Meet Your Maker: The Merchant Lucretia of the Time Travelling Tea Trade

Angela  Taylor-Kimura

aka "The Merchant Lucretia of the Time Travelling Tea Trade"

Artist/Maker/Steampunk Musician - "The Merchants (Of The Time Travelling Tea Trade)"

In June of 2017 the USERs travelled to Oamaru in New Zealand to attend the NZ Steampunk Festival. During our visit we had the pleasure of meeting The Merchant Lucretia aka Angela Taylor-Kimura.

Our first experience of The Merchant Lucretia was on the Friday night of the Fire and Steam parade.  She was on stage, fronting the local Steampunk band "The Merchants of the Time Travelling Tea Trade", or The Merchants for short.  We  have since  had the opportunity, both in 2017 and again in 2019, to catch up with Angela, be it when she was performing with The Merchants at the local Penguin Club, on a Sunday morning at "The Gadgetorium", or out and about in Oamaru.

Angela is a maker, a maker of Steampunk music, and also very much a local Steampunk celebrity.

If you find yourself in Oamaru on a Sunday morning between September and June, we would highly recommend you seek out "The Gadgetorium in "The Woolstore" building at 1 Tyne St.  If you love Steampunk, you will not regret it.

And without further ado, we give you.....

Angela "The Merchant Lucretia" Taylor-Kimura

(Below is an edited transcript of our recorded interview.)

1. Please introduce yourself. Who are you, where do you live and what do you make?

AI'm Angela Taylor-Kimura.  I reside here in Oamaru. I've been here for 37 years so this is home.  Originally from Te Awamutu in the Waikato Region of the North Island.  A railway child, so we transferred here with dad and I've always loved  that element, which I can tie into a lot of my artwork.

I would consider myself a fantasy artist and I started with Fine Art. Painting and sketching is my forte. Amazonian goddesses and all that kind of fantasy.  Boris Vallejo is my biggest influence as well as van Gogh because he uses a limited palette.

I've been doing art and crafts since I can remember.  Mum reckons it was like three years old or something, but I kind of felt older.  But yes, ever since I was a child.  Self taught.  And then I moved into crafts because I like making knick-knacky things.

K: And don't forget the music, because you are also a maker of music.

A: Well yes, as a child mom always had us...we were always in the choir, I remember that at school.  We did choir.  I played the harpsichord with my twin sister. And I have a big sister too, and she is super talented as well, so creative stuff ran in the family.  Mum taught me how to draw women.  She always used to doodle eyes, like smoky eyes, jawbones and profiles of women.

2. Where did the love of your craft begin?

A: Oh yeah, I think I was born with it.  It was like my thing.  And being a twin, you are constantly compared. You just don't have your individuality because you are the clever one, or the arty one, or the tall one, or the short one and all that so...  And all that is probably leading up to why I have an alternate character or a persona because that one can't be compared to with another one because it's completely unique, made by me.  It  doesn't have a twin.

3. When and where did your Steampunk journey begin?

A: It started randomly, you see by day, how I blend into this I'm an electricity meter reader and I happen to be knocking on the door of Helen Jansen's place, who is pretty much the founders of Steampunk here in Oamaru.  And her meter is inside and she says mind all the stuff, I've got a Steampunk exhibition coming up.  And I had just done a fantasy painting with Steampunk Elements.  You know it had the googles and boobs and guns and vixens.  And I said "oh, I think I have a painting that is Steampunk".  She said you should put it in the exhibition, where is it?  Have you got time now?  I said "yeah, I am only a couple of streets over.  Come and have a look and see if it is appropriate", and she said perfect. She came around home and said that will be perfect.  She told me where and when and that was in 2012.  The 2013 exhibition.

It started 10th (2010) and then I am not sure about the 11th, but there was one on the 12th and then it all just started to pick up speed because Steampunk HQ was establishing as well and doing bigger monuments (sculptures).  And they were influences as well.

The Kraken Protective Suit - Angela Taylor-Kimura (exhibited at Steampunk HQ - 2019)

4. Do you have a Steampunk persona? Who are they, and what is their back story?

A: Oh boy, I sure do.  My persona is the Steampunk Merchant Lucretia.  And because I've got multi heritage, the Victorian does not quite suite the culture.  It does not quite suite my complexion is the easiest way to put it.  So I like the colonial side of things and we had a merchant industry with logging industry (Apologies. Angela mentioned some other things here, but I think they were Maori terms and I did not recognise them.). And there were merchants of the tea trade as well, they had their finger in many pies.  So I thought that would be perfect because no one else is doing it.  It was completely original and you could just built story upon story.  You could have your pirates, your villains. You could have your sweethearts.  You could have mermaids and all those creatures you come across.  You could be trading with other Steampunks and different lands, in different space and time kind of scenarios.  I thought oh, this scope is huge.  So I researched female merchants in history and I came up with a merchant Lucretia, and she just kept coming up, but I don't think she had a very good ending.  I think she might have been murdered? She might have been a martyr?  I just could not quite get a clear history.

K: You also sing about some of these stories as well?

