Leper is the musical and artistic expression of Skot Shaw.
Using hauntingly melodic vocals, driving keys and brooding guitar, Leper orchestrates a compelling sound combining elements of goth, industrial, dance and rock. All the while, Leper exudes the shadowy, emotional eeriness that defines a goth band. Leper’s influences and inspiration are drawn from many different sources creating a musical tapestry woven with the threads of despair, struggle and redemption. The album Goodbye Cleveland is available as a free download here.
When were you first introduced to the Goth scene and what was the appeal?
I grew up with quite a lot of metal because that’s all I was really exposed to, and when I met my wife she was into The Cure and David Bowie; I hadn’t really been exposed to stuff like that.
As a Christian I was only interested in Christian music. I started finding bands like Saviour Machine, Mortal and Deitiphobia, and when I was exposed to that it occurred to me that these bands were doing all the things I kept waiting for the metal bands to do but they won’t do it.
All the things about the metal bands that were driving me crazy, I found here; they were doing all the stuff I was waiting to hear.
Did you do anything prior to Leper?
I had played in a metal band with some friends of mine. I didn’t really like playing it and I couldn’t keep up with these guys, but I wanted to play music because I love music.
It was ironic that a lot of the stuff I was pitching to these guys, they would say, “That sounds like disco I don’t wanna do that.” So that drove me crazy.
Or “It’s too dark, I don’t like it,” “It’s too moody, I don’t like it, “It’s too slow, I don’t like it.”
So it was weird when I started finding my way into Goth music because these guys were doing all the stuff I was trying to write. And these metal guys won’t do it. It made that much more sense to abandon that band.
The first thing I did as Leper was reviewed by HM Magazine and they said, “It makes The Cure sound like they’re happy. Not recommended for anyone on Prozac, but it is recommended for anyone who wants a good cry.”
Me and my wife were like, “YES!!! That’s the best review we could’ve gotten!”
Who would you consider your musical influences?
As much as I might want to deny it, Pink Floyd was a big influence. Obviously The Cure is an influence somewhere in there. Virgin Black also has been big over the years, and Sanctum from Sweden.
How did you come up with the name “Leper?”
That has a lot to do with growing up and going to school, and always being that kid in the back of the room that no one wanted to hang out with, unless they wanted someone to beat up. Not a lot of friends; people would just avoid me. And was before I looked like this (pointing to his Gothic aesthetics).
I like make-up, my wife likes me in make-up and I like the clothes. I like hanging out in cemeteries, not because they’re creepy but because they are aesthetically pleasing; cathedrals for the same reason. So…what was the question I was trying to answer? (Laughs) Oh yeah, when I was playing in the metal band I went through this phase after awhile where it seemed like they didn’t want me around; they made me feel like I had leprosy.
They would say, “Hey, we should hang out when we’re not practicing.” I’d say, “Okay, I’ll take you up on that right now,” but the response was, “Well, I can’t do it right now,” and it was like that all the time. So when I went off on my own and did open mics I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I walk in with a veil and walk out with it, and nobody saw who I was, so if you saw me on the street you wouldn’t know it was the same guy?”
And that seemed appealing to me.
It would prevent me from getting all puffed up and as a Christian I felt like I wanted to be real. Jesus healed lepers, people didn’t want lepers around, and they veiled themselves all the time because they were disfigured, so I thought, “I can call myself Leper.”
There are people in the world that others don’t want around; they’re not liked for some reason. There’s always someone in the back of the classroom that nobody wants. People treat them like they have leprosy. They don’t want that kid, but God wants that kid. So that became the mission statement: The world didn’t want me, but God wanted me.
But even I, over the last couple of years have wondered, “What if God is elitist? What if He doesn’t want me?” Of course I can’t believe that because that’s not the feeling I get when I pray. There’s just something about feeling that the world doesn’t want you, and knowing that God does, and maybe He does see me as someone with social leprosy but He doesn’t care.
Additional Image Credits: Header image by Minner Photography.