New sounds are continuously created. Some are born out of rebellion, some out of boredom and some purely to push creative limits. However, it is unlikely that any genre has been created with such forethought and calculated precision as Dungeon Rap.
The projects debut album by Ukrainian producer DJ Sacred entitled simply ‘Dungeon Rap The Introduction’ was released on Manchester label Natural Sciences back in March. As a sound, it’s incredibly addictive. Think lo-fi beats to chill out and relax to but made for the monsters that live under your bed. But DJ Sacred aka DJ Armok aka Pillbox views the album as more than just music in isolation. He has created a genre narrative which he sees as an integral part of the sound and its development. We had a chat about his influences and the future of Dungeon Rap. So, what is the subculture of Dungeon Rap?
DJ Sacred: Memphis Rap mixed with Black Ambient. Slow pace, around 60-65 bpm. Double-time flow. A long introduction to tracks. Subjectively, CRPGs, ASCII Roguelikes and Dwarf Fortress. The name DJ Armok comes straight from Dwarf Fortress game.
Can you explain what those things are for those of us that are less well informed?
DJ Sacred: Things that I enjoy, odd ones, I would say, for nerds. Dwarf Fortress is basically a game that generates an infinite variety of worlds, filled with historical figures, events, sites and quest, all of them generated procedurally through (AFAIK) pseudo-randomized seeds. An excellent place to start making your own world, and then, give it a real form through music. Google Dwarf Fortress for additional info)
How do you fit games into your music?
DJ Sacred: In loads of ways. For example, take Roguelikes which are basically dungeon crawlers with hardcore rules applied to the player. Now take a look at the cover of my album Dungeon Rap. It’s not just a square, its a top-down view. The line which is surrounding the square is a wall. The square itself is the “inner” part of the dungeon. My name stands in front of others as I lead or “introduce” the others to the dungeon.
So, does each character you introduce to the dungeon have a narrative?
DJ Sacred: Yes. DJ Armok is the hardcore one, detuned synths (Similar to Casio CZ, they’re made by phase subtraction). Black and Grim. Pillbox is quite soft, lots of phaser and guitars. Subtle and melancholic. And DJ Bishop is a young friend of mine from Dnipro. I’ve tried to give him an idea of what is Dungeon Rap is. His came out with more emphasis on Memphis and bass.
So would you say the other aliases are extensions of yourself in any way? Or are they limited to the dungeon?
DJ Sacred: They’re limited to Dungeon Rap only. By using different aliases, I’m trying to make some kind of a starting point for Dungeon Rap. You can’t forge a new genre by yourself, that’s why I’m adding different names with different releases.
Will more characters be introduced in future instalments?
DJ Sacred: I think I’ll stick with existing ones, for the time being. On the other hand, you can take a look at the Dungeon Rap community, emerging from underground music die-hard fans and producers looking for something new. Some releases with Dungeon Rap tag were announced from European producers. DJ Sabnak, Crawhaeth, Unfair and much more.
So you’re implying there is a lot more to come then.
DJ Sacred: Yes, that’s the primary vector of movement for me right now. For now, I’ll try to support artists who are making first steps in Dungeon Rap. Then I’ll head towards a new release.