I am thrilled to no end to have had the opportunity to interview the man behind the music over at RetroSynth Records. Scott Forte is a man who has a passion for electronic music that goes beyond the words you’re about to read. He has a true love for what he’s doing and it comes out in the records his label releases and in the interview below. RetroSynth has been making a name for themselves by growing a stable of insanely talented artists, so I’m excited to give you a glimpse into the label. Are you ready? We are about to take a really deep dive into what Forte has been up to.
What is the RetroSynth Records story? What got you started?
Thank you James for giving me the opportunity to do this interview with you, everyone on the label is excited about it, as we are all big fans of Echosynthetic, I can promise you this will be your longest interview ever, I’m pretty descriptive and like to elaborate on things.
To understand how RetroSynth Records started, you first have to understand how RetroSynth on YouTube started, because the label wouldn’t have been possible without the channel first. There is a long back story to how the channel came to be and the story behind that is found on our brand new official website on my bio page here: http://www.retro-synth.com/scott/
When RetroSynth first started on YouTube it was more or less an art project for me, to showcase great music while I could work with photoshop and using the effects of windows movie maker a simple little video editing program. When the channel first started it was tiny, I had some videos I made for Kalax, The Northern Lights, and Crockett and that was about it to start out – but I kept going and the site was pretty much a complete unknown at this point. I didn’t think much would come of it. After all there was NewRetroWave, LuigiDonatello, and other cool YouTube channels devoted to Synthwave. What would my little channel be compared to those behemoths? But I kept at it just the same and kept supporting different artists I was listening to at the time. One in particular was Advection Stride. I had just bought their incredible “Defender” album and gave it high praise on Bandcamp and was happy to be supporting them. Next thing you know, Alan from Advection Stride contacts me and says hey whats up we want to make you an intro animation for your channel.
At the time I had a simple Grid with the RetroSynth logo I made in photoshop in like 10 minutes with some movie maker effects that made it look as if the RetroSynth logo was slowly moving over the grid. That was the best I could do with no real animation. But Alan told me he was going to set me up with my own intro – and that he and his brother also are known as Brutal Render a professional graphics artist & animation team based out of Barcelona, Spain. They took my original grid idea and turned it into something that made my jaw drop to the floor It was a huge turning point for the channel, and I became great friends with Advection / Brutal Render through email. Alan and I continued talking to each other each day about something new we were both working on, and that has continued to this day ever since.
I was blown away – Brutal Render continued to make new logos for RetroSynth, and I was in awe of everything they were sending to me. It got to the point where I couldn’t stop saying thank you and told Alan he and his brother were partners in this with me, whatever “this” was yet, we really still had no idea at that point that RetroSynth would be a brand. It was just a YouTube channel. But I started to set RetroSynth up with social media accounts as well and began communicating with many artists in the community and became friends with over 200 people. We were doing full album releases on the channel known as the “New Album Spotlight” and I tried to stay on top of what great new music was coming out so I could add it to the channel. I had been talking to Alan about starting a record label in December, I said screw it, let’s just do it! I had no idea what I was doing but figured why not? I had Advection Stride on board already and a growing youtube fanbase so why not give it a shot?
The plan we had set up was to launch in February which was going to be the release date of the 3rd Advection Stride album “Sentinel”. However it got pushed up to January 16, and just before that week I told Alan, holy shit we are doing this now! I immediately got set up on bandcamp and we got the logos made up by Brutal Render. And just like that a label was born. To start things off it was just Advection Stride and Stephanie on the label, and I had no idea what kind of future we would have at this point. But it wasn’t long after that I posted an invitation to anyone who wanted to join on Twitter and suddenly some artists started contacting me. The first was Blaze of Gunfire, and only a couple weeks after that Zalza contacted me. I couldn’t believe it. We had something here, an actual record label with some incredibly talented artists. At this point we had reached over 2000 subscribers on the YouTube channel in less than a year. I didn’t waste time and got set up with a merch company called MerchWave (run by Synthwave artists KFDDA and Jon of the Shred) and signed an exclusive contract with them to get our artists top of the line merchandise including CD’s, T-Shirts, Posters, and cassettes. As time went on and more amazing artists jumped on board, and after the success of our first compilation “In Synth We Wave” in May, I began seeing this as not just a YouTube channel, or just a label, but an actual brand. And it’s taken over my life. Not only do I make and edit all the videos on YouTube now, but I have to manage the record label, and now manage the website also while working a full time job on top of it all. And I’m having a blast doing it!
