In the Beginning, Musical Influences, and More…

by Scarlet Smith

Unknown Pleasures Limited: In the Beginning, Musical Influences, and More... by Scarlet Smith

Growing up as a Tempe child but switching places in the outskirts of SoCal or forced to go to church every Sunday, took its toll. I found myself at darker times and darker places of wanting to let go.

I may have seemed happy to some, but I wasn’t… I felt trapped and I didn’t like any of it. And it didn’t help that I had an attention problem or that I kept falling ill…

Listen to the album while reading the text.

In the Beginning

I kept thinking to myself: “Why do my parents keep moving us?”, “Why don’t they vaccinate me?!? I keep getting sick from my classmates at school or daycare!”, and “Why can’t I comprehend numbers?!?”

So, the more and more it started happening, the more I was getting depressed and wanted to end my young self… Because I hated moving further away from the previous life or catch deadlier viruses that later resulted into seizures or diminish academically at simple math.

So, I couldn’t take it anymore… but that was until I discovered the bands that had practically saved me and took me to a place to find peace which happened to be through a CD and Vinyl collection. And I remember the first time, that it all started for me and my love for the Goth subculture in general, where I first discovered/heard Siouxsie And The Banshees and Bauhaus as a child.

I thought to myself: “Wow, I like this! I like this a lot and I want more!” So, I proceeded to dig deeper and deeper until I’ve heard it all, before Spotify or any of those musical platforms came into development at the time (since this was around the early 2000s). Or before computers being a thing.

Exploring

I utilized CDs and Vinyls as a way to explore (and discover bands like Joy Division, The Sisters of Mercy, Sex Gang Children, Public Image Limited, A Flock of Seagulls, etc.) while my research through books at the downtown LB library, were my pro-tools to understand the Goth subculture so that I wouldn’t misappropriate it.

Because at the time I was thinking the Germanic Tribes and Gothic architecture were the same, but apparently not. All thanks to the miseducation in my private school I attended to that taught me such, and there’s so more to it. Which is why it’s better in some regards and not a big mess like this so-called flexing generation of Soundcloud/Mumble Rappers or obnoxious greed of the Pop agenda you see in the media.

But after exploring the Goth Rock genre and it’s roots, I realized it was time to look for new bands to listen to around the 2000s and 2010s era. At that point, my love for Siouxsie Sioux was quite weird to my parents, and I was pushed back into church of having to repent of “thy sinful ways” and like men again or listen to clean shitty Gospel music. Or even dress a certain way to appease the public’s standards of how a girl should dress. It was mess.

So, in conclusion; I tolerated it for years until I turned eighteen and was able to dress the way I wanted to with androgyny or Siouxsie Sioux and Simon Gallup looks. Then I became the Afro/European Goth I’ve always wanted to be and self-taught myself to play multiple instruments (excluding the guitar and violin which I learned remotely from a certified musician). I became myself and didn’t need anyone’s approval… music speaks to me in a way that’s inhuman and beyond…

Musical Influences

As I was extremely infatuated with Siouxsie And The Banshees and Bauhaus… I became mesmerized by the works of John McGeoch and Daniel Ash (whom have became my favorite guitarists at the time and still are except McGeoch’s always going to be my number one). So, I was amazed and blown away by the enchanting compositions that McGeoch had put out in Into The Light from Juju, Hybrid from Kaleidoscope, and Painted Bird from A Kiss in the Dreamhouse.

While the override-scrunchy edges of Daniel’s god-like wonder in She’s In Parties from Burning From The Inside, Dark Entries, and A God In Alcove were astonishing yet powerful enough to drift me into a range of guitar haven. Everything about those works and guitar god themselves, is nostalgic.

I remember getting the thrills when I first heard those pieces (from each) as a child and I couldn’t help but become a fan and want more. Those talented individuals alone were enough inspiration for me to pick up a guitar and play for the first time. And because of that, I eventually was gifted a guitar for my thirteenth birthday when I was younger and got to play. Turns out, I needed lessons and that’s when my parents proceeded to seek a teacher.

And I learned, carefully, despite having a learning disability and attention problem. I would also like to include John Valentine Carruthers (who is also from SATB), Manuela Rickers from Xmal Deutschland, Deb Demure from Drab Majesty; because as time passes on, you’ll find a new savior, Robin Guthrie from Cocteau Twins, and lastly Steven aka Ana Thema from Shrouds… are another set of guitarists that I like and have innovated me.

