Steampunk music and bands in 2018: What’s out there?

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We built this tiny post to tell you a little bit more about steampunk music. You probably have lots of questions towards this musical subgenre. What is steampunk music? How does an artistic movement blends into music? Who are the most influential steampunk musicians?

We’ll start off with the basic questions.

What is steampunk music?

According to Wikipedia and our guys from Fandom, steampunk music is a subgenre that is loosely defined. What this means is that you will find in here lots of subgenre “alikes”.

Steampunk has lots of cultural influences from other subgenres. You will see that certain steampunk songs collect details from goth metal, dark metal, progressive rock, indie, and even Asian influences.

In some way, there is logic in all of this. Steampunk music has been created in a similar way that literature has. So when you come to think about it, if there is a steampunk western theme in literature, there gotta be somebody playing some steampunk music with wild west details.

Despite all of this that we’ve said, steampunk has a certain englobing pattern. Steampunk music always leaves an overall opera rock sensation. This is cool, in some sense, because it is easier to recognize steampunk bands from other subgenres.

You must know that when you take a look at a steampunk band playing live, there will be lots of steampunk details that are taken into account. Steampunk bands usually include from two to six members. And steampunk costumes are the rule.

This opera rock theme is important because it allows performers to bring much more steampunk attributes to the stage.  When you go to see a steampunk band, expect a full artistic show, and not only a couple of a capella’s songs.

Even if it’s not mandatory, accordions and cellos can be usually heard. What is constant is that you will probably find an exotic instrument that accompanies the guitar, drums, and vocals during the performance.

Insomniac Folklore "useless". A steampunk music band playing with their costumes at their videoclip.

Insomniac Folklore “useless”. Licensed under CC.

Steampunk musical instruments

You will find certain steampunk musical instruments that can be found in almost every steampunk band. In this list, we will summarize what we consider that are the most important steampunk musical instruments that are played.

  • Guitar
  • Keyboard
  • Drums
  • Cellos
  • Accordion
  • Bagpipe
  • Synthesizer
  • Vocals
  • Harp
  • Wind Organ

Steampunk music bands that you can discover in 2018

In this section, we will include what we believe that are the most important steampunk bands that can be found in 2018.

Take note: we have seen that other sites have posted rankings of steampunk bands. What we will show you here is a selection that has been the result of a thorough review process over the bands that have been cataloged as steampunk throughout the internet.

We believe that there are many bands out there that are great but do not have what it takes to be a steampunk subgenre. After all, steampunk can have goth elements but is not goth. And the same goes for folk, indie, and hard rock.

And even so, we believe that there are certain bands out there that are maybe a bit too futuristic to fit into a steampunk archetype. Again, this doesn’t mean that they are not great. But they simply do not fit into what we think that steampunk represents.

But if you feel that any band is missing, and you want us to place it in our post, then feel free to comment below.

Vernian Process

Vernian process is a steampunk band that formed in 2003 in the San Francisco area. It is composed of four members ( a vocalist and three multi-instrumentalists). As you may have guessed, its name is after 19th-century literature works created by Jules Verne.

This band has also been cataloged as gothic rock, trip-hop, progressive rock, and ragtime. What we can say is that is a certain eclectic feeling in their chords that is characteristic.

This is one of the most known steampunk bands that can be found. They have performed in several steampunk festivals such as Steamcon in Seattle, Edwardian Ball in San Francisco and Steamstock festival in Richmond California.

Their creations include three long plays from 2004 to 2010 (Discovery, the forgotten age and behold the machine).

If you wanna know more, their website is www.vernianprocess.com.

Vernian Process performing at Steamstock steampunk festival in 2012.

Vernian Process performing at Steamstock Richmond, CA 2012. Licensed under CC.

Abney Park

Abney Park history is quite interesting. It is a band that was created in 1997 by its lead singer, Robert Brown. The name comes from Abney Park Cemetery in the UK. So, as you might have guessed, there is a lot of goth in this band.

From 1997  to 2005  this band was merely a goth metal band with a baritone lead voice. It is in 2005 that Robert Brown dives deep into steampunk. The result, a fiction was created around the band and its shows.

Now, their performances had not only group members but also steampunk characters. There is a plot that explains the origins of their lyrics. Because of what we’ve said, Abney Park has been considered the “quintessential” steampunk band.

Abney Park has performed in several SteamCon festivals since 2009. It also played on DragonCon, Bats Day, Ravenwood Festival, Wild wild west steampunk convention and more.

Abney Park has been highlighted in several music channels throughout its career. This gave much more popular to the steampunk music than ever before.