A: Absolutely!!  So not long after becoming fully immersed in Steampunk, I've been a musician since about 2000.  I've  been doing cover bands and then thought I'd start writing some songs and learning a few chords and so a lot of my early songs have three chord progressions cause that was all I knew.  That was the easiest thing to sing and play at the same time cause I am just a singer. And so I learned a but of guitar and then I saw, I think it was 2014, there was a massive push to get Steampunk out there.  And I think we had a TV crew and then I saw some musicians and I said hey, what do you reckon?  Want to start an original Steampunk band?  I have written like five songs you know?  We could start there. And then sure enough she said well you know I know Judy and David (Commodore Rainier Hawke) Snow and they might want to join.  And this was with Chrissy McKendry and we've had a couple bass players since, but now we have got Mark Gibbons on board as well.  And they were keen because they were like sci-fi geeks and nerds like me.  And they thought yeah, how hard can it be?  And I said okay, we are going to be called "The Merchants of the  Time Travelling Tea Trade" and they were like....errr.  And I said, look no one else is doing that.  We've got this huge scope we can write our songs about. It went from there and then Dave started writing songs.  And we based it on popular novels and movies and we try to keep that kind of B-grade element as well. And my rule of thumb is trying to get a whole story into two verses minimum and a chorus or a bridge or something like that.  That's the challenge.  And it can come any time, like half the time most of my songs are written while I am working and I'm knocking on someone's door and going oh gosh I have got to remember that tune. So I quickly read their meter and then go back to the car and record myself on the phone. A few lines, and then go home..  But half the time I will be pulling over on the side the road and going that will make a good verse or chorus line..

5. What does Steampunk mean to you?

A: Steampunk means...oh...that is the big one isn't it?  But for me I got this off Peter Fleury I must say.  He said that in a nutshell.. "Steampunk is purely an aesthetic.  It is the look and feel of a future as imagined by the past, and in an era of steam". And that simplify it because I'm a simple minded person. I'd rather look to pictures than read books and or read the history of Steampunk and that just fitted with because "in an era of steam" too is not just Victorian.  There is other areas and early New Zealand is so young and in its early days everything was manual, steam powered.  I like that sort of colonial era, and that can be incorporated because it was an era of steam.  Everything was done manually and they were so innovative and clever and just made it up as they go along. Ingenuity.

And that's what I did, I imagined what they thought we were doing right now for the future and how did they imagine it, and would this be what they did to imagine that?

6. Where do you find inspiration?

A: Inspiration!!  I don't know if I find it?  I think it finds me. Yeah!!  I really could not say.  I could not pin it down.  It is like an idea or thought. Or something you have seen or looked at or someone has said something and you have thought Oh wouldn't that be cool!!  Or there is a song in that?  And yeah, I couldn't really say, it just comes to you.

7. What’s your most treasured Steampunk possession, and why?

AIt has to be the Dark Matter Accelerator. It was my first real build, and I kind of added it to my character.  It's a time travel device that punches portals through time and space and so with that comes a whole whole story of the Merchant Lucretia of the Time Travelling Tea Trade.

The Dark Matter Accelerator, punching holes through time and space.

8: Do you have any favourite Steampunk musicians, groups or artists? Tell us about some of them.

AI know it sounds vain, but I talk us up.  I think we are fantastic. And Dave is super talented.  The whole crew are super talented.  So yes, I am a fan of Dave, or the Commodore Rainer Hawke.

Outside of us, I think I must be influenced by Frenchy and the Punk.  Other artists would be the B-52s, love them.  A lot of our songs influenced by  David Bowie, Muse, and sometimes our other musos like the An Outlaw Names Gibbons (he's our bass player)...he will play a riff and we will go lets make a song around that and we will just do it on the fly.  And lot of War of the Worlds (Jeff Waynes), we love that album.  And we try to get bits of the Theremin and Doctor Who and other bits of sounds.  Pup Culture references.  And we inspire each other as well.  It is quite hilarious.

9: Do you have any favourite Steampunk festivals, events, gatherings? Which ones? And when and where?

AYes, obviously the NZ Festival (Oamaru) is the favourite. Well, it's the only one I go to.  I've only ever travelled to Christchurch and Dunedin when they have had their festivals.  But when they are doing Op Shopping.  That's kind of more like me.  I am not so much a socially go out there person. I don't even do the parades.  I take the photos.

K: But you created an event with the Op Shopping?

A: Yes, that is a favourite event too.  I have done that a few years now.  It's a real casual meeting group pretty much.  It costs you nothing, only what you are purchasing. You can jump in and leave at any time.  But it was basically because some people roll alone when they come to festivals and it was a great way to meet people and get to know them.  And it is also for the locals, to support local businesses and take people away from just the area where the festival happens.

10. Where can people see or buy your work?

A: Yes, the Gadgetorium. It is open every Sunday. 10 o'clock till 4 usually.  From September till the Steampunk Festival weekend.  And then we are closed for a Winter break for a couple of months after that.

Check the links below for both The Gadgetorium and the Merchants.

The Gadgetorium
Facebook: The Gadgetorium

The Merchants
Facebook: The Merchants


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