Today on the blog I’m having a chat with Ruune! I’m a huge fan of supporting other artists, especially when it ties in with tarot! Ruune is a brilliant musician and witch, I discovered that they use a vintage Gameboy as an instrument as well… can we say, awesome! I hope you guys find great inspiration in this interview, I know it for sure lit up my creativity!
Artwork credited to Lucian Stephenson – check out their amazing art (http://www.mrlucian.com)
Can you tell us about yourself?
Sure! I am currently working as a receptionist and part time manager at a hair salon in a cluster of college towns where the forest meets the countryside of Western Massachusetts. Over the past year I turned thirty, got married, settled down, and discovered a deeper love of different kinds of intentional witchcraft after a decade living a somewhat chaotic life as a touring musician and nomadic poet. The home aspect of spirituality helps fill the void that traveling mysticism leaves behind, so it is very nice to be stable!
You mentioned your music is inspired by tarot, how do you merge the two?
For years while I was touring I was so down the rabbit-hole of being a suffering artist that most of my songs and poems were about being a suffering artist, or songs about bands I loved or bands I hated. When I “retired from the life” I got really heavily into my spirituality and divination systems like runes and tarot, and started using them as a focus for writing songs about things that I actually needed to get out of my system, or trauma I needed to investigate and process, or just subject matters that are actually more important to me now. Every song I write is either the end result of a reading, a ritual, or a prayer.
What is your creative process like?
The order that I do things in is pretty random, but there are usually a few different “phases” I go through before ending up at a song. Usually the initial idea from a song comes from a witchy experience (or general ritual) that I set up for someone else or myself. This can be a tarot or rune reading, a ritual, a curse, a blessing, a banishing, scrying, pretty much anything that creates a feeling of “epiphany”. Epiphany is a really interesting notion, because I think a lot of people want it to mean something they didn’t know before that suddenly becomes clear to them: for me it means something that I actually already knew and had a good understanding of, but the “Epiphany” feeling is from your body shifting to actually put that idea into practice. Like finally hitting the nail on the head after a lot of swings and misses. Once I get that epiphany feeling I will take the words (usually exact words I wrote in a tarot journal or the like) and start to sing little melodies to myself until something sounds catchy or awesome.
Once I have a hook (which is usually the repeatable “chorus” of the song, or even a memorable intro or part of the verse), I put some notes or chords to it using a guitar or a piano, and use those arrangements to twist around words until I can get the right vocal melodies to make something that sticks pretty well, or till I get something that is just plain fun to sing. Sometimes the chords themselves will be decided by which tarot cards got drawn during a session: I have a personal system that decides which frequencies the different major and minor arcana vibrate to, that is an amalgamation of a few different things I have read.
Once I have “the song” written, the next step always feels kind of silly to talk about in public: my main instrument right now is an old fashion gameboy, like the big bulky grey one. I have a hacked game cartridge that I got (look up something called LSDJ, or Little Sound DJ) that allows me to use code to access what I assume is the midi music player inside the hand held gaming console, and write music with it. When I do this, it is for sure a ritual for me, even if I don’t always do some kind of high magick ceremony for it. I was pretty young at the time, but I grew up on the chaos magick forums of the late 90’s with a lot of people talking about technology and spirituality together, sigils and computers, it was really fascinating for a pre-teen with access to the internet who watched too much anime! But when I write a song on the gameboy as an instrument, I am taking the intent of the song and using the interface of the small, handheld computer like a way to program reality, or hack into the 1s and 0s of the world. When I do it I visualize a few things in the air, they interact with the trees, its a super hodgepodge mess, but its all part of the process. At the end, I have a glitched out pop song! Usually to top things off I will use the intent and a debriefing card pull to create a sigil and use it as album art or something. The project is very multi-media oriented.
Are there any bands or artists that inspire your music?
I came up playing out within three sub cultures for the most part: there is the emo boyband kind of pop punk thing that is popular among lots of middle class suburban kids, and then there is folk-punk, which is kind of the traveling social justice oriented version of that. I grew up in and around Worcester, which is a somewhat depressed broken down (but wonderful) mill city in the center of the state, and usually ended up on bills with a lot of my rap and hip hop friends. During a lot of that time, and the ten years of touring, I did not listen to very much music because I did not have a computer, and was a broke performer so I had the choice between buying food or buying a CD player, so I always went with survival.
But recently, especially since I have started to question gender stuff (and figured out that I am a non-binary genderqueer person who uses they pronouns instead of he pronouns for anyone wondering!) I have started to actually listen to music and take a lot of inspiration from the artists who’s work I have come into contact with being a “dude” in the “rock scene” you can sometimes be bred into this condescending attitude towards pop music as a shallow, meaningless thing, but now I can see that a lot of it is women singing about being super powerful and I think that is amazing. Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Robyn are three of the more mainstream oriented songwriters I am really inspired by right now, but also stuff like Bjork and Amanda Palmer have had a huge effect on me even before I was super paying attention to what they were doing. All of these artists influence more than just my sound (maybe they do not even influence my sound, since I don’t really sound like them) but more the way their vision affects everything around their music, from the way they sing, to the way they present themselves to the singing, to the art that surrounds them. I love exploring new music and genres to get involved in, but a big part of both my music life AND my witchy life is paying attention to cultural appropriation, and to the space I take up as a white person in any activity I take part in. Some things I am not entitled to, and that is okay!
If you could choose any tarot card to represent your music, what card would you pick?
I think it would actually be a two card spread between The Tower and Temperance. Most of my songs are very much about being angry, about having no compassion, and about destroying and disconnecting from parts of my old life. Taking that kind of energy and putting it aside into a small device that I can send off into the aether allows me to in my actual life attain feelings of calm and peace, having lots and lots of compassion for others (even folks I hate or fear!) and build parts of my life that make me feel safe.
Do you ever want to put out your own deck?
I actually have already made my own deck! When I was getting into tarot, I was super confused by it all, and also wanted something a bit less gendered to learn on. The Elder Futhark has always sat real well with me, so I took some poker cards and painted the runes on as the major arcana, and kept the suits as the minor. This helped me to get a grip on doing readings and becoming more “connected” with myself and the divine. I picked up a more traditional tarot deck so that I could have a tool people were more familiar with (and since discovering that the Rider Waite was actually not designed by the Golden Dawn, but a super rad 1800’s/probably queer/stage hand/feminist-punk/actress!) but am in the process of illustrating my own version of a tarot/elder futhark deck which will probably take me years to finish but the journey is totally worth it! You can track its progress on my website as “The Deck of Narrative Architecture“!
Where can others find you and your work?
Everything I do, including links to my tarot deck in progress, music, all social media outlets that I can emotionally handle, and divination services (if you are into that sort of thing, which if someone is reading this blog, I assume they are!) can be found at www.ruune.net!
I have a newsletter you can sign up for, and I send out monthly free audio pieces that involve a tarot reading over soundscapes I designed. Hope to hear from folks and thanks for featuring me on your site!