In Haunt

Introduction and interview by Emily Oldfield

A Bit Of Everything’ is the title of the eclectic radio show hosted by Ian Rothwell every Tuesday (6-7pm) on Salford City Radio 94.4 FM and has certainly seen an array of Gothic influences over the years.

A touch of Goth may seem unexpected for a community radio station, but in his work, Ian is especially keen to delve into alternative culture and share this with listeners, as well as celebrating the local area.

An especially notable interview on the show featured Ian talking to American Gothic Opera singer Alexis Karl – and whilst the programme typically incorporates a number of interviews, there are also plenty of slots for records and live music; often with a weird and wonderful twist.

Living in Salford himself and a keen fan of music from across the eras, Ian has often played a mixture of Northern Soul, Rock, 60’s/70's Ska and Reggae, as well as some new music and a number of releases from local label German Shepherd Records.

As the title of his show underlines, listeners can certainly enjoy a range of material on the airwaves from Ian, with interviews and music taking centre stage. HAUNT Manchester decided to talk to this presenter to find out more about his dabbling in the alternative and if the Gothic element of culture influences his radio work. Get ready for some innovative responses…

Hello Ian. Would you say that you have been influenced by the Gothic in terms of your interests?

“The most positive influence has been my friend from Brooklyn, New York - Alexis Karl - who is a multi-talented media artist. We met in 2010 thanks to Paul Ashton. Alexis came over for the Salford Music Festival and performed a Gothic Opera with Paul Ashton on keyboard in the beautiful setting of the Sacred Trinity Church (Salford) as Anima Animus Animal. 

“Many attended in Gothic costumes and it was amazing to watch and hear as Alexis sang a mesmerising performance for a whole hour. Afterwards I interviewed her in the rain for Salford City Radio and it was very memorable with Christina my wife holding an umbrella over the three of us. I broadcast a special of their music and Alexis’s interview on the following show.”

How has the Gothic emerged in your work as a presenter?

“Since being inspired by Alexis I have done joint programmes with her on the phone from New York City - one in January this year to showcase her many different collaborations with others (some of which are Gothic-styled) and also at Halloween time.

“On a separate show I was made up to look like a Gothic ‘mad hatter’ in the studio by make-up artist Kerry Sherrie whilst on air, but just make-up only sadly - no costume! I think the style is exciting as it is not just about the music… though I try to capture this music when I can along with many other styles.”

You are also interested in alternative and unusual music, which although isn’t ‘Gothic’ per se, could be considered to hold properties of transgression and experimentation. Perhaps you could tell us a little bit about your interest in German Shepherd Records?

“I was always interested in different sounds and alternative music due to incidental music in ‘60s and ‘70s programmes. My interest in German Shepherd was ignited by Bob Osborne at the radio station who championed many different types of mainly local artists of a less commercial basis.

“For example, I heard a very interesting artist called Moff Skellington and he came in for an interview a few years ago. Moff’s own style of music is known as Eddodi. I like to feature music from German Shepherd artists as often as I can to support the wealth of talent that is there. Other artists are SCR presenter John Montague from bands the Junta and Positronik and the talents of Ian Moet Moss, Boz Hayward and Cannonball Statman. I feel I have only just scratched the surface and there will be many amazing people out there that I haven’t yet found or they haven’t found me! It’s good to find many types of different sounds to listen to.”

Do you think Manchester could be seen as a Gothic city?

“Definitely so! Manchester has some fine buildings, history and culture. There is the Gothic Manchester Festival, with the 6th edition just having happened in August 2018, and a centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University too. This year they hosted the 14th conference of the International Gothic Association, the most significant gathering of Gothic academics in the world. There are places to buy costumes and make-up too, such as Afflecks Palace. I also believe that Haunt Manchester is very much at the heart of promoting Manchester as a Gothic tourist destination, showcasing the best events, research and original journalism on alternative places, shopping, culture and nightlife.”

How does Gothic culture connect to you today?

“I feel that we have a great heritage... with Gothic (or Gothic influenced) buildings like Manchester Town Hall which is a Neo Gothic building, the beautiful Chetham’s School and College, late Victorian Gothic John Rylands library, Manchester Law Library, and Manchester Cathedral. The Palace Hotel was built Gothic in character.

“I have a passion for older buildings and there is a great healthy interest in Gothic culture. There is also the ‘Goth subculture’ which came to prominence in the 1980s with art, music and fashion and has a wide following. Plus there’s plenty of Gothic literature, festivals and horror films. With many Gothic events in the North West I feel that there is a real diversity that offers a wider choice to people than the ‘default’ culture that is piped constantly through the general media. I feel we should have access to many varied styles of music and alternative cultures which widen our experience, knowledge and education.”

More information on Ian is available at the Salford City Radio website and he is also on Twitter.

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