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Erang - Interview

Interview with: Erang
Conducted by: Evceles

Erang is a one man artistic and musical entity embroiled in the fantastical world of dungeon synth. With a substantial discography spanning over several different genres and too many influences to list, he has crafted and nurtured a vast mythos of characters and environments all within the realm of the mythical landscape known as the "Kingdom of Erang". A couple of months ago, Erang released his latest album named Anti Future, and unlike his previous albums now his world is not placed in medieval fantasy, but is a journey into the 80s science fiction themes. In this interview we discuss the various intricacies of his music as well as his inspirations such as; RPGs, movies, literature and art. We also delve into the inherent escapist qualities of fantasy and dungeon synth as well as the importance of imagination and the appeal of honest, intimate and unpolished amature creativity.

Evceles: Greetings Erang, and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.
: The pleasure is all mine!
Evceles: What were you doing before starting Erang; and what inspired you to start the project?
Erang: Interesting question as I've recently uploaded a video that partly answers it [Link] I've always made music and drawings related to my inner Kingdom... until I came across a blog about dungeon synth and discovered the music of Mortiis and Lord Lovidicus... I thought I was alone and then I realized that other people might enjoy this "low-fi" fantasy music too. That's why I decided to share my music with the outside world.
Evceles: Is Erang a person, a place or both?
Erang: Both.
Evceles: It seems that Erang may embody an entire mythos such as 'Lord Of The Rings' or an RPG. Is this the case?
Erang: Definitely. There are many places (like the Dark Dungeon, the underwater kingdom, the frozen forest, Lobrok, etc.) and characters (such as the drunken tyrant, the stone giant, etc.). I made a map, you can download it here [Link], and I have many background stories. My music is only the tip of the iceberg you know... and I'm currently writing a (short) novel about my own world.
Evceles: What is your affinity with dragons?
Erang: Well, I guess that being a fan of Medieval Fantasy without having a love for dragons would be weird...
Evceles: What are some of your favourite RPGs and why?
Erang: I don't play RPG's anymore because I devoted all my free time to my music. But I have fond memories of playing MERPG, Stormbringer and Hawkmoon... and about video games, I was totally in love with Zelda III a link to the past and Secret of Mana and I still deeply love them. Recently, I've started a campaign of "Descent" the tabletop game, and it's awesome. I have a great time playing it, it reminds me of Hero Quest (that I used to play as a child).
Evceles: Would you say nostalgia plays a big part in Erang?
Erang: Nostalgia is my Kingdom.
Evceles: Your music is very melodic. Do you have a melody in your head before recording, or do you make it up as you go?
Erang: Thanks for noticing; I put a lot of work and great care into my melodies... To me, melody is the most important thing... Concerning your questions, it depends, but most of the time I think the melody comes as I'm working on a song.
Evceles: How does your music come to you?
Erang: Sometimes an atmosphere or a melody comes into my head like a thunder, other times I sit down on my computer and I start to experiment with sounds and instruments until it inspires me. I'm also influenced by external sources such as movies, books and, of course, other music. I try to think about the aspects I like about these other pieces of art and how I could express them within my own music.
Evceles: You can be seen wearing a very distinctive skull mask with corpse paint. What is the significance of the mask?
Erang: This mask is very important to me and it completely symbolizes the "spirit" of Erang. As I often say; the "Man with no Face" is the ghost of the shadows from the past. with that being said, I hope that everyone will derive their own significance from the mask. I also made a song about it, "The Man With No Face", you can check it here:
Evceles: I assume that you use some VST synths and instruments. Do you have a 'go to' VST or some favourites for making music?
Erang: It depends and changes from time to time but I mostly use soundfonts in fact, old ones, haha: most of the things I use to make music are almost vintage, but I often change them to "challenge" me because always using the same "tools" sometimes tends to make you create similar songs.
Evceles: Do you use any analogue synths?
Erang: No, even if I love their sound.
Evceles: There has always been some overlap between dungeon synth and black metal especially in the early days as there are many common themes and influences between the two genres. Do you listen to any black metal; and if so, could you share with us some of the artists you enjoy? 
Erang: First I'd like to add something; there are of course influences from black metal, "interludes" in dungeon synth, but dungeon synth is a musical genre on his own and is not a "subgenre" of black metal. Today, dungeon synth is a vast musical genre with lots of roots and lots of branches. Black metal is definitely not the only influence in dungeon synth; if you ask people into black metal if they make dungeon synth when they compose an interlude or an intro, I'm almost sure that the vast majority of them will answer "no". Dungeon synth comes mostly from escapism and fantasy. For instance, I personally consider an RPG (like Dungeons & Dragons) or Tolkien being far more influential in the "substance" of dungeon synth. To answer your question, I really love Summoning. I also like a lot of Burzum and Bathory. I love the album Enthrone Darkness Triumphant by Dimmu Borgir, but not the rest of their discography, except their first album. I like very much some tracks from Windir and Xasthur to. That's most of my favorites I guess.
Evceles: Who are some of your favourite Dungeon Synth artists?
Erang: Lord Lovidicus, Hedge Wizard, Arathgoth, Wintercry,... there are many others and I definitely need to take some time to dig more into Sequestered Keep!

