The Dark Shadows
- Darkwave Post-Punk Gothic Psychobilly New Wave
March 2017: In this episode we're chatting with Brigitte Handley of Sydney band The Dark Shadows. Since forming in the mid-2000s their music has ventured from hard-edged psychobilly punk through post-punk gothic rock to melodic and atmospheric darkwave and new-wave stylings.
Brigitte is currently based in Europe where she's been very busy touring her new solo album The Edge of Silence. It's a wonderfully lush collection of ethereal dream-pop neo-indie-folk versions of songs previously released by The Dark Shadows, plus a tribute to Kraftwerk. The album showcases a softer warmer side to these songs and a fuller presentation of her rich singing voice.
Before the Q&A below I best point out that you can download a free copy of the track "Dark Shadow" as featured on the "S.I.N.G.E.D. 2" compilation album. There are links to video and more music below.
Interview by DJ Robot Citizen -
Hello Brigitte, if someone were to commence an interview by asking you to "sum up The Dark Shadows in around 30 words"?... ;)
Brigitte Handley: The Dark Shadows are a musical triad with three sharp edges meeting in the middle to create sound… we look into your soul and tell you how it feels… we create light in the darkness and follow your thoughts…
Robot: Ah so my paranoia is justified! :-) Who is in the band and what do they play?
Brigitte: The Dark Shadows are: Brigitte Handley - Vocals, Guitar; Carly Chalker – Bass; Ned Wu – Drums.
How did the band come together?
Brigitte: Carly and I met at a gig in Sydney and we became friends with similar interests in music and style. At the time, I had some new songs I’d been working on and was looking for musicians for a band so I asked Carly if she wanted to play bass. At first we played some shows as a two-piece and then with a few different drummers. We met Ned who was playing in ‘The Fyreflies’ and when they broke up and our drummer, Stella, moved to the US, we asked Ned if she’d join us and so the Dark Shadows were formed.
Robot: The music of the Dark Shadows has several distinct phases. What would you like to say about those phases and how and why you transitioned?
Brigitte: Our music has been a natural evolution as we’ve grown together, individually and musically. Our musical influences and tastes have always been varied and in the beginning I think we were exploring a release for our fear and frustrations and as our journey continued and our skills as musicians developed, we started to investigate other angles. Touring and travelling has played a big part in our musical growth and our world really opened up to a lot of different influences, especially after going to Europe… the mix of sounds, culture, languages, ancient and modern architecture, feeling the cold and of course the people…
Robot: You have created an impressive catalogue with a particular fondness for vinyl. What are the main items you've released and where are they available from?
Brigitte of The Dark Shadows: We released our first two EPs, 'Identity' and 'Stand Off' in Australia and they became our first album for European release, through Halb-7 Records, called ‘Darkness Calls’. We then released the EPs ‘Invisible’ and '11:11' on our own label - ‘Select-A-Vision’ - in Australia followed by our second album ‘Autumn Still’ on CD and 12” vinyl in black and purple vinyl versions through Halb-7 Records of Germany.
Robot: Here's a link to hear the 'Autumn Still' album on BandCamp
Robot: What are the singles you've released?
Brigitte of The Dark Shadows: We have released a series of 7” singles on vinyl including:
- 'Denial/Sleeping with a Vampyre' on green vinyl
- ‘Written in the Snow/Blame’ white vinyl
- 'Eisbär' Deutsch/English versions on picture disc
- 'Distänt Mind/Silent Screams' on clear vinyl
- ‘The Boy from Berlin/Nobody Knows’ on picture disc
A lot of the limited editions have sold out now but you can order direct from our website: TheDarkShadows.com.au
The albums are also available through itunes to download.
Robot: And video clips?
Brigitte: We’ve released official videos for the following singles:
- The Boy from Berlin
- Nobody Knows
- Written in The Snow…
- Stand Off (featured in the film ‘Murderdrome’)
- Alien Movies
Robot: those links above open youtube in a new window.
And here's a youtube playlist of clips, songs & live tracks by The Dark Shadows plus some of Brigitte Handley's early solo material.
Robot: You've performed a lot of gigs. What nations have you performed live in?
Brigitte: Australia, Japan, USA, Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, Italy, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovenia…
Robot: If you had to pick a "top 3 list" of favourite concerts you've played at, what would those be?
Brigitte: Our first European gig at Sonic Ballroom, Köln, Germany – we had no idea what to expect, if anyone had even heard of us but from the first note, they went crazy and were singing our songs along with us… it was totally surreal and a magic gig.
