Eyre Transmissions XI – Interview With Medieval Dungeon Synth Artist, Pale Castle

If there is ever a musical venture that represents the desolation of solitude while remaining steadfast to the culture of true Medieval Dungeon Synth music, Pale Castle would fit the bill perfectly. Creating a sound that mirrors emptiness and isolation, Pale Castle excels at composing bleak arrangements that casts the listener back to an ancient time of fierce commonwealth rivalries, mystical imagery and mythical adventures, while presenting a soothing atmosphere to get lost in. I recently had the pleasure of communicating with the mastermind behind Pale Castle to gain more in-site to this amazing project and what adventures are to come.

1. First of all, welcome to the Dungeon and thank you for this interview opportunity. The name ‘Pale Castle’ is so intriguing to me because there could be so many meanings for its being. How did you come up with the name and what does it mean to you?

You are very welcome. This is first time I have spoken to the outside world and I thank you for the opportunity. The timing was providence as I have now finished a journey from a dark place of inspiration. 

The name is a place, the place is where I once dwelt. The castle was not always pale but now it fades. Some say it’s no longer there….I have not seen it in ages. 

The Pale Castle is where memories once grew but now fade away. Another musician I admire once said that he could “build a castle with memories just to have somewhere to go”. That is how the listener could interpret ‘Pale Castle’…as a fortress of memories.

2. The music of Pale Castle is – at times – very bleak and dismal, presenting a true Medieval perception. Was that the vision for this project?

Thank you, for that is what I sought to convey.

The vision is that of solitude and adventure. 

A personal journey that I would like to share with my listeners. It’s my path in life to seek mystery and find a higher purpose though music and the realms it brings me to. 

My photography on the Pale Castle Instagram heightens and documents this passage.

Simply put though, the vision is a tale as old as time itself. Loss, gain, death and rebirth. The songs are fragments and imprints of my torment and occasionally my joy. That is my vision, a projection of my emotions both jovial and melancholic.  

3. I really enjoy the minimalistic aspect of the compositions, especially on the S/T album. What’s your typical routine for creating and tracking a typical Pale Castle song?

Sometimes I wander the hills and valleys and there I find inspiration in the wind and the night’s sky. There, when I’m Fortunate enough, I am hit with a burst of creative energy and begin to whistle or hum a few chords and melodies. I take that energy and store it in my mind. Then, when I return to my quarters I center myself and begin to preserve it. The process varies depending on the ambiance or sound I ultimately desire to achieve. I use a few different instrument and I enjoy sketching out a kind of story with a single motif and then expanding from that as my mood commands the direction of the track. A lot of the sorcery happens in the mixing and mastering phase of an album. 

I prefer minimal arrangements as it allows for the listener to focus on the emotion of the piece. Powerful chords and melodies and can be repeated with benefit, similarly as a steady fire can warm one’s bones.

4. My favorite track from the S/T is “Wall Of Blood Crosses”. How did you amass such an ethereal sound for that track and what was the inspiration behind it?

Plenty of analog reverb and tape delay was used to get that tone. It was layered several times as well. The inspiration came from the story that the album tells. As you can see, the album has a linear narrative that is told through the song titles. “Wall Of Blood Crosses” is the part in the story when I am wandering the castle and reflecting on my history and admiring the silver crosses filled with my family’s blood going back centuries. Imagine a huge hallway lined with such talismans all sealed with lead to keep them protected. 

That is the wall of blood crosses. Thousands of talismans filled with blood in a room that is most likely no more. “What happened to the crosses?” one might ask. 

I no longer care anymore. 

5. It’s impressive how your songs can transition from ominous to harmonious on a whim. Is there a particular concept in mind for these types of arrangements?

The concept is that those are reflections of life and how things change quickly, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Especially when traveling. Dungeon Synth to me was always about the idea of traveling and adventure even if only in one’s mind. 

And even in the mind the mood of one’s thoughts can change without warning. This can be an emotional spark in music when done with feeling. I like to catch my listeners off guard and so that maybe they are slightly startled and taken back if for only a split second. That is not unlike when an animal or a force of nature enters your path while wunderlusting on an otherwise clear road. 

