Ghosts & Goblins: an interview with Evergreen
Best experienced in the Ghosts & Goblins PDF zine
Please introduce and tell us about yourself
Greetings, friend! I am known as Evergreen. My pronouns are they/them. I have many projects spanning the worlds of Dungeon synth, Black metal, drone and ambient. Namely, I am behind: Fogweaver, Hideous Gomphidius, Snowspire, Keys to Oneiria, Wandlimb, Delmak-O, Draconic Regicide, seedspore, among others. Additionally I am the curator of Fableglade records, a cassette label that releases fantasy and foresty music.
Tell us about the story / world building / themes behind your projects
For this, of course, it depends on the project. Some of which I keep the themes quite overt, and some I do not. I can mention a few here:
Fogweaver is explicitly based on stories, lore, and themes from the Earthsea books by Ursula K. Le Guin. I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the themes from these books. While it is quite a short fantasy series, especially compared with many contemporary fantasy stories, it is packed with emotions and an atmosphere that I find myself returning to and thinking about often. Thus, Fogweaver is an effort to distill this into musical form. I strongly urge any fan of fantasy to delve into these books. The lore and worldbuilding are as spellbinding as the prose.
Hideous Gomphidius is a strange one that might be hard to describe. Loosely, I wanted to imagine a world with sinister fungal sorcery—where you may find yourself, if you’re not careful, in caverns full of anthropomorphic mushrooms and poisonous magic at every turn. I have always found something very alluring about fungi. They are fascinatingly strange, sometimes terrifying and sometimes magical and powerful. There is much about Hideous Gomphidius that I leave up for interpretation, for those brave enough to wander the caverns to discover.
Keys to Oneiria is one that people tend to inquire about often. There is a similar mystery and magic that I leave open with the worldbuilding here. What I can say is that Keys to Oneiria has a complex world that is very personal to me, but the world that unfolds for the listener is arguably more important than the one that I intend. I am not sure how much this makes sense… but Keys to Oneiria is meant to be a portal fantasy—one for the listener to discover.
Those three are the only ones I will mention in depth, as I’m sure I could drone on about some of the others, but, for many of them, the magic is in the mystery.
Tell us about the art & design associated with your projects
I suppose I could keep this conversation limited, as well, to the latter projects I listed.
To begin, Fogweaver, as I said, is entirely based on Earthsea. The vision there is limited, somewhat, to the themes and world of those books. Yet it also comes down to my interpretation of the books. For me, the Earthsea books are dreamy, hazy, surreal, and somber. There is something within them that feels soft and impressionistic, in a way, when I imagine them. Thus, I have been quite drawn to the art of Sieskja. We have worked together on three albums now (the Immanent Grove split with Erreth-Akbe, Vedurnan, and Labyrinthine). The dreaminess and magic to Sieskja’s work is unmatched and I have often wished that I could have the full Earthsea series illustrated solely by her.
For Hideous Gomphidius, I am drawn to works that express a similar feeling of sickly psychedelia. I have worked with the wonderful artist, Droned artworks, for my last three releases with the project. He has this strange mixture of horror and whimsy in his art that feels both psychedelic and sinister, which is something I aim for sonically with Hideous Gomphidius. He is a treasure of an artist, and similar to Sieskja, if you look closely in the world of Dungeon synth you can see his work come up quite often.
Lastly, for Keys to Oneiria, I intentionally like to embrace the naive and old school feeling by doing very simple xerox edits of places that conjure specific feelings. Lately, I have really loved the method of making covers and cassette j-cards by cutting and/or ripping paper up and pasting/taping them together as a collage of sorts. There is a nostalgia to this method that goes hand in hand with much of Keys to Oneiria. Aesthetically, I am always drawn to shades of blue for the project—something that I don’t imagine will change with the project as it continues onward.
I have been drawn quite a bit lately, with many projects of mine to embrace the same sort of naive nostalgia of the simple methods that Keys to Oneiria implements, that sort of vague sense of something magical, as if you have unearthed a treasure almost forgotten, which is something I really love about Dungeon synth.
What are some of your influences (musical and otherwise)?
My inspirations musically vary all the time. I have many artists to thank and I am honored to exist in a musical community that is a constant wealth of inspiration and support. I can speak about my big musical inspirations of late, however! I am quite influenced and inspired by my dear friend from the project Erreth-Akbe, another Earthsea inspired project. The most recent Erreth-Akbe album, “A Lantern Swathed” is an album I have been returning to often these days. Similarly, I am inspired by my other dear friend Mausoleum Wanderer. They manage to create a world unlike any other through their music and I admire what they do a lot. Another friend who inspires me in countless ways is Myst, the artist behind Coniferous Myst, Serpent’s Isle, Longsword, and countless others. The way he embraces the old school feeling with these very nostalgic xerox looking covers and tape hiss ridden music—I find myself constantly amazed at what he does. And, of course, I have to give a huge thanks to Erang. Erang is an artist nobody should be unfamiliar with. The magic, beauty, and genuine heart within Erang’s music is something I have to thank for immense and constant inspiration.
And as for constant—or rather general—inspirations, which all of the above fall into as well, I should note that I am immensely inspired by the following: Secret Stairways, one of the most essential Dungeon synth artists. Fauna, a black metal band that absolutely changed my life. I don’t channel much of that inspiration into my Dungeon synth works but it is something I carry with me as a human all the time. Malfet, my dear friend who also changed my life. Malfet brought me deeper into the worlds of Dungeon synth and, more personally, saved my life in ways I cannot begin to explain.
