Eyre Transmissions II: Interview With Legendary Dark Ambient Artist Xerxes The Dark

If you look at the overall evolution of music, dark ambient is still in the early (but formidable) years of development. Achieving initial attention in the early 1970’s and gaining strength in the 1980’s with consistent artists such as Zoviet France and Lustmord, dark ambient is as strong as ever with a surfeit amount of artists on the scene, delivering some of the most dreadful, yet memorable droning soundscapes yet. One of the artists that have maintained that gloomy integrity is Iranian-based stronghold, Xerxes The Dark. Considered one of the constant heavyweights in the dark ambient community, XTD not only releases persistent albums, but has also collaborated with other top dark ambient artists to deliver some of the most compelling albums in the genre. For example, XTD and Ugasanie collaborated on the 2018 release, ‘Abysmal’, an album that I feel is one of the greatest dark ambient albums ever released. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing the man behind XTD, Morego Dimmer, to get his perspective on all things XTD, his influences, gear, as well as his experimental, downtempo project called, Morego. 

1.  First of all, thank you for the interview opportunity. Can you tell me about the beginnings of Xerxes The Dark and how this became a Dark Ambient project?

At the beginning, the project name was simply Xerxes (2005-2009) then I changed it to Xerxes The Dark to not be confused with other bands/projects. Beside of this, Xerxes The Dark’s main musical Genre is Ambient Music. In different periods I was experiencing different things in my life which affected my musical style as well. Generally Dark Ambient is my Favor reference, Cause I love and use it in my own way, through different years I added different spices to my music, like noise, drones, recorded SFX, field recordings, etc. Being independent and experimental musician helped me to go through the space- time freely, so I didn’t forced myself to stick on certain things. This caused me to release stuffs in different styles from space ambient to ritual drone, from experimental electronic to industrial dark ambient. Dark Ambient is a fertile field for me in which I do what I really love to do and harvest what I want.

2.  Xerxes The Dark is such a majestic name, how did you come up that? 

As the matter of fact, (many of) Iranian people are living with their historical heroes, ancient myths and their old world. So it’s not weird why I choose my music project from Achaemenid Empire. King Xerxes was one of my Favorite kings in the History, I’ve read one of his tabulas in my childhood and I think it’s deeply penetrate into my mind, so at the time of naming, I’ve picked Xerxes.

3.  Earlier this year, you remastered and re-released your first studio album ‘Dim’. How did the decision come about to re-release this stellar album? 


When I was producing DIM, my home studio was running on very low budget as I was a high school student and have not enough money to spend on my musical career, but I really wanted to release my music. So I released DIM as a near demo album back in November 2006, firstly limited edition 13 CDRs, and later I released it via Amduscias Records and Smell The Stench. At the time I knew that the production is not much perfect, but it was a bottom heart work, so technical aspects were not very important to me at the time. Years later, as my studio became more pro, I was listening to DIM, I just thought that why I don’t polish those old works? And I started to work on them, beside DIM, I remastered other early work stuffs as well and some of them released and some of them will release in future.

4.  Is there a story behind the song titles all starting with DIM? 

Just a concept, I think because I was very depressed at those days, and everything around me was dark and grey.

5.  How do you feel your sound/style has changed (or improved) over the years?

Music is an interactive and living thing. My music is easily affected by my mood, my mental state and environment. Throughout the past years I experienced things in my life which some of them were really weird, one of these was my father’s health issues which began in 2009 and ends in 2012 (when he passed away). In this period I was fighting with depression and other things and Cause I really love my father, I was suffering from his health issue. Throughout these years I just use music to medicine myself and calming down my soul, no serious stuff released in this period, (just a single for XTD “Utter Darkness” released on 2009/ starting MOREGO project and releasing a demo album/participating on a metal band which disbanded on 2010). Months After my Father’s Funeral, I decided to release my 2009-2011 recorded stuff as “Capricornus Exotica” album that is a real weirdo! Beside of life events (like studying ‫/ graduating from engineering college, working, achieving MSc in engineering, and some other academic things/ and recent health issues); the Studio, Instruments, Hardware and Software, gears, etc. are very important parameters that affected my music career. Also I’m always a learner, so educating myself theoretically and technically helped to improve my career over time.

