Geek Gala Entertainment Spotlight: Valentine Wolfe !

Welcome to another Geek Gala Entertainment Spotlight for 2018! Today, we are delighted to introduce you to a wonderful group, Valentine Wolfe, as part of the entertainment at our tenth annual Geek Gala! Braxton Ballew and Sarah Black took a few minutes to answer some questions about their music and general geekery.

About Valentine Wolfe

Something Wicked(ly Awesome) This Way Comes…

Formed in 2006, Valentine Wolfe is the combined effort of Sarah Black and Braxton Ballew. Imagine Sarah Brightman being backed by Francois Rabbath blowing through a Marshall stack at midnight. Having dubbed their music “Victorian Chamber metal”, the duo have synthesized a love of metal, classical and industrial, infusing them with a Victorian sensibility that evokes the likes of Bram Stoker and Edgar Allan Poe.

The ethereal soprano vocals of Sarah Black–which call to mind not only the aforementioned Brightman, but also Dianne van Giersbergen of Xandria and Tarja Turunen–are buttressed by the thunderous growl of Braxton’s electric upright bass, and the two coalesce over pounding rock and electronic grooves punctuated by a maelstrom of synthesizers, keyboards, samples and sound design.

In addition to their gothic metal stylings, their post-graduate backgrounds in music (Sarah has an MM in Composition, and Braxton a DMA in Double Bass) has afforded them multiple opportunities to broaden their musical horizons in recent years, having been contracted to lend their unique sound to theatre productions; composing and performing the scores for Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest (Warehouse Theater), The Winter’s Tale (Furman University), and Twelfth Night (The Distracted Globe), the voice of The Angel in the Warehouse Theater’s production of Angels in America, silent films and short horror films (most notably, Your Cold Black Heart).

Drawing inspiration from all things Victorian, including literature, poetry, and history, and blending them with their musical proclivities and sensibilities and new media (such as Game of Thrones– which they recorded several songs based on the source material–and Penny Dreadful), their music has found particular favor amongst the Steampunk set.

But in a genre dominated by airships and gearwork, tophats and goggles, they follow the back alleys of streets lit with yellowed gaslamps, casting shadows long against the walls; where Jack the Ripper stalked his victims, where Dracula walked with Mina. Together they’ve provided the drama and the grandeur of the gothic at conventions all up and down the East Coast; rocking con raves with Industrial metal for a pre-industrial age, where the glowsticks are filled with absinthe.

    • How would you describe your musical or performance style to someone who has never heard you before?
      We asked some friends about this, and we love this answer from Kimberly Richardson, proprieter of Viridian Tea Company and The Nocturnal Aesthtic: “Valentine Wolfe plays music that goes well with absinthe and a tattered copy of the Grand Guignol plays.”

      Past that, I like to keep things simple: If you like gothic horror (Crimson Peak, Penny Dreadful), bands like Evanescence, Nightwish, and Apocalyptica, music that’s dread blend of classical music and heavy metal with no guitars in sight, you’ll probably like us.

    • What is your most recent project, either currently in progress or recently completed?
      We’re currently getting ready to release The Haunting of Mary Shelley, our celebration of one of the greatest works of gothic horror by an author we feel is implausibly underrated. We also celebrate her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, a force of nature in her own right. The CD will be out October 4, and we’ll have plenty of Frankenstein styled metal for Geek Gala!
    • If you could form a super group with two other performers, bands, or musicians (real or fictional) throughout time and space, who would it be and why?
      My knee jerk reaction is that Iron Maiden is already a thing, so…

      But playing along, we’d have Guillermo Del Toro construct live film projections to combine with our music, and finally, I suppose, get living drummer. Probably Mike Portnoy.

      We’re lucky to have actually played with many of our favorite musicians, including our friends Mikey Mason AND The Extraordinary Contraptions-we’re honored to share the stage with them this year.

      Oh, I suppose one ultra-fan-banding moment is called for: we joke with each other that if Insomnium would just let join them, we’d be good with that, too.

    • So this year’s Geek Gala theme is “Gears and Ghouls”, and focuses on steampunk and day of the dead cosplay. If you could have one body part cybernetically enhanced or replaced, what would you choose, how would you want it changed, and why?

      You know, I’ve wondered if eventually the tech would exist to tell the nano-servo-motors in your fingers that you want to play mostly in Pythagorean tuning and have a fretless instrument with, say, a 106cm string length, and let that take care of finger spacing and motion. AI for your hands, perhaps?

      That said, I’ve played enough Dishonored and Thief to say a cybernetic eye, though. Not loving the multi-focal contacts.

      Then I also remember I’ve just read and re-read Frankenstein many, many times, and cannot even begin to overstate how bad of an idea all of the above would be.

    • Where can we listen to your work and buy your music and/or other products?
      You can follow us on Spotify

Find Valentine Wolfe on the Interwebz!

And make plans to come visit them on Saturday, November 3 at this year’s Geek Gala!

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