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Voices of Masada: Knowing where all the beautiful women are!

What is our society without labels? And itīs not hard to guess which one of the stereotypes gets the most blame for practically all the wrong in the world. Hereīs a minor attempt to shed some light (oh, what an inappropriate term!) on what Goth is like. The singer of British Gothrock band Voices of Masada, Raymon Shah, uncovers something of the scene through describing a lot of his quite personal viewpoints on the subculture.

Voices of Masada is a British Gothrock trio, along the vibes of the Sisters of Mercy cocktailed with Fields of the Nephilim, embraced by tight PVC and pinstripe suits, very elegant to look at and danceable to move to. The band is named after the site of a first century mass suicide, which adds a certain mysticism. This Summer Finnish Goths get the chance to see the act live again at Lumos Gothic Festival in Tampere, meanwhile we acquaint ourselves more with Ray and all the Gothness.

How can you describe your character/personality?
Outgoing, extrovert, loud, abrasive... Iīm a front-man, after all!

Is your outlook on life more optimistic or pessimistic?
Iīm a realist. Most of the time things donīt work out the way you want them to. Accept this, but always work towards something better. That way, every time something comes out well, you can truly enjoy it and know that itīs because you tried.

Do vampires exist?
Not on my watch. They are a myth created to explain the inexplicable – like God or the Devil or Fair Taxes.

Whatīs your view on death?
It happens. Live your life and when you die leave a nice looking gravestone. Or have an apple tree planted on your dead corpse and enjoy, whilst still alive, the morbid fascination of the idea of people eating you when you are gone...

How do you spend your free time, what hobbies do you have or what would you like to do if you had more time to spare?
Free time?! whatīs that???? In my not official work time I sing in my band, travel around, I compete in Archery, I roleplay, I organise gigs, I have a fiancé who I like to spend a little time with... occasionally I even sleep.

What kind of education do you have?
Iīm a graduate with a degree in Environmental Science, plus a HNC in Civil Engineering.

Whatīs your life-philosophy?
Shit happens. Get used to it or get off my planet. If youīre not going to listen to me, why the hell should I listen to you?

Some comments on your spiritual, philosophical and religious affiliation?
God is a 70īs disco dancer. A bit like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever. When you die, as die we all must, you will go to the Great Disco in the Sky, and the amount of times youīve been unreasonably generous (i.e. not a mentally justified mutual assistance kind of "we look after each other") and gone out of your way to help another whilst knowing without a doubt that this could in no way benefit you, determines how good a dancer you are in the eternal disco. If you havenīt been that way, you have to watch the beautiful people dance for all eternity whilst you feel eternally an outsider. Now Crowley was a bit of a jerk, but when his most famous quote is considered "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole law" - truly considered, itīs all about doing what YOU want - not society or your partner or the world at large - itīs about YOU and understanding what YOU /really/ want to do. Knowing yourself is the key to being more than just a clever animal. To be truly human is to know yourself and to know what it is your really want to do. Of course you get endless jerks using Crowley as an excuse for being wankers, but you also get that about Jesus and Buddha and Mohammed as well - they all had really cool ideas that didnīt involve killing lots of people or destroying lives, but that doesnīt stop people the world over using them as an excuse for being arseholes.

How did you become acquainted with the Goth scene in the first place and what kept your interest?
Unashamedly because the women were so beautiful. I like the music as well, but I was a teenager. I couldnīt help it.

How dedicated are you to the Goth lifestyle?
I never really consider it a lifestyle. Itīs just the way I am. I donīt do things because they are īGothī I do them because I want to. If that falls into īGothī then fair enough (and it does happen quite a lot), but itīs never a conscious choice.

And what do you contribute to your local scene?
I sing in a band, Iīm a DJ at a few clubs, Iīm a promoter, so I bring bands from all over and then bully people into going to see them. I also look really good in PVC trousers. This helps the scene at large realise that shiny black legs are the way forward in life.

Do you have any special tendencies in your dress or style, how do you view yourself? What distinctions in appearance can you identify in yourself?
Tight trousers, sleeveless t-shirts, jewellery, make-up occasionally, maybe a skirt once in a while. Thatīs the staple appearance. I view myself as... hmmm. Difficult question. I donīt really consider myself in a visual sense, although I am aware that I am reasonable attractive. Itīs just something that I am. It doesnīt define me because I didnīt chose to look this way. I blame my parents for that. Iīm tall, reasonably slim, fairly broad shouldered, long naturally black hair and one of the few Asian goths you are likely to come across.

In your opinion, how important are appearances overall? I mean, we all know that itīs the personality that matters at the end, but looks too play an important role, but just how big?
To me, appearance is a big thing, but not so much attractiveness or ugliness. How we live our lives shapes our bodies to a certain degree - the thin lips of someone who purses their lips too much, the laughter lines from one who laughs a lot. Those things make a big difference, and Iīd be lying if I said an attractive woman doesnīt look pleasing to my eyes, but you try, being a rational human being, to look beyond that. Being a goth, a lot of it is about the dressing up and changing your appearance, something only women and us get to enjoy. You do, having to be more critical about yourself, notice more the appearance of others.

