Interview: Lovidalf Ranemmak VI
Ordo Fantet is just music, strange, incomprehensible to many, but it's just music. But my way of life, yes, maybe it's already epic.
Music is a world of visionaries, and some of them are wildly misunderstood or not even seen. Blame it on convenience or simple algorithms that guide us through the online wasteland, it does let a lot of great stuff go to waste. Call it outsider music if you will, but the most fascinating sounds can be found by those who look a bit deeper. Through thematic digging in online archives, through one of his projects, I found one of those exceptional musicians. Lovidalf Ranemmak VI is one of those projects that are hard to understand. Lovidalf is an individual, but to be honest it’s more an artistic entity… The man who created his very own music genre called Ordo Fantet.
Now, Lovidalf has many projects and for the sake of mystique, we shall refer to him by this alias here. Inspired by game music, I believed, but more so by a classical training in music and fascination for bygone times, he created a style that may be closest related to dungeon synth and renaissance music. And to provide a corpus to this vision, he has started a range of projects so numerous that he has some trouble remembering all of them.
Lovidalf is convinced it seems, as I conclude from our interactions online, that his style is not particularly interesting. Neither is he, he writes. He is wrong, but it’s a telling fact about his intent that he’s doing it all anyway, dedicating his life to a remarkable creation he believes no one cares for much. I want to thank him for his time and hope that this interview will shed some light on his voluminous work. Enjoy!
E&D: How are you doing? How has the pandemic been for you as a Polish artist abroad?
The pandemic was very epic for me. At the beginning, back in 2019, I had to leave France, back to my parents in Moscow. Also, I had to postpone many of my projects, because my studio was closed for quarantine. I am not allowed to be in my studio, but I am very much allowed to pay taxes on it… In general, I am bankrupt this year.
E&D: So, I’m particularly curious about your path towards the artist you are now. The person behind a variety of projects and a whole genre, if I may so. How did you get so interested in this style and medieval times?
I became interested in the Middle Ages at the age of seven or eight, when my grandmother brought me to her homeland in France. My grandmother has a dad from France (Aquitaine), a mom from Poland. In this story, there is a whole historical novel that stretches from the time of the Napoleonic wars. As a result, for the fact that my Polish ancestors fought on the side of Napoleon against Russia, they were arrested and sent into exile in Russia. So, my genealogy ended up in the land of bears and vodka. On my mother’s side, my German, Swedish and Finnish origin.
Therefore, as a child, I travelled with my parents to many places, including their birthplace. I was in France when I saw ancient castles, especially Aquitaine, but not far from Paris there are mesmerizing, beautiful places.
E&D: Who are your musical inspirations? And what instruments do you actually play yourself?
In Poland, at the age of five, my parents sent me to a music school, violin class. A little later, I myself entered the classical guitar class, and from the age of eleven, I became interested in old stringed instruments such as gittern, viele, rebec, citole, medieval harp and all kinds of lutes. Now, I have dozens of medieval instruments in my collection.
When I found myself in Russia and transferred to a Russian music school, I became interested in orchestral classical music, especially the Russian school of the “Mighty Handful” represented by César Cui, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. So at the age of eleven, I was already composing an incomprehensible symbiosis of medieval and orchestral music, which I later named Ordo Fantet.
I have always taken inspiration in music from books. At about 10 years old I began to write small stories and poems myself. And after reading a series of books by David Eddings, the Elenium, I myself have already invented my own fantasy universe, which was more like a real historical novel than, for example, Tolkien’s. By the way, I read Tolkien much later.
Regarding musical instruments, I don’t really like the word “multi-instrumentalist”, but I have to write it in the description, because it takes a very long time to list all the instruments I play. My whole life is music, I wake up in the morning and instead of weights I take guitar or lute, or sit down at drums with tambourines … And then grab kettlebells and swords … ahaha.
