Tell us about the city you come from and your background.
I was raised in a working class household in Los Angeles County. It was really a hectic and exciting place to be for a youth. Both my parents worked to the bone to give my brother and I the best they could. They did a good job in my opinion. My parents instilled values such as working hard, be an individual and have goals. Also my mother is a huge light for me, she was a radical feminist in the sixties and seventies. She taught me to be a strong and an independent woman I'm seriously so grateful for both of their guidance. However, I was an extremely apprehensive kid. I discovered goth and riot Grrl at the same time at the age of 12. I was always curious about the world around me and realized how conflicted, disrupted it was and still is. I started going to shows at an early age and meeting people like me, which made my ideas of revolution, individuality and community so much stronger. Being involved in the diy punk scene in Los Angeles really shaped how I see the world to this day.
What city do you reside in? How relevant is the post-punk/goth scene?
I currently live in Portland, Oregon. I've been here for quite some time now. I first visited here when my hardcore band, Weekend Warrior was on tour. At the time I was living in Berkeley and within a few months I packed up my stuff and headed to Portland. After arriving here, a huge influx of punks started transitioning to post-punk and Goth. Bands like Deathcharge, Shadowhouse and Bellicose Minds became the staple here. I don't know if it's related to the weather or what not because here in Portland, there is such a rich scene. I feel very privileged that I can be part something full of talented artists. By winter here, it becomes a post-punk song in motion. It's pretty easy to get inspired by the dreary existence that is bestowed upon us.
Tell us how you first got into punk. & how did you first get into post-punk, goth or darkwave?
I was a very perceptive and curious kid, I hated school, I hated conformity and I always critically thought about everything. I found goth by watching punk documentaries on T.V. that my mom would make my brother and I watch and in turn I was introduced to Siouxsie and the Banshees. I was immediately in love with the sound, style and aesthetic. It captured my disenchantment with life. Literally the next day I bought 'The Scream' and that changed everything. I was really into punk rock but goth seemed to go hand in hand with one another so I never had a problem fining out about new bands from my peers. In Los Angeles, a lot of the punks used to go to goth clubs like Bar Sinister and Das Bunker. I got a fake Id and stared frequenting these clubs as well. The LA goth scene has a huge place in my heart and I'm always grateful for the experiences and influence it's had on me.
Most of us know you as the artist known as Cait Autonomy & Punk//Ritual.When did you begin creating art in general? When was Punk//Ritual born?
Ohhhh punk//ritual. I started seriously doing art when i was 24. My mentor was deeply rooted in the art community in Long Beach and he would have me submit art for gallery shows. I didn't know what the fuck I was doing back then. At this time I was only doing oil paintings resembling baroque portraits. It didn't really happen until I moved to Portland where I would do flyers for my friend’s bands. I had some positive feedback and I just went with it. With my backround in fine arts and the punkrock community I discovered myself. Punk//Ritual really embodies a diy aesthetic where we're here on this earth conscious and able. It signifies living day to day with an aggressive attitude of being strong, fierce and creative. With Ritual, it is something you do in sequence as a tradition. I'm not religious but I do practice witchcraft so the meaning just gets deeper for me you know. Magik and punkrock bottom line.
With what medium do you create your art. Does it depend on what you are working on?
Up until recently I've been using fine point pens and sharpie. I strived to achieve fine detail with high contrast. I've always worked BIG. The San la Muerte flyers I did were 17' by 20'. It would take me over a month day to night in order to finish them. I love high detail but currently I'm more into work that's more time manageable that's why I'm working with graphic design. I still draw and currently getting into tattooing but for flyers on a whim I experiment with digital art. It's new for me but I'm all about learning new trades and evolving as an artist.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
It's all cerebral and random. Day to day life triggers responses in my head and images will come to me. But to be honest most my inspiration comes to me in the shower. I seriously don't what it is, I'm just under hot water, music is playing and images flood me like a thief. After I'm all cleansed and good I'll jot down images I see in my head. It's a very cathartic experience.
Is there a message you hope to communicate with your finals products?
I haven't consciously thought of any message that I want to convey to others. Everything I do is in a dream space but consciously if I had to belt out a reason it would be to flirt with death in order to love and live your life to the fullest. Think abstract, think about sex, think about magik, think of pushing boundaries and just think of alternative spaces around you as if nothing else mattered. Life is complex, and hard but full of so many pleasures.
Did you begin creating art for yourself or for others? Is this a way of communicating with
I create art for the sake of mental survival. I'm a highly sensitive and creative person, I work shit jobs to pay rent but ultimately art is what keeps my purpose in life afloat. I want to provoke myself and others hopefully. I'm all about what's behind the glossy sheets. I just want to find out. I hope to inspire but in the end I create art to sustain my sanity.
In your eyes, is art a form of therapy for you?
Art is therapy. It is a fact that I can stand firm on. I've been through a lot in my lifetime and art has always danced with me in the best way. It sustains me and keeps me grounded. Life is a jigsaw, creating art just puts the pieces together for me.
The wonderful Cait Autonomy is also a musician, when did you first start playing music? Which instrument were you first turned onto?
Music has been such a huge element of my life. I started playing music when I was 14. It was always a way to relinquish the fleeting emotions that weighed me down. I picked up guitar at 14 and would practice as many songs in hope to play in a band someday. When I was 22 I was invited to play bass in the peace punk band Autonomy. I quickly bought a bass then and the rest is history. I'm a bassist that can play guitar and a synth and I'm ok with that.
