Listen closely and you can hear the ancient forests call to you. If you listen close enough you can hear the melodies of Ancient Boreal Forest interwoven with the music of the actual forests. While you won’t see any reviews for Ancient Boreal Forest during Dungeon Synth Appreciation Month, fear not because they are going back and rerecording the older material at which point I will gladly take on the albums and give you all a fair analysis of them. Until then, I was able ask a few questions of Ancient Boreal Forest on process and inspiration.
Resounding Footsteps: How did you get into dungeon synth?
Ancient Boreal Forest: After the first Ancient Boreal Forest release, titled “Spiritual Journey Through the Mist,” I wanted to venture into making synth music of a different nature which I was calling “Dungeon Crawler” music for a long time. This was sometime in December 2014-2015, while I was in the process of recording the album, “Forgotten Lore.” After awhile of searching around, I stumbled upon several artists such as Murgrind, Arath, Erang and Lord Lovidicus in my search of a genre that sounded close to what I was making. It was only then I knew what genre I wanted to call my music, and it was “Dungeon Synth.” Of course, I was already heavily into the artist Mortiis and his early works, while also completely enthralled in the sounds of Summoning, so these artists were my biggest influences in the genre before any other artist.
RF: Why do you play dungeon synth of all forms of music?
AbF: I like to keep things interesting, I never want to be bound to the expectations of other people, for I make music for myself and for people who will enjoy it. There will be times where I feel that I need to step out of my own comfort zone and venture forth into uncharted territories, I do not wish to sound like other artists.
RF: What’s your music writing processes?
AbF: Most of the time I’ll start with a warm up before I get down to the technical stuff of tweaking the sounds that I want, how I want to play it, and how I want the music to sound. I always record everything that I play, whether it’s practice or not, most of the time the best stuff comes at a whim. When piecing music together, I like to try and keep things simple and avoid overdoing things.
RF: What sort of equipment do you use to create your sound?
AbF: I operate off a low-budget set up, I have a Casio keyboard that I have plugged into my laptop that is designated solely just for my music and projects. I have been a user of FL Studio for the past 10 years now, and will be going onto my 11th year using the program. I have tried several other DAWS, but I have always placed my trust in FL, and have always returned to using it as it has never failed me. The thing is, it’s often better to stick with what you know best. I have been eyeing up a few other DAW’s on the market that I will add to go alongside FL Studio. I have a whole slew of plugins already, so I have a great deal of sounds to go through and use, so this is why I stick with the current program that’s in use for my projects.
For two releases from my catalogue and a few tracks, I have skipped using a DAW entirely and went with a more straightforward approach and recorded using an external mic to capture the sounds emitted from my keyboard, this is most evident with the album “Sanctuary Of The Forest,” and “Night Creatures.” To some, it may seem mediocre to them, but to me it’s more of an artistic attack, meant to go against normal expectations and perceptions that have already been laid out beforehand. I like to think of it as stabbing your enemy in the neck when they least expect it, it makes things a bit more interesting.
RF: Who would you say is your biggest influence?
AbF: My biggest influences would have to be nature, the vast forests, the past and present and whatever emotions I am feeling at that point in time. As for artists, Summoning, Elffor, and Erang. I am also pretty fond of the genre synthwave, so some stuff from that genre sneaks in once in awhile.
RF: How did you come up with the name “Ancient Boreal Forest”? What does it mean to you?
AbF: Ancient Boreal Forest first began in 2013, under the title of “No Happiness Here.” Which at that point in time of my life I was in grieving due to a loss of a very close friend, while also at the same time went through a very painful break up, due to this I became socially withdrawn and resorted to finding peace in the forests and surrounding old growths. I became very attached to stories and folklore of old spirits, and for a brief period of time developed an interest in the occult and otherworldly things. One day during the summer months, while lurking through the forest and tree’s, I looked out towards the lake and its vastness from atop the cliff side and couldn’t help but take in the beauty of the landscape and the lake, it was the boreal forest that I had set my eyes upon, and thus “Ancient Boreal Forest” came to be.
RF: How many instruments do you actually play?
AbF: For a brief period of time I played the guitar, but dropped that for piano because my guitar had broken, it was an acoustic. While I was in isolation, I would often sing to myself while I sat among the trees in the great taiga, and played a few air instruments, one of them being a flute. For now, I just focus on playing the piano. Though, I will be taking up the guitar again later in the year once I have acquired enough funds to get new equipment and gear.
RF: What do you want to get out of the music you make? What do you want your listeners to feel?
AbF: Personally, I want the music to convey my feelings, and my own world, my perceptions of reality. For my listeners, I only wish for them to create a world of their own, to have their own ideas on what they would like to perceive when they listen to the music of Ancient Boreal Forest.
RF: A lot of dungeon synth can be broken down into story telling or mood setting, what do you think Ancient Boreal Forest is?
AbF: Ancient Boreal Forest is the embodiment of the spirits that have long sense been forgotten, the forest and surrounding lakes, the creatures that live in the great vastness of the lands away from society. That is what I think Ancient Boreal Forest is all about, an escape from modern life, an escape into the isolation of the forest.
RF: What kind of stories would you like to tell with Ancient Boreal Forest?
AbF: The beauty of nature, and how it is very much a part of our life, it is something that everyone needs to experience for their own. The wilds can be beautiful, but can also be harsh and unforgiving, mysterious and full of surprises. While also, telling stories of spirits, the constellations, the things that no one hears about.
RF: Say you come across someone who has no idea what dungeon synth is: how do you convince them to try out Ancient Boreal Forest?
AbF: I will only go as far as mentioning the name, I will never force someone to delve into something they know nothing about. It is completely based on their free will to do so, I think a person should make that decision for themselves, and not the other way around.
RF: Is Ancient Boreal Forest nostalgic to you, or haunting?
AbF: Personally, it creates a sense of nostalgia, while at the same time haunting. It reminds me of where we all come from, it reminds me of the forest I walked through and how I came to realize the profound beauty of the nature, and the stories and folklore that I grew up on.
RF: I’ve made an attempt in the past to say that the music, once it’s written and performed, takes on a life of its own separate from the musician, do you think that’s true?
AbF: To me, that is a very grey area, I can’t say whether it is true or not. But I will say, music is an extension of one’s self.
RF: What do you hope Ancient Boreal Forest is able to accomplish in the future?
AbF: I hope that Ancient Boreal Forest remains true to itself, while also exploring new territories on it’s journey. Ancient Boreal Forest will not remain strictly instrumental forever, it will eventually go back to it’s roots again.
RF: Technically, dungeon synth could be played live, have you ever given thought to doing so? What might an Ancient Boreal Forest show look like?
AbF: Yes, I have thought about playing live, but for now it is just myself and my guitarist currently, and due to the circumstances in life, it’s just not feasible at this point in time. Maybe in the future when Ancient Boreal Forest is at it’s full potential, once all the instrumental material that is currently released has been made into full fledged Epic Black Metal, will we ever think about doing live shows. Currently, we’re in the process of doing just that, and will take time.
I think that if we did a live show, it’d be mysterious, like that of the forest.
Ancient Boreal Forest’s albums are available here.