This week’s Synthwave Sunday focus is Vancouver’s 20SIX Hundred. This long established act has been putting out consistently brilliant work with no end in sight. While everyone else was discovering synthwave, 20SIX Hundred was cutting teeth, growing with each release and pushing his music and the genre forward. His latest, Phantasmagoric is another example of what is right with synthwave. It’s unique, has a sound like no other, and is immediately listenable. There’s no learning curve, or “It’ll grow on me” kind of moments…20SIX Hundred is the real deal.
As a bonus this week 20SIX Hundred agreed to talk to us about his music, where it’s headed, and where the inspiration for it all comes from.
Echosynthetic: For those who don’t know already, who is 20SIX Hundred?
26H: 20SIX Hundred is just some dude from Canada who really likes dark synth music. I also have a love for nostalgia and sci-fi and horror flicks form the 80’s. I made a few super low budget horror films and I scored them myself, and I figured hey, why not make more music like this? The scene was starting to catch on, so I decided to join in 2014.
Echosynthetic: Your music is synth heavy but it hits harder than traditional synthwave. How do you classify your music?
26H: I find it really difficult to classify my music. Labels are hard. I basically call myself a Dark Retro Synth artist. I like all kinds of music, and like to incorporate guitars, bass and real drums. I also like drone ambience and “space music” and try to pepper my music with those kinds of soundscapes.
Echosynthetic: Where do you draw inspiration when working on new music?
26H: I get a lot of inspiration from other artists, whether they are in the synthwave scene or not. I like finding new music or artists, even if they’ve been around a long time and are only new to me. I also just like sounds – whether I hear something unusual when I’m out for a walk, or discover something interesting while noodling around on a synth. If something sounds cool to me, I’ll build on it and turn it into a tune. I’m more interested in soundscape than melody, but rhythm and melody are still important.
Echosynthetic: Speaking of new music, do you have anything in the works for 2017?
26H: Right now, I’m gearing up for a live show or two, out here in Vancouver Canada. It will be small but exciting. I do have some ideas for something new this year. Perhaps toward the end of summer or the fall there will be a new 20SIX Hundred album.
Echosynthetic: What do you use in the studio?
26H: I started out with Reason many years, and still use it once in awhile, but I started using Logic Pro X in 2014, and haven’t looked back. Accompanied with a huge array of retro sounding VSTs, it’s my DAW of choice. I also use a Fender Strat and Bass, and my old school Pearl drum kit. But my newest baby is a Roland Jupiter-50, and I’ve just started messing around with a Theremin. I would love to learn how to play a Saxophone or Trumpet though.
Echosynthetic: What bands are you listening to right now?
26H: Believe it or not, I’ve been listening to music outside of the genre. Bands like Gliss, Io Echo, Nicole Atkins (I dig the ladies) In the scene, I’m all over Dance with the Dead, and all the other big ones. There’s just so much good stuff out there. You just gotta look for it, cuz it ain’t on the radio.
Echosynthetic: Why do you think physical media is making a comeback?
26H: I think it’s a number of different things. I’ve always dug vinyl records – ever since I was young. But today, I think people like tapes and records because it’s a bit of a novelty. It’s nostalgic and in the case of vinyl, you can stare at all that cool cover art. And tapes and records sound different. MP3’s are hollow and lifeless. Gimme some surface noise and tape compression, and I’m happy. Plus, people collect this stuff so why not?
Echosynthetic: Best live show you’ve ever been to?
26H: Best live show ever was Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) The Wall. Saw it 4 times.
Echosynthetic: Who does the artwork for your albums?
26H: Up until my last release, I did it all myself. I got Tommy Hutcherson (Mythical Vigilante) to whip me up a logo, and Tim Waves (Demetryus Guajara) did the cover for Phantasmagoric.
Echosynthetic: Your last album, Phantasmagoric has been out since July, what has the reception been like?
26H: My previous album had stronger sales and may have been a bit more accessible, but this one hasn’t been too bad. Although I think it may have gotten lost in a myriad of fantastic releases last summer. It’s a little different than previous releases – Oceanside ’85 lent her amazing vocals to 2 really strong tracks.
Echosynthetic: . How has your music changed since you first started?
26H: I’ve always enjoyed the darker stuff, but my first few releases were more “80’s” flavoured” and perhaps a bit more pop-oriented. I think I’ve broken away from that, but maintained that classic synth sound. I incorporated a bit more of a “symphonic” sound on a few tracks from Phantasmagoric. I keep wanting to go darker, while having one foot in “synthwave” and another in outer space.
Echosynthetic: Synthwave has one of the closest communities among fans and artists, why do you think that is?
26H: I think it’s so close knit because it’s not mainstream. The artists are fans and a lot of us literally make this stuff in out garages or bedrooms, and the artists are easily accessible. Plus, I’m pretty sure we all share a love of 80’s nostalgia, whether we lived through it or not.
I’d like to personally thank 20SIX Hundred for being so kind as to have an interview with us. His responses are really great and an opportunity to see what’s going on behind the scenes with one of the best in the business. If you’ve not listened to his music before, you’re in luck! He’s got an extensive catalog and it’s all available at his Bandcamp. There are even a few copies of Phantasmagoric on limited edition CD and limited edition cassette left!