The brain behind Arcana is Peter Bjärgö. In 2003 he ended his deal with Cold meat and started to release Arcana on his own label, Erebus odora. He also changed his surname from Pettersson to Bjärgö when he married Ia, who sings choir parts for Arcana. Since then he have released a 10 year anniversary album titled "The new light" and the late 2005 release "Le serpent rouge".
Other members of Arcana are Stefan Eriksson and Ann-Mari Thim. Stefan, Choir, keyboard and additional instrument. Ann-Mari is the leading female vocalist.
Arcana on Radio Rivendell
(This is an old republished interview)
Interview by David Purdie
David Purdie: Please talk about the past decade.
Peter B: As you grow older and continue to do music you develop and get more experienced. My sound has really grown, has gone more mature maybe. Larger sound, more vocal parts and more real instruments. And of course more open to influences outside this genre.
David: What drew you originally to expressing yourself artistically through music?
Peter B: I have always been interested in music, ever since a small child. I got my first guitar when I was 9 years old, and from that time I have been making music. I think we all have different ways in expressing ourselves, and I do it via my music.
David: What motivated the beginning of Erebus and how has this venture worked out?
Peter B: I have always had the thoughts of releasing my own music. I think that it is every musicians dream. I finally came to the conclusion that it was time to do it fulltime. It is so great to be a part of the process from the first steps to the final release. We do it all by ourselves, and we will continue to do so.
David: All of your previous releases were on Cold Meat Industry, what led you to leave that relationship and to form your own label for this release?
Peter B: I have had Erebus odora since 2001, but just released 4 items so far. This Arcana album was my 5th release on E.O. I have thought about releasing my own stuff for many years, but I had to wait for the right moment, the moment when I thought that I was most ready to go on my own. CMI was on the direction of being more a harsh industrial label, many noise bands and so on. This was not to compare to my music, so I left. The label also signed many bands at that time, that it just became inflation, you might say. I had thoughts of leaving before "Inner Pale Sun", but then our daughter Vendela was born and I couldn’t find the time to leave then.
David: What were you involved in before Arcana?
Peter B: Many projects. Everything from death metal to punk. I still play bass in a punk band, and the metal is always in my heart. In the studio I often play my guitar.
David: Where did the name Arcana come from?
Peter B: I actually thought that is was a girls name, but then I found out that it was from old English, and it is the word "secret".
David: You’ve already mentioned in other interviews your influence by Dead Can Dance. Dargaard comes to mind as a contemporary group very similar in style that I also enjoy, are you familiar with them and do you enjoy them and the fact that many other groups are releasing this medieval style music?
Peter B: I have not heard enough of Dargaard to even have an opinion about them. I can’t say that I listen to anything that is medieval. If I do, it is Dead can Dance or maybe Raja, Louisa John Krol and Gor.
David: You have another project called Sophia, talk about it please.
Peter B: Well, Arcana is quite a serious project and I needed to feel that I could experiment with my music more. So I started Sophia, just for the reason to make music with no pressure, to make experimental music the way I wanted to.
I had always been a fan of In Slaughter Natives and I guess that influenced me a bit.
David: Can you share with us some of the artists that you have worked with at Erebus since opening the studio?
Peter B: Well, a part from my own projects I have a lot of different bands in my studio. I have recorded, mixed or/and mastered bands like Karjalan Sissit, Markus Pesonen, Suicide blitz, Meanwhile, Gustaf Hildebrand, Sub Luna, Microman, In Slaughter Natives, Wolfbrigade and LOADS of others.
David: How do you go about creating a new album? Can you discuss what is involved in the creative process for you?
Peter B: Sometime I have a theme, and then I do researches on it and try to get the whole lot of it inside the music. Sometimes it just goes on by it self, the music. I start with something, and it just floats on.
David: Talk about classical music please.
Peter B: I have always been fascinated by classical music, and then very dramatic pieces. Wagner, Pärt, Schnittke, and others have had a big influence on me. Drums have also been one of my favorite instruments, so I want to use them more. The military sound fits well within the industrial music, even though I have my self grown to be quite tired of it.
David: News released before your Sophia CD “Destruction of the World” came out, something about difficulties during the production and mastering of the album. What kind of problems did you face? Did it feel like a force was working against you?
Peter B: Yes, it was a disaster. I had several hardware crashes, the album did not get mastered correctly at first, and we changed computers more than one time, to friends and other studios computers. When we were about to burn the master, no computer program would accept it. It was a terrible time. But finally after a loooong time, it was done. And yes, we felt many times that this was a cursed album... and maybe still do....he he!
David: You are based in Sweden. Are you native to Sweden and what has drawn you to making Sweden your home?
Peter B: Yes, I live in Sweden and I was born here. But my parents are actually from Finland, so I am Finnish by blood. I have lived here in Eskilstuna all my life, except from two different occasions when I lived in Karlstad and Stockholm. I like Sweden because of the nature, the air is very fresh, the water is clean, and we got the four seasons that it supposed to be. Snow in the winter, sun in the spring, a green summer, and a beautiful red autumn. And now I have a family and my relatives live here also. Sweden and Eskilstuna is my home!
David: Are you famous in Sweden?
Peter B: The people where I live or the people in Sweden do not know what Sophia and Arcana is. And those who know what it is either like it or feel nothing. The industrial scene in Sweden is very small, and I think most of the people don’t see a message in music, they just listen. And if it doesn't fancy their taste in music, then they don’t bother listening to it again.
The same with political statements. Swedes have a hard time being aware of what’s happening around them. But now, after the disaster of the Tsunami in Asia, I have noticed a BIG difference in the people here in Sweden. They are helping out, everyone.....I have actually gotten my hopes up for mankind again:)
David: "Le Serpent Rouge" it’s a work that led you to experiment with new proposals, fresh and close to “oriental” sounds according to many people. What’s the reason it happens?
Peter B: I had bought some new instruments and wanted to use them in my music. It was first of all the Armenian Duduk, which is one of my favorite instruments. At the time I also was very much into Peter Gabriel and his music for the movie "Last temptation of Christ". I started with "Wings of Gabriel" for the 10 year anniversary album, and then the other songs for the full length just floated on.
David: Arcana being a big reputation band, and with a good foundation of fans in the world, is still as one of the best kept secrets and with a very humble and simple position
Do you believe it’s like that? If so, Is it positive or negative for you? Would you like a different situation?
Peter B: I have always tried to keep it small. I am in no need of exploration in magazines and elsewhere. I want to make my music, please the fans and happily make these kinds of interviews=) I don't know if you can call Arcana a secret (even though the name is exactly that), but I am very happy it is this way.
David: What about paganism and Vikings?
Peter B: No, I am not interested in Vikings, but I do respect paganism. I am totally non religious but of course I love history. Sweden is filled with history from the Middle Ages and even further back in time. But I will not make an album based on those things, and they are not important to me at all, unless of course of the historical facts. I am proud of the Swedish cultural heritage but it is an interest for me outside the music.
David: How did you feel after participating in the Dead Can Dance tribute?
What do Dead can Dance means to you as musicians?
Peter B: DcD means a lot to me as a musician. Arcana would never have existed today if it wasn't for DcD. They have been the biggest influence and I truly respect Brendan Perry enormously. I was very happy to contribute with three different songs on two different compilations. My wife and I saw them last year live in Paris. It was such a great moment. I never thought I would get the chance to see them live again, so were very happy to be invited to Paris by Brendan Perry.