“The Artist of Darkness”…at a glance by Chrissy Lynn.
Music moves us and evokes love, sadness, joy and even fear. Whether it’s a melody from an antique music box, the eerie strings of the violin, or the taunting keys of the Piano, it can strike terror into our very hearts or even put us in the mood. “The Artist of darkness” has done just that. Gastown, British Columbia’s very own SpookhauS also known as Bruce Campbell (No relation to the boom-stick bad-ass from Army of Darkness & Evil Dead). SpookhauS has definitely put Ghoul-Girls in the mood. Which is why we’re revealing more than just our mini-skirts and stitches by asking him a few questions of our own. He was ever so eager to surrender those answers and we are pleased to submissively give them to you
The Artist of Darkness…
GG: “What exactly is An Artist of Darkness?”
SpookhauS: “I am an artist that draws his inspiration from the dark side. I enjoy all it's many facets; the occult, the paranormal, witchcraft, the unexplained, halloween, horror fiction, non-fiction and of course all the movies, those glorious, horror movies. My music, my art reflects my passion for darkness. I created SpookhauS as an outlet for my dark creations. It is an eerie place with many, many rooms, secret passages, attics and dank basements. As the years pass Das Haus gets larger, vast, and more complex with every new addition of my music soundscapes and aural sculptures. The world of SpookhauS comes from my mind and is definitely an extension of my self, my alter ego...I am SpookhauS: Artist of Darkness, multi-instrumentalist, composer, engineer, producer, vampire, video maker, conceptualize.”
GG: “So what was your first experience of horror, and how does one scare the "Artist of Darkness" if there is such a thing?
SpookhauS: “I can remember as a small child living in San Antonio, Texas, there was a monster matinee on TV that featured classic Universal Monster movies. They were my intro to horror. After that I was possessed and obsessed with horror. I was what yah call a monster kid! I collected horror 'zines, cards, comics, action figures, models, and masks, you name it. I watched many horror movies and as the years went by the movies got more cutting edge and gory. My horror tastes began to mature and refine and I was fascinated with the occult and witchcraft and horror authors like Poe, Lovecraft, Shelly, and King. Soon all the classic horror movies came out on video and I began an avid collection of VHS, both new and used, watching and absorbing, rewinding, freeze framing scenes and taking in all the amazing soundtracks! With all that said, there really isn't anything that scares me... ...uh...except, puppy dogs, rainbows, pixies, ponies and faeries.”
GG: “Where "in hell" is Gastown, British Columbia…how did you end up here?”
SpookhauS: “Gastown is the oldest part of Vancouver; cobblestone streets and old stone buildings, it has a gothic appeal but it’s getting a little too touristy. It's got a big ol’ steam clock smack dab in the middle of it and tourists flock from miles around to listen to it go off at certain times of the day, cant figure that out.... The SpookhauS Laboratory is situated at the edge of Gastown, in the darker part, on the wrong side of the tracks, where the crack-heads and meth users walk around like zombies and the sounds of screams, gunshots and glass breaking are all too common around here. A block away, Hastings and Main, is North America’s Drug selling/buying capital, kitty-corner to The Vancouver Police Dept, go figure. My Spook-mobile has been broken into and vandalized many times and The Spook-lab was broken into while I was there and asleep. One early morning, I awoke to a loud thud at my door and knew I was being broken into. After the third thud the door flew open and in walked a 5ft 2'' young Spanish girl dressed in black and carrying a large duffel bag. I watched her as she walked through the lab looking nervously about at my macabre décor, my life size monster heads and masks. Well, I gave her quite a scare as I arose from my coffin sporting nothing but my briefs and morning wood! She ran out of there like a frightened little bunny...and I thought we were going to have some fun! It's a scary part of town! I love it here; I wouldn't have it any other way!”
GG: “What’s your "gear" these days? What’s your favorite and why?”