What music projects have you been involved in in the past? Which projects are currently
I have been involved with many projects. The first band I had was at the age of 18 and it was called the Disclosed, we were a UK 82 inspired band where I sang shitty vocals. After that I got involved with peace//anarcho bands such as Autonomy and Resist & Exist. I've also been in a hardcore punk band called Weekend Warrior and an electronic//Goth band called We Are Like The Spider. Currently I play in a dark//Post-punk band here in Portland called Shadowhouse. There are more just too short to mention.
What kind of equipment/gear do you use?
I currently use an Ampeg amp with a black Rickenbacker. I have delay, overdrive and chorus pedal. Short but sweet.
Have other women reached out to you for advice with their own art/music? If so, what kind of advice to you give them?
In regards to being contacted by women in the scene, I have not besides you. I welcome it completely because still to this day the men dominate the scene. I'm all about female empowerment and supporting my fellow ladies. I'm not against men but in a perfect world we'd have a balance. I am a fierce feminist with the capacity to conquer my enemies. So with the handful of talented female identified individuals in the scene and I would love to collaborate with them. This is a shout out to you all. I support you to the end and I hope you can do the same. Much love to the ladies. As far as advice, just be yourself an don’t let social stigmas hold you down. There are so many amazing women in the scene and I’m almost positive that if you’re doubting something we will be there to help you.
When it comes to opinion/criticism in reference to the music or art you've created, do you
prefer to be vocal or passive and why?
Criticism is a touchy subject for us all. No one likes their ego and hard work destroyed. But for me personally I embrace it. I studied fine art in college and people would deconstruct my pieces but it was all from a good state of mind. Their harsh input made me a better artist in the end. It's crucial that you leave your ego at the door and really understand any positive criticism. As long if it's from a positive space I'll reconsider. But if you're just being a rude asshole I'll tell you to fuck off and never speak to you again. I don't have an ego but I do have a temper.
Tell us about the art you have submitted. How was it created?
The first piece was an idea for a leather backpatch, its labeled sex//lust. I actually ended up tattooing this on myself because I loved it so much. It’s basically a woman with her legs spread with an eye for a pussy with the four elements surrounding her. It signifies being sexually open, connected to the earth and harnessing female energy. I’m very pro-sex and feel that sexuality is a powerful force to bestow upon yourself and to others. Female sexuality especially is fucking magik and capable of inciting internal healing, just as long as it’s consensual and you are responsible and communicating. I think its very important for females to feel sexually empowered because we live in a society where females are taught to be submissive and to disregard our bodies. A quick note: Its amazing to be submissive in BDSM, I’m just referring to women feeling that they don’t have control in sexual situations.
The second piece is from the San La Muerte 2 fest. With all the imagery it really signifies the internal struggle that we all have but there are forces beyond our consciousness that can play into to develop a sense of autonomy. That’s where magik comes into light. We all have the power to create and manifest what we want out of this existence. We just need to be in tune with our minds, bodies and the universal energy that is all around us. This piece took two months to compete. I used a fine point pen, a sharpie and a lot of patience. Like I mentioned before, I usually work BIG, this piece is 17/20 inches.
The third piece is part of my new experiment with digital art. It was for a Shadowhouse show around Halloween. I do enjoy playing with textures, images and contrasts and this piece allowed me to do so. This piece doesn’t have so much meaning but more of a style aesthetic. I plan on continuing with digital art but I wont claim permanent residence.
What is your take on the post-punk/goth scene these past few years? Where do you
see the post-punk/goth scene in 2017 and beyond?
There has been a huge influx of post-punk within the last five or six years. I really can't complain, I grew up on this music so I’m pleased. Being connected to the scene I see a huge explosion with fests like Out From the Shadows, Skullfest and San La Muerte. People are getting involved in creating the new-wave of post-punk and it’s an honor to participate in. With this revival there seems to be many sub-genres. For example, Belgrado is labeled as post-punk but then you have Black Marble who is also labeled post-punk. These two bands are very different from each other aesthetically and sound wise but they fall into this category. I suppose its’ a blanket term for a movement that adheres to certain sound or image. Either way I’m into it. For the future of post-punk I hope to see more drum-machine, stage visuals and synth. Lets dance till death.
What is next for you in 2017 as far as any personal projects you are currently involved in or
will be partaking in in the future?
At the moment my main focus is Shadowhouse, we’ll be recording our second full length this February. I’m very excited about this release. The album is really complex, catchy, dark and danceable. The first album is so amazing but this one is on another level. So please stay tuned for the release will be followed by a tour. On a personal level, I’ll be in an art show in San Antonio, Texas in March. Besides that I have been producing feminist pornographic videos for fetish websites. Film production is another passion of mine. With this project I am able to experiment with light and textures while indulging into my kinky side that is a HUGE part of me. Filming and production is still at work but when its finished you’ll be able to access it at a proper domain. Ill be keeping everyone informed via Facebook and Instagram. You can find me on Facebook as Cait Allen and on Instagram as caitautonomy. As an illustrator, I’m always constructing new pieces, flash art and logos. I am looking for bands to make artwork for so if you or your band is interested you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for inquires.
Interview by Nikole Valdez