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jonsiren introToday, our guest is Jon Siren, drummer of the decadent rock galaxy called IAMX. In addition to IAMX, Jon plays parallel in such bands as EARLY MAN and MANKIND IS OBSOLETE (where he is also a songwriter). He also gives drum lessons and is the author of the book ‘The Touring Vegan’. He also has incredibly cool tattoos, which we will be happy to tell you about!

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?
Jon: My first tattoo was of “Gaius Helen Mohiam” a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother as part of a ‘Dune’ sleeve. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to have on my arm and to find an artist, Clint Carney (, who could both conceptualize the image based off the book character and to also execute it.

RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Jon: I have two complete sleeves, both done by Clint Carney who I have played in several bands with SYSTEM SYN, IMPERATIVE REACTION and GOD MODULE. The story behind both of them has to do with scenes within the movie or book that resonated with me. My right arm is a ‘Dune’ sleeve based on the “Fear Is The Mind Killer” concept that carries on throughout the novel. The lead character Paul Atreides has to test his courage by placing his arm in a box that Reverend Mother provides. The box contains all of his fears and this scene within the book resonated with me. I was going through many challenging times with my career, relationships, etc... and I made many fear-based decisions. The tattoo would serve as a reminder that living in constant fear does not serve me and that I need to not live a defensive life. The tattoo helps me remember to go forward with my dreams and to never fear failure. If I fall, I’ll pick myself up and keep going.

The other sleeve is based off the movie ‘Metropolis’ which is a science fiction film from 1927 by Fritz Lang. This tattoo was based more on the visual aesthetics of the film but I do have a specific concept with the men walking to their job and it conveys an image of going in the same circle each day. I was working many dead-end jobs to help keep me afloat while I was trying to make music my career and sometimes I felt like I was just spinning my wheels and would die being a cog in the wheel of someone else’s dream.

RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Jon: I would really like to see my back tattooed. I like large concepts and hope to get my back done at some point soon. I’m also very much into animal rights and hope to have some sort of tattoo that represents this.

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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?
Jon: Clint Carney has been my only tattoo artist. We worked out a trade because I drummed for his band on a tour and asked to be tattooed in return. It worked out perfectly and he did an amazing job. I still could work on each sleeve. The main concepts have been actualized but there is some negative space that I would like to fill up. Clint did all of the sketches as well.

RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Jon: I simply endure it. I try to meditate, listen to music or talk if it isn’t too distracting for the artist.

RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
Jon: Not really. I really like my tattoos and have had them over 10 years now. I have wondered what it would be like to have never been tattooed but YOLO. lol!

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?
Jon: Hmm, anything goes these days. I guess something that goes against my moral code. I wouldn’t want anything racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc.. I don’t like seeing bigoted tattoos.

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?
Jon: For me it is easy to stop. I have to really want something and want it for a while to do it. I put a lot of thought into it ahead of time. I still want more but would be satisfied with what I have if I were unable to have additional work done.

RoD: Tattoos are a new trend; many people do not care about the meaning, they just want to have something inked on the skin, to be in trend. Those people often just go into a tattoo parlour and ask which drafts they have. How do you feel about this situation?
Jon: Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me. If that is what they want to do, go for it. I don’t get tattooed to be hip or cool. It is a very personal thing for me and I can’t imagine doing it just to do it.

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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?
Jon: I think times have changed. There are many successful people with tattoos and so many people have them. It isn’t just for punks and outcasts. Many respected people have them. I do think there are those that are still prejudice against tattoos or certain types of tattoos. I think it may be challenging to get certain jobs if you have an offensive tattoo or if the placement of your tattoo can’t be covered up. It really depends on the type of work you do and the city or country you live in. Some places are quite progressive but you may struggle getting a good job in a more conservative city if you have a face tattoo. Face tattoos can be awesome though, but it is something to consider if you’re going to do it.

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?
Jon: I would tell the tattoo virgin to think about what they’d like for a few months at least. Finding a reputable tattoo artist is easy these days with social media, so do your research. I prefer black and white but it is your body and your own personal expression, so do you! Have fun with it. You don’t have to have a deep concept for your tattoo. I know I went that route but just go with what feels best for you.

Order the Touring Vegan e-book now from Amazon
Official pages of Jon Siren: /
Official pages of IAMX: /

Photographer: Penny Suicide
Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa & Iryna Kalenska, Translation by Ira Titova

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