Synthwave Sunday: An Interview with the DREDDD

It’s not very often that a new artist hits the scene with a splash as big as Dreddd. I’m going to be honest, when my friend over at Watermelon Banzai suggested I give him a listen, I thought Dreddd had been around but I’d somehow missed him. Once I started digging I realized his first release, I Am Dreddd, hit Bandcamp in April. What we have is a new, hot artist that has had three major releases in that span plus a big collaboration with FacexHugger coming soon!

Before we get into the interview, let’s take a look at what Dreddd has on offer right now over at Bandcamp!

First and foremost, I’ve teamed up with Dreddd and he is offering a FREE sampler of his music today! Head over to Bandcamp and snag this for the amazingly low price while you can (but it doesn’t hurt to throw a buck or two his way…this is top notch stuff you’re getting.

In his debut, I Am Dreddd, it becomes obvious that we’re dealing with a talented artist. It’s also obvious that this isn’t your daddy’s synthwave. Dreddd is pumping out dark material without sounding like someone else, which can be tricky, especially for new acts. There’s also versatility…tracks like Red in the Sky and Block Mania hit you in the chest with heavy beats, but they’re followed by Blooddd Bath (with well layered harmonies, ominous to be sure, but so well written) and LA River (an outrun track at heart with a soaring synth score) that show he’s no one trick pony. By the mid-point of the album you find Sneaking Mission (Metal Gear samples?!? Yes, please!) and Moving (oh man, the piano in this track….epic) that keep from settling on any one sound as Dreddd continues to show his diverse writing skills. Disconnected goes straight for the kill as we descend toward the end of the record. I hope you like your synths with a large serving of dark and heavy beats! Demon Parade maintains the darkness with its spartan feel and echoing synths. Dystopian Future City is a mixture of dark and light, with ethereal piano work playing its way across a bleak and, as the title implies, dystopian score. Emotion closes the show with an almost hip-hop feel. Heavy bass, a hypnotic hook, and echoing percussion keep your head moving to the last note.

Don’t come up for air yet, because we’re just getting started. EP2 begins with one of the best synthwave tracks I’ve covered all year. Omega Beam is one hell of an album starter, and that’s not even close to giving it enough credit. It’s dark, it’s mean, and it has one of the all time great hooks. Always Forgetting You lifts us out of the abyss with an uptempo, high energy score. Bloodsport is a track that sounds like it was layered with danger around each corner. Every drum beat, deep bass tone, and synth key sounds like it’s poised to strike. Lawmaster continues the beatdown with a steady beat, heavy synths, and a piano track that is tinged with sadness. Disappointment is a bit of mysterious track because the title might tempt you assume it was a dark track…on the contrary, it’s one of the most upbeat and uptempo tracks in the Dreddd discography. It has a great hook and allows some time to enjoy the sunlight for a bit. It’s well placed near the middle of the album as well! Bloom brings us our first taste of outrun on this album, with a fast beat, soaring synths, and a dark bass chasing the rest down the road. Beach Bum feels like it could be a Hotline Miami prequel track where we get the story of one of the poor bums that bite the dust in that game. Like I Said ends EP2 on a positive note, it’s upbeat but slightly discordant tones soaring over a head moving beat.

Alright! We’ve made it to Chapter 3, where Howl opens up the doors and beckons us to dive deeper into the darkness we’ve found ourselves in. Cyberpunk Bath is one of the most atmospheric tracks I’ve encountered in Dreddd’s arsenal of tunes. It maintains a heavy back beat, but there’s a lot going on here at the higher registers. Dream Warrior has an optimistic heart, despite the obvious dark overtones. A hope is there…that the light is attainable, but something tells me it’s going to be slightly out of reach. Dream On continues the atmpospheric feel of Chapter 3. Layer-wise there’s a lot more depth to this album, an obvious evolution in the songwriting of Dreddd over the releases. Forgotten feels like the title suggests, a kind of out of sorts manic mood. It’s fast paced, wild, and has a lot of layers working with one another despite the fact that chaos abounds. Comfortable lulls you in with a slowjam feel, and is as close as you’re going to get to a ballad. Rockstar, ironically, feels much more like a trance or ambient song than the title would lead you to believe. That’s something I’ve noticed with Dreddd’s work though. You can’t always go by the title of the song…he’s challenging your expectations and meeting you with something different. What’s it Like in the Future brings back the heat with a well layered lower end, bass beats that demand body movement, and a mid-point break down that will have you bopping your head for sure. Neon Lights is a slow build track that relies on a super hooky back beat as the basis for everything else layered on top of it. It has a haunting feel that sticks with you as you proceed forward. House closes out Chapter 3 much like the previous two albums, with an amazing beat that gets you moving. It also shows Dreddd experimenting with multiple genres of sound while letting the listener know he’s got the chops to do it.

