Dystopia on community and showcasing a different side of music
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Dystopia on community and showcasing a different side of music

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Dystopia will soon bring together Australia’s best gothic/industrial/dark electronic acts, including Shiv-r, Coffin Carousel, SNUFF, and Zen Robotic. Beat had a chat to event producer and Zen Robotic’s lead vocalist Thom O’Leary, who was eager to discuss Dystopia’s lineup and how the event thrives upon the growth of the goth community in Melbourne. 

“I think whoever comes to Dystopia will love it.  Even a lot of people who wouldn’t expect to love it will love it,” says O’Leary. “There’s Shiv-r, who are a world-class act. They were originally from New South Wales but they relocated to the UK where they were based for a while, and they had toured over 20 countries before deciding to come back and live in Australia again, so they’re Melbourne based now. They have an international reputation within the industrial scene.”

O’Leary continues to enthusiastically discuss the other acts, such as Coffin Carousel. ‘They’ve recently signed to a U.S label and they’ve been based in Melbourne for six or seven years. They released an album in October so they definitely look like they’re about to take off.

“DJ Lobotomy will also be doing some DJing in between the sets of the live acts, so he’ll definitely keep the vibe of the night going while we’re doing changeovers and later on in the night too,’ O’Leary says. “He’s even been a really good mentor to me because he’s organised a lot of these events. He’s been a really good help in terms of having someone to talk to.

“I’ve seen all these acts before and I say there are no weak links in the lineup,” O’Leary says. ‘They create really great music and really great performances and I think a lot of these acts deserve to be gaining more traction in terms of the audiences they have and the followings they have.”

O’Leary also highlights other events in the goth community, such as Deviate which shut down a few years ago and then New Order was created which has been running for three years. There’s also club events like Fang and Haunt that play industrial music with gothic vibes.

“A lot of those gigs are pretty much DJs playing that music,” he says. ‘I suppose there’s a bit of spread in that community into metal and punk, so a lot of the same people will get into black metal and death metal on one side, and then there’s a whole movement of post-punk music. The main thing that we showcase is dark electronic industrial. We don’t quite fit into metal, punk, or straight up electronic.

“This started out being a dark electronic industrial gig, but a couple of acts like Coffin Carousel and Katherine Hymer don’t really fit into that category. It’s not about trying to fit everyone into that category. Even my own band Zen Robotic is quite diverse in the material we have, but sometimes it’s good to touch on different scenes and communities and build relationships with people.”

O’Leary has also made the observation that goth nightclubs today don’t draw as much interest from people in the mainstream as they used to in the ‘90s.

“I think one of the things about the ‘90s is that it was a real heyday for that type of music. You had Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and a lot more acts that were bigger in the mainstream scene,” he says. “It’s interesting because I found in recent times you don’t get many people at goth nightclubs like that.

“Part of people getting into scenes and communities is that often there’s something in the mainstream that will get them in. In the last five years there hasn’t been anything mainstream that’s got a lot of kids into this stuff. Our demographic does tend to be late 20s and 30s, and there’d be some people older than that.”

Nevertheless, O’Leary does acknowledge that Melbourne is a very diverse community that is accepting of all walks of life. Therefore, Dystopia will hopefully draw a range of different people. “We’ve all got our own acts and our own agendas,” O’Leary says. “The main thing is that we wanted to come together and put on an event that we hope is awesome.”