Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Popcorn Kid is a synth/retrowave producer based in India. He creates music that roams and ranges widely across the synth landscape, exploring all of the diverse sounds that he enjoys. In an email, he told me about his start with synth-based music, how he approaches creativity and his Inception album.
Karl Magi: What first started you on the path to making music?
Popcorn Kid: Music runs in my family and my parents have been a huge influence on me. I’ve been doing music ever since I can remember. I’ve been a trained musician since my childhood, hence music has always been a part of my routine. Since I started learning music at a very young age, I was exposed to various genres. I was always fascinated and intrigued by the various elements that music had and how it had the capability of controlling one's emotions. Eventually, I started developing a lot of ideas of my own and wanted to showcase it to the world. Thus my path to making music began.
KM: Tell me about the musical elements and ideas that drew you to making retro synth-style music?
My parents were the ones to introduced me to ’80s and '90s music and I always had a liking for the same. My very first interaction with this genre was the '80s and '90s classics by Michael Jackson, Daft Punk, etc; Eventually, I discovered artists like Perturbator, The Midnight, Timecop 1983, Nina, and Miami Nights 1984 that are known for their '80s nostalgic vibe and fell more in love with the genre.
On trying to dig deeper, I came across Carpenter Brut, Dance With the Dead, We Are Magonia and Scandroid. They are currently my most preferred type of music when it comes to retrowave. The more I tried to understand the various types of artists in this scene, the better the artists that I discovered. My interest has changed from a mellow Saturday night vibe to a heavy kind of retro music ie: darksynth. I like and appreciate the vivid elements of this music and would like to try to incorporate something different and new in my upcoming albums.
KM: Who are your artistic influences?
PK: Honestly, there are a bunch of artists that are my influences. To name a few, for starters, there are the classics that were mentioned above. They have some kickass music that got me loving dark synth stuff. A lot of metal bands like Behemoth, Born Of Osiris, Dimmu Borgir, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Septic Flesh to name a few have also helped me with ideas.
Video games have also inspired me. Five Nights at Freddie’s (FNAF) being one of them. I’ve dedicated my song The Twisted One in my second album Inception to the game. I wouldn’t mention the rest as they're a part of my upcoming albums.
KM: Talk to me about how you go about creating new music.
PK: I don't usually work in one particular direction, like working towards an album. I just write whatever comes to me at that moment or what I feel like writing. Later on, I develop that particular idea. It is as simple as that. To be honest, my upcoming album is not going to be anywhere close to the previous two albums in the approach and overall sound.
KM: What were the ideas behind your Inception album and how did you go about producing it?
PK: As Popcorn Kid I wanted to make every album unique and distinct from each other. As I explored more of the global synthwave /retrowave scene, I came across various ideas. Upon discovering albums by Carpenter Brut, Dance With the Dead and We Are Magonia, I was very intrigued with their style of music and song compositions. It was a perfect blend of retrowave and metal, and this is how I was introduced to darksynth. I instantly went crazy with my ideas and knew what my second album would be. These three albums have been a major influence with regards to the way I worked around Inception. I thoroughly enjoyed working on this album as I could incorporate my love for metal as well as synthwave on it.
KM: Where do you want to take Popcorn Kid as a musical project going forward?
PK: As of now, my primary goal is to release as much material as possible and start playing gigs around the world. If my music is good and people genuinely like it, then everything else will fall in place.
KM: Give me your thoughts on the #synthfam and what it means to you.
PK: Currently, the world has been trying to adapt a lot from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. It's not only the music, but also other elements like fashion, slang and trends that are getting popularized again. I’m really glad that the current generation has a positive response and appreciates retro music and that there are a lot of artists globally advocating for the same.
The #synthfam has been growing rapidly however it's still not in the limelight. It hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. It has built a following in the Western countries. However, it's growth in India is rather slow and steady, nonetheless it’s still being appreciated here. I want to help popularize and create the trend here because most of them don’t know what they are missing out on. I’m currently in talks to take this life as I really want to increase the #synthfam's following.
KM: How do you recharge your creative batteries?
PK: I do not restrict myself to one particular genre. I am very open towards any form, type and style of music as it helps me extract the best elements within all of it. It also helps me to generate various crazy ideas that go beyond the horizon. The influence of various genres has surely helped me orchestrate something different in each album I’ve written so far. My vision for Popcorn Kid as a project was to have a different/ unique element in all of the material that I create and I believe that I’ve achieved that so far.