If you have not heard of Erang yet then now is your chance to become acquainted with one of the most important voices in the dungeon synth universe. I put his music and influence on the same as Mortiis, Burzum, and Summoning. Without him and artists like him, this genre would not be nearly so deep and rich as it is. He was the first one to come to me and introduce me to dungeon synth when I was first getting started and for that I will forever be in his debt. For Dungeon Synth Appreciation Month, I knew I had to get an interview with him, the man that shaped the genre.
Resounding Footsteps: Tell me a little about Erang, where did the idea come from?
Erang: Erang is not an idea but a part of me. If tomorrow I stop making music, Erang would still be there with me… Since my birth and until the day I die.
RF: Which came first, the music or the universe of Erang?
Erang: The universe of Erang… and it is not strictly related to music. Of course, I’ve expressed it mainly through music until now. But my drawings, my stories, etc. matter as much to me as my music.
RF: What exactly does Erang mean? What does it mean to you?
Erang: Erang is the Ghost of the Shadows of the Past… it is a person and a place as well: The Kingdom of Erang… a place I know by heart but where I’ll probably never go back… To me, it is as much important and essential as the air I breathe or the food I eat.
RF: How did you specifically get into dungeon synth? What do you think sets it apart from other genres these days?
Erang: 5 years ago I’ve stumbled across the Dungeon Synth blog, runs by Andrew. He made up the term “Dungeon Synth” … I was already making on my own those kind of medieval synth sounds but I found the blog and the work of Lord Lovidicus and I realized it might worth to share my sound around… because before that, I thought that nobody except me could be interested by this kind of raw music.
To me, what sets it apart from other genres is:
-It’s a music make by “real” people and amateur not related to the industry or the so-called “professional” music scene. This is important to me because I’m always suspicious toward the word “professional” when it comes to art.
– The focus is on the atmospheric side rather than the technical side of music.
– It’s a music about Medieval Fantasy which is a theme I truly love since my childhood.
– As a musician, it offers me a lot of freedom to create because the borders of this genre are pretty wide.
– It is the perfect music for solitary escapism and to let the imagination wanders.
RF: What do you think Erang’s greatest achievement has been thus far?
Erang: I would say that having people writing me emails (songs.of.erang(at)gmail(dot) com) from all around the world just to tell me that my music helped them through rough time in their life is not only something that I wouldn’t have expected to receive but also my greatest achievement so far.
RF: What is something you hope to see Erang do in the next year or so?
Erang: I like to keep my projects secrets until they are ready and in order to keep some mystery… but I really wish to expand my own world (characters, places, etc.) and I got some ideas about it.
RF: Beyond music and artwork, where do you see Erang going? Could stories or novels be in the cards?
Erang: Novel, definitely. This is my big project for 2017 and I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve it this year because writing is a huge thing. But I’ve started to work on a novel (in French) about the Land of the Five Seasons and I’ll keep on working on it during this year… we will see how this will end up…
RF: When you create the music, how are you envisioning the world you create?
Erang: It is something I can’t explain with words and that’s the beauty of music: I just feel it with my ears, my mind & my body… You really have to understand that, to me, the Land of the Five Seasons and the Kingdom of Erang are REAL… Of course I’m not some crazy guy and I live in the “real” world too, with my everyday job and all the things everybody deal with… but the Land of the Five Seasons is not just a “label” or a name I put around my music… all the events, places & characters within it are linked to events from my real life and so on… and I’d also add that, philosophically, the question of “reality” is pretty vast and not limited to the things you can touch with your hands… “Reality” is what you choose to be “real”.
RF: What do you hope your listeners feel when they listen to Erang?
Erang: That’s hard to say but I would reply that I hope they feel a bit of what I’ve talked about in my previous answer… I hope it’ll take their mind to another realm and helps them to “connect” with Another World, Another Time… and bring them back to their inner kingdom of their own childhood.
RF: What makes Erang different? In your own words.
Erang: I follow no rules: only my instinct & feelings. So I’m not afraid to add to my sound and world anything that is not “pure true Dungeon Synth” (if that ever made sense) but fits my vision of music and my own taste: “Within the Land of my Imagination, I am the only God” … That’s also why I’ve released an album like ANTI FUTURE.
RF: What’s your set up? How do you record your music?
Erang: I don’t like to get into technical details for a simple reason: we live in the world where you sometimes get the feeling that nothing is secret anymore… You can find anything about everything online and it takes the mystery away from things. I remember several years ago when they have started to put “making of” as bonus on DVD… I hated that because it ruined the magic of movies. Of course, I’ve seen interesting making-of and I don’t want to sound snobbish but I share director David Lynch points of view about art: we don’t always need to see what’s behind the magician curtains… Furthermore, the beauty of Dungeon Synth is that you don’t really need any kind of specific set up to make it: just use what’s your comfortable with.
RF: What inspires you, both musically and non-musically?
Erang: Concerning the deep meanings of my music, I’m inspired by events, people and places from my own life and past… then I “translate” them into my own worlds and kingdoms.
