Interview conducted via e-mail, February 2015.
WULF: So from what I can tell, you haven’t done too many interviews. Tell us a bit about yourself and your music. How did you get into the mysterious, intriguing world of dungeon synth?
CROW: I’m just a human that likes to keep himself busy. I’ve developed many hobbies that I undertake in my spare time, one of which is music. For me, growing up in a musical background with a father who is a musician, I’ve always had a passion for composition. I started writing Lord Lovidicus when I was 15 years old, and now I’m 20. I’ve come a long way, and what started out as musical expression turned into something that I could share with others through social media. Of course, this isn’t something I’ve strived for, it’s something I’ve incidentally stumbled upon. Particularly, dungeon synth was not in my mind when writing my music. I wrote music inspired by what I was surrounded by: video games and fantasy books. Eventually my music developed into what could be considered dungeon synth, but I never intended to write dungeon synth music.
WULF: Maybe I’m, crazy, but I feel like there’s been a drastic improvement in the quality of your music ever since you released “Forgotten Ruins” in June 2013. The following album, “Kyndill og Stein” was great as well. However, shit really got kicked into high gear with your most recent album, “Waldervogel des Waldes” (released in November 2014)! In my opinion, that’s one of the greatest “neo”-dungeon synth albums of all time, and is bound to be a classic! While I do appreciate the more “old-school” dungeon synth style of some newer artists (such as Splendorius or Murgrind), I feel like both you and (fellow dungeon synth conjurer) Erang are redefining the genre with your newer music while simultaneously demonstrating that this kind of music doesn’t necessarily have to sound like it came out in 1991 in order to belong. How do you feel about this evolution in your style? What brought about this drastic change in sound?
CROW: This decision was purely a matter of composition in my mind. I loved the authentic, lo-fi sounds of my earlier work, but it became a limitation as far as composition. With a keyboard full of MIDI sounds, I was able to get the different sounds that I thought of as sufficient, but what I could actually play on the keyboard, I felt, limited my ability to compose. Writing in an electronic interface fixed this problem, and I was able to reinvent my project and limitlessly compose to whatever my mind could conjure. This is where my view of music sort of clashes with most people’s views. I feel the essence of music is in the composition, and the medium that it is played through is just a way of conveying the abstract. Many people think that the mixing and production of the music is the most important thing. No, to me it is the notes. The notes themselves are like the words of a book. People may argue whether paperback or hardcover is the best, but in the end the words are the reason you buy the book.
WULF: Is there a particular concept or storyline that you draw inspiration from for your songs / albums, or do you just kind of improvise in that respect as you write? In a previous interview, you mentioned a kind of loose storyline that you had in mind when you composed the “When the Mountain Falls” EP (September 2012), but has been the case for your music after this?
CROW: To answer the first question, it’s a mixture of both. If there is something I read or saw that particularly inspired me, I would write a song in its respect. Most of the time it is improvised. That EP was the first time I tried doing a full length story concept for an album. I did it mainly because a friend recommended I should try it out. I may try that again in the future. It was an interesting experience.
WULF: Are we ever going to see a Lord Lovidicus music video? What about the possibility of a live show? If this was something you’d be interested in doing, what would your ideal show be like?
CROW: My music is instrumental for the same reason that I would not make music videos or perform live. Music, to me, is about what can’t be explained through words or visuals. I had a conversionation with one of my fans and he asked me what visions I thought of through one of my songs. I told him my ideas, and then I asked for his. They were fairly different, and that is what I love to get out of my music. It should stimulate everyone’s imagination differently. It’s much of the same reason why people play tabletop games as opposed to triple A video games. People like to use their imaginations rather than be force fed super specific visuals or commentaries.
WULF: Your music would fit quite well in a short film or video game, even though personally I think its best as a soundtrack to an evening of D&D / Pathfinder. What do you think it is about dungeon synth that separates it from just being atmospheric video game or movie music? Have you ever had any offers to compose game music or anything like that?
