Interview with Joseph Vargo of Nox Arcana by Yuval Levi - (Israel) October 2018
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(קראו את הראיון בעברית)
First of all, Joseph, thank you for this interview. I'd like to begin with an unusual question about your keen interest in riddles and puzzles. You've put riddles in your music, puzzles in your CDs and you've even produced a video game which is all about goth puzzles. How do you see this interacts with your interest in the occult?
I have always held a deep interest in horror, magic, the supernatural and anything that is dark and mysterious. This passion is reflected in all aspects of my art music and writing. I create puzzles for my cds to add a bit of dark mystery and fun, and also to present a challenge to my fans. Although many of the puzzles incorporate occult images and symbolism, this is purely an artistic element.
I began doing this in 2006 with our Blood Of The Dragon album. Since it was a sword and sorcery concept album that centered around an epic quest, I thought it would be fun to actually conceal puzzles and riddles in the cd packaging and on the disc itself. In the age of downloading music, I thought this would be a special bonus for people who actually purchased the physical cd. We never even mentioned that the cd held an actual quest hidden in the elaborate packaging, but after a month or two, one clever fan solved the mystery, prompting others to follow. Since then, I have created puzzles for all our horror-themed cds.
The video game, The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana, is based on the mythos I established on my Theater Of Illusion cd. The concept centers around an ancient society of magicians who have kept the dark secrets of their mystical craft hidden from mankind. Players will undergo a series of challenges in the form of puzzles that will test their abilities, and only the worthy will succeed. This mirrors the way I view life's challenges as a series of puzzles that must be resolved by creative solutions and physical action.
"Occult" means "Hidden". This is a very general definition which leads to a lot of different interpretations and disciplines. What is your perception of the occult, and what are (if any) your activities within this field? Is there a specific practice to which you adhere?
For most people, the word "occult" resonates as something pagan. It is usually associated with a dark and mysterious means of communicating with the spirit world or worshipping lesser-known deities. I have many friends who practice a variety of pagan rites, but I do not practice any religious or occult activities. All the major religions were concocted long ago by simple minds that believed the Earth was flat. Most of them convey core messages of peace and love, but many of their concepts have been corrupted over time. They all preach varying dogmas, but none of them has proven to be more effective than the others. It's astounding to me that people who are raised with a specific religion believe that their religion is something sacred and all others are evil. Very few people research other faiths or question their own.
My outlook on spiritual matters is simple: Don't waste your life searching for answers that are beyond human reach, just live life to the fullest, without regret. I do believe there is an underlying connection between all life, but the universe is a vast and mysterious place filled with wonders that our mortal minds cannot fully comprehend. No human possesses the key to unlocking the infinite mysteries that surround us. I believe that visualizing your dreams and sending mental messages to universal forces create positive energy, but I also believe that you must take physical action toward achieving your goals. Sometimes this is just as simple as focusing your mind and working hard to attain your desired results.
Views and Art
Throughout history, artistic movements held an influential message which helped shape current zeitgeist. "Gothic" itself is used to describe late-medieval art, 19th century literature and even Goth subculture of the late 20th century. What do you think are the meanings or changes embodied within the "Gothic"? What is its message and does it hold different manifestations as far as your work is considered?
Originally the word "Gothic" was applied to the architecture of medieval cathedrals. The Gothic style was very different from the established architecture of the times. The name itself is a reference to the invading barbarian hordes that conquered Rome. Today the word "Gothic" refers to a dark and romantic style of art, literature and music. It appeals to people who dare to explore the shadows and are intrigued by danger, passion and the supernatural.
I mainly define the term "Gothic" in the traditional sense. The things that immediately come to mind are gargoyle-encrusted cathedrals and castles, mist-shrouded graveyards with ornate tombstones, as well as gothic literature such as the works of Bram Stoker and Edgar Allan Poe, and gothic horror imagery such as vampires and ghosts. In a broader sense, the term "Gothic" also represents any style, fashion or work of art that reflects a dark and somber beauty.
My work has always been an exploration of my own dark side. My art and music cover all aspects of the gothic realm, from the beautiful to the nightmarish, whereas my writing strictly reflects gothic horror.
The Crucifix is fairly common in your paintings; Not to mention an atmosphere much reminiscent of the catholic church aesthetics. Gothic heritage considered & all, still it is hard not to wonder: How do these reflect your views on Christianity and religion in general?
