The following appeared in an abbreviated form in issue #35 of the British music journal, Ptolemaic Terrascope. It is presented here in its entirety. - Jeff

We recently sent Jeff Penczak in search of the enigmatic physical entity known variously as B’, B’eirth, or, more formally, Bobin Jon Michael Eirth, the one constant in the (r)evolving collective, In Gowan Ring. We tracked “Bee”’s (as he prefers to be called) peregrinations from an artist residency in Malibu, California, to a volunteer stint at a co-operative on the coast of Oregon, to serving as an equestrian hygienist (“basically shoveling horseshit”) in rural Vermont to harvesting seaweed on the coast of Maine. As you will soon discover, Bee is as erudite in relating his philosophy of life and the role of the arts’ therein, as he is in regaling us with his thought-provoking, introspective, musical poetry¾occasionally inspired by nature, yet ultimately transformed by the poet into music with a “sense of ‘personality’ and ‘genuine-ness’ [and] a reverence for trans-social reality which would include an awareness of a trans-physical life of the soul.” (Stay with us, it gets even deeper!) His work invites comparisons with everyone from early wyrdfolk innovators, Incredible String Band, Gryphon, and Trees to Donovan and King Crimson, yet he is quick to point out his actual influences range from “the old ameri-folkies (Tim Buckley, Fred Neil) and euro-folkies (Malicorn, Alan Stivel)” to, most surprisingly, The Beatles.

Before we begin, we offer Bee’s “Manifesto,” which establishes set and setting for the journey which follows:

There is an aesthetic sense that is in danger of extinction.  When one lives within this sense, certain music can be regarded as a means of survival in an increasingly hostile environment. It would be a truism to suggest that the aesthetic sense is requisite for meaningful existence, but it is less and less avoidable for me to conclude that the aesthetic sense is ultimately a required sense for human and non-human cohabitation, and therefore, survival of the human species. If the extent of one’s perspective is merely human then one is divorced from the absolute reality that forms the basis of existence. Music can be used as an invigorating tool in attempting to revivify the atrophied abilities of the human organism to relate meaningfully (hence responsibly) with the world at large. Music and the arts do have the power (however seldom actualized) to guide man to an awareness and contemplation of the higher beauty of an ultimate reality.


Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: what is an “In Gowan Ring” and from whence its origin?

“In Gowan Ring” is less of a thing and more of a state of being…or a place.  It is that space when one is within the “mantle of garlands,” in short, a state of “Grace.”  The "Gowan" is a golden (golden>gollan>gowan) field flower (more commonly “daisy”) often associated with simple earthly revelry and delight in the natural world.

You also seem to have devised an interesting, rather gnomish identity for yourself. How did you come to begin referring to yourself as B’eirth?

B’eirth is a contraction for the less wieldy Bobin Jon Michael Eirth.  To make it even simpler you can just call me “Bee,” like the little buzzing things going from flower to flower. My father was an apiarist and when I visit I can still raid the old tubs from over some 15 years back.

Your colourful, self-penned release descriptions give the impression that you’re living in your own world and are only too pleased to welcome us into it every now and then. Why all the apparent mystery surrounding you and your work?

Everyone, to some extent, must live in their own world, though of course distinctions between seemingly homogenized worlds can be less apparent. The practiced imaginalist makes trips between the interior and exterior worlds.  It is when Phantasies can connect with external reality that they may illuminate some aspects of that reality.  There is the desire to “real-ize” the objects of the imaginal realm that they might be shared.  A song is a kind of worldview in miniature (or at least encapsulated in 3-7 minutes) and anyone is free to enter into it – this then can become shared territory or to some extent “shared vision” once grasped – some area of mutual exploration.

I also think your musical vision lends itself to cinematic interpretation – part ‘Wicker Man,’ part medieval circus music. I can certainly here vestiges of the traveling minstrels’ songs from Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Seventh Seal’ throughout your work, but the coda to “Two Wax Dolls” (off ‘Glinting Spade’) is particularly evocative of that era. Ever consider interpreting some of those old movie tunes or working in the cinematic realm in general?

