When you think of Pagan musicians you will likely think of Chalice and Blade, Green Fay, Loreena McKennitt and other such musical stylings. However, there are several others out there with unique sounds and a different outlook on music. Aphelion is a musical project that definitely breaks the mold of what is expected of a Pagan musician. Chris McBane is certainly an artist who is not afraid to express himself though Aphelion.
Music is intended to bring out our feelings and express emotions, both the good and the bad. It is through Aphelion that Chris McBane bares his soul to the world, ripping out the frightening things and pouring them into music. Like many musicians his music is an expression of himself and things that he has experienced or witnessed in his life.
Once you have listened to Aphelion you might be shocked to know that Chris McBane enjoys a huge variety of music. His interests include jazz, big bands and even folk, just to name a few. If you listen to Aphelion closely you can hear these, and other influences, in this music project.
Below is a recent interview with this incredible musician who’s sounds will leave you a little stunned. It is certainly worth listening to.
What is your Pagan path?
My path isn’t defined as of yet but I’m learning. It’s always been there, sitting quietly in the background and only recently have I started to pay it close attention and it has been eye opening to say the least. I gravitate strongly to the Norse Gods, Druidism and Asatru. The Asatru ideal of Family and Home over self is greatly appealing to me as is their resolve to stay true to their beliefs, no matter what.
How long has Aphelion been around?
Hard to say really but I believe since around 2004 or so. I had the idea for quite some time before attempting to pull the sounds from my head. It was quite daunting. It’s easy to just create a wall of noise but to give it emotion and substance was a lot more challenging. Aphelion has evolved substantially over time, and has become more focused in some ways, more expansive in others while staying true to its core.
Aphelion is a term used in astronomy to describe a point of orbit that is farthest from the sun, how do you feel that this relates to your music?
Well, I see the sun as warm, comforting and nurturing and thus if it is furthest away it’s cold, dark and often hopeless. When times have been dark in my life I see the darkness as distance from the things that brought happiness or comfort. Aphelion is a close examination of those bleak times but also a means building strength, of accepting the dark as well as the light. Personally I’ve found that sometimes you have to embrace the chaos to weather the storm.
If someone had never heard Aphelion, how would you describe it to them?
Honesty is the best policy here, so I would tell them that it is “audience participation music”, meaning they actually should pay attention to get the most out of it, and that it can be challenging to listen to at times. It isn’t something you should put on at a party and expect people to enjoy, unless you’re trying to get everyone out of your house, in which it would probably work quite well. It’s harsh, bitter, emotionally out of control and, my favorite descriptive word used to illustrate Aphelion, bombastic. Aphelion was created as a way of expressing my own hurt and rage and really was just a personal device for venting. Through encouragement of friends I was convinced to make a Myspace page for Aphelion and I discovered that a lot of people could relate to the extreme emotions and chaos.
What are your songs inspired by?
People and events in my life that have left a bad taste in my mouth. We all have these traumas in our lives that create walls, or obstacles we then have to figure out how to navigate. These blocks are sometimes so overwhelming that we drag them along rather than attempt to surpass them. The pre-verbal baggage. Aphelion started out as a way of understanding and expressing how insurmountable these roadblocks were in my life. As time has gone on some obstacles have been conquered and of course new roadblocks have been placed on my path. Aphelion is my way of accepting these disasters and learning to move from them.
Some people might find your music to be less music and more random noise, what would you like to say to them?
Everyone has their own idea of what music is. Some people think that Taylor Swift, or Lil’ Wayne is music, personally I find that to be far more irritating and grating than anything I could ever hope to do with Aphelion. I believe music is about artistic expression, much the way a painter, or a photographer capture their hearts and minds through their media. There are quite a few “noise” acts out there who produce albums that literally sound like 45 minutes of static. Although there might be some meaning in there someplace, it ultimately doesn’t inspire me and creates a stereotype that all noise music sounds exactly the same. This is of course an assumption of narrow minds, nothing could be farther from the truth. I think noise music is one of the most diverse genres in the history of music. Aphelion often is a cacophony of sounds but if you listen to it, I mean really listen, everything has its place, and everything happens exactly how it was meant to, when it was meant to. Ray Charles once said that he threw out countless songs that would’ve likely been top 40 hits because he didn’t feel them, that there was no emotional connection to them. That is an artist. You can’t tell me that Justin Timberlake has ever chosen a path of meaningful expression over a quick buck. Modern songs lack soul, meaning and even an identity. Most modern pop songs aren’t written by the performer but instead written in an office someplace using catch phrases and formulaic computation rather than heart and soul. Aphelion should be seen as art, as powerful expression exploding with passion, rage, sadness and despair. If people prefer their catchy meaningless drivel then they can have it… and choke on it.
Can we expect to hear more from Aphelion in the future?
If you were to ask me that a year ago I would’ve told you that Aphelion is gone and will remain that way. As of this interview I’m working on a new album, the first in a rather long time. I’m taking a different direction than I have in the past by steering away from the ultra-fast, machine gun percussion in favor of a more minimal approach. Sound texture is a strong characteristic on this album as well, more so than in the past, ranging from a chainsaw to the face to something eerily quiet and uncomfortable. Earlier this year, my life fell into an abyss. In a short time I lost everything I had worked hard for and ended up living in a really dire situation, in a bad place with some really horrible, disgusting people. I found my resolve and crawled my way out and found waiting for me a hope that I never thought possible. My time spent that abyss is the inspiration for this album.
Do you have any other projects that you are working on?
Yes, I am currently working on a project called Two of Cups with Heather Blacklock. The music fits into the odd category of folktronica and is mostly Pagan lyrics and ideas.
You can find Aphelion on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AphelionZero
You can find Aphelion on Sound Cloud at https://soundcloud.com/aphelion_zero
You can find Two of Cups on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CHtwoofcups
You can find Two of Cups on Sound Cloud at https://soundcloud.com/twoofcups