WAKING THE WITCH: your elusive feminist Halloween playlist

Are you currently planning a Halloween themed party with no set playlist? Are you sick and tired of hearing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” played at every function as though it’s the only spooky song in existence? Are you ready to experience the tantalizing voices of vampiric legends and monstrous feminine sounds? Well- look no further than Waking the Witch, the Pandora’s box of all things audibly avant-garde. Pacific Northwest based artist, Nel Dahl, takes the lead as our feminist music curator with her powerfully eclectic mix of forgotten horror movie soundtracks and international female-fronted punk bands. We're pleased to announce Waking the Witch is the official playlist to SVLLY(wood) Magazine’s first issue, The Feminine Mystique Redux. Now here’s Nel's personal introduction to the mix, and remember to rock on!


After hearing the peculiar symphony of voices characteristic of Yma Sumac and other women whose range and style swing from guttural to operatic, I wanted to make a playlist showcasing voices with volatile ferocity (in style and/or usage of special effects) that diffuse discernible characteristics of gender, age, creature, et cetera.

It's a type of vocal performance that finds its closest parallel and further articulation not in any music criticism I could find, but in horror film characterizations: the elusive, capricious character of this playlist exists most of the time on film. I was thinking of Marina Pierro in Borowczyk’s Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Osbourne and Marlene Clark in Bill Gunn’s Ganja & HessGanja’s scream breaks over composer Sam Waymon’s seesawing, queasy sound collage while her bloodied lip grazes a flower, intercut with a scene of her moving in on her first victim. The pain and pleasure of such transformations are summarized in this singular scene, and it became the perfect visual representative for this theme.

Normally I’d build a playlist's theme around stylistically similar songs but this by definition was characterized from the reverse: it's about transformation, multiplicity, elements that are all the more intriguing if slipped into an unexpected context or sudden shift in tone. It's more of a running narrative theme than a stylistic one. The development of electronic music expanded the options for such musical experiments, making it very interesting to trace this theme’s evolution over time. It became the most interesting subject I'd pursued to that point and it crystallizes what fascinates me, serving as the unofficial introduction to a series of interlocking themes in sound, film, and narrative I had just begun to trace.

 listen to WAKING THE WITCH and check it out on Tumblr


Nel Dahl is a certified neurotic heroine residing in the Pacific Northwest who delights in fantasy/gothic horror, representation of women in the arts, and synths. Check out her twitter and portfolio for more!

The Feminine Mystique Redux vol.1 issue.1 of SVLLY(wood) Magazine will be available in print and digital on October 26th, 2016 and it'll feature an essay on Bill Gunn’s Ganja and Hess, and a interview with the radical all girl skateboarding collective, La Brujas de la Bronx.