Murder and Mystery at TeslaCon 10

For ten years TeslaCon has been the Fall event, the big one to finish the year. With all the pageantry and costumes along with the immersion it has become the standard for many con goers.

This year to celebrate and mark it’s 10th anniversary TC is once again making a  huge splash. With over 100 panels and special events.

David Lee- Maker

James Neathery-Maker

Karinane Gottchalk-Maker

Montague Jacques Fromage-Entertainer

Doc Phineas- TV Host and Entertainer


Plus very special guest Academy Award Winner Tom McLaughlin who ran the Creature Shop at Henson Studios and worked on the Star Wars saga and created the world of animatronics will be giving special classes throughout the weekend. Along with a free event on Sunday afternoon.

The famous TeslaCon tea room returns with a new tea…”Rain from heaven”, an interactive tea experience. All in a  setting to mimic the dining car on the Orient Express.

There will also will be the TeslaCon costume contest and fashion show Friday night along with music by Dublin O’Shea.

There are also various and different panels from costume making and leather, to paranormal Victorian subjects and actual history events. Saturday afternoon a discussion about the history of the Krampus is concluded with an actual Krampus Parade and then followed by a “German Wurst” lunch in the hotel restaurant. The evening concludes with  a grand Villains Ball featuring live music from the TC Orchestra Vardo.

Throughout the weekend the story that started ten years ago continues with more ups and downs and who done-its than ever before as the famed Orient Express whisks our Steampunk travelers across the great continents of Asia and Europe.
Symposiums, talks, games and so much more… along with entertainment and social gatherings that lead to a huge finish on Sunday!

For more information go to : www.teslacon.com for info, programming and details. Also tickets!

Teslacon does sell daily tickets at the door. You may preorder them or show up the day of. They do not accept credit cards, just cash. The Dealers room will be open to the public also- Saturday from noon to 6pm and Sunday 10-1pm. You must go to main registration to get a  pass-it will only be for the dealers room, not the event itself.

Teslacon is the longest running consecutive Steampunk Convention in North America, and one of the longest running world wide. Its use of sound enhanced –themed oriented fx throughout the hotel, music help create the atmosphere that many have come to love over the years.

So if you are looking for a fun weekend, a great time to meet people from around the world, and want to experience Steampunk at it’s finest plan to attend TeslaCon 10. Where the world of Steampunk is brought to life!

Moving Up Villainy One Musical Album at a Time

At Chicago Steampunk Exposition, we had the great opportunity to day party with V is for Villains. They were the movers and shakers to get your partying started at the convention.

They have so much high energy that they bring to the stage. It was pleasant to see a local rock band play for a group of people in the middle of the day and transport them to a night showing.

After the convention, we had a chance to talk to Nicholas Santiago, Mr. Agitator, for a little Q&A.

*How long has the band been around?

“I started V Is For Villains at the end of 2010. I started my first band, Digital Mindy in 2000, and by 2010 I felt that I had hit a ceiling. I wanted to expand, to push myself musically and in live performance. I felt like Mr. Agitator and V Is For Villains was the next logical step.”

*What made you decide to get up & start a band? Did something just click at the right moment?

“Well when I was 15 I broke my back. Two blown discs, one of which was shattered. I was in so much pain I couldn’t move or stand up straight without help. I was stuck like that for quite some time. I started taking steroid epidurals and it helped me until I had my first spinal decompression. In that period of time I was on Painkillers, I couldn’t go to school or really focus on anything through the pain. Out of nowhere I started playing with music, sounds, audio engineering. It fascinated me. This idea that a song can be born. That it did not exist before, and yet after you hear it, it is always there and always alive. It give me a reason to live. That reason has served me well for many years. Through good and bad. It is the ultimate puzzle, and in my opinion the ultimate form of self expression. In 2013 at a convention I broke my back and knee on stage in my costume, but that’s a different story….”

* Has your sound stayed the same or changed in any way from when you first started? 

“My music has certainly evolved. My tastes, like most, have changed and refined through the years. I was never too worried about having a “good voice” or a certain “sound”. I was always more entertained by something that is interesting. I think as a songwriter, you end up in a very interesting position as creator and listener. You are creating while listening. If it interests me as a listener, that’s usually where I gravitate. I think my sound in Digital Mindy was different. I try to bring something unique to every album. I never want the listener to say “Oh well, I heard this album 4 years ago…”. I know that is what some people like, and that’s okay, it’s just not the story I’m interested in telling.” 

* Which do you prefer doing personally & as a band, live or studio recording?

“I honestly feel that they are two totally different experiences as a performer and as a listener. The Recording process is full of intimacy. Very internal. Where the liver performance is a group experience that is shared with the audience. Two different flavors and I honestly love them both. At the core, I am far more of a song writer and audio engineer at heart. Writing the song is usually the most fun aspect to me. I do however love playing with people on stage and pushing the expected envelope. Mr. Agitator is a fitting code name.”

*How did everyone’s personas come about? 

“I think everyone probably has their own personal meaning in their personas. Mr. Agitator is very much an amalgamation of all of these things that have influenced me and remain present. The persona is very inspired by Batman, The Joker, The Phantom Of The Opera,The Shadow, and so on. My only prerequisite was to not take ourselves and our influences too serious. I think humor is important. You have to be able to laugh at yourself and to take negative criticism. It’s all a part of the game.” 