6.  Last year, you released a collaboration album with Ugasanie called ‘Abysmal’, which is one of my all-time favorite Dark Ambient releases. How did that recording come about? 

I liked Ugasanie project when I listened it for the first time, so I added Ugasanie to my collaborating list and when the time has been came, I messaged him and asked for collaboration, he accepted and we started to find a proper concept, after a while he proposed to work on Mariana Trench as the concept, and I liked the idea! So we made Abysmal together. Simon Heath perfectly mastered the Album, Then Keosz did the stunning artwork, and finally Abysmal released on Cryo Chamber, this package deserves to be an all-time fav dark ambient release, huh?

7.  You’ve also released collaborations with Alphaxone and DeepDark, so are collaboration albums just as enjoyable as releasing your own solo material?

Actually my first collaboration with Greek artist “Ego Death” album was released in 2008 titled “At Night”. Another split release was “Tomb Of Seers” beside Council Of Nine, Alphaxone and Wolves And Horses (Cryo Chamber). Also I did collaborated with my other musical projects as well.
Yes, collaboration in any form like split albums, collab albums and even working on a Single Track with other artist(s) is always enjoyable, cause you learn from each other, you exchange knowledge, you became friend with someone at least understand your taste of music, you become familiar with other artist’s visions and sights, exchanging ideas are cool.

8.  I’ve noticed lately that you’ve been heavily promoting your new project Morego. This project is much different from Xerxes The Dark so can you tell us what influenced you to write/record music under Morego? 

You know it’s popular for producers to work under multiple projects. The main reason is to experience different genres, and different styles. I always loved to work on a serious rhythmic ambient project. Morego at its first demo album “Seasons of the Wrong Mind (2013)” was a blend of minimal and nostalgic neo-classical pieces and electro-rock / ambient opuses. When I back to the project on 2017, when I upgraded my studio, I decided to work seriously on this project, because it tells the stories that my other projects can’t. Morego is talking about my personal interests, personal life, while XTD talks about Universe, Philosophy, Metaphysics, Mankind and other general concerns. Morego’s main sources of inspiration are solitude, loneliness and the life’s journey. In forthcoming album named “Astrophile”, I wrote music for my long-term love “SPACE” with Sci-fi taste. It’s about a man who loved space and finally he became an astronaut, in a mission to a planet he encounters some strange things…

9.  Do you use the same equipment for recording the Morego and Xerxes The Dark projects? 

Most of them are different, for example XTD uses a huge amount of field recordings, but Morego don’t. I use different techniques for sound designing. XTD needs Atmospheric pads with dark moods, spooky SFXs etc., while Morego needs glitchy SFXs, Beats and Noisy Rhythms, the same things I use for my project are maybe the PC, DAW, Monitor Speakers and Audio Interface. I use Different Synths for making soundscapes/ pads/ drones for XTD and making beats, FXs, ARPs for Morego. And to be honest, sometimes I use a certain Synth to make different sounds for projects.

10.  Do you often play live as Xerxes The Dark or Morego? Do you plan live tours for your projects? 

Generally not performed much live shows, I prefer to perform live in official festivals. I played in two countries so far, Iran & Armenia, though i was invited for some Fests in Russia, Italy and Germany through the past decade. Most of the times i played as Xerxes The Dark. Nothing planned for live tours yet, cause our current economic situation is preventing me to planning for independent tours/ live shows.

11.  Do you have other projects names that you record under as well?

Yes, Nyctalllz is my other project, which started in 2007, released four solo albums, and two split albums. Nyctalllz is a Noise project experiencing experimental electronic and electro-acoustic music.

12.  What can we expect from Xerxes The Dark in 2020? 

The plan is not much clear yet. Maybe some live shows, and working on new materials for some interdisciplinary projects.

13.  Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions! Do you have any final thoughts for your fans that may be reading this interview?


Thank you indeed for making this interview, my fans and fellas are great, I always appreciate their supports and their energies. 

