Aurelio Voltaire Hernández (born January 25, 1967) and professionally known by the mononym Voltaire, is a 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.
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.
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."
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.
His stage name is now "Aurelio Voltaire" for the following reason: "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 fuckin' google search before naming their bands? Anyway, it was just easier to distinguish myself from them by using my first name."
As a child, Voltaire emigrated 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 conventionsconventions 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 2, 2012, Voltaire released his ninth studio album, BiTrektual. It contains songs parodying Star Trek, Star Wars and Doctor Who, and featured guest appearances by Jason C. Miller, Tim Russ, Garrett Wang and Robert Picardo.
He also released a compilation of demos, The Cave Canem Demos.
On 2014, his tenth album, Raised by Bats, was released. Contrasting with the dark cabaret instrumentation of most of his album, Raised by Bats is more deathrock- and gothic rock-inflected, and it counted with guest appearances by Ray Toro of My Chemical Romance, Craig Adams of The Mission, Julia Marcell and much more.
Although often credited and pictured as a soloist, Voltaire has a band. His band occasionally performs in live acts, but does not feature on his live album, Live!. The current lineup is:
Violin: Hannah Thiem,
Violin: Maxim Moston,
Violin: Ben Lively,
Cello: Melora Creager,
Drums: Brian Viglione,
Bass: David J,
Horns: The Red Hook Ramblers,
Accordion: Franz Nicolay,
Banjo: Smith Curry,
Tuba: Joe Tuba,
Voltaire was hired for his first directing job in 1988 with MTV, creating the "MTV-Bosch" station ID in the style of Hieronymus Bosch. The stop motion tour of the hellish Garden of Earthly Delights won several awards including a Broadcast Design Award. This station ID was included in a capsule of 21st century media that was shot into space. He has also made morbid station IDs and for clients such as Cartoon Network, Sci-Fi Channel and its Animation Station block, USA Network, and Nickelodeon.
Besides his work with commercials, he has made short films and series such as Rakthavira and Chi-Chian. Chi-Chian, based on an ID he did for the Sci-Fi Channel, is now a 14 episode flash animated series on Syfy's website. Before that, Chi-Chian started out as a graphic novel series that included 6 issues (published by Sirius Entertainment), which eventually evolved into the Flash-animated series.
He currently teaches stop motion animation at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, as well as animating, directing, and singing.
Voltaire has written two of his songs especially for the TV show The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: "BRAINS!" and "Land of the Dead".
Appeared on the Discovery Channel series, Oddities, in 2012, buying a "slice of brain" for a music video prop.
Voltaire has acted in movies. One movie he starred in as the character "Verrill", was "Model Hunger" (which is to be released sometime in 2015).
Art and writing career:
In addition to Chi-Chian, Voltaire has also produced a comic book series called Oh My Goth!, also known as OMG!, which started out as his own eight-page religious tracts inspired by Jack Chick. Stories include him being chased by minions of Satan as they try to prevent him from playing his next show. These short pieces often led to information about his next show. After two issues of the Chi-Chian series were published, he convinced Sirius Entertainment to publish Oh My Goth!, which included four issues that were later collected into a trade paperback. Voltaire has also made a sequel to the OMG series called Oh My Goth! Humans Suck!
Voltaire has also produced a DEADY series as well as releasing books such as What is Goth?, Paint it Black, and "Call of the Jersey Devil", a novelization of a script of the same name.
In early 2004, for his DEADY comic book, Voltaire signed a deal with Toy2R. The first toy that was created was a 2-inch posable DEADY key chain for the company's "Qee Bear". It was released at San Diego Comic Con. The figure ended up selling out at the Con and because it did so well, the second figure was created in January 2005 which was an 8-inch DEADY deady figure (it could be redeemed on aqworlds for a rare non-member only digital pet). In June 2007 the Deady Minigame was released on ebilgames.com, a site hosting various minigames created by Artix Entertainment. AE's Massively multiplayer online game AQWorlds also featured a Friday the 13th event featuring songs by Voltaire. Voltaire voiced his in-game persona for the occasion. In 2008, Voltaire shot the Animation short film X-Mess Detritus. The movie was the third film of his directorial career; the others are Transrexia (1993), Rakthavira (1994) and Transrexia II (2008).
In mid-2013, Voltaire had written a novel called 'Call of the Jersey Devil' which is available on Amazon. He is currently writing yet another novel called 'The Legend of Candy Claws' which is about a bat that steals candy from naughty children on halloween, and gives it to good children on Christmas. According to his official Facebook page, he is in the process of making Candy Claws Plush Teddies! (After his Black Unicorn / My Little Pony Plush Teddies were a huge success).
Voltaire married his long-time girlfriend, Jayme, on October 1, 2009, at the Angel Orensanz Center in New York City. Voltaire has a son, Mars, from a previous relationship, born in 1998.
On September 25, 2013, Voltaire announced on his official blog, that he and his wife were to be divorced. Saying, quote, "On October 1st of this year, my wife and I would be celebrating our 4th year wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, it's not to be. After nearly four years of marriage and a couple more of dating, we are parting ways. It saddens me so deeply that things didn't work out. It's been a difficult process for both of us to come to this decision, one that I really don't wish upon anyone. Nothing is worse than seeing your best friend in pain."
Voltaire (2002). Oh My Goth! Version 2.0. Sirius Entertainment. ISBN 1-57989-047-4,
Voltaire (2003). Oh My Goth!: Presents the Girlz of Goth!. Sirius Entertainment. ISBN 1-57989-061-X,
Voltaire, Chris Adams, David Fooden (2003). Chi-Chian: The Roleplaying Game. Aetherco/Dreamcatcher. ISBN 1-929312-03-2,
Voltaire (2004). Deady the Malevolent Teddy. Sirius Entertainment. ISBN 1-57989-083-0,
Voltaire (2004). Deady the Terrible Teddy. Sirius Entertainment. ISBN 1-57989-077-6,
Voltaire (2004). What Is Goth? - Music, Makeup, Attitude, Apparel, Dance, and General Skullduggery. Weiser Books. ISBN 1-57863-322-2,
Voltaire (2005). Deady the Evil Teddy. Sirius Entertainment. ISBN 1-57989-081-4,
Voltaire (2005). Paint It Black - A Guide to Gothic Homemaking. Weiser Books. ISBN 1-57863-361-3,
Voltaire (2007). Deady: Big in Japan. Sirius Entertainment. ISBN 1-57989-085-7,
Aurelio Voltaire (2013). Call of the Jersey Devil. Spence City. ISBN 1-93939-200-4,
Aurelio Voltaire (2013 / 2014) The Legend of Candy Claws
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license