Synthwave Sunday: An Interview with Faint Waves

While most people were just discovering synthwave, Daytona, Florida’s Faint Waves was already establishing his sound. The reason I bring up Florida is because you can FEEL Florida in the music, and I don’t mean the kitschy tourist trap Florida. I mean the sun, the waves, the warmth, the wind…it’s all there. It’s nigh impossible to not have your mood improved as you listen to his work.

Faint Waves has certainly carved out a unique niche in the world of synthwave. His blend of steel drums, harmonica, and soaring synths are like nothing you’ve ever heard before. More than that, he’s versatile enough to explore other styles while maintaining the overall feel of his work. For me, his works like Summer Singles or the Slippin’ Away EP are the sunshine in the soundtrack for so many great video games I played as a kid (a sea side town in Chrono Trigger…exploratory music on the map in Final Fantasy VI), but he’s not afraid to let the clouds cast shadows either. That’s where his experience shines through. No rookie mistakes here.

On albums like The Night Killer you see Faint Waves exploring the underbelly of synthwave. You’d be hard pressed to believe you’re listening to the same artist! That’s what makes exploring his discography so much fun. The variety you find and the level at which it is produced never fails to surprise. His Ocean Waves EP plays like a Giorgio Moroder disco-funk, synth setlist. Half the fun of listening to music is the journey one of your favorite artists takes with their art. If you haven’t figured it out already, Faint Waves has avoided the boring trail and chose to take the meandering, far more interesting path.

An exciting addition to our Synthwave Sunday post this week is a fantastic interview with Faint Waves! He gives some of the most insightful answers we’ve gotten to date and I’m excited to share it with you.

Echosynthetic: Who is Faint Waves?

Faint Waves: Faint Waves, while namely just a project of mine, is essentially the most *me* so to speak. My name is Justin and I started Faint Waves back in 2013. Of all the projects I’ve had/have, Faint Waves is the first and foremost and really the one that I’m probably most passionate about even today.

Echosynthetic: Tell us more about the tagline “Music in the key of the past, present, and future”.

Faint Waves: That slogan of mine occurred to me once I really started to get a better feel for what I was wanting to produce and what I wanted from this project. I was very much inspired by a lot vintage, retro influences but I also didn’t really want the project to be rooted solely in the past either. I wasn’t looking to retread any specific era of music and I more just wanted the freedom to explore sounds old, new, and everywhere in between. So, in that respect, Faint Waves is very much a product of both past and present, while also looking forward to whatever may be next. The “Music In The Key Of” part of that tag line is also directly inspired by the title of Stevie Wonder’s album, Songs In The Key Of Life.

Echosynthetic: What bands inspired you most growing up?

Faint Waves: Great question. Growing up I’d have to say Fleetwood Mac, The Bee Gees, Michael Jackson, Prince, Sting, The Police, Robert Plant, Billy Idol, Duran Duran, Hall & Oates, Phil Collins, a lot of that stuff probably had the biggest effect on the music I’d wind up making. That being said, I also grew up listening to a lot of stuff that my music doesn’t really reflect. I listened to a lot of Metallica, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice In Chains, Tool, Rage Against The Machine,  Soundgarden, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Boston, Van Halen, etc.

Echosynthetic: Why did you decide to go into music?

Faint Waves: Despite the fact that I’ve tackled many creative outlets in my life, music has always been one of my greatest interests. I was always passionate about music, more so than anyone else in my family or anyone else that I knew for that matter. It was something that I deeply cared about from a very early point in my life, so when I got a little older and it came time to figure out what I wanted out of my life and out of myself, it seemed only natural for me to turn to music. So I did and I never looked back. 

Echosynthetic: What is your recording setup?

Faint Waves: I’ve got a couple guitars and a midi keyboard lying around but other than that, this project is entirely computer based. I do everything in my DAW of choice and it’s served me very well for a few years now. I’m certainly not opposed to hardware of any kind and would absolutely love to incorporate more gear into this project down the road. In fact, funds permitting, that’s exactly what I intend to do.

Echosynthetic: Your music sounds like audio-sunshine. Tell us more about what goes into your music.

Faint Waves: I like that, that’s a good descriptor for what I’m going for with this project. Initially, I used to just experiment a lot and anything that really resonated with me regardless of sound, I would put out and that would be a Faint Waves release. Over time though, the project began to develop more of an identity and became about things that I really appreciate; summer, sunshine, tropical locales, worldly sounds, good vibes, etc. Those things are the driving force behind the music I make today. So, in committing to that, Faint Waves has sonically evolved a lot since it’s inception. The biggest change probably being what sounds and instruments I involve in the music. I like to take a sort of world music approach to what I make and try to incorporate as many different sounds from different genres as I can. If I had to narrow it down, you’d find that my music has a lot of African, Latin, and Caribbean elements as those are probably the most inspiring to me.

Echosynthetic: What would your dream collaboration be?

Faint Waves: Dream collaboration is one that’s changed a lot over the years. Right now, I think it would be amazing to work with the Pet Shop Boys. Their records, Please and Actually were both big inspirations for my next album. Another great dream collaboration would be with Client Liason, as their album, Diplomatic Immunity was also a big inspiration for the next release. 

Echosynthetic: What is life like outside of Faint Waves?

Faint Waves: I’ve faced some hard times in my life but I’m an optimistic guy and I’ve got a lot of different things going on at any given time, so I’m always working on something and trying to make the best of my present situation. At the end of the day, I just really want to enjoy my life, do what I love doing, be with people I love, and never stop living and learning. If I can do that, I will have succeeded.

Echosynthetic:  What does the future hold for you?

Faint Waves: I can’t speak for the distant future but for the near, I’d say a lot of new music and a lot of good times. I’ve got a new full length album coming out this summer called Foreign Affairs. It’s going to pick up where my last EP, “Slippin’ Away”, left off and is largely inspired by Synthpop, Vintage House, Balearic Beat, and again, World music. I’m very excited for it and very excited about 2017.

Echosynthetic: Desert island. You can only bring one movie, one book, and one album. What are they?

Faint Waves: Yeesh, that one’s pretty tough. I think for movie, it might be a toss up between Drive or Fight Club. Book? Probably “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band” by Motley Crue. Album would have to be Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.


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