On occasion we do an English rendition of “The Black One” from ‘The Seventh Seal.’ [You can find this on “Exists & Entrances, vol. 3.”] Working with film would be interesting.  I believe I could be competent at working with music for film - the impetus for such, however, would have to be supplied in the form of an actual job.  At present I don’t have an agent nor the natural inclination to pursue  the obtaining of this kind of work for myself.

You seem to have a great interest in the sound of the Orient – the unusual instrumentation on your releases includes dreambox, bells, gongs, windchimes, and metallic, percussive devices. Where does that interest come from?

It is an interest in the natural delight of sounds.  The Orient does seem to still have a place for non-domesticated sounds but apparently the pre-orchestral West was also prone to utilize such sounds including the highly-overtoned buzzing string sound most familiarly associated with the East.  Some of the sounds you mention are rich in highly complex overtones which do particularly have a stimulating affect on the imagination. I would suppose that this has something to do with a semi-conscious apprehension of deep pattern in vibration combinations - the rich overtones makes the tonal interrelations more apparent. 

You also design a lot of your own instruments. How do these creations contribute to the IGR sound - what do they offer that you can't get from the traditional instrument?

I would rather propose that the self-built instrument IS the traditional instrument. On one level, it is the most direct approach to obtaining and using an instrument: it’s the usual case of poverty inspiring ingenuity.  Yet, there are some peculiarities of the instruments I use which would be very difficult to obtain by other means.  My main current instrument is a Guitar/Cittern hybrid: a standard 6 string on the top neck and 9 strings in 5 courses (low course single) on the lower neck.  I wanted the combination so as to avoid changing instruments between songs during performance.  Occasionally I play both necks during one song and sometimes use the cittern neck as resonant strings while the top neck strings are sounding.  I believe it to be strikingly true for musical instruments what is true for most objects: the more effort and energy invested in them through creation or use, the more powerful they are on subtler levels.

The sounds of nature also play a key role in your music: you often list water as one of your instruments, and by ‘The Glinting Spade,’ you’re literally playing with fire. You appear to have a fascination with the beauty and order of nature, writing songs about water, rivers, trees, stones, dandelions, wind, leaves, rainbows, et.al. Would you classify yourself as an environmentalist or naturalist who employs music to deliver your message of preservation, conservation, and communion with what is all around us? Or are you a musician who employs nature (sticks, stones, oats, avocado and berrie rattles, gourds, seed pods, etc.) to make music?

Yes, yes, it’s certainly more interesting than cement office buildings and industrial parks…. But these areas of reflection are the traditional provinces of the Poet.  As for the sounds one can create with “natural” materials, primarily I find them aurally fascinating and secondarily they find a home in their poetic allusions.

In my interview with another (former) Salt Lake City band, Landing, we discussed the obvious religious “connotations” associated with your home town. Do you also follow the Mormon discipline, and does it play any role in your creations?

Although I’ve spent some time in Salt Lake City, I don’t consider it a home town.  I was born and raised further East in green territory – not in the high desert.  I considered myself a New Englander a few months ago – but now fortune has dragged me to the coast of California.   

I do not follow the Mormon discipline but do have a rich genealogical connection with the history of the Mormon pioneer movement.  My mother’s line is from the Fourth Prophet of the Mormon Church, Wilfred Woodruff (he was in fact my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, and he had the “revelation” to officially discontinue polygamy), and my father’s line is from a scout that was on the first reconnaissance of Utah and was monumentalized in some hard substance on a hill.

Do accoutrements of nature play any part in the creation and performance of In Gowan Ring material? For example, there surely seems to be much more than ‘Dandelion Wine’ at play in the half-hour trilogy that ends ‘Love Charms:’ “Within Rings,” “Of Water Wiverings,” and “Urn and Water.”

Are you trying to ask me if I used drugs to make the music?  “Accoutrements of Nature” is an attractive euphemism! I have used psychedelic experiences in the process of my own development, which of necessity would influence the processes of writing songs as well as other creative actions. At a key juncture in my life psychedelic experiences may have reaffirmed my regard for imaginative functions that I had associated with a surreal childhood or an unrecoverable innocence. I would not say exactly that I “use” them for writing songs but of course these songs are the fruit of an experiential imperative.

In general I would de-emphasize the role of psychotropic substances in regard to its possible influence in the creation of the music.  People tend to marginalize unfamiliar traits in art they find strange, assuming them to be the product of drug-addled minds when these tendencies are often inherent in the idiosyncrasies of certain creative modes with or without the aid of enhancement.

