This week leading up to Halloween, we interviewed several notable creatives to get in the spirit. After having closed the last terrific door of the horror films, we leave, with a heavy heart, our two friends Erika and Roshane, to resume our day. Along the way, we met the most vampiric and steampunk gothic couple, the Addams Family from Warsaw, Poland, Fallka and Amadi aka The Gothic Family.
“We always used to joke that Halloween is the only time of the year, when people dress normally – the way we do every day. But as time passes, it seems more important to have our own Halloween deep inside out hearts, all year round, not only on that particular day. Nevertheless, the Halloween in the calendar still remains our favorite and definitely most gothic holiday. Brace yourselves, ready the skeletons and spider webs. Spooktober is coming.” – Fallka and Amadi
Witam Fallka i Amadi! Nice to have you here in Auxiliary Magazine. It’s wonderful to have a gothic couple today. How did you meet each other?
Amadi : It’s a funny story. We met at a group photoshoot in 2012. The theme was “cats” and Fallka was dressed as a cat, with pointy ears, furry pants and a tail. We talked a bit and had a beer after the photoshoot. Fallka later told me, that after coming home that day, she was sure she met the right guy. It took me a bit more to realize the feeling was mutual.
Fallka : We lived in two different cities back then, which made things a bit complicated in the beginning. But we managed to work it out and now we’re together for almost 9 years.
How generally is the atmosphere in Warsaw for Halloween?
F : Halloween isn’t a very popular tradition in Poland, we don’t have any local ways of celebrating it. Sometimes there are groups of kids collecting candy and there are many halloween-themed club parties. Goth and alternative people enjoy celebrating it a lot, though, as it’s the one night, when they are no longer the “weirdos”.
A : We do have an old, pagan-originated tradiotion called “Dziady”, which involves setting up feasts for the dead and trying to communicate with them. But it’s not really practiced any more, Polish Church managed to eradicate it. And younger generations just imported the American way of celebrating Halloween.
Yes, you are Polish. But maybe some people are not yet familiar with the Addams family from Poland. Could you introduce yourself for those?
F : We are a couple of elder goths. I have the biggest goth-oriented Youtube channel in Poland (called “Woman In Corset”). I try to introduce the gothic subculture to new generations. I’m also an alternative gothic model and fashion designer. Some time ago we started a second Youtube channel together, which focuses on our spooky everyday life. It’s called the “The Gothic Family”.
A : At some point we figured out we’re never going to “grow out of being goth'”and chose to slowly bend other aspects of out life to that aesthetic. Redecorating our flat has been an ongoing process for over 3 years. Luckily we’re almost done and ready to enter the “most gothic home” competition. And we have the perfect set for recording films for Youtube.
Fallka, your creations and the aesthetics of your photos are highly vampiric but also close to fantasy. Why this inclination for everything fantasy, of an almost medieval and steampunk aesthetic? How do you define your style and what does it mean?
F: I don’t know why, but I was always felt attracted to the concept of a vampire, literally since I was a kid. I generally like everything that is dark, a bit spooky and far away from everyday reality. That’s the aesthetic that I try to express through my pictures. The second ingredient is my fascination with history, fashion history in particular. Especially XIXth century fashion. My style has changed over the years, but it always had some goth in it. Same goes for pictures – I try different genres and inspirations like steampunk or fantasy, but there’s always some darkness in them, because that’s just me.
How did you come to distinguish yourself and permanently establish yourself in this style? Did you go through different other styles before this one?
F : As a teenager I was a metalhead. But it wasn’t exactly my aesthetic and music, though I still like coming back to it from time to time. Then I discovered the gothic music and subculture and felt that this was what I was looking for. But even within the goth subculture, my music and aesthetic taste still change over time. For many years I preferred the victorian goth style, wearing long skirts and corsets on daily basis. Nowadays, I prefer more comfortable everyday clothes, and more sophisticated ones for photoshoots. I don’t really think about it as being “my style”, it’s just me.
A : My story is very similar. I remember that dark aesthetic appealed to me since I was a kid. I still remember certain images (eg. Magic The Gathering card illustrations or cartoon characters) that had a dark vibe that I resonated with. Then was the teenager metalhead phase and slowly discovering goth after that. It was before internet was a common thing in Poland, so it took me a while to even find out where to search for information about the gothic subculture. But I eventually got there and never left.
