On The Record: DJ Nocturna
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
As one of the most visible members of Hawaii’s dark alternative lifestyle, DJ Nocturna’s unparalled devotion to understanding social norms often helps her show how music can establish greater truths.
Through annual events like Miss Vamp Hawaii, the Venetian Mask Ball, the Vampires Ball and Count Dracula Hawaii, Honolulu’s preeminent mistress of the night has been an integral part of alternative culture on Oahu.
As hostess of the popular “A Feast of Friends” show with Lana Saldania on University of Hawaii at Manoa college radio station KTUH-FM, Nocturna provides an ideal Saturday night sanctuary for music heads who crave gothic rock, industrial and dark electronica. Catering to creatures of the night from behind the decks comes when she spins nostalgic tunes from the 1980s on Wednesdays at Downbeat Diner and every last Saturday at Bar 35.
“You can’t have light without the darkness, and without the dark there is no light,” Nocturna said. “It seems when you have a balance of the two, you tend to be accepted more than if you tend to fall more on the darker shade of black.”
While purists aren’t looking for any kind of validation from outsiders, some misconceptions and stereotypes do exist. Nocturna said she believes that an individual’s level of bizarreness ultimately lies in the eye of the beholder.
“I can tell you that I’m not evil, I’m not depressed, I have a career and I’m very stable, and so are many other people who share the same passion for the dark sound,” said Nocturna, who doesn’t reveal her real name. “People tend to close the door or not accept something or someone they don’t understand.
“Sadly, it’s easier to hate someone than to love them.”
Long before her DJ beginnings at the Wave and Indigo, the darker side of the music spectrum has always attracted her. She would satisfy her fix for New Order and Depeche Mode at Pink Cadillac or frequent SubClub on Nahua St. in Waikiki to hear dark electro pop tunes from Skinny Puppy and the alternative rock carnage of Jesus and Mary Chain.
“Everyone partied on Kalakaua,” she said. “It was the place to be at the time. In fact, Waikiki in general was ‘the place.’ Now the scene (has) moved to Chinatown where old and new friends still mingle and where everyone knows your name. The only thing (that’s) changed are the drink names.”
Despite variations that exist in dark music culture today, Nocturna’s one wish for the future is to preserve the essence and integrity of the lifestyle. If such elements remain intact the genre will continue to flourish, she said.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be different. In fact, the most brilliant minds are the ones who spoke first, who did something that no one else has ever done before,” she said. “Hopefully current and future goth, industrial (and) club DJs will keep the dark music going forevermore.
At the end of the day, Nocturna said she believes having an open mind has distinct advantages and her personal devotions come without prejudice.
“I love people. I appreciate my listeners, the fans and supporters of my radio show and those who come out to the events that I do. We have a connection and a bond that we share through our appreciation through music,” she said.
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.