An Interview with U.K. Synthwave Producer Rogue Neon

Updated on April 26, 2019
KPM2017 profile image

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

Rogue Neon (John Michael Lowe) is a U.K.-based synthwave producer. He draws his musical inspiration from the cartoons, movies and video games of his childhood, but explains that he doesn't always "colour inside the lines" as he creates his unique blend of sounds.

In an email, he told me about why he first fell in love with synthwave, his latest album entitled Visitors and his view of the global synthwave scene.

Karl Magi: In general, what made you interested in creating music to begin with?

John Michael Lowe: Wow that's a big question. I was drawn to music from a young age, I loved cartoons and the theme songs that came with them, same with movies and video games. If a movie or game had an amazing soundtrack I'd get an old cassette player and record it straight off the TV and try to time it so I'd have a neat little mix tape for my Walkman when I was out riding my bike.

Nothing got my heart racing like discovering a new song and falling in love with it. I had all this inspiration but I didn't know how the hell to utilise it.

I took a leap when I was 18, my friend told me I could have his old acoustic guitar and I just didn't put it down. I have dyspraxia so my concentration and coordination isn't great but I was addicted.

I brought out the old tape recorder and started recording little ideas, and as I improved I got to join bands and learn from them about music theory and recording.

Talking to other musicians was the best thing I ever did because there is so much to know, and there's a lot of knowledge across all the numerous producers out there.

I still consider myself intermediate at best when it comes to creating music, but that's only cause I know so many people who are amazing at it, and I have to really exercise willpower and not bug them every day for advice or assistance.

KM: What are the elements and ideas that have especially attracted you to creating synthwave?

JML: As I've said I loved cartoons, video games and movies growing up, still do. Synthwave and retro rock is something I've always had somewhere inside me, I've dabbled in punk, indie and metal but there was always something missing. When I discovered the synthwave genre as a standalone field of music as opposed to revisiting old soundtracks I realised it was what I wanted to do. I might not always colour inside the lines so to speak but you can't just replicate if you want to create.

When I discovered the synthwave genre I fell down a rabbit hole. Like most people I'd played Hotline Miami and FarCry Blood Dragon and consequently discovered Perturbator and Power Glove, from there on I found Dance With The Dead, LeBrock, Carpenter Brut, The Midnight and before those days it was soundtracks from the likes of John Carpenter and Vince DiCola who gifted me with tons of inspiration.

KM: How do you go about creating new music?

JML: I sit down and I just put a simple beat down and then I do one of two things. Either I put a single note into a bass line and play a higher melody over the top to find a riff, or I put a chord progression down and pick up my guitar.

From there, I just instinctively go where I want to. Sometimes I'll love it and be unable to stop, sometimes nothing more comes and then I save it for another time. You never know what secrets might get uncovered later if you approach a project in a different mood or mindset.

KM: Tell me more about Visitors. What were the ideas behind the album and what was your overall musical approach to the album?

ML: When Stranger Things came out, most of us who grew up with ET and Stephen King movies saw the love letter being written right away. I got an idea for a "Kids on Bikes" movie or TV show but it was all about aliens rather than extra-dimensional creatures or masked killers.

It got split into two acts, I wanted to have the sci-fi action adventure motif of laser blasters, fighter pilots in space, but I also wanted to have the mysterious vibes that come with the "Kids on Bikes" genre.

I'd be lying if I said that the Stranger Things composers from SURVIVE hadn't inspired me a little, even though a few synth elitists will probably string me up for admitting it.

That being said, the Stranger Things soundtracks are masterpieces in my eyes, so I feel no guilt in admitting that I drew a lot of inspiration from them.

The more guitar driven action packed songs came from somewhere else, I'm not entirely sure where but they came to me very easily in a lot of ways.

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

JML: I'm already thinking about album three. Part of me would really like to do a heavy metal album with synth elements, think Mötley Crüe meets Europe.

Another part of me would like to go down the sunshine and happiness route that was present with quite a few tracks in my first album.

First of all, I think I need to learn some new techniques to further improve the quality of my releases. I'm a huge self-critic which is why I spent a lot longer than I should have done deliberating over releasing Visitors when I knew I probably couldn't improve the quality at this current stage in my mixing and mastering ability.

KM: Give me your take on where the synthwave scene is at globally?

JML: I think it's amazing how many people are doing synthwave, I think there's more organisation needed to really give the music a proper stage, especially for smaller artists.

I remember there used to be far more of a local scene for music in each town and city, and I've seen that diminish over time. But as long as we have pioneers like the Midnight, Perturbator and Dance With The Dead (to name but a few) I think it's alive and well and it's going to keep going.

KM: Where do you find creative inspiration when the well is running dry?

JML: If I'm not inspired I have to just stop, creating in cold blood is difficult for me and it's very unsatisfying. Sometimes I won't do any creating for weeks and I'll listen to other music. Then I'll find a hunger in me to make something and when I act on it I can usually make something I like. Primarily I write music that I'm going to enjoy listening to. It makes the mixing process a lot less painful.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, spinditty.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://spinditty.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)