How do you manage your daily life along with your personal lifestyle? I mean, the way of dress and appearance in general, or it doesnīt collide at all?
Itīs easy. I wear smart, casual clothes at work that just happen to be dark. I tie my hair back to appear more professional, My boots or shoes may be a little more pointed than usual, but thatīs about it.

To your taste, is there enough clubs and events in your town? What more would you like to have? Do you visit festivals or events abroad?
I live in London, so thereīs always something happening. Sometimes I wish they didnīt all happen on the same night, but you canīt have everything. I regularly go abroad to festivals and events abroad - both for the enjoyment of going to a festival, and also because my band performs regularly across Europe. In fact, my band will be performing at the Lumos Festival in Tampere, Finland at the end of June: why donīt you come along and do a review of it?

What kind of parties and events do you go to? Whatīs the next one youīre looking forward to the most?
Soon myself and a lot of friends will all be flying off to WGT - the biggest Goth festival in the world.

What guides/influences/inspires your dress-sense?
My fiancé. I generally dress to please her, as she does for me.

Do you make your own clothes?

Where do you get your clothes from?
Shops and ebay. Just like everyone else.

What does your room/apartment look like? Do you like to decorate yourself?
Ok, there is a four poster bed, but other than that, nothing really gothic apart from a few posters of old goth bands. The rest is books and books and books and CDs.

How often do you shop for new outfits and how often does your hairstyle/color change?
Very rarely, and every time I do, I curse the day that forced me to shop. I HATE shopping. Pushing your way through the masses as they fight and squabble over the latest cheap piece of tat. And they walk slowly. So slowly. It gives me road-rage. My hairstyle and colour never really changes. Itīs black and long and I like it that way, although I do have a very natural streak of white in my hair which is slowly getting bigger. I enjoy this.

In personal relationships, do you think itīs important for partners to share this interest in the scene?
Yes, although I donīt think Iīd like to be with someone who spent all their time thinking about īhow goth they areī. Itīs not something that I think about in that way and it would mostly irritate me after a while. You need common ground though. If itīs your partner then there should be a reason for it other than just because you fancy each other. You need to share life and experiences together.

What qualities in people do you dislike the most? And then, what should be added to the 7 deadly sins?
Wilful ignorance and stupidity. Liars and thieves. Fat people who canīt either stop eating or use excuses or lies for it. Bigotry and unreasoning hatred. These are the things that really wind me up.

What features in the opposite sex do you find attractive?
Iīm a man. Where do I stop?!

And then our “favorite” question about labels and stereotypes, just how much do you really care about all the name-calling?
Labels do matter. We may not like them or agree with the ones that people are given, but they DO matter and we ALL use them. Itīs a way of separating out one set of things from another, whether it be by hair colour or height or what handed you are or the colour of your skin. We need to do it to avoid the horrible enormity that the human race is. In Christianity, I seem to recall that one of the goals is to name all the creatures of the world. This person is a goth. He will likely wear lots of black, be bullied at school, is of above average intelligence and is very unlikely to start a fight. This person is a metaller. He will likely have long hair (but never black), wear jeans and headbang when he goes out. Beer will be a focus of his life, as will air-guitaring. This person is a politician. He will likely be socially apt and a social climber, be able to convince both himself and others of things that are patently untrue, lie with a rare skill and be quite willing to stride his scruples and decency for political expedience. The list just goes on of people we categorise in our minds and in our lives. The loud person, the quiet person, the black person, the brown person, the tall person, the short person. The person who always wears short skirts, the person who always wears boots etc.

If youīre asked about being a goth or the main idea behind it all, how do you reply?
Goth. A fashion statement that was formed around a style of music. Now just a fashion statement for the majority, and a target for others.

Is calling someone a īGothī restricting or limiting in any way? Or the īrose smells as sweet by any nameī?
Does calling me brown restrict me? No. By assuming that because I am brown I am also a thief, a liar, unable to speak English and willing to blow other people up because I disagree with them does. Itīs not the label that something is given. Itīs the meaning behind the label that restricts or limits both you and the person using the label.

Goths are known for some bad habits, so just how healthy is your lifestyle?
A series of contradictions. I swim 5 days a week, I do archery and I enjoy dancing. I also smoke and drink.

What are your musical preferences and what are you paying special attention to when hearing a new band, what impresses you?
I prefer gothic rock music, but I also enjoy EBM, Industrial and Classical music. What impresses me most is a good voice. As a singer myself, I feel itīs very important to have a good vocalist, and I get very irritated with bands who completely ignore this. When the singer is outside his vocal range is VERY annoying.

What movies do you like, books?
Movies and books - I prefer Sci-fi and fantasy. Give me illusions over a replica of real live. I LIVE my life. I donīt really want to see how it could have been. Unless there are guns and swords and funky stuff happening, I get bored.

And now that youīre so inspired and swept away by this fantastic interview, anything else youīd like to mention or share?
Live fast, die young, and leave a good looking corpse...

Author: Marina Sidyakina, transl. Kathleen Gransalke, photos: Voices of Masada
Date: 2008-06-09

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