A Far Away Fortress: An Interview with Lord Lovidicus

As mentioned in other articles, Dungeon Synth, as a genre, is very intimate with the divide between creator and listener much more narrow than other genres. Perhaps the same distance though is supplanted between the general population and whoever knows about dungeon synth. Even though the style is certainly diverse, you could probably break dungeon synth into broad categories one being dark and drone like and the other light and magical. Lord Lovidicus is certainly magical and his extensive catalog is devoted to a wide array of personal and fantasy themes. Book of Lore Volume 1 is the newest release from Lord Lovidicus and is his 14th since 2009. The album is entirely centered around the stories of the Silmarillion which for those who listen to dungeon synth, should already be recognized as the biblical stories of Middle Earth before the Third Age. I sat down with the creator, who sometimes goes by the name crow, in a quiet corner of a castle library and over the crackling of the hearth we discussed books, music, and the ill fated dungeon synth festival that is never going to happen.

Book of Lore is your newest record and is dedicated entirely to not just Tolkien but the tales from the Silmarillion. How does that particular book compare to lets say other Tolkien works or other authors? Is there something about the first few ages of Middle Earth that fascinate you?

Well, I personally find The Silmarillion as Tolkien’s masterpiece. It was written throughout the entirety of his life and then appended and edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien. This doesn’t necessarily mean that his other works are lesser in my eyes. While The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are both wonderful tales, they are very exact in their meaning, style, and plotlines. The Silmarillion, to me, is perfect because of how vague and ambiguous some parts can be, which allows me to impart my own creativity and imagination into the less explored cracks. On top of this, I feel The Silmarillion truly shows Tolkien’s creative side. It is a tale that is not afraid to venture off into many different genres of fantasy. Although, as far as entertainment goes, there are other authors I enjoy more than Tolkien. George RR Martin, for one. I really enjoy the ASOIAF series. In particular, Tolkien’s works are very black and white in the lens of medieval folklore. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it is true to the altruistic tales of heroes in the past. I prefer the more personal, dramatic, and ultimately grey area of fantasy that is brought forth in the ASOIAF series.

Some people talk about The Silmarillion being adapted into a movie to fit within Peter Jackson’s cinematic universe. What are your thoughts on Peter Jackson and his adaptations? Do you think the Silmarillion could be condensed or have certain stories taken off that would transfer to the screen?

I really thought that Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was amazing. It invoked a deep sense of emotion in many parts, maintained a sense of magic throughout, and while some parts of the movies didn’t happen in the books they were still true to Tolkien’s writing and atmosphere. Honestly, I really wanted to like the Hobbit films, and the first one wasn’t that bad, but I just really didn’t like the new trilogy. Throughout, it felt like it lost this sense of magic that the first films had. I think it was most likely because of the overuse of CGI, and its use of cheap action/romance gimmicks that take away from the story and fill it with a gross representation of Tolkien. I know for a fact that, if you want to represent the Silmarillion in film, you can’t condense it into 2-3 three hour long films. There is just too much stuff to glaze over, and none of it would get the attention it deserves. I always thought something like an HBO series would be perfect for the Silmarillion. You could have seasons dedicated to different events, Beren and Luthien, Turin Turambar, etc… I honestly wouldn’t even care if it was animated at this point, haha. That being said, if it were an HBO series, it would need to accurately capture the style and atmosphere of Tolkien. I always personally felt, since the Silmarillion doesn’t even capture the subtle intricacies of the massive lore it creates, a Conan the Barbarian style film would be perfect, with minimal dialogue and plenty of interpretive action.

You mention that Book of Lore is Volume 1. Is the Book of Lore planned as a series?

Yeah, initially I wanted to dedicate myself to an album series. It’s something I’ve never done before so I figure it will be a nice challenge. I’ve already started work on the next volume, although I can’t say much about it’s theme yet.

Compared to many Dungeon Synth artists, you sound is much more rooted in a classical and medieval sound. How did you come across dungeon synth?

Classical music is something I’ve always loved since I was a child. The medieval sound, while a bit more repetitive, is pretty closely related to classical music in my mind. In the beginning of Lord Lovidicus, I wanted to write dark ambient music with a classical spin on it. I came from a background of listening to Burzum at the time, so I wanted to do something similar to his ambient pieces but with my own style. You can even tell based on all the Burzum covers I did back then, haha. After Quenta Silmarillion, I started uploading my music to YouTube. I noticed my music, particularly the album Trolldom, was being mentioned on the Dungeon Synth blog. I talked with the owner of the blog about it in an interview. It wasn’t until my music was perceived as Dungeon Synth that I started to consider it myself as Dungeon Synth.

Can you give me some of your favorite classical composers and your favorite pieces by them>?

It’s hard to think of a short list for this one because there are so many classical artists that I enjoy. I’d say the classical composers that I always come back to, time and time again include: Dmitri Shostakovich, Erik Satie, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky. For Beethoven, I like Symphonies 3, 5, and 9 of course haha. For Tchaikovsky, the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. I like most of Shostakovich’s symphonies, particularly 5, 8, and 10, and his String Quartets and Piano Concertos are amazing. Everything by Erik Satie is compositionally and emotionally profound in my opinion, I love it all, and he has recently been a major influencing force for my composition.

