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The MK ULTRA Interview with Jet from Dark Force Fest

by John Wisniewski

Imagine a massive hotel that looks like a modern take on Dracula’s castle. There, the lobby and hallways are littered with latex Lon Chaney-faced freaks in top hats, ghouls, latex queens and kings in stiletto heels, Star Wars cantina characters and stormtroopers, Industrial dudes, Goth gals, drag Elvira, dead Elvis, the sensual tatted brides of Dracula and zombie hordes as they wanderlust for flesh. Yes, they all gather for Dark Force Fest, an annual three-day Goth-Industrial Music Festival taking place this year on April 19th through the 21st. This year the stacked festival lineup of bands performing across two stages includes Stabbing Westward, Nitzer Ebb, The Crüxshadows, Rabbit Junk, Leæther Strip, Gothminister, Das Ich, Priest, Vision Video and so much more! Dark Force Fest takes place in Parsippany, NJ (one hour from NYC), at the massive Sheraton Parsippany, an imposing castle-styled hotel that features 44,000 square feet of event space with 370 hotel rooms. In addition to 30+ bands, Dark Force Fest festivities include a drag queen show hosted by Onyx Ondyx, panels, a live bats exhibit and presentation by NJ Batman, vendors and more! We sat down and chatted with Jet of VampireFreaks, the Dark Force Fest impresario, to tell us all about this amazing event.

John Wisniewski: Jet, how did the Dark Force Festival idea begin? What was concept for the festival?

Jet: Dark Force Fest began as an evolution from our previous events we’ve done in the past 20+ years, including ‘Dark Side of the Con’ which was a 3 day convention and had been doing really well but we wanted to focus more on the live music aspect and make more of a ‘festival’ rather than a ‘convention’. The result is ‘Dark Force Fest’ which pretty much takes elements from both a festival and a convention. It’s a 3-day festival with 2 rooms of live bands plus over 100 vendors, performers, panels / presentations, activities, dj club events and much more. We even have acrew of stormtroopers called ‘the 501st legion’ who grace us with their presence, so we also love the cosplay element. The concept of Dark
Force Fest is to make it an immersive 3-day experience where you escape the realities of everyday life and experience a dark alternative world for 3 days, focusing on goth industrial music. For our venue we take over a huge 44,000 square foot hotel shaped like a castle, and we have over 10 areas to explore full of bands, performances, activities, vendors and more. We’ve been working over the years to create the best event possible and this is the culmination of everything we’ve learned and all of the feedback we’ve gotten on how to create an epic event.

JW: Can you highlight some of the bands who will be playing at the upcoming festival?

Jet: Saturday night’s headliner is “Stabbing Westward” who need no introduction, these guys were mega famous all over the radio and MTV in the 90s, one of the most successful industrial-rock bands of the time. I actually was a huge Stabbing Westward fan as a teenager in the 90s and it is a dream come true to work with these guys. Friday night’s headliner is “Nitzer Ebb”, one of the forefathers of EBM and a huge influence to industrial and electronic music since the early 80s. These guys are true legends and have had such an impact on the industrial scene, we are honored to have them at our event. Sunday night’s headliner is “The Cruxshadows”, they were the #1 most requested band for this event and they’re real powerhouses in the American dark alternative scene. They are considered by many to be the most popular dark alternative band in the United States. We were supposed to have them at our event back in 2020 which sadly didn’t happen due to Covid, and we’re so excited to finally have them perform at this event.

Overall, our bands are a nice mix of bands from various eras, including some classic well-known favorites, as well as some amazing, newer trending artists. In terms of musical styles, it’s a healthy mix of industrial, goth, post punk, EBM, dark electro, darkwave. We also throw in a little metal and even some horror punk courtesy of Blitzkid.

JW: What was the first concert you ever promoted?

Jet: I actually started out as a club night promoter. I wanted to DJ and wasn’t really able to get any bookings, so I figured I’d start my own club nights. The first event I promoted was a very poorly attended club event in Rochester, NY, where I was attending college at the time. I moved back to NYC after college and started the ‘Cybertron’ industrial club event in the dingy basement of the Pyramid club in the east village in NYC. It snowed that day and we had about 10 people show up, all of which were just my personal friends. Probably the first few years of events that I promoted were all failures, haha, basically if I didn’t lose money at an event that was considered a success!

JW: How did you get involved with band promotion?

Jet: Once I had been doing club promotions, integrating live bands into club events was a natural progression to enhance the events. The idea was to feature local artists and help grow the live scene and introduce people to these local artists, as well as bring together fans of the bands.

JW: Who are some of your favorite bands to play as a DJ?

Jet: When I DJ I tend to play a lot of bands that are playing at Dark Force Fest, in order to promote the bands and also to get people hyped for the event. Some of my favorite bands to play include Priest, Rabbit Junk, Auger, Vision Video, The Cruxshadows.

JW: In your opinion, why has the Goth and Industrial scene survived for so many years?

Jet: Because the music is just awesome! I also think people are drawn to the dark aesthetics and dark emotions. The world can be a cruel and depressing place, and people tend to latch onto darker art and aesthetics when they’re going through hardships in their life. It seems that a lot of people get into the goth / industrial scene when they’re going through some difficult times and in a world that can be dark, we’re drawn to the darker side of music and fashion, and we learn to find beauty in the darkness. The goth/industrial scene is also very accepting and gives people a sense of belonging that they may not find in their everyday life.

JW: Any future plans and or projects you’d like to tell our audience about?

Jet: Dark Force Fest 2024 is going to be our biggest event yet, and ticket sales are going better than ever. The plan is to keep improving this event each year and keep making it bigger. My primary job is that I am the owner of VampireFreaks (, we’re a small business that’s been around for over 20 years and our online store has been doing very well. Currently, we’re in a 15,000 sq ft warehouse with a crew of 12 to 13 people working hard to fulfill everyone’s orders and printing t-shirts and hoodies and managing the warehouse. My favorite projects include coming up with new product ideas and designs for the vampirefreaks brand, we have a bunch of awesome exclusive products, and we’ve got some awesome new products in the works, so check out our website for updates.

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