Pieter Schoolwerth is een kunstenaar, een DJ en de bedenker van de Wierd-feestjes ('Wierd', ja, niet 'weird'), die al jaren een hoogtepunt van de New Yorkse nachten zijn. De Wierd-feestjes gaan maar om twee dingen: heel obscure coldwave en minimal-synth, en echt verschrikkelijk angstaanjagend zijn. Zelf waren we er nog nooit geweest, maar toen we hoorden wat voor griezelige shit er allemaal gebeurt, dachten we dat het misschien toch de moeite was om er eens een blik te gaan werpen... Ja, dat had je gedacht, we blijven lekker thuis Wii spelen met onze kat als een snorrende toversjaaal rond onze nek gedrapeerd. Maar weet ons te zeggen hoe het er was.
Vice: So who decided to spell “Wierd” wrong?
Pieter Schoolwerth: Well, first we just kinda fucked up, but
then when I thought about it, it’s similar to how you spell my name,
Pieter, so it became a completely unnecessary wink to my Dutch
heritage. But mostly it’s just because it fucks people up. It makes it
hard to look up the name. Why is that good?
We make no attempt and have no desire to permeate the masses. That’s
why our slogan is “Very Rare.” But both “Wierd” and “Very Rare” also
refer to the people who came to our parties at first. It was the most
abject freak-show you ever saw. It was all derelicts and transsexuals,
and even some gay Hasids. Gay Hasids, you say?
Yeah, gay Hasids were getting blowjobs from club kids on coke. Shit
went down. One guy in particular was gay, deaf, and mute. He was, like,
the rarest of the rare. We treated him like royalty because he was the
king of the weird. The weird—it’s like an ominous vortex of
uncomfortable people that just want to hear these cold, dark songs. Coldwave is what it’s called, right?
Yeah, a big function of the party was to give exposure to coldwave, to
the history of this music that never really existed in the US. It was a
much more European phenomenon. Mostly from France, Germany, Holland,
and Italy, a few from Belgium. It began around 1979 with bands that
were sort of taking over where Joy Division left off. It has that cold,
icy guitar sound mixed with a raw drum sound. Who are some of the most famous coldwave bands?
Marquis de Sade. They were basically the Joy Division of the north of
France. They’re legends. The Asylum Party from Paris is equally
renowned. And Twilight Ritual is the most famous Belgian coldwave band.
Sheesh, I’ve never heard of any of those.
That’s because most of these bands didn’t sing in English so they never
got distributed over here. The closest commercial example of the
coldwave sound that I can think of would be the Cure’s Faith or Seventeen Seconds.
So this is the music you play at the “Wierd” Parties?
Yes, and then every few months we’d have a big live event at a
warehouse space or on a boat, and new bands would play. There’s a great
coldwave scene happening here. Out of the 15 bands on the compilation
we just put out, ten of them are from New York City. And in May, we’ll
be putting out another comp called Coldwave New York: Nowhere To Go But Down,
in addition to albums by Blacklist and Martial Canterel. There are also
really active scenes in Miami, Chicago, and Germany. We’re all drawn
together by being frustrated with the current state of “dark” music. Tell me how a coldwave fan dresses. I often dress up as a
character called Astrid Bonaparte III. She’s an abject lesbian in her
50s. I have a secret identification with her, you know? I really relate
I have a collection of about 50 paisley shirt and 30 pairs of pointed
Winkle Picker boots. The way I dress is kinda like where dark music
meets psychedelia, like when the acid trip become frightening. When it
crosses over into Satanism and the occult. It’s very specific brand of
cryptic, creepy music and fashion sense. I used to call is gypsy-wave.
It all revolves around suggesting an individual that is inherently
uncomfortable in his own skin. How do you feel about the term “goth?” I would like to take a wild guess and say that you aren’t so fond of it.
Yup. The term “gothic” was invented far after the original gothic rock
bands. I was going out every night in 84, 85, and that word never
existed. There was no label for the pancake makeup and teased hair. We
just called each other freaks. So now, we don’t use the term goth. It
has a derogatory connotation. It’s degenerated into some kind of ironic
B-horror film thing. It’s lost its elegance, sophistication, and most
importantly, its pretentiousness. You’re pro-pretentiousness? Yeah. That’s what I really miss. I
miss the conviction behind the bands to not be afraid to espouse their
ridiculous theories. I mourn the loss of eccentric people in music. Did a lot of eccentric people go to the “Wierd” parties?
People that came to the parties were really on the edge. Some of them
disappeared. We had homeless people, cab drivers, and truck drivers
that were so fucked up.