100 Creatives 2012: Justin Whitney
What He Does: Justin Whitney has been a part of the goth and metal scenes in Houston for many years. His latest project is the Church of Melkarth, which recently sold out the Alamo Drafthouse playing halftime between screenings of the demonic horror films The Gate and its sequel. The music is deconstructionist black metal with industrial and ambient overtones, though the sound is constantly evolving. It is neither strictly music nor occultism, and instead aims to combine both into an exploration of the edges of both areas.
Why He Likes It: "That it's 100 percent me. In my formative years I had bad teachers. I don't mean that they were bad at instruction, but bad in the sense that they didn't motivate me. They spent all this time telling me what I couldn't do. I couldn't be a pro wrestler because I was too little, and I couldn't be a writer because I wasn't good enough to get published.
My biggest mistake was believing them, but I bought my first guitar with my own money, all my equipment and lessons with my own money and time. No one could tell me what I could and couldn't do anymore; if I was bad, then it was my own fault, and if it was good, it was because I made it good. Some people say they picked up a guitar because they wanted to be rock stars and get chicks or money, but I picked one up because I loved music so much I couldn't see how someone wouldn't want to create their own. Even if it sucks and everyone else hates it, as long as you like it, that's all that matters. I don't care if some asshole from off the street hates it and heckles me, because it's not for him, he can fuck off and die, for all I care."
What Inspires Him: Whitney combines a deep understanding of various branches of occult knowledge and magic into performance pieces, sermons and songs. While he draws heavily on the Lovecraft mythology (Melkarth is a lesser-known god in the Cthulhu Mythos), it's by no means the only source. Whatever shocks and entertains, as well as the enlightenment that comes from performing his stylized worship, is what ultimately drives the group.
If Not This, Then What: At one point Whitney aspired to be a serious filmmaker, and even tackled a project called Sway. The experience burned him out from the effort to make sure every aspect met his personal standards, and it will be a long time before he attempts another. As he plans to expand Church of Melkarth into the cinematic realm in some form, it's likely he'll be back to filmmaking sooner than later.
If Not Here, Then Where: Every scene is the same, according to Whitney, and wherever you go there's closed-mindedness, drama, apathy, etc. However, the idea of Jamaica with its weather, the voodoo cult atmosphere and cheap Cuban cigars appeals to him...as well as the novelty of being a Jamaican black metal musician.
What's Next: "I keep trying to motivate my members to get their shit together enough for an independent tour of the southern U.S., but the short term sees us putting out our first vinyl this year. Personally I am content with being a professional television watcher as my day job, and I'm using it to pay off my heaps of debt due to poor decisions when I was 19. Once the debt is paid off, I can have the funds to get our record label off the ground and start helping out artists I care about. I also want to start a GWAR ripoff band themed around fantasy RPGs called Dungeoncrawl. I've already got two albums in pre-production for that."
More Creatives for 2012 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page). Antone Pham, tattoo artist Susie Silbert, crafts Lauralee Capelo, hair designer Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director J.J. Johnston, theater director Mary Margaret Hansen, artist Richard Tallent, photographer Viswa Subbaraman, opera director Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist Sonja Roesch, gallery owner Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor Sandy Ewen, musician Camella Clements, puppeteer Wade Wilson, gallery owner Magid Salmi, photographer Carl Williams, playwright
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events