Asheville, NC’s post-punk/darkwave band Secret Shame discuss the socio-political issues that permeate their music.

Asheville, NC-based deathrock and goth-influenced post-punk/darkwave band Secret Shame formed in 2016. They released a self-titled EP in 2017 and are now readying for the arrival of their debut full-length Dark Synthetics.

The atmospheric and noir music bristles with bleak, but relevent lyrics about domestic abuse, mental health, and political frustration. Lead singer Lena’s stark vocals shine darkly through the gothic gloom.

Lena is joined by Ryynikki (lead guitar), Billie (guitar), Matthew (bass), and Nathan (drums) and they recorded Dark Synthetics in January of this year at The Ward in Richmond, VA with engineer Ricky Olson. Dark Synthetics will be released on September 6th via Portrayal of Guilt Records.

The band members take part in our Protest Interview series and delve into the issues that are important to them and infuse their compelling music.

Hello! Please introduce yourselves and give a description of your sound/musical vision.

The brief description people give for Secret Shame’s sound would be dark post-punk, but that sometimes feels like an ill-fitting garment. Our sound is the emotionally complicated and moody daydream of a factory worker. We have a tendency to flirt with various post-punk genres like dreamy goth and deathrock. The lyrical content and the instrumentation both serve to support each other.

It’s theater for us. We use our art to discuss the troubles that impact our lives, our communities: from mental health and domestic violence to national borders. The musical vision for the band is to continue to make music that feels good to us and encourages discussion around sensitive topics. The world does not stop, and neither do we. We write protest music. Music is meant to be catharsis. 

What is/are the main personal, national, and/or international issue(s) concerning you the most these days?

The main personal issue is one we cover on the majority of Dark Synthetics - mental health in response to domestic abuse.

As far as international injustice… the world is overwhelmed by injustice. The coastines will continue to flood, the crops will be dust and ash, animal species are going extinct at record numbers, and someone will still be proselytizing that A.I. will free humanity from our bondage. The only thing that will free humanity is humanity.

Humanity made the machine that crushes the many while elevating a few. A way to change humanity is with personal accountability. A system that values profit over people is accountable to profit, to individual glory and fame. The profit system makes excuses for its actions and places blame; so it makes sense that anyone growing up in that type of society could lack personal accountability.

What song, video, or lyrics quote of yours best represents your current viewpoint on this/these important topic(s)?

Here are some quotes from our upcoming release. 

Lyrics from the upcoming EP song “Creature”:

“See her whole, and see her tear 

Cognizance is an utmost tier societal falsities -

Consequences build our breed.”


“Heaven hurts you,

Unbeknownst to heathen lives - you will adapt to what heals and reject it all.”


“As soon as I fit my head round you, you’re gone

As soon as my ego absorbs you, you’re gone

As soon as I betray you, you’re wrong

As soon as I stop killing myself you’re gone” - These lyrics were written ironically from the viewpoint of an abuser.

...and from an older song of ours, “Lights Out”:

“And in the bath, she catches her breath, she finds comfort in her own death. And a body is a canvas if you cover it in paints that will ebb. That will ebb”

What other forms of protest, besides through your music, are you involved with to get your message across?  

Some members work with Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross whose long-term goal is prison abolition, but in the meantime they support prisoners with monthly letter-writing nights and raise money for an activist bail fund, Black Mama Bail Out, and immigrant justice groups in the area. Some of us also help fundraise and package with Asheville Prison Books.

It’s easy to judge and criticize others, especially in these unsettling times of overt intolerance, ignorance, and insults, but the fact remains that we need to work together ‘for the good of the people’. Objecting to and protesting against, but then working on a solution to the problem is critical in ensuring that positive change occurs. Name an action to take, or a campaign/charity that would be worthwhile to contribute to, for your cause.

Doing something for someone else is a great action to take. Do something that benefits another person without expecting anything in return. Go clean up plastic from a beach. Listen when someone says they are going through a difficult life experience, and believe them. 

Trans Lifeline:

Asheville Prison Books:

Tranzmission Prison Project:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline:


National Alliance on Mental Illness:

The Steady Collective:

What’s your favorite song, video, or lyrics quote by another act or artist that best exemplifies, or at least partly relates to, your current viewpoint?

“The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes” by A Silver Mt. Zion. Musically, it’s beautiful. Lyrically, it manages to be resigned, yet somehow hopeful. 

What gives you hope for the future?

Despite all the bullshit, some people still try to make the world a better place.

Where can we purchase/stream your music and find out more about you?

Interview date: Aug 6, 2019

darkwave deathrock goth portrayal of guilt records post-punk protest interview secret shame