Few weeks back I enthusiastically reviewed A Cunning Man’s debut EP, Practical Applications of Theurgy (read it here). I have been fully convinced by such brilliant album. I was so convinced I thought to ask Ged Cartwright -A Cunning Man’s mastermind- few questions about this brand new band of his.
Gladly he has been willing to reply to my useless questions … and well, that’s what he said.
Hi Ged, how you doing? Welcome to The Somber Lane!
What can you say to our readers to introduce your one man project in the best way?
Hi Teo, I’m well thank you.
A Cunning Man fuses elements from all sorts of metal styles and beyond. Everything is filtered through my own ‘Scottish Perspective’. This is most obvious in my heavily accented singing, which is the main focus of the music.
Seems like -according to the album side notes- your geographical origin means a lot to you. May you explain how Scottish music and folklore can find a place inside your compositions?
Within the EP, Practical Applications of Theurgy, you won’t necessarily hear a lot of folk instruments. The instrumentation and vocals have been none the less inspired by a life lived in Scotland. Examples of this would be the icy sounding piano and string textures, as well as the ‘upfront’ style of storytelling present within the songs.
Hope you’re not going to be offended by this. But it looks like the “voice” is your main “instrument”. Is this true? And again, what is the importance of a neatly performed vocal in a metal album?
Up until I created this EP, I was a vocalist first and a composer second. Now I’m not so sure.
With that said, my voice will always be my focus. Great singing and well written lyrics are the first things I look for in an artist and I struggle to completely engage with entirely instrumental music.
Again on the topic, I think lyrics are quite essential for your EP. Tell us how you wrote them? Where did you draw inspiration from?
I initially decided what sort of story I wanted to tell and created my characters. I then planned out the events of the tale and allocated each event or progression to a musical section. I write the vocal melodies first and then fit the lyrics around the parsing I have created. For me a catchy vocal melody is just as important as the message it is trying to convey.
The lyrics are inspired by works of dark fantasy, such as those from Lovecraft. I’ve always enjoyed Occult topics. I also play a lot of video games, which have been a huge influence in general.
Your sound is different -let’s say unique. How would you describe it to our readers? What do you think are the bands and artists that influenced it (your sound) the most?
I’ve tried to draw together my favorite aspects of the various metal styles I enjoy. Heavy use of synth, piano and strings, drones and textures, clean vocals over blast beats, saturated guitars as well as harmonies everywhere I can fit them.
Iron Maiden’s Brave New World got me into metal in the first place. Whilst Scandinavian Melodeath is what really cemented my love for it. Particular bands that have inspired A Cunning Man would include Evergrey, Katatonia, Eternal Tears of Sorrow and Shade Empire.
Lately we are all discovering good metal bands from Scotland. I could say “Saor”, just to name one. But really, your homeland provided plenty valuable bands over the years … and it still does. Mind sharing your favourite bands/artist from your country?
It makes me proud that you’ve been enjoying Scottish output!
Within the broader metal scene I’ve been enjoying Cnoc an Tursa and Falloch in addition to Saor. To go more old school I’ve always liked a bit of Deacon Blue and Capercaillie.
Most importantly, my local music scene has some great talent: A Torn Mind, Tiberius, Britney, The Sparrowhawk orKestrel, Cambo and Ramage Inc to name a few.
Just to invade your privacy a bit. What does Ged Cartwright does in his own life? Hobbies or side projects?
I’m currently in my second year of a music degree which I’m studying in Edinburgh. That takes up the majority of my time. When I’m not studying I enjoy video games and cooking.
As usual the last question is made by our “guest”. You can wrap this up the way you like the most!
I really appreciate all the support and positive coverage the EP has been receiving. I’m currently hard at work on a follow up EP which should be expected early Summer.
Thanks a lot for being here.