That being said, I must also acknowledge the apparently “lost” heritage of sacred psychedelic plant use that has widely accompanied humans until its comparatively recent proscription and demonization.   I sustain the efforts of researchers and experimenters seeking to renew hidden knowledge relating with the sacred plants of antiquity.

The ‘Compendium’ anthology contains a suite of songs centered around the concept of sleep (“Nap Lair Suite”) that originally appeared on the cassette-only ‘Pscikadilik Psyrkuz II & I.’ Here you create an imaginary, fairytale place known as Napland, whose mythology combines elements of Gong’s surreal Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy with Donovan’s fairy tales and children’s stories from ‘A Gift from A Flower To A Garden’ and ‘H.M.S. Donovan.’  ‘Nap Lair’ is also the name of your online discussion group for all things related to In Gowan Ring. Tell us a little more about the origins and secret history behind Napland.

Does Napland need an introduction? What can be iterated is the traditional liturgical to be recited at the gates:

[with  reverence]
Limp boned, bag-eyed and bleary
Approach I humbly Lord Nap and Lady Sleep.
Eyes closed, mouth slightly parted
A Litany to Lethargy is mine to speak.
Extremities askew, skin exposed
In dear drowse, dextless reposed.
A limb twitches, tangled, buried
‘Neath layers that linger in reverie.
From visions lustral limpid clear
To the oblivion, redemptive, encroaching near.
In Waves thick amnesia tumbles on -
Hushed expanse, ineffable thoughts
Lucid…  Losing…  Lost… Gone.

The opening track on your first widely available release (‘Love Charms’) is called “Listen To Colours.” Pray, educate us. What do colours sound like?

Synesthesia or “cross-modal abstraction” is certainly an intriguing field of inquiry which here I must limit our discussion to the cursory.  Looked at “scientifically,” it is a matter of cross-activation (rather than cross-wiring) within the so-called “angular gyrus” of the TPO (portion of the cortex that is the junction of the Temporal, Parietal and Occipital lobes).  The tendency for cross-modal abstraction does seem to be related  to some of the wherefores of what I’ll call “Poetic-Mind” – an aspect of which is seeing deep links between superficially dissimilar and unrelated things.  It is conjectured that it may have had a critical function in the origins of language (which I can well believe). Think here also of magical tables of correspondences and the theory of  magic as the associating of brain activities to engender specific results.

Can you also see sound, and can you share what that looks like?

By certain experiments it is possible to see the effects of sound (in sand patterns upon vibrating metal cymbals, etc.) but, in fact, on another level all the world is sound - or, rather, ordered vibrations if you prefer - so a transposal of the senses could imaginably be mapped out somehow, but anyway interrelations between the senses do seem to me a natural enough phenomenon, whether or not I may be commonly conscious of specific “abstractions.”  Generally, I don’t normally now experience obvious Synesthesia except in borderline dream states.  I do recall conversing as a child with one of my teachers regarding how certain numbers  "went with" specific colours.  It is common for people with perfect pitch to describe the tones as “colours,” but I don’t know if this is rather more of a metaphor for what can not be easily described to those less keenly sensitive.

Your early releases were handled via World Serpent. How did you hook up with them?

Correspondence.

I must congratulate you on some of the most intricately elaborate cover art this side of vintage 4AD or Factory. I’m sure Vaughan Oliver and Peter Saville would be proud. However, you rarely credit the folks responsible for the graphics and design of your album covers….

I’ve designed the covers using most of my own art unless otherwise credited.  I’m glad you like it.  I’ve tended not to credit my own  art in order to simplify the notes.  While making aesthetic limitations in the credits I do hope to mention what is necessary.

And up until ‘Hazel…,’ you’ve left the titles off the covers as well. Another design decision?

They seemed superfluous at the time and merely got in the way of the exceedingly subtle graphic.  These were meant to be explorable and more words would tend to turn them into wallpaper.

You’ve covered an old folk song that Paul Simon calls “Scarborough Fair,” although your version is “The Once True Love” (from ‘Compendium’). Where did you learn your version?