If you want to know more, then check www.abneypark.com

Darcy James Argue Secret Society

Secret Society is an 18 piece ensemble created by jazz composer, Darcy James Argue. Secret Society was born in 2005 but it was not until 2009 that the group released their first album: Infernal Machines.

The steampunk influences in Darcy come clearly from the steampunk literature. The first album name is ought to Infernal devices, written by KW Jeter. Just to refresh your memory, KW Jeter is the original creator of the steampunk term.

Secret society second album was created in 2013. Since then, this ensemble jazz band has collected lots of awards due to its skyrocketing career.

Secret society is a must if you are both a steampunk and a jazz lover.

Chap-hop: Mr. B Gentlemen Rhymer and Professor Elemental

You might be wondering what is chap-hop. Chap-hop is mainly hip hop but with some alterations. Alterations that are related to the steampunk culture. In chap-hop, you will see our MC wearing long tail hats and mustaches. The British accent is also a must.

Chap-hop is a subgenre that has also changed the classic hip-hop theme into something more victorian-fashioned. It can be about the tea, the weather, or even the outfit.

We’ve spared this space for this two interpreters.

Mr. B Gentlemen Rhymer is formerly known as Jim Burke. He started his career in late 2007 at cabaret clubs but his career skyrocketed up to the point that he played at the Glastonbury Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

On the other hand, we find Professor elemental. Formerly known as Paul Alborough, this MC rapper found himself trying to compose rap in an anachronical way. After his first concept album, he continued as what we know as a steampunk chap-hop reference. He has performed in festivals like Steampunk’s world fair and Waltz on the Wye.

Veronique Chevalier

Veronique is a well-known interpreter in the steampunk world. She is not only a musician but also a music producer, comedian, parodist. Veronique has skyrocketed much of the contemporary steampunk bands that are out there.

She is producer and host of a cabaret show called “Veronique’s red velvet variety show”. She has a close relationship with the band Unextraordinary Gentlemen, of which we will talk about later.

As we’ve told you before, she has also a stage persona: a steampunk character that she plays when on stage.

Veronique Chevalier is a world reference in the steampunk universe.

Dr. Steel

This steampunk character is fascinating. Dr. Steel is, in fact, a stage persona. We don’t actually know his name, why he does what he does, and where he belongs. He was an anonymous performer.

Dr. Steel began his career in 1999 in Los Angeles. There is one thing about his performances that was characteristic: The multimedia show that he presented was amazing. From puppets to video projections, this was one of the main features that distinguished Dr. Steel from everyone else.

We told you that his performances were characteristic because he retired in 2011. Its a pity for all new steampunkers, but many of his creations can be found on the web.

Dr. Steel used to play with a band:  The army of toy soldiers. His on-stage persona was the classic Mad Scientist steampunk archetype.

The Dresden Dolls

The Dresden Dolls is an American duo that has been born and raised in Boston Massachusetts. They are pioneers in what they call “Brechtian punk cabaret”, or punk cabaret. These terms were originally created to distinguish this kind of soft romantic bands from mere plain goth subgenre.

Though this band might not be a true steampunk band, in essence, it resembles many steampunk features through their Victorian details.

The Dresden Dolls have performed on several festivals, and their members have collaborated with other steampunk bands during their hiatus. This duo had a two-year hiatus from 2008 to 2010.

Actually, they are about to perform for the first time in the UK in October 2018.

Frenchy and the Punk

Frenchy and the punk is a duo that was created in 2005. It has influences from folk, punk, and cabaret music style. It is conformed of one European and one American member.

Frenchy and the punk were originally named the gypsy nomads. It was not until their first European tour in 2011 that they changed their name.

This band has released 9 albums up to date. Similar to the Dresden Dolls, its musical genre might not be considered completely steampunk. Nevertheless, steampunk details can be seen in their performances.

H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E

This steampunk band is perhaps one of the most interesting out there. It was founded in 2002 by Holly Brewer and Mathew Mc Niss. Since then, it has replaced many members of the squad. You can find periods in which they were from two to four group members.

Since 2002, this band has elaborated six albums. This band has deep links with Frenchy and the Punk. In 2007, they recruited Brian Viglione for their second national tour.

H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E is not only a steampunk band. It resembles a dynamic art project that transforms throughout time. Well, have to wait and see what we’re gonna see next time.

Humanwine steampunk band performing at AS220.

Humanwine performing at AS220 Licensed under CC.

Insomniac Folklore

Insomniac Folklore is a steampunk music band that was formed by Tyler Hentschel in 2001. Tyler created his own project after traveling through lots of punk and hardcore bands during his early years.