“Best Regards”

Morego Dimmer (aka Xerxes The Dark, Nyctalllz, Morego)

Links:

https://xerxesthedark.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/xerxes.the.dark

https://xerxesdark.tumblr.com

https://www.youtube.com/user/Xerxesthedark

https://vk.com/xerxesthedark

https://www.linkedin.com/in/Morego/

Eyre Transmissions I: Interview with Eldest Gate Records recording artist, Wayfarer

It’s been quite the year for Eldest Gate Records. They’ve released multiple, exemplary albums by Wayfarer & Inoriand and have launched their publishing company, Eldest Gate Books. Earlier this month, they swiftly commenced book sales by releasing ‘Three Eerie Tales Of Vampires’, the first volume of the Bibliotheca Obscuris series. Here at The Dungeon In Deep Space, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing recent albums by Wayfarer and Inoriand and both are absolute forerunners in the Dungeon Synth genre! With the brand new release of ‘Misty Morning’ by Wayfarer, I’ve had the honor of communicating with the man behind the project to catch insight of the driving force behind this and his many other projects, including the brilliant startup of Eldest Gate Books.

1. First of all, thank you very much for the interview opportunity and for also being the first interview session on The Dungeon In Deep Space site. Wayfarer has been quite busy this year with releasing three brilliant recordings on Eldest Gates Records. What influences you to record such beguiling material?

First, I thank you, for the opportunity! I think it can be said, that I am a newcomer to the DS revival scene, but that doesn’t mean that I have only recently discovered the genre. Back in the early 2000s my friend and I were big fans of such music as Mortiis or his numerous side-projects, the prison albums of ‪Varg Vikernes or his mystical synth tracks on ‪Burzum albums, such as Rundgang Um Die Tranzendentale Säule Der Singularität or Tomhet. We have recorded our own materials in this style and shared it with each other and was very proud of them! But never knew anybody else, who were into this kind of music. We didn’t even have a name for the genre, so we called it “you-know-that-burzumish-dark-ambient-stuff”. And then one day, years later, I happened to find a blog on the Internet, found the name Dungeon Synth and then the Facebook group and suddenly I saw that we are not alone with our love for this kind of music! Here I found many great artists who influenced me, but the one I remember the most from the beginning was Ancient Boreal Forest. Also, I was a big-time RPG enthusiast all my life, mostly a DM as I’m kind of a creator type. And reading, of course, many-many books since I learned how to read! Fantasy, horror, classics, etc. Those things together, mixed with my passion for experimenting become what is Wayfarer today (or my many side-projects).

2. In my recent review of the ‘Ata Amutar’ release, I’ve described the overall texture of your music as “icy cold Dungeon Synth”. Do you feel that is a fair assessment? Also, did you intentionally set out for Wayfarer to become this dark entity in the Dungeon Synth community?

Yes, I think that’s a good description. I tend to see the beauty in darker things. Being dark, melancholic, occasionally atonal or dissonant makes a good way for me to get those listeners more involved, who are interested in this kind of experience. Also, I think the less receptacle the music for the first listening, the more it makes the listener think about it. Dungeon Synth is a great genre because every artist can find themselves in it some ways. Some artists are looking for that medieval feeling, some of them are more fantasy oriented. For me, it’s all about the atmosphere, world-building and to bring the listener into this world and let them make up their own stories in it while they listen to the music.

3. Typically, DS songs are short and to the point, whereas Wayfarer songs tend to be long. For me, this is an advantage for the listener as it challenges the imagination for what story each track may entail. Do you have a particular mindset prior to recording Wayfarer songs or are they improvised?

Most of the time both. Sometimes I start with something improvised and build the track from there, other times it’s the other way around. Improvisation is fun and lets you set your mind free. I also love long tracks that take the listener on a journey and I make music that I would like to listen to. I consider Wayfarer tracks as a kind of landscape painting with sounds. I don’t want to tell a story with them, that’s up to the listener’s imagination.

4. ‘Misty Morning’ is such a calming album title but the music is bleak and dark. What is your own story behind this recording? 

I wouldn’t consider it dark, maybe a bit melancholic. Being alone and focusing your thoughts inwards to your self is what I think this album is about. But for someone else, I think it can be a dark tone. I like to believe that it’s not the music that creates the emotions it’s just the medium that brings them to the surface. If that’s true, then something dark and unnerving for someone in a certain moment can be calming or meditative for someone else or even the same person when in another mindset.

5. What can you tell me about your recording studio and the equipment that you use?

I may be unpopular with this, but I have to admit that I use VSTs nearly all of the time. It’s a budget issue on one hand, but VSTs also make me able to experiment with nearly any kind of sounds or tones.

