Darklings and demons in the Gothic and tribal traditions of our ‘species’ more beauty emerged when Species 2015 was extremely to proud to present a dazzling performance from DiscoSwitch.
DiscoSwitch creating an atmosphere of sheer movement with her dark tribal fusion belly dance performance. We witnessed Gothic beauty with an edge of urban ‘popin’ n lockin”, bending to her own sinister brand of electronic/industrial music, no soul could escape captivation!
DiscoSwitch live at Species 2015
An Interview with DiscoSwitch
● Tell us a little about yourselves as a performance artists living in Dublin?
I am a Dublin based dance performer who goes by the name Discoswitch. I’d best describe what I do as Tribal Fusion belly dance mixed with urban pop n lock with some contemporary in the mix. Very experimental with lots of theatrics & eccentrics!
● How long have you been performing?
I have been performing in Dublin, around Ireland & the UK since 2008. Starting as part of Yasmins Irelandes tropue Les Serpents Mystique for 1 year, then The Orchids for 6 & now Discoswitch since February 2015.
● How did you get into it?
I have always loved dance & had been to different forms of dance classes & was part of dance groups as a kid. I left all that behind in my teens when the Goth years hit & the only place you would find me dancing was on the dance floor in The Tower nightclub to the Goth, new romantic, EBM & industrial tunes I’d fallen in love with. Just out of the blue one day I decided to sign up for a dance class back in 2008 & chose belly dance which I knew little about but I was attracted to the alluring mystery it had. I started with cabaret style but quickly discovered Tribal Fusion a much more dark alternative style of belly dance. I hunted out teachers, workshops & any videos I could on this style & shortly was up on stage performing as part of Les Serpents Mystique. I continued to take workshops & at one particular one taught by Belly dance superstar Sharon Kihara I met Black Orchid who were hosting the workshop. I loved their style immediately & was delighted when they asked me to become part of their Troupe. Shortly Black Orchid reformed as The Orchids who I spent 6 incredible years being part of. We performed at major festivals, shows & on TV over the years & had a blast as well as teaching this style of dance & watching the belly dance scene grow in Ireland. My dance journey continues now as a solo performer – dancing with The Orchids gave me the confidence to keep performing & now I am focusing on my own style & experimenting as a solo performer DiscoSwitch which is going really well I have loved my experience so far.
● What drives you to do it?
What drives me to do it is a passion I have for dance but also expressing myself through performing. It’s part of who I am now. I can let go when I dance. Its escapism & people can share that with you when watching a performance. It’s a form of art & when you put it out there & people enjoy it & feel it , it pushed you to do it again & again. I couldn’t imagine it not being part of my life it’s very important to me.
● How do you find the transition of going solo?
At first it was scary as I was going at it alone after so many years of performing as a Troupe & duo. I wondered would I get gigs. Would people like my solo stuff? I knew I would miss the girls & the times we had as a Troupe at the same time I was really excited about expressing my own style & having the complete freedom to do so. The transition went really well though. The reaction from the crowd I got at my first solo performance was amazing & it set me up to go forward & I’ve thankfully had gig after gig since.
● What creative benefits have you found in pursuing a solo career in dance?
It’s given me time to focus on finding my own natural movement & my own style I can connect with a piece more personally & emotionally as its come just from my own creative process. . Tribal Fusion – it’s my foundation & now I like to layer it up with my own personal style & different dance forms & crazy ideas I have – getting them out from my head & onto the stage.
● Is there a story behind the name ‘DiscoSwitch’?
Well my nickname is Disco which comes from my Dj days. I played in a few alternative & Goth Clubs & always loved wearing lurex & dark sparkly outfits. Upon telling the Orchid girls this whilst on a road-trip a few years later they resurrected the name & it’s been with me ever since. I added the switch on it for my performer name to give it more oomph & it kinda explains my performances for me as been switched on when I’m up there haha as cheesy as that sounds
● You are creatively involved in costume design and creation for your performances? How long have you been making your own costumes? What inspires you, when making costumes?
I was always sewing growing up & making my own clothes, ripping something off a garment & attaching it to something else adding embellishments I love it! I make all my own costumes really since my first performance back in 2008. Tribal Fusion has a distinctive look. I remember sewing all night the night before my first performance. I made every costume ever since. In The Orchids we all made our own costumes & each of us had our own style, it’s very personal. I’m still making my own costumes now & they have changed style again. I incorporated LED into one for instance. I like to experiment & get creative. The costume is so important to the performance it helps me to create the visual to the music.
● What inspires you when making costumes?
