Interview with Brian J Cano - Haunted Collector
At a time when lots of ‘reality’ ghost hunting shows were all the rage, in 2011 there was one show which had a different spin to the rest. Haunted Collector focused on families who had strange happenings in their homes which were traced back to a particular item. World renowned paranormal researcher John Zaffis led his team in the hopes of finding and ‘collecting’ the item to take back to his famous museum. It was a different spin on the format we were used to seeing and in particular, one of the stand outs from this show was the tech specialist Brian Cano. Fans loved his methods of mixing old and new investigating techniques and willingness to try things a little different. In May 2016, Brian headed down under for the annual Paracon convention in Sydney Australia. Fans fell in love with his down to earth nature, his theories and way of thinking. Due to popular demand, Brian is coming back to Australia later this year for his ‘Once more around the block tour’. Starting in South Australia, flying through Victoria and finishing in New South Wales, fans will once more have the chance to meet, chat and investigate with Brian. I am particularly thrilled as Brian will be coming to my favourite place Black Rock House. I was lucky enough to have Brian do an interview with me about his upcoming tour and all things paranormal so we had more of an insight of what we were in for.
How did your paranormal journey lead you to Haunted Collector and working with someone as well known as Johnny Zaffis?
One cannot work in the paranormal seriously for an extended amount of time and NOT run into John Zaffis. But in 2010, I co-directed a documentary on his life entitled, “John Zaffis: The World Within” and that cemented a lifelong friendship. So when HC came along and the network told John they wanted a tech person to be added to the family dynamic, he gave me a call.
On Haunted Collector you were the ‘tech guy’ and I loved that you would incorporate a lot of old school experiments as well as using modern equipment. Do you have a preference between the two?
Regarding old school and new school experiments and methods – we’re all still grasping at straws when it comes to the paranormal. That being said, all methods hold merit. The devices we use now though allow us to collect accurate data about our surroundings. While not proof of anything, the more data we have, the better.
Is there an investigation technique or experiment that is your go to favourite?
My methods have changed a lot over the years. I find it best to be yourself. Be personable. While we are trying to collect data, we’re not tracking weather patterns or doing geological surveys – things that are mundane – we’re looking to connect with other personalities, other people. Sure, those people are sans body, but we have to approach it like we would approach any stranger on the street. Polite and personable.
When Haunted Collector left our screens, Brian continued his work and research in the paranormal. Speaking at paranormal conventions across the US and running public investigations, Brian encourages paranormal investigators to actually use their brain’s during an investigation.
You like to encourage investigators to ‘think more and do less’. Why do you feel this is so important?
I modified this motto from carpentry; “Measure twice, cut once”. Man has been telling ghost stories since the beginning – we won’t solve this conundrum over the weekend. While many investigators out there are well-intentioned, are they really helping people or simply role-playing inside someone else’s need? I’d like everyone to get a firmer foundation first, by reading, researching, getting mentored and learning about the subject beyond what is seen on television. Then and only then can one hope to “help” anyone.
There is a term you have created – paralosophy. How did you come up with this and what is it all about?
Recently I’ve been focused more on the “why” and less on the “how”. #Paralosophy evolved out of a philosophical blog post I would do on Fridays, called #Pfriday (Philosophical Friday) in which I would pose deep, not-easily answered questions designed to make people think and discuss and really look into themselves for the answer. Eventually, I saw that philosophy was a needed component in the paranormal as much as psychology and process. Paranormal plus philosophy became #Paralosophy. In it, I want investigators to ask, “Why?” more often and in all aspects. Why do we use the equipment we use? Why do we accept the norms that we do? e.g. – Indian burial grounds being “obvious” reasons for hauntings, or other such blanket statements.
Fans attending the Black Rock House investigation will have the chance to see Brian put his ‘Paralosophy’ into action for a night of investigation and thought provoking experiments. On top of this, Black Rock House sits in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. It was built in 1856 and houses many objects which have been donated or purchased from antique stores. Is this the perfect recipe for an investigation by a former ‘Haunted Collector’?
What can our guests expect from your investigation event at Black Rock House in September?
I always tell attendees that no one can guarantee activity during an event – or ever. What I can promise is that when they leave, they will leave with the practical and mental tools to be better investigators. Some come to events looking for a roller coaster ride. For that, there are amusement parks. But at the Black Rock, if we experience something, most will leave feeling confident that it was genuine because we’ll have gone through all the proper steps to try and verify it. Plus, we’ll have fun doing it!
With items in the house that are over 100 years old, does this mean there is a good chance some of them could be haunted?
The age of an item is not a correlation to the possibility of it being haunted. Energy is energy and since everything is made of energy, all items are candidates.
How does an item become ‘Haunted?’
I generally see it as being one of two explanations. One – energy has settled on the item, be it residual or intelligent, making it the target of paranormal activity, resulting in such activity being noticed by us. Or two – the item is a catalyst for energy that was already present in the location.
A lot of people attending the event are people starting out in the paranormal field. What advice would you have for them becoming a paranormal investigator?
Read, read, read! Research, get mentored, join a team, soak up all the info you can. Be inquisitive, be open. Enjoy the television shows, but don’t let them be your sole source for education.
If you are thinking of taking the plunge and trying something new, I suggest you take up this opportunity as we may not see Brian again for a while. Brian will be taking a break from touring and doing what all good investigators do …. researching!
What is next for Brian J Cano?
After my “Once More Around the Block” Tour ends later this year I’ll be pulling off the road for the foreseeable future and returning to research. After fifteen years in the field, I feel it’s time for me to get more education. Then, I can relay that to others. Round and round the wheel goes…
I for one cannot wait to meet Brian and investigate with him. I don’t think it matters how much or little experience you have, we can all learn something from his methods. If you are just starting out or you have been in the field for years, I think we can all relate to the things Brian has said above. This is someone who is out there in the field doing the research, collecting the data and doing something with it all.
2018 Update: The events with Brian have been and gone. The few hours I got to spend with Brian at Black Rock House were eye opening for myself as he challenged me to think of things in a different way. I even credit him with giving me my spark back that night. That spark where you want to research things and look at things from a different angle, not just the same old same old 'What is your name?' style of investigating. Most of all I got to make a new friend. Thankyou Brian and you are welcome at Black Rock House anytime! Never stop searching
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