An Interview with Synthwave Duo Finally Some Action
Finally Some Action is a synthwave/retrowave duo from Iowa made up of Nalani Proctor and Dustin Neill. They create music inspired by the movies and video games of the 1980’s with Nalani Proctor’s unique vocals soaring over the synth-driven melodies and beats that underpin their songs.
Interview with Finally Some Action
Karl Magi: How did you first get into electronic music?
Dustin Neill: I’ve always been into it. I didn’t always make it, but I’ve definitely always been into it. I remember when I was younger, I got a Playstation game called MTV Music Generator, which was essentially a DAW (digital audio workstation), and you could make your own music with it. It was pretty neat, but extremely limited in its capabilities compared to what we have today. Of course, when I got older, I got myself a more “grown up” set up.
Nalani Proctor: I guess I first got into it through Dustin, but also by hearing some of the classic acts like Depeche Mode on the radio.
KM: What has drawn you towards making synthwave music?
DN: I would have to say I was drawn to synthwave’s approachability. Not everyone knows about it, but if you start playing it at a party or in your car with someone that isn’t familiar with it, it’s not long before they start asking you who the artist is or where they can download it. It’s also more in my wheelhouse writing-wise. I had always been a guitar guy, but I’ve always felt more freedom when writing synthwave tunes.
NP: Dustin again. What a lovely boy!
KM: Who are some of the artists who have influenced and inspired you?
DN: When I first came across the synthwave/retrowave genre, I was browsing around on Bandcamp and came across Mitch Murder. I instantly fell in love with his music and his style, so I pretty much downloaded everything of his that I could get my hands on. I got really into the genre and came across Le Cassette. They really blew my mind because they had a singer on almost all of their tracks and I hadn’t come across that yet. They are a huge inspiration for me, and I can’t say enough how perfect their album is, but I knew I wanted to make synthwave/retrowave music when I eventually found Gunship, which also has a front person singing vocals. That’s pretty much when I asked Nalani if she wanted to start the duo.
NP: I enjoy the singing of Regina Spektor, Mitski, Amanda Palmer, Daryl Palumbo, Robert Smith (The Cure), Björk and Feist. There's so many.
KM: Tell me about your creative process when it comes to making new music.
DN: If you look through the track listing and lyrical content on our latest full length album, the majority of the content is from ‘80s movies and maybe some video games! We’ve both been in so many kinds of bands from metal to punk to folk that with FSA, the creative process really does come freely, as clichéd as that sounds.
NP: The music sometimes just moves through me, if I'm writing on guitar, playing a chord progression and then allowing the lyrics to just come as naturally as the air moving around me. For FSA, it's been a lot of fun to just play off of what Dustin composes for the instrumental tracks.
KM: What’s your view on where synthwave/retrowave fits into modern electronic music?
DN: Maybe it’s still trying to find its place? We’re in Iowa, pretty much dead center in the United States, but surprisingly a lot of people that see us play live come up after our set, let us know they enjoyed it and then follow that up with, “I haven’t heard anything like that before!
When you go to either of the coasts, where it may be a little more saturated, you find that people aren’t scratching their heads trying to place you genre-wise. So I guess, really, what do we know? We’ve been playing with grindcore bands, noise bands, rock bands or basically anybody that wants to play with us. So far the reception has been pretty great. Hopefully one day we get a chance to play with more electronic acts.
NP: It still seems to be an underground movement that has gained traction in the past couple of years with the popularity of Outrun, thanks to artists like Kavinsky, and probably because a lot of indie video games used those tunes.
KM:What are you working on now that excites you?
DN: Right now we are working on a new 5 track EP which is pretty exciting. We released our last full length album on CD, cassette, floppy disk and even VHS. We were surprised to find out that people really like cassette releases. They sold out on our Bandcamp pretty quickly which was something that we didn’t anticipate at all. This time around we are really only focusing on putting the EP out on cassette and digitally, and making enough copies so that everyone can enjoy it.
NP: The new summer EP is gonna be a lot of fun. I'm also looking forward to recording a few covers for a Halloween EP.
KM: How do you both recharge your creative batteries?
DN: Step away. Turn off the computer. Unplug the keyboard and step away. So many artists are pumping out songs all the time in the genre, which is great, don’t get me wrong. I love it but if I were to have that kind of output, I feel the overall product would suffer. I would get in a rut and the music would suck, so stepping away is always a good thing for me.
NP: I paint, work out, and watch cooking shows and anime.