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Interview with Alchemy Gothic’s Geoff Kayson

Interview with Alchemy Gothic’s Geoff Kayson

Alchemy are one of those brands synonymous with the alternative scene, the lavishly intricate designs and dark themes have long been seen adorning Goths all over the world. What I like most about Alchemy is that they manage to take the hackneyed clichés and make them once again desirable. I have always loved bats and spiders, coffin shapes and crosses, but in the wrong hands, worn the wrong way – it can sometimes look more like a cheap costume than an exquisite extension of yourself. Alchemy seem to understand this perfectly.

Perhaps the understanding comes from the fact that the company’s roots very much stem from the alternative world. It’s one of those rare brands that aren’t made in China, which aren’t assembly-line produced by some faceless businessman with eyes set solely on the bottom line. It’s nice to know you are buying from a company whose heart is in the same place as yours.

As Geoff Kayson, Designer, Managing and Licensing Director, explains, “born and bred in England, Alchemy is of the alternative culture and has always appreciated its fans, for whom it effectively works, and has continually developed its designs partly in association with them, listening to their comments and aspirations at ground level everywhere, such as festivals and other specialist events all around the world.”

I managed to prize a few moments from this wonderfully talented man behind Alchemy to hear about how it all came about and where it is going.

Q: You actually started out as Alchemy Metal Wear, could you tell me about your beginnings and the metamorphosis into Alchemy Gothic as we know it today?

A: Alchemy’s origins actually go back to around 1972, when I was making historical scale models of soldiers, etc, for display, and then taught myself the making of cast metal wargaming miniatures. The next phase developed about 1977 when, as a punk, I used my experience to make POKER – ‘worthless punk jewellery’ – from cast scrap lead. By around ’79, we had started to grow and had a customer base. We re-branded and developed ‘Alchemy Metal-Wear’, a collection of skull and dragon rings, rune-sword and axe pendants, contemporary with the emerging metal and fantasy role-playing scenes.

As time went on, Alchemy’s popularity grew and the designs tended to develop more along the darker, goth lines and began to include ‘jewellery’ like elements such as crystals. Some little time later we acknowledged the difference and the need to re-identify the range as such, and ‘Alchemy Gothic’ became established.

Q. With your beginnings in metal and gothic jewellery, Alchemy now also produce a range of giftware, lifestyle decor and apparel. Are there any other irons in the fire?

A: To this day the POKER range lives-on, but now as a collection of licensed rock merchandise made substantially as official tour merch, but also distributed internationally for retail. In addition to the highly successful, more contemporary range of UL13 ‘rock & tattoo’ lifestyle jewellery, Alchemy also makes several other small, diverse collections of fashion jewellery in different styles, including for other companies and brands, but is also a designer and producer of prestige awards, premiums and incentives for many clients around the world. For example, Alchemy Studios makes the awards for the Golden Gods and the Classic Rock, annual, London music presentations, as well as the prestigious Cosmopolitan magazine awards.

Q. The Alchemist has been known by many names; Ezekiel Empire Rosenstein, Christian de la Mort, Cardinal Chiaroscuro de Rosa, Count Albrecht Magistus, Sir Mortimer Windsor, Alexander Farthing and Dr Quintus Thorn. Who is The Alchemist and what of his many guises?

A:Amzer is the ubiquitous anti-hero’s name from the origin, though he is best known as The Alchemist, his most renowned incarnation during the 13th to 16th centuries. Amzer, (a corruption of the Hebrew word for ‘bastard’), so named by Yaweh, ‘The Creator’ in a Gnostic apocryphal gospel, and immortalised to perform the role of undercover guardian of the Sangraal throughout time, (‘The Fifth Way’), by adopting pivotally influential persona during his journey through history.

Q: I understand Alchemy Empire evolved out of a special collection of ‘laboratory’ pieces within the 1996 Alchemy Gothic range, all inspired by the infamously, groundbreaking Frankenstein-era and the now legendary, unsung hero, Dr. Maximilion Dedrich von Rosenstein, (seen on the cover of the 1996 catalogue). Could you tell me about these?

A: Yes, Alchemy Empire is a strain of the AG collection, started in ‘96 with the advent of Dr. von Rosenstein and his ‘Art of Science’ philosophy, depicting some of his wondrous 18th century instruments. These included such scientific marvels as the ‘Alchestiallary Sphere’ and ‘Induction Matrix Sextant’ pendants, the ‘Induction Principle’ buckle and its complementary device, the ever popular ‘Dr. von Rosenstein’s Induction Principle Ring’. The Empire genre is growing and is currently championed by Dr. von’s chronological successor, the 19th century Ezekiel Empire Rosenstein, and now seems broadly to appeal to the ‘steampunk’ sector of alternative culture and has recently justified its expansion into its own dedicated catalogue.

Q: I have noticed that the steampunk range has begun to become a more prominent feature in your inventory. Is this not jumping the bandwagon and following a trend rather than remaining true to your roots?

A:For us, the ‘steampunk’ movement has more recently emerged out of the same principles that have existed in Alchemy’s creativity and thinking for many years. Quite naturally, and unashamedly, Alchemy has ‘enjoyed’ this popular revi