Evceles: In more recent times you have dabbled in some synthwave compositions with Anti Future. What brought this about?
Erang: I've always been a fan of "80s synth music" and I love the work of John Carpenter. When I was a teen I used to listen to the Escape from New York soundtrack or the Halloween theme, etc. At the time I started to work on Anti Future I was listening to the second album of original music by John Carpenter (Lost Themes II) and I needed some fresh air in my music... I wanted to make a "synthwave" album for a long time, in fact, my album Tome IV was meant to be a "dark/space synth" album at the beginning, so I decided to make it with Anti Future, but the background of my world, the characters and places are still the same, only they are set in an alternate dark future.
Evceles: I believe that you do all of your own artwork. One of your album covers utilises a fantastic backdrop from David Caspar Friedrich; who is surely a favourite among fans of dungeon synth, as well as yours truly. Your artwork very much compliments the music and covers many different approaches and styles. Where do you draw inspiration from for your artwork?
Erang: I make all of my own artwork and drawings, it is a very important part of my inner Kingdom. My inspirations are pretty diverse and it really depends on each album covers in fact we could talk about it for hours, haha... The references and inspirations are not always obvious but I know where they come from; for instance, the colour scheme of my album Another World, Another Time is inspired by the cover of For All Tid by Dimmu Borgir. The cover of Kingdom Of Erang is inspired by old school fantasy movie posters or RPG's rule books and the cover of Tome X is inspired by some drawings from Tolkien, etc.
Evceles: Who are some of your favourite visual artists?
Erang: I love the drawings of Tolkien and the art of John Bauer or Alfred Kubin... and many, many others which are not "fantasy" or "medieval" related; like the art of David Lynch, which I truly love. I love surreal art, generally speaking.
Evceles: Do you think dungeon synth will grow in popularity over time or remain an underground niche?
Erang: I don't know and it's a two sided coin. I guess growth in popularity is always fine... but you often lose in a way some "innocence" which is very important to me, specifically within a genre such as dungeon synth. What I like the most in this genre is that it's made by "real" people and amateurs from all around the world. Today, with the internet and Bandcamp, we are at the frontier of a new world and we don't need to "professionalize" every fucking thing like it used to be in the past. I don't think that dungeon synth CD's need to be in a shop or a mall you know. I don't think that it's an obligation to have "managers" from a label or make "studio albums", etc... I don't think that a dungeon synth album needs any more input than from the musician who makes it. Concerning Katabaz Records for example, it is just the name of the "home" where me and my bunch of friends release our music but nothing more; we make everything by ourselves.
Evceles: What does the future hold for Erang?
Erang: For 2017, I'm working on new tracks, very medieval and epic; I'm very enthusiastic, and for the first time I will maybe release a CD. Many people have asked me about this over the years and I really want to please them with a beautiful object, so I'll think about that. After having released my first official video "The Dark Dungeon", I'm also working on a new music video... very atmospheric and with a dark poetic feeling I guess. Then, I really want to finish my (short) novel, but writing is a slow process so I don't know yet when the book will be finished.
Evceles: Here is some Tolkien trivia for you: I recently stumbled across an article from which suggests that a quote commonly attributed to Tolkien regarding fantasy and escapsim is in fact a paraphrased quote from the author Ursula K. LeGuin. The quote can be found in her book The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction (p. 204, Ultramarine Publishing, 1979).
Here is the quote in full: "Yes, he said, fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape? The moneylenders, the knownothings, the authoritarians have us all in prison; if we value the freedom of the mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can."
My question is: Would you agree that fantasy is "escapist"; an escape from the mundane world of reality into the realm of imagination and wonder?
Erang: As I always say; "Imagination Never Fails".
Evceles: As you clearly feel a deep connection to the world and ways of the past; as do many of us, what are your thoughts on the modern world?
Erang: I'll say that it is important to not mix everything up or become confused; what I like from the past is imagery... it is a romantic vision of the past and indeed, it is not even a "real" past as we're talking about "medieval fantasy" that never really existed. I love the past I created in my head, that's it. And I'm realistic enough to realize all the advantages of the modern world. I'm not even talking about a doctor, but just concerning my own music. I make it with a computer and I share it using the internet. Of course I was making music before the internet era and before computers with a guitar but, if you want to be honest, you had very little chance to share your music around with more than your close friends without the internet, specifically with niche and underground genre such as dungeon synth. The modern world around you is as you want to see it; it is not bad or good but it is up to you to make bad or good decisions.
Evceles: Before we sign off, is there anything you would like to add?
Erang: I always want to thank the 'Erangers' and all the people who follow me and appreciate my music. When I receive messages and support from them it gives me so much strength and confidence! I'm always amazed to realize that the music I make alone in my room is able to give me such an emotional connection with people from all around the world. That's why I want to express to them my gratitude!
Evceles: Thank you for your time and for your music.
Erang: Thanks for your very insightful and interesting questions, it was a real pleasure!

Erang links: Facebook, Bandcamp