E&D: Ok, so tell me about Ordo Fantet. What is its musical origin and what is the relation to the dungeon synth genre?
Ordo Fantet is symbiotic. A symbiosis of medieval music and orchestral symphonies. Fantet can be in minor (sad) and major (funny). The main difference from other existing genres is the fantasy context. Both in music and poetry. There are huge differences from dungeon synth, or rather the only thing that makes Ordo Fantet in common with dungeon synth is the use of a synthesizer on some compositions. But mostly, Ordo Fantet is performed on live medieval and orchestral instruments. Plus, Fantet uses vocals, both growling and pure male and female.
E&D: How big is this genre? You told me that this is really a micro-genre, but what other artists should people check out for example?
The Ordo Fantet genre mainly consists of my side projects or projects with a girlfriend of mine, a minstrel from France. For example, if in a true Ordo Fantet, no electric guitars with distortion or other overdrive are acceptable, then we have projects where, for example, I mix symphonic black metal with elements of Ordo Fantet, or funeral doom. Most of the artists in this underground genre can be found by the #ordofantet tag for example on the same Bandcamp.
E&D: You work with numerous alter egos, which fits with the roleplaying that clearly is a big inspiration to you. Is Lovidalf Ranemmak your primary one, and can you tell me a bit more about him?
As for my large number of projects, with my alter ego, everything is simple. Each of my projects contains some differences. For example, somewhere it is musically, somewhere it is pure ordo fantet, somewhere mixed with dark ambient, somewhere there is a lot of medieval folk, and somewhere it is only in a different conceptual approach. For example, will a dungeon synth on the Elder Scrolls, or other game universes. Or space synth, or the eclecticism of the 60s of America, etc. That is why I always create a new project for my new ideas. I’m a non-commercial, I don’t need all these bureaucratic contracts with labels, and other freeloaders, I work for music, not money.
And I object to sculpting a new genre on each album, like Mortiis, when he had dark dungeon music, and after that there was a pop disco for drug addicts. I don’t accept that! Therefore, many, including my iconic ones, call me Alexander Dumas in the world of music, because he had an incredible number of books, and I have an incredible number of albums and projects! Ahahah.
Lovidalf Ranemmak VI is my main pseudonym, my main character. Here, too, everything is simple, Lovidalf is the name of one of the NPCs from the Elder Scrolls, from the very first part, which is called Arena, I received this game as a gift at the end of 94, from my first computer. Arena is my first love and the first RPG game in my life. Ranemmak, this is my mother’s transformed surname, Reinecke, in my made-up language (Kell-Galluish from my fantasy universe, the main dialect of the inhabitants of Fractria).
E&D: Going further on that, I feel by checking your socials, that your commitment to Ordo Fantet goes beyond music to a lifestyle. You seem to really embrace this identity in a day-to-day approach?
In fact, Ordo Fantet is just music, strange, incomprehensible to many, but it’s just music. But my way of life, yes, maybe it’s already epic!
Maybe I’m crazy, but I live according to the principles of LCSO – (Le Chevaliers Scolastique Ordre) I live in poverty, I don’t pursue fame, I don’t do PR and advertise my work, I just live like a knight-monk, I do reconstruction, sword fencing, I write books and music and play computer games. I don’t need rich apartments, a cool car, I don’t have a car at all, for that I have a gorgeous collection of swords and musical instruments, and this is quite enough for me for my happy life. I’m an escapist.
E&D: Which games do you primarily derive inspiration from?
About computer games. Until 2014, I just adored The Elder Scrolls and the entire universe. But after working a little at Bethesda as a writer for lore, I realized that a lot would change in the future game and I didn’t like it. Therefore, gradually, very slowly, I began to work on my role-playing game, which will be in my fantasy universe – Codex Draggriffe.
E&D: You make a lot of music, so how does your creative process look like and what is your way of determining what fits into which project best?
