One of the many, many fabulous things about spending 8 years at a haunted hotel turned artist’s haven (more on that in another post, I swear) is the amazing and often-creepy group of artists/creators one encounters in said space.
Damien Youth is one such artist. Performing and recording music since the mid 80’s, I only met Damien in 2007 at an annual gathering of artists at the aforementioned haunted hotel, which he (along with his wife Elizabeth Black and filmmaker Blair Murphy) was one of the original purchasers of for its present incarnation. In the days of running our poetry cabaret The TypewriterGirls, Crystal Hoffman and I would refer to Damien as the TypewriterGirls’ official heart-throb and spend hours spiraling down various rabbit holes with him in some haunted hotel room or other.
What we didn’t know when we first met Damien, however, was that he is a friend/collaborator of Bauhaus’ David J. Haskins, performs at Anne Rice’s parties, and is a cult figure in music in his own right, constantly creating, with 47 albums listed under “discography” on his Bandcamp page.
Now a resident of New Orleans, the fact that Damien has lived in ostensibly haunted spaces comes as in no way a surprise when you listen to his music – his dark acoustic tracks and the often frightening images he conjures in his work speak volumes to this fact and make my creepy little girlish heart skip beats.
I can’t properly express how much I adore Damien Youth’s songs – both musically and lyrically – so I’ll let 5 in particular speak for themselves (with a little commentary of course):
- Lies We Tell (Phantoms of Fables) – All about regret and what we cannot say to one another, this song is pretty much my go-to piece of music for when I want to bawl my eyes out. Which happens sometimes. Don’t judge me.
- The Underground (The Underground, a hobo’s opera) – The eponymous track from this album touches the poet in me in particular, beginning with the lines “Welcome to the underground/this is the place we make the sounds that no one hears/We write those songs you think you’ve heard/but can’t quite place/in other words, we’re pioneers” – both an anthem to and a gentle critique of underground artist culture.
- Blackbird and the Widow (Bride of the Asylum) – One of my favorites of Damien’s, full of magical spells and witchcraft and the cycle of life, our constant quest to understand it all. The chant-like quality of the song always gets me.
- Little Pearl (Ghost Shallow) – The most recent release on Damien’s page, this slowly mournful song implores its subject “Just be the god all by yourself/and don’t let anybody else/build you their holiest of hell/when you can do it by yourself”. As is so often the case with Damien’s lyrics I’m left not sure if I feel hopeful or deeply sad.
- I’m So Afraid of You (Onanisms) – I asked my and Damien’s friend and fellow creepy lady Julie Meechan to pick one of the tracks for this list, and this was her selection, saying “I love that one in particular because of the poetic way it expresses the passage of time in relation to what we are afraid to say to one another. it refers to the “subtle violence of passing days,” and it reminds me of how much gets left unsaid and those days are the consequence. Time is lost.”
Now go slip into the dark and very, very haunted world of Damien Youth’s music – the goth girl in you will be in no way disappointed.
Of the above photo Damien says “I was tripping on acid & brought a huge bible in the woods to read. I love the book of Ecclesiastes on acid. It’s some of the best alien abduction poetry ever.”