I generally use the crucifix as a symbolic representation for Gothic tombstones, but I have also used it to signify a talisman of light in my Dark Tower mythos. All of the vampire myths that I expound upon have their basis in Christian mythology. Bram Stoker's Dracula established the crucifix as a ward against evil. This concept has become fairly standard in most modern vampire tales. Outside of fictitious symbolism, the Crucifix has no religious significance in my life or art.
Many of my paintings revolve around my Dark Tower mythos, which tells the story of a medieval crusader who becomes an immortal guardian of a realm that harbors a great evil. The mythology of the tales centers around Christian elements, but there are also many pagan and Wiccan elements as well. I also incorporate some of my own philosophy regarding religion, mythology and the occult into the stories.
When I began my career in the 1980s, I still had some Christian beliefs. I eventually shed them as I became more aware of other practices and faiths. All the main religions preach similar underlying messages of love and peace, yet they all condemn anyone who follows any other faith. It amazes me that no one really questions this type of hypocrisy. People just follow their chosen faith blindly without seeking any real truths. As I see it, being spiritual, does not necessitate believing in any particular religion. It may just represent finding a comfortable concept of what life means and understanding your significance in the universe.
Your passion for the Goth and Gothic movement has always been aligned with your passion for Fantasy. Do you see a link between the two? Is it only because of both fields' preoccupation with the supernatural or maybe something deeper than this?
Aside from the references to architecture, literature and the Gothic era in general, I see the term "gothic" as a mood or mindset. To me, it represents things that are dark, mysterious and brooding. There is always an oppressive element of danger lurking in the shadows. I also feel that "gothic" always carries a certain Old World connotation and is closely associated with macabre lore. Most modern horror novels and films seem to lack true gothic elements. I refer to my artistic style as "gothic fantasy" because it utilizes various Gothic architectural elements like lanceted archways, ornate ironwork, and elaborately sculpted gargoyles and tombstones as background settings for supernatural beings such as ghosts and vampires.
To me, there's a big difference between the terms "goth" and "gothic." In short, "gothic" represents a time period in European history and the architecture that derived from the era, as well as gothic literature, art and films that deal with dark, often supernatural subject matter. The term "goth" represents a modern lifestyle of people, usually young adults, with an interest in the macabre who want to embrace their inner darkness and rebel against the norm. In this regard, the term "gothic" has a more specific meaning, whereas "goth" has a much wider definition.
I created The Gothic Tarot, based on traditional tarot decks, utilizing the darker themes of my artwork. I have also created Madame Endora's Fortune cards along with my partner, Christine Filipak. The art for this deck is more fantasy-based, but it still conveys a dark aesthetic. The Madame Endora deck works on the principle of positive reinforcement of sound advice. As in life, there is an element of chance with the random draw of cards, but the guidance from the deck draws upon personal inner-reflection as opposed to supernatural intervention.
You've acquired your passion for darkness at a very young age, but few truly know why. Can you recall why? Do you even remember your life before that, or was that something you felt was embedded within you from the beginning?
I have always loved monsters and magic. Ever since I can remember, I was drawn to the dark side. I had fun doing normal kid stuff and playing with my friends, but I was always intrigued by anything scary, mysterious or supernatural. As a young adult, I felt that my love of these things was just a childish infatuation that I should outgrow. But once I embraced my passion, I began to create my own gothic works based on my dark interests and the ideas that lurked in the shadows of my imagination.
There is something very mysterious about the night and things that are cloaked in shadows. Many people feel that those who surround themselves with such a gloomy atmosphere are sad or depressed, but the truth is that they feel empowered by the darkness. I, myself don't dwell in the shadows all of the time, but I do feel most comfortable there.
My (and most people's) take on Darkness can intuitively be characterized by things that are hard to digest, Such as your work on Zombie Influx which was terrifying. You yourself proved more than capable of shocking your fans with disturbing and hard to digest art; Yet you ultimately portray Darkness in a very aesthetic, romantic and palatable manner. Why is that?
Numerous artistic masterpieces and classics of literature explore dark and tragic themes. Many of these works, such a Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame blend horror with deeply romantic elements. This formula appeals to its audience because it rouses two primal emotions: Fear and Desire. I strive to capture the essence of both of these powerful feelings in my work.
