An Interview With Retrowave Artist Let Em Riot (Alan Oakes)

Updated on May 16, 2018
KPM2017 profile image

Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

Let Em Riot
Let Em Riot

Let Em Riot (Alan Oakes) creates music that combines ethereal synth tones, strong vocal melodies and a healthy respect for the sounds of the '80s that's still rooted in modern production.

I talk to him about his start in music, the creative process as he experiences it and how he keeps his creative batteries recharged.

Interview With Let Em Riot (Alan Oakes)

KM: How did you first get interested in making music?

Alan Oakes: From the moment I first saw Motley Crüe on MTV, I wanted to be a musician. I began playing guitar at the age of 11 and joined my first band at 15.

KM: What drew you towards synth/retrowave music?

AO: '80s synth pop and movie soundtracks – I wanted to emulate those sounds from my childhood.

KM: Tell me more about the themes and ideas that you explore in your music.

AO: There’s no conscious effort to focus on any specific theme or idea. Subject matter is usually a brief moment, feeling or idea taken from a personal experience.

KM: How does the creative process work for you when you're creating new music?

AO: I wish I could say that the creative process is spontaneous and just flows naturally. For me, I have treat the entire process by building a routine, much like one would when exercising. I also have a family and a full-time job, so I don’t have the luxury of waiting around for inspiration to strike. I set aside time each week to write, to ensure that I remain productive, whether or not I’m feeling inspired. I write for the sake of writing and not for the purpose of creating a composition. Most of I write is throwaway but on occasion I come across an idea worth building on. My goal is just to keep writing no matter what.

KM: Talk about your views on synthwave and how it fits into the wider world of electronic music.

AO: I feel synthwave is more about an 80s visual aesthetic than it is about a specific style of music. There are numerous genres under the synthwave umbrella. Over the past 5 years or so, we’ve seen the 80s aesthetic periodically spill over into the main stream through music, movies/TV, art, etc. Whether or not it gains mass appeal to the level of other genres of electronic music is hard to tell.

KM: Tell me more about The Futurist. How did it come about? What was the process of producing it like?

AO: While discussing Let Em Riot’s first release on New Retro Wave, the idea of a full-length album came about. Up until that point I had stuck to releasing singles and EPs. I had appeared on several compilations released by the label however, we wanted to put together something special for the first official release. We decided to make the album a collection of what we felt were Let Em Riot’s strongest tracks and mixing in some new material as well.

The only real challenge with the production was revisiting the old session files for the remastering process. Some of the tracks were written and produced over six years ago and I was not disciplined enough back then to create proper archives of the sessions. Opening those old sessions proved to be quite the headache - missing plugins and audio files. I was fortunate enough to eventually piece them all back together. Now I always make sure to print stems when I finish a track. Lesson learned.

KM: Where would you like to take your music in the future?

AO: My goal is to keep growing as a songwriter/performer and to also be continually improving my production skills. I feel very fortunate there are people that enjoying listening to the music. At the end of the day I think that’s the most important thing to remember and its the thing that keeps me motivated. Anything else that comes along is just an added bonus.

KM: How do you keep your creative batteries recharged?

AO: I make sure to take plenty of breaks. If I find that I keep hitting a creative wall, I’ll take an extended break of a couple of days or maybe even a couple of weeks. Sometimes not thinking about music for an extended period of time is the best way to beat a creative block.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)