Your release cycle seems to be yearly. How does the creative process work for you? Are you currently at work on another record?

This is an interesting point and one that I’ve focused on a lot. When I started I was releasing almost every other month. That quickly slowed after the first year. It turned into around 2-3 releases a year. Now it’s starting to take a more yearly trend. There’s a couple of factors that play into that. One factor is the fact that I am progressively becoming more and more analytical of my composition, timbre, instrumentation, and other aspects of my music. On top of that, there was my Jotun project which I spent time on separately, although that has fallen off as of late. The creative process usually includes the following steps for me. I gather sources of inspiration. I create mental imagery that I use to transcribe into music (much like painting a picture but with notes). That part of the process is so based off of feeling and unconscious thought that it is hard to put into rational words. After that, I spend time refining sounds, editing composition, and finalizing the music as a whole. Generally the themes and styles are finalized after an album is done. There’s usually a down period after releasing material where I spend time reorganizing my thoughts about music. I spend this time to explore new genres of music, experiment with some music theory, try new approaches, etc… Eventually once I feel like I have innovated upon my style enough I’ll start writing new material. As I’ve said before, I’m still working on music. I have a few songs in the works right now for the next album, although it feels like I’m still in the experimental phase.

Your name comes from Oblivion which is apart of the Elder Scrolls universe. How did you happen upon that name and character. Why did you adopt the moniker?

When I first created the project, I wanted it to have a name that was obscure and personal to some respect. I chose Lord Lovidicus because Oblivion was, and still very much is, my favorite game. I think to me, at the time, “Lord Lovidicus” felt like an appropriate name because it was this vampire lord living out in some far away fortress to his solitude. It very much related to my mental state when approaching music creation, because I did so in a manner where I isolated myself from everything and explored my imagination. Of course, time changes people, especially considering I was 15 when I created the project, back in 2009 (So hard for me to believe, haha). If I had the chance to do it all over again, I probably wouldn’t have named it Lord Lovidicus, but I stick to the name because of the tradition and the personal reminder of my past self.

Are the ones close to you aware of the music you create? If so what is their reaction to the level of immersion you take?

I love sharing my music with close relatives and friends. Generally the reaction I get is how “relaxing” the music is. On few occasions I get extremely constructive criticism. It really helps me filter through ideas and help build this project into a more refined state. My ex-boyfriend has been a huge inspiration to the music I write, especially through the music he’s created. It’s a wonderful thing working with other musicians, because it really helps you develop yourself to a higher state of creativity.

Even though dungeon synth is a very small and intimate genre, it also seems be comprised of individuals working by themselves. Do you have any relation to other artists. Do you correspond via parchment and quill?

Haha, that’s a good one. Well, like most people, I would do what is easiest by either talking face-to-face or emailing. In high school, I did try writing black metal with a close friend of mine. We had two releases but stopped after a while. At the time, I was someone who worked better alone. Like I was saying before, my ex-boyfriend wrote a lot of music, a lot of which is very intellectually composed. He’s even helped me on a decent amount of Lord Lovidicus songs. From time to time we would write music together, and overall it has helped my creativity grow immensely. I do have another close friend who doesn’t necessarily write music, but has a very strong grasp of musical quality and theory, and we’ll banter over the compositions of many obscure artists. Of course, there is Erang, and he is the only other person in the Dungeon Synth community that I’ve connected with and written music with. I feel we both have the same spirit when it comes to writing Dungeon Synth. I think why Dungeon Synth is largely written by individuals, and not bands, is because of the nature of the music. Most of it is electronically created by some means or another. This eliminates the need of multiple people playing instruments. On top of this it is a niche genre of music where finding others who are interested is very hard. Finally, the music is about conveying a sense of inner magic within the imagination. Having multiple people doing that can be frustrating, especially considering how interpretive and subjective this genre is.

Let’s say, it is 1989 and we are about to start a long Advanced Dungeons and Dragons campaign. What class and race are you playing and what would be your motivation?

I’d most likely be a high-elf priest, and either a druid or cleric. I really like to assume the role of support or a healer in multiplayer scenarios. Elves, in general, are definitely my favorite fantasy race.

Let’s say it is 2010 and you are the dungeon master of your own campaign. What would my paladin most likely encounter in the game you designed?

Probably a lot of cryptic puzzles. I’d definitely throw in your standard enemies here and there, and your bosses. Puzzles are my thing though; whether it’s deciphering text from a tome to perform some incantation that allows you to proceed, or some tricky sequence of levers and tile pressing that open a secret passageway. I feel like just fighting monsters over and over again gets boring, and allowing a higher level of interactability with the environment is important for not only variety, but immersion.

Finally, Erang has said maybe (but probably not) but let’s say I had the money to organize a dungeon synth festival in the woods for a weekend. Could convince you to come and play live for an audience?

Haha, that’s a hard question. I’d say probably not, but it really depends on the time and place. On top of that, playing live is something I wouldn’t really want to do, haha. I feel like the music I write wasn’t really meant to be played live, but if it were? I mean, it would really just be me with a computer playing my music on some speakers. At the end of the day, I’m a composer, not a performer. Although, a dungeon synth festival sounds awesome, and if the time and place were convenient enough, then yes, I would definitely try to go.

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