Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Rich Blacker and Matt Burnside together make up the band The Ocean Beneath. They describe their music as, "an '80s inspired mixture of powerful analogue synthesis, melodic sweeping vocals and huge grooving percussion." In an email, Rich told me how The Ocean Beneath started, their approach to making music and their views on the #synthfam.
Karl Magi: Tell me about how The Ocean Beneath got started as a project?
Rich Blacker: The Ocean Beneath really started life as a production project. We were both learning how to produce different styles of music and record bands as something we always had huge interest in. After a couple of conversations over some '80s tracks and our influences it seemed really natural to start working together and pooling our resources. Going in to our debut EP we had such a clear understanding of what we wanted it to be that the songs almost wrote themselves when we got into a room.
KM: What were the elements and ideas that drew you (both) towards making synth-based music?
RB: Synthesizers really were the only way we would could achieve the sounds we had in our heads for The Ocean Beneath. Everything about analogue synthesizers was intriguing, from the warm tones to the ways in which people modify the circuits to create completely new sounds. We had both played some synthesizers before but going in to this was a brand new challenge, a big change to the tools we were using.
KM: Who are (both of) your artistic influences?
RB: Our influences range massively, '60s prog rock through to modern trap music and everything in between. This is probably the most important thing to us, keeping the influences varied with nothing off limits. From the whole synthwave scene, we love bands like Gunship and FM-84 but that's such a small part for us, we grew up with Talk Talk and Gary Numan. Currently we're massively in to HVOB, Kiasmos, Bob Moses and Fink! check them out.
KM: Talk to me about how you go about creating new music in The Ocean Beneath?
RB: Creating new music for us always starts with one small idea that we usually let grow very naturally over time. This can be synth lines, guitar riffs, bass lines or just a rhythm. Usually we pass these ideas back and forth and add bits here and there some times taking it in new directions and where the song naturally wants to go, we send huge emails with loads of detail, it's amazing how you can describe sound and music with words and see how it's picked up by someone else.
KM: Tell me more about your debut EP. What were the ideas behind it and how did you go about producing it?
RB: We spent two years crafting the debut EP, lots of very small ideas but a big picture of what it needed to be, from getting Nath involved and producing it in the way we did we gave everything the time and attention we felt it deserved. Most of the production and ideas were born and done in our home studios but then we took these further by getting Nath Jackson involved with lyric writing, additional melodies and vocals.
We then paired this with the production of a good friend and producer Grant Henderson at Loom Studio. Grant grew up around the whole DJ scene and knew how to give our tracks this huge sound that could get people moving. Big shout out here to Katie Tavini as well who mastered the record, this is such a fine art and she did an amazing job for us.
KM: Where do you want to take The Ocean Beneath in the future?
RB: Right now we're working on some more collaborations, we have music that's almost finished and some brand new tracks that we just started but one things for sure and that's we won't be slowing down now. There's some new house elements sneaking in, more analogue synthesizers and hopefully a lot more to surprise people.
Give me your thoughts on the #synthfam and what it means to you.
It's funny how hash tags on Twitter have grown in to communities now. The whole #Synthfam community just gets along, we curate a playlist each month #themonthlyshuffle and most of our submissions come from the community. The people are always willing to help and everyone gets involved, this can be conversations when people get down or sick to advise on plugins and synthesizers, it feels good to be a part of it and have so many people in the community embracing our music.