Who are the artists on your label?
Currently we have 15 artists on the label and all of them have something unique about them:
Advection Stride (Spain) – They make some very uplifting music, some of the best I’ve ever heard, the hard hitting drums, the melodies, they are the entire package. They are extremely talented musicians and pro graphics artists that have designed the logo for Mono Memory and created the intro animation for Oceanside85 along with the cover art for RetroSynth Records Vol. 1 and all the animation and logos you see on the RetroSynth YouTube channel. Their debut album Eon Drive was released in early 2016, their second album Defender was released in Summer of 2016 and it really is the album that took the RetroSynth YouTube channel to new heights. Their third album “Sentinel” launched with the record label and it features many amazing tracks like “Stellar Surveyor”, “Reverse Universe” and “Omega Centauri”.
Blaze of Gunfire (Germany) – He’s not only a talented Synthwave producer but Tobias has also designed the official RetroSynth website: http://www.retro-synth.com – His first release “Vigilante Justice” had a couple tracks featured on our massive In Synth We Wave compilation, one in particular “No Escape” had a great response on the YT channel – his newest EP “California Dreams” is some of his best work yet featuring different styles on tracks like “L.A. Dreams” and “Back In The Ring”. Blaze was the first to ask to be on the label back in late January.
Zalza (Sweden) – When Zalza contacted me to join the label I was shocked – I had just listened to his “Out Of Memory” album and was knocked out of my chair by it. Easily one of the best albums I had heard in a while, and one of the best of 2017 by far, too many great tracks to mention like “Press CLR for Clear” and “Terminal” (both found on RetroSynth Records Vol.1) or “CPU”, “Revolution” the whole thing is just perfect. He is extremely talented and has more coming soon including his stellar next single, the Wall Street themed “High Roller” which is right around the corner.
MOTIV (Norway) – When I first heard the debut EP “They Don’t Write Love Songs Like They Used To” I immediately contacted MOTIV the same day he released it – tracks like “Almost Summer” and “Neon Surfer” reminded me of Timecop1983 and London Lazers but the EP was unique and his very own style, the melodies had me hooked! His latest EP “Lethal Nights” was just released at the beginning of July and features the tracks “I Miss You Victoria Lynn” (an ode to Lethal Weapon) and “Teen Talk” which was featured on In Synth We Wave.
FOMOR1AN (Canada) – FOMOR1AN blew me away when I heard his 2016 Demos release on Bandcamp, a 4 track EP that really had such a rich Dreamwave sound, but very Sci-Fi / Spacewave sounding too and the added guitars he puts into his tracks like “In The Arms Of Tethys” and “Memories Of Saturn” give a very original style of Synthwave music. He released his second EP “Enceladus” in March and it was really mind blowing stuff that once again combined a Space vibe with incredibly dreamy melodies and great guitar work. He’s working on new music right now that will hopefully be out sometime later this year.
