The first time I heard Skuggkonungen, it was an instant gratification to these ears. A masterful blend of my favorite musical genres to include Dungeon Synth, Dark Ambient and Berlin School, this kindred fusion of Medieval resolve produces an output of top notch synth music that is really impressive and warming to listen to. I recently had the opportunity to communicate with the entity behind the project and found a humble, yet engaging dude that loves making music. Heres what he had to say:
1. I really appreciate this interview opportunity and Happy New Year to you. How’s 2023 going so far?
Likewise! Thank you! So far it´s going pretty good! Me and my wife spent New years eve in a cabin in the countryside with some friends. How was yours?
2. It was time we’ll spent with family, thanks for asking. I’m always interested in learning about an artists beginnings. How did you learn of Dungeon Synth and what made you want to play this style of music?
I was always kind of aware of it. I heard about Mortiis when i was a young ultra-TRVE teenage metalhead, but i was not at all interested in electronic music at that point, it was far later that i “noticed” DS. I got really interested in it in 2019/2020 when i was dming a lot of fantasy ttrpgs, it was the perfect music to have in the background, or just when writing or just chilling out. I´ve played in punk and metal bands since i was 13 and later “discovered” electronic music, and started making it myself when i was 16-17. I was drawn to the aspect of making music yourself without other people, not needing to compromise which im sure that everyone who has ever been in a band will know all about.
I think what drew me to try and make it myself was just experimentation. That´s how i usually learn how to do things, by trying out a specific genre, or technique like: “Hmm i wonder if i could make a techno track, let´s try”. One of the things that drew me towards it was the sense of DIY, especially the culture of releasing on tapes. I have a unhealthy obsession with cassette tapes haha.
3. Your first album, ‘Det Glömda Landet’ has a lot of Dark Ambient textures. Is that another genre of music that influenced your brand of Dungeon Synth?
I´m a bit ashamed to say that i have ZERO experience with dark ambient haha. I´ve surely enjoyed some dark ambient artists/bands but I could not tell you like a single band/artist name im afraid! Det glömda landet was as you probably know inspired by a ttrpg campaign I ran for my wife and some friends, so I was mostly trying to capture the feeling of that setting (which is so amazing, please check out Forbidden lands) and the vibe of the characters.
4. Where you going for a particular theme with this collection of songs?
The campaign that we played focused a lot on an ancient demon slowly gaining power in the region that the players were in, so I tried to capture that vibe of impennding doom. Two of the players were Orcs belonging to basically a death cult so that was a theme I tried to incorporate as well. I wanted to make a tribute to the campaign and to my players, something that they could listen to and remember those game sessions.
5. On ‘Västmarken’, I notice a shift in ethereal soundscapes, was this in an attempt to expand your overall sound?
I actually wrote most of Västmarken before Det glömda landet, but I remember trying to make something more ambient and not so melody driven. I have a modular synth that I remember using a lot on those sessions. Im a very lazy musician and I try to be very cautious of just doing the same thing over and over again, so I try and make music in very different ways and I think Västmarken is a perfect example of that, just trying a different approach.
6. I love how dreamy this album sounds and it seems to embody a particular celestial spirit. What is the meaning of this album for you?
I recorded most of Västmarken in the late summer of 2021, and I remember playing a lot of Skyrim and Stardew Valley on my switch at that time and I definetly think that influenced the sound of it! I think it reflects on that period of late summer, autumn is slowly creeping in, in sweden the late summer and early autumn is kind of a very somber, or bittersweet time. It gets very dark and cold, but in the same time it´s very beautiful. I enjoy that time very much and i wanted to capture that feeling i think.
7. My introduction to this project was the amazing release, ‘Månens Vidunderliga Kraft’ and again, it shifts toward a very minimalistic vibe. What was the influence for this recording?
Månens vidunderliga kraft was the first Skuggkonungen music I ever recorded actually! I sent it off to a couple of labels, I was expecting rejection but hopefully someone would give me some constructive feedback so I was kind of amazed when Voices of the Ainur wanted to release it! So I think the minimalism of it was mostly due to me not knowing how to write “Dungeon synth”! The phrase “Månens vidunderliga kraft” was something that came to me when I was working night shifts at my job. It translates roughly to: “The wondrous power of the moon”, I thought there was something powerful about that sentence. It´s like an incantation in a way, or a warning. Beware the wondrous power of the moon. I always like to start with something in that vein when I start a new project, a phrase, word or vibe that will go on throughout all the album.
