Nick Cave, the aesthetic of Gothicism, spirituality, and darkness

In an interview, that didn’t happen in five years with the rocker musician, novelist, and multi instruments Australian artist; Nick Cave. The 63 years old artist seems to reveal much of a mature, calmer attitude than his younger self, that he has no regrets nor nostalgic yearning too. During the two hours long interview, Cave approaches different topics such as writing, literature, and grief, in the age of pandemic and lockdown.

Just as the rocker Leonard Eochen, whose work was deeply focused on loneliness, solitude, and the liberation of sexual expression. Cave tends to have similar tendencies which he has followed along his journey as a musician, who has released over 20 albums since 1977.

  Early Childhood & Spirituality

Nick Cave was raised by his Australian parents. His father was an English literature teacher, who was interested in theater and the written word.

Nick Cave was in the Wangaratta Cathedral Choir for three years, attending church two or three times a week. It was there that he became familiar with the stories of the Bible. These stories had a profound effect on him and became the basis of many of his songs, continuing up to the present time. The priest over there noticed that he has a natural singing voice that would allow him to be a lead vocalist.

Although Cave doesn’t consider himself as Christian, but the life of Christ, and the way Christ’s life was pictured, with lots of sorrow, melody, and the humanist side of his life, and it’s tragic, had its influences on Cave the most, of which he has lots of borrowing from the Bible that he find it rich, and he reads the new testament.

I have never considered myself a Christian as such, but the Bible has always spoken to me in a way that other religious texts don’t. I don’t know how much this has to do with nostalgia and reliving my childhood, or just the sheer majesty of the actual texts themselves. I don’t know, but the Christian stories just captured me and never really let me go.

During his childhood, Cave and his parents were listening to Johnny Cash, who was a representation of the rebellious side of music, and who was an evil force of the music, yet rock music to his father never been sacred.

At the age of 13, Cave’s father decided that it was fatal for him to pass him his knowledge by taking him to a room, and locking it behind them, and start reading him Shakespeare, and others. At those times, his father read him Lolita, and the power of language of the novel, had left its influence on Nick Cave ever since.

An Outcast Student

Just as how teens are drawn to find themselves falling into troubles, Cave and his friend at the age of 12, got themselves on trouble, when they missed up with 16 years old student at their school, of which her size was two times their sizes, and out punishment, under the charge of sexual harassing Cave ended up being sent to a public school, which so far seems to be leading him into lots of bad paths, of which namely drugs.

After that, and at the age of 18, Nick Cave had articulated his mind to join the art school in Australia. He was highly encouraged by his family to be a painter. In his first year, he was in the first class of his colleagues, the second year, he was kicked out of the university due to the educational system institution and their concerns about his, what so-called “sleazy” art.

Nick was very impressed and astonished by the gothic religious German painting, and he seemed to be craving into his aesthetic interest, and he no longer wanted to be his father’s student, and there were conflicts arises.

Things were getting critical between Nick and his father, who has dismissed that Nick shares with many times. When Nick was 19 years old, his father died in a car accident, and as how he quoted from the poet W.H Auden, every child has to go through a certain tragedy that changes everything for him, and that was the strikes. Without that being said, that left a huge impact on Nick, and feeds him with the energy to prove himself, to find his way, and to fight for it, with the memories of his loss of his father always on his head, and his intention of writing song lyrics within his words.

A force, so driven by darkness and faith

After quitting school, and during 1976 and 1977 when Cave and his brother got into lots of heavy music, and it was the era of punk music; Iggy Pop, Cash, and others more. 

Nick Cave formed his band “The Boys Next Door” in 1977 with his brother, and they continuously play for the same audience, in their small town, and there wasn’t much improvement.

In 1985, cave decided to travel into Berlin, Germany, and there he was the reigning king of darkness in Berlin. He began being very known, and a kind of a local hero that has its influence on the people, among the dark and grungy places and bars, and they’re one of the German film directors has features him in one of his movies; Wings Of Desires, 1987.

Cave was very inspired by Gothicism, and many southern gothic writer such as O’Connor.