Ray Gun Hero (Boston, Mass) – Ray Gun Hero’s debut “Midnight Angel” EP rocked me sideways with incredible tracks like “Into The Storm” and “Midnight Angel”, and his “Night Creatures” track was an overlooked gem from October 2016 that I wanted to bring to more peoples attention, so I contacted him and asked if he wanted to be on the label and we could re-issue his EP and tracks on the label, he agreed and we’ve had an amazing friendship in a small amount of time. He’s in nearby Boston so we can always talk about our favorite Sports teams in Beantown. Everything he has released is incredible, including his recent “Unleashed” EP which features amazing and powerful tracks like “Night Hacker” that we agreed to put on In Synth We Wave as an early teaser, also the Blade Runner influenced “Your Eyes” and the Gordon Gekko sampled “It’s Not About The Money” – but the new full length album he has coming in October will be an absolute monster of epic proportions. I’ve heard what he’s been working on early on, and I was floored. Ray Gun Hero is going to take the Synthwave world by storm with this new album!
Flammen (UK) – Flammen is bringing back the vocal styles of 80’s singers like Ian Curtis, Robert Smith and Morrissey. There aren’t enough vocals in Synthwave today but Flammen is going to change that – bringing back the New Wave sounds with his unique vocals and fantastic lyrics. Not only is he a great singer but his production values are spot on also, his early works found on In Synth We Wave like “Approach” and “Poolside Biscotti” are a clear example of this.
Stephanie (Richmond, VA) – I had first heard the artist Skirts a while back, he changed his name to Stephanie in 2015. At this time I bought his self titled album which had a unique and very original Horror Synth style to it. The track “Find You In Hell” really made me take a closer look at Stephanie, Ken’s music totally reminded me of the music in horror movies and he just knows how to hook you with some great dark melodies. After supporting him a lot on the channel, we became friends and he joined the label right after we launched, his new album “Stephanie Must Die” is in production right now. Ken is also a director of the indie film “Dungeons & Dragqueens” (currently on Kickstarter) which is a throwback 80’s movie that has a blend of horror and comedy.
Voynich (Ireland) – Another artist who wanted to join the label, I had never heard Cian’s soundtrack work before so I had no idea who Voynich was, but I checked his stuff out and I can recognize talent when I hear it, and Cian’s film score work showed he is a true pro at what he does. As time has gone on he’s released more singles after “Night People”, like “Exoself” and “TimeSlave”, his latest single “F L U X” is very cinematic Ambient and reminds me a bit of John Murphy’s works, it was the perfect choice to lead off RetroSynth Records Vol. 1. We are both fans of John Murphy and the movie Sunshine, so we have both been on the same page since day 1.
Dealiosis (Michigan) – He reached out to me and asked to join the label – I looked over his more EDM type work on his YouTube page and noticed what he could do musically, I was impressed with his chopped up / edited video experiments on his channel also. Very impressive talent and one that you will be hearing more about soon. His debut EP “Orbital Drift” launched right after In Synth We Wave in early May and featured cool tracks like “Night Tracer” and “Along The Horizon”. His latest track “Rogue” samples the classic video game Oni and is featured on RetroSynth Records Vol. 1 and just shows you a taste of what’s to come from this amazing new producer who will have more soon!
Maks_SF (Belarus) – I knew of Max when I first heard his remix of Battlejuice earlier this year and I had planned to reach out to him about joining the label, and around the same time he contacted me about his work – so it was perfect. Max does a lot of work outside the label as well for video games and commercials and all kinds of things. He is a true professional. We ended up re-issuing his “Last One Standing” album from 2015 and added some new tracks to it like “Starboy (Featuring Crytek)”, and he recently did a couple of outstanding covers by Siouxsie and the Banshees and Scandroid that were put out for free, and he’s got way more in the pipeline. His productions remind me of Celldweller / Scandroid at times – it’s got that edge to it, but it’s his own creative style and he can change his sound up to something completely different easily, he’s immensely talented.