CROW: I think your first question ties in a lot with what I had to say in the previous question. Unfortunately I’ve never had offers from people asking me to compose music for their video games or anything. I would love to do that. I’m almost done with my degree in computer science and plan on making video games. If I did make video games, I would definitely write the music for it; possibly even through some Lord Lovidicus in there.
WULF: Does the music of Lord Lovidicus represent a personal philosophy or belief system of your own? You’ve mentioned that you have a sort of apathetic, nihilistic, misanthropic view towards mainstream society / humanity. You’ve also talked a bit about how for you personally, your music acts as a sort of temporary escape vehicle out of this reality. Does this also reflect your personal philosophy towards overall existence in general? Being a black metal fan, what are your views towards the occult, the supernatural, etc.? Also, I highly doubt you’re a religious fellow, but I think it would be really cool if you would release an Old Testament-themed cover album of some of your own music and then release it under the name Lord Leviticus. Just putting it out there.
CROW: This is a highly in depth question so I’ll try to tackle this piece by piece.
First off, I like my music to be as far removed from philosophy and beliefs as possible. It’s fantasy music. Fantasy shouldn’t have to deal with philosophy or belief systems, those are for reality where the actual questions need to be asked. Again, with my music being an escape from reality, it really shouldn’t associate itself with the concerns of existence.
At the time of that interview, when I was 17, I was going through a lot of psychological problems. I ended up suffering from depersonalization disorder from which I’ve emerged a completely different person. Interestingly enough, that’s when I began my switch to electronically produced music. My thoughts on existence at the time were hopelessly nihilistic. I viewed the world as a meaningless and empty place filled with arrogant, oblivious, and egocentric drones. My views on the state of the world have not changed much, and that reality that I have recognized has not changed; however, my perception of that reality and the way it affects me has changed, drastically. I stopped viewing the world in a purely objective and detatched state, to one more subjective and in tune with who I really am. I spent most of my life training my mind to analyze the world in a rigorous, objective light. Now, I am doing the opposite, for my own sake and sanity. It has led me to an existential crisis in which I emerged the master of my consciousness; however, I think psychological and philosphical development never ends and it is something to be developed upon the further we travel through life.
It is true that I was an avid black metal fan some time ago. I’ve lately become somewhat detatched from the scene. I still listen to it here and there for old times’ sake, but as I develop my musical tastes I realize I really don’t like vocals in my music. That’s probably why black metal was so appealing to me because the vocals are incomprehensible from face value and serve as a sort of instrument themselves. I feel like vocals, lyrics specifically, bring an unwanted element into music that detracts from the purpose of music in the first place. It ties in with my other answer about playing live or making a music video.
I find the occult silly. Stylistically, it has its aesthetics, and they are fairly attractive, but inherently I find it silly. The supernatural on the other hand is a realm that does intrigue me; particularly metaphysics. At the same time I haven’t decided whether such a philosphy is probable because it is founded in biased human egocentricism along with the physical manifestation of something abstract (i.e. a soul), but there is no evidence against it so I remain open minded.
It’s funny you bring up the whole Lovidicus – Leviticus thing. I’ve thought about that many times in my mind and all the time I think “Damn, I should’ve come up with a better name.”
WULF: You’ve covered music by Erang (and vice versa), and have also released a split together as well. I would argue that right now you guys are arguably the two most popular contemporary dungeon synth artists. The world is not big enough for the both of you. In a duel to the death, who would emerge victorious… Lord Lovidicus or Erang?
CROW: I know Erang was inspired by a lot of my earlier works, and I became inspired by his works as well. I had a great time collaborating with him and hope to do more in the future. He is a great guy. In direct response to your question I would say Erang. He has the production quality that people crave and the stylistic visuals to aid with his music. In all seriousness, I think me and Erang have our differences and we are both trying to acheive different things with our music. I can tell that Erang is trying to perfect some stylistic archetypes that exist in music genres. For me, I’m just trying to uniquely express myself in a way that I’ve never heard before. It’s really hard, and I get a lot of backlash for it because people wish my music was more “true” to the scene. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to plateau and reinvent the wheel. I want to go places with my music that people haven’t gone before, and whether people like it or not does not concern me.