Insomniac folklore is named after Tyler’s struggle with his sleep. Tyler is the only stable member of the band, the others have been replaced several times throughout the years.

This music band has been considered both from the cabaret and steampunk subgenre. It differs from the others in the style. We can clearly see the roots of the hard rock music in the performances of this band.

The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing

This steampunk music band is also an insignia for the artistic subgenre. The men that will not be blamed for nothing was formed in 2008. Since then, they have performed in several steampunk festivals, such as UK Steampunk Convivial, World Steam Expo in Detroit, and the steampunk world’s fair in New Jersey.

This steampunk band was formed in the UK by Any Heitz and Andrew O’Neill. They’ve included three more members throughout their career.

They created 9 albums since their birth. In this collection, you will find album titles such as “now that’s what I call steampunk” and ” a very steampunk Christmas”.

Initially considered merely steampunk, today they have incorporated elements from the hardcore punk, heavy metal, and goth into their songs. They are a must for steampunk music lovers.

Paul Roland

Paul Roland is not only a steampunk musician but also a writer, researcher, and journalist. Born in England in 1959, Paul Roland has been the inspiration of many steampunk music bands to pursue success throughout time.

His interest in Jules Verne work was inspirational for him to elaborate albums like 2008’s Nevermind, in which you can find tracks like ” The Last Voyage of The Nautilus”.

He has released at least  30 albums since 1980. And the same goes for publications.

Paul Roland is one of the original pillars of the steampunk music subgenre.

Steam Powered Giraffe

This might be one of the most exciting steampunk music bands that can be found. Why? Because steam-powered Giraffe is a whole steampunk project that was brought to life.

Created in San Diego in 2008 by David Michael and Isabelle Bennet, this band has developed a musical show that includes lots of comedy features into the play.

Steam Powered Giraffe is not only music but its more of an opera rock show. Their artistic performance is outstanding. There is, as in every one of these bands like we’ve talked before, a plot with stage personas that come to life when the lights turn on.

Besides, steam powered giraffe has grown outside the stage through social media, basically Tumblr. They even also developed a card game based on their stage characters.

They can also be known for recording the music for the Nintendo 3DS game: SteamWorld Heist.

Steam Powered Giraffe is probably the most famous steampunk band that can be found nowadays.

Unextraordinary Gentlemen

Unextraordinary Gentlemen is a steampunk music band that was formed in 2005 by Richard Pilasky and Eric Schreek. Their name was created after Alan Moore’s comic “The league of extraordinary gentlemen”.

This band was created to carry punk music into a 19th-century Victorian period.  They have stage personas and a backbone history that is featured in a dystopian mixed world between Victorian and Wild West.

Their lyrics are connected to their backbone plot in such a way that they have developed their own “unextraordinary encyclopedia” for the curious ones.

They have performed in several steampunk festivals such as The Edwardian Ball, Bats Day, Steampunk’s world fair, and Steamstock. They’ve shared performances with renowned steampunk characters such as Veronica Chevalier.

Their only album is “stars pulled down” which can be downloaded from their website. Nevertheless, this band has become famous for their live performances.

The Best Steampunk Songs

As we’ve said before, now its turn for the steampunk singles and songs that you can actually listen to learn more about steampunk music. In this list, you will find those steampunk songs that we consider are the most representative of each steampunk band we’ve talked before.

Vernian Process – Something Wicked

Something wicked resembles the hard rock roots that have influenced the band during its early stages. In this steampunk song, you can find the true meaning of eclectic. There are even some tunes which you can find disturbing ( in a musical sense).

There are multiple unusual instruments that can be recognized. The opera rock can be seen from miles in the clip.

Vernian process – Something Wicked

Abney Park – Scupper Shanty

In this steampunk song, you will find a certain goth metal influence. The characteristic low tone voices are present The cellos are quite astonishing. A certain feeling of a military march rhythm can be perceived.

Lyrics tell the story about an epic. Scupper shanty is a good way to hop into steampunk if you are a goth music lover.

Abney Park – Scupper Shanty

Darcy James Argue Secret Society – Transit

This steampunk song is on the other side of the steampunk musical specter. In here you will find pure jazz. The fact is that you won’t find character personas, steampunk attires or such in Darcy’s performances.

But what you will find is a certain steampunk influence that is engraved in the music itself. This single feels like a 50-60’s jazz movie theme where our main character is being chased by some mob gangsters.

Once again, you can easily blend into steampunk with this band if you are a jazz lover.

