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#Synthfam Interview: Casino Kid

Author:

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

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Casino Kid describes himself as, "a DJ/music producer who loves the '80s, so synthwave music naturally drew me in from the first time I heard it." In an email, I asked him about how he got started making music, the approach he takes to creating new music and where he wants to take his music going forward.

Karl Magi: How did you first become passionate about wanting to create music?

Casino Kid: I started playing music in the 1990s in high school in a garage band. We did mostly metal and grunge covers. I gravitated toward bass guitar. I was never trained ― I learned to play by reading tabs and taking pointers from guitarists.

During college, I discovered Ableton Live, but I didn't start taking it seriously until about 2015. That's when my musical world opened up. I've worked in the program almost daily since then, and every day I feel I tap into more of its magic.

KM: Talk about the elements and ideas that attracted you to making synthwave.

CK: I instantly loved synthwave's aesthetic; the imagery, the sounds, the synths. I loved the idea that producers of today had been given a chance at creating a revisionist history of the 1980s. I have always thought the '80s was a prolific decade in terms of music, movies, art and fashion, I just didn't know that so many producers and electronic music fans felt the same way.

I didn't discover synthwave until 2017. I had been listening to Com Truise and Mitch Murder for years at that point, but it took me a while to connect the dots and realize they were part of a global retrowave scene.

KM: Who are your artistic inspirations?

CK: My artistic inspirations sprawl, so I'll stick to my influences in terms of synthwave. As I mentioned, I was relatively late to the game, first finding out about synthwave in 2017. Some of the first artists I was drawn to include Kavinsky, Lazerhawk, Arcade High and Miami Nights 1984 ― artists who, in my opinion, define much of the signature Outrun style I love.

As I dug deeper, I found out about more artists who have also been of profound importance, including: Zane Alexander, Stilz, Meteor, Morgan Willis, Jordan F, Juno Dreams and AWITW.

I also love darksynth music. I tend to go for more-obscure artists in this genre. I love Emmett Brown, Mr. Creep, KN1GHT, Lazer Lvst and Turbo Knight. I could see my music going toward this heavier style in the future.

KM: Tell me about how you create new music

CK: One hundred percent of my production is done in Ableton Live ― from songwriting to mastering, it's all done in Live. My creative process doesn't necessarily always start out the same. Sometimes I'll begin by writing the drums and bass. Sometimes I'll start by playing a chord progression, which may become the main harmony.

However, I do keep one thing consistent: I try to make production decisions that are true to the song ― I want to let a song evolve and unfold naturally. It can't be forced, because that shows through.

I also try to think about how my individual tracks will work in a DJ mix. For instance, I just put a new mini mix on Soundcloud ("Beyond the Neon Lights") that consists only of tracks I produced in Ableton Live. I used Traktor to mix the tracks live (and I'm not talking about mixing down; I'm talking about DJ mixing). I love mixing, and I'm meticulous about the tracks I select for a set, whether the set consists of my work, others' work or a combo of both.

As far as softsynths, I use a lot of the same standby VSTs as other producers ― specifically Korg Polysix, Xfer Serum and Arturia V Collection.

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KM: What are the current projects on which you're working?

CK: Right now I'm solely focusing on my main project as Casino Kid. But I'm very open to collaborating with other synthwave artists.

I'm currently working on a batch of about a dozen tracks, which I plan to release commercially within the next few months ― something I've never done before (all my music is currently free on Soundcloud). As I make this transition from amateur to professional ― from DJ to producer ― you'll see my Bandcamp and Spotify accounts launch. I hope to have my songs on all the main music apps by March.

KM: Where do you want to take your music going forward?

CK: The sky is the limit. I hope to continue to find my creative voice and develop a sound that is uniquely mine. That's not easy to do in the synthwave genre, but that's exactly what all the best artists do.

I hope to play more live DJ sets so I can get my foot in the door with the STL/Midwest synthwave scene. Then I would like to expand my live show by integrating live instrumentation. I recently purchased an analog synthesizer, which is one of the first steps in that direction. Playing synths onstage and incorporating hardware takes the live experience to another level, in my opinion.

KM: Give me your thoughts on the Twitter synthwave community.

The Twitter synthwave community seems pretty cool. I'm not the most active Twitter user you'll find, but I'm getting better. My experiences so far have been positive, and I've made some solid connections in less than a year there.

KM: What do you do to reinvigorate yourself creatively?

CK: Listen to music! Whether it's synthwave or something totally outside the genre.

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