By Michael Grondin
CALGARY — Velvet Acid Christ (VAC) exists on the edge of a strange parallel universe. An industrial electronic project led by Denver, Colorado-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Bryan Erickson, VAC’s haunting yet driving music explores drugs, religion, death and human ennui using dark themes and imagery. From burning witches at the stake, overdosing on drugs and plenty more, images of bloody horror adorn their album covers and many music videos.
Since their inception in 1990, VAC has released 12 albums. The most recent was 2014’s Dire Land, a full album of remixes, covers and unheard releases. Like its predecessors, a wide range of analog synthesizers produced the music while drum machines and guitar with plenty of effects and modulation were laid overtop.
Velvet Acid Christ has seen plenty of ups and downs as the band and struggled to find its place, but the project eventually settled in the fringes. As Erickson explains, it is within the weird that he draws his motivation for Velvet Acid Christ.
“I usually stay on the outside, you know, on the stranger side of things,” says Erickson, who has continued the project solo throughout members coming, going and contributing. His only break was in 2001, when he placed the band on a brief hiatus after becoming sober and adopting a healthier diet.
“I’ve never had a message trying to guide people, I try to make entertaining and cool and interesting looking, more thought provoking music and imagery than anything.”
Erickson says there is a wide range of musical influences that he brings to his cybernetic, industrial progressive-rock: everything from classic rock, punk, glam and on to metal. Samples are culled from an array of dense, schizophrenic films like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The X-Files, Pi, Twelve Monkeys, Event Horizon and Ghost in the Shell.
“I listen to all kinds of music, but I like stuff to be weird, if its really normal sounding I won’t listen to it,” he says. “I grew up in the ‘80s, and to me, album art, like Iron Maiden, or Black Sabbath, that’s the kind of stuff that inspired me artistically, I try to bring that epic progressive rock and heavy metal style of art into the industrial kind of world.”
Erickson says he got his start in music by fooling around with friends in his teenage years, replicating the sounds of his musical idols.
“When I was a kid, in my teenage years, I had a group a group of friends and we would make music, a lot of times as a joke, and we’d make the silliest sounding, weird electronic music we could,” Erickson explains.
“We’d try to mess with each other’s heads, and it evolved from that and we eventually got really serious about it.”
Initially, Velvet Acid Christ maintained a few members and struggled to find popularity as a band. However, in the mid ‘90s, the project found success in the underground goth music scene and has continued on this path since.
Erickson says he himself is an outsider and his music has a direct impact to many likeminded people around him.
“I’m a loner, I’m not really social, and it’s not that I’m antisocial, I just moved around a lot when I was a kid and I was always the outsider and I was always picked on and alone and I would say that more than anything that’s what I relate with,” says Erickson about his exploration in art and music.
“I notice that a lot of my fans that I’ve met over the years are weird awkward outcasts like me, and that’s where I’ve touched a nerve.”
He says he is not necessarily trying to approach music with defined message, but rather he is just trying to entertain people with a similar mindset.
“It’s not like I’m trying to tell people how to live, or how they should feel, it’s not my place, I’m not a religion,” he says.
While Velvet Acid Christ’s music and themes do stem from sad experiences, Erickson says that his live performance is meant to inspire dancing and a good time.
“We make elaborate art about many different types of emotions and feelings and it varies from sadness to anger to being melancholy to frantic. It’s all over the place, but we’ve also got a lot of club hits and songs that are fun to dance to, and that’s what we play live mostly, upbeat dance music,” he concludes.
“I just want people to come to my show and have fun.”
Velvet Acid Christ will perform at Terminus Festival on Friday, July 24th with Iris, Ivardensphere, Dive and more. The festival runs from July 24th until July 26th at Dickens. You can buy tickets and learn more online at http://www.terminus-festival.com/.AB, Alberta, Dickens, Terminus Festival, Velvet Acid Christ