Interview with Sean O'Kane-Connolly of Prayer on the Mountain and Monastary

Right off, what is the difference between your two projects Prayer on the Mountain and Monastary?

(SEAN) Prayer on the Mountain was the first solo project I began after I became a Christian. It originally was very medieval based, and had no industrial content. I was invited to contribute to an Inner Assembly Records compilation, and I sent a medieval track over. The compilation was industrial based, and the medieval track wasn't welcomed. The track never entered the compilation of course. Ironically, a few weeks afterwards, Prayer on the Mountain took an industrial path, and the medieval content was downplayed. Instead of merging both industrial and neo-medieval, I decided to create a new project for the medieval music, this being Monastery. The big difference in terms of music is Monastery has no vocals, whereas Prayer on the Mountain can vary between vocalised tracks and ambient themes.

What are the musical influences for both and/or what do you hope to accomplish with each?

(SEAN) Monastery is visual music, intended to paint pictures in your mind (I feel some imagination is necessary for this listening). Inspired by Orthodox traditions, and Celtic Christianity. I experienced Orthodox Christianity when I was 8 years old. I was with my family in Cyprus for 3 weeks. We explored the Troodos mountains and stopped by shrines every now and then. We visited a monastery (no females were allowed inside the buildings) but the artwork and architecture was breathtaking. I would like to recreate that atmosphere in music, it was so spiritual, eerie and holy. Prayer on the Mountain is more futuristic, sometimes epic, and sometimes soundtrack like. The industrial tracks all have lyrics, musically with a sound similar to that of KMFDM meets Mental Destruction. For every industrial track there is an ambient or darkwave voyage. POTM is more likely to vary in style, without being too sudden I guess. The lyrics are really my views on the world today, they can tend to be somewhat cynical, but we all know that God will save us if we accept his love.

I gather that there is a real pious atmosphere to your music?

True, and that I promise to maintain throughout the lifetime of these projects. I made a commitment to Jesus Christ in my music and lyrics, to include Christianity in the material, and/or make it the subject in the music and lyrics. Even if a release is free of words, there shall still be Christian content. I'd love to record an album inside a Cathedral one time. Whenever I step into a clearly old Cathedral or Holy building without carpets and other such insulations, it feels so warm and inviting, no matter how cold the day is outside. When a choir performs in such a building, the reverberation and echo effects are so realistic, giving it that eerie 'chill' which cannot be reproduced in a studio. That is the pious atmosphere which I have yet to accomplish. The Gregorian choirs of the dark ages had it right!

When do you hope to have a project available for sale?

1998 was such a terrible year for me, well for alot of people. My friends and family seemed to have bad experiences throughout '98, and for 1999 I can only hope for the best. A demo release shall be in the making in the first quarter of this year, I've already composed the music, now all I need is time and money for the recording. Once I've sent enough demo cassettes, biographies etc.. to whatever record labels I feel God is directing me towards, I'll let events evolve from that. I'm already making plans for the first CD release in terms of artwork and the tracklist. I just hope I can find the right people who can take this on.

How would you like to introduce yourself to the world?

As a person who people can listen to, and a person who people can trust. I hope that the music I write can inspire new and youthful artists to create more wonderful and creative music, with imagination (for some of today's music does lack imagination incredibly I'd have to admit). Music is going to change, that is inevitable and I'd love to be a part of that. Also, I realize that many musicians in the industrial genre are now becoming one-man bands. I know there are pros and cons about introducing new members into a solo project, but I would like to work with another artist (singular/plural) for at least some time of Prayer on the Mountain's lifetime. Still, Monastery is meant to be a completely solitary and personal music outlet for me, and it will be interesting to see what paths it takes.

What do you think is the world's greatest need in 1999?

Love. Not the love you see on the TV screen, nor the love you hear pop bands singing about. The love I speak of is agape, pax, peace, aroha. Sisterly love, Brotherly love, it's the same. We are all on this earth, there is nowhere to run, and the absence of love does not help our situation. Of course there is God's love passing through all parts of earth, but it is up to us humans to spread it. It is like a spark, it takes a little fuel to make that spark a fire. In each one of us there is enough fuel to fill the world with it. But how many feed the fire and become recognized for it? I can name some 20th century ones off the top of my head such as Rajiv Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela. Times are getting bad and segregations are on the rise, now even in Christianity there is conflict, contraversy and judgement. The news on television cannot be watched by a family eating dinner at 6pm any longer. There is too much explicit hatred and violence being publicised, what we need in 1999 is a little shock awakening to break out the love inside of all of us.


September the 27th, 1998 was the date I became a Christian. I had many supportive friends encouraging me to make the change, family who had expressed their concern about the paths I was taking. My eyes opened and I let God's love in. Previously I had been involved with an evil music genre which was clearly antichristian, and the nasty religious paths which came with it. That now being in the past I can focus on God, and devote my music to him. Industrial and ambient music were two genres which I was familiar with, and had already been experimenting in those styles. I had an interest in medieval and ethnic music also, which has popped it's head up in the industrial music, and seems to fit in quite well. I personally cannot keep to one style of music, I know of too many bands who have just chosen one musical style and have followed it all their careers without the slightest hint of variation. Prayer on the Mountain's musical path shall be more varied and may cover the following styles : Industrial, Ambient (aka 'dark'wave), Acoustic, Medieval, Synth, Tech (not meaning repetitave drumloop techno), Ethnic, Experimental and Soundscapes. On the other hand, Monastery will have less variation and stick to the atmospheric journeys, and neo-medieval songs. The neo-medieval music is not just basic reels from the tenth century brought to life by synthesizer. I strive to engineer epic music created to build pictures in your imagination, taking you on a voyage through ancient monasteries, stone structures, statues of angels and icons of the saints. From a cold dungeon of eerie holiness, to the calm gardens of God. No matter how long these two projects run for, and whatever musical paths they will take, I shall keep God as the base of it in composition and lyric, for this was the commitment to Jesus which I made at Orewa Baptist Church, New Zealand.

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