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An Interview with Synthwave Producer Off World

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Off World is an American synthwave producer. He creates cosmic soundscapes through his use of "lush, warm synth pads and screaming leads." I talked to him about how he got started in music, his approach to music production and his future plans as a music creator.

Karl Magi: How did you first become interested in making music?

Off World: As a kid, I was very active in my school’s bands. In middle school, I got a saxophone. I enjoyed playing it and played all the way through high school. My favorite music to play was jazz. I played in my high school’s jazz band, in which I played the baritone saxophone. It was during my high school band experience that I began thinking about making my own music. I enjoy playing music but I thought about creating something to call my own. So I did what every young music maker does, I downloaded a cracked version of FL Studio. I took my first steps towards writing and producing my own music.

KM: What are the elements that first drew you towards producing synthwave?

OW: When I first started creating music, I did not have a way to record sounds. I had to use what FL Studio came with. This left me with the stock samples and the synthesizers it had. I really enjoyed using the synthesizers and I wanted to know more about them, how to program them and make interesting sounds. This lead me to see how people used them. I was attracted to the sounds of the ‘80s and their use of synthesizers and drum machines to create that vibe. I wanted to make my synths sound like that.

At that same time, I discovered Miami Nights 1984 and I was blown away. I went down the rabbit hole and found synthwave. The driving basslines, the screaming synth leads, and the rhythm of the drum machine all with an 80s theme to it. The sonic palette of synthwave really appealed to me. I knew I found what music I wanted to make.

KM: Who are the artists that you've drawn inspiration from and why did they inspire you?

OW: Miami Nights 1984 - The first synthwave artist I have discovered. I fell in love with Turbulence and all the songs on that album. I enjoy the mood and the groove to them all especially Ocean Drive. This style of synthwave is definitely one of my biggest influences when I make a song.

Arcade Summer - I found Arcade Summer, a.k.a. the man, the mullet Brad Ritz, through the The Patchbay and their Synthwave Secrets video series. I look up to Brad Ritz as a mentor and teacher. His videos are very informative about synthwave with dashes of his humor. His resources packs are top notch and I use them in pretty much all of my songs since I got them. I have had conversations with him one on one and he is a pretty cool guy. I admire his work ethic in making his production crystal clear and clean, and I still have a lot to learn from him.

Mitch Murder - The level of production that Mitch Murder puts into his songs is insane. His drums, bassline, and synths just hit and hit hard. His songwriting is amazing as well. His grooves and rhythm inspire me, and I want to make sounds like that. I especially enjoy his album Interceptor.

OSC - I enjoy OSC’s uses and arrangement of old drum machine samples and synths to make a very funky groove. The way OSC writes songs reminds me of the 16-bit game era, like the Sega Genesis. That is what I really like about OSC’s music. It has a certain charm to it. I really like OSC’s Girls On Bikes EP.

FM-84 - FM-84’s Atlas is a quintessential in the synthwave scene. One of my favorite artists that uses vocals regularly. I thought about including vocals in one of my songs in the future, and if I do I will be looking at FM-84 for inspiration on how to do so. I enjoy the modern take on '80s pop with the work he does with Ollie Wride. FM-84’s style is unique and it is another heavy influence on me.

KM: How do you approach creating new music?

OW: It starts with a musical idea in my head. I sing that part out and try to translate that idea in my head into the DAW. I will start with the drums or the bass or sometimes the melody and just sing it out and really feel it. This is something I have learned from Brad Ritz in his Synthwave Secrets tutorials and this is the way I have found works for me. From those ideas, I put them together and I construct the song. That’s how I start a song and from there, it can evolve as I work on it and go in any direction as the ideas play out in my head.

KM: What are your future plans for your music?

OW: I want to release an album. That is my end goal. I have been busy with school and work so sometimes I take long breaks from music. But I will never give up this passion of mine. I still have a lot to learn about making music with things like songwriting and production. With each song I get a little better. I have a few projects in the works that I need to finish up and release, so you have that to look forward to and that eventual album I will release when I feel I am ready.

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

OW: The synthwave scene is doing very well lately. Many new releases and new artists are always coming out. The scene has really grown and branched out into many sub-genres. Many artist releases their music on vinyl or cassette which has lead to collector communities around synthwave. I have always enjoyed listening to music from a physical media. I think the best part of it is that some artists have gone on tour. I have seen FM-84 and The Midnight in concert, and it is always nice to enjoy the music you love live in concert. The scene has definitely grown and shows no signs of stopping. I am just glad to be a part of it.

KM: What are the things you do to recharge your creative batteries?

OW: I enjoy listening to other synthwave artists as well as ‘80s pop/rock music, watching movies, playing video games, and reading books. I also enjoy building simple DIY synthesizers and doing small electronics projects.

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