Interview with Varg Vikernes
Russian Dungeon Synth Community (14.04.2013), by Paul von Aphid, Black Boyar, Alexey Kochkin

Are you familiar with such genre tag as dungeon synth? What do you think of an idea of separating music that sounds like your synth albums from the dark ambient genre, since this kind of synth music has its own characteristics (synth sound, neoclassical or medieval melodies, mythological or fantasy concepts, etc.) that set it apart from dark ambient (atonal, noise, monotonous and industrial records).

Unfortunately I am not familiar with that genre, but it does sound intriguing. If I may say so, I think my new album ("Sôl austan, Mâni vestan") could easily fall into this category as well...

What music was in influence on your synth albums? On your web site you mentioned listening to Dead Can Dance and Das Ich, now announcing your third synth album you mentioned Tangerine Dream. What you like in traditional electronic music? I wonder if there's also influences from Jan Michaelle Jarre or another German artists like Klaus Schulze? Is there an influence of classical and neoclassical music? Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Poledouris (Conan OST)? Maybe you played some RPG's on your computer in late 80's/early 90's like you played tabletop MERP at young age?

It's hard to say for sure, because I only know what I liked and listened to, but not all I liked and listened to influenced my music, then or later. Jean Michelle Jarre probably influenced me though, as did Tchaikovsky.

Have you heard albums of other "dungeon synth" artists? Mortiis, Glenn Danzig, Wongraven, Lord Wind, Wojnar? If you have, what do you think of it? I know that you dont much like Mortiis.

No, I haven't. Yes, I strongly dislike Mortiis as a person. I have never heard his music though, and plan not to change that.

You know, when i didn't know yet that you were making your third synth album, I still had high hopes for it and even wanted to write you and ask you to return to your old dungeon synth style and release an official ost for your RPG. Can the new album be considered not only as an OST to a film you and your wife made but also as an OST for the game? Is there a connection?

Sure, you can see it that way. The game, MYFAROG, deals with the same subject as the film, ForeBears, but I still think the atmosphere is very different in the film.

During your childhood, were fantasy and films about medieval times an influence on you? Can you remember the one with the most impressive OST? To me, the OST to Excalibur (1982) definitely influenced dungeon synth aesthetics. Austrian Uruk-Hai (named exactly as your early band) and Nargaroth sampled the wedding theme from the film.

Well, I didn't see that many fantasy films or films about medieval times back then, or any other films for that sake. Norway, although a NATO country, was like a Soviet State, so we had only one single TV channel to watch, and they only broadcast one single film each week, and they were all extremely left-wing propaganda films (including a few films from the CCCP, by the way), and the cinemas were not much better (and with one or two exceptions I never went there), so... I didn't see too many interesting films until after 1991... when Norway too had to accept some of the things they had elsewhere in the "West", like multiple TV channels.

Dungeon synth interludes were included on an Isengard album, a project of Fenriz (who also created the Neptune Towers duology), and in general in the early 90s the dungeon synth wave was a part of black metal. Can you remember any talks in the scene about lo-fi synth side projects being a part of a protest against mainstream music? In 1994 Darkness Enshroud already expressed their thanks on an album cover to you (as Count Grishnackh), Mortiis and Absu bass player (who had a dungeon synth project called Equitant).

From 1993 and onwards I had nothing to do with this scene whatsoever. No, I never heard any talk about synth music.

Numerous dungeon synth projects have emerged in the CIS countries since 90's, and most of them emphasise heathendom themes in their music. Whether this is coincidence or a trend, another tag 'slavonic ambient' has appeared, embracing exclusively spiritually-inspired pagan music. Yourself, you were devoting your 'ambient' albums to the northern mythology, so why, in your opinion, synthesizer-based music fits well for expressing pagan concepts?

Yes, certainly. Paganism is to a large degree about spirituality and atmosphere, feelings and longing, so any music that can work as a catalyst for this fits well.

What motivated you to make a synth album again? Is it possible that you make some more synth records in the future?

My plan is to make more synth albums. When it comes to motivation I can only list Odinn ("mind", "fury").

What are your thoughts on the development of this genre of synth music?

Ah, I don't think about that. What comes comes. There is no need to plan anything or even think about it. We go where the music takes us...

What influenced early synth parts on your albums like "Tomhet"? You said before that you were sometimes at techno parties in early 90's instead of metal gigs, so well there any influences from that? Are you consider that part of "club" music as part of modern version of old heathen magic rituals (seriously or not?).

Underground house music and underground techno music, I would say. Long instrumental tracks played in a dark cellar in a club called "Fonix" (Phoenix) in Bergen. All modern rhythmic music can be compared to old religious music, I think.

You very rarely mention what you listen now (only like The Cure and Dead Can Dance) - but maybe you will be up to share something? Are you trying to looking for some music you "missed" because of informantional blockade at your previous years?

No. I am very conservative and rarely - if ever - listen to new music. "If it works, don't fix it". It works, so I don't try to fix it...

I know that you keep contact with such people like members of VON and you even planned to create a synth or gothic band with ex-Von members. I saw that information few times, but never saw any approval from you. I know that you still love Von music, so maybe it's possible? Are you know their Sixx side-project which play dark gothic rock simillar to The Cure? I also know that Stephen O'Malley from SunnO))) contacted you before - do you plan to work with such people?

No, I have no plans to work with anybody. Nor have I had such plans the last 20 years. It is e.g. the first time I hear that I planned to create a synth or gothic band with any ex-VON members. I didn't know that...

A lot of people claim (including me) that your music and views both and separately changed a lot of people lives. How it feels for you?

It feels good. I hope it made them more pro-European...

Authors: Paul von Aphid, Black Boyar, Alexey Kochkin (© 2013 "Russian Dungeon Synth Community")

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