I present today my interview with Cortland Runyon, known better as the man behind Ebon Arcanum. For those of you who didn’t see before, I reviewed his release from this year titled Awakening which can be read here. Here’s a more in depth view into his music, himself and what makes his project stand out.
MP: Please introduce yourself and your band:
EA: I’m Cortland Runyon, and I’m the sole member of Ebon Arcanum – my atmospheric black metal project
MP:. How did you form Ebon Arcanum?
EA: It really didn’t take much “forming.” I just decided that I wanted to try a different kind of music and wrote some intros to a few songs that fit a more “atmospheric” and emotional style. I eventually finished those bits of songs and that’s how I ended up with Awakening.
MP: Why did you want to play this form of music?
EA: I was really heavily getting into a lot of atmospheric bands at the time I decided I wanted to take part in writing it. At least, that’s what it started out as. Now I sort of see it as an emotional outlet, and I like to think I did a decent job of capturing that emotion in Ebon Arcanum’s music.
MP: How did you come up with the name?
EA: Originally I started out under the name Nocturnium, but in time that just started to sound generic. I did a lot of late-night brainstorming after that, and I decided I wanted to have some kind of fantasy tinge to the name. I eventually had a collection of “black metal-esque” words in my head that I wanted to use, and Ebon Arcanum seemed to make the most sense – not only that, but it’s just a cool way of saying “black magic.” (Ebon = black, Arcanum = arcane)
MP: Describe Ebon Arcanum’s musical style?
EA: I take a lot of influence from bigger names in the genre while applying my own style to make it sound unique in some way. I use a lot of keyboards, while using the guitar as mostly a background instrument. I also apply an ‘ambient’ effect to all the instruments and vocals to give it a really spacious sound.
MP:. What got you into black metal music?
EA: I think the first ever black metal band I ended up liking was Summoning. I didn’t get into ‘true’ black metal until a year or two later, when I started exploring bands like Burzum, Darkthrone, and Kampfar. With that I just started getting deeper and deeper into the genre until it became my favorite.
MP: What influenced the mix of ambient and atmospheric elements?
EA: It’s really hard to put it into words, but I found in time that those characteristics add to the emotion of the music and give it a more personal touch and a more beautiful sound. That’s really all the influence I needed to include those elements in my music.
MP: What inspires the lyrics?
EA: A lot of it comes from some of my past negative experiences and trying to articulate what I was going through, whilst also capturing that level of emotion in the music itself. There are a lot of analogies and deeper, hidden meanings in the lyrics than what it looks like on the surface. Even the songs that seem to just have lyrics about outer space have some double speak.
MP: What bands inspire you?
EA: I mentioned them earlier, but Summoning are a pretty established band in a genre that doesn’t seem to attract much attention. Caladan Brood and Woods of Desolation also play a pretty big part in terms of music, and they also seem to get a lot of exposure for being so small-time, which in itself is pretty inspiring to me.
MP: What was the theme behind Awakening?
EA: I wanted to write some pretty emotional stuff that served as a positive outlet for negative feelings and experiences I’ve held with me for a long time. At the same time I needed to introduce Ebon Arcanum to the world and hold its attention without playing on cliché themes.
MP: How do you produce your music?
EA: I write and arrange my music in Guitar Pro, then bring that into Reaper – my recording program. From there I record guitars, bass, and vocals. After the recording part is done, I add effects and mix/master everything to the best of my abilities. Once everything’s finished, I export everything to MP3.
MP: Do you play all instruments?
EA: All instruments in Ebon Arcanum, yes. Every instrument ever, no.
MP: What instrument do you play best in your opinion?
EA: I’m most fluent with a guitar. It’s the first instrument I picked up and what got me into music in the first place. These days I think keyboard is more fun, though.
MP: What is your favorite track from the album?
EA: Probably “Solitude.” I think it best sums up the entire Awakening EP fairly nicely.
MP: How did you sign with Senseless Life Records?
EA: I was contacted by the head of the label via Facebook with the offer of signing with them, and it took off from there. It didn’t seem shady, and it also looked pretty beneficial, so I decided to go for it.
MP: Have you already began the next album process?
EA: Admittedly, no. I’m still working on an album for my other project, plus I’m in the process of starting a third project. I do want to put out another Ebon Arcanum release in the future though, especially after the success of the debut.
MP What are your thoughts on today’s metal music and scene?
EA: That’s kind of a broad question, but I’ll answer it as best I can. Overall I think metal has grown and expanded a lot through the years, and that’s definitely good. There’s essentially something in the genre for everyone nowadays. Unfortunately a lot of metal fans are becoming increasingly close-minded about it, as if you have to be a certain kind of person just to enjoy the genre. I would still say the positives outweigh the negatives, though.
MP: Do you believe black metal needs to be satanic or evil?
EA: Definitely not. It’s a music genre, not a lifestyle. You don’t need to try to be edgy to make music of any kind.
MP: Any advice for other one-man bands out there creating music?
EA: Write what comes to mind and don’t be afraid to share what you come up with. Music is a form of expression and you shouldn’t sensor yourself or your music to appeal to anyone but you.
MP: Any last words?
EA: I just want to thank anyone and everyone who has taken or will take the time to check out my music. Especially the small minority who have chosen to spend their money on it. All those people make me believe I have the best hobby in the world.