After a bit of an interview hiatus, we are back with one of our best yet! We had a chance to talk to Crockett recently and he delivers some really great answers to our questions. While you’re here be sure to check out what he has on offer over at Bandcamp. He’s definitely one of the “good guys” in synthwave, and for somebody who’s weathered the scene through ups and downs, he was seriously one of our friendliest interviews. Are you ready? Let’s go!
For anyone new to your music, who is Crockett?
Crockett is just a 28 year old guy from Boston who occasionally can put together some songs. I’m a teacher, so the school vacations are usually when I do most of my producing. I just missed a majority of the 80’s, but my parents were huge fans of 80’s music. In Boston there used to be a “Back to The 80’s Friday Night” special on one of the local radio stations, so I grew up listening to the music and definitely have an appreciation for it. I actually just saw Tears for Fears and Hall and Oates at the Garden… it was epic!
You’ve easily got one of the best names in synthwave. Were you surprised no one had already used it?
Very surprised. I’ve told this story before, but originally, I was just trying to make some “retro” album artwork in Photoshop and needed a fake name to practice with. Crockett was the first thing that came to mind, so I started using that and it just stuck. I’m sure there are purist who think I’m ripping of Miami Vice, but it works for me.
How long have you been writing music?
To be honest, I’m not the most musical person. I taught myself guitar in high school, but was just playing Dave Matthews songs and not writing anything of my own. In college I took a “Electronic Music Production” class, that ended up being more of a history of electronic music than anything. We learned a lot of about the first synthesizers and did experimental stuff with field recordings, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. The biggest thing I got out of it was the ability to use Logic in a studio room. They didn’t really teach us how to use it, so I did a ton of research through YouTube videos and articles. My first love was trance, so I was most making that, or as best I could. I didn’t know what an EQ was, clipping, or anything like that, so, as most people’s first songs are, it was pretty bad. Over time I went from trance to house, then to dubstep/drumstep/DNB (there’s actually a few Drumstep songs on a Soundcloud profile, but that’s a secret) and a few years ago I discovered Timecop1983 and was in love. I started working on creating songs that sounded similar and even did remakes to work on sound design before putting together a few songs for what would turn into “The Heist.” Writing music still doesn’t come naturally to me, but usually when I get an idea, I have it completed in a day or so. I often produce in spurts, but I think that’s how it is for most people.
How did you get into synthwave?
As mentioned before it was Timecop1983. I just loved the sounds and melodies and feelings that it evoked. Some of my favorite song ever are good musically, but it’s more of the emotions that they made me feel or think about. Once I heard Timecop, I was hooked, and I really enjoyed how the synthwave scene seemed to focus on the melody and music. House and dance music in general had become whose drop can melt more people’s faces, and that was getting pretty stale. I felt like synthwave brought me back to my early days in trance when stuff like Sean Tyas’ remix of “Irufushi” or the Jorn van Deynhoven remix of “RAMsterdam” where the music was great, but it was also about how it made you feel. I remember driving down to school at the end of one summer and listening to “RAMsterdam” probably 8 times in a row because it was just such a powerful song.
Your last release, Songs of the Forgotten, came out in January. How do you feel about it now that it has had time to settle?
I’m really proud of that EP, even though there are things that I hear now that drive me insane. Being a huge fan of DMB, I wanted the drums to play a bigger part of the song that just your standard kick and snare. Carter Beauford has always been my favorite part of DMB, so I wanted to try and replicate his playing style. I used to listen to songs by them and instead of listening to Dave’s voice, or his guitar, or any of the other instruments, I was listening to Carter’s syncopated rhythms on the hi-hat and all his fills. It was definitely a departure from the more Outrun stuff I had made in the past, but I enjoyed throwing away any restrictions and just allowing myself to be creative. There’s a lot of little things hidden here and there throughout the album. For example, in “Four Minutes Til Sunrise,” from when the drums drop to the end of the song is exactly four minutes. Now, I’m sure no one notices this, nor does it really matter, but stuff like that is fun to do as a producer.
The sound of that album was so immersive! What did you use to record it?
Thank you! I am 100% ITB, so everything on that, and all my albums, are either samples or synths. The drums were some great live samples I found, and were probably the most fun to arrange. I had to get really creative if I wanted to achieve a live sound with only one kick sample and one snare. Little things like subtle changes in velocity to change the volume or tying the velocity with a pitch envelope to make a cymbal sound like it was hit in a different spot were cool to geek out on. This was an album where I took my time to focus on the small details as opposed to just crank out a song and be done with it. Though I was using midi, I also wanted to play in more parts live. So, all the piano pieces were recorded in midi and then quantized. Stuff like the sax and the strings in the beginning of “Love Will Come Again” were in Kontakt, gotta love the Sensual Sax!
Where do you see your music headed in the future?
I go back and forth between some Outrun stuff and more “Indie” (I don’t even like to use that label) stuff. I’ve been thinking of having an alias and doing the less 80’s stuff, but still retro-inspired, so I can keep Crockett firmly in synthwave. I have a few ideas down for a part 3 to “The Heist” and “City of Ghosts,” but I want to make sure I do that one right, so that may take some time. I know some people will recoil when they read this, but I definitely want to start working more with vocals. There are some people in the scene who hate vocals on synthwave tracks, but if it sounds good, it sounds good. I’ve remixed a few vocal tracks recently, which has been great practice, so I want to start putting together my own pieces. Like I said earlier, I work in spurts, so I guess we’ll have to see where and when inspiration strikes!
Speaking of the future…any new music on the horizon?
As of right now, just a few remixes, but nothing in the way of an EP. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting and listening to different genres for inspiration recently, so hopefully I can put something out in the near future. I’ve put out a few singles in the past, but I’m really big on the idea of telling a story with music, so I’d much prefer to release a full EP or LP.
If you could only watch one movie the rest of your life, what would it be?
MacGruber. Don’t even need to think about that one.
Most embarrassing album in your collection. Spill the beans!
Ooo… well I’m all digital now… but I did buy the Venga Boys album in middle school. Yikes.
Any plans on jumping onto the physical media that seems to be doing so well these days?
I would love to do some physical media, but it seems like a lot of hassle, which, unfortunately, I just do not want to bother with. However, I have been in talks about putting some previous releases on vinyl, so you’ll have to stay tuned for news on that.
Anyone you’d like to thank or shout out?
Just shout out to you first of all for taking to the time to help get artists heard and everybody in the scene that is sharing music. Thank you to anyone who listens to and supports my music. This is a fun, but time consuming, hobby to have, and it’s awesome to know that people appreciate your work.