Aurelio Voltaire Hernández is a musician, animator and comic book artist popular in the goth scene and among anime and sci-fi fans. Lately he's been crossing over into Steampunk
. His most popular songs include "Brains"note
and "When You're Evil". Most of his songs poke fun at the New York City
goth scene, and anything else he either loves (Star Trek
& Star Wars
) or hates (New Jersey).
He was born in Havana, Cuba. His family moved to Jersey when he was a child (which he hated) and currently lives in New York City. He does claymation, mainly channel I.D.s, which he started when he was only 10 years old. He currently teaches stop-motion animation at The School of Visual Arts in NYC when he's not touring.
His music is mainly satirical, but some of his songs can be quite serious and deep. Most of his songs have a folk-music feel to them, though he often breaks genre barriers, going into jazz, country, even rap.
It's also the name
of one of history's most celebrated essayist, philosopher and writers. But who cares about that? He does. A lot. He recently (since 2010), started to use his first name with it, so now to find his new stuff on iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, etc., you have to search for Aurelio Voltaire. He did this due to people making new bands with "Voltaire" in them, and so his fans can find him easily. He said on his offical Facebook page:
"I got tired of there being other people releasing albums as Voltaire. There's an indie band in Germany and some American guy who makes instrumental hip hop. Like, do these people not do a fuckin' Google search before naming their bands? Anyway, it was just easier to distinguish myself from them by using my first name."
Voltaire married his long-time girlfriend, Jayme, on October 1, 2009, at the Angel Orensanz Center in New York City. Voltaire has a son, Mars, from a previous relationship, born in 1998. On September 25, 2013, Voltaire announced on his official blog, that he and his wife are getting divorced, just short of their 4 year anniversary.
Has a YouTube channel
with some of his stop motion animations, but his main account can be found here
, where he uploads music and vlogs (which he calls "Nooseletters") straight from the Lair of Voltaire, delivered alongside his literal Deadpan Snarker
friend/corpse Orville Deadenbacker.
Tropes that describe him, his music, and his animations:
- Affectionate Parody: "Coin-Operated Goi", a Jewish-themed parody of the Dresden Dolls' "Coin-Operated Boy".
- According to Voltaire himself, "Riding a Black Unicorn" is basically an affectionate homage to Iron Maiden, but it can really be seen as one to Power Metal in general. From the silly title, to the hammy cello riff and distinctly Turilli-esque violin solo, to the utterly absurd lyrics, it basically has it all.
- Angry Mob Song: "Stakes and Torches". Scimitars and bayonets; scythes, pitchforks, a sickle with a sharpened edge...
- Anti-Love Song: "My Future Ex-Girlfriend".
- Ascended Meme / A Good Name for a Rock Band: According to Word of God: "This is the title track of my new album. The album was named by a young man named Alex who posted on my Facebook page "Voltaire's music is the audio equivalent of riding a black unicorn down the side of an erupting volcano while drinking from a chalice filled with the laughter of small children." When I read that I knew I had to name the new album that! AND I knew I had to write a song called that as well. And here it is!"
- Ass Pull: Voltaire invoked this in the song "The U.S.S. Make Shit Up" as a celebration of the many ass pulls of Star Trek.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: "The Mechanical Girl" can grow to seven times her size and is armed with flamethrowers, rockets, and other powerful and destructive weaponry. Which is bad news for the king who takes her from her father and creator to try to make her his queen.
- Awesome McCoolname: His real name is Aurelio Voltaire Hernández.
- Awesome McCool Album Title: Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children.
- Badass Adorable: The Mechanical Girl, according to some character sketches Aurelio did.
- Bait and Switch: Blue-Eyed Matador. The matador thinks he's fighting The Devil in the shape of a monstrous bull for his soul. Turns out The Devil is the beautiful woman in the stands, distracting him from the bull instead.
- Badass Mustache: Well, technically there's also a beard, but who cares?
- Bawdy Song: Zombie Prostitute, to name one.
- Being Evil Sucks: Initially mentioned in the last verse of "When You're Evil" but immediately subverted as it's revealed to be a lie.
- Berserk Button: If you're planning to visit or attend SVA, do not bug him during one of his classes.
- The Big Easy: The setting of Don't Go By the River.
- Bishōnen: It isn't too noticeable in his recent pictures, but his pictures on Facebook reveal that he looked a lot like Prince in the 80s.
- Black Comedy: "Dead": "There's an infant that's been torn apart, now he's dead!"
- Black Comedy Rape: Cantina.
- Brain Bleach: If you have a vivid imagination, then the mental images that Cantina gives you are this. Or Fetish Fuel.
- "The Trouble with Tribbles" is that they're fluffy and they're cute but you can never find the hole. Then there's the solution.
- Brain Food: BRAINS! G'dur.