The themes for my Zombie Influx and Necronomicon concept albums were purely horror. The subject matter for both albums dictated that they be devoid of any romantic elements. However, much of my work depicts the balance between light and dark, order and chaos, and the eternal battle between the forces of good and evil. If someone chooses to focus solely on the negative side of something, that's their problem. I like to explore the beauty in darkness, but some people are too afraid of the dark to venture anywhere near the shadows.
Your works manifest your perspective on "the beauty of darkness": full of supernatural events and beings. Can you elaborate a little bit on what does Darkness mean to you? How does it come to pass in our daily life and what sources of inspiration tell its beauty?
The dark side piques my curiosity and stimulates my imagination—stirring thoughts of the mysteries that lurk in the shadows of our minds, the occult, the supernatural, and secrets buried in mankind's forgotten past. No one can deny the beauty of the star-filled heavens at night, clouds dancing across the moon, the hypnotic shadows thrown from a fireplace or the intimacy of a dim, candlelit room. Most people have some appreciation of the dark, but we all have varying levels of interest for the mysteries that it holds.
To quote from Return To The Dark Tower: "Darkness is not a thing to be feared. It is the ancient realm of shadows and night. It gives birth to dreams and grants safe haven for those who seek its refuge. It empowers all who embrace it, allowing them to bask in its eternal rapture."
How much do your personal life affect your art? How much of your pains and calms are reflected in your paintings and music?
Very little. My art and music are an escape from the real world. My creations are purely manifestations of my imagination. Most artists draw upon different sources of inspiration to help them create. This enables them to work at a steady pace during periods of fluctuating emotions, allowing them to be productive though the ups and downs of life. Of course, we are all temperamental to some degree and certain factors in life may sway our artistic outlook, but I try not to get distracted by outside sources. This mindset allows me to remain true to my original vision. For example, when I work on my winter-themed albums, I am usually writing and recording music in the middle of the hot summer. It could be sunny and sweltering outside, but I am inside writing dark, moody wintry compositions. If you immerse yourself in the world you create, nothing from the outside can penetrate the barrier.
Your visual artworks are hugely influenced by the master of fantasy art Frank Frazetta. You described his work as having a "Dark Primal Quality". Can you please explain the significance of "Primal" Energy in your works and world views? What do you feel about pagan or primitivist movements? Are wolves also a form of Primal-Energy?
Frazetta's work cast a spell on me when I was a teenager. His paintings vibrantly capture raw emotion, combining the savage and the sensual. Primal thoughts and actions tap into our inherent base emotions, such as fear, violence and lust, devoid of the subtleties of romance and civilized action. If an artist can reach their audience on this level, it stirs these base emotions and resonates deeply within them.
I strive to instill this primal energy in my Gothic works by creating overgrown backgrounds and ancient architecture while keeping my characters in heavy shadows and mist. The males are usually depicted as brooding characters with supernatural strengths, while my female figures are scantily clad, revealing voluptuous curves that generate natural sex appeal. Whereas my human figures are intended to exude a darkly sensual vibe, my creatures are intended to look like living nightmares. Many of my monstrous creatures are thickly muscled beasts with larger-than-life features such as glowing eyes and dagger-like fangs and claws.
Wolves exude a primal ferocity. They have savage instincts, but they are also extremely intelligent and loyal creatures, making them quite formidable to man. Bram Stoker based Dracula upon traditional vampire lore, allowing Dracula to shape-shift into the form of a wolf, among other things. Werewolf lore also preys upon man's primal fear of wolves and monstrous predators that lurk in the dark. I have created several wolf-related characters, ranging from mere animals to supernatural beasts, to monstrous hybrids of wolves and humans. Because wolves are nocturnal hunters, many people who love the dark feel a kinship with these creatures.
The mainstream art community alienated your passion towards Gothic Fantasy. But you have managed to release books; Your paintings and music: well known, and you've even produced a video game. A tip for us artists of the underground: How can one best cope with being part of such a small niche, sometimes even a scorned one? The small audience, limited collaboration possibilities, The low motivation for barely having anyone to share your passion with... What is the secret to your persistence and loyalty to your vision?
Gothic art and dark instrumental music may not be common or popular in mainstream culture, but there are a great many people in this world that have a penchant for the dark and eerie. When those of us who appreciate such things see or hear something that appeals to our dark side, we embrace it with a passion and support its creators.
