Resounding Footsteps: What’s been going on with Draug Dae since you wrote the “Why We Do…” piece?
Draug Dae: Well, after the “Why We Do” thing I mainly continued promoting the “Tales” album. But in the meantime I started to think about the future of the project and the direction that I want it to take from here. I’m still in this situation – making plans for the future of Draug Dae. I even had a proposition from a label to make some physical copies.
RF: What has been some of the response you’ve received from “Tales” in the year or so it’s been out there?
DD: The response that the album received was almost 100% positive. There were few reviews in some sites, both Bulgarian and foreign (including Resounding Footsteps). And there were of course some negative reactions, but that is normal.
RF: What sort of new material do you have for a new release?
DD: I have quite a few ideas (and songs as well). The next release won’t be centered around fantasy and medieval themes like “Tales” was. And it won’t have any “epic” or “positive” ideas. It will be very somber and dark, filled with insanity and cosmic horror, influenced and dedicated to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and the dismal aspects of the universe. I have some tracks which didn’t end on the “Tales” album (but originally they had to) which will be included. But that won’t be a full length album, more like an EP. Some of the names of the songs in it are “The Crawling Chaos”, “The Picture in the House”. There will be a song that is released on my YouTube channel but was also removed from the final version of “Tales”. Everything will be oriented towards the dark ambient genre, but keeping the musical pattern and storytelling of Draug Dae. For example, “The Crawling Chaos” is a typical dark ambient song, but also including some voice tracks and sound effects, while “The Picture in the House” is a complete musical re-creation of Lovecraft’s short story with the same name.
RF: So you consider the horror aspect of literature and music to be more negative and the fantasy to be positive? How does that work, I’m curious to hear your take?
DD: Here by negative I mean “creepy” or “scary” and not “sad”. But I’m talking mainly about horror music, since a horror book could have all kind of different aspects in it, both positive and negative (anyway I prefer horror stories without happy ending). Although generally fantasy literature (especially classic fantasy works) is more positive (good & evil presented as black & white) but newer works are more gray-like, including both positive and negative aspects.
RF: So what would you say is your favorite genre of literature, fantasy or horror? Moreover, who are some of your favorite authors?
DD: I don’t have just one favorite genre. But I love mostly sci-fi, fantasy and horror. It greatly depends on my current mood. As for the authors – obviously Tolkien and H.P. Lovecraft, but also Timothy Zahn, George Martin, Stephen King, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Leo Tolstoy and others, also a lot of Bulgarian authors (who don’t write fantasy or something like that) – Ivan Vazov, Hristo Botev, Peyo Yavorov, Geo Milev as well as other ones.
RF: How has your music, and your understanding of it, changed since you began working on Draug Dae?
DD: It changed a lot. When I first started I had no main idea, I didn’t know exactly what to do, I just did some things which to me sounded good. In terms of the themes which I center the music around, there was a major transition. “The Beginning of the End” demo, released in May 2014, was dedicated to the Norse mythology. “Tales” also had to be. For example, “Dark Wizard Tower” was called “Yggradsil”, but I changed the whole topic of the record. As for the musical part, on the album there are songs from 2014 till 2016, the differences are visible. The oldest one is “To war”, from June 2014 and the newest one is “Scourge of the black wings” from July 2016. A lot of the tracks were re-recorded for the album, because with my growth as a musician (and as a person) I had new ideas and new visions for the album.
RF: What do you think is special about Draug Dae? What makes the music a part of you?
DD: Well, one of the qualities that I love in Draug Dae is the storytelling. Soon after I started the project I wanted to take the dark ambient genre and transform it, change it. To tell stories through it, not just to create some background music. So I started to write these kind of songs – dark ambient (or dungeon synth, it depends) but with an introduction, main part and conclusion, just like a real story. But I only craft the frame, the details are created by the listener. I want people to imagine more, to live in their own fantasy worlds. Draug Dae is a part of that. But it is also my homage to the people who influence me
RF: For the new album, as far as story goes, what would it be like? Would it be an ode to Lovecraft or would it be more a story in his honor?
DD: It would be an ode; I prefer it to be like this. Honoring his works.
RF: Do you see this next album as a shift in direction for Draug Dae or do you think each album will embrace a different topic of interest for you?