Darcy James Argue Secret Society – Transit

Mr. B Gentlemen Rhymer – Just like a Chap

Chap-hop is the word that describes this song. Rap + victorian outfits. Rap + mustaches. Rap + British accent. Mr. B has achieved to take some of the steampunk essences and stir it into his lyrics. It is interesting to see how steampunk music is not only about rock theatre every once in a while.

Mr. B Gentlemen Rhymer – Just like a Chap

Veronique Chevalier – Internet Date

Anything that will come from Veronique Chevalier will have steampunk in a way. In this 50’s style old style cabaret fashion musical theme, you will find certain steampunk elements that compose the lyrics and the video theme.

Yes, you might not find that this theme is as steampunk as the others. But, it is here where Victorian style, cabaret, and steampunk subgenre limits seem to fade into a whole piece.

Veronique Chevalier – Internet Date

Dr. Steel – Lullaby Bye Bye

Dr. Steel had much of its steampunk thing in their live performances. Their on-stage show was something that could be called an example for fellow steampunk performers.

In lullaby bye, we will find eclectic tunes as well. Eventually, you will feel that this steampunk song was performed for some horror movie scene.

Dr. Steel – Lullaby Bye Bye

The Dresden Dolls –  Coin Operated Boy

As we’ve talked before, the Dresden Dolls could also fit more into the Cabaret than the steampunk subgenre. Nevertheless, coin operated boy is a wonderful piece of art. Their romantic lyrics combined with a soft vocal work up the piece up to the point that is pleasant to hear.

This steampunk song belongs to the other part of the steampunk music specter too. It’s far away from those hardcore steampunk bands we’ve talked before.

The Dresden Dolls – Coin Operated Boy

Frenchy and the Punk – Don’t Fear the Rabbit

Frenchy and the punk have developed a steampunk song in here that is valuable in many ways. They are a duet ( a man and a woman ) that have blended in perfectly to develop this song.

Don’t fear the rabbit is performed with just a couple of musical instruments. Despite this, it’s a powerful song that transmits lots of energy.

Frenchy and the punk – Don’t Fear the Rabbit

H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E – Rivolta Silenziosa

This steampunk song has been described as “intriguing, catchy, weird”. It has some Italian feel to it in the rhythm.  The work that trumpeters have done in this single is outstanding.

There is something mysterious about this song too. Something that gives us the feel of being in a horror-comedy movie once again.

H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E – Rivolta Silenziosa

Insomniac Folklore – Useless

As we said before, insomniac folklore is a band that was born from the American rock.  The accordion and the violin together with the two vocals account for the steampunk theme in this song. In fact, you get a catch of the Wild Wild West Steampunk as you hear through this track.

Insomniac Folklore – Useless

The men that Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing – The Gin Song

Maybe one of the most known steampunk songs from this band. The gin song has some eclectic guitar tunes combined with power riffs. The overall feeling is that you are hearing a hard rock /opera rock band with steampunk aesthetics that load up the entire video clip.

Catchy single. Totally recommended.

The men that Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing – The Gin Song

Professor Elemental – Fighting Trousers

Once again, chap-hop is on the block. Though you won’t find a mustache in professor elemental, you can find steampunk in his lyrics and albums. Professor Elemental and Mr. B are both a must listen for steampunk fans, because they offer something really different from what we know.

Professor Elemental – Fighting Trousers

Paul Roland – Nosferatu

Paul Roland artwork in music is so extensive that we could build a whole new post to cover all of his aspects. In Nosferatu, the wind organ is a trademark and gives the feel of this opera rock that is coming to haunt our ears.

Paul Roland is the progressive rock leg of the steampunk music. And that is why he deserves this place.

Paul Roland – Nosferatu

Steam Powered Giraffe – Honeybee

Honeybee together with Brass Goggles are the most known steampunk singles from steam powered giraffe. It’s a romantic soft rock song that is great for steampunk beginners. Video clip aesthetics are 100% steampunk. The way the vocals perform is amazing.

If we had to recommend a place to start, this would be our nº1 steampunk song.

Steam Powered Giraffe – Honeybee

Unextraordinary Gentlemen – Skeleton Goes Back To Town

In this hard rock steampunk song, we will find again eclectic tones. The vocal’s voice is deep, it reminds me of Eddie Vedder. There are certain unusual instruments here too, such as a clarinet. Overall, this theme has lots of power without the hassle.

Unextraordinary Gentlemen – Skeleton Goes Back To Town

In conclusion, steampunk music is much more than what you’ve thought of!

I hope you enjoyed our post. If you wanna check out more, go to our steampunk store homepage to find our more amazing posts.

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