I painted more than 100 paintings before I made any money at my art. Even now, I rarely sell my original paintings. I've only shown my paintings in one public gallery, and that was one that I built. The secret really is persistence. Being creative consumes a lot of time. If you don't spend that time doing something that you find gratifying, you will quickly lose interest in your work.
Doing what you really love has its own rewards. My persistence with my work is inspired by my own sense of accomplishment. I am only being true to who I really am while fueling the dark fire that burns in my heart.
Can you tell us about the video games that you're producing? I sense something very magical in a game which is all about puzzles and atmosphere, made by an artist-occultist.
The Cabinets Of Doctor Arcana is a gothic adventure computer game, based on the Nox Arcana album, Theater Of Illusion. Players will find themselves trapped inside the abandoned mansion of a renowned magician who mysteriously vanished long ago and must search the creepy manor to find a way to escape. The game itself is accented by my gothic artwork and music, as well as dozens of diabolical puzzles that unlock several dark secrets as the story progresses.
The Cabinets Of Doctor Arcana is a throwback to the early computer puzzle games like The 7th Guest, Shivers and Jewels Of The Oracle. I was very influenced by these types of games and used them as inspiration throughout this project. Puzzle games seem to have become a thing of the past, and that's really unfortunate because they're very fun and challenging. I felt compelled to resurrect this classic genre, so we embraced the idea of creating an old-style puzzle game and ran with it. We specifically designed The Cabinets Of Doctor Arcana to have a very retro look and feel within a simple framework with minimal mouse controls. The end result is an effectively moody and entertaining game that evokes a haunting sense of nostalgia.
The concept for the game began as a feature I created for Dark Realms Magazine back in 2000. The feature was called The Cabinet Of Doctor Arcana, based on the title of the classic silent horror film The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari. In each issue, the condescending Doctor Arcana presented puzzles for the readers to ponder, then insulted the integrity of anyone who correctly solved them. This jeering humor carries over into the game as well as players are subjected to taunting remarks from Doctor Arcana throughout their adventure.
I developed the Doctor Arcana idea further on the Nox Arcana album, Theater Of Illusion. The story centered around a secret society of magicians who possess actual magical powers and lurk in the hidden shadows of our world. I've always loved magic and magicians—the darker and creepier, the better. The concept seemed like a natural backdrop for an eerie adventure shrouded in mystery. In the game, players must explore this shadowy realm of magic and illusion. The gauntlet of confounding conundrums that await consists of more than 50 logic puzzles, word puzzles, mazes, riddles and codes. For those seeking something more mentally stimulating than the usual arcade game or hidden object adventure, this is the game for you.
Creatures of the Night
In your painting "The Dark Crusader", the beautiful yet dark character in black robes can barely hold his sword. He is gaunt and physically weak, but still looks extremely powerful and confident. What is the life-force that animates his fragile frame with so much power? What's his Crusade? What is the war that he's fighting and why does he wear the sign of the cross around his neck?
The painting depicts Lord Brom, the main vampire character in my Dark Tower books. He is gaunt because he deprives himself of the blood that sustains him, knowing that it lures him deeper away from his own humanity. The sword he carries and the cross he wears were given to him by the former guardian of the Tower, a holy man who was twisted toward darkness by the terrible vigil he held. The series has a very original twist on the true reason for vampires. Some may find it sacrilegious, but I think it's a revelation of wonder.
My artistic style is to render my characters with a sinister elegance while establishing a gothic mood with architectural elements such as gargoyles, ornate columns, archways and tombstones. My characters are intentionally very pale and gaunt to represent the realm of the undead. Vampires and ghosts have traditionally been depicted this way, so it sends a subliminal message to the viewer when they see a thin person with colorless flesh. We instantly recognize the look of a creature that doesn't eat and is drained of blood. But even though this is the traditional look of the living dead, I try to make my characters beautiful and sexy in a dark, gothic way.
I personally love this look and would like to see more modern styles reflect the dangerous, dark beauty of the gothic realm, combining the traditional elements of the period with fantasy elements of horror fiction.
You like to draw Dark Angels. It is a beautiful contrast. What do they mean for you in your art? What do they represent? What about the realm of the undead? Vampires, ghouls, ghosts, etc.: What kind of story do they tell us through your art?
