Aurelio Voltaire Hernández (born January 25, 1967) 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 Steam Punk. 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 and 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 essayists, philosophers, 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 official 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.
Voltaire has also become an active YouTuber, and his "Lair of Voltaire" can be found here, where he uploads music and vlogs (which he calls "Nooseletters"), as well as a home decorating web series titled Gothic Homemaking, all delivered alongside his literal Deadpan Snarker friend/corpse Orville Deadenbacker.
- The Devil's Bris (1998)
- Almost Human (2000)
- Banned on Vulcan (2001)
- Boo Hoo (2002)
- Then and Again (2004)
- Deady Sings! (2004)
- Zombie Prostitute... (2006)
- Live! (2006)
- Ooky Spooky (2007)
- To the Bottom of the Sea (2008)
- Hate Lives in a Small Town (2010)
- Spooky Songs for Creepy Kids (2010)
- Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children (2011)
- BiTrektual (2012)
- Raised by Bats (2014)
- Heart-Shaped Wounds (2017)
- What are The Oddz? (2019)
Tropes that describe him, his music, and his animations:
- AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: From the chorus of "The Industrial Revolution (and how it Ruined my Life)":"The in-du-stri-AL re-VO-lu-TION"
- 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. In fact, the whole final chorus is the page quote.
- 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 McCool Name: His real name is Aurelio Voltaire Hernandez.
- 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.
- "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.
- "The Beast of Pirate's Bay" as well. You spend the entire song thinking the titular beast is going to be some horrible ugly monster...but it turns out in the final verse to be an injured, beached whale that the singer put the sign up, and created the song, to protect.
- 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 it's immediately revealed to be a lie.
- Berserk Button: If you're planning to visit or attend The School of Visual Arts in New York City, do not bug him during one of his classes.
- The Big Easy: The setting of "Don't Go by the River".
- Black Comedy: "Dead:" "There's an infant that's been torn apart, now he's dead!"
- Black Comedy Rape: Cantina. Oh good lord, Cantina.
- Brain Bleach: If you have a vivid imagination, then the mental images that "Cantina" gives you are this.
- Brain Food: BRAINS! G'dur.
- Break-Up Song:
- "See You in Hell," along with several other songs from Boo Hoo (a breakup album).
- Most of the songs on Heart-Shaped Wounds are also breakup songs, written either after his divorce with his wife or his breakup with his subsequent girlfriend.
- 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 man described in "They Know Me" fits this as well; he unabashedly steals from anyone and believes he can get away with it just because he donates to the church. It doesn't end well for him.
- The Casanova: "Welcome to the World."
- Claymation: He does it and teaches it.
- Comedic Sociopathy: The Spanish version of "Day Of The Dead" is about one of the residents feeling the utter schadenfreude of the hapless American tourist's misfortune.
- 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. Although his gloomy look he's known to be funny, nice, and ironic.
- Deal with the Devil: "The Devil and Mr. Jones" has an actor have the Devil and an angel have the man go either which way. The Devil tells him; "This is your fate, Mr. Jones, my dear! / Said the Devil to dear Mr. Jones / "You'll be loved by the millions and great at your task / but no one will see who is under the mask! / Cover your face, Mr. Jones, my dear / It gets hot as hell under the foam / and, like me, you will be in a crowd yet all alone..."
- Despair Event Horizon: "Feathery Wings." A guardian angel a la 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 MC 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.
- "It's Bigger on the Inside" plays with this as well.
- Dragons Are Demonic: In "Crusade". Subverted, as it turns out the dragon isn't anywhere near as evil as the narrator believed.
- 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" and "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 threeFirst time consenting was 13.
- Generation Xerox: Implied by the ending of "Crusade".
- "Getting Ready for Bed" Plot: In "Goodnight, Demon Slayer", a dad puts his kid to bed and convinces them that they're a demon slayer who can kill even the devil so that the kid won't be scared of demons.
- Glasgow Grin: "The Straight Razor Cabaret."
- Goth: And a dedicated one at that. According to his friend and colleague Frank Greshim, the two once took a skiing trip together, and Voltaire wore full goth garb, complete with guyliner and black hair dye, under his snowsuit.
- 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."
- Groin Attack: What happened at the end of Death Death (Devil Devil Evil Evil Songs)The Devil said, "Come here, young man,
My wife and I are your biggest fans!"
So naturally, I felt I had it made.
But then he Reached into an iron chest
And he picked the tool that he felt was best
And then he jabbed me, in the schlong
With a pitchfork that had sharpened prongs!
He turned to me, and winked and sang this song
- Guyliner: Part of his regular attire.
- Hair-Raising Hare: The song Bunnypocalypse where the world is taken over by hordes of zombie rabbits.
- A Hell of a Time:
- There's an amusing double subversion of this in "Death Death (Devil Devil Evil Evil Songs)."
- Played straight in "Land of the Dead" where he sings about how great it is to rule in the underworld.
- 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.
- "It's Bigger on the Inside" is basically one long dick joke.
- 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."
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Trope Namer is revealed to be a rebel plot in "Expendable", with Biggs Darklighter encouraging the worst shots he can find to enlist.
- 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!
- In the Style of...: He remixed his own song "The Night" in the style of an 1988 Deathrock song for the Raised By Bats album.
- 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."
- Monster Is a Mommy: The actual Dragon in the song "Crusade". Its An Aesop interpretation relies on a "updated" history knowledge; cause of the songs namesakes provides a additional layer irony to such a interpretation.
- 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" is about a man who plots the death of his girlfriend's current lover, with various means of disposing the body suggested. It's different from most Murder Ballad examples in that the singer chickens out at the end.
- My God, What Have I Done?: In "Crusade," the main character has this reaction when he finds out that the dragon was only fighting to protect his young.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly:
- 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."
- Older Than They Look: Doesn't quite look fifty, does he?
- Open Mouth, Insert Foot: "Dunce" is all about this. The lyrics lament the fact that the narrator always says something offensive.
- Otaku: Voltaire loves Elegant Gothic 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.
- Out-of-Genre Experience:
- 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...
- 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.
- Place Worse Than Death: New Jersey, clearly if "Bomb New Jersey" and "Hell in a Handbasket" are any indication.
- Pointy Ears: On several album covers, before getting an operation to give himself Real Life pointy ears.
- Pun: Often, but BiTrektual stands out as just blatantly obvious. The fact that the cover of the album has Voltaire cosplaying Clone Wars-era Obi-Wan Kenobi MAKING OUT with Hiraku Sulu (complete with Foot Popping from Sulu).
- Raised by Wolves: "Raised by Bats".
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: In "Ravens Land":Ravens land upon her hair
Clouds adrift on her skin
- 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 Funny Moments 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 from The Vampire Chronicles.
- Bitrektual, aside from the obvious Star Trek and Star Wars, also has lines referring to or quoting: Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Babylon 5, Stargate SG-1, Galaxy Quest, among others.
- 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 Heartwarming Moment. Also mentioned in "To the Bottom of the Sea."
- Stop Being Stereotypical: The original version of "Vampire Club' is one towards particuarlly pretentious goths he often saw at clubs.
- 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.
- Take That, Audience!: Voltaire's "Live" album contains a few monologues, some of which insult the audience a bit.Voltaire: So, does anybody here watch "Cartoon Network"?
Voltaire: Excellent, excellent. A bunch of unemployed people in the house...
- The Something Song: "The Happy Song". Also "Lovesong", but that's a cover of The Cure.
- Under the Sea: "To the Bottom of the Sea."
- 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.
- 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 announced the horrors to come before collapsing.