Majesty's Steampunk Symposium 2014
    Letting off steam at Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium 2014

    Over the next week three events of steamy significance will be happening in the steampunk community in Cincinati, Detroit, and on the aetherweb including the Steampunk Empire Symposium, the Midwest Media Expo, and the debut album release of a new band, Ague.

    Voltaire performing at the 2013 Up in the Aether convention
    Voltaire performing at the 2013 Up in the Aether convention

    The 2014 Steampunk Empire Symposium kicks off in Cincinati on Friday the 25th at 4 p.m. with their welcome Tea Stroll.  Friday night’s concert with the famed author/performing artist Aurelio Voltaire is the last official item on the first nights schedule but their famous “Room Parties” (21+ only) will undoubtedly leave the patrons burning the midnight oil.  The Ford Theater Reunion,  ChakrasAutomatonDrunk & SailorCrystal Bright & the Silver HandsTravis Fessler and the Pickled Brothers Circus and Sir Reginald Pikedevant, Esquire are also on the roster to perform during the symposium.

    A first for 2014 is Detroit’s Midwest Media Expo, brought to you by the same folks who run Youmacon and who did the three years of the World Steam Expo.  After his Friday night concert in Cincinatti, Aurelio Voltaire will be heading for Detroit where he will be joining Steam Powered Giraffe, on the stage, an event well worth the view.  One of the midwest’s favorites, Todd Haberkorn, along with Vic Mignogna, and other members of the “Star Trek Continues” cast will be at the Midwest Media Expo to promote the fan produced Star Trek  series.  Additional guests include cosplay queens Hex Hypoxia, Vivid Vivka, and Porphyria, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Superfan, Michele Ivey, and many others!

    The cover of Ague's debut album, From Workhouse to Grave
    The cover of Ague’s debut album, From Workhouse to Grave

    A final coming event worthy of note is the entrance of a new performer into the steampunk community who goes by the name “Half-Rats” and his one man band, Ague.  His debut album, “From Workhouse to Grave”, is set to be released on May 1, 2014.  Those who enjoy the darker, dystopian views of alternate histories will enjoy his noir numbers such as “To Hell with the Temperance Movement”, “Hellbourne”, and “Straight Razor Swing” (instrumental but a great title!)  Prior to the album going live, it is available on the band Facebook page.  So give a listen to the music and check out the character notes and lyrics!