6. Moving on to ‘Sorrowful Memories’, it still contains the dreary aspects of the S/T, but this time around there seems to be more cinematic elements. Was it a conscious decision to branch out with a grander sound the second time around?

The initial offering captured in the self titled release is all about the castle and the stories within it’s boundaries. ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’ is the adventurous spirit the was freed once I was able to separate my soul from my body. On the first tape I created a cold and confined sound to illustrate the oubliette like atmosphere, in ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’ I wanted to convey the feeling of traveling and discovery. So yes, it was a very conscious decision to create a more cinematic sound. The listener should feel outdoors and upon a means travel. 

7. Your songs carry a lot of background ambience that is not only soothing, but an important part of your sound. Have you ever considered doing a Dark Ambient project as well?

I have done several Dark Ambient projects over the years. My very first recordings in the late 1990s could be considered Dark Ambient. 

I was only a teenager when I started recording music, nonetheless I believe that Dark Ambient was my first inspiration for recording my own compositions. There are artifacts of these recordings and others that were produced throughout the 2000s and as recently as last year. I will not name them here but there are ways to find these projects. 

That was another life. Still, fragments remain.

8. “The Gathering Of Spirits” is one of my favorite tracks from ‘Sorrowful Memories’ as it seems to have that gothic, romanticism influence. What were some of your influences during the recording of this album and this track in particular.

When my father died in 2011 it was in our family home and many souls gathered there, myself included to witness his death. Convergences such as these are a sort of phenomenon that occur with little or no flow of information, as if to say that the spirits inform those who need to know. The spirits also gather with each other for the preparation to carry one’s essence to the land of deeper shade.

A family friend one night once witnessed an eerie green ball of energy hover over my family’s land, he and I both believe this to have been my father’s power manifested as it was right before he fell ill. After my father’s body grew cold and rigid other visitors arrived.

They brought flowers to adorn his corpse and helped wrap him in sheepskin pelts. 

Some told us that they knew not of his demise and were only guided to the estate by an urge. Others came wholeheartedly to pay their final respects. He was the sorcerer and the final track is about his death as well. As far as musical inspiration for that track I’d say that perhaps it was inspired by my memories of that fateful night.

9. Speaking of influences, let’s talk about your Dungeon Synth beginnings if we can. When did you first start listening to the genre and who were some of your favorite artists?

My first encounter with Dungeon Synth is difficult to pinpoint as I have been listening to unusual music for quite awhile and definitely heard “dungeon” like music on the odd college radio stations at night in the 1990s. 

With that said though I would say that my first introduction to traditional Dungeon Synth was though listening to Black Metal interludes from bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Burzum, Noktunal Mortum, Summoning and also more avant-garde dark synth, especially Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows. That project definitely had a very significant impact on my musical path. I would actually recommend that your readers listen to ‘Songs From The Inverted Womb’.

I would also like to take this opportunity to share an experience I had upon listening to my favorite Dungeon Synth album for the first time which is ‘Fjelltronen‘ by Wongraven. As I recall I was laying in a pitch dark room and within the first few measures of the opening track I began to feel weightless and I drifted into a simi -conscious state of being. Throughout the rest of the album I experienced what could only be described as an “out of body experience”

After that I began to see Dungeon Synth as something very special. That was 2004. By 2005 I had began recording Dungeon Synth experimentations. Pale Castle is my first complete Dungeon Synth endeavor. 

There is a “je ne sais quoi“ about the genre that definitely matches my personality. 

Not in a dark and brooding gothic fantasy way, more akin though to my fascination with the past and of realms unfound or forgotten.

Loss, isolation, suffering, love and remembrance…those are the aspects of life that stoke the fires of the castle.

10. When did you realize that you wanted to record a Dungeon Synth album and at that time were you involved with any other non-synth based music projects?

I have been recording synthesized music since the 1990s and have been involved with a handful of black metal, ambient, experimental groups and solo projects over the last two decades, although as of 2010 I have been producing and recording only synth based ambient and Dungeon Synth. 

The idea for Pale Castle came to me in late 2019 as I began to see the future of “dark music” and it’s esthetics. The romanticism of old-school black metal, the re-discovery of what brought me solace and to be in a mental place where I felt I could give it a valiant effort. 

