Dead Rising: Bart Owl on Our Ladies of Sorrow

Ahead of their Our Ladies of Sorrow show to kick off Summerhall's Festival of Death, Bart Owl discusses the inspiration behind the spooky Eagleowl side-project and presents a freaky, creepy Day of the Dead mix

Feature by Bart Owl | 26 Oct 2016
  • Our Ladies of Sorrow

When eagleowl first started it was just a two piece. I had just moved to Edinburgh, and myself and Malcolm bonded over the music of Low and Talking Heads, and also horror cinema – particularly the visceral Italian giallo movies of the 70s and 80s. And so as the band was forming and developing, there was also something darker brooding under the surface.

Our Ladies of Sorrow is a side project that's existed almost as long as eagleowl – but since we only perform at Hallowe'en, the live shows have been much fewer. Though this is essentially our 10th anniversary year, I think it's only maybe the seventh time we've played live. But this just makes the shows we do more of an event.

I feel like since eagleowl is a very personal and honest project, Our Ladies of Sorrow is a chance to let our hair down and play around with expectations. It's a lot more theatrical. We play synth-heavy rock instrumentals inspired by Goblin and those Italian giallo soundtracks, accompanied by visuals edited together from various cult and horror movies.

Musically, the set is essentially the same each year, but I piece together a whole new set of visuals. And since there's a 'Day of the Dead' theme this year, I've been exploring Mexican and Latin American cinema – stuff like Alejandro Jodorowsky (a massive hero), Jose Mojica Marins' Coffin Joe series, (notorious Mexican witch horror) Alucarda, the recent Embrace Of The Serpent, etc. My friend Dylan bought me a DVD of The Book of Life, which is basically a big studio animation retelling the story of The Day of the Dead, but as a family movie. And for costumes, we're reprising the outfits inspired by the choir in Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre.

As if that wasn't enough work, we're essentially acting as our own backing band. At this year's Howlin' Fling – the Lost Map festival on the Hebridean island of Eigg – we teamed up with Kid Canaveral to perform a set of party covers. Dressed as nuns. It was too much fun to only do once, but we weren't allowed to use the original name of the band, as it was too rude to put on a poster. So this time we're called Bad Habitz.

It's the most fun. I feel like there's so much snobbery about bands playing covers. Of course it's great when a band takes a song and reinvents it, and really makes it their own. But there's also a certain purity in saying: "This is a great song. Let's celebrate that" – even if that song is by Cliff Richard. To get in the mood for the big night, here's a playlist of malevolent mariachi and lycanthropic latin grooves. 

Our Ladies of Sorrow and Bad Habitz play the launch party of Day of the Dead festival, 28 Oct at Summerhall. Fancy dress is encouraged. Dancing is mandatory.