#Synthfam Interview: Diamond Ace
Diamond Ace is a synthwave producer and guitarist from Texas. He creates music that combines shifting emotional contrasts, synthpop/synthwave influences and his guitar work to create a unique sound that is both part of synthwave traditions and something that takes the sound in a unique direction.
In an email interview, he told me about how he got started in music, his approach to the creation of new music and where he has found musical inspiration as well as the origin story of his artist name.
KM: How did you first get into making music?
DA: I guess I have to start from the beginning. When I was just a kid (maybe five or six years old), my dad had me play with an old Casio keyboard he had at the time. I played around with some of the different demo songs on it. Over the years, I kinda got used to the feel of the piano especially Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."
I did that on and off for a few years until I got into the school band when I was in sixth grade, when I wrote my first song with a few friends of mine. After that I got interested in a few instruments and taught myself how to play them, mainly guitar, bass, and drums, and continued to contribute to various songs in the couple of bands that I was part of at the time.
I first got into seriously making my own music about five or six years ago when I found out about a free DAW (digital audio workstation) called LMMS, which I still (on very slight occasions) use to this day. When I heard Kavinsky’s Nightcall, Miam Nights 84’s Ocean Drive, and the Drive soundtrack, right then and there I knew I wanted to make stuff like that. It was a bit of a challenge though.
It took months for me to find my stride, which later ended up being a bunch of dreamy stuff, when I was still making music under Pansonics (a name that I’ve since stopped making music under once I came up with Diamond Ace). About two years into that I switched to FL Studio which is still my main choice for writing and producing.
KM: Tell me about the origins of Diamond Ace as a name.
DA: That one’s funny 'cause before Diamond Ace came about I used to make music as Pansonics. That name came after thinking about an electronics company that was pretty prevalent in the '80s, but I didn’t want to come across a lawsuit so I did the laziest thing possible: I just took out the a in Panasonic, added an s, and called it a day. However, when I first came up with what’s now the intro track for my second album, the working title for it was Diamond Ace! I loved that name so much I took it for myself, and later renamed the track! So lo and behold, Diamond Ace was born!
KM: Tell me about the elements and ideas that drew you into making synth-based music?
DA: Off the top, I can tell you about two of my earliest influences: those would be Miami Nights 1984, and Timecop1983, as I loved the lush sounds and melodies. After that, I got myself familiar with Giorgio Moroder and his style of Italo-disco, and integrated some elements of it into my early stuff but I hit a brick wall with that, so I decided to try to make something that aligned with what I was feeling at the time.
My feelings drive a lot of my music today,. From my second album It’s Not Me, It’s You up to the present day I’ve always gotten some form of idea based off of how I felt at the time of making the music. Whether it’s a breakup, nostalgia for the warm summer months, a bit of loneliness, or even just being excited about something, that’s been my main drive for years now.
KM: Who are your biggest artistic influences and inspirations?
DA: That’s a hard one, honestly! There’s such a wide range that I’m not sure I’d have enough time and space to explain them all! For my guitar playing, I feel like I’m a mix between David Gilmour, Eddie Van Halen, and Prince with a splash of U2 for good measure. As far as my synth sounds go, Timecop is a clear influence, while a lot of other elements of them spawn from all the different synthwave artists I’ve heard over the years.
KM: Talk to me about how you approach creating new music.
DA: As I stated before, it’s based on what I’m feeling at the time. If I come up with something that I like, then I’d try to at least get it to a point where I’m satisfied with it and fine tune it later on. When it comes to remixes I try to keep somewhat of the same feel of the original song, while putting my own little twist on it. Sometimes I’ll even ask myself how I would go about making a certain part of the song as if I made the song myself, and usually that helps as well.
KM: What are some of the current projects for you about which you're the most excited?
DA: I’ve got a Lazer & Lipstick song that I remixed that just came out today, and I’ve got another thing in the works with Retroglyphs. These songs do share some common elements, as I’ve decided to go with a more New-Wave-meets-synthpop approach to them. I’m excited because it’s unlike stuff I’ve done in the past, while sounding so much like me at the same time. I’m considering doing an album with that sort of vibe, but I’ll see what it is I can come up with!
KM: Where do you want to take your music into the future?
DA: Honestly, that’s a hard question too! I feel like my music has evolved a lot over the years, and I’m embracing the spot in synthpop that I’ve created for myself. However, I do want to take that a step further and continue to add new elements that would further progress my sound, which may or may not move me further, and I can’t help but to be excited about where the songs will take me!
KM: Give me your thoughts on the Twitter #synthfam and what it means to you.
DA: The #synthfam is like a huge support system to me! Granted, I’m not as involved with them as I should be, but I’m hoping that an opportunity arises that allows me to connect with them further. I’m a huge fan of a lot of the artists within the family, especially the likes of CZARINA, Millennium Falck, Kerys, Retroglyphs, and Sunesis (I’m still grateful for her collab!), so I’m extremely thankful to be a part of such a supportive and awesome group.
KM: How do you recharge yourself creatively?
DA: Knowing when to step back after a few songs or even an album’s been cranked out is a very important thing in my opinion! Otherwise, I’d dish out a bunch of stuff that sounds exactly the same and I know I couldn’t do that. Usually after I’m done with a couple of songs I’d take a break from making music entirely, and focus more on improving my guitar playing. But there are moments when inspiration strikes, and I can’t help but to lay the idea down before I forget it (which I tend to do a lot). That, and adding different synths, sounds, and settings to various songs help to make whatever song comes to mind sound fresh and a bit different in my opinion!