He locked himself for five years in his apartment working on his first gothic novel “And The Ass Saw An Angel”.

The story of the outcasts and the spirit of rebellion and the romantic melodic concept of two individuals fighting against the whole world was all that Nick’s themes are about. The world to Cave seems to be a place of punishment. Another reason why music like the blues, and the African American singers like John Lee that he know when he was 19 or 20, and Nina Simon, who has both of them, had a musical cooperation with Nick.

Love, Passion & Children

Nick Cave’s all approaches and obsession with work, was all a form of self-proving himself, and a kind of memory of his father that kept hunting him. The death of his father had left a void out of his chest that wasn’t filled until later. He has such a focused and disciplined attitude, and he defecate himself to his works even in wasted entertainment like the underground bars of Germany.

Cave moved afterward to Brazil, which has different energy and environment with it, and there he was married to the journalist Viviane Carneiro, whom she bore him his first child; Luke, who had completely filled his life.

Nick wrote many love letters to his Brazilian ex-wife; Viviane Carneiro on his album

During that he got to know his wife; Susie Bick which he knows by a mutual friend, during 1997.

The first time I saw Susie was at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and when she came walking in, all the things I had obsessed over for all the years – pictures of movie stars, Jenny Agutter in the billabong, Anita Ekberg in the fountain, Ali MacGraw in her black tights, images from the TV when I was a kid, Barbara Eden and Elizabeth Montgomery and Abigail, Miss World competitions, Marilyn Monroe and Jennifer Jones and Bo Derek and Angie Dickinson as Police Woman, Maria Falconetti and Suzi Quatro, Bolshoi ballerinas and Russian gymnasts, Wonder Woman and Barbarella and supermodels and Page 3 girls, all the endless, impossible fantasies, the young girls at the Wangaratta pool lying on the hot concrete, Courbet’s Origin of the World, Bataille’s bowl of milk, Jean Simmons’ nose ring, all the stuff I had heard and seen and read, advertising and TV commercials, billboards and fashion spreads and Playmate of the Month, Caroline Jones dying in Elvis’s arms, Jackie O in mourning, Tinker Bell trapped in the drawer – all the continuing, never-ending drip feed of erotic data came together at that moment in one great big crash bang and I was lost to her and that was that.

and he falls with, and she bore him a twin. He wrote her that poem.

Lost, Grief & Solitude

“It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. That’s the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable.”

In 2016, one of Nick Cave’s twin dies out of an injury, and that lift its effect on Nick and his Album, and Ghostteen, which has more of a calmer aesthetic towards it.

During Nick’s son’s death, Nick avoided interviews and lots of those activities. The documentary 2014 captured a part of the grieving that the family was going through.

Writing as a way of making sense, and connecting with the world

Despite the lockdown that took a place all over the world, Nick Cave and Christian Back were both working together on Nick Cave Exhibition that was archiving for lots of stages in Nick’s life.

On an interview that never takes a place for five years, Nick made lots of statements about the mechanisms or writing, on a digitized world, and although he still loves the handwriting but he talked about how computer works. Lockdown was such an experience for us to look inward and Nick took that as an opportunity and he writes lots of song lyrics, along with his book that was released last November.

Talking about technology, Nick has his website which is named “Nick Cave and The red Files” of which he stays in contact with his fan base.

Nick, just as a Virgo mercury, believes in the power of writing, as a way of making sense of the world, and also connecting people. Nick’s lyrics and music have lots of elements and themes that are not just sad and love songs. Nick made up lots of characters, the evil, the violence, the terror, the rebellious mom-punk. All of which are narrative songs, but Nick now is seeming to be drifting away from the concept of narrative, because life to him is not a straight-line story.

In the end, I’m not interested in that which I fully understand. The words I have written over the years are just a veneer. There are truths that lie beneath the surface of the words… truths that rise up without warning, like the humps of a sea monster and then disappear. What performance and song is to me is finding a way to tempt the monster to the surface, to create a space, where the creature can break through what is real and what is known to us. This shimmering space, where imagination and reality intersect… this is where all love and tears and joy exist. This is the place. This is where we live.

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