SpookhauS: “I'm purchasing some hand drums and a didgeridoo. I find myself, while I'm bored, hand drumming on everything and anything: desks, chairs, cushions, cats and small children. I need a proper outlet. I need portable drums to carry around, to play in a park, in the woods, on top of a mountain. I need to get in touch with my primitive tribal self and I plan on using some of my hypnotic voodoo beats in my Creations. The didgeridoo is a wind instrument with a deep ominous unearthly sound. It requires a certain circular breathing technique. That one's next on my list. It will be enjoyable to play and yet another color to add to The SpookhauS pallet. As gear goes, I've got vintage recording gear of all types. My Laboratory is like a museum of old recording gear and outboard effects. I've been offered a lot for certain vintage pieces but I refuse to give them up. It’s all part of the sound.
Out of all the various instruments I play I'll have to say that The Theremin is my favorite. It's the first and oldest electronic instrument and, when properly played, sounds like an ethereal female vocal; haunting and ghostlike, it's sounds can be heard in old Horror movies to Beach Boys tunes. It's basically a wooden rectangular box (though it comes in various designs) that houses a circuit board. Protruding from the top of the box is an antennae and to the left side, a steel bar. Placing the right hand 12 to 15 inches or so from the antennae produces a low drone .As the hand gets closer to the antennae the pitch climbs several octaves higher. The left hand is placed 12 inches or so in front of the sidebar and moving it closer decreases the volume. You can hear The Theremin in action on such SpookhauS classics as “Faust,” “Dance to your Death,” “Captain Kronos,” “Lady Frankenstein,” and “The Ghoul-Girls Theme".
GG: “How did your interest in music begin and when did you want to create your own?”
SpookhauS: “I was no child prodigy that's for sure. I was raised, as a kid, on horror sound effects records, horror sound tracks and my Dad's love for Broadway musicals blasting through the console filled the house every Saturday. I didn't think about seriously playing an instrument until I was in my late teens.
I went on to play many styles of music in many different bands from punk, new wave funk and jazz-fusion to grunge, folk, reggae, ska, metal and rock; some originals written by myself, collaborations with band members and covers as well.
After many years of slugging it out in bands I decided to take a breather and focus on song writing and recording as home recording was becoming more attractive with computers and digital editing. I was soon creating music that would later become part of the SpookhauS sound.
GG: “What was your first Instrument and when did you start experimenting with more advanced gear like the Synthesizer & Sampler?”
SpookhauS: “My first instrument was the bass guitar. Because Gene Simmons, The Vampire of Kiss, played a bass I knew that I needed to as well. Besides, the bass is a very dark, deep ominous instrument that has a power and beauty and magical appeal. I bought an old harmony bass. It was a copy of a Fender Precision and was black. I loved that bass. I didn't know how to play it at first but I listened to a ton of music and learned bass lines from The Clash, The Stranglers, The Police, Sabbath, Bob Marley, The Who; a real mixed bag. I played in bands as a bass player, then a bass Player/ singer. It wasn’t until I got into recording, creating and sculpting the SpookhauS sound did I suddenly acquire the ability to play other instruments; Guitars, Mandolin, Drums, Piano, Theremin and keyboards.
The synthesizer is a required instrument in the SpookhauS sound and is used to trigger many of my custom samples as well as my 32bit orchestra samples and piano sounds.
GG: “Tell us a little bit about your "Spookolin" Invention.”
SpookhauS: “The Spookolin isn't an invention though it kind of resembles one. In fact it's an Ovation Mandolin that's shaped like a miniature Ovation Acoustic guitar, so it gives a different sound than your standard Mandolin. It's really all about the way I play it that makes it uniquely a Spookolin. Yah see, I play it almost sitar- style, and because of it's tuning, I'm able to capture a very mystical middle eastern vibe from it using open strings and drone notes. The fact that it's electric, means I can run it through an amp and give it some effects like a little reverb and a millisecond delay.
I play other styles with the Spookolin, some a little more traditional but always dark. I have a few Spookolin compositions but to catch the true essence of The Spookolin you have to see and hear it in a live setting. I will be using it in the live SpookhauS show as well. I'm out on the streets of Vancouver every summer doing live performances all over downtown, the beach and on the steps of the art gallery!!
