#Synthfam Interview: Andy Walker, The Alphabet Zero
The Alphabet Zero is a synthwave project from producer Andy Walker. His music combines the darkness of industrial music with the dreaminess of '80s synths. I talked to him about how he got started making music, his creative process and where he thinks the synth scene is going.
KM: How did The Alphabet Zero get started as a project?
Andy Walker: Originally The Alphabet Zero began as an outlet for some ambient/noise experimentation. My first two EP’s (available for free on my band camp) weren’t synthwave at all. Then I borrowed my friends Prophet 6 and wrote my first ambient synthwave song (If I Leave, What Will I Find?) and shortly afterwards started writing with Matt Pusti (Makeup and Vanity Set). He really got me into analog synthesis and around the same time, Stranger Things came out and I wrote Friends Don’t Lie for fun as a tribute to that first season and it just went from there
KM: What is the thinking behind the music you make?
AW: I want to capture an emotional moment in everything I write. The song Teenage Feeling off my new EP was written when I was really struggling with the in & outs of daily adult life with a job/kids and how I missed the emotional highs and lows of being a teenager, when ignorance and naîvety about love made it devastatingly exciting. With every song I write I want to capture a feeling like that, because none of us are alone in feeling these things, and I hope the songs make someone feel just a little less alone.
KM: Tell me about the thematic and musical elements that drew you towards wanting to create synth-based electronic music?
AW: All through high school I was really into industrial/EBM scene. I listened to tons of VNV Nation, KMFDM, early Apoptygma Berzerk, Front 242, etc. I got really into indie music in college and when M83’s album Saturday’s = Youth came out, I completely fell in love with the dreaminess of the synthesizers. As a producer, I’ve always loved including synths in production, as it brings infinite depth and options to production, so as I honed in on my voice as an artist, synthwave was a natural starting place, with a lot of the darkness of industrial but the dreaminess of the '80s vintage synths.
KM: How do you generally approach creating new music?
AW: Every song is different but it's usually finding the one sound that will help define the song and build from there. I’ll experiment with different synth vibes until I find the one arp, synth bass, lead line, etc that captures that emotion, and I just add from there.
KM: Tell me more about some of your recent musical endeavours of which you're most proud and why.
AW: I just released a new EP with several tracks that I collaborated on with Kellie Besch and Brad Beal. Brad played live drums with me at a show last year and has a killer voice so I was really happy to write a song that would work for him. The EP really focuses on a lot of universal feelings so I hope everyone can connect with the songs in their own unique way. I also recently scored a short film with Makeup and Vanity Set that is making the festival rounds right now. You can keep up with it here.
KM: What are your views on the state of the current retro/synth scene? A
W: I love how many great new and old artists are releasing vocal tracks. The more the scene can flirt with the mainstream like FM-84, The Midnight, Ollie Wride, Gunship, etc, the more new listeners we can bring to our synth family and bring attention to the hundreds of great smaller artists.