DD: No, it’s not a shift in a specific direction or anything like that, I plan to touch different kinds of topics. After the Lovecraft thing I have an idea (that is in its early works by the way) about something a bit more historical, maybe set in the 18th century. One of the few topics which I may re-use is the historical one, which actually is a shift from the fantasy aspect (which doesn’t mean that “Tales” will be the last record about such kind of themes).
RF: Draug Dae is outlet for all sorts of things. When you say 18th century, what kind of stories are you going to be looking at? What about that period interests you?
DD: Well, the 18th century is just an example for that era (the time of the musket and the cannon). First I must say that I’m a history student with a big passion for military history. So, a lot of possible stories (tales) are set in that period – for instance, during that time Bulgaria (my country) was under Ottoman rule, so we couldn’t follow the tendencies in warfare, that means that we won’t have any line battles, no massive naval fights. But we had a regiment of Bulgarian hussars which served in the Russian army. Tales such as this one. Or I have a lot of stories to tell about the 19th century, which is one of my favorite periods in history. But some may say that this is not fantasy and that I said that I want to create fantasy music. This is just partly true. Yes, these are historical facts, but we don’t know what happened exactly during, for example, the battle of Eski Arnautlar in 1829, we have the memoirs of a person who was there at the fight, but not every single action during it can be documented, so we have to imagine few things like faces, certain actions, fights with the enemy, things like that. So, yeah, we still use our imagination for some of the aspects in history.
RF: Eventually, might Draug Dae create its own world that mixes horror, mythology, and fantasy together?
DD: I don’t think so. I just don’t think that I can create a whole living world. Although I had a similar idea – for a fantasy world. While I was considering the topics of “Tales” one of them was a fantasy story. But after I thought a bit more about that, the storyline sounded way too much like a cliché, so I decided to ditch the idea.
RF: I’d say, as a writer, that music is the best way to actually create your own world. Not that my vote counts here but I think it would be great if somehow all the Draug Dae albums eventually were found to be stories from the same universe.
DD: I doubt that this could happen, but it’s not impossible, although it won’t be anytime soon I guess. But maybe, just maybe.
RF: Do you think it takes a special kind of listener to be able to create stories given the framework of the music you write or do you think that any listener can do it?
DD: I think that the more someone imagines things, the more he is into this and the easier he will see beyond the frames of the fantasy world. The visions become clearer with time and experience. But yes, maybe there are some people who will understand things better than the others.
RF: Do you think the listener is actually capable of directing the music (through interpretation) or are they filling in the blanks so to speak?
DD: It depends, according to me. If the music gives you not only the frame but also the directions, it is more difficult. For example, in the “Tales” album some of the tracks are quite linear – they have an introduction, a main part and an ending, so in this situation it is more difficult to direct the music, the listener has to fill the blanks. But if you have only the frame (like in dark ambient music) you can set the directions easily.
RF: Knowing you a little and your appreciation for black metal, how much do you think black metal influences the way you write and what you write in regards to dungeon synth?
DD: Black metal is the main reason for the existence of Draug Dae. The project is full with black metal influences. Just one word – Burzum. Well, for example – “The Wolf Shadow Lives” which if you listen closely, will hear that it is constructed by guitar riffs. There even was a metal version of this, but it was never released, as well as many other black metal tracks.
RF: What are some of your favorite artists in the field of music?
DD: I have few “all-time favorite bands”. My top bands are Sabaton, Burzum, Sentenced, Slayer. Also many others. I love also classical music – Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Wagner, ambient music, dungeon synth, Bulgarian folk music, symphonic music and others.
RF: What would you say Draug Dae’s ultimate goal is? What is the point to you making your music?
DD: I don’t think that there is some sort of final idea or ultimate goal. I just have some Tales to share with you and I will keep doing it while I can. The storytelling and the imagination are point of Draug Dae. No more, no less.
RF: “Tales” and “In the Beginning are available through your YouTube channel (I’ll make sure to have a link here). Are you going to release the next album the same way? Have you felt that YouTube has been a better vehicle for releasing your music than Bandcamp, SoundCloud, iTunes, etc.?
DD: Yeah, it will be released on YouTube 100%. I have considered using other kinds of sites, but never actually did. This “decision” is not based only on the fact that YouTube is more popular, but also because I’ve just never used these other sites that you mentioned as an uploader, although I might start using Bandcamp (and most probably I will).