“Let there be dark!”
Once again, Vancouver rises to the occasion as the sixth annual Verboden Festival descends upon the city, a three-day celebration of all things darkwave. Vancouver venues Rickshaw, Green Auto, and Vault will breathe life into the city from May 12th to 14th as a diverse lineup takes the stage. The festival features the likes of Void Vision, Patriarchy, Spike Hellis, Leathers, Rue Oberkampf, and many more, making this a must-attend event for fans of dark electronic music.
The Verboden Festival was conceived by the multi-talented Rob Katerwol. Known for his pivotal roles in Wire Spine and Weird Candle and his intriguing solo project Total Chroma, Katerwol’s musical prowess is varied across the disciplines of several different genres.
Post-Punk.com had the opportunity to sit down with Katerwol to delve deeper into the annals of Verboden’s history, understand its unique position in the underground music milieu, and explore the pulsating rhythm of Vancouver’s music scene as a whole.
Throughout the conversation, Katerwol offered valuable insights, shedding light on the intricacies of organizing such a festival, the challenges and triumphs along the way, and the vibrancy of Vancouver’s music landscape. His passion for creating a space that nurtures and celebrates the unconventional in music was palpable, as was his commitment to fostering a sense of community.
What led you to organize the first Verboden?
In 2015 while on tour in Europe, I noticed that many cities had underground festivals with a focus on showcasing post-punk and dark wave. I was jealous! I had experience with organizing events in Vancouver, and it felt like Vancouver was ready to have a festival like Verboden. The name came to me while walking past a high-voltage power station in a back alley in Amsterdam.
What are some of your favorite memories of the past Verbodens?
Boy Harsher + Light Asylum show was super memorable! The whole audience was buzzing with energy. It was an incredible night!
Is there a mission statement or ethos to what kind of event you want to curate?
We are a grassroots fest with no corporate sponsors. We built this fest through the lens of inclusion, diversity, and accessibility. It’s a labour of love and devotion. We prefer to work with artists who are on a similar wavelength. This fest has always loved the idea of showcasing “up-and-coming” acts.
How vital is underground music culture to you?
I’ve dedicated the last eight years of my life to curating/organizing an underground music festival. So, it’s of utmost importance! This is our way of helping to keep the gears of Vancouver’s dark underground scene greased and turning.
Who else is involved with the organization of Verboden?
We have a team of 6 amazing organizers and artists putting in a massive amount of work to make this fest happen! Y’all know who u are !!
Can you tell us anything about the local music scene in Vancouver?
We have a bustling music scene here in Vancouver. There are more artists and musicians living in Vancouver in comparison to any other city in Canada. For an event organizer however, it can be an extremely awkward and harsh city to book events in. Its one of the most expensive cities all around in North America, venues, especially DIY underground ones, are rapidly closing due to a conservative city council and corporate developers buying up space to build luxury condos, etc. During the planning of Verboden, 2 of our venues were shut down. We had to relocate our late-night events less than two months ago!! It’s this sort of bullshit that puts us into the red. Physically, mentally, and financially!
What, in your opinion, makes this year’s Verboden special?
Holy shit!! We went all out this year! An epic line of 50+ artists and DJs! 6 events, including two daytime shows with BBQ food/drinks, two stages and a view of the mountains! We added a multi-room ten-hour after-party with a drag show, vendor market, and visual installations.
It’s going to be the best Verboden yet!!!
Hope to see y’all there!!
Here are the headliners for this year’s Verboden:
For over a decade, the masked enigma known as Kontravoid has captivated audiences with his dark pop artistry, which deftly balances the opposing forces of EBM, electro, and goth. Under the guise of composer Cameron Findlay (Crystal Castles, TR/ST), Kontravoid has honed his craft to create a haunting soundscape, where distorted echo vocals emit a deep, underwater growl that evokes both terror and beauty. Yet amidst the chaos of this sonic dystopia, melodic synth-pop elements offer a glimmer of hope and a chance to catch one’s breath. Kontravoid has made killer remixes for Patriarchy, Schwefelgelb, Utrasunn, and many more.
Out of the musical melting pot of L.A. rises Drab Majesty, the singular vision of Deb DeMure, the androgynous alter-ego of Andrew Clinco. Breaking free from Clinco’s past as a drummer in Marriages and Black Mare, Drab Majesty forges a sound that defies categorization, melding reverb-drenched guitars, synth bass lines that pulse with energy, vocals that command attention, and drum machine beats that drive the music forward. Dubbed “Tragic Wave” and “Mid-Fi” by DeMure, Drab Majesty elegantly blends classic 80s New Wave with a futuristic flair, paying homage to the pioneering spirit of early 4AD records.
Zanias is the solo project of Zoe Zanias (née Alison Lewis), a trailblazer hailing from Australia and raised in South-East Asia, now based in the thriving electronic music hub of Berlin. With a musical legacy that includes the bands Linea Aspera and Keluar, Zanias has stepped into the forefront as a solo performer, DJ, and producer, co-founding the legendary Fleisch collective and taking the reins as label head. Zanias now stands as a pivotal figure in the underground electronic music scene, cementing their status as a driving force in shaping the sound of the genre.
Full lineup of artists:
- Drab Majesty
- Panther Modern
- Void Vision
- Sacred Skin
- Spike Hellis
- Choke Chain
- Rue Oberkampf
- Club Music
- In Mirrors
- Nox Novacula
- Dead Cells
- Wire Spine
- Revolution Above Disorder
- Boys in Blush
- Sektion Tyrants
- Joey Chaos and The Ghosts
- Manticore Kiss
- Flesh Circuit
With L8 Night Programming from: Plack Blague
- Kontravoid (DJ)
- Dr Bpm
- The Wheal
- Jodie Jodie Roger
- Tommy Grimes
- Sean Reveron
- The Parish
- Matt Tecson
With MCs Bruce and Alex of idieyoudie.com and visuals from Trilliam Gibson.
Tickets can be purchased here.
For the full schedule and more information, go here.
**Verboden takes place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, səl̓ílwətaʔɬ, and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people
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