Sepiachord is proud to present our interview with Emmett Davenport: event creator, record selector ("DJ"), radio personality and all around beautiful human being...
Sepiachord: You're probably known best for your involvement with the Eccentrik Festival. For those not in the know could you tell us a bit about the fest?
Emmett Davenport: Eccentrik Festival is an annual music festival held in the Raleigh, NC area. It focuses on the music of the underground community like goth, punk, industrial & steampunk. It's very much a DIY type event, where a group of us have volunteered our time and energy to organize and manage it. I think it's been a wonderful outlet to bring performers to the area that wouldn't normally travel through on tour and helps to start a relationship so that with any luck they'll return.
SC: How has Eccentrik changed since it's inception?
ED: It actually changes a bit every year. This has been a huge learning process for everyone involved, so we always look back on what worked or what didn't from the previous year and then make adjustments. I think that's the best way to do it, so that it's always evolving and that we are able to make it to an Eccentrik XX.
SC: This year featured more dark cabaret and steampunk artists (like Jill Tracy, Nicki Jaine, The Hellblinki Sextet, Unextraordinary Gentlemen, Vernian Process) than previous versions of the Eccentrik fest. Is the fest moving away from being focused on "industrial and goth" music?
ED: Oh no, this year just ended up going towards the steampunk and dark cabaret a bit unintentionally. I always create a list of the musicians I would like to see, and since I've been lost in the world of "steam" for the last year or more, the artists ended up going that way. The great thing is that all of the performers this year were exactly who I wanted and we were able to actually make a theme around it. We've always had a bit of theme, though, - our first year was a large number of local bands, second year was a little more deathrock/punk/rock, the third year was definitely more on the goth spectrum and the last year was industrial. But, this being our fifth year, I wanted to do something a little bit different and thanks to the venue, we were able to extend it to a full three nights, as well as, a celebrate the fact that we've been doing this for so long.
SC: You're also behind The Clockwork Ball, a bi-montly steampunk night in Chapel Hill NC. When did you start The Clockwork Ball? What makes this night different than a typical club night?
ED: The Clockwork Ball started in January of this year, and was actually simply a theme for the local monthly goth night, Dracula's Daughter. I had been wanting to organize a Victorian Ball and was afraid that no one would be interested in it as a stand-alone event, but the response was so positive that we quickly decided to make it a regularly occurring event. What makes the Clockwork Ball so wonderful is really the people. Everyone gets really into dressing up, dancing, and there's an air of camaraderie that is just fantastic. We've also incorporated dance instruction, puppet shows, parlor games, and of course, The Interpretive Whale Dance, which is an event favorite. The music plays a very crucial role and is very similar to what we play on our radio program, so it works with the whole overall theme and I have never seen such a hard dancing crowd. The events start at 10pm and by 10:20pm there's a crowd on the dancefloor and they don't go away
until 2am. Not that you've asked this, but I feel like it needs to be said...
One of my biggest pet peeves about a lot of the other steampunk events that I have seen around the country is that the deejays that the get are typically goth/industrial deejays who simply play the same thing they'd play at their other nights. When you're trying to create a sense of mystery and magic with a theme, you should really try to work within that feel, you'd be surprised by how much your patrons will enjoy it.
SC: Finally you also host the WEEKLY radio program The Clockwork Cabaret on WCOM 103.5 FM (Chapel Hill/Carrboro) Wednesdays at 12 am. Sounds like a great thing a for the folks in your corner for NC, but what about the rest of us? Did it take a lot of wrangling to get this show? What can new listeners expect to hear on your show?
ED: We actually archive the show every week, and have it available in podcast form, you can listen to it live via the aethernet through the radio station's live stream, so people all over the world can listen to us make idiots out of ourselves. We really try to focus on the absurd and the funny, and it becomes quite obvious that we're having a bit too much fun on the show.
It was surprisingly easy to get the show on the station, we just happened to submit our proposal at the right time, and I think because we had a very cohesive plan as to what we wanted to do, that made the station a lot more open to it.
SC: You co-host all of the above events with your "sister" Klaude Davenport. Are you fraternal twins or just regular siblings? Have the two of you always shared similar esthetics?
ED: I'm the oldest of the sisters, I've got a good 9 years head start on dear Klaude, something which she likes to tease me about quite a bit, I'm the old maid (but, that's only because my love of my life, Rupert, is holed up in an asylum). Of course, little does she realize that she too is heading in that direction, and that we will be a pair of old women living out our lives with an airship full of koalas.
Like most siblings, we definitely have our difference of opinions, personality conflicts (Klaude is constantly trying to sell me off to the highest bidder) and we come at the music from slightly different directions, but we do have a lot of shared interests, so there's a really nice sense of partnership in what we do on the show.
SC: You focus The Clockwork Cabaret and The Clockwork Ball on what you call "The Music o' the Gears". How exactly do you define that? When did you realize that you were interested in this genre?
ED: "The Music of Gears" was a term that I read in an article about steampunk music, years ago, and what it would sound like. We decided that for us, it's anything that invokes a feeling of times gone by, timelessness, or sometimes simply, what we're enjoying at the moment. That's the great thing about being part of movement that has no clearly defined rules, it's very open to interpretation.
SC: What are some of your favorite artists that you would consider "Music of the Gears"?
ED: Most definitely Vernian Process, he is honestly the first true steampunk musician. I actually had a demo from him back in '04, and had held onto it, wondering how and where I was going to play it. We also really like the Unextraordinary Gentlemen, The Hellblinki Sextet, Man Man, The Decemberists, The Tiger Lillies, and Rasputina, just to name a few of the bands we play on the show.
SC: You also have a secret identity as DJ Mouse. How does your DJing differ between your two identities?
ED: The strange thing is that they're not really mutually exclusive, so much of who I am goes into what I play out, that this is just simply an outlet for another facet of my personality. The main difference is that I speak on the radio show and you get to hear how goofy I sound, while deejaying out at a club I tend to have an air of mystery since I'm hiding in the booth, working. But, trust me, I'm really friendly, so if you're out and about and see me, feel free to come and say hi, I won't bite.
SC: Any secret plans for the future?
ED: Yes, but if I told you then they wouldn't be a secret, now would they?