SW: Hi, thank you for accepting our interview. Well, we have a very beautiful presented dungeon synth album here which named “The Shadow and The Flame” Congratulations for the good job. May you please tell us about the process of music writing?
BAL: Hi ! Thanks a lot, I'm really happy that you enjoyed my work ! This album is for me one of my greatest work to date. I wanted to reach something really specific for this album in terms of atmosphere, translating my very personal interpretations of the Lord Of The Rings, as well as other Tolkien's works. Of course, "The Shadow And The Flame" had to be an improved successor of my first album "Khazad Dûm", which was more minimalist. To date, this is my most complete work, talking about the shape of sounds, the textures of my synths and the variety of medieval instruments used.
SW: Tolkien world is a very big and charming one which gives influences to the dungeon snyth musicians. My question is, why most of the dungeon synth musicians are prefering to have the influence from the dark side? No one is writing songs about humans, elves or dwarves. If there is, I didn’t see it. What makes the musicians prefer the dark side of the Tolkien world?
BAL: I think that what makes Dungeon Synth so particular and attractive is the mysteries that could be hidden in a big and obscure castle for example. Its roots came from Black Metal, and most of the synths sounds that introduced this new "genre" were quite dark, to fit with the rest of the albums; even with an inspiration from Tolkien's world, so it were more accurate to write about this side of the story. But some Dungeon Synth projects have written about more luminous things, like Uruk-Hai who talked about almost every aspects of Tolkien's universe, or Sirion for his album "Quenta Silmarillion". For my part, I recently published "Night Settle On The Mountains", that deals with dwarves in the Hobbit story, and I still have some unpublished demos about more joyful things.
SW: Do you have new projects these days for the dungeon synth music fans? What are the plans for the future?
BAL : For now, I am working on a new EP that might appear very soon. Some demos might follow, before a new album. I prefer testing new sounds in my demos before using them to create a whole new record. I'm also thinking about creating my own musical videos, and maybe a few shows.
SW: If you were a character in Tolkien world, which one it would be?
BAL: Easily Morgoth. To me, he is one of the most thoroughed character in the books, as well as the most charismatic and feared by everyone.
SW: The album has twelve songs plus a bonus track and they surely all have a story to tell. In which chronology are the songs line up?
BAL: Starting the introduction in Udûn, the next song directly introduce the Balrog and how I imagine him. The other songs are put together in a coherent set of sounds to my ears, and each one deals with a scenery that marked me greatly in my readings.
SW: Will there be a chance for Balrog fans to see this beautiful album on an LP version?
BAL: I received a lot of requests about this format, I'm of course thinking about this too. It would be beautiful to be able to give this album the chance to be pressed on a vinyl, but for now I'm still looking for a label interesting in doing it !
SW: Which one you prefer for your collection. LP, CD or Cassette?
BAL: In my collection I own many cassettes, it's my favorite format, I find it particularly beautiful. We have the chance in the Dungeon Synth scene that a lot of labels still release a great amount of tapes like back in the days, and each one is unique and original. None of them disappoint on the quality.
SW: Ok, now I will choose a song and I will let you to tell us the story behind. “The book of the last knights” What’s the story behind?
BAL: Great choice, because "The Book Of The Last Knights" is the first song I recorded for the album ! I composed this one as a rendering of the feelings of how you read a battle in a Tolkien book. You know, this kind of feeling as a child when you first hear a story about knights or chivalry. It's really epic in your head, and I wanted the listener to understand how I was blown away when reading those scenes, so that's why it is one of the most dynamic songs of the album. The song ends on a wasted battlefield and how the last knights still standing there perceive it. That's also why the next song, "The Swords In The Old Tomb" is very sad, because it deals with the feelings of loss and damage after the battle.
SW: What are the reactions for the album from all around the world and mostly from which country the fans are connecting to you from?
BAL: Well, it seems that the fanbase is patriotic. Even if I received a lot of positive feedbacks from almost all around the world, most of my devoted supporters are in France or Europe. A great friend of mine who create videos about the world of Tolkien also used many of my songs for his channel in French. It's called "Glaz" so if you understand french, you can give it a try !
SW: Do you have connections with some other dungeon synth musicians?
BAL: Yes, I'm on the scene since the very beginning and most of my friends / contacts are also a part of this wonderful genre. I worked with Erang and Uruk-Hai in the past, and more recently with ElixiR, The Inquisitor or my friend of Master Scarecrow. Many other ones of course, and I work with a lot of musicians and labels since many years for my other projects.
SW: These are our questions. Thank you again for accepting us. It will be our pleasure to hear if you have any last words.
BAL: Well, thanks so much for your interesting questions ! I'd just want to thanks all the people who support my music, that's something really heartwarming for me every days. I wish Tolkien were still here so I can thanks him for his amazing works that still inspire people nowadays.