Angus Burns – Pagan Musician and Songwriter

Interviewed by Morgause Fonteleve

'The Dragon and the Unicorn'

Dryghten’s ‘The Dragon and the Unicorn’ translates itself into an invitation to the journey around the Wheel of the Year.
The initial mood gives me the sensation of sailing through mists into an arabesque setting where the mysteries of the seasons are divulged in gorgeous poetic bouquets, punctuated by the sound of acoustic guitars, complex bass lines and coloured in by the nostalgic melody of violins.

MF:

Thank you for agreeing to the interview, Angus. As I mentioned to you I recently purchased your CD and we launched it during Pagan Freedom Day, Lowveld. It received a resounding welcome. The name of your ensemble, Dryghten, aroused quite a bit of curiosity.

Burns:

The word Dryghten is the name used by some covens to describe the absolute or divine. It refers to the source of everything and is a genderless term for “the one” from which all else emanates and from which the many manifestations of the God and Goddess find their origin.

MF:

Tell us a little bit more about your CD ‘The Dragon and the Unicorn’ and why that title, Angus?

Burns:

The Dragon and the Unicorn represents a blend of archetypes that result in synergy. It represents the union of different genres both magickal and musical. The end result is a musical offering that’s draws on many cultural and musical traditions. There are blends of tribal, Celtic, classical, country, bluegrass and rock. This in many ways represents my personal magickal path which is of a very mixed form.

MF:

Where did you record the CD and how are you marketing it?

Burns:

The CD was recorded in my own home studio and is being marketed privately through friends, one or two esoteric outlets and at a later stage, hopefully, a distribution deal of sorts. Fame and fortune are not what motivates. Having the means to express myself artistically and sincerely to an appreciative audience via whatever means is appropriate, is what is important to me.

MF:

What have been the general comments with regards to The Dragon and the Unicorn?

Burns:

The comments I have had have been very encouraging and indicate to me that there is a need / market for this type of home grown spiritually-inspired music. It appears that many people on a spiritual path are looking for music that can support their practices and magickal systems. Hopefully, this album offers something for the Pagan community to enjoy and use in ritual, meditation, Sabbats, etc.

 

MF:

Who were the musicians you used to realize this project?

Angus and Cara Burns

Burns:

All instruments and vocals were recorded by myself except the violin parts which were done by my wife Cara.

MF:

How does the compositional process work for you and what role does your spirituality play in this process?

Burns:

I am normally inspired by either a riff or a verse that enters my head. Sometimes the process is quite iterative and develops from a central theme. As the process of recording unfolds, so does the song and eventually it finds a natural position in my compositional landscape (this will often involve a bit of everything before it is finalized). My own spiritual convictions play a major role in the composition as well as my love for the mythology associated with each Sabbat.

MF:

What gives you the greatest satisfaction – composing long complex pieces, or shorter songs with wider appeal?

Burns:

I personally enjoy immersing myself in the longer complex pieces and enjoying the way they eventually manifest with their many twists and turns.

MF:

Do you have a favourite track on the CD and if so, why?

Burns:

My favourite tracks off Dryghten are Samhain, Imbolc and Mabon. Samhain because I love the romance of death and the powerful presence that is so evident when the veil is thin as well as the eastern medieval influence of the track combined with the gothic rock and tribal mix. Imbolc because of the sense of divine urgency and then release that comes with the melodic ending and Mabon because of the romantic, classical influence and guitar sound that I managed to achieve (sounds almost like a music box in places combined with a mandolin).

MF:

Is there any instrument you’ve tried to learn to play but could never quite get the hang of?

Burns:

The violin!

MF:

I noticed that there are violin pieces on some tracks. May I ask who played this instrument on your CD?

Burns:

I have a very talented wife, Cara Burns, to cater for my shortcoming. She played all the violin pieces.

MF:

If you could change anything on this CD, what would it be?

Burns:

I would make some of the more rhythmic songs longer in places but having said that, they manifested as they were meant to so actually, I am very happy with the end product.

MF:

Tell us a little bit more about the percussion on the album’s tracks.

Burns:

Regarding the drums and percussion, about 60% of the percussion is real percussion whilst those drums/percussion instruments that I could not obtain for recording purposes were recorded from synth samples but done in real time. The tracks were recorded in my home studio and the percussion was compressed to avoid bleed of ambient (and unwanted sounds) hence they have slight synthy feel to them.

MF:

Where do you see yourself going musically, Angus?

Burns:

I have the luxury of not needing to live off my music so I therefore have full artistic freedom to continue as I please. In this sense, there will be more of the same produced with different subject matter but still on the spiritual musical path.

MF:

Will you ever put your Pagan influences behind you in order to obtain wider appeal?

Angus Burns in concert

Burns:

Never. I am not motivated by mass public appeal but rather by my spiritual convictions and beliefs as well as by having the ability to express such things musically. This means I would never sell out for the sake of fame.

If you would like to contact Angus Burns or purchase his music you can write to him at PO BOX 21106, Newcastle 2940, phone him on 084 400 1234 or send him an E-mail.

You may also like...

1 Response

Leave a Reply