For your listening pleasure, we’re going to step into the world of A Time of Shadows whose music embodies elements of gothic horror and fantasy. Paul is the mastermind behind the project, and although the first album released in 2021, he’s already produced five full-length recordings. Of course, I’ve heard each one, and they’re the perfect backdrop for a haunting atmosphere. The newest LP, Ravenson Mansion Dark Secrets: Volume I, is accompanied by a novella that tells a sinister tale.
There’s nothing like diving into a scary story with the right melodies playing in the background to set the mood. I prefer to read while listening to atmospheric music. It transports me into the plot and that’s what happened as I read this narrative. Ravenson Mansion Dark Secrets is short but sweet, or shall I say deadly? The tracks on the album played as events unfolded before my eyes. The manuscript contains classic elements of horror, such as the haunted house and presence of demonic forces. Even the ending threw me for a loop! I didn’t see it coming.
The LP and book complement each other nicely, and after reading the novella, certain parts automatically pop into my mind when I listen to the album solo. It is the first in a trilogy, so there’s more to come, and I’m eager to see where the tale is headed. The project reminds me a bit of what Joseph Vargo did when he published The Dark Tower series to accompany his CD of the same name. I think it’s fantastic when recording artists, like A Time of Shadows and Vargo, incorporate literature into their music productions and create a backstory. It brings these dark universes to life in a unique way.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul of A Time of Shadows for a deeper look into how the music project began and his creative process. Enjoy!
Q: First, let’s chat a bit about the origin story of A Time of Shadows. What motivated you to start this music project, and how did it all come together?
A: Okay, this is a bit of a story. I am a big fan of horror SPFX makeup and love sculpting and creating my own appliances and wanted to start my own business doing this. I used gothic horror music to help inspire me when I would sculpt. So I listened to Midnight Syndicate, Nox Arcana and Shadows Symphony for inspiration and got hooked on their music, as well as horror movie themes too. Back in the early 2000’s when I still lived in England (I am English born, but now live in Canada with my Canadian author wife. We both love our creative stuff.), I had the whole kit of MIDI keyboards software, various Korg keyboards and electric guitar, the lot. I was making music then, but really was new to it all. I didn’t know where to take it. I met my wife, we got married, and all my music stuff was put away and eventually sold, so when we moved to Canada, we didn’t have too much, as it all went by weight, so I lightened the load. We moved to Canada in 2013. So I started the sculpting and listening to the music back in about 2015 and got hooked. My wife always promised me that she would eventually buy me a new MIDI keyboard.
My wife got very sick in 2019 and I almost lost her to blood and bone marrow cancer. I was doing a job I didn’t really like and had to leave at the end of 2019 to go to Vancouver for my wife’s very hard treatment plan, which would actually take her close to the point of death, to bring her back. She had a stem cell transplant. We had to stay in Vancouver for six months for the treatment and we knew it was a five-year recovery for her. I would need to be her carer for the next 2-3 years. This all coincided with Covid. We left Vancouver middle of January 2020 and two weeks after we got home, Vancouver had a serious Covid-19 outbreak. We just missed it; thank god as my wife had no immune system for the first year!! As her gift to me at the end of 2020, she bought me the MIDI keyboard and I began to compose the gothic horror style music that I had become so enthralled by whilst sculpting, and thus was born A Time Of Shadows. Partly, the name came from what we had been through as a couple. I felt like we were coming out of the shadows again.
Q: The bio on your website mentions that A Time of Shadows is inspired by horror. Could you talk a bit more about how this genre has influenced the work? Are there specific films, people or macabre experiences that you draw from?
A: I was lucky growing up. I have loved horror and horror movies ever since I can remember. At about 6-7 years of age, my parents would allow me to stay up late on the weekends and watch horror movies with them. They both liked them too. I grew up with Hammer House of Horror and Universal Studios Monsters and loved them all. My favourite monster has always been the Werewolf, ever since I saw Lon Chaney as The Wolfman. When I saw An American Werewolf In London, I fell in love with the makeup effects side and that one movie is still my favourite horror movie of all time. I met Tom Savini back in the nineties. I got chatting to him in his chatroom, and I had a friend who lived in Pittsburgh. I was traveling over to see him, and Tom invited me to meet him at his studio in downtown Pittsburgh. He is a very cool guy and I got to spend two days with him at his studio. The second day we played pool too. I used to play it a lot back then.
