Music Interview

Coven 13

by Marcus Pan

1. The music that you two create is imbibed with magick and sorcery. Do you feel that your being introduced via a witch, and within the confines of that spiritual haven of Salem, may have anything to do with where the music comes from?

The music we create comes from inside of us and from all around us. Being based in Salem, an atmosphere that supports the study of alternate spirituality, has allowed us to be more honest with ourselves and more open to ideas around us. The fact that we were introduced by Shawn Poirier, High Priest of The Salem Tradition of WitchCraft, is one more of the many amazing magickal things that has happened to inspire us.

2. Many of the songs on Book of Shadows are driven with desire and love. How do these work out between the two of you, if at all? Do they come to you in reference to one another or do they come from somewhere else entirely?

Coven 13Teisan: People make wishes all the time. Amanda was the answer to so many prayers for me that her being a source of inspiration for me seems the most natural thing in the world.

Amanda: I'm always amazed at what Teisan can do with a piece of music that I give him. To share with someone your art or creation is something extremely intimate. As far as where some of the songs for me come from, well, that's always a mystery. An example; "In Heaven" was written on December 9, 1997. The reason I remember that date will be evident through this story. I sat at the piano and was writing the piece and the words "in Heaven" kept coming to me. I just figured, "Okay." and I wrote them down. I told Teisan the story and he worked on it. In January (about 4 weeks later) my Mother called my answering machine and told me that one of the dearest people to me had passed away on December 9, 1997 and I NEVER KNEW. The song was immediately dedicated to that person, Michael Pateakos.

3. Amanda, you've been playing piano since the age of four. Surely you hear of musical genius in children that rears it's head at ages like twelve, even eight - but composing your first musical arrangement at five years old has surely placed you in a category above even those. What was it like to be almost prodigal in your talents at such an early age? Were things difficult with children your age, or did you find yourself relating only to music in such a way that friends weren't as abundant for you, as is common in many cases like this?

Amanda: Well, let me first say Thank You. It seems that my mother was concerned because I was such a bored child after my three siblings left for elementary school. I had finished all their puzzles and my Mother was looking for an outlet. She broke out the old accordian (Yes, I said accordian), placed it on her knee, turned it sideways and taught me scales and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." I guess we worked with that tiny keyboard until she found the right teacher and took me to her. The teacher immediately told my Mother "no" because I was too young in her opinion and my feet didn't even touch the peddles.

My mother asked the teacher if the fact that I had already written my own song, "Storm Over The Field" (I lived on a farm in Ohio) would make a difference. I played the song for the teacher and other basics and I was accepted. The beginning of a beautiful relationship. The only thing difficult as a child was that while other kids were outside playing, I was sitting at a piano not able to leave. My mother is extremely strict. I owe both my parents so much. As far as friends, with three siblings, there's always someone around. If not their friends, other kids who just wanted to play in our caboose that my parents bought for us as a playhouse. What kid wouldn't want to play in that?

4. Teisan, your story of singing as a child and putting away these "childish" pursuits is a sad testament to how talent is suppressed in return for "adult" pursuits throughout all facets of our society. How difficult was it to stop singing?

Teisan: I never completely stopped singing. I just gave up on the idea that music was a viable career choice for me. I consider myself lucky though, I have seen the "adult" world kill the dreams of children time and time again. My dreams survived, they were just hibernating for awhile.

5. Teisan, finding your solace in books and, later, stage performance you've still done your best to avoid your singing talents - believing that it was more responsible to follow those pursuits that are considered acceptable of a young man. Then you met Amanda shortly after moving to Salem. What is it within Amanda that gives you the confidence to put aside the "responsible" pursuits everyone believes you should be following, and to finally perform your dream of singing again?

Teisan: Amanda gave me a chance to bring my dream of creating music into the real world. She completed me in so many ways.

6. Now that I've embarrassed you two enough by prying, let's take a look at your debut. Book of Shadows is much more than an album - the songs move together like a chapter series or a storyline of some sort. One of the most notable examples is of the songs And Oh, How I've Wanted You later followed by In Heaven - a seeming movement from reaching for something you can't have to the act of finally, somehow, retrieving it. Did this movement from chapter to chapter come about naturally or was this prepared somehow?