I gathered a couple of different older versions and used the verses that I found appealing – there are many variations. The overlapped arrangement was likely a spontaneous experiment – though the left-hand part of the harp was based on the accompaniment found in Sylvia Woods’ introductory harp method book (“Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp”) which I was studying from at the time.

Did you consciously find yourself trying to avoid Simon’s arrangement?

I had not considered the S&G arrangement, which as I recall added some for-the-times obligatory (though entirely superfluous) war imagery verse and seemed to lose the riddle/ritual aspect of the song. 

Many of your albums seem to germinate anywhere from 1-3 years prior to their eventual release. While you always helpfully indicate when the material was recorded, I wonder why such a long gap between recording and release?

This is the period it takes me to complete projects.  This could be perceived as either laborious and punctilious or just lazy and slackard….  I have a certain streak of what could be termed “perfectionism,” but without this inbuilt quality control there would be little excuse for doing it at all.  Of course I don’t feel that the projects are perfect, but I have certain standards for the aesthetics of Process – in that the work is somehow expanding my abilities or arena of focus.  I flesh out to the best of my ability the work’s natural soul and potential, and it takes brooding time.

Fans may have a rough go of collecting all your releases under pseudonyms (such as Mary Throwing Stones or B.all Grew Grace) and on various compilations that have been released around the world. While ‘Compendium’ is a nice introduction to your albums, have you had requests to assemble these obscure tracks for the In Gowan Ring completist?

Its been suggested, though I’m sure I’d wait for most of the compilations to go out of print.  Of course it would be an easy album to assemble but the idea doesn’t strike me as an altogether inspiring project at present.

Are you often approached to contribute to outside projects or compilations and what criteria do you weigh in making your “go/no go” decision.

I have been more often approached in the last few years for contributions.  If I think I may have something appropriate for the collection or if I feel I may be attracted to the idea or aesthetics of the compilation, or if I know personally the compilers then I’ll try to come up with something.  But I must be somewhat selfish to get anything done myself as one of my requisite working conditions is “relaxed.”

Tell us a little more about this new series of outtakes, alternate versions, etc. called ‘Exists and Entrances.’ You’ve released three volumes to date – do you plan to continue the series, or have you exhausted the vaults for now?

There’s always more in the vaults or with the keepers.  They seem to be inexhaustible though my patience to wade through them may not be.  I intended it as a continuing collection like a sort of documentary magazine.  It’s fun to make these collections because it is a quick gratification as opposed to the other more critical mode of working mentioned earlier.  Because of the hand assembled and self-dubbing nature of these releases it hearkens back to earlier times of DIY cassette craftiness. I have a volume four planned but that might be it for a few years – we’ll see. [Note: Volume 4, 'Lovely Things and Ugly, All in Permanent Flux, as Uncoiled through In Gowan Ring' was released during the Autumnal Equinox in 2003.]

You once gave me a brief explanation of the title which has since evaporated, but as I recall it had to do with an elaborate pun? I wondered if it wasn’t intended to be ‘Exits…?’

The title is playful in respect to the double meaning of “Entrances” and the easy misreading of “Exits” for “Exists.”  These are little imperfect clips that could give a token picture of the coming and going processions in flux or simply things-that-were and which may possibly capture the imagination.

‘The Glinting Spade’ has also been puzzling listeners who wonder about that title. I’ve even seen it listed in catalogues as ‘Abend The Knurled Stitch’! Help us out on that one. How does one go about abending a knurled stitch over a glinting spade?

I here give one possible rough interpretation:

Here, in a state of bentedness [intricate convolution ] is the Knurled Stitch [sophisticated craft of poetry] over the Glinting Spade [the fire of inspiration {Glinting} infused with the power of action/work {Spade}].

I grant there may be other interpretations and I don’t imagine that this kind of cipher is easily accessible but it gives its own warning.  It serves the purpose of a title in that in some way it contains an essence of the whole work within itself.

In contrast to this almost sigilistic word-play I would say that ‘Hazel Steps Through A Weathered Home’ is comparatively decipherable.  There are layers of meaning involved and there may still be a few impenetrable edges here and there, but over all I was driven by the virtue of simplicity which manifested within the poetics and the musical arrangements;  so that just as each of the instrumental parts can be heard as separate entities, so too the meanings are … well not plain, but eminently cognizable without having to resort to geomancy or undue personal projection.  Previously, the more obtuse lyrics may have provided an imaginal webwork that could be used for personal geomancy – the “meanings” being, though relatively certain, specifically pliant and available for multifarious interpretation pendant upon auditorial projection.