- Breakup Song: "See You In Hell", along with several other songs from Boo Hoo (a breakup album).
- Bullfight Boss: "Blue Eyed Matador".
- Butt Monkey: Poor Luke Skywalker in Cantina.
- Captain Obvious: There is a good bit of this in the first two verses or so in the song "Dead".
"There a girl with a hole in her heart/ and she's... Dead!"
- Captured by Cannibals: "Cannibal Buffet".
- Card-Carrying Villain: "When You're Evil" is essentially one of these simply talking about how much fun he has in being a villain, "cause it's so easy when you're evil."
- The Casanova: "Welcome to the World".
- Claymation: He does it and teaches it.
- Commie Land: And it seems he still liked it better than Joisey!
- The Cover Changes The Gender: Done in typically beautiful fashion in "Bachelor(ette)", his Perspective Flipped cover of the Björk song.
- Cranky Neighbor:
- Voltaire has to deal with one in "When You're Dead."
- He is the Cranky Neighbor in "The Man Upstairs".
- Curse Cut Short: "The Dirtiest Song That Ain't" is riddled with this. It's the entire point of the song.
- Cute Monster Girl: She's a rotten kind of cute, to be exact.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Voltaire himself could be considered a living example. Althought his gloomy look he's known to be funny, nice and ironic.
- Defictionalization: His forthcoming album Raised By Bats is based on the album released by a character in his novel Call of the Jersey Devil.
- Despair Event Horizon: "Feathery Wings". A guardian angel ala It's a Wonderful Life, trying to earn his wings and get back to Heaven, but his success rate apparently isn't so hot, so he's stuck here. In the final verse he has a complete breakdown, sobbing about how much he hates it here and how alone he feels since the mortals at least get to leave.
- Disposable Sex Worker:
- One of the options for hookers available at the disreputable brothel Cathouse Tragedy (From the song of the same name) is dead.
- "Zombie Prostitute" is about the aftermath.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The Emcee of ''The Straightrazor Cabaret" attacks and mutilates members of the audience he thinks aren't enjoying the show enough.
- Double Entendre: "The Sexy Data Tango". Techno Babble never sounded so dirty.
- Dragon Is A Daddy: The aesop in the song "Crusade" is delivered via invoking this trope.
- Driven to Suicide:
- Underground. Being dead and buried doesn't make getting dumped by the most wonderful woman in the world any less painful. Ultimately defied as the POV character ends the song having decided that the best revenge is not to kill himself, but instead to live long enough to dance on her grave.
- The opening lines of Feathery Wings imply that this is the sort of thing the angel is trying to prevent. "Trying" being the operative word.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: "Zombie Prostitute", "Reggae Mortis".
- Felony Misdemeanor: In Bomb New Jersey one of the first reasons he lists why that state sucks is "They all wear jeans that are Acid Wash, and yet they think I'm insane!"
- Filk Song: His forays into the sci-fi filk scene are very memorable. (Google "Sexy Data Tango". Or you could listen to Cantina.)
- For the Evulz: "When You're Evil" is pretty much this trope's unofficial theme song.
- Freudian Excuse: The Chosen, a song from the POV of a (very insane) serial killer.
First time I had sex was three
First time consenting was 13.
- Glasgow Grin: "The Straight Razor Cabaret".
- Greedy Jew: Nodded to in "Coin-Operated Goi", which concerns the efforts of a heavily-accented Jew to convert the eponymous goi into "a coin-operated Jew, just like me and you".
- A Hell of a Time: There's an amusing double-subversion of this in "Death Death (Devil Devil Evil Evil Songs)".
- Humans Are Bastards: The song "Oh Lord (Wake the Dead)" is mostly about this.
They act like rabid monkeys, chained up at the zoo,
And The Bible
says that each of us is modeled after you.
Well hell that should offend you Lord, if it does here's what you do.
You just look down, shake your head.
- Hurricane of Puns: If you can listen to "Cannibal Buffet" all the way through without at least smiling, you have no soul.
Oh, trouble was afoot — they were eatin' mine
Toein' the party line,
I was startin' to feel, "these guys are heels"
But, the truth be told, these cannibals have got sole
Hey, numbskull, look at me, I got a bone to pick with thee
You ain't humerus, stop ribbin' me
Have a spine, bone up on settin' me free.
- Hypocritical Humor: Every verse of "God Thinks" ends with some variation of "God hates people putting words in his mouth".
- I Love the Dead: "Dead Girls" and "Zombie Prostitute"
- I Will Wait for You: "The Sea".
- "I stand under moors / Searching a sea of blue/ And forever more, I'll wait here for you."
- Also in "Anastasia".
- I'm a Man, I Can't Help It: "It's Normal For A Man."
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Almost Human depicts the devil as this. He's such a loser you feel sorry for him.
