What is Steampunk Music?
The artists themselves sound off on this hotly debated topic.
"Steampunk music is unique in that it's not a musical style in the traditional sense. Rather, it's music that blends in with the world of the future that never was, a soundtrack to a universe of retrocentric technology that invokes the feeling of living in the perfect Steampunk environment."
~ The Clockwork Dolls | View Profile
"I suppose that that label would apply to the music played by the masses of modern folk who are embracing the clear superiority of steam-power! I, however, bristle at the term 'punk' - for I am a Steam-Gentleman."
~ Confabulation of Gentry | View Profile
"Steampunk is many things and it's quite a broad genre. I see a lot of people trying to be prescriptive about genres rather than descriptive-- as though there was a specific sound that defines genres--but there rarely is. Not every Rock album has guitars and not every Trance album has the same synth voices (even though people sometimes like to imagine that they do)....The actual sound or aesthetics of it are constantly evolving with the artists creating it. "
~ Dr. Carmilla | View Profile
"I believe it's about ideas and possibilities. When I write a steampunk song or story, I want to take the audience to a place and a time they've never experienced. I want to show them characters and adventures in a reimagined world that maybe--somehow--could have existed. While it can have airships and goggles and clockwork contraptions, it's not really about those things.

It's about taking the listener on a memorable journey, and--if we're not careful--we mighty just rock out along the way!"
~ Escape the Clouds | View Profile

"Dimitri von Stadberg: It's anachronism. A mooshing together of styles, locations, and things that don't go together, until we make them something new.

Aelus Kristoff von Stadberg: It's a look, it's a sound, it's a state of mind."

~ Extraordinary Contraptions | View Profile
"As far as I can tell, steampunk is an aesthetic that inspires creativity. I suppose steampunk music would be a facet of that inspiration."
~ Megan Jean and the KFB | View Profile
"Steampunk music is music made by fans of Steampunk for other fans of Steampunk.

In my wanderings through the Steampunk music world I've met a lot of bands and solo artists who fly the Steampunk flag with pride. We may all have a different spin on the music and lyrics but we share a deep love for the narrative and aesthetic aspects of Steampunk. Some of us write soundtracks, some of us write drinking songs, some of us write intricate clockwork melodies. There are elements of folk, industrial, swirly-goth, americana, metal, hip hop, and there's even more musical textures and styles popping up every day.

One thing I see in a lot of these musical adventures is a blend of the old and the new: Hip hop rhythms with an old English flair, metal guitars with bluegrass mandolin, industrial beats with banjo on a Middle Eastern harmony, old-school punk with musical saw, and that's just scratching the surface! Thankfully, we're still in a world where all the different Steampunk bands can pave their own path musically. I hope it stays that way for a good, long time! "
~ The Nathaniel Johnstone Band | View Profile

"Ah, an interesting question. I play a mixed bag of old time and folk tunes, classic rock, punk and Country covers, and a few originals which sometimes have steamy themes. While most of this is not explicitly Steampunk, it fits in nicely with the general aesthetic and goes down well at Steampunk events (at which I often play, since my friends in the community hook me up with sweet gigs). Think of it this way: Cabernet Sauvignon is not steak, but they sure go nice together."
~ Painless Parker | View Profile
"Eric Schreeck: I thought that the focus was and still is the do-it-yourself aspect of it  the people that are crafting their own dresses and taxidermy art pieces. That's more of what the Steampunk ideal is. People that are seriously living that life in the Victorian style, using steam power, realizing how would the world be. Steampunk music is music that is enjoyed more exclusively by Steampunk culture than by other cultures.

Richard Pilawski: The stories deal with machines. Musically, there should be some machinery elements to it - cranks, banging stuff together, heavy loops, the ways gears turn around. I try to symbolize that with the music. It's loopy, riffy, or made with machines, like with the drum machine. The keyboard is a canned instrument  an automaton. It's like a band-in a box, or a music-box band. Machines should be the band. If the band's just playing with an acoustic guitar and drummer, that's a folk band. That's not a Steampunk band. That could be Peter, Paul and Mary or John Denver. It should also have elements of the past, such as the violin, which is the equivalent of having a lead guitar.

Jennifer Pomerantz: I guess it's different things to many different people. There really isn't one set music that is Steampunk, and maybe that's the beautiful thing of it  that it can be all sorts of different types of musicians and bands.

Eric Schreeck: The whole subculture of Steampunk is inclusive rather than exclusive. It doesn't really have age limits or gender limits. Some little factions may go off and do their own thing, but for the most part, Steampunk is very family-friendly and wants to be a multicultural culture. More than, 'You have to dress this way, etc.' That applies to the music as well.


~ Unextraordinary Gentlemen | View Profile
"Sarah Black: Anachronism is the predominant feature. This can include all aspects of the music such as the lyrics, instrumentation, orchestration, costumes, and stylistic elements. Just as in steampunk fashion, the music can be a melting pot of several different ideas, some of which may include but are not limited to victoriana.

Braxton Ballew: For me, steampunk music has three traits: anachronism/musical non sequitur, DIY ethos, and an emphasis on storytelling. Anachronism/Non-sequitur can be anything from chap hop, ukuleles playing metal, distorted guitars playing ragtime, cello rock in general, and, dare, operatic vocals paired with distorted double bass. While Im well aware the punk in steampunk arrived with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I think one of the great strengths of steampunk is punks greatest gifts: DIY, empowering the audience to participate (indeed, challenging them to) and in fact, destroying the boundary between performer and audience member, transforming it into a shared experience. This is vital.

And finally, storytelling: steampunk, after all, is a fantasy world with a shot of realism. I dont think the storytelling has always manifest itself the same way: it could a backstory, an alternate identity, costuming, pairing with other media, just as long as theres some element of the fantastical there.

And I could get in trouble for this, because in my view, once you have those three qualities, anything goes. "
~ Valentine Wolfe | View Profile

"Like Steampunk literature, film, movies, etc... music is simply any combination of old world styles with modern or futuristic flourishes. I mean that's really the simplest way to explain it I feel. This can be anything from Ragtime Hip-Hop, to Music-Hall Metal. Pretty much any modern style can be worked into a Steampunk aesthetic. The hard part isn't doing it, it's doing it tastefully, and professionally that can be hard to pull off. That's my personal definition, I've hear dwildly different ideas from others, so like many things Steampunk music is in the ear of the beholder."
~ Vernian Process | View Profile

It means something different to everyone. To see how the artists themselves define it...
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