Interview for Musical Zone Japan (6/4 2008)

By David Purdie. English translation by Fumiko.

Lost Kingdom is a project that consists of two brothers from Sweden composing neoclassical, romantic music for orchestra. The music is classical and the brothers try, according to themselves, to follow the path of old masters like Beethoven. Lost Kingdom is however inspired by a wide array of different styles, and when listening to their music they say that one can hear us occasionally draw near both jazz and folk music.

I asked for an interview with this interesting, new band because they are fresh and the sound of the music is something I have not really heard before. It’s not light, nor dark as in dark ambient. Soft is maybe a better word? They are soft but without touching the Celtic, fae or anime side of fantasy.

The Magical Landscapes of a Fantasy World

Why have you chosen the name Lost Kingdom?
Daniel: “Lost Kingdom” stands for places of imagination and fantasies, may it be in a dream, in the memories of the old, in the wonders of nature or in the magical landscapes of a fantasy world. This is what we are all about and the reason to why we’ve chosen this particular name for ourselves.

The title of your debut is “As the New Dawn Awakes”. Can you please tell me about the creation of this album?
Mikael: We started to write material for the album sometime in 2006, and it has been pretty frantic ever since. Being perfectionists means we demand a terrible accuracy in our work, resulting in all woken hours being spent on arranging and orchestrating, while we tend to forget to eat, sleep, pay the bills… and let’s not even talk about how bad Daniel’s job and my studies have suffered.
Daniel: But then again: this is our passion! This is what we do, and what we love to do more than anything else.

Any theme?
Mikael: We didn’t have a theme for the album from the get-go, but it soon turned out that centering the whole production on the course of a day was the way to go. We had the piece Sleeping Land and the title track As the New Dawn Awakes, and as more songs came along we had this kind of strange feeling that the album had chosen a theme for itself!

Waerloga Records is getting more and more known. Give us your thoughts of Waerloga Records and the focus of the label!
Daniel: Ever since we first got in contact with Waerloga Records, our experience with the label has been very good; everything from contact, management and public relations is handled exemplary. We are very happy with this cooperation.
Mikael: Yes, indeed.
Daniel: When it comes to the focus of the label, I have had and still have a difficult time putting a finger on where it lays. You will find everything from the ritualistic, percussive rhythms of Za Frumi to the soothing flute tones from Gargrim the Liar in the catalogue. And Encryption. And us. It’s quite a span.
Mikael: I think it all comes down to more of a stance: Waerloga Records publishes music that stimulates your imagination. It’s hard to narrow it down much further given the diversity of artists that has been released by the label through the years. High quality fantasy music is a guarantee, though!

You are a duo. How does it work?
Mikael: Daniel and I have always felt very close to each other. Through the years we have had an enormous amount of different projects together, and the understanding and good communication between us has always been there.
But writing music for orchestra and being a set of two is not all sheer delight, of course. When we first started out in the year of 2000 the music was primarily arranged for recorder and piano, and live performances were always an opportunity. From the release of Under a Clouded Sky (2004) and later, the amount of orchestral pieces has grown to eventually become dominant in our program, and it’s not possible for two individuals to perform these new pieces as-is.
Daniel: No, that would be quite a display, ha-ha – anyway, what this all mean is that our live repertoire is either comprised of completely different pieces than our records, that we use old works from before Under a Clouded Sky, or rearranged, minimalistic versions of the newer ones.
Mikael: We are looking into possibilities to hire a professional orchestra to perform our music. It certainly will come at a cost, but that’s the way we need to go.

What I have heard so far your music seems very constructed and thought out. Do you ever improvise?
Daniel: As mentioned, our live music is quite different from what you will hear on the CDs. And often when doing church tours and such, a lot of the material is fully or to a high extent improvised. Both Mikael and I have an inclination towards jazz and that kind of jazz influenced music you can hear from composers such as Stravinsky.
Mikael: However, the music that we put down on paper is very constructed indeed. When we publish and release something to the public we want nothing but the best possible melody lines over the best possible chord progressions, and so on. As a result improvisations are rare, although an example can be heard on the song The Ridge on the new album, where some improvised piano runs are present.

Did you take private lessons when you were young? Talk to us about your music education.
Daniel: I am classically trained in piano.
Mikael: I have studied for Par Lindh of Par Lindh Project and went to musical upper secondary school in Enköping, Sweden in 2001. Since 2004 I have studied musicology for Professor Erik Kjellberg and music theorist Ola Ericsson at the Uppsala University. And then, of course, a whole lot of instrument courses for recorder, piano and guitar among others.

It’s always good with a proper education! What do you do when not making music?
Daniel: Besides music, my perhaps biggest passion is to draw and illustrate. I have for example made comics since as long as I can remember. While not painting, I try to be out in the nature as much as I can. There is no better inspiration than nature.
Mikael: I totally agree. That’s very easy recognized in our music too, I believe. For instance we often use such things as short melodic patterns resembling the song of birds or fast harp arpeggios to simulate the sound of a spring stream.
Daniel: And you can see it just by looking at our song titles! Birth of a Sun, Under a Clouded Sky and The Ridge are three good examples. Nature is our biggest inspiration and a fundamental piece in the Lost Kingdom puzzle.
Mikael: But now I feel obliged to confess that I spend a whole lot of time in front of a TV playing Xbox 360, ha-ha – but honestly; I love to emerge myself in other worlds, and video games are one way of doing so. And in video games, I can actually interact with these worlds too. It’s a very exciting thing, really.
Daniel: And speaking of which – we are rather hooked on to the idea of contributing to this often misunderstood form of art, and will investigate the possibilities to write music for an appropriate game sometime in a near future.

Do you have any side projects you would like to talk about?
Mikael: There have been a lot of projects through the years, like Metal Fusion – a symphonic rock/jazz band – which split up sometime around 2004. However, it has become harder and harder to find the time for side projects the bigger Lost Kingdom has grown.
Daniel: We do have two balls up in the air though, as we’re both members of the symphonic rock band Dark Legacy. I’m personally responsible for the lead vocals, while Mikael provides backing vocals and some recorder parts.

Do you have any long-term plans with Lost Kingdom?
Mikael: Music is everything to me, and I hate it when people call it my “pastime”, or whatever. It’s so much more than that – it’s the very meaning of my life! That’s how I feel. And Lost Kingdom, being the ventilation of my musical efforts, will always be a top priority.
Daniel: The name may change, and we may move into other musical territories. But the heart, lust and passion will always be there. Lost Kingdom is a life-long project.

Do you think your career has reached another level now that your debut has been released?
Daniel: One cannot deny that it’s exciting to let the music you create meet an audience. And if they enjoy it – well, that’s even better. With the release of As the New Dawn Awakes itâ’s much easier for people to come across and recognize us than before, and that’s a thrilling thought, really.
Mikael: The debut is as important for an artist/composer as the first impression is in an everyday social situation. Both Daniel and I are perfectionists, but we’re still very satisfied with how the debut shaped up.

Any last words to the readers of Musical Zone Japan?
Mikael: It’s hard to sell a product that’s completely unfamiliar to the consumer. Therefore I would like to take the opportunity to encourage you to visit our homepage or MySpace to hear some musical excerpts of what we do and how it sounds.
Daniel: And when you’re at it: drop us a line and let us know what you thought. That kind of input from the public are always much appreciated – and still people tend to think that we couldn’t care less. We do! To know that people value the music that you’ve worked hard for and put your very soul in: that’s priceless.

Thank you Lost Kingdom!