Aurelio Voltaire Hernández
(born January 25, 1967, in Havana, Cuba) and professionally known by the mononym Voltaire
, is a popular Cuban-American dark cabaret musician. His stage name is his given middle name, which he shares with the famous French Enlightenment writer François-Marie Arouet.Recently, he has been using Aurelio Voltaire as his stage name, for, quote, "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 ... google search before naming their bands? Anyway, it was just easier to distinguish myself from them by using my first name." [2\]Voltaire is also an experienced animator and comic artist, and is a professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
In the past, when asked about his real name, Voltaire avoided the question or implied that his real name is in fact Voltaire.According to the School of Visual Arts where he is employed as a professor, Voltaire's real name is Aurelio Voltaire Hernández. Voltaire attributes "Acoustic Guitar and Vocals" on Ooky Spooky
to Aurelio Voltaire Hernández, confirming that is his real name. Since then he has signed his name as Aurelio Voltaire, and is more open about it in public appearances.Voltaire chose to use his middle name as his performance name because his namesake "saw through the hypocrisies of humanity and commented on them through satire. In essence, he was able to educate people about the world around them by making them laugh."
As a child, Voltaire immigrated to New Jersey with his family. However, he states that he did not enjoy residing there. At the age of ten, Voltaire was inspired by the films of Ray Harryhausen (Jason and the Argonauts
, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
), and began animating on a super 8 camera. By piecing together snippets of information from fanzines, he eventually was able to teach himself how to make foam rubber animation models and animate them. At the age of 17, he moved to New York and got his first job as an animator with Parker Brothers. Voltaire says that he loves New York, and that the only other place he would be happy living is Tokyo.
Voltaire's music has strong roots and connections to European folk as well as other influences such as the goth scene. However, many listeners find his music hard to classify. Although it has a sound reminiscent of European folk music, many people claim it to be Dark Wave; perhaps as this is a label often given to many other artists from Projekt Records, and a word often used to mean many things by the label themselves. His music has also been linked to cabaret, with Lexicon Magazine
using the term "goth cabaret", possibly referring to dark cabaret, a term often used to describe some bands Voltaire cites as his influences. Voltaire has also been linked to the steampunk scene with Victorian-era horror related subjects, and some of his visual and music styling, and in recent years he has become a favorite at major steampunk conventions such as the Steampunk World's Fair. New Wave has also been used to describe Voltaire's music by some reviewers. Voltaire describes his own music as "Music for a parallel universe where electricity was never invented and Morrissey is the queen of England". He says that bands and artists who influenced his music are Rasputina, Morrissey, Tom Waits, Cab Calloway and Danny Elfman.The first band that Voltaire played in (during junior high school) was called "First Degree". At this age, he was a fan of Duran Duran, but then began listening to gothic music, most notably bands such as Bauhaus and The Cure. It was not until later that he began participating in the goth scene; it did not at first occur to him that there was a goth scene at all.As an adult, Voltaire formed a band which included a violin, a cello, drums, and himself as the vocalist and the acoustic guitar player. Within a year, Projekt Records signed them and by June 1998 they released their first album called The Devil's Bris
. Two years later their second album, Almost Human
was released.One of Voltaire's popular hits is "BRAINS!", a song written for the Cartoon Network show The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
, aired in the episode "Little Rock of Horrors". He also wrote "Land of the Dead" for Billy and Mandy's Big Boogey Adventure
, which plays in the opening sequence.As an avid fan of Star Trek
, Voltaire frequently attends science fiction conventions and released a four track EP called Banned on Vulcan
. It was a set of comedy recordings poking fun at characters from the show.On the side, Voltaire is also the lead vocalist of a New York City based New Wave quintet known as The Oddz.Voltaire performed a musical special for Artix Entertainment in their MMO game AdventureQuest Worlds
, altering some of his songs in To the Bottom of the Sea
to suit their standards. Over 32,000 players attended. It was released on Friday 8:00PM Friday the Thirteenth of March, 2009.In 2010 Voltaire released an "Alt Country" CD called Hate Lives in a Small Town
. He also released a children's CD, Spooky Songs for Creepy Kids
, containing his previous works for Cartoon Network, as well as other age-appropriate songs.In September 2, 2011, Voltaire released his eighth studio album: Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children!
. Participating musicians include Rasputina frontwoman Melora Creager on cellos, Brian Viglione on drums, former Bauhaus bassist David J on bass and Franz Nicolay on accordion.On September 1, 2012, he released a new EP called BiTrektual
, a follow-up to his 2001 EP Banned on Vulcan
.He also released a compilation of demos, The Cave Canem Demos
.Circa November 2012, Voltaire has started work on a deathrock/new wave album called Raised by Bats
, which is set to release around the time "Call of the Jersey Devil" is to be published.