The Merry-go-round of Music…
GG: “You project your talents through various genre’s of music from Industrial EBM (Electric Body Music) to the original ambiance of Goth Rock, to the intricate sounds of Trip-hop, yet there are still uncharted genre’s that you have yet not conquered. What is your favorite genre to work with currently and why?”
SpookhauS: “Orchestra music seems to be occupying my time these days. I love creating compositions with classical orchestra instruments like Violin, Cello and Viola. Check out “Dracula's Castle” for that example.
GG: “Would you change your style of music and venture out of the darkness if a big record label wanted to sign you?”
SpookhauS: “I would not compromise my art and creative focus to succumb to some record company. The idea is for them to come to me. I've been approached by Indie labels offering deals that never appealed to me. I enjoy the freedom and the independence I have doing this myself. It's DIY (Do it Yourself) OR DIE!!
I have plans for my music and my art that don't need a record company's interference. My latest piece, “La Symphonique de Noir”, consists of an oboe, flute, kettle drum and bass synthesizer and is a freeform 30 minute mood/soundtrack piece. There are many other genres I would like to spookify; dub reggae, traditional country, and delve deeper into jazz.
GG: “Buckets of Blood. So what prompt you to do a music video in the first place and tell us everything that went into it especially that coagulated cocktail you ended up drinking during filming that didn’t quite agree with your chemistry, if you will.”
SpookhauS: “MMMMMUUUUWWWHAHAHAAA!! Yeah I puked my guts out on this Fake stage Blood! The stuff looked so real, it was making me hungry! Definitely not as good as the real thing! The total cost of the video was the price of this stage blood; 24.99.
It comes in a plastic container that holds about 24 oz of this syrupy red concoction. I poured it all over my half naked body for the video shoot. I put it around my mouth as it drooled down my jaw and down my neck. I read on the side of the bottle “Do not put this liquid in mouth, Do not drink”, but I said fuck it and started taken big swigs of it holding it in my mouth so that I could spit it out at the camera for the end shot.
After a few takes and a few more swigs, I couldn't help but accidentally swallow some of it which soon caused that old vomit reflex to kick in.I should have got my projectile vomiting on film! Now that would have been scary! Eat your heart out Lind Blair!
I filmed the video using a Sony Cyber-shot stacked on videos to achieve the right height and edited clips in from splatter flicks and gory movies; images I stole, and my own private collection. I needed to do this… my first official SpookhauS Video, Because the song's my tribute to splatter flicks through the years and it was really just a matter of spicing some cool scenes together and running the tune in the background but I decided to include me in the video sporting my teeth and covered in blood. The video was a great learning experience because it prompted me to figure out my video editing software.
I would like to do a full production of the video some day and have a scene where I'm getting hundreds of buckets of blood poured on me at the end finale...Carrie, eat your heart out!!
Ghoul-Girls Like to Dance too…
GG: “Among the Many Ghoul-Girls videos, of which feature your tantalizing tracks, how has it been collaborating with Ghoul-Girls thus far”?SpookhauS: “I'm having a ball seeing all these sexy Girls shaking it to my tunes. The Ghoul-Girls crew seems genuine and displays a real appreciation for the horror film and the genre itself. Josh is doing a good job syncing the images to the tunes and the girls are having some fun...you can tell.
GG: “What are your thoughts on the Horror Pinup Website?”
SpookhauS: “I think it's an idea that's time has come."
GG: “So far do you have a favorite Ghoul-Girls set or video that you’d like to tell us about and why?
Spookhaus: “I have a guilty pleasure for “The Bride” video. VampireKitten really brings The Bride to life with her classic features and gore-jus legs. The production, editing and especially the makeup, were well done and hey, the music wasn't too bad either...MMMMMMMMMMMUUUWWWHAHAHAHAA!!!
www.myspace.com/spooktunes to get an even deeper incite to The Artist of darkness himself. You can also sneak a peak and stream through over 80 tracks, which by the way are FREE at www.isound.com/spookhaus