The Origins of the Riot Grrrl Ethos

What is Steampunk? by Martin Rivers

What is Steampunk?

Martin Rivers  28/10/2020


“a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.”
Oxford Languages 2020

Photo: Marina Red, 2018

In 2017 Steampunk came to town or more precisely Steampunk came to Crewe. At that time I knew very little about this movement, but was immediately captivated by the diversity of people taking part, most of whom had made their own costumes and props. Individuals of all ages were involved. There were amazing contraptions, people doing magic, musical entertainment, a steampunk market, and even a time travelling tea tent for goodness sake!

That was my introduction to Steampunk and why I took a left turn into this brave new world and never looked back. The combination of fashion, outlandish contraptions and larger than life characters is a heady mix. It is also jolly good fun!

Is there a definitive style of Steampunk music? The short answer to that is no! Steampunk is a board church as far as music is concerned. It covers everything from the ‘chap-hop’ of Professor Elemental to the psychedelic rock of BB Blackdog to the burlesque of Madame Zuri Arrosa to the completely indefinable Captain of the Lost Waves. Steampunks are a pretty open minded bunch!

Is there a dark side to all this? Steampunk, especially with its elements of Victorian militarism, could be accused of romanticising notions of Empire. In its defence there are steampunks that clearly do not fit that stereotype. Some for instance, take their inspiration from the ‘old west’ of the USA or even 19th Century India. In most cases race or culture does not appear to be a barrier insofar as Steampunk is concerned.

So where can you find out more about Steampunk? YouTube is a pretty good place to start if you want to explore this genre. Steampunk is as much visual as it is audible. You may get to listen to some good music, but then again stumble across some bizarre contraptions as well as some amazing fashion. There are plenty of wild and wacky creators out there. 

Covid-19 may have put the brakes on Steampunk, but once this is all over I expect to see it arise like a steam powered phoenix from the ashes.

About the author:

Martin Rivers is a singer/songwriter. He has by his own admission “been around the block a few times''. More recently he reinvented himself as a member of the Steampunk duo Rivers & Kidd.