Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Droid Bishop is a US-based synthwave producer. He says that his music combines "the '80s dream with a futuristic soundscape" and brings a "unique vision to the world of synthwave." In an emailed interview, he tells me about his passion for making music, how he creates and how he recharges his creative batteries.
Interview with Droid Bishop
Karl Magi: How did you first become interested in making music?
Droid Bishop: I come from a long line of professional musicians, so I was exposed to lots of instruments and melodic sounds from a young age. I started playing guitar when I was seven but at age 14 decided to make music my life.
KM: What is it about synth/retrowave that has drawn you to making it?
DB: I love ‘70s/’80s retro aesthetics and the almost absurd technological imagination and ambition people had in those days. To me, the sounds of drum machines and synthesizers truly embodiy the futuristic vision of that time. Synthwave/retrowave has taken me on many a journey into the impossible dreamscapes of space and time.
KM: Who are the artists that have been major influences on you and why have they had that impact?
DB: A few of my all time influences are Metallica, Queen, Michael Jackson, Django Reinhardt, Debussy, Steely Dan, Daft Punk, Pink Floyd and Van Halen. The main thing I love about these artists is they don't sound like anyone but themselves. You know instantly it’s one of their songs playing on the radio. Metallica, Master of Puppets especially, changed my life and inspired me want to make music that pushed boundaries but also brought great satisfaction to the human soul.
I had a similar eye opening experience when I discovered synthwave some years later. Artists like Powerglove, Tommy 86, Lazerhawk, MN84 and Com Truise gave me a new musical sense of wonder. I knew I wanted to immerse myself in creating these sweet sounds from the circuits of time.
I'm also hugely influenced by film composers like John Williams, Michael Kamen, James Horner etc; and more synth based composers like John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream. They are all masters of escapism.
KM: Tell me more about the process(es) you go through as you create new music.
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DB: I don't really have one process or formula for creating new music. One of my many starting points could be finding a great synth sound that sparks interest from a single note. Then I usually play around with some chord patterns and rhythms ‘til something feels good inside me. I always begin, remain and end with the idea that, "If this doesn't sound amazing to you then don't expect it to sound amazing to someone else".
I truly believe that if you aren't creating something to powerfully enhance the human experience then you are just adding noise and taking up sonic space in the world. I may not always accomplish this myself but I honestly attempt to make something magical every time I create a piece of music.
KM: What are some of the projects you're currently working on?
DB: I'm finishing up my second full length album which will be out this summer. It's taken about a year and a half in which I wrote/recorded about 25 songs that I eventually cut down to 12 or so. I’m always doing remixes for other artists and I'm also working on composing for a short film that will be out this year.
KM: Where do you want to take your music in the future?
DB: I want to take Droid Bishop as far as the the universe allows. Being able to tour around the world and create music that’s honest from my heart is one of the main goals in my life. I have big visions of live stage productions and would love to perform a show with an orchestra of some sort. I also want to compose for films and/or other story telling endeavors.
KM: What's your view on the current state of the synthwave scene?
DB: I guess that’s a tough question. I fell heavily in love with the synthwave scene and culture so I understand why it attracts a lot of people. I'm proud of the music that I and many others make, so I want it to be respected and pushed into as many ears as possible. That being said, I think there is too much music and too many artists out there. I mean that for any music scene/genre.
There are no gatekeepers any more so anyone can release music. Do we really need 1ten of the same sounding band/artist? We don't need 100 more "Yeah that’s pretty good. I think I like this" songs. We need "Holy shit! This is the best thing I've ever heard and I need to sit down" songs. I just don't think a lot of people are willing to push the envelope of what’s truly great. We are stuck in dangerous days where "mediocre, average, and good" have now been accepted as excellence. Like I said before, I can't say that I'm great, good, bad or horrible but I can say that I honestly strive to create powerful and moving music.
KM: How do you recharge your creative batteries?
DB: The process of making any sort of art can be very creatively and emotional draining. I go through many highs and lows during these times so it’s important for me to step back once in a while to regain strength and perspective. Sometimes it helps to take a step back. I like to go on long walks when I feel I've been beating a song to death and can't seem to solve one problem or another. Usually after walking about 20 minutes, I have come to some newfound resolution and can return to the lab with a fresh approach. I also play a lot of FIFA.