Several of the tracks have a Suite-like feel about them: following a straightforward medieval ballad at the start of the song, they segue into lengthy, ambient atmospherics. Are these attention-grabbing song structures intended to actively involve the listener in the proceedings?

Regards the “Suite-like feel” of a track like “Cipher’s String on the Tree in the Dream of the Queen,” I would say that I was experimenting with song arrangements such as could be found in older records when  one song  took up all of a side and proceeded through different verse arrangements and interpolated sound impressions between the verses.  I recall King Crimson did this on a few albums but there were of course other groups experimenting with these sorts of extended arrangements.

Since you mention them, I must say I hear elements of vintage Crimson in all your releases. “Orb Weavers” [from ‘Hazel Steps…’] even has that “Cadence and Cascade” vibe and would easily fit snuggled amongst the quieter passages on any of their first four LPs. Am I overreaching here, or is there a smidgeon of acknowledgement of their influence?

King Crimson were usually one of the better finds in the thrift store bins I’ll admit, and I did tend to appreciate “the quieter passages” and some of the aimlessness over the more rock-type pieces.  I heard them when I was quite young but I still haven’t heard, or don't recall hearing some of the albums you're probably thinking of, so I can’t claim to be a great fan.

I also spoke about Donovan earlier and “The Seer and the Seen” and “Kingdom of the Shades” [also from ‘Hazel Steps…’] bring me back to those vintage navel-gazing daze of yore. Perhaps this is a good time to reflect on your own influences – who were you listening to when you had that epiphany that led to venturing forth in the music world?

The one really obvious “influence” I can state is the Beatles.  I was steeped in the Beatles as a child and still remember how it affected me then.  It’s not what I tend to listen to much anymore, but it certainly affected me when I was impressionable.

There is also a wide variety of historic music that has influenced In Gowan Ring; from John Dowland [maudlin English renaissance] to the "Fumeur's" [French medieval dadaists] and the earliest surviving music from Egypt and Greece.  Also, traditional folk music from just about all around the world (well stocked public libraries are to thank for this).  I did at one time didactically study 16th century polyphony on account of  the subtly compelling quality of this art.  And though I have never used strict 16th century arrangements, the temperament comes through a little.  

What kind of music gives you pleasure, then? You strike me as an old Brit folkie: Trees, Comus, Gryphon, Incredible String Band, etc., but I imagine you also fancy Martyn Bates, Timothy Renner, Ben Chasney, Fit & Limo and your former World Serpent labelmates?

To name a few albums in recent rotation: Buffy St.-Marie: 'Changing Woman;' T-Rex: 'Unicorn;' and the [self-titled] Magic Carpet album.  I do like a lot of the old Brit-folk stuff and I’m always pleased to find that there's more of this that I haven’t heard.  But I also like the old Ameri-folkies (Tim Buckley, Fred Neil) and Euro-folkies (Malicorne, Brigitte Fontaine) as well. Unfortunately, it is difficult for much recently made music to please me.  It can seem like an aesthetic trend, but it may be that it is difficult for interesting music to be exposed these days (what with RIAA, et. al.).

A few of the somewhat recent groups I find worthwhile are the 17 Pygmies [featuring Savage Republic/Scenic keyboardist Robert Loveless] and Lords of Howling [an eight-piece commune/collective from Questa, New Mexico who’ve self-released ten cassettes and a CD] and all those Kendra Smith projects (Guild of Temporal Adventurers, Opal),  but I suppose even these can’t be considered “contemporary” now.

I’d have to agree with you, Bee. 17 Pygmies broke up 15 years ago, the Howling disk is from 1997, and Smith hasn’t been heard from since she receded back into the northern California woods following her appearance at Terrastock II in San Francisco in 1998.