- Infant Immortality: Averted in "Dead".
There's an infant that's been torn apart, now he's... Dead!
- Ironic Echo: The chorus to "Crusade", and it gains another layer every time it comes around.
- Large Ham: Basically in every song he acts like this.
- Least Rhymable Word: a hilarious example from "Straight Razor Cabaret." On his YouTube page, he said that "face raper" was the only thing he could think of that rhymed with "straight razor." When it was pointed out to him that the two phrases don't actually rhyme, he decided he didn't care.
- List Song: "God Thinks" is a list of various claims of people claiming it "God's message", with a few of his own thrown in.
- Long Title: "Death Death (Devil, Devil, Devil, Devil, Evil, Evil, Evil, Evil Song)" Which is why he and the fans usually shorten it to "Death Death etc."
- "Riding on A Black Unicorn Down The Side of An Erupting Volcano While Drinking From A Chalice Filled With The Laughter of Small Children". He doesn't even fit it all on the album cover.
- Losing Your Head: In the song "The Headless Waltz."
- The Masochism Tango: "Stuck With You" is about a couple arguing and listing off all the horrible things they've done to each other... with an ending that's fifty percent Bittersweet and fifty percent squick.
- Manly Tears: From "The Ship's Going Down:"
"For my son I had always a plan, for to raise him as best as I can. / Oh well you can bet, my only regret is to not see him grow to a man."
- Mood Whiplash: "Beast of Pirate's Bay". "Well, Blackbeard the Pirate, you know for what he's feared. [...] His beard turned white and all agree, He looks like Santa Claus." A just a tiny bit later: "This mighty whale was in such pain, we both began to cry."
- Mr. Fanservice: Tall, Dark and Handsome is he not?
- Murder Ballad: "Ex-Lover's Lover".
- Name's the Same: Let it Go, despite it being more about letting go of anger and rage.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: He describes himself on his MySpace profile as a "Neo-Victorian gypsy pirate vaudeville band."
- His album, "Hate Lives in a Small Town" adds Country to this mash-up, and has been simply called "Gothic Country" by some of his fans.
- New Sound Album: Almost all of his albums have a slightly different sound to them.
- Nice Hat: Among them, a top hat and a black gatsby.
- Noodle Incident: Just what happened to him in New Jersey anyway? note
- Off with His Head!: in the song "The Headless Waltz."
- One of Us: He wrote the "Sexy Data Tango", amongst a plethora of other Star Trek and Star Wars related songs, and is incredibly proud of his work with Cartoon Network.
I was on a plane...so I started watching that TV, y'know, the little TVs they have on the backs of people's heads on the plane?...So anyway, I was flipping through the channels, and I came up on Cartoon Network, and as it happened, they were playing a movie called Billy and Mandy's
Big Boogey Adventure. I wrote and preformed the title track for this movie. So I'm sitting there and I'm looking at it and I'm like (
makes incredulous, happy face) and then I realize I have no one to tell. I can't even use my phone! So eventually I just can't contain my enthusiasm and I start yelling "That's me! That-that that's me!"
- Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Dunce is all about this. The lyrics lament the fact that the narrator always says something offensive.
- Otaku: Voltaire loves Lolita and also Japanese things it seems, though he also mocks it, especially in his comic Deady Big in Japan, which poked fun at every Japanese cliche he could fit.
- The image of him on his live album cover is chibified.
- Pep Talk Song/Self Empowerment Anthem: "Innocent," to everyone who is dealing with bullying.
- Perky Goth: Despite the goth look and generally dark songs, he can be a funny guy.
- Perspective Flip: Aside from Bachelor(ette), there's Day of the Dead. In English is about a tourist getting freaked out when undead start showing up to party for Day of the Dead. The Spanish version? One of the Mexican natives laughing at the tourist in the English version.
- Pointy Ears: On several album covers, before getting an operation to give himself Real Life pointy ears.
- Raised by Wolves: 'Raised By Bats'
- Red Shirt: His song, "Expendable" from BiTrektual, is all about this trope.
- Religion Rant Song: Several, most notably "God Thinks", "Hell in a Handbasket" and "Oh Lord (Wake the Dead)".
- Robosexual: The king in his new song "The Mechanical Girl". King's wife leaves him and runs off with his steed, king demands inventor's robotic replacement-for-a-dead-daughter as his new wife, king tries to sleep with said robot, she attacks him with rocket launchers and flamethrowers, kills him and lays his kingdom to waste, returns home to dad. Lesson: Never steal a man's daughter from him. Especially if she has rocket launchers and flamethrowers. He was going to pitch a show based on this...
- "The Sexy Data Tango", obviously.
- Robot Girl: "The Mechanical Girl".
- Satan Is Good: A concept explored in "Almost Human".