WULF: I’m actually really interested in creating my own dungeon synth as well, but all I have is Garage Band for my iPad and it’s not working out too well. Do you have any advice or tips for newbies like me? Feel free to get as technical as you want regarding hardware, software, musical equipment, songwriting, etc.
CROW: It’s a pretty hard process. It takes a certain level of dedication. I feel there is no general formula to writing this music because it should be a methodology that is unique to each artist. I could explain how my methodology has evolved over the years but I’m not sure if that would have any use to you. Essentially, if you are using an electronic interface to write music, you need two types of hardware. Something that specializes in MIDI’s and VST’s so that you can dynamically modify synthesizers on a tracklist of plotted notes. If you want your music to have a more authentic sound, you could hook up a keyboard through a computer with a MIDI adapter. I know in FL Studio you can record notes in real time and then set those notes to a synthesizer that you customize. The second type of software that is necessary is a sound processing software that can import and export most sound files and can modify their equalization, pitch, reverb, etc. For this I use Audacity.
As far as songwriting goes. It’s really your own formula. For me, I usually envision some sort of landscape or scenario in my mind. Then, I paint it with the notes. It’s really hard to explain how that is done. I guess the best way I could explain it is that in my own mind there exists a library of connotative and associative sounds or melodies that coincide with different sceneries. It’s a very abstract model that I use to pick and choose different note sequences to represent specific things in a scenery. Of course, this is just my mind’s interpretation, and on a listener’s mind it has profound results that end up in largely different interpretations.
WULF: The name Lord Lovidicus comes from “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” video game. Obviously, you’re an Elder Scrolls fan, so just out of curiosity, what was your opinion of Skyrim? Also, how do you feel about “The Elder Scrolls Online”?
CROW: I have no thoughts for Elder Scrolls Online. Honestly, the series died for me once Skyrim was released. I’m a fan of highly strategic RPG’s with an in-depth meta to them. Skyrim has fairly limited RPG elements and requires little skill to create powerful builds. Not to mention, Skyrim was a vast, desolate, bleak, and empty world based off of low-fantasy realism while Oblivion was a vibrant and magical realm based off of high-fantasy imagination.
WULF: It’s already been established that computer and video game RPGs are a big influence, but what about tabletop RPGs? Also, do you currently play roleplaying games? If so, which games?
CROW: I used to play a lot of D&D with my friends in high school. I’m hoping on trying out D&D 5e soon because it looks pretty awesome and took care of a lot of the problems I had with 4e. Currently, I’ve been playing a lot of Guild Wars 2, I’m also a big fan of 4X strategy games and have been really into Endless Space and Endless Legend.
WULF: It’s only been a few months since you’ve released the last album, but have you got anything planned to come out in the near future? What’s currently going on in the realm of Lord Lovidicus? I can’t wait to hear some new music!
CROW: I’ve already tried to write more music since the release of my last album. My last few albums have been similar in composition style, so this time I’m really trying to change it up again. I’m still not sure what direction I want to go in. I’ve written quite a few melodies here and there but they’re just bits and scraps of what will come. The problem is, I want something new. I can’t write another “Wandervogel,” or even another “Trolldom” for that matter. I want to head in a completely new direction, and I’m still not sure where that will lead me.
WULF: Those are all my questions, sorry I had so many! Anything else you’d like to say?
CROW: Thanks for the interview. It was a great oppurtunity for me to really think about my musical career and focus on some of my objectives. Again, thanks, and thanks to all of my fans who love my music.
You can read about Wulf’s favorite Lord Lovidicus albums here!
Listen and support Lord Lovidicus’ music: https://lordlovidicus.bandcamp.com/
Keep updated about Lord Lovidicus: https://www.facebook.com/LordLovidicus
Lord Lovidicus’ Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/CrowHavenBM
Mithrim Records: http://mithrimrecords.bandcamp.com/