Coven 13Teisan: It all seemed to happen so fast and when we were done it was exactly what we wanted. I don't think it would have had the same effect had we sat and considered and planned everything.

Amanda: True. Actually, the first song that I gave Teisan was "This I Know" which I wrote when I was twelve. I carried with me all that time.

7. Track twelve - This I Know. One of the most beautiful love ballads I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. I play this song an average of five times a week, whether I listen to the rest of Book of Shadows or not. I have two questions - first, is this song written from one of you to the other? And lastly, may I give it to my wife as a discovery I've made that matches our own life together?

Amanda: Wow, that's so sweet that you want to give it to your wife. As I mentioned earlier, I wrote that music awhile ago but never had the words to make it mean more.

Teisan: This I Know describes lovers throughout many lives finding one another because no matter what, they were meant to be together, definitely apropos.

Amanda: As far as being meant to be together, I'll let the listener decide. I already know.

8. Red is a very frightening track. While nothing graphic is brought about in it, the mood it creates from the lyrics and the arrangement are still just as scary as the actual act that, quite possibly, is being foreshadowed. Did you find it difficult writing a song of this horrific nature while surrounding it with songs of love and desire? And also, just for the sake of curiosity, who are the voices on the opening phone call?

All light and no darkness allows us to take the light for granted. No one likes it when bad things happen but they are there and once recognized, they become devoid of all power. Red is a warning song about love gone obsessively, cruelly wrong. The voices? Friends of ours with a flair for the dramatic: Shawn Poirier (whom we mentioned earlier) and Jacqui.

9. You began touring and performing your music to the delight of live audiences in Boston on Halloween in 1998. Since then you've performed quite often. Do you prefer recording or performing?

Amanda: There's definately a rush in front of an audience but there's also a different type of rush when one hears the finished product in a studio for the first time.

Teisan: There are different aspects to both that are appealing. The cycle of completion is what is important though. We create music for people to hear and experience.

10. How did the creation of your troupe of magicians, jugglers and the rest of your medieval atmosphere performers come about? How many usually turn out for your shows?

It seems that after we met, the other pieces just found their way to us. Our dancer, Lauren, is exceptional with her ideas and the magicians are always looking for that kind of realm to share their gifts with others. That is another one of "those things" that just happened. We write music that draws all sorts of magickal people. It's all pretty amazing. As far as turn out, that depends on the event. Dracula's Castle in Salem on Halloween was definitely the place to be. Everyone had a great time with us.

11. How does your creative process work? How do you write your music? Do lyrics come first, or arrangement and music?

Teisan: Amanda is the musical genius and I am the poet. Most often music comes first then lyrics. Every once in awhile a phrase or title will be the motivation for the rest of a song.

Amanda: How does my creative process work? That's something I've been trying to figure out for quite awhile now. I never sit down and say, "Okay, I'm going to write a song now." Something either tells me to start playing or I'm just there and after it's out on paper, I look at it and wonder. Feelings definitely do play a part, however. Heartache, joy, confusion, frustration. All those wonderful little things.

12. Are there plans, maybe even further songs writ down whether on paper or in your mind's eyes, for a further album?

Amanda: Oh, definitely YES. Many are tucked away just waiting for that right time. It's funny. Sometimes a song comes and wants to be heard now and others wait, even though the music is there, the concept and magick that Teisan gives comes when it's good and ready. We definitely can't do this by schedule.

Teisan: We'll keep writing as long as the Muses keep visiting and as long as the spirits have a story to be told.

13. Other than that, what does the future hold, whether in your dreams or reality, for Coven 13?

We want the world to hear what we have to offer. More albums, music videos, live shows, whatever it takes to get our music out there and taken to the top!

14. Tell your fans how and where they can best contact you. Do you prefer e-mail, written letters or other forms of contact and how would they go about making this contact?

We welcome any form of correspondence.
Postal Service: Coven 13, 203 Washington Street, Suite 143, Salem, MA 01970