6. For your VST’s, do you have any favorite plugins that you use on a regular basis?

I try out many VSTs and always looking for something new and interesting, but there are a few that I use in nearly all of my projects. One of them is SQ8L, which is modeled after Ensoniq’s ‪SQ80 and it is a wonderful plugin to use! It’s the basis of the characteristic sound of Inoriand, but I use it on nearly all of my albums. The other one I’d like to mention is Dexed, modeled on the Yamaha DX7. It is a real monster! I use it all the time, especially for Wayfarer.

7. Do you also do any field recordings for your albums?

Sometimes I use field recordings, but no, I do not record them myself, I use royalty-free resources from the web.

8. I’d like to shift topics and talk about some of the other projects you are involved in, specifically Eallnulf and Abyssu. These projects are very experimental, yet very relevant to the DS scene, how hard/easy is it to maintain the balance between Wayfarer and your projects that have harsher tones?

It’s easier than you think! As I said, I love experimenting and sometimes these materials are such different from the tone of my main projects that I just start up a new one. I love to keep my stuff somewhat coherent.

9. Do you plan to release any more albums under those pseudonyms?

Maybe. They are not finished officially.

10. Do you have any other projects that you record under?

Yes, some of them are well-kept secrets, while others are known in the community, like Inoriand, La Morte Amoureuse or Zungarak.

11. I suspected that you were behind the Inoriand project just wasn’t quite sure. I also reviewed ‘Silence’ earlier for my site and must say – for me – it’s my DS album of the year. Since you do a lot of improvisations, at what point do you realize, this is a Wayfarer project or an Inoriand project (or some other)?

Wow, thanks! Usually when I start composing I already have an idea in my mind and that already connects the music to one of my projects. Improvisation doesn’t mean being completely random, but letting your creativity wander freely within a certain set of boundaries. Be it a theme, a scale, an emotion, a leitmotif etc., these rules separate improvisation from pure chaos! But I have to admit sometimes things go out of hands or take unexpected turns. That’s the point, where new projects are born.

12. Recently, Eldest Gate Records has ventured into the realm of book publishing and has established Eldest Gate Books. Can you talk a little bit about the decision to add books to the Eldest Gate media market?

As I wrote in the foreword to the book and also mentioned it earlier, we are avid fans of reading. Publishing a book ourselves is a long-time dream come true. We started working on it at the beginning of this year and took a lot of time to get everything together, as we aren’t experienced in the field and had to learn many things, because – as with everything else Eldest Gate produces – we wanted to do ourselves everything we are capable of. Learning about publishing, typesetting, cover design, printing services, copyright law etc. was a long journey, but a real fun all the way!

13. I already love the direction of Victorian Era vampire tales for the first book offering. Do you already have an idea of future releases?

We have a whole series planned out; the Bibliotheca Obscuris and we are already working on the next volume. I hope that people will love these books. We wanted something that isn’t only enjoyable to read, but also a joy to take into your hands or show-off to others, something that is collectable and looks really great when put on the bookshelf. In the future there may be other series, maybe a fantasy-themed, we will see!

14. Will Eldest Gate books be open to providing publishing opportunities for up-and-coming authors in this genre?

I hope so, in the future! We achieved to learn a lot in the past few months about publishing, but there’s still more we need to get through. But there are many creative and talented members of this community and if somebody reaches out to us to publish his or her novel or to help with self-publishing, we would be more than happy to help.

15. Is the idea to stick with physical books or is there a possibility of providing e-books for the Eldest Gate book catalogue in the future?

E-books are cool, but we wanted a real, physical book, that you can hold in your hand. For this series, we aren’t planning e-books, mainly because these stories are in the public domain and already available on the Internet. But if we happen to publish an original work someday, there will definitely be an e-book edition!

16. I really appreciate your time for this interview opportunity; do you have any final words for your fans in the DS community?

The only thing I can think of is “Thank you, all!”. This community is incredible.

Links:

https://eldestgaterecords.bandcamp.com

https://www.eldestgatebooks.com

https://www.facebook.com/eldestgaterecords/

Bonus Content:

The Wayfarer wants you to enjoy his latest release, ‘Misty Morning’ so please redeem one of these download codes @ https://eldestgaterecords.bandcamp.com/yum

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