Usually when I’m working on a new number I have a visual in my head of what I want the costume to look like. Or an idea of a character I want to create. Depending on the idea I might watch films that might connect to the idea or look at art books for inspiration. I do like to go from the ideas that come from my head & look for materials & just go for it as much as possible. The things that have inspired me through life come through in dance, music & when creating costumes.
● Was there a particular thematic part of Gothic & Industrial culture that captured your imagination for your costumes and performance at Species?
For Species I performed 2 pieces. The first one Diktator is quite a dark emotional piece quite atmospheric which I felt would fit very well at a Gothic festival for obvious reasons. The costume is very dark with a black feathered collar reminding me of traditional Goth look before industrial & cyber hit. The second was a piece called Time stretch with LED lights which I knew would look good in a dark gothic setting. This was more like the Industrial & EBM side of Goth if you look at in that way.
● You performance had a dark, ethereal presence on stage. What emotions do you evoke whilst dancing? What music choices help you maintain
Thanks so much – it’s great to hear that. It’s hard to explain but I now kinda create a character in each performance. I only dance to music I love & connect with if it’s a track I like but get no connection with I scrap it. I will listen to the track over & over getting more & more ideas from it. It has to pull me in & then I can find natural movement to it otherwise I am just dancing not performing it. Each number creates different emotions. One piece I do is about a power struggle so I put those emotions into the piece & push them through the body. Each number definitely has story attached to it.
● If you could bring any other elements to your performance through collaboration across the arts, what would these be?
I am always open to collaborating with the arts. Musicians, artists, Live Art etc… I recently performed at a Gallery x exhibition based on masks called Masquerade. I created a mask myself for the opening night. Live Art is something I am considering exploring it would be something new for me to explore & I think could enhance my performances. I like the idea of incorporating art into my costumes also.
● You had a confident stage presence at Species, have you ever struggled with this in the past? If so what helped you move past this?
Oh yes of course! I definitely struggled in the past & I still do sometimes. At the beginning I was a nervous wreck before gigs but for some reason I will still make myself get up there & do it. I suppose each time makes you a little stronger for next time but the nerves are still very mush there still. I believe if you aren’t nervous before you get on stage ( for me anyway) then you don’t really care how its gonna go nerves mean you care & give you the adrenaline you need. My advice would be nerves are good but try to not let them overtake you & treat each performance as a stepping stone to becoming more confident & a little bit more at home on stage.
● What advice would you give to new dancers who would like to pursue a career in performance art?
I would say go for it! Practice! Practice! – Practice! Within whatever form of performance art it is go to as many different teachers as you can as you will learn something different form each of them. Prepare yourself to have good performances every performer does. Don’t compare yourself to others too much, take inspiration but enjoy your own uniqueness. I feel grateful that I have the opportunity to perform & share what I love so I think being grateful & humble is a must. Enjoy it – that is most important enjoy & be happy.
● You have performed at festivals such as Body & Soul and Electric Picnic. How did you find the experience of performing at Species in contrast to these larger events?
Performing at Species was more intimate. It was a smaller festival & I got to spend more time with the attendees than I would have been able to at a bigger festival. .At Ep I usually perform with the Jerry Fish Electric Sideshow & you really feel part of Jerry’s sideshow family & I left Species feeling part of Species family so it did have that in common. Species was so relaxed & chilled as it was on Harriet & Illioct’s home grounds so there was a real sense of trust & being made feel so welcome.. A lot of us travelled there together & l we left together. I made friends there who I still see now & we shall be returning next year no doubt.
● What preparations did you do on the run up to your performance at Species?
Well Species was the first place I performed my number Direktor so I rehearsed a lot & was still sewing my costume on the bus on the way there. I actually put the piece together for Species. I began working on it a few weeks before & Species was the perfect place to debut it.
● What is your view of Gothic and Industrial culture in Ireland today?
I still think of myself as a Goth. Anything to keep the Goth culture alive I’m supportive of. I remember discovering Goth & it was a huge part of who I am today. A lot of Goths were kids who didn’t fit in or didn’t go along with the crowd. Goth allowed me to be me if that makes sense. There is a small Goth scene in Dublin but a very strong scene. Revolution a monthly Goth & Industrial Club & is the place to hit plus the Annual Freak Picnic in Stephens Green. With festivals like Species it’s keeping the scene going.
● What parts of Species did you enjoy most?
Hanging out with people with the same love of Goth culture, art, music, expressing themselves & having a good time. I loved watching the performances & DJ sets & most of all just being part of it, chatting to interesting people & the warmth from our hosts.
● Would you like to be artistically involved next year?
Without hesitation YES!!!