PAPER DUNGEONS: An Interview With The Creator of The Masmorra Zine

Masmorra DS 2

The Masmorra Zine was an important development, for me, in my understanding of dungeon synth. A little over a year ago, I was digging around for more information on dungeon synth and saw that a zine was being printed by some guy in Brazil. Fascinated, I ordered a copy and low and behold a gorgeous copy comes to my door complete with a poster and CD. The companion CD had an array of dungeon synth artists including Erang, Foglord, Celestial Crypt, Iami, and Hedge Wizard. The poster was a large scale illustration of the zines’s cover which was a spectacular image of a befitting of old RPG sourcebooks. It has been a year since the inaugural launch of the Masmorra Zine and through impatience and obsession, I decided to check in with Rômulo, creator, warden, and proprietor of the Dungeon Synth Zine.

What brought you to the business of making a zine for dungeon synth?

Passion. I love writing and dealing with these graphical stuff and visual arts, and I think this was one of those weird dreams you can have when you’re a child, you know, “oh, I love this magazine, imagine if I could do it by myself and have my own!”. Also for my passion with the genre, I think this scene was in need of something like this, something professional, serious, yet underground. Then I started to act!

Was the choice to have a paper zine instead of an online zine a conscious choice?

Yes, totally. I wanted it to be special, unique, the first one and the best one, so I went one step further. Well I think blogs and webzines are great too, and necessary, but I think I could say the same for this physical stuff, and this is what this scene was in lack. Something you can hold, turn the page, smell, keep, take to places and all that, what is now oldschool, stuff.

How did you get in contact with all of the artists which appear on the companion CD?

Masmorra DS Stack

I’m delving into this scene more and more as time passes, so I’m making friends and knowing lots of good artists and their works. I’m searching them for myself, selecting and entering in contact by e-mail or Facebook. You can’t imagine all the work it is the gather all this stuff, well, maybe you can, ’cause you work with similar stuff, but specially ’cause at first I was just a random unknown guy from Brazil. Besides I make this for the scene and all its fans and artists, I make this for me too. Gathering interviews, songs for the CD, ad pages, images and stuff, and dealing with many people from different countries at the same time, only through internet, that’s quite stressing sometimes, for each one is different and we must respect and deal with the differences.

Has the response from the Dungeon Synth community been favorable to Volume 1?

Totally! I’m quite happy and proud of this. I must thank everyone!

From various posts and statements, the publication seems to involve a lot of work? Now starting the second issue do you see the future of this zine continuing the same DIY fashion?

Yes, lot of work. I had the intention to publish two issues per year, but since it isn’t my major project, we can even say it’s just one of my “hobbies”, I don’t have too much time to dedicate to it. I’m facing lots of difficulties, specially ’cause I live in a country with serious economic problems, for example, it’s hard to find a company to make a good work for small quantities. So I expect to release at least one per year, and yes, everything made by myself, at least for now while it’s still a small underground business, but if in the future I notice I won’t be able to handle it by myself then I won’t hesitate in recruiting serious partners.

The first issue of Masmorra was limited to 100 copies. Do you see Issue 2 at the same amount?

Probably a little more, maybe 150.

March was the publication of the first volume. Do you see this as a yearly publication?

No fixed period at all, it will be done when it’s done. It’s a long work made by one person and I don’t profit too much with it, so I can’t dedicate to this to make my living, and I absolutely couldn’t think doing it, that would just ruin all the goodness in this zine, it’s just one of my thousand projects.

a1619656190_10You yourself are a Dungeon Synth musician. When did you start creating music in relation to making this publication of the style?

I play music since my youth, but in 2013 I started doing some experiments with black metal and dungeon synth, then Iamí was born. At first I made some raw stuff, then I begun improving my skills and ‘Cavernas do Inconsciente’ came, my masterpiece at the moment. I tried to explore all the boundaries of the genre to create something unique and true to myself. From dark ambient, minimalist, epic and complex dungeon synth, all this mixed with my inner journeys as a human being, then the soundscapes appeared. 

In my various interviews with dungeon synth musicians, I always close with a question about playing live and more specifically if a dungeon synth festival could ever happen. Do you see yourself playing live and possibly at a festival in a future with other musicians?

Nah, absolutely not in a festival or somekind of, especially in my country where there isn’t many dungeon synth fans or musicians. I think live shows are quite interesting, but this scene needs more maturity for that, I think these deals must be done right or it will pass a totally wrong image of the genre, musicians who think to play live have more responsibility in this genre ’cause it was born to be listened alone, through the vehicle of media. So there’s a context and an atmosphere to be created. Too soon to say something conclusive about this, but I know there’re some musicians taking the next step…

Aside from your own release in 2015, Cavernas do Inconsciente, which was fantastic by the way, what were your other favorite dungeon synth releases of the year?

…some of them will be featured in Masmorra #02 so I prefer not to say here and keep the surprise. Thanks a lot for this opportunity and for valuing my work, I really appreciate. All the best to you and your great website!

Volume 2 of the Masmorra Zine will be out soon complete with a new CD and poster. You can keep up to date with the zine’s progress at the Masmorra Facebook Page. You can also wait paitiently for the arrival of Volume 2 with the sounds of Iami’s music. If you would like to learn more about this weird, wonderful, and wild genre please follow the link down to the dungeon.

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