We got to speak with Erik Moggridge from Pacific Northwest based project Aerial Ruin!
MPM: Hello Erik, it is my honor and pleasure to be speaking with you today. Those unaware of who you are could you introduce yourself and your contributions to Aerial Ruin?
AR: Thanks so much for the support and interest, my name is Erik Moggridge and Aerial Ruin is my mostly acoustic solo project that orients heavily around my melodic vocals. I do include a little electric guitar on some albums as well as occasional guest collaborators
MPM: Aerial Ruin started in 2004 and have released the latest album Loss Seeking Flame which I’ve heard the album several times and was amazed and pleasantly surprised to hear something different throughout 2022. Could you tell us the songwriting process and ideologies into making Loss Seeking Flame in comparison to other releases?
AR: All Aerial Ruin albums including this one are a personal spiritual journey and/or a meditation on the loss of the self. The fine line between the deeply personal and the total obliteration of personal perspective all together, after which experience can aspire to be more “pure”, more “real” perhaps. But this is the way I have learned to talk about the themes after the fact, it’s quite a stream of consciousness when it’s happening. Smaller sub-narratives then at times emerge and get expanded on within the harder to define narrative-free journey. On this album the journey often seems to be on a path, that thought terrestrial in nature may suddenly find itself somehow aloft, or in flame, or presenting a wonderful unexpected gift, perhaps bound in page.
MPM: The album consists of four tracks and you’re the primary and soul into writing, composing and do the instrumentals. Would you say this album is the next chapter into Aerial Ruin or was this a test to find your sound and quality?
AR: I have never felt a need to try and reinvent Aerial Ruin and prefer to let each album flow into the next. I have been recording with my friend Dave at Lot 3 Audio for many years and albums, so this record continued that process. He is great to work with and every album becomes more comfortable and realized production-wise. Having Andrea Morgan of Exulansis compose and perform the violin on “Ideation” was a wonderful guest element on this new album, though not a test per se. Her contribution combined with length and ambition of the album closer “Ideation” does bring Aerial Ruin to new places while also retaining familiarity. I should also point out that while each album is the next chapter I feel they all naturally progress from earlier material, and when I listen back to the earliest recordings they sometimes sound quite primitive to me.
MPM: The Pacific Northwest music scene has been blowing up skyhigh with many great artists residing from both Washington State and Portland. What was your decision into being in Portland than anywhere else in North America?
AR: I moved here from San Francisco in 2009. I had spent some time here on tour and really liked the vibe of the city. It was also quite affordable at the time. That has sadly changed, but there is still a great music scene, lots of great coffee, food and bars here and so much else going on. It’s also quite beautiful and relaxed and close to so much epic nature.
MPM: What song from Loss Seeking Flame would you consider not only being a favorite terms of lyrical content and its impact musically?
AR: That’s hard to say and it varies I suppose. I do like the way the album opens with the shorter epic “Where Sky Lays Buried” and closes with the longer epic “Ideation”.
MPM: The first time I’ve heard Aerial Ruin was actually through the Bell Witch split titled Stygian Bough Volume I that was released in 2020. How was the collaboration working with Bell Witch like when they’re a funeral doom metal band versus your project being acoustic driven?
AR: That was great and a natural outgrowth of our years of collaboration. I have appeared on all Bell Witch albums as a guest vocalist/collaborator so with Stygian Bough we decided to take it to the next level and do a full album together where I would also play guitar. The collaborative writing was enjoyable and natural and finally performing it live recently has taken the songs even further. I think on the next album we do together we will have more time to perfect things and it will be more realized too.
MPM: What I love about Loss Seeking Flame is I hear tons of experimentation and many musical genres including folk, doom, psychedelic and even some post rock and metal elements as if I were to hear something in the veins of Agalloch, Pink Floyd and many more. What was your conscience decision into writing this album and would you say this is the most diverse and dynamic Aerial Ruin albums to date?
AR: Thanks, great bands to be compared to. It’s hard to know how to think of this music from a genre perspective for me personally but I think it’s great you hear all those elements. It is certainly influenced by much more than other acoustic artists whether directly or indirectly. And yes I do think this is my most diverse and dynamic album to date, though they all stretch out in their own way I suppose.
MPM: What would you say is better if you had to pick performing live shows front of a audience or recording music?
AR: Well I feel like I really need them both and they are two very different ways to experience music, both as a listener and performer. However, if I had to pick one it would be recording as I love being able to perfect something and the idea that the recordings will outlive me. How I cherish albums by certain musicians no longer with us and am so thankful I can hear their creations whenever I want.