Blood-Sweating Tears

I could go on and on about these musical heroes, but I also liked Budgie from SATB as well, Stephen Morris from Joy Division, and Kevin Haskins from Bauhaus. Because I’m also a drummer and had taking a liking for tribal but faster and jawbreaking tempos. And those three were enough motivation for me to tap my leg each time and nearly trigger my heart rate whenever I moved my left foot on the ground sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong here, I like drum machines but nothing beats the raw-energetic atmosphere of blood-sweating tears and the amount of devotion being put all into one and mixing it together with sharper basslines that give you a sense of gloom and introspection.

With keyboards/synthesizers and bass; I was heavily influenced by Martin Gore and Alan Wilder from Depeche Mode, although Mona D from Drab Majesty took their place, Johnny Slut from Specimen (because I just love his sense of wonder in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook from Joy Division and New Order, Simon Gallup from The Cure, and Steven Severin from SATB of course.

Of Gloomy Books and Life in General

Although, I get my lyrical ideas from reading gloomy books or just life in general. Listeners are free to interpret the songs however they like and there’s nothing wrong with that… but songs like Blur and Earthsound have a deeper and much more darker meaning to them than they seem.

Earthsound for example; is about my great uncle’s depressive state and alcoholic abuse where he would murmur things like “Come and join me, into this merry go round…” through delirium and loneliness of neglect and reject at my great grandmother’s house (where I witnessed and heard as a child upon my stay there).

While Blur is about my old friend, in martial arts, that I’ve never seen or heard from ever since I graduated with a black belt, and 4th grade of course, and moved farther away. But anyway, he had a severe form of schizophrenia that he couldn’t control where it interrupted his ability to learn and I’ve always found myself supervising him along the way while our instructors would teach us certain moves. He also displayed delirious nonsense and would murmur to himself, which is where I quote one of things he said in the song “Conquering the ones of my land” and would be obnoxious whenever he was asked to do something to help out around the dojo.

But anyway, those songs have a deeply strong meaning behind them but the listener can still interpret them as they like or relate to them if possible.

In-Depth Analysis about “The Death of Hannelore”

Again, listeners are free to interpret the song however they like but this one in particular has a fictional and enchanting meaning behind it. And some consider it to be murderous yet telling of one’s description about a fictional character’s tragedy.

But anyway, it’s the first time I’ve ever wrote/produced a song that was based off of a video game because I usually go by a spontaneous mind of experiences or read something that catches my eye… but this time, it was different. I went ahead and recorded the song in one take with my guitar (that’s a Jackson V tuned to a DADGAD with clean tone and chorus) alongside my vocals, a simple drum machine, and two synthesizers (a lead which is the harmonization in one verse and a secondary that acts as a bass). And I thought “This is it! This will be the one that’s about my favorite video game Hitman Silent Assassin.” so I mixed/mastered it the next day and recorded the b-side which is ‘Echo’ the following week in November of last year.

Although, the tragedy of the fictional character’s death is comical and justifiable at the same time because they were organized to be killed at their own job site and believed in a certain thing, the lyrics and the song as a whole are a tribute to them. Which is why I named it specifically after the ‘spoiler’ mission, “The Death of Hannelore” and some may say: “Ugh! It doesn’t sound much of a tribute to me, considering the things you say like ‘She’ll be loved by now’ or ‘Say goodbye to the greedy and greet her Mahakali (who is allegedly a goddess in Hinduism) today’ or you praise Agent 47 so it’s pretty hateful and mocking of one’s death.” And my answer to that is; the song is still fictional and not to be taken seriously. At all. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what I say or make out of it. It’s still a song surreal but free for a different interpretation or entertainment purpose.

But I don’t care about such commotion or that some don’t like the song or my music as a whole. It is what it is.

Anyway, the song will be featured as a track in my new album that’s set to be released in July of this year followed by another one… that’s called “Sun in the Rain” that’s yet to be released sometime this month or in March.

Thank you for reading! Love you all. x

UP LTD

Unknown Pleasures Limited or (UP LTD) is a one-woman Post-Punk/Goth Rock band that formed in Riverside, California by Scarlet Smith. Scarlet is the vocalist, guitarist, bass player, drummer, synthesizer, violinist, pianist, and songwriter in the project. So, everything is imperfect due to sh1tty equipment and the inability to afford better software.

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SoCal
Post-Punk, Darkwave, Neo-Psychedelia, Gothic Rock, Minimal Synth, New Wave, Retrowave
Trad Goth, 80s-Inspired Musician, Nu Goth, Millennial Goth, Gen Z, Siouxsie Sioux worshipper, Drab Majesty worshipper, Batcaver, Newwaver

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