Ok, so thinking about truly contemporary music… out of what has come to my necessarily limited attention I can think of a few.  It was something of a revelation when Faun Fables vocalist, Dawn [McCarthy] sent me their 'Mother Twilight' album [Earthlight, 2001], and not just because all the songs were finally recorded, but that the intensity of live performance was retained and even enhanced by the inventive arrangements.  I also recall a Goldfrapp album I enjoy [‘Felt Mountain’ (Mute, 2000)]; and one by Lilium [‘Short Stories’ (Glitterhouse, 2003)], and all the Alio Die albums - I get a lot of use out of those. [Milan composer Stefano Musso has released nearly a dozen ambient electronic albums since forming Alio Die in 1989.-JP] I'm sure, though, that there's so much out there I haven't heard.  I do welcome any enlightenment that should come my way.  Some of my favorite music has been sent to me by considerate enthusiasts.

Timothy Renner has coined the term wyrdfolk to describe some of the current avant folk musics that are cropping up around the world. You’ve even contributed “On the Butterfly’s Wing” to his marvelous ‘Hand/Eye’ compilation, which is the definitive introduction to the genre. What attracts you to this style of music and why do you think it has such a universal appeal, claiming practitioners such as Mr. & Mrs. Limo in Germany, The Magic Carpathians in Poland, and Ring Andersen (Norway) and Kemialliset Ystavat (Finland) up in Scandinavia?

What attracts me to any music is usually its sense of  personality and genuine-ness (and incidentally, this is what I so often find lacking in modern music).  I would propose that one aspect of this music would be a reverence for trans-social reality which would include an awareness of a trans-physical life of the soul. If music with this awareness has caught on well around the world I hope it is because it is “Real,” that is to say, less prone to empty style and rather more rooted in real things like wood and strings, personal imagination, and a perspective perceptive of a dynamic, living and symmetrical world.

You and Timothy toured briefly as In Stone Gowan Breath Ring, playing as such at Terrastock IV in Seattle. Tell us a bit about your reaction to Terrastock.

Terrastock IV was a magnificent adventure!  It would be great if more people were involved in arranging these kinds of events.

You work with a lot of different collaborators, including Lincoln Lysager, Annabel Lee, Michael Moynihan, and Margie Wienk, yet there doesn’t seem to be a definitive IGR lineup. Is IGR actually a pseudonym for B’eirth or is it a loose amalgamation of friends whose participation depends on their availability when it comes time for you to record?

I, myself, do conduct and coordinate the projects of In Gowan Ring (and availability is a factor in participation), however, I do not feel that “In Gowan Ring” is exactly a pseudonym for myself, even though as a physical entity I may be the only constant in the group.

Do you enjoy working with different people on each project?

It has been natural and necessary to work with different people, and although it would be enjoyable to work at length with the same group of people, I can’t be sure this will occur in the near future.

Do you consider yourself a modern day Pied Piper? If Donovan wore that mantel in the 60s, are you its 21st century descendent?

Only if people really want to be piped away;  but do they now?  I suppose I’m big on free will and personal volition so I wouldn’t care to be entirely irresistible… but I imagine it would be good for them that: being piped away.  If only people nowadays cared for such things as being piped away!

So no, I’m not really stealing anyone’s children away;  I don’t have that kind of responsibility to deal with and I hope I wouldn’t be so foolish as to engage the world in a contract to get rid of their rodents in the first place.  Of course they’ll try to screw you!

I ask because you seem to work so well with children as evidenced by the live material on ‘Compendium.’

Ok, ok, I have piped a few children away, but only temporarily…. The music does retain something from the legacy of storytelling – something of this imperative to release imagination into the “Realm of the Soul.”  There are some adults that retain this virtuous capacity - that rare ability to be piped away.

Is it important to preserve the fairy tale tradition in music and can one consider In Gowan Ring’s oeuvre a collection of fairy tales for adults?

But fairy-tales ARE for adults.

You’ve toured extensively over in Portugal, an unusual destination in my mind, considering the style of music you play. Help enlighten me to Portugal’s charms and attractions.

I landed there at the end of  some performance travels and had no inclination to go anywhere else. There is a lasting medieval quality in the villages that I particularly savored…. In the village where I stayed up north there was presumably one television and that was in the café – which was sporadically open. This undeveloped quality is precious and dwindling all the time.  It’s European in the old ways of stone streets, local vegetable-men* and such, but not modernized and ruined as in the more wealthy parts of Europe.

