If you didn’t already know, Syntax has a new album called The Space Tapes due out for digital release July 19th on Rosso Corsa Records. But I know you guys and gals just LOVE your physical releases, so fret not. I’m here to announce that Kill All Music is bringing the album to cassette later this summer/fall! In fact, if you’re reading this now pre-orders should be open! Here’s a teaser to whet your appetite!
So, what are you waiting for?!? Head over to Kill All Music and get your pre-order in because you know as well as I do, this is going to sell out! I’ll wait while your gone. Why, you may ask? Because I’ve got a full interview with Syntax you’re going to want to read, that’s why!
For new listeners, who is Syntax?
Syntax is a synth based music project I started back in 2013. Initially I was toying with ideas and melodies, trying to just have fun in the process. I had always played drums, clarinet, and some piano, so finding a way to put these elements down in the form of music became something of great interest. It took about a year or so with playing around in the workstation I use to familiarize myself with the work flow, and finally I felt like I had something to release, (The Sunrise EP) though it’s such a far cry from what I’m making these days. Having the ability to create art without constraints was important for me, and primarily my goal was to put stuff out there to document and archive. Listening to this newer genre and reinvention of 80s synth based emotions got me nostalgic enough to want to contribute, or somewhat emulate and at least be inspired by. I never thought the project would get noticed or appreciated to be honest. As far as characterizing the type of music, Syntax touches on space synth, ambient, down tempo, synthwave, and cinematic vibes. I think it’s hard to characterize the sound in just one word. Each track and album has drastically different moods and tempos.
You’ve got new music on the way! What can you tell us about The Space Tapes?
he Space Tapes is the culmination of a year and a half’s work, laying down ideas, melodies and rhythms that are primarily (and once again) influenced by space. Over the years I have been astounded how small we are in the scope of the universe and time. Gaining a perspective through studying and watching programs based on space exploration, theories, and reality, (coupled with late 70s and early 80s movie soundtracks) I’ve always gravitated towards sounds that seem like they are from beyond earth. Lush and inviting tones with tactful rhythms. Nothing too sinister, but sounds that are more ethereal and at the same time gritty. I remember not trying to push myself too hard for ideas, as when I sat to compose I felt like rehashed material came out, or nothing I was interested in releasing. I hate listening to my own stuff, but it’s part of the process when you have to compose something. So if I remotely enjoyed it, that was enough for me to pass it along and put it in a release. I do, however have a bunch of demos I like, but didn’t seem like a fit for the LP, and actually some I’d rather keep private for a possible future side project that focuses on more ambient and house music. So, the result of The Space Tapes is 19 tracks that I put in a strategic fashion to hopefully take the listener through a journey in sound and storytelling. I find it amazing and humbling there are people that listen to Syntax, as I never thought or imagined it would be “out there” for people to play.
Speaking of tapes, you’ve got a cassette edition of your new album due out later this summer! Why do you think cassettes have become so popular again?
Cassettes are timeless. As a child of the 80s, I remember buying my first tape ever at Musicland in 1988. I loved that the only place to get music was at a music store, unlike the click online accessibility these days. There was something to be celebrated with a purchase of a cassette, holding it and listening to the eject and load process over and over again. It warms my heart to see collectors out there who still have Walkmans and tape players, collecting them like it’s the 80s. I rocked out so many tapes as a kid, it just became part of my childhood. For younger folks and older, the appeal seems to be universal. I appreciate that collectives like Kill All Music are embarking on pressings for cassettes.
What is the driving force behind your music? What inspires you?
I would say personal experiences and emotions are a driving force behind the music of Syntax. There are days for me that are great, and other days that are not. I genuinely believe that human beings experience the full range of good along with bad, and learning to embrace these emotions (and in turn outlets) for my music is what you end up hearing on each release. I lay down melodies based on how I’m feeling at the time. Some people start with a bass line or percussion, to me melodies are everything. And then elements get crafted around that idea. I am inspired by such a wide range in artists. Having been a huge Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin fan for nearly two decades, there are moods and compositions that are nearly tear-inducing for me, and manage to sink deep into my subconscious when I compose. I have to also mention Legowelt, Minilogue, and Extrawelt have been massive influences on me, and I do look up to these artists with so much respect and admiration. Usually when I mention artists I’m listening to with friends, they have no clue who or what I’m talking about. It’s ok though, sometimes having a secret stash of artists to listen to isn’t a bad thing at all.
Who were some artists you grew up enjoying?
Ah this is an interesting question! I’m almost reluctant to go there, but we’re talking the 80s and 90s. Let’s see.
80s – Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, Yes, Kansas, Genesis, Tom Tom Club, Love and Rockets, Camper Van Beethoven, Squeeze, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd.
1990s – Underworld, Aphex Twin, Massive Attack, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Drexciya, and of course all of the alternative bands everyone loved at my age. Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, etc. I’m too embarrassed to go on.
How about some artists you’re into now?
Bob Moses, George Fitzgerald, Com Truise, Kaiserdisco, Ulrich Schnauss, Patrick O’ Hearne, Legowelt, Extrawelt, AIR, The Pattern Forms, Lazerhawk and more.
What is your writing process? How do you know when a track is ready?
It’s funny, when I sit down and try and push inspiration, nothing comes out that I can work with or enjoy. It’s the most random of times when I’ve either had a dream or am feeling a certain way where I can actually lay something down and be ok with it. I sometimes am amazed how quickly artists produce music in this scene. For me, a track usually takes a couple of weeks. I leave it alone and come back to it so my ears approach it with a new perspective. It’s easy to start hating your work when you rush to complete it or produce lightning fast. I respect artists who can create a track in one day, but for me the process is much more time consuming. Each song is to some degree an extension of my mood or how I’m feeling, and that by no means translates to something right at my fingertips. I have a tendency to try and put too much into a track, and I’ve been a bit better about stripping out unnecessary pads or polyrhythms to make the track a bit more inviting. It took a while for me to get the whole “less is more” concept. Although there are some tracks like Longmore and Startseite (just for example) where there are a lot of things happening simultaneously and it still has room to breathe. I enjoy a wooly kind of analog sound, and try and carve out the compositions in that vein.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars 100 percent.
Any big plans for the rest of 2017?
There are actually some pretty cool things lined up for the Syntax project in 2017. I was feeling particularly burned out after this release, and no sooner than I finished when I was approached by a VR company to do some custom work. I’m very excited, as I feel I can tap into some organic retro vibes I used to make more of. There will also be live shows here and there. I welcome, however a nice break from the pressure of having finished this release.
Anyone you’d like to thank or shout out?
Absolutely! Kill All Music, Michael and Garrett at Rosso Corsa Records (who are seriously rad dudes and am grateful they picked up the project for their label) Droid Bishop, Street Cleaner, STARFORCE, HOME, Rick Thorpe, Marko Maric, Daniel at Future 80s records, Tonebox, Lucy In Disguise, SynthetixFM, and Michael at 30th Floor Records. And of course Echosynthetic for the support and fun interview.