- Scooby-Doo Hoax: The so-called "Beast" in The Beast of Pirate's Bay is actually just a beached whale that had tried to escape from whalers. The narrator tried to help it get out to sea when he was a boy, but the only thing he could do was keep people away by writing a sign and making up stories to scare people off.
- See You in Hell: The song of the same name.
- Shout-Out: In the song To the Bottom of the Sea, right after the stanza "Down at the bottom were treasures galore/But guarding so greedily/Was an angry horde of skeletons with swords/Down at the bottom of the sea!", you can hear someone shout "For the Horde!"
- He gives one to himself in "Alchemy Mondays", when he says, "Hold everything, they're playing my song..." The music stops, and we're treated to a line from "When You're Evil".
- There's also this bit from "The Vampire Club": "Dressed in black from toe to head/Singing, 'Bela Lugosi's still undead!'" Both songs are each basically a long Shout-Out and Affectionate Parody of the New York City goth scene from start to finish, with tongue-in-cheek references to real people. And are thus Crowning Moments Of Funny for those familiar with the scene.
- There are also plenty of allusions to or paraphrasings of lines from "Bohemian Rhapsody" in "Hell in a Handbasket".
- "Graveyard Picnic" is basically a long love letter to Edgar Allan Poe.
- "Don't Go By The River" has a Shout-Out to Lestat.
- Bitrektual, aside from the obvious Star Trek and Star Wars, also has lines referring to or quoting Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Babylon 5, Stargate, Galaxy Quest...
- South of the Border - "Day of the Dead"
- Space Whale Aesop: The aesop of "The Mechanical Girl".
Never take a child away from a loving parent. Especially not ones who make children who shoot rockets from their eyes.
- Stealth Pun: An easily missed one from "When You're Evil". It's rather brilliant, seeing as the meaning completely changes depending on how you're hearing it.
To the gentlemen, I'm Misfortune; to the ladies, I'm Surprise
(To the gentlemen, I'm Miss Fortune; to the ladies, I'm Sir Prize)
- Stock Ness Monster: "Beast of Pirate's Bay". May also constitute as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. Also mentioned in "To the Bottom of the Sea".
- Straight Gay: Han Solo, apparently, in Cantina.
I never would've that pirate was a homo.
- Take That:
- "God Thinks" has the immortal lines, "And I... I know what God thinks: God thinks you're an idiot!"
- Another one in "Hell in a Handbasket": "Oh, good Lord... we both know Hell don't exist - Except in the minds of the poor fools who believe!"
- "Bomb New Jersey" is all about how much Voltaire wants to take revenge against New Jersey for sucking so much.
- "Hell in a Handbasket" has another jab at New Jersey, when he says he'd rather be dead and in Hell than "alive and kicking in Jersey anyday".
- "Death Death (Devil, Devil, Devil, Devil, Evil, Evil, Evil, Evil Song)" has a shot at George W. Bush.
- He changed the lyrics to "Vampire Club" from targeting whiny, pretentious patrons at goth clubs to making fun of Twilight.
- The Something Song: "The Happy Song". Also "Love Song", but that's a cover of The Cure.
- Under the Sea: "To the Bottom of the Sea".
- Unexpected Genre Change:
- Ooky Spooky had swing music on it similar in style to Cab Calloway (though this seems to have been permanently added to his repertoire now, and appeared earlier in "Brains"). Then came Hate Lives in a Small Town... a country album.
- He divulged in an interview a short lived idea for a Star Wars themed Hip-Hop album named "Republic Enemy"
- He debuted his 'country' songs on his summer 2010 tour and they don't sound too different from the stripped down arrangements of his normal songs, other than the lyrics not being about Goth culture and Star Trek...
- Unicorn: Voltaire's unicorn from the cover of "Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children" is big, black and badass.
- Villain Song: "When You're Evil" is one of his most popular songs.
- Also "Brains".
- "Death Death (Devil, Devil, Devil, Devil, Evil, Evil, Evil, Evil Song)"
- "Almost Human" starts out as one, with Satan spitting out his lines defiantly, until a little way through when it morphs into his Villainous Breakdown.
- The Villain Sucks Song: "Robber Baron" could qualify.
- What Could Have Been: With his primary language being Spanish, it would have been cool that he also sang "Brains" in Spain and Latin America.
- He does at least have a version of Day of the Dead in Spanish.
- Zombie Apocalypse:
- "Brains" with the The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy using the song to boot. The alien turns the entire town into mindless zombies within the show.
- "Fear and Anguish", "Zombie Prostitute", and "Reggae Mortis". "Zombie Prostitute" and "Reggae Mortis" both feature zombies, but the only one that can really be described as an apocalypse is "Fear and Anguish". Even there it was only one zombie which just annnounced the horrors to come before collapsing.