I started doing makeup effects on myself at about aged 12 and just loved turning myself into different monsters and applying awful wounds. How I didn’t cause my parents to have heart attacks, I will never know. I also used to build the Universal Studios Monsters as model kits. My dad would take me to a cool model shop in London and we would buy them and build them together. Finally, my wife and I did a lot of ghost hunting/paranormal research from 2008 until we left England. We had some pretty cool and scary incidents and saw some very cool things too. So all my experiences to here, as well as listening to other gothic horror music led to my inspiration for my music.
Q: The release of your latest album, Ravenson Mansion Dark Secrets: Volume I, was accompanied by a unique offering, a novella. Why did you decide to write a story to go along with it, and how did you come up with the plot? Did the music inspire the narrative or vice versa?
A: Growing up, I used to love writing horror stories. Whenever I had English homework that involved writing stories, I always took the opportunity to write horror stories. My teacher would always end up reading them out to the class. She did write in her comments one day, “10/10, but next time don’t use so many pools of blood!!” So I have always had the writing bug. I have multiple unfinished horror stories in various notepads.
Ravenson Mansion was primarily influenced from a recurring nightmare. Believe it or not, I actually don’t and never had very many nightmares, even for all my horror movie film watching! But I have this one that I specifically based Ravenson Mansion and especially the track, “The Haunted Nursery,” on. That always involves a large house that has a terrible haunted nursery in it that I am always too scared to go near in the dream, and I go out of my way to avoid it, but when I do go in, it always has a ghostly baby crying and a dark entity of some kind in there. Similar to what I describe in the novella for what happens to Patrick. My wife was the final influence. She said, why don’t you write a novella to go with the trilogy? I had a think about it and decided to do it. I had the basic idea for the story, but as I composed the album, the music helped me to build the plot and story line to make it what it finished up being. I would say the story sparked the music, but the music, ultimately inspired the story.
Q: At the time we’re doing this interview, we’re in the middle of October! Do you have any special Halloween traditions or activities you enjoy doing during the spooky season?
A: I love to decorate our apartment at Halloween and when we’re able to, my wife and I go out and look around the shops for new decorations. We have built up quite a collection now. I always try to get dressed up in some kind of costume for Halloween. As a boy in England, trick-or-treat wasn’t such a big thing as it was in North America, and I was always sad about that. So now that I am here, I love to dress up. I can do it now without being made to feel weird because so many people do it over here, unlike in England. Although, the year we left the UK, it was starting to become a bigger deal!! Typical!!
My first year in Canada, I go to go overboard and did myself up as a zombie. I sculpted and made my own zombie appliance, and I shuffled off to the town and scared the hell out of a few people, especially one shop owner. He was a younger guy, and he was leaning against the counter with his back to the window. I couldn’t resist. I stumbled zombie-like over to the window and slammed my arms into it letting out a suitably zombie-like scream, and he must have jumped ten feet in the air. He turned around, pointed at me and said cool dude and laughed. I know I’m late living my childhood on Halloween, but I don’t care. I love this time of year.
Q: Before we depart, what does the future hold for A Time of Shadows?
A: Well, I think the future is bright for A Time Of Shadows. My fan base is still growing and 2022 has been a phenomenal year in terms of growth. The YouTube channel is doing very well, and I had a record number of streams on Apple Music last week with 45 streams in one week. Cemetery Of The Damned seemed to do well; the Ravenson Mansion Dark Secrets did even better. My big goal is to take the music and get it into either a TV series, movie or computer game. To this end, I am trying to go more epic movie score sound with the music. Many people tell me that they can hear it as a movie theme, so now just trying to make the right contacts to make this a reality. I feel that the music is constantly evolving and as long as it evolves and doesn’t stand still it hopefully won’t stagnate either. I am very optimistic for what is to come. I have this gut feeling deep inside that something more will come from this. I trust my gut.
Thank you, Jenn, for the interview, and I do enjoy your blog and podcast.