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An Interview with Synthwave Artist HeartBeatHero


Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.


HeartBeatHero (Daniel Barton) is a synthwave producer based in the Netherlands. He takes his inspiration from a wide variety of sources and transforms it into sweeping, powerful synthwave tracks. Via email, we talked about how he got into making music, his creative process and his sources of inspiration.

Karl Magi: How did you first start making music?

Daniel Barton: My best friend had software that could make music. I went to his house and I loved watching him for hours making beats and melodies. It was so amazing how he could create music without instruments and a studio, just creating music in his own home. The computer had become the instrument and the studio.

About a year later, I saved up enough money to buy my first computer and I would create my own tracks, record them and listen to them while riding my bike going to and coming back from school. Then I would create more tracks. My friend always said I was a producing robot back then, creating up to three tracks a day.

KM: What drew you towards creating synthwave music?

DB: I started posting my music in 2010 on Soundcloud. It was mainly electronic, no synthwave yet.

A show called Synthetix Sundays by Marko Marix caught my attention. It introduced me to synthwave. Marko unfortunately stopped making the show and I started to listen to Beyond Synth with Andy Last and Future Drive Radio with Royston Charmaine. Just listening to these shows broadened my perspective on synthwave because you hear all the sub genres from dreamwave to darkwave. The movies Kung Fury and Drive introduced me to many synthwave artists.

After all this absorbing, I created my first track HeartBeatHero - The Delorean. It started gaining more traction than any other song I had produced. I finally found a niche genre where I fit in and the show I was listening to started to play my tracks. That was an awesome feeling.

KM: Who are the major artists that have influenced your music and why did they have such an impact?

DB: The Prodigy was the first act I fell in love with. Their use of samples and synths was amazing. Daft Punk came along and took it to another level. Waveshaper was probably the first synthwave artist that really fit what I liked about synthwave. He also uses some of the same synths Daft Punk used which brings a lot of nostalgia.

There is not a specific artist that influences me. It’s bits and pieces from what I hear currently on the internet and a combination of movie and game soundtracks from the ’80s.

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KM: Tell me about how you create new music.

DB: Mostly on the weekend I stay up late playing around with different sounds until something clicks. It’s a magical feeling. I build around that sound using beats and synths.That’s been the most effective way for me to create music.

Sometimes I have an idea. I work on it for a few hours and throw it back into a pile of tracks. I might re-listen to the track on a car ride months later and figure out a new melody or mood for the track.

It’s all very emotional. If i’m not in the mood then no sparks will fly. The inspiration mostly comes when I want to go to bed which means it’ll be another late night.

KM: What are some of the current projects that you have on the go?

DB: I am currently working on my new album and I am always working on remixes for and with people. I am always open to collaborations. So people should feel free to direct message me if they want to work together on Soundcloud or on my website.

KM: Where do you want to take your music in the future?

DB: My new album comes out on April 20th 2019. The day before Friday the 19th of April 2019 at 8 p.m. Central European Time I will be livestreaming the new album.

My previous album had a pretty slow tempo. The new album is varied in tempo. There are pop-culture references that are sprinkled through the album and i’m trying to balance the dark and light tracks more on this album.

KM: How do you think the synthwave scene is doing globally?

DB: I have no idea but my guess is that it is growing. I see more new artists creating music and you can see established synthwave artists are getting more recognition just by observing the numbers on Spotify and YouTube.

KM: How do you recharge your creative batteries?

DB: Sleep is number one. That’s when you figure out in the morning that your amazing track from last night isn’t amazing. Movies, music and games inspire me. Just fooling around with a synth can lead to a wonderful happy accident. Just keeping it al in balance is the best way to keep my creative batteries charged.

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