An Interview with Synthwave Producer Magnavolt
Magnavolt is a synthwave producer from Sweden. He started out producing dreamwave, but his music is now moving into the darker, heavier, more brooding end of the synth spectrum. I talked to him about his start in music, why he's into producing synthwave and his creative process for new tracks.
Karl Magi: What made you want to start creating music to begin with?
Magnavolt: I have to go back in time to when I was a little kid. My parents loved the '80s and still love the '80s. My father especially is a really big fan of Italo disco music from the '80s. My parents were always listening to music. You know, when you're a little kid, these things really stick in your head. My father taught me about the basics of sound design like high frequences, low frequences and more. Move ahead to 2014 and I was still a fan of the '80s. My friend sent me a YouTube clip of the band Le Cassette. When I listened to the music, I realized that I wanted to make synthwave. It was a really special day because I saw my future and this is how it started.
I didn’t have much money to even buy a MIDI keyboard or new speakers. I was working part time and studying in the same time. My budget was really low. I couldn’t play piano, so what I did was from 2014 to 2016 I learned how to play piano by only using my PC mouse and regular PC keyboard.
KM: Tell me about the elements within the music that attract you so strongly to creating synthwave?
MV: It's the sound of it because, when I was a little kid, I loved '80s movies and retro video games. I was always a big fan of the sound, the brass and the huge basslines and it just drove me to want to make music like that. It is just so cool!
KM: Who are the artists who inspire you creatively and why?
MV: There were lots of artists but the main band that inspired me was Le Casette. They have a really special sound and when you listen to their music, it really feels like it wasn't created in 2014 but instead in 1984/85. That's why they're so good and why I fell in love with their album. I also like artists like POWER GLOVE, Perturbator and Lazerhawk. They’re all darker synthwave producers.
KM: How do you approach the creation of new music?
MV: When I create new tracks, I usually go back to the movies I watched and pick up those sounds. I was a big fan of the soundtracks with almost every '80s movie. It's not easy because there are so many repetitive patterns that everyone's using, so it takes me a long time to create a really special melody. During production, I try not to go outside too often. I like to sit in my studio in the darkness. It really helps me a lot to focus epecially when I produce darker synthwave.
KM: Tell me more about your Artificial album?
MV: This album is available on all platforms. Last year, I met Chris who's the main member of North Innsbruck. We became friends and worked together on a track called Yumi 5. He didn't realize that this track was written for him and his girlfriend (because her name is Yumi) to wish them a happy future. This track is like a gift from me to him. We made one track together and we just started planning to do an album. He was happier about it than I was! It's an album about friendship basically.
KM: Where would you like to go with your musical endeavors in the future?
MV: The synthwave scene is becoming more and more huge every day. There's so many artists and it's very hard to make something that get attention form people. I'm planning to experirment more with synthwave like I did on Artificial. There are a few tracks that are way different from anything that other performers are doing. I even wrote one track with a rap artist who did the vocals. This is something that almost no one in the synthwave community has done. I really liked the way it turned out!
I'm not a big fan of dreamwave music but this what I was doing in past years because I saw that people were more into chill music. I'm into more aggressive music. Artificial is like a gap between the old me and the new me. I'm going to focus on my new sound and darker tones in the future.
KM: What are your thoughts about the global synthwave scene?
MV: For example, when I go through Spotify playlists and I don't even look at the artist's names, every track sounds quite similar. A lot of the tracks sound like people trying to copy other artists like Timecop1983 or the Midnight. It's really toguh to make something really different because it's also scary. You can lose your fans if you make something different, but I want to make synthwave for the new generation while still keeping the same vibe for the older generation. Synthwave needs this right now. The idea came from the Midnight because that band can really speak to teenagers as well as the '80s music guys.
KM: What recharges your creative batteries?
MV: I watch a lot of movies, sometimes I play video games. I like to spend time outside and spend time with my friends. I do a lot of regular stuff but I think that movies really charge my batteries fully.