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LouGOddon introI like coincidences, just as I was on holiday in Italy, I was contacted by Lou, the vocalist of the Melodic Metal band of BLACK LIGHT from Italy. We did not manage to organize a meeting, but this did not stop us from holding the interview anyway, especially because Lou recently entered in this world of pain and ink, so his impressions were fresh and bright.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: When did you get your first tattoo and what was it? Did it take much time until you decided to get it done?
Lou: I got my first tattoo one month ago. I was thinking about it since a lot of time, and when I got the chance to make it, I just caught it. The tattoo represents a lightsaber, with the word “Djem-So” coming outta the blade. Then we added an orange background, some leaves, and crystals. For the ones who don’t know, on the Star Wars universe, the lightsaber blade’s colour depend on the crystal placed into it, which also makes the blade to exist as well. This type of crystal is called a “kyber”.

RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Lou: I have two tattoos, the lightsaber is on my right arm, and then I’ve recently got a new one on my temple. I wanted to ink a dopamine molecule in a place where I could feel it connected to my brain. You know, dopamine is the chemical which is responsible for happiness and gratification. Gratification because your brain produces dopamine when you make stuff which is essential to your survival, like, for example, eating. But that’s not the only thing that activates it. When you work out, your brain produces dopamine, when you fall in love, your brain produces dopamine too. Drugs, for example, are dopamine stimulators. And that’s an interesting thing because when you’re addicted to a substance, you’re not really addicted to the substance itself, but to the dopamine and serotonin (another chemical that influences happiness) levels they bring. Then when you crave the drug, it’s because your brain is used to these high dopamine levels, and the normal ones are not enough anymore for it. I wanted to ink it on myself because I hope, and believe, that one day we all will find our happy place in life, the right people around us, and that we’ll accomplisher dreams, or at least one of them. When this will happen, our brain will end up filled with natural dopamine. For now, I’m on my path, which can be hard, exhausting, on which I often have to leave the people I love the most. But I have this dopamine molecule inked on me, reminding me that I’m doing all of this to be proud of myself one day, to end up finding peace. And the artist who inked it on me is such an amazing and sweet girl, my dopamine levels get super high when I think about her!

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So now, I’m gonna talk now about why I wanted a lightsaber inked on my arm, I hope I am not being too long and boring! Of course, the first thought someone could have is that I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and that’s the truth, I love Star Wars since I’m a kid! Besides that, there’s a way more personal meaning behind this lightsaber, and that’s what I wanted to share here with you. For the ones who don’t know, when the Star Wars universe was created, some real fighting styles were invented for it. Most of these techniques suit each character’s personality and mentality, and the “Djem-So” is one of them. This fighting style consists in using emotions to transform them in something effective. It’s also a technique which uses to chain various attacks to break the opponent’s defensive pattern, so there’s a huge part of it which is based on perseverance. And that’s what I do in my everyday life. I’m someone who is completely driven by emotions, and that’s probably what led me to start singing and writing lyrics, so this transforming what I feel into something I would share with an audience, is my every-day Djem-So. And the lightsaber means the strength I try to find every day to follow my dreams and realise them. The most known Djem-So user from the Star Wars movies is Anakin Skywalker/ Darth Vader, who travels between different emotions, shown as a way to explain his transformation. With this, his fighting style also takes the shape of who he is and the way he feels during his different life points. So yeah, both of my tattoos talk about feelings, which are the most important things to me.

RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Lou: I’m planning to have many more ones as soon as I can, I have so many ideas, and I love drawing as well! When I was in school, I used to draw stuff on my arms, it helped me concentrate and getting all the information, even if I know it can sound weird. Some teachers were so pissed off when they were seeing me doing that! I have precise ideas for at least three more tattoos, when they’ll be done, I’ll be glad to share them with you!

RoD: Have all your tattoos been done by one tattoo artist or by different ones? How do you choose the tattoo artist? In addition, who draws your sketches?
Lou: The two comes from different artists, even if I’ve made both of them in Klaipēda. For the first one, I’ve booked artist Vasilij Torgashev from Danis Tattoo one month before. This dude is really skilled and has a great reputation, which makes him booked kind of all the time, but I got the chance to have my first tattoo made by him, and I love it! I sent him some pictures, one even drawn by myself, which was kinda shitty to be honest but then, he transformed all that stuff in something amazing. So I recommend him to everyone who wants to get a tattoo! The dopamine one was more spontaneous. I’ve got it three days ago, when I was working as a volunteer at Memel Tattoo convention in Klaipēda, in which there were a lot of stands from different studios. I met artist Arina Stretškova from Backbone Tattoo, a studio from Tartu, Estonia. We instantly vibed good with each other, so I told her about my dopamine molecule idea, which she liked a lot. At first another dude from the studio was supposed to make it, but she ended up inking me herself, which was what I secretly wanted. She told me this was the first time she was making a face tattoo, and it went perfectly drawn on my skin. I had such an awesome time. Guess I’m crazy of her now.

