An Interview with Synthwave Artist Baldocaster
Baldocaster (David Hill) is a U.S. based synthwave artist who forges a blend of inspirations from different artists and styles of music into a fresh sound that combines the bombastic vibe of synthwave with his own unique sense of melody and harmony. In an email interview, I asked him about how he got started, where he finds inspiration and his creative process.
Karl Magi: What first sparked your interest in music?
David Hill: When I was a kid, my uncle would come over, play his guitar and banjo and let me mindlessly doot on a harmonica (much to the enjoyment of everybody around me, I’m sure.) Eventually he bought me a cheap guitar to mess around with and it all snowballed from there.
KM: How did you become drawn towards making retro/synthwave music?
DH: Like a lot of people, I heard the brilliant soundtrack to the film Drive, and later Hotline Miami, and immediately fell in love with the uninhibited sound. A bit later, I found a few of my favorite artists that drove me to want to start producing it myself.
KM: Who are some of the artists you find inspirational and why?
DH: For Moonrise, I’d definitely have to say Daft Punk, Justice, Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel Jarre, and The Human League. The French-Touch guys in particular have always been deeply rooted in my musical DNA, but I try to draw from a lot of other non-electronic genres like folk, progressive rock and disco. It wasn’t until I discovered the synthwave artist Waveshaper that I realized how well a lot of this outside stuff could be fused with the bombastic synthwave vibe in a way that really excited me. That’s what pushed me over the edge to start making it myself.
KM: What's the approach that you take when it comes to creating new music?
DH: It usually starts with a sound that inspires me to come up with a part, and then I just keep building up around that idea. Certain sounds on instruments just force you to think or play in totally different ways. A real inspiration machine for me is my old Roland Juno-60 synth. It’s the first synthesizer I got and I’ll keep it forever. That thing sounds great no matter how you set the parameters and it can do so much.
KM: Tell me more about Moonrise. What was your approach to making the album?
DH: I initially made a few singles before this album while I was trying to figure out a strong stylistic direction for myself. Once I honed in on it, I locked myself away for three months to write this album. I listened to a lot of inspiring stuff to pull me in different directions while making it from Pilotpriest and Majeur to Oliver. There’s even a section in one of the songs inspired by Tool.
KM: Where would you like to take your music in the future?
DH: I want to push further into an interesting blend of genres and feels. I definitely don’t want to be tied down by anything. The most important thing for me is always strong melodies so I won’t stop trying for those! I can see myself getting a little less spacey and more progressive.
KM: How do you refresh yourself creatively?
DH: Listening to music far away from what I’m making is always a must for me. It helps me focus on the importance of melody in all music, that and taking healthy breaks. My process can be a bit strenuous. I can’t really have multiple songs going at once or it drives me crazy! I have to start one idea, get obsessive with it for a few days, and then think about it non-stop until it’s done.