I write music every day, practically I record only when the material is going to be a full or mini album. It all depends on my mood and state of health. Here, the thing is that earlier for the cover of my albums I had to ask permission to use the art I liked, now from January 1, 2020, when my parents presented me with a graphic tablet, I have been drawing covers for my already released albums.
So now, I draw a lot, although I don’t know how to draw, and the last time I painted was at school. Although, at school, my knights and dragons liked a lot …
E&D: I understand you also produce black metal and other types of music, what other projects are you working on and what is currently your primary focus?
Black metal, but not all. For example, for me this genre was the personification of non-commercial and original music. Unfortunately, today this genre has turned into a pile of dung, with its posers and merchants who write music not for the sake of music, but for the sake of populism and money. Unfortunately.
I, on the other hand, stick to rawness and originality in my black metal projects. Landmarks for the black 90s, when there was still gunpowder …
E&D: You also frequently address your writing. What sort of writing have you one and where can one find your work? Do you consider your music and writing a ‘united piece of art’?
Yes, my music comes entirely from my books, my universe. But, at first, I still tried to write in French, when in my childhood I lived with my grandmother in France, but later I gave up this idea, because I wrote with a lot of mistakes, to be honest, and now I do not speak French very well, although I know German well and Latin. At one time, I was very fond of studying the Old French language, as well as Hochdeutsche Dialekte. Now all my books and stories are written in Russian and Polish. I still have to print, there is not enough money for this, sponsors are needed. But I myself read my books on my YouTube channel.
E&D: You also mention a lot of cooperative works, for example with Swiss musicians on the project Trobar Clus. Do you travel a lot or how do you realize this sort of projects? Can you tell me about your collaborations?
Trobar Clus is one of the projects in which I am introduced as a session musician. In fact, I don’t have as many projects in metal music as it might seem. I can name it.
- For example, fantasy black metal projects: Jagar Tharn, Vogt Castellar, Trobar Clus, Thibaut VI de Lovidois Trouveres, Von Neifen
- Neoclassical or steampunk black metal: Humphrey’s Clock
- Medieval black metal und medieval metal: Ekkehardus, Einargoroth Drachenorden, Ave Crux Alba
- Sci-fi black metal with the eclecticism of 60s America: The Proggs
E&D: Ok, so my biggest question is how you maintain all of this. All the pages, all the socials, all the projects. Like, how do you get the time for all this?
I don’t have enough time. Therefore, I have a work schedule for every day. I have not officially worked for a long time, as is customary for normal people. In my life I worked as a music teacher at a state music school, I was also a teacher at home, for a long time I worked in music stores, where I sold classical musical instruments as well as guitars and synthesizers. I even worked for Bethesda, the one that produced the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series of games.
Now, I will never go to work for the “owner” who has the right to humiliate you, having only the status of the employer, but not the name of the crown or the rank of lord, in Russia, unfortunately, the law on employment is very clumsy, and there is a lot of injustice with regard to payment wages and working day. Therefore, I put all my savings into my studio. Unfortunately, for a year now, my studio has not been working, and now I have really very difficult financial days. Nevertheless, I compose music, drink cheap wine, write book material, wave a sword in the forest and play various role-playing games, I am happy in my own way!
E&D: What are the future plans for you as an artist?
I have plans, all the same that have always been. Compose material, for books, for musical projects. And I will continue to draw covers for my albums. I have a lot in my book, taken from medieval and renaissance poetry. Including Dutch legends like Vrouwtje van Stavoren or Beiaard and Grutte Pier! But basically, my main character is a knight monk, his guardian angels in the form of generous hares and Reintje de Vos! Ahahah
E&D: If Lovidalf Ranemmak VI was a dish, what would it be and why that?
As for the dish, I can’t even think of anything. But I really love venison meat on a fire under wine sauce with garlic and a lot of French oak wine!!!
Thank you Guido Segers! For your attention to my unpopular person. For your interview. Take care of yourself from any illness, all the best!