For me, music is a great medium for inspiration when it comes to conceptualising characters and world building, even if its in my head. Having a soundtrack is enough of a driving force to get my imagination running. Around the same time that I was drawing concepts for our character design project I started watching Vikings, a historical drama series produced by the History Channel. The series is a sensationalised depiction of the Nordic legendary hero Ragnarr Loðbrók who is said to be the scrouge of England and Francia. In my opinion the series is very well produced, I don’t have the stomach to truly appreciate on screen battle and scenes of bloody assault but they are done well enough for Vikings. What I liked more than the compelling story and characters is the musical soundtrack. Most of the background music feature the talents of Wardruna; a musical project centred around Nordic spiritualism. In the second season, Ragnar executes the Blood Eagle onto his enemy Jal Borg in front of many witnesses. I will not describe the exact details of the Blood Eagle which is a slow, torturous and horrific death and the sequence featured in Vikings of this execution was six minutes of utter brutality. It was the music from that scene (featured in the video above) that gave me something indefinable that helped me to understand and develop the Primordial character on another level. I lack words to describe Wardruna’s music made and sung in a language and instruments I am familiar with. Having come from a different cultural background, this music is alien and compelling. Well, inspiration can be found in unlikely places.
On a personal note; what initially convinced me to start watching was how it portrayed Vikings exactly the way I had pictured them as a teenager. I was reminded of my 14-year old self living in Singapore and telling avid stories of the Norse Gods that I had read to my fellow classmates. Considering the fact that I was studying in a Traditionalist Catholic school at the time that turned out to be a very bad choice. Two years later I was in a different school and was taking Art for my O’Levels. I took that opportunity to paint what I wanted which at the time were my versions of the deities Fenrir and Hel. This was over a decade pass and I haven’t thought of the paintings in many years. All I have are faded pictures of them but it’s good to be reminded of such things.
Phoenix (Originally titled Hel), Painted in 2003
Crime, Painted in 2002