This time of the virus has allowed many to discover some incredible sights and sounds as artists and musicians continue to “go live” on various social media and platforms. This would be the case with the lovely Alice of Alice’s Night Circus and soon to be Alice Strange. Victoria/The Countess. I had a lovely chat with her about her new EP and other wonderful news. Enjoy!
Victoria/Steampunk Journal: Thank you for speaking with me today. Tell us a little bit about yourself? And how did you get into steampunk music?
Alice: Hi! I’m Alice of Alice’s Night Circus, I’m a singer-songwriter from Sheffield, England which is known as the city of steel and I’ve been performing in various ways for many years. I’m classically trained and initially planned on going into either opera or classical music however I found it all a little too restrictive for someone who wanted to express herself and interpret things in my own way so I began to drift towards singing in musicals. I rapidly discovered that as much as I love singing, the idea of acting terrified me! I eventually found my way onto the circuit of performing covers of well-known songs at pubs and clubs but I really wanted to develop something that would be my own, which is how I ended up forming Alice’s Night Circus and starting to write original songs. I’d been a steampunk for several years by this point, which I got into via makers and trading circles as I used to run a craft stall where I’d sell my own hand-sewn creations, so naturally the imagery, aesthetic and themes sneak their way into my music here and there as it’s been part of my life for so long.
V/SJ: How many instruments can you play and what are they? Did you have formal training?
Alice: I focus my energy these days entirely on training my voice and improving it. I went all the way through to grade 8 on keyboard and also played piano when I was at school, I was a self-taught guitar player for a while too however I suffer from M.E (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and Fibromyalgia which causes me a lot of pain and I began to realise that the repetitive movements were exacerbating it and I had to ease off and stop. As singing doesn’t hit any of my pain triggers I simply refocused entirely onto making my voice the best it could be. I had several years of formal training with a classical singing teacher, Thelma Broderick, who was in the year below Maria Callas at The Royal Academy of Music and also attended music lectures run by Anthony Hopkins! She taught me all the foundations I needed to learn to sing safely and from there I dipped in and out of other theories and am constantly scouring the internet for new techniques I can learn to improve my voice as it’s always on ongoing education for me.
V/SJ: Your music has a lush, ethereal and sometimes haunting quality. What inspires you and who are your favourite performers?
Alice: Growing up I was exposed to a pretty good range of music, everything from Queen, Meatloaf, Adam Ant, Opera, Stevie Wonder, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Kate Bush, Paul Simon, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley so I think I started out with a pretty broad musical ear. I’ve always enjoyed classical music, musicals and soundtracks from movies which provide such a lush atmosphere so I think all of those things have combined to give me my own musical stylings. I’ve always preferred musicians who stand out in the crowd and have their own distinct sounds but I also admire artists who can repeatedly reinvent themselves and move with the times and are willing to try something a little experimental and new, whether it works out for them or not. I think my main influences musical are probably Danny Elfman, Florence and the Machine, Kate Bush, Muse and IAMX. They all have very distinct sounds but are willing to be a little experimental and try their own thing.
V/SJ: “Stand Up” has become such a fantastic anthem. Can you tell us about writing that song and your struggle with ME?
Alice: I’ve had M.E from age 16 and it changed my life completely, for those unfamiliar with the condition it has many symptoms a few of which include persistent fatigue that even rest won’t alleviate, aches and pains, anxiety, depression, brain fog (and inability to focus/think clearly) and for me personally a real struggle for anything taxing on the brain which completely wipes me out! It’s taken me through some rough dark places I never would have gone without it being in my life and while those aren’t struggles I would have liked to experience, I did have a choice that I could either let them drag me down or I could stubbornly keep trudging through them in the hopes of finding something on the other side. Stand Up is very much about any kind of difficult time whether it’s health-related or otherwise and not giving up just because that moment in time really sucks. it’s a celebration for those who have made it out the other side or are currently dealing with something difficult in their life. I like to try and tilt things towards the positive and give difficult struggles a feel-good factor for people to hang onto and Stand Up really does seem to have hit the nail on the head. I get a lot of people approaching me after gigs explaining that they’ve had a variety of health issues and Stand Up helped them get through, which is exactly the kind of support I hoped it would provide.
V/SJ: Is there another performer you’d love to collaborate with?
Alice: Whenever I’m asked this question I never hesitate! My absolute dream collaboration would be with Chris Corner from IAMX who inspires me not only musically but the fact that he was willing to step away from the music industry and do everything himself independently. I find him very inspiring and his voice and music is what I like to call my ‘soul music’ because I always feel reinvigorated and refreshed after listening. The chances of achieving that goal are a bit slim though so more realistically I’d love to team up with any of the incredible artists in the steampunk circles! I have sung a classical duet with Violet Hugh and I’ve also covered Victor and the Bully’s ‘Am I’ but it’d be really amazing to do something original with any of them!
V/SJ: How are you handling the virus? Has it affected your creativity?
Alice: This year I was planning a lot of creative work, I had plans for two new albums one of covers and one of entirely original music alongside a full rebrand from Alice’s Night Circus to Alice Strange. My initial plan for the year was to work this around my gigs and then release new material later in the year. However! As things have changed now I’ve been in a very lucky position that by having my gigs cancelled it’s meant I could entirely focus all my energy on rebranding as Alice Strange and working on my two new albums and it’s given me something to do so I don’t feel like I’m at a loose end. So while I’m really missing the gigging and can’t wait to get back I’ve been able to use my time effectively and hopefully means when things settle down and I can return to gigging I’ll have a load of exciting new material for fans!
V/SJ: Tell us about your latest release and how it came about?
Alice: My latest release is called Age of Elegance – which sold out within a week on my website for the pre-release EP and thrilled me entirely! It’ll be officially released on June 26th and will then be available digitally from all the usual places, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon music and also available to download from my website (www.alicesnightcircus.com) too. It came about because I’m a lover of completely over the top fashion, which was what drew me into Steampunk in the first place, I love creativity and expressing individuality through what I wear or create but the world isn’t always ready for that sort of uniqueness or anything that differs from whatever is considered the ‘norm’. There’s all these huge fashion labels with disposable fashion popping up all over the place and it really strips away the concept of individuality when thousands of other people will have the same throwaway seasonal item of clothing. I ran with this idea and it formed itself into the Age of Elegance, a song about throwaway fashion and embracing the over the place and it really strips away the concept of individuality when thousands of other people will have the same throwaway seasonal item of clothing. I ran with this idea and it formed itself into the Age of Elegance, a song about throwaway fashion and embracing the over the top and unique individual identity. It’s really a fun upbeat song encouraging people to embrace their own uniqueness and let their freak flag fly!
Steampunk Journal was pleased to chat with Alice. You can follow Alice on her links here:
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/alicestrangeofficial/
Victoria L. Szulc is a multi-media Steampunk/Science Fiction/Fantasy artist/writer working her on seventh and eighth Steampunk novels and various other projects. Her latest,
“A Dream of Emerald Skies”, is available on Amazon and will be re-released worldwide late 2020. In 2019, Victoria made St. Louis Magazine’s A-List in the People’s Choice Author category and won a Stephen Memorial Award for her illustrations in “Cecilia’s Tail” by Debbie Manber Kupfer. You can follow her works at mysteampunkproject.wordpress.com