*Who are your musical inspirations?

“I am a huge fan of 90s Industrial music. I love Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, PIG, Depeche Mode. I have always been very big into this idea that a synthesizer as a tool can shred like a guitar if you use it correctly. I love the idea that Digital sounds are capable of what the writer pulls from them. On the same coin I grew up listening to film scores. I love composers and scores and still very regularly play them. I think it did a lot to teach me about the narrative of music. That sounds can tell a story. I also grew up loving mainstream artists like Billy Joel, Harry Connick Jr, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra. A good song is a good song. I love my influences but I don’t care to be those artists. I want to make something new.”

*What do you do to inspire yourself to write an album and the songs? 

“I feel like the album as a whole work is dying out. In the Digital Age, we are not thinking of works as a whole anymore. Just 2 minute YouTube bytes. I’m not saying this is wrong, but it’s not my favorite method. I like having a full album. I think it’s cool. I always go into a collection of songs trying to provide a greater feel. I always look at my albums as a collection of short stories. An anthology series like Tales From The Crypt or Creepshow. I write purely on emotion. I am not musically trained whatsoever so it just has to feel right. “

*What’s the best way for people to listen to your music? I assume the best way to purchase though would be straight to your website since you’ll all get the money then. 

“The latest album “Villains Never Die” is only available for sale on our website until around December. Then it will be available to stream on all streaming platforms. Our other albums “Evolve or Die” and “Murder In The Art” can be purchased on iTunes, through website or on Spotify. We also have dabbled in music videos on YouTube.”

*Why do you prefer the villain over there hero? (Personally I always do too) 

“I feel that what makes someone a Hero or Villain is only a matter of perspective. To some people we may be Heroes, to most we are Villains. That line has always interested me. In today’s society of cancel culture and social execution before trial, I feel that line is thinner than ever. I have seen people that I thought would be life long allies turn on a dime. It’s hard to understand or explain, its just a side effect of the current world. I think its so easy to be branded Villain. Why not wear the title proudly?”

*How have the Steampunkers & Chicagians responded to your music? 

“Honestly it’s been a very mixed bag. It’s been mostly positive I think. I feel like the larger community expects a certain “thing”. We are NOT that “thing”. I feel like that  can lead many to block out or avoid without truly listening or trying. If someone really gives it a chance and it isn’t their thing, I am 100% supportive of that. It’s not my intention to tell someone if my music is good or not, my job is just to present it. I want people to make up their own minds. Most of the people we have met in the community are very kind and supportive. I always appreciate when people listen.”

*What’s the best way for people to contact you for setting up a gig? 

“We are an independent band, if you would like V Is For Villains for you live show or Event you may message me directly at visforvillains@gmail.com”

*Is there anything else you would like to add about the new album, you & the crew, or any random fun bits of information? 

“After being off of performing for over a year, we are back at it. V Is For Villains next show will be headlining the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville on Saturday October 26th! Come out, see the show and make up your own mind. Until then, remember: Villains Never Die”

There’s Now an 8th Deadly Sin

This article is a joint effort between Sarah Harris and Kasandra Zavrie-Higdon.

Sarah: Victor & the Bully are two of the most energetic people I have met.
It’s great to see them come out with a new album. They told us their thinking process for songwriting and composing and essentially it is; make a tune and sit on it until it nags you and you can write ear catching lyrics. They just love making feel good music that you could hum to, or dance to. This new album, 8th Deadly Sin, is no exception. At times I have the song Barrel of a Gun stuck in my head while I’m sleeping.

Kasandra: Their debut album, Deathbed Confessions, was a good romp
through their musical talents and creative minds. They burst open the doors of the steampunk community and took it by storm. They are in your face and laughing, dancing and shooting at your feet making you dance (metaphorically speaking). Their smiles are as contagious as their music is dance-able. Also, who can resist a ukulele?

This, their second album is full of mischief and mayhem, a true musical delight to my ears. As I sit here and write this, I am dancing in my chair. My feet must tap to the beat. Whatever they have done to make this sound work for them, work it does. This is a splendid second album. I loved the debut album but the 8th Deadly Sin is even more fun and I didn’t think that was possible.

This is a great album to start off your collection of steampunk influenced music. It’s very upbeat and stomp-able to say the very least. The first release
from the album was F.R.E.A.K.S., which was very warmly received in part because it also featured Professor Elemental on vocals. I must admit when I
heard it, I was very pleased.

I love their energy. Every song tells a story and that story comes at a fast pace that will leave you feeling breathless but wanting for more. If you don’t want to dance when you hear these gents, then you are dead. I can see why Sarah likes Barrel of a Gun so much. She is probably singing the chorus in defiance in her sleep. It’s one that can get stuck in your head easily. My sing along song is Fur Better or Worse. Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf, is the question and I love it. If the true 8th Deadly Sin is being a Victor and the Bully fan, then I am guilty of that sin and proud of it.

If you haven’t heard anything from Victor and the Bully, then what are you
waiting for? You can sample them on Spotify or iTunes as well as Soundcloud for free.