Now that we’ve explored the music, let’s explore the artist behind it! Without any further delay, I present to you our interview with Dreddd:

For those who don’t know already, who is Dreddd?

Dreddd is me and I am DREDDD…I guess it’s the embodiment of fear and to try and just live the best I can. I am…hmm its funny how that is a tough one, Like you know what you are but don’t know how to explain. I’m not one of those “I like darkness types” to make myself feel cool, haha, like “ooo look blood and bad words aren’t I cool.” I’d like to think more of energy, aggressive energy as a means to an outlet, people need to be able to let out that energy somehow and I’d rather it be in a positive manner…like watching a Jackie Chan movie and you kick the theater door you’re so pumped, haha.

You obviously have musical talent. What is your background?

HA! I’ll take that as a compliment! I don’t think I’m talented, ya know, it keeps me from getting a big head and losing my edge. You should always be hungry…it creates great art, BUT I’ll take it as a compliment, haha, For the most part I started in music around 2005/2006 playing guitar. I love Nine Inch Nails, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Korn, Slipknot (which is crazy that Corey Taylor follows me on Twitter…He’s a really chill dude in person), and the Deftones. I wanted to start a band, but let me tell you, finding a drummer ain’t easy. I used to write all these heavy songs on My Ibanez Rg7321 and just hope that I’d make it one day. I ended up starting a hardcore band with my best friend at the time, and they low key kicked me out of the band, so it kinda soured that dream for a bit in 2007. Then, after many years of playing video games, around 2014 I started messing around on the computer making terrible music, haha. By 2015 I got really serious with it and started producing hip hop and trap type music, getting sales where ever I could under my page Ward On the Beat, but I didn’t really like how cold and cut throat that scene was. I kinda hated that I’d make 40 beats a month and get like 20 plays and 2 likes, it can really kill ya know, but it was a great learning experience.

What got you started in synthwave?

Well I always loved that type of music, you know it was always in the background of my favorite movies…The Thing, Terminator, and pretty much any 80’s movie you can think of (I have a really funny story about how I first watched Terminator…I used to sneak watching movies as a kid and put on Brave Little Toaster from a VHS we had. At the very end of Brave Little Toaster, all of a sudden the opening for the Terminator started…trust me I can tell you my tiny mind was blown away by that movie at 3 in the morning after watching it). It wasn’t until I saw Bronson that I was reminded of it, there’s a track by Glass Candy during the credits that just reminded me of that style of sound. It was further heightened when DRIVE came out and Hotline Miami’s track By M.O.O.N called Dust! Not to mention Far Cry: Blood Drago…it has the most killer sound track! I love Power Glove…I didn’t even think synthwave was a thing when I kept listening to them on drives to LA at 3am (which is a beautiful way to experience the city…all the streets are empty, all green lights, and you can see the whole place in a half an hour) then I stumbled on to New Retro Wave. At that point I just started loving synthwave more and more, more so than what I was forcing myself to make for people that didn’t appreciate the music. So I just flipped a switch and said I want to be a synthwave artist. I know I can do something people will love, and help grow the community in a positive way! It almost called to me in the same way metal did, the community is great, the flair and the style is great! It’s everything I’ve wanted since I started back in 2006, I just didn’t know I wanted it yet.

Your music leans toward the dark side of things. What are your influences?

Power Glove every time! I listen to them every time before I start a track and just go for it! I love metal and hardcore so I try and draw from that, but I look at what’s new in the scene and just get inspired, but honestly Power Glove and most of whatever New Retro Wave posts up. I do like happier sounding music…like my tracks: Moving, City Of The Damned, Facelessness of Justice, Emotion, Always Forgetting You, & Disappointment. It’s all about the Arc of the album. I guess every now and again I like to mix it up. I would call a lot of my songs more emotional than dark, kind of moody, haha. Some of them are more hopeful and heroic, while others are kind of meant to be inspiring. I always try and create melodies that just suck you in, but it’s hard to keep track of when you make so many songs as I did making 3 EPs worth of music in one month. All March! Kind of a bad habit from producing rap music, I guess. Always gotta keep fresh and on the ball, cause there will always be someone better than you, OR someone hungry looking to be better than you, so you just gotta go go go, lol ( Tom Cruise voice)

You’re currently working on a collaboration with FacexHugger. Can you tell us anything about that?

