While I was at Steamcon, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet a slew of overwhelmingly talented people. Among those were the Gypsy Nomads and after seeing them live for the first time, I was determined to get them on here to introduce them to you. So here they are, all the way from New York, to tell them a bit about themselves and how awesome they are.
Please tell me a bit about each of your musical backgrounds, education, and influences. When and how did you start as a musician individually? How did you come together to become the Gypsy Nomads?
Samantha: My background is in dance mostly although I did play piano for years as a kid and was always into singing. My family on both my French and British side is very musical with guitar and banjo players and singers so I was surrounded early on. I started dance in England when I was four and it was a staple in my life well into my twenties. In college I branched out into sculpture and painting and in Grad School I took an uncharacteristic detour into business. I was back on track doing art when I met Scott and I started collaborating on his music projects in 2000 on more of the artistic side of things like painting a CD cover and set design and production. In 2005 I joined him onstage to do some percussion on the song “The Traveling Band of Gypsy Nomads” a tune from his Brocade CD. It all sort of took off from there. Next thing I knew, I was writing lyrics, we were writing songs together and booking shows.
Scott: I played in school bands when I was a kid and I had parents that were totally into music, my father played trombone and was into Jazz from the `20’s and `30’s. I started getting into writing and playing music when I was 12 yrs old and in my early teens I became a bass guitarist in the Massachusetts hardcore punk scene, I was playing clubs at 14 yrs old. I attended college for music but left early to move to NYC and play in bands. In `95 I started playing solo shows and released my first solo CD in `96. I have 7 solo CDs out and The Gypsy Nomads have released 4 CDs. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music so my influences range from Django Reinhardt to the Ramones to Richie Blackmore to Motorhead to classical and spanish guitar music. I’ve always been into European melodies, Celtic, gypsy etc. but then there’s the punk influence too!
How would you describe your music to people who have never heard it before?
Samantha: A super brief description would be Gypsy Cabaret. It’s cheeky, raucous, sultry and powerful. We had a reviewer just recently say of Happy Madness, it’s “like falling through an opium cloud into the middle of a Vaudeville show”.
Scott: Gypsy Cabaret Folk Punk kinda covers it. You have to see us live. There are a lot of different elements to what we play. I like to think of it as this big musical mystickal umbrella we exist under and it includes themes and elements of Steampunk, gypsy, cabaret, punk, goth, pagan, faerie lore, medieval, celtic and circus music.
While you never overtly label yourself as a Steampunk band, you and your music definitely has been embraced by the Steampunk subculture. Why do you think this is?
Samantha: Our show is not only high energy and fiery but also theatrical and it combines the old world with the new. I think it may also be partly because we have a European bent with melodies that harkens to that cabaret sound and I sing in French as well as English.
Scott: We have a definite neo-vintage vibe to our music that appeals to a lot of Steampunk fans. Samantha’s lyrics touch on what can be considered Steampunk themes in songs like the Agatha Christie-ish ‘House of Cards’ with great classic characters like Poirot and Sherlock Holmes and ‘Magician and the Dancer’ which is about a high society girl in the early 1900s who leads a secret life as a dancer in an underground cabaret in London.
What does Steampunk mean to you?
Samantha: It’s an amazing explosion of creativity which is something people with a penchant for the creative can really sink their teeth into. It’s harkening back to simpler times, and by that I certainly don’t mean less dramatic, when things were made with a flair for the aesthetic but at the same time bringing in futuristic elements as well. It’s saying NO to the lame and boring, it’s bringing back curiosity and a sense of awe and mystery, a sense that we have a hand in the production of things, that we can build things from scratch. It makes us part of the process and has a great way of bending time and giving us repose from the stagnant linear nature of the usual and predictable.
Scott: I couldn’t have said it better myself!
On a scale of one to ten, one being mercilessly crushed by the corporate machine and ten being entirely off the grid, how DIY (Do It Yourself) are you?
Samantha: We are pretty much all DIY. We live and breathe this stuff 24/7 and are very lucky to do so. The only things we don’t do is record or print. We work with an engineer when we record and our CDs are printed professionally. We wear many hats!
Scott: Probably an 11. But we should be a 7, `cause we could use some help taking care of some of the U.S. booking. We work on our music and art all the time. We spend most of the year on the road and the rest is spent at home working on new music, booking etc. We have a network of Gypsy Nomads fans across the US, we call them the Caravan Crew, that help us out at shows too, so it’s an ever expanding DIY crew.
What does a typical live performance consist of? Do you have any live performances scheduled for the near future? What is your favorite sort of venue in which to perform?
Samantha: Blazing guitars, sultry vocals, dripping sweat, pounding drums… a wall of sound from two little nomads! Depending on the venue and event we might have belly dancers, fire/poi spinners, hula hoopers, or other types of guest performers. If you see us in a small intimate setting it will be different than seeing us at a large convention. But the common thread to it all is that the show is high energy and cheeky.
Scott: We have a lot of great shows coming up in 2011 in the US. In February we’ll be at TempleCon in Rhode Island, the opening of the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea Interactive Entertainment Experience event in Boston, Wicked Faire in New Jersey and AnachroCon in Atlanta. We have a European tour scheduled for April and in May we’ll be at the Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey, World Steam Expo in Michigan, plus a ton of other events.
Any future plans or upcoming releases?
Samantha: We shot a live DVD concert in March 2010 and that will be coming out in December 2010. The winter is also a hibernation time for us when we work on fleshing out new songs that we’ve written during the year. There’s lots of exciting adventures planned for 2011! We’d also love to put out a new CD next fall.
Scott: The ‘Live at Bube’s Brewery’ DVD was filmed at a really cool Pennsylvania brewery built in the late 1800’s. It’s a multi camera shoot and we had a great crowd that was completely decked out, we captured a great night. We filmed in the Bottling Works Tavern room, the place has so much history it’s like going into a time machine. The walls are covered with 100 year old bottles, there’s catacombs 45 feet below street level, beer barrels 18 ft high. Even the furnace is cool looking with black iron and bolts covering every edge. There will be photos from Bube’s on the DVD extras, we had a great photo shoot there with Frank Siciliano of steamedpunk.com.
What the craziest/most random thing that’s ever happened to you two in your adventures as the Nomads?
Scott: We were on our way back from a show in Texas, we were tired so we stopped to camp in a park. We got our tent site and the guy laughed and said watch out for the coyotes they feed at night. Well there weren’t any coyotes but the whole camp ground was overrun by large tarantulas. Needless to say we didn’t set up camp we just slept in the van. We didn’t want all those spiders crawling up the side of the van and coming in the window so we had to sleep with all the windows closed and it was like 95 at night. Another time we stopped by the side of the road in New Hampshire for a break and a giant bear just wandered by the edge of the woods, guess he wasn’t hungry for a couple of Nomads from New York. We drove by wild raging fires in California so hot I thought the tires would melt, it was that close to the highway. Another time a highway was closed for 6 hours due to a bank robbery. I could go on but I’ll save it for the documentary.
Samantha: At DragonCon I had a major fan moment when I rode the elevator with Kevin Sorbo!
Scott: I’ll take Mr Sorbo over 100 tarantulas anytime!