Blingin’ Bardcore: The medieval jams you didn’t know you needed

via Hildegard von Blingin
by The Collected Mutineer

Good morrow and well met, fellow collectors! When the world is beleaguered by plague, natural disasters, and the threat of totalitarianism, what are peasants like us to do for a distraction from impending doom? Immersing ourselves in aesthetic nostalgia seems like a good start.

Luckily, the internet and apps like ye olde TikTok are brimming with art movements and aesthetic lifestyles like cottagecore and dark academia that are basically your dream Pinterest mood board come to life. Among them is a musically driven aesthetic that has gained particular traction on YouTube—bardcore. And at the center of it is Hildegard von Blingin’.

Though not the first person to create medieval covers of modern songs, Hildegard’s versions of jams like “Pumped Up Kicks” include reimagined lyrics that sound like they’re right out of the 13th century—and are a large part of what draws millions of viewers to engage with her work. We sat down with Hildegard to get some insight into her music-making process and find out what it’s like to create viral bardcore covers.

The Collective: How long have you been making music?

Hildegard: I’ve been singing since I was a kid, and writing music since I was a young teen. Most of my original compositions are gathering dust, but one day I hope to release some. As for my bardcore covers, I only got started this summer during lockdown.

TC: What drew you to medieval covers? Have you made other types of music like this? 

H: I’ve always been a fan of genre flipping (think 80s remix versions of modern songs, or the talented Youtuber Blanks). I’m also fond of authentic Early music, but there’s something strange and fun about hearing pop and rock songs translated into something you might hear a minstrel play in a fantasy tavern. Most of my original songwriting has been in the singer/songwriter and folk style, which bears a few similarities to Early music.

TC: What is your process like when you choose a song to cover? And how long does it take to produce a video like Jolene? 

H: I usually head to my piano and do some brainstorming, or let my subconscious mull over the lyrics while I go about my day. The entire process can take anywhere from two days to a week, though some songs are trickier than others. I have a small pile of unfinished work and rejected songs.

TC: Of the pieces you’ve shared on YouTube, which was the most fun to create?

H: I had a lot of fun with Jolene, particularly because I made it after being gifted a great new pack of Medieval instrument samples. There can be a certain elitism around “real” instruments vs. samples, but as someone who uses both, I consider all tools fair game.

TC: What does “bardcore” mean to you?

H: “Bardcore” just sort of surfaced at some point, and I loved it from the moment I read it. It captures the lighthearted nature of this style and ties in with the fantasy genre that largely inspired it.

TC: There are a lot of aesthetic movements going on right now, especially centered around “simpler” times—how do you think something like bardcore fits into our larger societal picture at times like these? 

H: I think these movements hold a sense of nostalgia and comfort, which there seems to be a real need for right now. The past can hold a certain romantic appeal, to be sure, but it can also put our current lives in perspective. I’ve noticed a great deal of comments on my videos making reference to the Black Plague, which I suppose has a grim sort of relevance right now.

TC: Your name obviously pays homage to St. Hildegard von Bingen. Why did you choose her in particular?

H: Yes, it certainly does. I chose her as a joke at first, but she was a pretty formidable woman, and immensely talented in a number of pursuits. I’ve always aspired to be a renaissance woman myself, and admire her legacy a great deal.

TC: What modern artists inspire you? And what other medieval artists do you find yourself drawn to?

H: I’m inspired by artists like Hozier, Loreena Mckennitt, Florence + The Machine, Noah Gundersen, Fleetwood Mac, and countless more. I’m especially fond of folk music

TC: Any sneak peeks you can give us in terms of what we might expect from your channel in the future?

H: I’ve been a little stumped lately due to having no time, but I am still hoping to make more. One day I’d like to transition to sharing some original work and branching out a little.

Check out the videos linked above, as well as Hildegard’s latest cover of Summertime Sadness. And make sure to follow her on YouTube for more bardcore creations!