That’s CLASSIFIED…who told you about that? Just kidding! Well, it all started ironically around Alien day (get it, face hugger..Alien Day ahhhh funny). I had just made a track for Alien Day (exclusively on Bandcamp) after putting out my EPs, and I had asked if he’d be interested in working together on an album. I had come up with the idea of doing a horror themed album, with cinematic tracks, and stuff you’d find in a horror movie, but after a couple tracks I realized people don’t like being scared or depressed feeling all the time. We agreed to make it kind of a hybrid with thumping synthwave tracks and cinematics combined…it’s suppose to have skits in it as well but haven’t gotten that far haha, We both agreed on doing around 7 tracks each at first, but because we were making so many tracks so fast, we upped it to 10 each, so its gonna be a monolith of a record. I just put out a trailer for the album on YouTube and I’ve got this awesome speed painter that does 80’s inspired art (named DrisSkull thanks buddy ) to do the art. I haven’t seen it yet BUT I’ve seen some concepts and told him to draw from Friday the 13th Part 2 and Nightmare on Elm Street mixed with DOOM ’93. I mean it is a VS album so we really wanted it to be something of a summer blockbuster release. So far its going good. FacexHugger is a great artist and I feel really fortunate to be working with him on this…I REALLY hope we can do a live show for everyone to just get the whole VS vibe and go crazy. I’ve made over 1000 tracks and the stuff I’m doing for this album feels like some of the best stuff I’ve EVER made. FacexHugger really has been bringing the fire, but he’s going down…and I’m gonna be the one to take him down.

What do you use to record?

I just use a DAW on PC (or digital audio workstation). I don’t have room or the money to use a bunch of vintage synths, especially when we live in an age with so many free VST’s that emulate a lot of the old school instruments. I love it, we really live in the best time to be making music! The way I do it is convenient and it doesn’t really take up space when all I use is my mouse and keyboard. I can play guitar and mess around on piano but I find it quicker to just throw it all together, and mix a song in my DAW.

When you aren’t making music, what do you do for fun?

Whatever I can. I mostly play games or hang out with my love, go for drives, take long walks on the beach…’s starting to sound like a profile on a dating website! Haha, I do love to watch movies go on and read COMIC books, I’m more partial to DC than Marvel, and I used to love Spawn but they messed it up changing the art style in 07. Gregg Capullo and Scott Snyder’s Run on the Batman New 52…hands down one of the best page turners I’ve ever read! I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of the first issues 1st print which keeps jumping in price so…that’s cool, oh and watch NBA, all of it…I have a favorite team (cough) Boston, but I just love basketball, I feel like Lebron is this generations Michael Jordan (is it weird I wrote Jackson? Then backspaced) so it’s amazing to watch! Hands down though Isaiah Thomas is my favorite to watch…I mean the dude is 5’9” and goes over 7ft people like nothing! It’s very inspiring to never give up on your dream, no matter what doubters say…even if they think you can’t, if you believe, that’s all that matters!

Guilty pleasure song?

OK, so a guilty pleasure song I like to listen to when I have a drink is Kurupt – Moonrock 3.0 and What’s My Name by Snoop Dogg. I listen to anything really…I love music, but if I had to just pick 1 it would be tough! Synthwave, I love Power Glove, so Trials of the Blood Dragon. As you can see I have many guilty pleasures lol

It’s a much discussed fantasy battle…who would win? Judge Dredd or The Punisher?

Oooo that’s tough! See, the thing is, Judge Dredd is such a badass and the Punisher wears white gogo boots. Nothing against Frank Castle, I know he’s a Marine and served 3 tours in Vietnam, but Judge Dredd is a street judge clone patrolling the streets of Mega City 1 with over 4 million people living one city. I mean that’s a lot of justice needing to be served. Plus I don’t like the fact that in 2004 when the movie came out every bro was wearing that stupid skull shirt…it still haunts me haha

What does the rest of the year hold for Dreddd?

Well, just keep making music! I wanna make album after album ’til I’m recognized as one of the greats! Maybe add some vocals to tracks and make music videos for them! And finally build a damn PC for gaming again! I’d love to get some shows under my belt and give people something crazy to see live! My music goes hard and whenever I play a show expect me to go hard as well! But man to quote the Terminator: “I need a veecation” lol

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or shout out?

First my best friend and girl, Sweets 😉 , FacexHugger…Thank you! Thank You! I’m so glad we’re dropping some straight fire soon! But you’re still going down bruh, lol. Square Wave, Electric Runner, DrisSkull, Ethereal Delusions for constantly being on the grind…just work work work, Sunset Warrior, Dungeons Mag. Watermelon Banzai for being the very first person to write a review of my music and making me believe it could be possible to go that extra bit (thank you!), Hexenkraft, Power Glove for being my constant inspiration, The Midnight for reaching out and inspiring, FM-84 for showing people what this music is about, UnholyRatKing for always being there, NewRetroWave, maybe one day I will be there thanks to you, but thank you for all you do currently, And you! Echosynthetic thanks for all the work you do in this community! Working day and night on this site of yours just to bring people closer! And for giving me a chance! Trust me, you will not regret it no matter if I become the biggest star ever, I’m still coming back for you! And last but not least, all the fans…I am nothing without you!

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