Superhero hung out with Nü Goth founders Jeffrey Thomas and Margaret Velvet, to discuss goth culture, the importance of artist communities and their plans for the future. The collective’s closed facebook group is over 1,000 members strong and growing, as their themed art parties continue to inspire and showcase new, unseen talent in all mediums.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELVES AND WHAT YOU BROUGHT YOU TOGETHER?
M: We met at Alphaville, we were just both out there separately, and then kept running into each other. He actually didn’t start talking to me until I shaved my head. We just bonded over fashion, and then we started thinking about doing our own parties.
J: Plus, we’d been talking to a lot of different artists, as well. Between the two of us we knew a lot of people who were doing cool shit low-key so we wanted to create a outlet where we could all do cool shit together and get recognition and whatnot.
M: a way for people to connect
SO OUTSIDE GOTH WHAT DO YOU DO?
M: I study at Parsons for fine art.
J: I do fashion design, but also a lot of networking and scouting for artists, musicians,
M: Nü has kind of turned into a full-time job for both of us.
J: Yeah, I’m constantly messaging people and receiving music or links to their artwork.She’s been getting approached for photoshoots and performance art opportunities. there’s been a bit of a revitalization of goth culture and aesthetics,
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IT’S?
M: I think because it’s so expressive and fun. It can be fetish, it can be kinky, but it can also just be people that have dark energy and express it through music or art.
J: Or they’re just miserably depressed. Which is another reason we do this, too. Because there are a lot of talented people that we know who become reclusive and maybe even suicidal; so to be able to bring them into a makeshift family where we look out for each other, and do really cool events and projects together is great. They might not know that their art or music is worth anything at all because they never let anyone see it, but if you can break them out of that and make it visible, I think it can provide a sense of self-worth and that you’re not wasting your time because people actually do like your work.
M: All of us bond over the fact that we feel like outcasts or weirdos and freaks, so when you have that sense of family that you don’t have anywhere else it inspires you to make work.
THE EARLY STAGES OF NU GOTH SEEMED MORE FOCUSED ON PARTYING HOWEVER WAS CREATING COMMUNITY FOR ARTISTS AND MALCONTENTS ALWAYS PART OF THE GOAL?
J: the goal was always for it be an art collective. the only reason why we initially just threw parties was because we didn’t have the access to galleries and other kinds of spaces/tools yet. This way we could still get people together, even if it’s not in a gallerytype setting.
M: Parties were an easy way to get the word out, and allow people to see what we were doing and from here it progressed to our original intention which was an artist collective. Like Jeffrey and I became family, and we just want everyone to feel a part of it.
J: Yeah, when we’re together we’re super cute and other people will see us and it’s just a feeling of being comfortable. Most of the people we are involved with are also really sweet and down to do all kinds of stuff.
WHATS’S YOUR MISSION AND WHERE DO YOU SEE THIS COLLECTIVE GOING?
J: At this point we’re sourcing things from even outside of the US, like our last flyer design was from someone in Milwaulkie, WI and we’re having someone send us visuals for an event here [in NYC] from Ontario. Luckily, with the internet it doesn’t have to be relegated strictly to New York. I know people in other countries who do awesome visual artwork that I want to have involved, and have their net art projected or something at an event. So the goal was always about creating community, and a resurgence in goth culture because for a while it was really cheesy and lame. There are people in the city who still throw goth parties, but it doesn’t feel like anything new. It’s the same old music, whereas we will play some classics but also showcase acts that no one has ever seen before.
M: We have rappers and a bunch of different people involved because for us goth is a state of mind. It doesn’t mean that you have to wear all black and leather– that’s what we’re into, but if you have that darkness then you are welcome. As far as where we see this going, I think the goal is that this will always be under our control because this is so personal to us, but we would love to travel and host in other places.
J: Yeah, I’m already talking to performers and venues in other states.
M: And we have a studio space here in Brooklyn that acts as our headquarters, so another goal would be for artists to be able to come through and work on stuff since it’s always been about collaboration.
J: At some point, we would also like to have our own big loft space that we could use as a show or gallery space– like a new Warhol Factory with a bunch of new, weird artists hanging out and working on projects together. However, what we’re doing is far more inclusive than just being relegated to a bunch of ‘freaks’ in New York, but from all over the world. Even if we’re not in the same country, we’re still collaborating on things together.
DESCRIBE NU GOTH IN ONE SENTENCE
M: New York-based visual and performing artist collective.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTNAT ELEMENTS OF A NÜ GOTH EVENT, AND HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT INCORPORATING THEM?
M: It starts a lot with us just meeting people that have an interest in what we’re doing, and we see their work and respond to to it. It’s more about how can we build around the people that we’re connecting with, instead of starting with an event and seeking people out to fill predesignated roles.
J: At this point people are constantly approaching us and wanting to be a part of the events, whether it’s music or doing performance art, etc. We have to see/hear what they have, and essentially curate a show by deciding how and where their work would fit best with what we’re doing. Generally, we’ll have a concept to base this off of. For example, our next event is “Nü Convent” which is kind of religious guilt-themed.
M: Also it’s important that it’s a collective so we’’re always listening to what everyone is saying in our [Facebook] group because we want to make everyone feel happy and involved.
J: Sometimes we just have so many people involved, like we had over 30 acts andvisual artists showcased at our last event and still more people wanted to be included. Obviously we can’t have everyone shown at one event, but this limitation also allows usto rotate different acts or artists so things don’t become.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER COLLECTIVES OR MOVEMENTS THAT INSPIRED YOU JOINT VENTURE?
M: Jeffrey mentioned Warhol earlier and Studio 54, but we want to make it more inclusive and communal.
J: We definitely want it to be a safe space though, so there will be some exclusivity. We don’t want predators who just trying to prey on people dressed a certain way, so having a strict door person or just charging someone who seems suspicious more to gain entry, if any at all.
M: A place where you feel like you know everyone even if you don’t. We’ve been fortunate that everyone has usually been very kind and open to what’s going on. I think everyone either comes with something they’re working on or just an interest in what we’re doing so that adds to the community because people are invested in building it and making it better.
J: Like I said earlier, we see many talented artists talking about how depressed they are on social media instead of posting their work, and that’s not the way it should be. A huge factor in this for me is that for awhile I didn’t have a physical space that was big enough for me to create. It’s annoying and gets to the point where you feel stifled or depressed because you’re not creating anything. Once we started this I was just focused on getting all of these people together and figuring out the logistics of having these events, but now that we’re more experienced and in control I am working again on creating my fashion line which is awesome for me to start working on again. Now that we have space.
M: I think having each other has lifted a lot of burdens that accompany creating and has inspired us, so we want to give that to other people because you can get bogged down by so many factors like not having a space or not feeling like you have a supportive environment to make things which is so important.
TEXT AND PHOTOS: Nicole Vega