*I’ve construed an anthem for the archetypal Vegetable Man owing to the fact of it being such a praiseworthy occupation- to obtain one’s sustenance it is wonderful to merely saunter down to the village square when the familiar horn sounds, and never have to bother with official trips to market.

Your travels have taken you around the world. Do you find certain areas more receptive to your material than others? If so, why do you think that is? For example, I somehow get the impression that your work would go over better in Europe and Britain than in America. I don’t think Americans (in general) have the patience required to sit and absorb and appreciate your material. I think that’s because there is not a lot of historical perspective from such a young country as the U.S.

I used to have something of a similar idea but I’m not so certain anymore.  It’s rare for people to have patience or even the ability to concentrate anywhere.  I often find people in large cosmopolitan cities to be generally dulled, jaded and self important; the lifestyle seems to necessitate it. There's a few sides to this conundrum.  It 's not just  that the cultural listening tradition has atrophied - in some places the people are more openly sensitive because there has not been a continued “urban arts tradition" due to unfortunate political regimes.  Brute stylisms have dulled a natural appreciation for simple and sophisticated aesthetics alike.  That music is generally purveyed in bars nowadays is an unfortunate sign of degeneracy – music should be performed in music halls – that is areas that were acoustically created for auditory experience as apposed to some kind of inducement for alcohol consumption.  Alas…  but it IS the setting that can be really important in setting up expectations and helping people to feel comfortable exploring new states of mind.  I do think many people could learn to be piped away if only they were given a proper opportunity.

You’re one of the few artists that I’ve been able to find reviews and interviews from such disparate geographies as Belgium, Russia, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, as well as the usual suspects in Canada, Britain and the U.S. Is that just good old fashioned legwork on your part to get yourself (and your music) to the ears of as many people as possible? How would you account for such worldwide notoriety and universal acceptance?

This is not an indication of universal acceptance or even that many people have heard the music.  It may indicate that out of the people who have heard the music some (it only takes one for an interview) feel strongly about it. I try to accept interviews when they are proposed but I do not solicit for them.

What lies ahead for In Gowan Ring? Tours? More archival releases? Catalogue reissues? All of the above?

I have rough outlines and composed songs for a few albums to come. One collection is naively pastoral and earthy with hints of philosophy; another aqueous and mystical with themes of the Sea; and yet another being a collection of erotic love songs.   Much of this material has been collecting dust, never having been recorded, but much is yet relatively new.  I also have a small set of Christina Rosetti's poems set to music [the first of which, "Christina's Song" appears on the debut release from the Chinese label, Chaos.Pro, 'Penumbra Over Beauty']; and another small set of collaborations with a contemporary authoress - these are meant to accompany a story of verse and prose.  I prefer not giving any of the titles of these projects here. It may be a long time before any of this is completed or released;  it's the recording process that takes the time - I haven't always proper conditions.  I’m currently in a situation which should be good for working but - as usual - it could take some time for any of the material to be in presentable form.  …what with the necessity of daily musing-strolls along the beach, literary edification, and general contemplation…   but asides diversions of self enjoyment, there are less welcome challenges to productivity inherent in the revolving, itinerant lifestyle that continues to pursue  me through the years.

Regards performances, I would like to work towards a relatively sustainable yearly circuit in places where this would be viable - maybe making two small tours a year; I imagine the late spring in North America and Autumn in Europe.  I prefer performances in the traditional environments such as small theatres and churches, but it’s somewhat uncommon so it takes more work to arrange these things. If anyone should have ideas or possible aid to this end please contact us.

There’s also some instruments I’ll be working on soon: a smaller harp to tote about and another guitar-type instrument with 9 strings.

Fans can visit Bee’s website at www.ingowanring.com, where you will find an e-mail address, info on his latest releases and performances, and a selection of mp3’s from his catalogue. In the meantime, we leave you with a verse from Bee and a quote he sent along to share:

I am one with the Weaver of Roses.
I am the Watcher of the Wonder Flame.
I am a manifold of innumerable futures.
I am the dew on fleeting bloom in the Moonlit Gardens.

“It is music, among all the arts, that isolates the individual from the society of his contemporaries, makes him aware of his separateness and, finally, provides a personal significance to his life regardless of his social or even personal loyalties.  It is the one measure of survival which never fails…”  - Alex Aronson