In an effort to shed more light on to what goes into making great electronic music I’ve decided to start looking at the nuts and bolts side of things. I started with my interview with Jon Thomson of Ethereal Delusions about his work mastering under the name of Delusional Mastering. Now we’re really deep diving with a feature interview with Gary Falcon Lang, creator of The Patchbay, one of the best resources of soundware, samples, and graphics on the internet.
This whole interview is fascinating for me because it has been a big learning experience. I’m fairly well entrenched on the writing side of synthwave and synth based music in general, but the audio production and graphic design side of the business remains a mysterious entity out there for me. I suspect that there are a lot of people out there that are going to gain a whole lot of insight from this interview, or maybe they didn’t know such a big resource was out there.
I want to thank Gary for one of the coolest interviews I’ve done. Like I said, this was a big learning experience for me and I hope that my readers find it just as interesting! Without further delay, let’s explore The Patchbay with Gary Falcon Lang:
For those that don’t know, what is The Patchbay?
The Patchbay is a digital delivery platform I created in order to facilitate more success for the contributor, but most importantly, it allows them to be in complete control. That’s always been the main goal, to help people grow without being hindered, they get to shape how things happen. They are not told what to do or how to do it. All I ever want is for people to do well and grow. I think that’s really important.
It’s egalitarian in nature, it’s essentially built in a way that everyone has an equal chance and the same set of tools as everyone else.
It’s a portal to connect with artists, designers, teachers, anyone who selflessly, projects content and services that offer value.
What was the inspiration behind the site?
Back in 2011, I was a sound designer and was picked up by a site I won’t mention. I made a pack and sold it, they were very vague about everything. I got 50%. They put it on their site and also another, of which they acted like a separate label on the second site so I actually got 25% from that one, turned out they were both owned by the same guy. I know right? Point is I never really knew what I actually even made. All I knew in the end is I’d been lied to, and he took 75%.
I had an idea that I wanted to create a fair market, one that wasn’t opportunistic, one that was incredibly fair and was as transparent as it could possibly be. I promised to be at the forefront of service and the most positive experience possible for everyone.
The Patchbay is completely automated, and everything is in real time, so all the sales people make, they can see it, they get notified, they get paid.
I wanted something people would bookmark, or grow to love in general.
I knew I wanted to do something, but I wanted to innovate not imitate…3 years later I came up with the name in bed one night while listening to those soothing audio files with the boats and the sounds of the ocean. The rest, is history.
The content is user generated. How does that work?
All the content is purely user submitted. You can sign up and pass verification and submit content and start earning there. It’s that simple really. I guess the more content that’s added, the more the site grows as a whole. Once you’re in it’s literally fair game. Tools are being developed all the time, so there’s more to play with. There’s the ability to add your own categories, attributes and options so you actually have your own store within a store essentially. Your own profile, banner, social links, avatar. Basically your own little ecosystem.
What are the most popular things people look for?
I can tell you what the most popular synth is, Tal u no lx haha. I dunno, it just flies off the shelf! People often buy the most retro sounding content, as I think it is something most people seem to struggle recreating. I guess once they gain access they accrue more knowledge. Some of the most asked for content is drum material and MIDI data, sadly there could be more.
How has the site grown/changed since it started?
It started off as the most embarrassing looking website. It looked like absolute trash haha. It was incredibly primitive for what it was. It could always look better but its something that’s grown into a well oiled synthetic machine. As the orders came in and fans started supporting the idea, and artists started joining to sell, I was able to develop it to such an extent. It’s so incredibly complex now that I often stare longingly into the pink abyss of my screen in the back end. But seriously, I think as perfectionist, I don’t think I will ever be happy with it.
I don’t think development will ever stop, it’s too addictive and I think everyone who supports it deserves a better experience.
What is the main goal behind The Patchbay?
The literal goal is to build a platform that selflessly encourages growth, always has been and always will be. To offer complete and utter control, develop more ways to engage fans, to essentially create a career. Build on projects people have. Improve.
What do you do when you aren’t busy with the site?
Are you implying I have a life? Haha. Mostly I’m either working my day job selling technology, or I’m watching existential videos on Youtube. Other than that, this is my life. I think its important to have something to work on or towards, otherwise life gets far too complicated far too quickly. I also play Rust an awful lot. I find solace in being in total control of the outcome, yet so powerless.
Where do you see synthwave headed?
Interesting question…I’ve been watching it develop for the past few years. There’s a lot of influences from other genres leaking in, such as lo-fi. Synthwave will always be synthwave, it’s lost in time. A gem so to speak. I guess things will develop into new things but synthwave will always be synthwave. There are songs in the scene I will never ever forget.
What is on the horizon for The Patchbay?
Lots of things, it started off with giving access to sound banks so that people could learn / build on their own project / or even just to support the contributor.
As it’s evolved there have been lots of ideas. Custom work seems to be the way things are going. Struggling to build a specific sound in a synth? Got an audio example? Get someone with knowledge to engineer a patch and you get to reverse engineer it. Everybody wins really. Most importantly it’s another avenue for the contributor to break bread. It also eradicates piracy to be honest, and reiterates the previous point. More money for the people who make it happen. The product delivered is bespoke, exceptional and personal.
I’m also integrating a pay what you want system that’s going to be available at the contributor’s discretion.
An optional pledge system where fans can pay a small monthly fee for an ongoing service / content submission.
Contributors will also be able to add downloadable options to their content…this opens the door to buying separate parts of, for example, in a sound bank, the bass, or the keys or even just the arps could be available and priced individually. Maybe even separate sounds. This method can be integrated into most digital offerings.
The site is also regularly overhauled. On the roadmap is import export functions for people who have content elsewhere, or want to take it with them. A revamped review system, a bespoke audio player, etc. There’s so much API integration it hurts.
Anyone you’d like to thank?
So many people it’s unreal. First and foremost, I’d like to thank Jordy from Timecop1983, he was one of the 1st guys I approached and he was so kind. His soundset literally made the entire thing blow wide open. Allowed me to get incredibly serious. Who knows, TPB may not exist today without him.
Ryan Taber from Bantana, he’s been my mental backbone for the past year. Definitely a reason to go visit the USA again!
Marko Maric for doing so much for the scene, such a selfless man. Him and his missus, with his radio segment on Synthetix FM. For being open and kind about The Patchbay’s concept.
Arcade Summer for the menacing logo and his input into the ideas that grew into what they are today.
Nigel Silva for his support, helping guys in the scene with imagery and badass videos.
Eric J Russel, aka Soldier Peril for his incredible video content.
I want to thank all of the people who purchased from the scene, people who support it, people who encourage the idea. The contributors, without them, it wouldn’t even exist.
I’d like to again thank Gary for the interview. In him I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit and somebody who has very similar goals in the scene. While we are on different ends of the synth based spectrum, we both want the scene to grow, artists and developers to get the recognition and support they deserve, and a fair and balance playing field. If you haven’t visited The Patchbay before, today is the day to change that.