Music for the mind and the spirit – interview with ’Sun and Moon Dance’


Picture by Cody Stiles

Hi Chris and welcome to Dark Folk Nation! It fills me with joy to
feature your project ’Sun And Moon Dance’ on our site so thanks for
sharing your story. How are you doing today?

Thank you so much for the opportunity. I am doing great today. Thank
you for asking. I hope you and all who are reading this are doing well
also.

Where are you from?

I live in the United States and I am nestled in the beautiful
Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. I was born and raised
in the state of North Carolina.

Would you like to tell us some details about ’Sun And Moon Dance’?
When was it formed? Who’s involved? Where does the name come from?

Sure. So Sun and Moon Dance first came into being in 2014. A friend of
mine left me in the house with a Mountain dulcimer while he went to
the store and it was the first instrument in many years that ”clicked”
with me. It was the first instrument besides my voice that I had
played in a very long time. If I remember correctly, that day was when
the first song I ever composed started to take shape. The song was
”Hymne til Freyja” which was the first song to be released (with the
help of Rúnahild on the Hardingfele) by my newly formed project Sun
and Moon Dance. The idea for the name was inspired by the two wolves
that chase the Sun and Moon in the Northern European mythos. To go a
step farther with the inspiration of the name it was loosely inspired
by the song ”Dualitit og ulver” (Duality of the wolf) by the Norwegian
Black Metal band Helheim. The concept of the balance of light and
darkness has been the central focus of Sun and Moon Dance since the
beginning. If anyone wants to know what Sun and Moon Dance is, it is
quite simply me. Sun and Moon Dance is my journey, my magic, my
purpose. Everything is done by myself. I definitely have that punk
rock DIY spirit with my art. Even if the sound suffers a bit because
of my lack of recording knowledge, it’s all part of the journey I
started. I learn something new with each album release. When I started
recording the music, I never wanted it to sound perfect. I wanted it
to channel all those raw emotions and energies of being human. I do
from time to time have guest musicians appear on some of my tracks. I
am very picky with who I let into my art because it is something
sacred that is very special to me. I have to really trust someone’s
magic and intent to allow them to enter that space with me.

You have released quite a lot of music during the past years. Has the
music changed a lot or have you kept your course as an artist?

The music has changed a lot since the beginning and so have I. I have
kept the same course though it has evolved a bit since the beginning.
It has been a natural progression that I truly am amazed at how far I
have come as an artist and composer in the past 6 years. When I
started I did a lot of stand alone instrument songs that would feature
just one or two instruments and no vocals. I had the idea of letting
the instrument tell the story but at the time I was also recording
with a Tascam dr-40 voice recorder haha. I literally had to take the
SD card out of the tascam for every layer of the song and individually
line them up in the recording software. It was tedious and quite
hilarious to think back on. I can’t believe I actually did that but it
was all I knew how to do and the only form of Microphone I had. Now I
actually have a fairly proper recording set up which makes doing many
layers much easier.

What inspires you when writing songs for ’Sun And Moon Dance’?

All my inspirations come from the natural world and the experiences
within it. Experiences of joy, sadness, despair…life and death. The
beautiful mystery of life that encompasses all of those facets and
more inspires me daily. I love the mystery and the acceptance of it.
Runes… My life revolves around runes and their secrets. I also find
great inspiration in these mountains that I call my home. They are
ancient giants that hold so many amazing stories and history. I’m
thankful for them and their wisdom. They’ve helped me grow and learn
how to truly listen.

When listening to your songs I feel there is a unique storyline to
each of them, they are like short journeys of the mind. How much do
you plan these things or are they born straight from your intuition?

Yes, each song is a journey and they are crafted as spellwork or to
induce a trance. They are meant to heal and to take you deep into your
mind to bring back memories and wisdom that has been hidden away or
forgotten. Since Ginnungagaldr, each album has targeted a specific
part of the body and spirit for healing. That is the purpose of the
droning notes that became present in the music since Ginnungagaldr.
They are consistent through an entire album because they target and
activate a specific Chakra. I have been learning to hone in my
practice as a sound healer by learning the note correlation with each
chakra and also learning different sacred and spiritual sounds from
various shamanic and spiritual practices from around the world.
The songs are planned but not planned at the same time. It is as much
a journey for me to create these pieces as it is for the listener to
listen to them. What has happened in the albums since Ginnungagaldr is
I will sit down and write out the tracklist for the concept of the
album. None of the songs are written at that point in time. There may
be a segment of an instrumental that I had that finds its place in a
specific song but 95% of the compositions are done when I sit down to
record. At this point I basically become a conduit for the vocal
melodies, lyrics, and instrumentation to flow out. The lyrics have
always come to me in the moment and they usually come out as a prayer
or as a mantra. Pretty much all the vocal melodies you hear in the
songs are ”on the spot” improvisations. They’re based on feeling
rather than thought. I’m literally in a trance-like state when
recording a majority of the segments of the songs. There have been
times where I have a general idea of how I think a song is going to
sound and when it’s done, it sounds completely different from what I
had envisioned. That’s where you learn to trust the spirit to guide
the song because they come out exactly as they are supposed to. I cant
tell you how many times I’ve sat back and listened to a finished
composition and said to myself ”what the fuck did I just write?” It’s
a really humbling experience.

What instruments do you use in your music?


I use a variety of folk instruments from scandinavia, appalachia and a
couple from other countries. Also I incorporate natural sounds as
well. The ones you hear mostly are the Nyckelharpa, Tagelharpa,
Bukkehorn, Munnharpe, Mountain Dulcimer, Tibetan ceremonial bells,
Birch twigs, bones, stones, antlers, Frame drum, Kraviklyra, and a
couple Native American flutes. A little bit of dancing is also
featured in some of the recordings. Any time you hear bells, I’m
usually dancing around shaking the bells on my clothes haha. Keep that
in mind the next time you hear bells in one of my songs. Imagine a
dude dancing around jingling bells in a shed.

Do you play live?

Before this whole COVID 19 pandemic, I was just starting to get
comfortable playing live and had visions of creating a much bigger
live performance with other musicians and visual artists. One day I
will play live again and something much bigger than Sun and Moon Dance
will come to life. I’m excited for that time to come…

What plans do you have for ’Sun And Moon Dance’ in the future? Are
there any new releases coming or so?

I already have the concept and name of the next album that will come
after Re:member. I’m really excited to see what road that album will
lead me down because the concept is a really powerful one. Ill give
everyone the name of the next album and I’ll let you all think about
what it means. After ”Re:member” will come ”Spirit Saddle.” As far as
what is coming soon, ”Re:member” will be coming out in the beginning
of 2021. Im not sure of the date yet but only one song is left to
record. I am super unconventional when it comes to releases. I do not
follow any kind of schedule. It’s done when it’s done and it’s
released when it’s released. If i’m not feeling inspired, i will not
work on music. I do not force anything. I’ve gone months without
working on music or even touching an instrument for that matter.
Something else I plan to do is to finally get some merch. I have been
focusing on my visual galdr work and I’d love to get some of those
designs printed on shirts. We shall see what else comes out but you
can be assured that the art in various forms will flow.

Any wisdoms you’d like to share with the world?

3 words. Love, Hope and Trust. Think about those 3 words and how lost
we are without them but also how deep those 3 words are.

You’ll find Sun and Moon Dance’s music and more at:

https://sunandmoondance.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/sunandmoondance

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