Supporting The Quakes at the Keyclub in Hollywood – it was our first time in the US and a packed out show for the Quakes, a lot of excitement and great energy.
Playing to a sold out Enmore Theatre supporting The Stray Cats. A very special moment, especially after Brian Setzer stopped by our room backstage to wish us luck before we went onstage.
Robot: Touring overseas, the Northern Hemisphere, can seem like a very daunting prospect for ANZ bands. You've made that dream a reality several times. How did those tours arise for you? Do you have some key tips for ANZ artists on how they can make such tours a reality?
Brigitte: I think the world has got a lot smaller with the internet and social media. This helps bands and musicians a lot and now you can get in touch with bands and promoters from all over the world and make things happen yourselves. The Australian Arts Council has some international touring grants that can help a lot if you’re lucky enough to have a successful application.
Speaking to other bands and musicians about their experiences can also help. I remember speaking to Ray Ahn from The Hard Ons a few times before we first went to Europe and he was so cool and helpful with lots of little tips and really encouraged us to go out there and do it. Which, we’ll always appreciate.
Touring is great fun with lots of exciting adventures but it can also mean putting yourself and your band mates through a lot of extremes. It helps if you can try to find some quiet moments somewhere in between the madness and sleep and decent food when you can get it… and not carrying too much stuff with you…. It really weighs you down and most of the time you don’t need it!
Robot: Are there any particular philosophies/idealogies/subject-matters that guide the creation of your songs? If so please feel free to share about those.
Brigitte: A lot of times with writing lyrics, I just let things unfold onto the page and sometimes I look back and wonder where on earth that came from… Looking again in hindsight, with a different perspective, I can understand things a lot more… maybe my subconscious was trying to tell me something?!?! I like to hope that the music we write creates a positive vibe and inspires people to believe in themselves and have the confidence to go out and follow their dreams and be creative.
Robot: My impression is the band is on hiatus at present. Are there plans for future activity?
Brigitte of The Dark Shadows: We’ve got a few things in the works and once we’ve finished a new record, we will look at a tour to support it.
Robot: In the meantime what music projects are keeping you all busy?
Brigitte Handley: I’m touring Europe at the moment, solo acoustic, having just released "The Edge of Silence" album. Ned’s studying Japanese taiko drumming and Carly’s playing in a few punk bands at the moment.
Robot: Regards your new solo album, where is it available from online?
Brigitte Handley: The Edge of Silence is now available online at Bandcamp... iTunes etc will soon follow... You can also order the CD online direct from us at BrigitteHandley.com and via Halb-7 Records
Robot: In regards to Europe you've been based there for a couple of years now. What are some of the great joys, the opportunities and possibilities, and the major challenges that you've encountered?
Brigitte: I feel very inspired whilst I’m in Europe. Maybe it’s my European roots calling but mostly I guess it’s the fact that it’s so different from what I’m used to and being thrown into a new environment, artistic, musical and cultural mix is really pushing me to think and feel and experience really interesting and different things... It has been difficult at times, with some of the differences and difficulties learning a new language and I feel like, in a way I’m re-starting my whole life but this has been such a great learning experience and so far I’m really loving the challenge. I’m also really spoilt with traveling to beautiful new places and so many opportunities to see so many great musicians and artists that pass through which is so wonderful. Sometimes I do miss being near the ocean and the energy and sound of the waves crashing at night… but really I’m so very lucky and grateful that I have this opportunity and freedom to do this in my life.
Robot: What do you feel are some key challenges that independent/underground musicians encounter?
Brigitte: The great thing about today is that anyone can make music and release it right away through their own avenues. The trick to this is, how to maintain quality, integrity, keep interesting, stay focused and wade your way through the flood of music and artists out there trying to be heard…. With all these various online mediums, the music seems to be becoming less and less of what it means to be an independent musician… it seems like an endless task trying to keep up all your online profiles and how much time does that leave for creativity? There are no real rules or sure ways to make things work, in a way we must all be pioneers and find our own paths that are right for us and our own musical journeys. I think if you listen to your intuition and follow your heart you can’t go too wrong… music is a journey of self understanding and expression and, as musicians, we are very lucky to be able to communicate in a language everyone can understand.
Robot: Thank-you Brigitte for this interview. :) Here are some websites to hear and read more:
The Dark Shadows on BandCamp
The Dark Shadows on Facebook
The Dark Shadows on SoundCloud
The Dark Shadows on Instagram
Brigitte Handley on Facebook
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