8. The title track for that album has such enlightening harmonies. What instruments did you use to record that song?
Thank you! I´m pretty sure the main melody is a electric piano patch on my Korg volca FM, I also used an access virus TI Snow for the pad, and the Korg Minilogue for other chords and melodies. The Minilogue in particular is one of those synths that I’ve used on all Skuggkonungen releases.
9. As you may know, ‘Dar Skuggor Aldrig Bleknar’ was included in my Top 10 Dungeon Synth albums of 2022. What does the title mean (In English) and what was your focus for these icy cold songs?
And I’m so thankful for that! I was kind of amazed when I saw it! Där Skuggor aldrig bleknar translates (roughly) to: Where shadows never pales”. The concept was sort of a place where the veil between the living and the dead were very thin, a place where shadows never pales, where no one is ever truly gone or there. The inspiration for that actually came from the Lucio Fulci movie “The Beyond”, I wont spoil it but if you´ve seen it, you´ll know…It also came from negative experiences with my last job. My line of work can be very hard emotionally and I really felt like a lot of the anxiety and dread that I was carrying around went into that album.
10. The title track has a Berlin School influence – which is one of my favorite synth styles. Could you see yourself doing a Berlin School-styled project?
It´s one of my favorite styles as well! I think I’m leaning pretty heavily into Berlin school, sometimes I think to myself that I’m not even a “Dungeon synth artist” anymore haha. But I love that most people in this scene is actually very cool with artists expanding and experimenting with other genres inside the DS “sphere” if you will.
11. Your latest album, ‘Analoga Ritualer’ has a heavy use of Berlin School sequences but the base music form is almost like a return to your earlier albums. How did this album come together?
I think that it´s a combination of me listening to a lot of tangerine dream and trying to experimenting and trying to refine my own sound. It´s hard to define your own voice in a way, and that was something i was definetly aware of when making that album, and that reflects in the name: “Analogue rituals”, I’m trying to conjure up my own music. I usually write my music in “Manic episodes”. No Skuggkonungen album has taken more than two weeks to write and record. I wanted to capture that in that particular album.
12. Of all the albums you’ve released, which is your favorite?
Im very fond of Det glömda landet. Mostly because of the memories attached to it. But all of my releases has a sentimental value for me.
13. How has the feedback been from your fans on the output of these albums?
I’m not sure actually haha. I love getting feedback but I suffer from intense shyness and a pretty bad self-confidence so I get kind of embarrassed when people compliment my music. Dont get me wrong: I’m very proud of my music and the success I’ve had but i always kind of feel like one of these days people are going to go: “Wait a minute, his music is shit”. This is a very swedish way of seeing things haha. We have something called “Jantelagen” which is a swedish mentality of: “Dont think you´re better than anyone”. It´s kind of hardwired into almost all swedes. A perfect example of this is this: Everytime I send music to a label I think: “They are probably going to reject me and tell me not to quit my day job”. On the flipside it kind of keeps you humble I guess.
14. What are your recording plans for 2023 and are there any additional surprises in store for us?
I’m becoming a Father in March so I’m not sure how music I will actually be able to make but I got a lot of music done that I’m looking to sign! I got a very special release with a “big” label in the pipeline but im not sure how much I can talk about it, so i´ll leave it at that haha. Im very interested in working with some labels I’ve released with in the past so hopefully that will work out! At the moment I’m gearing up to record a full-on Berlin school EP based upon the concept of Ancient astronauts and Erich Von Dänikens interesting (but full of bullshit takes) book “Chariot of the gods”. I’ve also played around a lot with my old gameboy so I have a lot of “chiptune Dungeon synth” that I don’t know what to do with haha. AND as a last surprise..: I recently started working on a follow-up or sequel if you will to Det glömda landet, based on the new West marches style Forbidden lands campaign I’m running!
15. Again, I appreciate the opportunity for this Interview and most of all, the wonderful music. Do you have any final words for those that may be reading this interview?
Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed and for supporting my music, I really appreciate it alot! Keep buying tapes and if you want to support my music directly be sure to check out my bandcamp. And thank you to all the nice people who are saying nice things about my music!