FOR most of us, Halloween is, at best, a chance to dress up and indulge in a bit of pumpkin carving. For many, it’s just a time to stock up on sweets in case the local trick or treaters come calling. For singer-songwriter Brocarde though, it means so much more.

The Witney artist and fashion designer– real name Alayna Salter – finds peak inspiration in the dark and gothic, the gloomy symbolism, the exploration of the shadowy side of our imagination and willing acceptance of the unashamedly, creatively weird.

“Halloween is such a fascinating and enthralling time of year,” she says.

“The theatrics, the dark aesthetics, it’s the one day when the world feels like it’s on the same page as me.

“Halloween is like what my imagination looks like all year round. I find dark haunting imagery inspiring and I love capturing people with intense words, they seem to resonate so deeply with those who sit outside of the ordinary.”

Brocarde picked up fans, in fact, with her deliciously Halloween-inspired single Twisted – the follow-up to her debut single Last Supper.

Oxford Mail: Brocarde

Her Love Me Till I’m Beautiful EP saw her teaming up with Korn drummer Ray Luzier and was followed by her take on a Christmas single, Waiting for January. A melancholy affair, it showcased the harsh reality of last year’s Covid restrictions – complete with socially-isolated video.

The season also inspires her clothing designs – such as dresses and jackets with her lyrics and poetry embroidered across the chest. A literal interpretation of wearing your heart on your sleeve, they have been worn by Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.

She is, she admits, an emotionally intense woman fascinated with the obscure, who has built her own unique world, a one woman brand, inspired by the spooky who crafts words and music which deeply resonates so deeply with those who sit outside of the ordinary.

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“I’ve always wanted to be a performer,” she says. “It’s the running theme to my life.

“Growing up I constantly wanted to be on stage, it wasn’t until much later on I realised that my love of words and visuals was always there, even in primary school. Growing up I always felt like I was walking a tightrope of expectations; I had so much I wanted to express and I didn’t always know how.

“I can remember hiding in the playground and writing lyrics and poetry, it’s was where my imagination came alive. I used to be obsessed with books. I’d read a book a day; I was fascinated by how they triggered my imagination and took me on a journey somewhere.”

Her writing was the purest form of escapism. It still is – and diverted her from her other ambition, of a career in Law.

Oxford Mail: Brocarde

She confides: “When I started writing I wanted to take people on a journey, somewhere, anywhere! I mean if you could take someone anywhere would it be on a double decker bus ride to Carterton or fierce roller coaster ride down a sumptuous velvet encrusted rabbit hole?

“The funny thing about life is some people like the bus ride to Carterton. Is that what normal is? I’m not sure I can relate; I’ve never believed in normal. I’ve always had that thing, where I feel like I don’t quite fit and there’s times in my life that it’s been a painful feeling but I’ve leant that it’s that emotion and those feelings that give me a voice, they give me something to say and a point of view, so for every room I didn’t fit into I gained a thousand words and wrote a song about it.

“In many ways Halloween is just that a celebrate of what doesn’t fit – the weird and wonderful, an adventure into the beauty of darkness.

“Why are people so scared of things that are different from them? It’s a fascinating topic to analyse. I do that a lot, analysing is part of my songwriting process and it’s great for processing all the emotions I go through.”

The appeal of her music, is its sheer individuality. There’s nothing quite like it. While engaging, there’s nothing commercial or obvious, and it’s a world away from the cynical box-ticking radio-friendly, but ultimately disposable, pop and rock with which we are bombarded.

Inspired by her most painful moments, she describes it as “taking beauty from darkness”. And they encompass the full box set of human emotions, from humour and satire to malevolence and raw unapologetic fragility. It’s symphonic rock with a soft centre.

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“Musically and aesthetically it took me a long time to find my voice,” she admits.

“I was battling people for years over what I should look like and what I should sound like. When you’re younger you listen, or if you’re me you half listen and end up with something that is trapped half-way between what you want and what someone else is trying to make you.

“Becoming Brocarde was’ my way or the highway’. Arrogant, I know, but as a fully grown adult I think I know who I am better than anyone else and having that confidence and passion to follow my gut in such an uncompromising way is liberating.

“In the past I’d heard so many rules about fashion and music. I mean rules! These are the arts. If I wanted rules I would’ve stuck with my other secret ambition, to be a lawyer.

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“I couldn’t see any rules. If I wanted to mix an orchestra with a blood curdling scream... why not? Storytelling doesn’t work if you edit out the bits other people are uncomfortable with. I also couldn’t see why creating a 360 world where music, clothing, words and style were all celebrated was so absurd to people. At the very least I had to wear clothing on stage.

“I mean I guess I could go naked but the world’s not ready for that and my inhibition does know a few bounds. So I started designing stage clothes that featured my lyrics and poetry.

“It’s me wearing my heart on my sleeve. I’ve found the marrying of those two worlds vital to me. There have been times, particularly over the past year, where the music has stopped – but when the music stops I still have words, I have poetry and I have created a world that celebrates being myself in the purest form.”

With an EP out next year and a poetry book in the pipeline, we’ll hopefully be seeing and hearing a lot more of Brocarde – with all her tricks and treats.

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