That is when the transformation occurred. 

I found the castle in the dark recesses of my mind. It’s with me now forever. 

And with that said, I will choose to remain quiet about those earlier recordings as I see them as part of an old life. Not that I am ashamed or not proud of my past but rather to exemplify my commitment to the future and to Pale Castle. 

11. Earlier this year you released the ‘Remember Together, Remember Forever’ cassette, which features both Pale Castle recordings. How is the cassette release doing so far and what do you think about the recent surge in cassette sales as a form of music release?

At time of this interview it is almost gone far as it’s availability on my Bandcamp merch page. 

So that is good, most importantly because that means it is being heard and shared with others and hopefully will bring some to tears, whether they be tears of joy or sadness, so long as they are not tears like those of a crocodile.

That is the goal of my music, to get a genuine emotional response, especially stimuli connected to memories and personal turmoils. 

Yes, the appreciation of the cassette tape as a collectible form of musical preservation is something that makes me smile. When the compact tape cassette was introduced in 1963 it was not yet a major competition to the vinyl LP, by the late 1970s though it was becoming a standard for music collections across the world. It remained very popular until the early 1990s when CDs, although introduced in 1982 we’re finally more affordable and the players portable enough to start the inevitable death of the cassette tape from a popular consumer prospective. That is what is endearing about cassette culture, that people choose to support artists who make tapes and collect their releases despite it being cumbersome and less convenient. I think the resurgence is also due in part by the current generation hearing about the old times of tape trading and the satisfaction of making something by hand. That is the thing about cassettes, they require just the right amount of patience to make at home but are not too expensive such as the case with vinyl and when compared to CDs, tapes are much more resilient. I have seen an uptick in compact discs as well though,albeit in other genres such as noise and ambient. To finish the subject, I will say that I think the resurgence of tape is an art in and of itself and that alone is a testament to the importance of the cassette’s existence.

12. What else is in store for Pale Castle for the remainder of 2021?

Currently I am recording new tracks for a 60 minute album titled “When Everyone Else Dies, We Won’t” Hopefully I will find the time to also design and make a few clothing items. 

Not only t-shirts, I’d like to offer some one of a kind garments and special items for my supporters. That is the beautiful part of this new golden age of independent artists, no longer do musicians and artists need the approval and favors of the gatekeepers to share their creative passions.

I plan to share many of my creations in 2021.

13. Have you ever thought about performing in a live setting or is Pale Castle strictly a studio project?

The idea of preforming Pale Castle live is something that intrigues me, it would most certainly have to be the appropriate location and setting though. An old church, a stone cellar or an actual dungeon. Short of a venue along those lines I don’t see it happening. If I were possessed to somehow play a bar or club I would probably loose my temper at the crowd and go from “dungeon synth” to “prison synth” 

No, If I were to perform it would have to be around a respectful audience in a somber atmosphere.

14. I really appreciate your time for this interview. Do you have any final thoughts or words for those that will be reading this?

Thank you for the invitation and for providing me an audience so that I could share my thoughts regarding not only my music but that of the genre itself and with that I would like to say that Dungeon Synth is not a novelty genre to me and that it’s existence is very much rooted in history though various periods in human history. Growing up I often heard sounds that are not “synth” but most definitely of the “dungeon” I would like to say that Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient as musical genres are two of the most important aspects of my artistic pursuit in life and that anyone considering releasing their recordings should definitely go forth and be proud of your creations. To all artists, take personal time to be alone with your thoughts preferably in the outdoors or more importantly where you as an individual feels the most tranquil. It is within that tranquility that you will find your most genuine ideas. I could ramble for an eon but I shall save that for hopefully a later time with you as I would be interested in a video interview in the future. In closing I would like to say thanks to you again and all hailz be to TYRANNUS! thank you for your music and inspiration! You are noticed and appreciated. 

– Bless all those who keep the candles burning and the fires lit. I feel your pain and I hear your voices in the night.

-Pale Castle

Links:

https://palecastle.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/𝔭𝔞𝔩𝔢-𝔠𝔞𝔰𝔱𝔩𝔢-111304390635373

https://www.instagram.com/pale_castle/

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