Wading into Darkness to Stand in the Light
Benjamin Samedi founded Nightmare Sonata in the fall of 2004. The original intention was for Nightmare Sonata to be a death rock/gothic alternative band. If you are wondering what that means, think Type O Negative meets Bella Morte. A member of the Vampire Community, and artist, he is breaking traditional concepts on music and wading into the darkness with in, in order to stand in the spot light.
GYP: Could you tell us how it all started?
Benjamin: The first show was a private house party a friend from the vampire community was hosting for Halloween. We did a lot of Misfits covers with a bunch of originals, and it was the first time I appeared as “Benjamin Samedi”. People reacted so well to the character that I decided to keep the character as a permanent fixture of the band.
GYP: Did the persona have any effect on you, and your music?
Benjamin: As I started to write songs in character, the music became angrier, darker, more sexual and more macabre. The band has been playing shows all over the southeast ever since, in various incarnations. We’ve released several DIY bodies of work, the most recent of which is entitled “Necrophile”. We’ve several music videos on youtube, and now appear on the soundtracks for b-horror movies “Hack Job” and “I Spill Your Guts”. We’ve gotten to open for some big names, to include Wednesday 13, Voltaire, and Agent Orange. It’s been a wild ride thus far, and I look forward to what the future holds.
GYP: You have a production company that you work with. What drives you to continue?
Benjamin: We are our own production company- Decayed Angel Productions. It enables us to keep the rights to all of our material and keep the artistic vision pure. Record labels will muddy the waters quite a bit in an effort to make something more palatable to the mainstream for more commercial success. I’m not interested in that so much as I am interested in creating an artistic statement.
GYP: So you are doing all of this for the sake of art? What about money?
I’m not trying to get rich doing this, but rather trying to make an impact. There are times when I wonder why I keep going. Especially those shitty gigs with crappy monitors where the promoter screws you out of whatever pennies that should have been your cut of the door. Then that one guy (or girl) will come up to the merchandise table, buy a cd, and say that it was the best show that he/she had ever seen, and I get reminded as to exactly why it is that I do this, year in year out.
3. Occultism perhaps one of the most feared things in a lot of households in the United States and aboard, yet you bring it into your music. With that negativity known why do you put yourself in the spot light?
I love attention. I love challenging people’s taboos. I love getting right in the establishment’s conservative narrow minded little faces. I love seducing the minds & spirits of their wives/daughter/girlfriends into joining me on the Dark Side. But to be _completely_ honest I just love to be on stage playing for an audience that enjoys my music. All the other stuff is icing on the cake.
4. How does your occultism play a role in your projects?
I am vodoun by faith. My character is a tribute to Baron Samedi- the voodoo god of death & the cemetery. I’m an initiate to Baron Samedi, and the attributes and attitudes of my character are similar to Baron Samedi- especially in regards to the crude humor and overt sexuality. Depictions of possession, ritual, vampirism permeate my lyrical content and music video imagery. But always a bit tongue in cheek as to not take ourselves to seriously.
5. What projects are you working on now?
Currently we’re working on a new record, to be entitled “Expedition: Morte”. Or “Sending of Dead”. It’s a reference to a very powerful voodoo hex. We’re already starting to play some of the songs in our live set. We’re also working on more footage for our live video back drop, which consists of all original horror movie shorts, with heavy undertones of BDSM.
6. What have been some of your major musical inspirations?
Peter Steele of Type O Negative, especially vocally and in terms of his dark humor. Glenn Danzig- the sexuality he is able to infuse in his music for all three of his bodies of work (Misfits, Samhain, Danzig). His music makes me want to simultaneously break shit and fuck on the floor.
Wednesday 13 has really done a wonderful job in proliferating the horror rock genre- making it more R-rated and still preserving the fun and camp at the same time. Alice Cooper- the absolute master of horrific rock n roll theatrics and an often underrated lyricist. Rob Zombie. King Diamond- especially with his ability to tell a twisted, fucked up story. Musically I borrow a lot of my guitar playing techniques from Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) and Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein (Misfits, Gorgeous Frankenstein). My guitar solos are seriously influenced by Mike Ness of Social Distortion.
7. Are you part of a House or occult organization, what can you tell us about that?
I used to be a part of a “court” of living vampires- the name of which I won’t mention here. We weren’t a house or coven per say- but often times had gatherings at various locations and events. At it’s high mark, it was a great thing. Lot’s of fun. Lot’s of ideas exchanged. But alas, it eventually unraveled after about a year. The egos involved were gigantic and eventually all of the A-Type personalities turned on each other. Drama drama drama drama drama drama. I only keep track of one person that was ever part of that group. Mainly I just keep track of her modeling work. She’s otherwise quite obnoxious. Sometimes I wonder if any of the other participants are even still alive.
I tend to shy away from any sort or organized “house” or “coven”. I’m not comfortable in that environment. I don’t like being expected to kow-tow to so-called “elders”. I have several other independents I sometimes exchange ideas with, but we’re by no means organized.
8. How long have you been involved , and what kinds of Vampires, Kin, or beliefs do you embrace?
I’ve been involved in the study of the metaphysical since I was in high school, stemming from my need to make sense of everything and find my place in the grand scheme of things. I believe natural magic. Power of Chi. The Loa, the Petro, the Ghede. My mind is open to a lot of things. I initially identified most strongly with the living vampire community, but evolved into other things. I’m initiated to Baron Samedi and Papa Ogun, voodoo being my chosen faith.
9. There have been a lot of changes within the community over the years, are there any you see as really good changes? Really bad ones?
Eh. My view is tainted because of the people I’ve been exposed to. Most of what I have to say is negative. I deal with people on an individual basis. Often times The Community books my band for their events- Fang Banger’s Ball on July 28th in Rock Kill, for example. But I don’t really participate in the community so much anymore. I’m much happier just engaging with individuals.
10. What advice for the community would you offer as a longtime member of the community?
Always continue to grow, learn, and maintain an open mind. Do your own research. Never say “never”. Never take yourself -or the community- to seriously, because that leads to bruised egos and hurt feelings.
And please “like” Nightmare Sonata on FB and order your own autographed copy of our latest release