That’s my primary source of inspiration.
Then, artistically, I’m mostly influenced by fantasy movies from my childhood (Willow, Conan, Dark Crystal, the Neverending Story etc.) by books (the Hobbit, the Silmarillion) and role-playing games from my childhood (tabletop & video games : Zelda, Secret Of Mana, Hero Quest, etc.).
RF: Who are some artists that you would recommend, whose albums you can’t miss?
Erang: If your question is strictly related to Dungeon Synth, I’ll definitely recommend you the early Lord Lovidicus albums: you can’t miss them if you’re new to Dungeon Synth. My favorite being “Quenta Silmarillon” and “The Stars Reflect An Ancient Magic” I guess. The Hedge Wizard is also awesome with a unique atmosphere and imagery. He only released one album until now and I’m really looking forward a new album from him!
RF: Why do you create? What drives you?
Erang: I simply don’t have the choice: if I don’t create every day, even a simple drawing or a short sentence, I start to mentally decline.
RF: When you work on the world you’ve created; do you see yourself as a god or an observer?
Erang: I don’t think about that & don’t view things like this… I would say that the characters and places from my world have their own “life” even if I gave them birth… so, to answer your question, Kind of both I guess.
RF: What do you think of Tolkien’s influence on dungeon synth, both directly and indirectly?
Erang: Simple: Tolkien has a huge, immense, influence on (Medieval) Fantasy in general… and Dungeon Synth being strongly related to Medieval Fantasy, obviously, connections are numerous. I would just say that, today in 2017, if you launch a new project solely based on Tolkien imagery I wish you good luck because you’d have to be very innovative in order to stand out of the crowd of the numerous Tolkien-related project.
RF: Would you like to see more work inspired by others or would you like to see more independently creative works? Why?
Erang: Like I said before: I follow no rules… so it is not up to me to say what people should work on, or not: if a very talented and inspired musician achieve to make great music based on Tolkien world, why not doing it? And if someone feels the urge to create his own world and lore: go for it!… as long as people are sincere and inspired, I’m interested in hearing their work.
RF: Do you think your music is a form of escape or just a different way to look at the world around us?
Erang: Both and it is a very important question. Let me try to explain myself: to me, Fantasy worlds are, indeed, a form of escape from the everyday life… but only in appearance: because in fact it helps you to come back to “reality” with a fresh mind and new strength which help you to struggle with “real” problems. You just talked about Tolkien and I want to use it as an example: many topics discussed by Tolkien in his books are far more relevant about “real life” issues than many authors who try their best to write “realistic” books which ends up being just boring and pretentious sometimes and, at the end, less helpful to understand the world than a good newspaper. When you read the fantasy world of Tolkien, for instance, I truly believe that you end up with a better understanding of our “real” world and the human condition.
To me, this Gandalf quote “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.” is a better advocacy against the death sentence than plenty of other realistic books that deal with this subject, for instance.
RF: What is your favorite instrument that you use? That you listen to?
Erang: Hmm, hard question… Every instruments have their own charm… maybe the Kantele and the Harp have an instant magic vibe… but I would say that I have a deep and ancient love for “synth sounds” in general… Old electronic keyboards sounds… the soundtrack of my childhood!
RF: Aside for dungeon synth, what other kinds of music do you listen to? Do you see the influence of these genres work their way into your music?
Erang: Allow me to copy and paste the answer I made to the same question in the Dungeon Synth Forum board: I’m a huge music fan and there are things & artists that I like/love in pretty much any style and genre of music.
My range of influence is pretty diverse and goes far beyond music, in fact.
But if we keep it strictly related to non-DS music (and others than Black Metal intro/outro, interlude) I can say that I’ve been inspired by lots of things here and there and, often, the influence is subtle because it is just one element or an atmosphere that I feel in a song and try to translate in my own world…
Here are few examples:
– The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack in “The Way Of The Horse Rider” > youtu.be/p99R2G2QowA?t=446
– Ulver – not saved in “Hereby Banished” > youtu.be/p99R2G2QowA?t=1425
– Wardruna in “Im Ajinar Nost Alije (Part I)” > www.youtube.com/watch?v= 93awFzIqgZM
– Nest in “Elks And Owls” > erang.bandcamp.com/track/elks- and-owls
– Philip Glass on “Children of the Frozen Forest” > youtu.be/GXAzICk7Gkw?t=1908
– Ocarina of Time OST in “Flow of Time is Always Cruel” > youtu.be/bWsuQN8fhPE
RF: What words of wisdom would you impart to those that are looking to create their own dungeon synth projects?
Erang: Stop “thinking” about it and MAKE it for real, NOW. The only thing between you and your project is… you. I made a video with humble personal thoughts concerning “Creativity in Music” so I hope it might help some who just start their own project = https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=bkAy7bl1ukg
My most sincere thanks to all the Erangers and the people around the world who appreciate and support my music: The Kingdom is OURS!
Physical Erang CDs finally available here