Outside of musical influences, I am influenced and inspired by so many things. I am very obviously inspired by nature and the world around me. I channel themes of the natural world into most of my works. There is true magic to the natural world, and it is something that manages to inspire me in different ways constantly. I am also very inspired by a lot of different books, usually whatever I am reading at that time. Lately I have been reading the Malazan book of the Fallen books, which have been a source of much inspiration. Occasionally I am inspired by video games, though I don’t often play video games these days—more out of a lack of time than a lack of interest.
I am always finding new ways to be inspired and when I am not actively working on music, I am usually soaking in inspiration from many sources, either by reading, watching something, or listening to the wonderful music many of my peers create.
Tell us about your creative space and process
My creative space is more of a mental one I suppose. I get these overwhelming thoughts in my head about a project and I just have to capture that as soon as I can. It often varies based on the time of year, things I am reading at that time, shows I am watching, or just general changes in mood. More often than not, I go into recording with a project in mind. However, sometimes I kind of just sit at my keyboards and synths and just mess around until something feels right.
How does your sense of place affect the way you express yourself?
Hmm I suppose if we consider “sense of place” to be that sort of mental one that I mentioned, then I would say it affects me greatly. I am very affected by each season, which often impacts my work, and indeed is the inspiration for my label Fableglade Records. The change in the world around me, and perhaps more importantly the emotions that go with those changes, are all consistent in my work.
What does Dungeon synth (and/or related genres) mean to you?
Dungeon synth, to me, is something that embodies nostalgia and longing, yet is outside of time entirely. It is pure expression. I tend to listen to quite a wide variety of music under the “Dungeon synth” banner, but to me the thing that binds them all together is the sense of fantasy and somber feeling they often give me. It’s a longing for a world that has not existed. Some might say it’s a longing for a time that did exist, but I don’t know that I feel that as much. To me, Dungeon synth is most successful when it can bring the listener to another world. Vague, perhaps, but I like it that way.
How would you describe the Dungeon synth community?
The Dungeon synth community is an incredible community. As somebody who has existed in numerous musical spaces, I can say confidently that Dungeon synth is something special. The connections and friendships I have made with people all over the world never ceases to astound me. I think one of the beautiful things about the community is the many entry points. You meet people who strictly got into Dungeon synth through black metal, people who came in through the ttrpg background, and those who just enjoy the similarities Dungeon synth can have with video game music. There are so many wonderful folks sprinkled throughout the community and the general embrace and acceptance of people is something I personally cherish.
Tell us about your gaming habits: video games, RPG, tabletop, other? Past & present.
Well, I don’t spend a whole lot of time playing video games these days as I mentioned. But I will say I, of course, love fantasy RPGs. The game Fable was a quite a game changer for me when I was younger and still grappling with the fact that I loved fantasy stuff, despite most people around me thinking it was weird and nerdy. Fable 1 and 2 are fantastic games, though quite archaic by today’s standards. I also love the Elder Scrolls games, of course. Namely Oblivion. The whimsical feeling of adventure that Oblivion gives me is unmatched. It is a game that is both very serious in its themes yet often does not take itself seriously—something I personally find to be lacking in a lot of fantasy games.
As for tabletop games, I admittedly have never spent much time with them mostly out of a lack of friends to facilitate such activities. I have always wanted to get more into ttrpgs, just never had the time nor community to do so. That being said, my partner and I like to play board games occasionally, for which we have a small collection. I tend to find myself attracted to anything with fantasy themes, especially with a naturey twist. We play Everdell and Root every so often which both are similar thematically—anthropomorphic animals building cities. We also recently acquired Arkham Horror which we have only slightly delved into, but seems quite promising.
If you could step through a portal to any realm of fantasy, where would it be?
Ah yes, the eternal question! I actually cycle through a couple different answers to this question depending on how I am feeling any given day, so I will give all of those answers here since I am indecisive.
First and foremost, the obvious answer, Earthsea. Before I even read the Earthsea books, I was encapsulated by the map alone. The idea of a world being just a huge series of archipelagos was absolutely immersive and exciting to me. I have always lived in a landlocked place yet have been very drawn to the sea, especially as a fantasy setting. On top of that, the world of Earthsea has so much to offer. Magic that is based on spoken word, dragons that represent untapped potential of humanity, peaceful and idyllic farming villages, and a school of wizardry (which Ursula came up with long before a certain author). There is a dreamy and somber feeling that is so enticing about this world.
Secondly, I have to say the world of Avatar the Last Airbender. This world, its magic based on the bending of the elements, and all the fascinating critters and spirits that populate the land, are all just so intriguing to me. Having watched and read all the content I can in this world, I find myself craving more.
Third, I will have to mention the world of Redwall. It is no secret that I particularly love worlds built around anthropomorphic critters (see: Fableglade Records and the aforementioned board games Everdell and Root). Redwall is so enchanting and epic.
And lastly, I really do need to mention the most obvious answer of all: Middle Earth. Anybody who says they wouldn’t want to be a hobbit in Middle Earth is lying to themselves. There is a sadness to the themes of Lord of the Rings, something that I find to be unmatched in any other story. The core idea, I believe, that magic is actively disappearing from the world is so utterly beautiful and sad. I wish I could live in a world with magic and Ents and Hobbits, even at the cost of a power crazed mage and his overpowered ring. Plus, Lord of the Rings was one of the first worlds I found myself lost in as a burgeoning fantasy nerd youth.
Keys to Oneiria