Steampunk Bellydance Music, A Personal Opinion

steamgraphic

I enjoy Steampunk. I like the style, the manners, the mythos. The problem is that since it is completely fictional it is pretty hard to nail down exactly what it IS. What is Steampunk? What about Steampunk music? How do you determine what a genre sounds like? That has been a point of some discussion amongst fans of the genre, and as that genre has taken off in popularity of course it was only a matter of time before it crossed over into bellydance.

I’ve been giving this quite a lot of thought lately as some friends and I have been brainstorming for an upcoming Con where we plan to perform at a Steampunk themed fan suite. Since the Steampunk fashion style tends to base itself in Victorian era fashions I feel bellydance fits right in, as Orientalism was pretty popular in that era of real world history. I have found that a lot of dancers who adopt Steampunk as a style tend to be ATS®, Tribal fusion or 8 Elements™ dancers more often than traditional Egyptian, Turkish, Lebanese, etc. As an Egyptian style dancer I have found it to be a challenge to find anyone on YouTube for inspiration.

When considering what I look for in Steampunk music I have to admit my burlesque sensibilities definitely have an influence. I imagine something fun and upbeat. I feel that there should be fewer electronic instruments and more people powered or potentially steam powered sounds. Imagining what might be popular in pubs or at fairs during Victorian times I would lean more toward accordions, violins, pianos, banjos and brass instruments. This era encompasses quite a stretch of time, and includes John Phillip Sousa and Gilbert and Sullivan, as well as minstrel troupes and familiar southern ballads. That’s a lot of material to work with.

Most people who are in the know would immediately think of Abney Park. They are great, but if you want a little variety the following are some favorite artist of mine who may just fit the bill:

  • Gogol Bordello – Start Wearing Purple, Occurrence At The Border, Baro Foro, The Other Side of Rainbow, etc.
  • Viza (or Visa) – Carnivalia, Meet Me at the Troubadour, Breakout the Violins, etc.
  • Shantel – seriously, just about anything by Shantel, including the Bucovina Club compilation albums he produced.
  • Beats Antique – I know, you all were going to say that already! Obvs!

I’ve always been partial to Die Eier Von Satan by Tool, but I get a Diesel Punk vibe off of that song. Maybe I am splitting hairs there.

Just this year a compilation album called “Steampunk Experiment: Mechanical Cabaret” came out; I believe it was produced by Bellydance Superstars. It is a pretty good album in its own right, but most of the music would really qualify as Electronica or Dubstep. It just did not seem to meet the promise of its title.

There are other artists, like Rasputina for example, who may fit in the Steampunk music genre, but they are not necessarily conducive to belly dancing.

If you have any favorite artists you think would be great for Steampunk bellydance please comment!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School | Belly Dance with Erica

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