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Paint it Black: The Dancing Plague of 1518 is Darkly Contagious

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It’s a common mistake of young musicians to pick a name with historical context that will rank the band higher in Google results. But it strangely works in favor of Spokane darkwave artist Connor Knowles, who’s performing name, The Dancing Plague of 1518 brings back search results that only increase the intrigue about his already intriguing blend of rumbling synths, Bauhaus-esque vocals and dark pop melodies. The Dancing Plague of 1518 will be performing at Johnny B’s in Medford, and Knowles took the time to answer a few questions for The Messenger to preview the show.

RVM: Your name is a fairly literal reference to the historical dancing plague of 1518 that killed 400 people in Strasbourg. Why did you choose it?

CK: Well I’m a big history buff and also just a lover of weird facts and things, so often I read a lot of blogs about weird historical occurrences and strange happenings and one day I just came across the dancing plague and thought it sounded cool, it doesn’t have any more significance than that.  

RVM: What drew you to your sound?

CK:  I’ve just always been into darker styles of music, I discovered Joy Division in early High School and that kind of altered my taste to more goth/post-punk vibes. I feel like the main artists that inspire me (besides Joy Division) are The Smiths, The Cure, Lowlife, The Human League, and also more contemporary artists like All Your Sisters, Drab Majesty, Cold Showers, Black Marble, and many others. But also, I just naturally feel like I write dark music by default of my personality so it kind of just makes sense all around.

RVM: How interlinked do you feel goth music and goth culture are? Does that work for or against you?

CK: I don’t know if there’s really a difference, I think they’re completely interlinked, honestly. And I’d have to say it definitely works for me, I’d like to consider myself part of the goth community.

RVM: Why did you choose a solo act over a full band?

CK: Playing by myself is just easier in every aspect; I can play shows whenever I want, I can write whatever I want, and I don’t have to worry about anyone else. When you’re playing alone you can get the exact sound that you want and don’t have to worry about compromising with someone else’s vision, it’s just an all-around more relieving and stress-free process.  

RVM: So…. Two EPs, no LPs. What’s going on there?

CK: Just wait…  

RVM: What are you looking for or trying to do when you write a song?

CK: Writing is usually a way for me to deal with depression and anxiety or an emotionally crippling experience, so I guess I’m usually just trying to get out everything I want/need to say to help myself get over something or feel better somehow.

RVM: How much of your live set is live, and how much is sequenced? Why?

CK: The drums, bass, some backing synths, and some reverb/chorus vocal trails are usually all I have sequenced in backing tracks. I sing, play guitar and play synth live. Certain things have to be backing tracks just out of the mere fact that I’m a solo performer and can’t play everything live.

RVM: Will this be your first time performing in Southern Oregon? Any thoughts or expectations?

CK: : Yeah this’ll be my first time in Southern Oregon. I’m not sure what to expect, I think it’ll be fun no matter what but I hope there’s some goth fans!


The Dancing Plague of 1518

9 pm Tue., October 17

Johnny B’s, 120 E. Sixth St., Medford




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