1.- The interviewees
Araceli Rodríguez (aka Von Marmalade) and Paulo César Ramírez (aka Negro Inmunsapá) are the founders of ‘Mercenarios de Dios’. Deeply involved in the Mexican Steampunk scene, they spread Steampunk worldwide through initiatives like the monthly magazine ‘El Investigador’, the podcast ‘Radio Metronomik’, literary compilations (‘Ácronos’, ‘Planes B’), etc.
2.- Steampunk: from México to the world
Dear Araceli and Paulo, welcoming you to our brief interviews’ series is a great satisfaction for us. No wonder Irene and I have been following El Investigador magazine from its very beginning and all we can say is that your endeavors as members of Mercenarios de DIOS have become a referent in the Steampunk scene worlwide and, more specifically, in the Spanish-speaking community.
Decimononic (D).- In any case, let’s go from local to global. We know that Mercenarios de DIOS members are very involved in the development of the Mexican Steampunk scene (in fact the logo of the forum Steampunk México is one of your works). Tell us a bit about it, please.
Araceli Rodríguez (A).- The logo you mention was made by Mr. Xpk (a.k.a. Gorgonzola666), the same who makes the layout of El Investigador.
Paulo C. Ramírez (P).- As Araceli already said, it was a work that the administrator in that time, Sir Lukyan Corvinus, asked for to Alejandro Pérez Cobos, also known as Xpk. The community already had the idea of mixing nationality with a Steampunk touch and when that idea came to Xpk he simply used his skills to make what we all identify as the symbol of Steampunk México. I must say that’s an adaptation of Mexican flag, without snake, with the intention of giving it an imperialist touch like some flags used in our country during the 19th century.
1.- The interviewee
As per The Steampunk Museum, “Captain” Robert Brown is a Steampunk songwriter, novelist, community organizer, blogger, game designer, craftsman, and fashion designer. He’s been interviewed by several TV shows and Magazines, like MTV, and the New York Times.
He is the founding member of Abney Park. In addition to writing all of Abney Park’s songs, he also creates an unending supply of Steampunk instruments for the band, from Guitars, to Keyboards, to “hornpipes”.
Robert is an avid blogger and is an outspoken inclusionist for Steampunk culture, fighting for the right for anyone’s daydream in the community. He regularly posts articles on Steampunk, including definitive pieces designed to direct the culture in positive and friendly directions, as well as videos posts of “how-to’s” on Steampunk mods and fashion.
He has released an Airship Pirate RPG, and written a novel, “The Wrath of Fate”, both of which tie together all the stories, characters, and settings from all of the songs of Abney Park.
2.- The interview
Dear Robert, we feel privileged for having this opportunity to share our thoughts with you, thank you so much for your kind attention. Abney Park is one of the most popular bands within the Steampunk scene and you have been directly involved in its growth and development for many years, so this is a great satisfaction for us.
Q.- As per your lengthy career and your contact with Steampunkers all over the world, what do you expect about the future of Steampunk? Which trends do you identify? May there be a ’Steampunk Revolution’ coming?
A.- I think we are seeing the Steampunk Revolution now. The level of global enthusiasm is so great I could spend days just listing all the amazing things happening.
I had originally hoped steampunk could save the world from what I deem a horrible fate. The thesis of all product designs these days is “Profit is the only important outcome of any product design, so design for profit, not art.” This has jaded the aesthetic of modern design. For example, I recently purchased what I consider to be the most beautiful laptop sold today: the Macbook Pro Retina. Its not plastic, taky, covered with stickers…all the flaws seen in so many other laptops. But the Apple design philosophy is, however, to make a product with no design at all. As plain as possible, they call it “simple” or “clean”, whereas I call it a cop out. Its like guys who can’t think of how they like their hair to be, so instead they wear a hat or shave there head. Maybe thats what looks best on you, but don’t call yourself a hair stylist. “Clean and simple” is the default state BEFORE an artist begins: it shouldn’t be the final design.
My hope is that steampunk can return beauty to design. Museums are filled with the undeniably beautiful creations of mankind, but some how modern man has decided to give all that up. instead of striving for beauty, we strive for profit, and in doing so we create cheap to manufacture disposable garbage. My dream is that Steampunk will show the corporate CEOs that we all still want beautiful things. I’m sure its a pipe dream, but I’m good at day dreams.
Q.- From your point of view, which challenges is Steampunk going to face in the next years?
A.- Becoming a joke. There is a lot of comedy in steampunk, which I love, but their is also a serious fire, and some amazingly cool and talented people, the likes of which the world has never seen before. My fear is that mainstream culture will turn this into a gag, based on the weakest parts of our scene, and that will scare away the real talent.
Q.- Robert, you sing and play several instruments, which musical influences would you emphasize? Which kind of music do you listen to at present?
A.- I mostly listen to historical music, and ethnic musics. I really love stuff from the east coast of Eruope an the middle east. Russian pop, bulkian, gypsey, bellydance, etc. I have a huge love of Flamenco. I also really love old vintage recordings. I have a Victrola, and a stack of records from a time long gone by. To hear that old machine recreate a world long gone is an amazing experience.
