Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!
Fighter Jets is a band that combines thoughtful, aware songwriting with synth-y sounds and a wide variety of different musical, artistic and cultural inspirations. In an email, we talked about the origins of the band, their musical sensibilities and their views on the synth-music community.
Karl Magi: How did Fighter Jets get its start as a project?
Fighter Jets: Fighter Jets is a band we created while playing house parties in grad-school in late 2015. We started the project in LA, and moved back to our hometown of San Francisco when we graduated. Now we are split pretty evenly between San Francisco and LA. We recorded our first two singles with our buddy in our dorm's apartment in 2016.
KM: Tell me about the musical and thematic elements that draw you towards making synthwave/synth-based music.
FJ: Although we are primarily an alternative/electro-rock/synth band, we are obviously huge fans of Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter, but overall have found inspiration in some of our favorite, favorite movies and bands. We love the intersection of music and cinema that Sam Esmail has done with the Mr. Robot series in recent years. Lately, we haven't even been listening to synth music, as our mood has shifted more toward Liam Gallagher's recent solo record, and the debut record from Sam Fender.
KM: Who are your artistic inspirations?
FJ: We also find in other areas of art/music/books and have also mentioned some of them in our lyrics. We love art from Basquiat, Banksy, and Lushsux and continue to incorporate that into our music. In our previous single They Used to Make Out (In That Parking Lot) we sing, "Painting some Basquiat!" For a while, we were also intrigued by streamer and gamer culture (although we joke now that streamers are CIA pawns meant to distract us from real issues). We recently shared some of our favorite books as backdrops to free Bandcamp codes we give away, and find daily inspiration in classics like On The Road, House of Leaves, 1984, Brave New World, old punk rock music zines, and the philosophy of Nietzsche. We really dig the cyberpunk and vaporwave photography movements as well.
KM: Talk me through your approach to creating new music.
FJ: When it comes to writing, we usually start off with having an inspiration in our heads and doing raw songwriting on piano & guitar first. We then move toward both our hardware and soft synths, and later mix and arrange in Pro Tools. We don't really have a procedural aspect of it, as we believe that music simply comes from the universe.
KM: What are the ideas behind Alone in Our Rooms and how did you go about producing that single?
FJ: Alone in Our Rooms is an anthem to those who are alone in their rooms and struggling to get through it all. When we sing about "The Outward", we are referring to a dark, outer world inside of us. It is a dichotomy. The cover art is the hallway in our Mom's house. Family photos on the walls and all. Those are literally the doors to our rooms on the cover art. We wanted it to be as real as possible. On the technicality side, the sounds originate from Linn Drum, TR-707, multiple Juno and Moog keyboards, DigDugDIY gear, and even some samples we made using our iPhone mics (which is unconventional to professional producers). We've been really excited that people have connected with it, and are humbled by the support it has received.
KM: Where do you want to take your music going forward?
FJ: We recently released our first official music video for our previous single They Used to Make Out (In That Parking Lot), with actual VHS archival footage from when we were kids that our director Kelvin McCabe edited together with live shots. We're currently working on our debut EP Not Being Dead Is Pretty Sweet, its main themes personally involve mortality, getting sober, having fun, and not giving a fuck. We are looking into releasing our debut EP on biodegradable flashdrives in order to try and mitigate environmental impacts. Other than that, working on having more tour dates in the books, and also moving toward producing other artists.
KM: Give me your thoughts on the Twitter #synthfam and what it means to you.
FJ: We've met some of our really good friends through the synthwave scene and are so thankful for it. There's a lot of good people in the scene that support each other. It's just kind of sad sometimes to see how there's always the capitalistic urge by powerful people in the industry to exploit something good and indie when they see profitability in it. We also aren't bound by one style or made-up genres. All we know is music is the universal language that the world needs right now.
With the state of technology, social media, and music industry issues such as streaming—people forget about the songwriting and artistic aspects of it. We are guilty of it sometimes too, when we get in holes where we only care about how our streaming numbers are. That is irrelevant in the long run. Some of the best music that has stood the test of time never considered how many plays the song would get on X streaming platform.