Amadeusz, your photographic universe is also very steampunk and fantasy. There is a lot of storytelling in your photos. I think your artistic result stems a lot from your conception of the image.
A : For me photography is a tool to bring to life images that I have inside my head. It’s never been about capturing reality, as I find reality mostly boring. That’s why I choose generes that are as far away from here and now as possible, like horror, steampunk or fantasy. All with a gothic twist, of course. And as for the storytelling part, I wok as a film editor, telling stories is literally my job. I guess it just shows through my photos as well.
Your photo edits are absolutely sumptuous. What software do you usually work with to get the best results in terms of style and ambiance?
A : I try to use as little software as possible. When I started taking pictures, I went through a phase of doing everything in Photoshop (which I still use for editing). But after a while, I realized it took too much time and effort to replicate results that I can achieve with proper technique and lighting. So I started learning and experimenting with light. Now I use Photoshop only for the finishing touches and try to get as much as possible done “in-camera”. The downside of this approach is that I end up carrying tons of lighting equipment into weird and remote locations.
Your primary muse is obviously Fallka. What are the advantages and disadvantages of knowing each other when two individuals are working together on an art project?
A : The biggest advantage is the pace we can work at. Each of us knows what the other one is expecting to an extent that we rarely even talk during photoshoots, as there’s no need. It helps, especially when taking photos in winter, when the model can survive maybe 10 minutes outside. The downside is, of course, the risk of doing repetitive photoshoots and losing creativity, but I think we’ll still far away from that point.
What’s your word on this, Fallka?
F : The fact that we can easily explain the photoshoot concept to one another is a great advantage. Especially when doing something really crazy. And I can be certain, I’ll get at least a few great pictures every time. Of course, there’s the risk of developing a routine, but we try to avoid it by working with other photographers and models as well.
Fallka, we have to say that most of your photos highlight the beauty of your designs for WOMAN IN CORSET DESIGN. What are your main sources of inspiration when crafting an item?
F : For many years I was very influenced by fashion history and film costumes. I never wanted to create any sort of historical reenactment, though. When I create designs for others, I’m inspired by the beauty I see in people. But I like to create designs just for myself, it allows me to let my imagination loose and experiment with form and materials. My favorite creations are the ones I make for certain photoshoots. I usually imagine the fictional character that we’ll be portraying, no matter if it’s a vampires countess or a forest demon.
How quickly do you manage to make a piece?
F : It depends. Sometimes I manage to put something together in a day, sometimes it takes me weeks to prepare a whole outfit, which includes sewing corsets or stays, petticoats, skirts, dresses and headpieces. So it really depends on the project.
Would you have liked to live in the older times and wear these collections every day?
F : For many years I thought that I’d like to live in the XIX-th century, as I love the aesthetic of this era and the gloominess of things like all the funeral and mourning traditions from back then, the literature and how the world was developing in those times. There are some aspects of the victorian era, that I wouldn’t be able to accept, though, like no women rights, slavery or a lot of unnecessary death. So it might be interesting to live in XIX-th century as a member of the upper class, if it looked like it does in the movies. But I’m not sure I would be this lucky. So I guess I prefer to live in the present.
And you, Amadi, past or present ? What would you pick ?
F : I probably wouldn’t mind being born like 20 years earlier than I was and not behind the Iron Curtain. See the first wave of goth bands, live through the crazy decades of 80s and 90s as an adult and not worry so much about the dystopian nightmare we are slowly entering.
I have a more relationship-related question for you both. Would you have seen yourself living with a non-goth person? What are the most magical aspects of living as a couple with a goth?
F : I tried dating people from outside the goth subculture and it didn’t work out. This part of my life is just too important to me. As for the benefits of being a goth couple, doing together things like decorating our flat, going to festivals, sharing music, sightseeing creepy places and looking up picturesque cemeteries everywhere we go is awesome.
A : I also tried dating non-goth people. I eventually grew tired of having to explain to them that it’s not a phase, I’m not depressed and I don’t eat cats. Life is just so much easier, when we only need black washing powder and don’t have to argue about what music shall we play in the car.
F : We just love being “that eccentric couple”.
How is the Warsaw Addams family celebrating Halloween this year?
A : Probably at our favorite goth club in town. But only after handing over some candy to spooky kids who dare to knock on our black door.