Acclaimed Irish singer, composer, and YouTuber Colm McGuinness (Critical Role) graced us with his vocal abilities in the Cinematic Trailer for Conqueror’s Blade: Helheim, and we thought it only fitting to grab for them a chat about all things music, Vikings, and gaming.
We really enjoy listening to your songs here at Conqueror's Blade, your voice is just incredible, and you have an amazing following on YouTube. What made you want to become a musician?
Me and my brothers started learning violin when we were teens, but I was a terrible singer all the way through my childhood and my teens. I was awful, I was completely tone-deaf. I also wasn't really sure of where my range was when I was a teen. My voice would start to drop, so I always loved high singers, like Chris Cornell, and kind of like rock singers. My granddad would sing Irish songs when we were small, and I always thought that that was so cool. When I was about twelve, I picked up a guitar, and I was like, ‘okay, this music thing, maybe this is for me’. I would say around twelve was when I wanted to take it seriously.
For Conqueror’s Blade: Helheim, you sang ‘My Mother Told Me’, a song that originated in Old Norse. Have you spoken the language before?
I will be completely honest; Google Translate is fantastic. And I watched a lot of videos on the pronunciation because I had done a cover of it a few months back, and all of the Norwegian people were very polite in their criticism of my pronunciation. So this time around, I had a bit more of a head start. I can't speak old Norse. I was in Norway years ago, and I learned enough, like ‘thank you’ was ‘takk’, and they say ‘hei hei’ when they're saying hello. So I had that.
What do you think the story behind ‘My Mother Told Me’ is, and what did you want to deliver with the song?
Well, it's interesting because it's from an old poem about a seven-year-old who killed someone. He was destined for conquest. It’s about, you know, striking fear into the enemies and their territory that you're about to sail up into. So I think the whole thing is like ‘oh, imagine you're on the sea, you hear this coming from in the mist’. So that is kind of like a good visualisation.
And people love Vikings! We know you’ve performed other Viking-related songs, including ‘If I Had A Heart’. Are you a big fan of Vikings, and if so, what made you a fan of the culture?
So Viking culture in Ireland is really big because they kind of took over the country for a while. The town where I'm from was actually named by Vikings, and they named it after a salmon jumping up the river, so the translation of the town is Salmon Leap. And you'll see a lot of big port cities in Ireland, like Waterford and Dublin. There's still a big, historical Viking influence there, so you learn a lot about it growing up in Ireland. But they are just cool, aren't they? It's kind of funny, because when I've gone to Scandinavian countries, they're kind of like, ‘oh, you have red hair. We had it first. We gave you guys gingers, you know’. But I studied it in college as well. One of the subjects I took was Viking studies. It's just a really cool history, and it's very similar to Irish history too.
We made a great cinematic trailer for Conqueror’s Blade: Helheim that saw the Northmen set sail across the sea for new lands to battle in. You’ve previously recorded songs for TV and film – did you find it different working on something video games-related instead?
I've worked as a composer on a game in the past, but a lot of my performance stuff has been for TV, films, and web series. Video game music, as you know, is so grandly different. It's not linear, and it is more of an immersive kind of experience for the player. It's so cool, because the fanbase of it, they're a lot more passionate, I guess, in this sense.
Do you consider yourself a gamer?
I am just above casual. I used to think I was a big gamer nerd when I was a kid, and then I went to America for the first time, and they're like hardcore. They have the big gaming PCs, the conventions. And I was like, ‘okay, maybe I'm as big into this as I thought I was’. But this year, I've had a lot more time to actually play games a lot more. My favourite game is still Pokémon, the second-gen - Pokémon Gold. I'm a big Pokémon boy.
As a musician, what kind of songs do you listen to? Which tracks are on your most-played list?
I got really into folk music over the last few years. It was really over the pandemic, but I got back into Irish folk like The Dubliners. But a lot of my playlist, even my running playlist, is all like, Aerosmith, Mötley Crüe, Kate Bush - it's a lot of 80s stuff.
What do you do in your spare time when you’re not making music?
When I'm not making music, I'm probably researching music libraries. I'm running a lot more, and I'm gaming a bit more this year. We'll see if I can build more on those things.
Thank you for your time, Colm. Best wishes and thanks from the whole Conqueror’s Blade team to you and your fans! Stay handsome!