I can appreciate a concept album just as much a s regular album but there is something a bit extra to a concept. As LUCID DREAMING. Anders Ekdahl ©2014
Where did the idea for LUCID DREAMING come from?
-I’ve always been a fan of concept albums, the idea of telling a story over the duration of an entire album I find appealing. And when it became popular to use various singers to portray the characters of the story I liked this idea too – and I started thinking about trying to do something like this myself. Of course projects like Ayreon, Avantasia, Dawnrider and Soulspell played a role here and influenced me.
What can you tell us about the concept and how it plays out on the album?
-After having decided to start this project and do a concept album with different singers of course I needed a story to tell on the album. And I quickly thought of the “Chronicles of Prydain”. This is a series of five fantasy novels by the author Lloyd Alexander, published in the 60s. It’s fantasy for younger readers but adults should be able to enjoy the story too. They’re among my favourite books so the idea quickly took shape.
The main character is the boy Taran who grows up as a foster child on a farm, not knowing his origin. He is very immature and doesn’t know much about the land Prydain he lives in. And then the story starts, Prydain is threatened by an evil warlord and Taran gets involved in the events. He meets a lot of persons and has a lot of adventures, his character changes and he matures a lot during the story. So this fantasy series is both classic fantasy and a coming-of-age story.
The Lucid Dreaming album tells the story of the first two novels “The Book of Three” and “The Black Cauldron”. The first six tracks deal with the first book, the rest with the second one. Of course this means that I could only tell parts of the story on the album and I had to leave many characters out – otherwise it would have been a 5 CD box with 40 singers, haha. But those who are interested in all the details can always pick up the books – and I can only recommend this, they’re a really good read.
Is it harder to write an album when you have a concept in mind? Do you have to think extra carefully about what goes where?
-Oh yes, definitely. You have to think about what part of the story should be told in a song, from there you have to think about how the song should sound and what moods it should contain. Should it be a happy, sad, angry song? And of course the songs should make sense in the order on the album – you can’t put all the slow songs first, then all the fast ones, then all the midtempo stuff…it’s a bit like working on a puzzle or a painting; in the end all the pieces have to fit and everything has to fall into place. But I think the album works really fine here.
How hard is it to put together an album in the studio when it is as elaborate as this one is?
-I like to be present when a musician or a vocalist records his performance – I’m a bit of a control freak, haha. Of course this wasn’t possible as some of the vocalists live in different parts of Europe or even in the US. So they recorded their parts in their cities and sent the files to me (or rather the producer I worked with). But this worked well, only here and there I had to ask for a different approach when I wasn’t happy with some of the ideas that were brought in.
Of course this takes a long while; the more people are involved, the more factors of all kinds of delays and misadventures are involved, haha. Many of the people who participated were busy with their own bands and jobs and sometimes it took a while until they could find the time to work on their parts for Lucid Dreaming.
I should point out that I am very happy with all of the performances on the album; all the singers and musicians gave their best and they did very well.
In the end it was quite a task to pick up all the recorded parts and forge them into an album. The album was mixed by a producer (Kai Stahlenberg, Kohlekeller Studio) who had had nothing to do with the recordings but he knows his job well and made sure the album got a great sound.
How important is it that the art work fits the concept? How do you pick a cover that will represent the whole album?
-The cover artwork is important to me as it represents the album visually. That said, I had no clear idea how it should look like. All I knew was that I didn’t want any of the story characters on the cover as I don’t want to take the listener’s imagination away. I want everybody to think of Taran and his companions in his/her very own way, with his/her own imagination.
So I contacted different painters and among them was Felipe Machado who was recommended by my label. He’s also known for his artworks for Rhapsody, Blind Guardian, Stormwarrior and many more. I told him what the album was about and he requested the lyrics to get some inspiration. So I sent them and a few days later he sent me a sketch of the artwork which both the label and I liked. So Felipe did the cover artwork; I like it very much, it’s very dark and powerful. What it shows is the “Black Cauldron” (see the title of the second novel) which is used by the dark lord to boil dead bodies in it and make undead killing machines out of them. An instrument of pure evil.
Does it matter what label you sign with these days when music is available at digital stores and doesn’t need the help of traditional distribution channels?
-The internet has made things easier but a good label can still take a lot of work off your shoulders. A good distribution of physical releases is still important for me. And Limb Music offered me quite a good deal for a newcomer artist so I signed with them. I received more offers but they were uninteresting at best, rip-offs at worst. An independent release is always better than this kind of crap of course.
What are your thoughts on digital V/S physical? Is there a difference in for example sound?
-If it’s not physical it doesn’t exist to me. I never bother with mp3’s, I mostly listen to CD’s, sometimes tapes or vinyl. The reason is not so much the sound but rather that I’m just an old fashioned guy who likes to have a real CD on his shelf and in his hands. When listening to the music I also want to have a proper artwork, a booklet with lyrics, pictures etc. An album isn’t just the music but it’s all part of it.
What kind audience are you targeting mainly? What kind of audience would you like to target?
-I never thought much about this. I did the Lucid Dreaming album because it was important for me and nobody else. If people like it of course it makes me happy but if it doesn’t sell I won’t suffer any sleepless nights. I’m satisfied with the result as an artist, this is what counts for me.
That said, I do believe that Metal fans who like traditional Heavy Metal and Power Metal will like Lucid Dreaming as the album has what it takes: Good musicians, vocalists, songs and production. So fans of this music style shouldn’t be disappointed. But of course the number of releases is incredibly high and no fan can buy all the albums he’d like. Therefore I hope people will discover Lucid Dreaming and give it a try.
The album has been out a while now. What kind of reactions have it had so far?
-Anything from “awesome” to “totally horrible”, haha. But most reviews and fans’ reactions have been positive. I collect all the reviews I can find at Lucid Dreaming’s Facebook site. They’re still coming in although the album has been available for more than four months now. And most people seem to like it which I appreciate.
Will there be a future?
-The album is called “The Chronicles Pt. I”, so of course there will have to be a Pt. II. I’m currently working on the songs and I think recordings will commence in summer 2014. The lyrics will deal with Prydain again but not in a chronological order. I’ll leave out book no. 3 and set no. 4 to music instead. That volume, “Taran Wanderer”, is my favourite part of the series, here we’ll see Taran wander all across Prydain, searching for his origin, meeting all kinds of interesting characters. The story pretty much screams to be made into a Metal album, haha.
Thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to speak about my music here. I’d like to say hello to everybody who read this all the way to the bottom and invite them to pay a visit to www.facebook.com/luciddreamingmetal and check out the music. And if you like what you hear, please be so kind to buy the album instead of downloading it. Support the underground and stay Metal!