Various mythologies and religions describe angelic beings as warriors with armor and swords. I portray them in a gothic fashion, depicting them as pale, gaunt, yet strikingly attractive knights with ebon armor and raven-black wings. Although they posses unearthly powers and have lived for millennia, they are not immortal. They are the protectors of the righteous and fight to uphold order over chaos. I based my dark angels on the Watcher myths that describe forbidden interactions between angels and humans.
My ghosts are usually depicted as beautiful female spirits, whereas my vampires cover a range from darkly romantic to monstrously hideous. Ghouls are just loathsome and frightening creatures, devoid of their former humanity, with an animalistic craving for human flesh. Many of the denizens of my Gothic realm reside and interact in an epic story. The first of my Dark Tower books came about after a discussion with a writer friend of mine who said that it seemed all of the gothic characters I was painting were intertwined in an untold mythos. I realized that I was creating this shadowy realm of my own imagination that required more detailed explanation. As I began working on the Dark Tower mythos, I wrote stories and painted new works to fill in the missing details. The completed trilogy is a classic mixture of horror, romance, mystery and dark adventure with an underlying theme of good versus evil.
What can you tell about dwellers of your gloomy forests? Wild werewolves, sorcerers and dark fairies? What about the winter-king of Ebonshire forest?
Even in the modern day, the dark depths of the forest still hold many mysteries. Much of folklore describes creatures and that dwell in the shadows of the woodlands and supernatural rites that take place in forest hollows in the dead of night. The forests in my work are foreboding places where witches hold forbidden sabbats to conjure and appease the dark and ancient lords of the woodlands, werewolves rise during the full moon to stalk human prey and forgotten paths lead to ancient realms where fairies and goblins dwell. The fairies of early folklore were much darker than the creatures of children's fairy tales. They snatched human children and demanded sacrifices from mortals. The forest holds many dark wonders and terrors.
As for my Ebonshire mythos, there are three main entities that watch over the realm—The Winter's Knight, The Winter Queen and The Winter King. Each of them personifies a different aspect of winter on each of three different albums. The Winter King graces the cover of Winter's Majesty. He represents the glory and formidable power of the winter season. He commands the icy winter winds. Artistically, he is represented as the traditional All-Father figure that reigns supreme in numerous mythologies. He is a stern-looking, white-bearded lord, reminiscent of Odin or Zeus, who sits upon a majestic throne to survey his kingdom. After completing my winter CD trilogy, I began releasing new Ebonshire tracks each winter for the past several years. Now that I have amassed 21 tracks, I will be releasing the entire Ebonshire collection on cd this winter.
Can you tell us about the idea behind this project?
I had been in a few rock bands when I was younger, but I always loved instrumental music, especially horror film soundtracks. After achieving some notoriety with my art and other musical projects, I decided to create a series of moody, immersive concept albums of haunting melodies and sound effects that revolved around specific gothic themes. I teamed with William, who was only 15 at the time. Aside from his musical skills, he possessed an amazing aptitude for studio engineering. We built our own home studio and began writing and recording every day. Within a few months, we had created the first Nox Arcana album, Darklore Manor. The haunting music was accented by eerie sound effects and ghostly narratives reciting creepy poems, sinister nursery rhymes and even spells from the black books.
Over the next few years, we released a series of albums based on various dark themes that intrigued us. The concepts of the albums ranged from haunted Victorian mansions and creepy carnivals to Grimm fairy tales, ghostly pirates and sword and sorcery. We paid tribute to some icons of gothic literature, such as Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, and even released several albums for the winter holidays. Nox Arcana's music has been used in television, independent films and computer games, and has been performed by two different orchestras. The music is comprised of moody and melodic instrumental compositions inspired by classical composers such as Beethoven and Mozart, as well as modern soundtrack composers such as Ennio Morricone, Wojciech Kilar, John Carpenter and Danny Elfman.
William left the band in 2009 and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a film composer, but I continued Nox Arcana as a solo project and have produced ten albums on my own since then. William and I are still very close friends and he continues to act as the studio engineer for the mastering process of all Nox Arcana albums.
Nox Arcana provides a very spiritual listening experience. How spiritual writing and recording your music is? Tell us a little about your creative process and getting into the right mindset? Might it be anything similar to the one we the listeners go into?
