Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!
Looney Jetman is a UK-based synthwave producer. He combines his deep passion for the music of the '80s with the new twist that synthwave puts on those classic sounds. In an email, we talked about his beginnings as a producer, how he approaches creating new music and his latest projects.
Karl Magi: How and why did you first become passionate about making music?
Looney Jetman: I was given a Casio VL-Tone synthesizer/calculator in the very early 1980's which I found fascinating. I believe that this was the same or, a very similar synth, to the one that the German band Trio used to create the rhythm for their single Da-Da-Da. Later in the '80s I got a Casio CZ with an on-board four track sequencer and began to build up some very basic arrangements, copying the chart music of the time. It grew from that point as I started buying more professional synthesizers, getting into computer sequencing, initially with an Atari ST and eventually into virtual instruments running on a PC.
KM: What were the elements and ideas that drew you to synthwave?
LJ: Of all the eras of music, I love the '80s the most. Synthwave takes many of the sounds of the '80s but twists them in ways that pop music in the '80s never did. I think that synthwave owes a great deal to video/computer game music from the era too. As a lifelong fan of gaming, that appeals to me greatly.
KM: Who are your artistic inspirations?
LJ: There are quite a few. From the '80s, I'm a fan of Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Nitzer Ebb, John Carpenter and Trevor Horn, among many others. A few of the current artists who I follow are Timecop1983, Chvrches and Emika. However, Jean Michel Jarre is probably the biggest single influence on my music. Equinoxe is possibly my favourite album of all-time.
KM: Walk me through your approach to creating new music.
LJ: I'll quite often start with a melody and then find some chords to fit it. As all of my recordings are instrumental I think that a strong melody is the most important element as it is what makes a tune memorable. Also modern recording tools can be overwhelming as you are able to run many instances of instruments. I like to try and limit myself to a couple of instruments and effects. H2O was influenced by Jean Michel Jarre's Oxygene and I limited myself to the same instruments that he had in his studio when recording that album.
KM: Tell me about some of the projects on which you're working currently?
LJ: After my last couple of remixes from my first album, I've been reworking one of my tracks from most recent album into a more synthwave-style arrangement. I've also just recorded a track which I believe will be my first release to feature vocals, once I find a vocalist to record them.
For both of these projects, I have also produced 'extended' mixes, which harkens back to the '80s when a 12" single would have an extended mix of the main track. Often these would feature much longer instrumental sections and I used to love those kinds of remixes. Sadly, they became a thing of the past when 'celebrity' remixes took over in the '90s. I am also starting to work on a third album, hopefully for release in 2020.
KM: Where would you like to take your music in the future?
LJ: I'd love to have the opportunity to play some of my music live.
KM: What are your thoughts on the #synthfam?
LJ: It's fantastic to have such a big group of like-minded people all pulling together. It can be difficult to get the attention of a modern music audience, even when we have such an easy path to releasing our music though streaming and digital distribution. There have been some fantastic playlists put together recently and promoted using the #synthfam hashtag and hopefully people will discover some brilliant new artists through them.
KM: How do you recharge your creative batteries?
LJ: I watch a lot of films, television not so much. I'm the guy sitting there in the cinema at the end of a film through the credits, just listening to the music.