MPM: Since Aerial Ruin is your main project, what inspired you to write lyrics, play guitar, perform vocals and be the musician that you are today?
AR: Well I am really a metal kid at heart and explored thrash/death with my first band Epidemic, all sorts of metal and rock with Old Grandad and now the melding of doom with other elements in Stygian Bough and Bell Witch. So metal is still very much part of my life but Aerial Ruin allows me to explore music of the most introverted nature, music that I initially never imagined playing in front of other humans. It was inspired by intense psychedelic and spiritual experiences I had in younger years, plus the fact my natural melodic voice sounds good at quiet volumes. It allowed me to realize that one can be heavy in hushed tones and shades of subtlety.
MPM: This album to me not only is one of the most experimental and engaging albums I’ve heard in 2022 but your music is also very unique and versatile. Were there any albums in 2022 so far that you consider to be favorites of yours? If so, what records you would recommend?
AR: Thank you. Nechochwen – Kanawha Black is damn good and I just got my vinyl copy, new Shape of Despair – Return to the Void too, though I have yet to spend as much time with it as I have with “Monotony Fields” which is such a great record. I look forward to digging into it more though. The recent collaborations between Sangre de Muerdago and Judas & Nahimana are wonderful. I am inconsistent in checking out all new releases in as they come out but other releases I have really treasured that came out before 2022 are Lankum – The Livelong Day and various albums by Spectral Wound, Osi and the Jupiter, Panopticon, Obsequiae, Dreadnought, Blackbird Raum, Exulansis, Drouth, Vouna , I’m sure I’m forgetting something…
MPM: Aerial Ruin is about to create the most influential and greatest tour lineup of 2022. If you were to bring anyone out on the road of past and current bands who do you like to open for?
AR: Dream tours I would love to open that are bands that are currently active would be Opeth and Alcest, as they are favorites of mine and I think their fan base might like me. I actually got to tour with Agalloch briefly in 2011 which was similarly amazing. There are also musicians like Cat Power who are not metal adjacent but I would love to open for. Certain records of hers mean so much to me. The same could be said of Elliott Smith and Mark Lanegan, though they are sadly no longer with us. I guess you can add Radiohead to the list of the living. I will resist the urge to list off favorite bands of sixties and seventies. Again, I’m sure I’m forgetting something.
MPM: What does music mean to you and why should everyone check out Aerial Ruin?
AR: Music is my life, it means so much to me. It is an invisible art form that can transmit and bring on such powerful emotion. It eclipses language and the intellect yet contains and stimulates them. It is deeply individualistic , yet shared and traditional. As far as why should everyone check out Aerial Ruin? Well I think this music appeals to a diverse group of listeners that may exist far outside my underground largely metal culture, so it’s audience could definitely grow. Having said that, perhaps it’s also not for everybody and that’s fine.
MPM: If music wasn’t your past time activity, what would be your occupation you see yourself doing in the foreseeable future?
AR: I have become fascinated with crows and ravens and other corvids lately, but also with birds in general. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to work for the Audubon Society. I would love that. I could also see working in a library at some point too as I love to read and love old books in physical form. I am not currently ambitious about either though, I really just want to spend as much time on music as possible. But who knows, maybe I can pursue those goals at some point.
MPM: Any hobbies you like doing when not creating music that fans of you don’t know about?
AR: I suppose the last answer points to my love of reading and bird watching and going on deep documentary dives about crows and ravens. More importantly getting to know the crows that live outside my home. I enjoy walking and hiking a lot, whether in the city here in Portland or the surrounding epic nature hikes in the Columbia River Gorge and other close by places.
MPM: Before we wrap up this interview I want to thank you for your time and being able to talk with you about your music has been a blast. Are there any upcoming shows, announcements or possible new music on the horizons to inform fans?
AR: Stygian Bough is supporting Red Fang on a string of dates in the first half of August preceded by at least one headline show in Tacoma with Vouna and Eye of Nix, then we go to Europe with Wolves in the Throne Room in October/November so that is all very exciting. We hope to make up some of the canceled west coast dates at some point too. I am hoping to book more Aerial Ruin shows this year too, working on that.
And thank you Jake and Metal Purgatory Media for the interest and support and supporting underground music, Cheers and Hails!
The photo is credited by Saga Visual
Interview by Jake Butler