These days, there are all forms and styles of Dungeon Synth. There is certainly a variance that aims to please not only the seasoned Dungeon Synth fan, but also for those that are curious if this genre is the right fit for them. One artists that has taken a different approach to curating a unique brand of Dungeon Synth is Baerdcyn. A fantastic multi-instrumentalist, Baerdcyn intertwines a plethora of soulful sounds and consoling ambience to create Acoustic Dungeon Synth. With a handful of beautifully textured albums, Baerdcyn invites us into his world to discuss his particular brand of music, his instruments and well, all things Baerdcyn.
1. I really appreciate you taking the time for this interview. How has 2022 been for you so far?
Not too bad! Busy with work and life, but that’s never a bad thing.
2. When did you get the idea for the Baerdcyn project and what were some of the objectives you sought to achieve musically?
Baerdcyn started in late fall of 2020 when my friends pushed me to play Dark Souls for the 1st time. I have always had the idea of making “Acoustic Dungeon Synth” before having owned a lute and some recorders at the time from my love of historical renaissance classical music. I never brought the idea to fruition however until I heard the menu theme and the “Firelink Shrine” theme from the 1st Dark Souls. When I 1st heard these tracks, they brought to me a feeling of orchestral Dungeon Synth. I promptly made a cover of the “Firelink Shrine” theme (Which has yet to see the main light of day) and from that recording process is what led to the ideas behind my debut.
3. What’s the meaning behind the name Baerdcyn?
So the name’s meaning itself was a complete accident. And for the record for all you reading, the pronunciation is (Bard-Koon) the “ae” is supposed to be an “æ” but alas I didn’t know how to get it to work on my phone at the time. The “y” in Old English is pronounced kind of like a cross between “ew” (in “ew that’s gross”) and “oo” (in “Racoon”). Back to the meaning of the name, I originally just made it because it sounded cool, but in the long run, you could take the modern english “Bard” and the Old English “Cyn” , meaning kin or offspring, to make a meaning of “The Bard’s Kin” or a little more interpretively, “The Son of a Bard”
4. You play a variety of instruments on your albums and you seem to excel at them all. Are you self-taught or do you have any formal training?
I am self taught on all my bardic instruments. I play a few more non-bardic instruments, but the only I play that I was professionally taught was saxophone.
5. Can you give us a run down on some of the instruments that you play?
In terms of the Bardic stuff, I can play the Lute, Lyre, Classical Guitar (along with steel string and 12 string steel string guitars), Celtic Harp, Mandolin, Bowed Psaltery, Hammered Dulcimer, Hurdy Gurdy (which I don’t believe is on a recorded release…yet), Irish Penny Whistle, Bass Recorder, Soprano Recorder, Kalimba, and Tongue Drum. As for the non-bardic instruments, I play Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone Saxophones, Banjo (ragtime jazz), fretless banjo (old time folk), Bass Guitar, -very minimal- Electric Guitar and classical organ.
6. Does being professionally trained in the saxophone make it easier for understanding and playing other instruments?
I find that it makes the wind instruments I play a lot easier as it boils down to being a saxophone with less keys on it, in a simple sense.
7. What’s the backstory on your love for the saxophone? Can you read sheet music as well? If so, do you make tabs of your own music?
When I was in 5th grade, so about 11 years ago, I ended up signing up for school band and playing saxophone. As for the sheet music, I do read sheet music, but I do not make sheet music for Baerdcyn. My recording process is very improvisational, so transcribing the pieces to sheet music would make an extra step that I don’t really feel like doing.
8. Thematically and musically, you fit right in with the Dungeon Synth community. However, would you classify it as anything else
I have always believed I have sat in the realm of Dungeon Synth. Since day one, I have called myself “Acoustic Dungeon Synth” or “Dungeon Synth Unplugged”
9. Take us back to ‘The Cave Of Time’. What was the concept behind this album and was this your first recording experience or were you involved with anything prior?
So this was my 1st official recording experience. I did however have a very short lived run of a dungeon synth -with acoustic instruments too- audio drama called “The Tale of Bjorngar” which exists in it’s unfinished state on my bandcamp. The theme came from when I recorded the cover of “Firelink Shrine”. I had realized that the reverb patch I had made, when picking up myself wetting my lips, sounded like drops of water in a cave. Thus the cave theme was born.
10. In the Bandcamp notes for ‘Heritage Of The Bay’, you dedicated the album to your Grandfather. Was he a big supporter of your musical endeavors or did he have a major influence in your life?
He has and still does in both. My Grandfather is one of the leading causes of my love for nature. Living in the coastal salt swamps of southern New Jersey, we often would, and still do, go to the bay or the meadows. As a child we would spend hours just cleaning up trash and tidying up and then followed it up with a walk through the area looking for “treasures” anything from clamshells to oyster shells, long decomposed crab shells to cool rocks, driftwood to barnacle encrusted goods. You name it, I loved it. He is a major influence on my life, and keeps me going to this day. He also always gets an artist copy of my tapes when I have one to spare. You’ll most likely read this Pop, so thanks. Thanks for everything and all that you do.
11. ‘Fantasy February’ was a unique album, in that it contained short snippets of music. We’re these ideas that were never transformed into longer tracks or were these short pieces intentional.
So Fantasy February originally started as a drawing prompt challenge. I then added the idea of making a song for each picture I drew and thus the idea was made. The minute-per-song run time was due to the fact that my main platform of interaction being instagram didn’t allow videos longer than a minute at the time.
12. Speaking of snippets, you post a lot of videos on Instagram that showcases your amazing talent. Are these videos improvised?
All of the little snippets on my Instagram are improvised, yes. Being trained in Saxophone I took a deep interest in funk and jazz improv with that, and it has carried over into my newest field of music.
13. I really loved the concept of ‘Meditations Of Forests Old’. Have you considered creating a video for the main track?
I have! The release was originally to be recorded field recording style in my local trail, and then a video of a walk through was to be made to accompany it. It never came to be, but I still have the hopes of going back and doing such a thing.
14. On one of your latest releases, ‘The White Oak’, I sense some extreme somberness with these tracks. We’re these written to embellish a particular mood or experience?
Nope. I just have a knack for that somber feel, so I roll with it.
15. Your album covers are a mix of photos and drawings/sketches. Do you do all of the artwork yourself? If so, is there a story behind the development of the various characters?
I do all the art and photography myself. The Characters on the cover of my debut was just a wizard I drew, but I -might- have plans to embellish on him in the future, and the character on the inside of the J-Card from my split with Elminster is one of my friends DnD characters. Besides that not much thought goes behind the characters.
16. Speaking of your split will Elminster, that recording was amazing! Do you have any plans for future collaborations?
Not that I know of, no.
17. Do you have a goal in mind for the amount of releases you produce each year or do you release albums once you’ve completed a concept or theme and then move on to the next?
I release as I finish. Most of my themed releases start coming to mind about halfway through the previous release, but I like to release things as soon as it’s done. I absolutely hate sitting on things longer than I have to.
18. I really appreciate this interview opportunity and I’m truly a fan of your art! Any closing comments for those that may be reading this?
Thanks for having me here and thank you all that support. It means the world to me that I can bond with so many people so far away over our love for nerd music. It truly baffles me how wonderful of a community we have, and I love you all. Thank you all for everything you’ve done. Keep trekking through that dungeon, we are all gonna make it. One day or another.