When we began Nox Arcana, William and I would write melodies separately, then develop them together. During that time, I was the major songwriter and William, who is the better musician, fleshed-out the melodies with instrumentation and compositional reworking. He also engineered all of the Nox Arcana albums. When he moved to Hollywood and Nox Arcana became my solo project, I wrote all the music without the luxury of getting any real input from anyone else. I am a control freak, so this was fine to an extent, but the writing process took longer because I spent a lot of time tweaking and reworking my compositions.
When I write music, I am always alone in my home studio. The room is adorned with skulls, swords, gothic paintings and various occult artifacts. This establishes the perfect dark atmosphere for my work environment. Since all Nox Arcana albums are concept albums that strictly adhere to one specific theme, I conjure a mindset that will capture the essence of my chosen theme and imagine what it would look and feel like. These impressions give me a feel for the soundscape of my chosen concept.
Personally, I love the little surprises in Nox Arcana's bonus tracks, like the Rock version of "Spellbound" and the Industrial Dance version of "Children of Heaven". What do you see for upcoming Nox Arcana's music? A full Gothic metal or Industrial Dance album, perhaps?
That idea is always in the back of my mind. I write tons of music that I don't use. Some of it is really good but it just doesn't fit on the specific concept album that I'm currently working on. Somewhere down the road I may write lyrics and develop some tracks into rock, goth or metal, so that's a definite possibility.
I have several good friends who are talented musicians and vocalists. In the past I've wrangled some of them into the studio to play guitar or sing on various Nox Arcana tracks. I got my brother-in-law, Jeff Endemann to sing and play guitar on some tracks. He plays guitar on "Spellbound," while the vocals were done by my good friend Jim Hamar, who sang for the metal bands Breaker and Nightcrawler.
On Blood of Angels you have collaborated with the author and occult expert Michelle Belanger, who also sings on this album. How did this collaboration came to be & what developed on the set while recording? What brought you together?
I've been friends with Michelle for a long time. We live in the same area, so we crossed paths at local goth events on several occasions. Since we shared like interests, we developed a friendship over the years. Most people know her mainly for her writing, but she has an amazing operatic voice. She sang on our Winter's Knight album, but only on one song. We had discussed the possibility of working together on a fully collaborative musical project, but we were both very busy with other projects.
One day in 2006, I had an idea that we should just make the time to do it. William and I just finished Carnival Of Lost Souls and had just begun working on Blood Of The Dragon. I called Michelle and suggested we both take one week to work on a musical collaboration. We worked six days straight and put in between 11 and 14 hours every day in the studio, which at the time was set up in William's bedroom. Everyone came prepared to work, and that really helped us interact efficiently. I had written some melodies based on the types of tracks I thought would work and Michelle had her lyrics, but we wrote a lot of music and lyrics during that one week in that cramped room. I didn't really think we'd create a full album in that time, but it just goes to show you how much you can accomplish when your creative juices are flowing and you set your mind to things.
If I was to say to you choose one specific artist with whom you may collaborate in a new piece (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?
That's tough. I have a lot of thoughts for a variety of projects, but you're really making me prioritize my dreams. I don't feel a strong need to collaborate with anyone on an art or music project. My collaborator would have to have skills and experience that I don't possess. With that in mind, I'll say that I would love to work with FX artist and director Patrick Tatopoulos to bring my Dark Tower series to life on film. He's a fantastic artist and I love the look of the films he's directed and worked on. Underworld 3 Rise of the Lycans looks exactly the way I envision the world of The Dark Tower. In fact, a fan used scenes from his film to create a video for the main musical theme from my album, The Dark Tower.
I actually envision The Dark Tower mythos as an epic cable TV series, along the lines of Game Of Thrones or Vikings. It has horror, romance, vampires ghosts and other supernatural creatures as well as some great Gothic characters and original twists. I've begun reworking the books to adapt the stories to screenplay form, adding some new scenes here and there. It will be an awesome project if it ever becomes a reality.
Thank you very much for taking your time to do this interview. Any concluding words?
Thank you for the opportunity. I enjoyed this very much. I'll leave you with some of my personal philosophy: Don't fear the dark unknown. Embrace whatever fire burns in your heart. Do what makes you the happiest and do it well. That is success.