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RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Lou: The lightsaber did hurt a lot. You know, I wasn’t expecting it to hurt that much. I was like “I pierced my nipple, what could be more Hardcore than that?” But this one was way more painful. You know, it’s a pic which contains shades and colours, and the arm’s internal part is filled with nerves. It was like I had a flame constantly burning my skin, and I needed all my concentration to handle it. Luckily Vasilij knew exactly how to keep me from getting crazy, or getting a panic attack because of that. It ended up being a great experience. You feel your body dealing with your brain every second the needles touch your skin. But he led me through this path, which lasted three hours and a half. I felt like I’ve explored something of my body that was farther than everything I’ve felt before. The dopamine tattoo was quite different. At first, I thought it would hurt a lot, I didn’t know how sensible was a temple, but I then got surprised because it wasn’t painful at all. Arina put my head on a pillow and treated me in such a sweet way. The feeling I got when she was inking me was something amazing so relaxing that I thought “I could fall asleep and have an awesome dream, I never want this to end”. It was like she was putting dopamine directly from herself into my skin. You know, as I’m writing this, I have a smile on my face and a tear coming from my left eye. The one closest to the tattoo, of course. I think I kind of miss her!

RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
Lou: I have absolutely no regrets about any of my two tattoos, I love them and they’re part of me. It’s like exposing what I feel inside.

RoD: What is your taboo in terms of tattoos? What kind of tattoo would you never get done and don’t like to see on other people?
Lou: Butterflies and diamonds! I hate them! Ok, just kidding, I know some people who have tattoos like that and they look amazing, I just would never ink a butterfly or a diamond on myself. By the way on the same topic, I saw some pretty funny shit at tattoo convention! A dude made an artwork which was basically a smiling ass playing a trumpet. That made me laugh a lot! It was awesomely drawn, super funny, but that’s also an example of what I would never ink on myself. I guess you understand why!

RoD: Some people say that the drive to acquire body art is addictive while others say it fails to meet the true definition of an addiction, simply calling it a passion. Is it really impossible to stop?
Lou: I don’t know. It don’t really care about that like, I want many tattoos for different reasons, and I don’t plan to stop, at least for now. But maybe one day I will, who knows. I think it depends a lot on the person. I know people which are filled with tattoos, who keep doing blast-overs and cover-ups, and others who just wanted to ink their kid’s name on them, or wanted a special event marked on their skin. I just think tattoos are something that humans do ‘till they exist and so the approach is different for every one of us.

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RoD: Currently, tattoos are a new trend; many people do not care about the meaning, they just want to have something coloured on the skin, to be in trend. Those people often just go into a tattoo salon and ask which drafts they have. Tattoo artists are not artists any more, they produce consumer goods. Not all of them, of course. How do you feel about this situation?
Lou: That’s something I actually saw a lot during the convention, and if you’ve asked me that some years ago, I would be completely against that. But then now, I don’t think it’s really matters like, it doesn’t surprise me anymore. I saw people doing such more stupid stuff for trends than tattoos. By the way I think that as artists makes the drafts, they’re already doing art. The reason they put it on someone doesn’t make them less or more artists than what we were before. If some people are good with not caring about what they ink on their skin, it’s their right to not care. I would never do that, but who am I to judge?
RoD: I would like to talk about the social aspect of tattoos, too. Previously, many people believed that if you have a tattoo, you will be never be successful and will not find a “good” job. Have this state of mind and people's perceptions changed or are these prejudices still alive?
Lou: They still are, unfortunately, and not only about tattoos. I had a lot of this type of issues, for example, also because of my dreadlocks. Then it depends a lot on the place you are. This kind of shit happened a lot when I was living in the near of Nice, France. One of the most snobby places I’ve ever been to in my life. Then, when I was in Montpellier, same country, and still in the south, everything was different. Cuz there was more of this stuff and people were used to it. I think people judge what they are not used to see, because they’re scared, or because they feel better by feeling like they belong to a group, a class, a collective. It makes them feel bigger, protected. But when this phenomena takes place, everything that’s out of it is rejected. That’s a shitty part of the way the human brain works, but it makes people feel more united. The same shit happens with stuff like racism or homophobia. But I think this can be beaten, people have to understand that the ones who are different from them have the same feelings, the same brain, and the same heart. And who knows, one day this could happen.

RoD: Which advice would you give to people who are going to get their first tattoo? How to choose a tattoo artist? Colour or black and white? Any practical advice?
Lou: Don’t be neither too scared, neither too secure about the pain thing. If it hurts, just keep thinking that it’s not damaging you, think something like you’re doing extreme workout, even if the feeling’s completely different. And choose the artist according to the style you love the most. I’m personally a colour dude, and Vasilij was perfect for that. But then this is kinda personal, most of my friends like black and white more. An advice would be this one: if you want a tattoo, you have to care a lot or to not care at all. It depends on the person you are. I am more a caring guy. Then if you are between one and the other you will probably have regrets. And that’s what to avoid, I guess. You gotta keep being on the two sides of security.

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Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Pictures: Title Picture by Ira Rjazanceva, Pictures 2-3 by Vasilij Torgashev, Picures 4-5 by Arina Stretškova

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You are here: Home Specials 2018 Special: Artists and their Tattoos - Lou G. Oddon (vocals) from Black Light