Crown of Asteria draws on the animism of the pagan spiritual traditions, which see sacredness in the cycles of the seasons and the spirit of animals, people, and the physical world. We first encountered Crown of Asteria in the split they did with Vetten Runotar, who has vocals from Finnish nordic folk artist Amanda Aalto. This unlocked a truly prolific series fo releases going back to 2013, with a sound ranging from the bleeding textures of black metal to the quiet, acoustic meditations of her recent nature inspired recordings.
We were able to interview Meghan Wood, the singular artist behind Crown of Asteria, about how this project came together as a focal point for her spiritual journey into the ghosts that animate our natural world.
How did Crown of Asteria come together?
I had been in and out of bands for a couple years, but it wasn’t personally fulfilling. That’s when the idea formed in the back of my mind to do my own project because I just really had a need to create something during this intense period of life I was experiencing. I was doing traveling at the time, through the wilderness and overseas. There was a lot of self-discovery going on and reflection. Something just clicked. Dealing with losses, and painful transitions at the time Crown of Asteria became my anchor to ground myself when things were falling apart and changing. It really gave me something constructive to pour my energy into. Not to mention explore the themes in the music that I found interesting.
Was this your first project?
Is this entirely a solo project?
For the most part. Sometimes guests are involved.This is incredibly intense and layered music, melding genre into these ornate tracks.
How does the recording process work?
I usually start with guitars and drums. Guitars take up most of the time, naturally. Layering them with melodies, leads, solos. Cleans, harsh and reverb effects takes quite a bit of time. When I have a significant amount of the structure done I go back several times and just keep layering bits and pieces. Vocals take up a significant chunk of time layering the chanting and such. More recent releases have been much more involved. Ire of a Bared Fang is probably the most defining when it comes to how much is involved recording wise. It’s a lot, haha.
What instruments are being used?
Guitars, bass sometimes, keyboards, hand drums, flutes, Jouhinnka, Kantele, Acoustic guitar, shakers, bones, field recordings. You’ve been incredibly prolific, what is your writing process like? A mess usually. inspiration and ideas strike and I get to recording as quick as I can to capture it. Much of the time it’s like a mad scientist experimenting. Not as cool though.
Which albums were the most personal to you?
North, Karhun Vakat, Hjem Blant Skyene, Arctic Fever.
Tell me a bit about the mystic path that brought you into Crown of Asteria?
I’ve always been a deeply connected person to the subtleties of nature. By that I mean, empathetic allegiance with animals and plants and the primitive temperamental laws in which they engage. Animism. My path is one of balance and understanding. I see the nobility in the way in which nature performs in our existence and it’s perfect construction. The cycles, transitions, all come together as a force we must live with and respect. Crown of Asteria became a sort of mixing pot of earth based mysticism, ecological philosophies, universal laws and myths. Which I humbly try to convey in a way unique to my own understanding and seeking.
How did you start working with Realm and Ritual (who we also interviewed)?
That was actually through Nodus Tollens and the split we released together. That’s the only thing I’ve worked with them on.How do you classify the genre of your music?Blackened Folk Ambient I guess.
Do you draw on any folk traditions in your music?
Yes, belief in animism, honoring seasons, wilderness, solstices.
How about folk spiritual paths?
Yes, mainly earth based folk paths. Ones that consist of attuning to moon phases, changing seasons, and communing with the natural world in general.
Why do you think its important to stand up to fascism in the neofolk and metal scene?
It’s important because they sew seeds of their hate and prejudice wherever they go and taint scenes then instead of your interest in music being your passion it now is exhausting and you begin to question projects and individuals In the back of your head whenever you find something new to listen to. That’s what they have done. They give folk and metal more stigmas to contend with. They need to know their rhetoric will not be tolerated. They are driven by their own stunted misguided philosophies. It’s dangerous, cowardly, and creates divisions when people just want to enjoy music.How do you think of your own politics or social beliefs?Do what you want unless you are harming/disrespecting others. In any way.
What’s coming next for you?
Working on the Enon Chapel full length and a split collab with a band.
What metal, neofolk, or similar bands do you recommend for antifascist neofolk fans?
We are embedding one of her most recent release, a four-track EP that she did in collaboration with Vetten Runotar that tracks the four seasons. Even more of her work is available on Spotify, so we have added several of her tracks to the Antifascist Neofolk Playlist on Spotify.