Q.- In any case you are not only a multi-instrumentist frontman, but also a writer. ‘The Wrath of Fate’, published in 2011, explores the fictional backstory of Abney Park’s members as airship pirates. Writing a complete book may be quite different from writing lyrics, are you happy with the experience of this first publication?
A.- Yes. The book has been selling amazingly well. In fact, at least from our online store, it outsells our music. Its a lot of work, and a part of me is not suited for that work, as I’m horrifically dyslexic, but its very rewarding an I plan to continue it.
Q.- So… may we expect new books in the future?
1.- The interviewee
Dr. Mike Perschon (aka Steampunk Scholar) is a father and a husband, living in Canada. He teaches English full-time at Grant MacEwan University, researches steampunk, and blogs about SFF books and films. He is a Dungeon Master and on occasion, sits on the other side of the DM’s screen. Mike used to be an indie musician, and was “Most Promising Art Student” in high school; sometimes, he still finds time to engage the pen, pencil, and Photoshop. While he wishes he’d gone to film school instead of seminary, he’s making up for lost time now, engaging the world of creativity instead of theology.
2.- The interview
I am not going to be wrong if I say that Dr. Mike Perschon is one of the best known Steampunk connoisseurs all over the world. His academic approach to Steampunk has turned him into an authorized voice and we are thrilled to share views with him.
Q.- First of all we would like to congratulate you for your successful PhD defense. This is the culmination of a long process, what’s your next goal?
A.- More sleep, more time with my kids, more time with my wife.
Q.- Not only both Irene and I have got university degrees, I have postgraduate education and Irene has some years of experience as scholar. Besides, we have some friends who are making career as university teachers in Spain. I guess that we follow up the evolution of college education in some way and, in fact, we are very interested in the thesis of academics such as the Royal Society Research Professor Tim Gowers, who are questioning the traditional peer-review system. Does this ‘publish-or-perish’ system need a revision?
A.- Definitely. I work at a teaching institution where our workload can involve research, but doesn’t necessarily have to, and I can readily attest that it makes for a more congenial workspace. Research institutions tend to have an unhealthy tension about them.
Q.- And what do you think about initiatives like edX? May this be the future of universities?
A.- I’m unfamiliar with edX, so I can’t comment.
Q.- Taking your own experience as point of departure, does the academic world welcome the study of ‘atypical’ subjects such as retrofuturisms? How can these movements contribute to the research activity of universities?
We have a feeling that finding fine jewelry inspired by Steampunk is not very easy and it comes to even worst when we think of fine jewelry for men. This idea has been confirmed by many of our interviewees and has motivated us to create more and more jewelry pieces for men: our Tempus Fugit cufflinks collection or the Air Privateer ring, just to name a couple of examples. Should the increasing demand for Steampunk fine jewelry for men be satisfied? We do think so.
We were not content with our portfolio of jewelry for men and wanted to move one step forward; we wanted to bring you the most astonishing Steampunk inspired jewelry for men that you have ever seen. We are most pleased to share with you the result of our efforts to date: belonging to our Air Pirates! collection, a new milestone aimed to mark a turning point: the Sky Captain Series.
As you can see in the image above, this series includes matching cufflinks, tie clip and lapel pin. All these jewelry pieces have been made of sterling silver and using traditional silversmithing techniques in order to ensure superior quality and durability for a lifetime use. True ‘Steampunk fine jewelry’.
Our Raj Collection continues to grow and evolve. Sometimes our point of departure is a concrete idea, sometimes the final concept is not the one we had in the beginning. In some way this is the case with the Shikra Pendant, a handmade reversible pendant. The combination of an authentic Elgin pocket watch movement plus one sterling silver hoop with claws and double-ring bail offers as final result an inspiring British India Steampunk pendant. Maybe you are wondering… why British India? Let’s try to give an explanation.
We did not think about the Shikra Pendant as a piece of the Raj Collection until we realized that its silver claws were like the birds of prey’s talons. In this moment we could not help but remember the Shikra (Accipiter badius).
The Shikra was a favourite among falconers in India and Pakistan due to the ease with it could be trained and was frequently used to procure food for the more prized falcons. They were noted for their pluck and ability to take much larger birds including partrigdes, crows and even young peafowl.The word shikra or shikara means hunter in the Hindi language (the male was called chipak or chipka based on call) and was used in the French name Le Chicquera which was however given to the Red-necked Falcon by Levaillant in 1799.
The call is pee-wee, the first note being higher and the second being longer. In flight the calls are shorter and sharper kik-ki … kik-ki. The Shikra is a small raptor (26–30 cm long) and like most other Accipiter hawks, this species has short rounded wings and a narrow and somewhat long tail.The flight is typical with flaps and glides. The Shikra is found in a range of habitats including forests, farmland and urban areas. They are usually seen singly or in pairs.
So this is the story behind the name of this jewel, hope you have found it interesting.