Neon Black (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) – When going through new releases on Bandcamp I will find artists that make me want to know more after I listen to a particular release, this is one of those artists. I looked at what he had been producing and liked it a lot, but on top of that, Dan is an extremely talented photographer working with some hot female models. His debut “Good Vibes” is out now and features the tracks “Hi-Fi Fantasy Girls (In Stereo)”, and “Cocaine Sunrise”, his second album “The Dark Side Of The Night” is out July 25 and his third album “Wet Dreams” is coming soon. His next single “Steam” is featured on RetroSynth Records Vol. 1, and he’s working on his first music video for a new track we are keeping secret until it’s ready to debut.
Mellow Fields (Canada) – It only took one track for me and I was hooked on the sound of Mellow Fields. His track “Wage of Destruction” released in June was just a true marvel, and I wanted to hear more. His track “Remission” is just glorious and is featured on RetroSynth Records Vol. 1 also. I wanted him on the label because I recognized a guy who could produce some fantastic melodies in his music with super tight production. With only a few tracks, there is so much more to come from Mellow Fields, the ceiling is very high for this extremely talented new producer.
Stealth Mode (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) – OK when I heard the debut EP “Activate” by Stealth Mode I had to ask him to join the label right after I got done listening to it – the music on Activate is a blend of Sci-Fi / Spacewave, and Fantasynth (yes I just coined that term lol) – the melodies on this release are just incredible, very otherworldly, and just addicting, it’s a cinematic eargasm that brings an epic Sci-Fi perspective into view and has a G1 Transformers vibe on the title track “Activate” and a Tron Legacy feel to the track “Laser Racer”. But the more ambient pieces like “Fallout” and “Cosmosis” were why I reached out to this incredible new producer, this is just jaw dropping stuff and I’m looking forward to what he has in store next!
80tribe (Poland) – The latest addition to the roster, I had no idea about 80tribe until I heard his new Futuretro EP, and that release is perfect, a 10/10 for me, just incredible balance of synthwave styles, some dark, some dreamy, some heavy, some soft, the EP has it all. Too many great tracks to name – whether it’s “Dream Cruise”, “Dark Hero”, “Black Rain”, you can go through them all, it’s gotta be one of the best EP’s of 2017 so I definitely wanted him on board with us. His next release coming this winter is again sure to be something special!
And special mention – 2DCAT is not on the label, but we released his “Shared Dreams” EP on July 4th and it’s by far one of the best Synthwave / Synthpop / Dreamwave releases you will ever hear. Fantastic male and female vocals, great lyrics, super production – tracks like “Don’t Kill Yourself” and “Ask Me” (Both found on RetroSynth Records Vol. 1) show you just a fraction of the massive range 2DCAT has, and every track featured
is truly remarkable music.
Your compilation, In Synth We Wave, was easily one of the biggest synthwave collections ever. How did you get all the artists on the record?
In Synth We Wave is something I will forever be proud of. When the idea for the project first started in March, I was hoping to get some artists outside of the label who were friends with me on Facebook or twitter and see if they would want to be on the compilation. The result of this compilation is what happens when you become friends with people in this great Synthwave community after showing them support on YouTube. I’ve made so many friends in the last year it’s unbelievable. I wanted to make sure that everyone who supported RetroSynth, and who I supported on YouTube was going to be involved with this compilation. I wanted to make sure that we had exclusive tracks by those on the label or anyone else outside of the label who had b-sides or anything else they wanted to contribute.
At first the compilation was supposed to be at most about 35-40 tracks. That seemed like more than enough, but I just kept contacting more and more artists who were friends with me, and simply asked if they wanted to be involved, and so many joined up. I hadn’t come up with a name for the compilation and had a couple ideas but after talking to Zoltan (The Neon Droid) it was clear we were going with “In Synth We Wave” – that title was a motto that was coined by The TCR and later used as the title of a track by The Neon Droid on his “Revenge Of The Sunset” EP in 2016. I thought it was perfect, and Zoltan worked with me on getting the cover art perfected – using the In Synth We Wave graphic he had used on Soundcloud and merging it with the futuristic Brutal Render designed RetroSynth graphic that was made a few months earlier. His help was absolutely huge with the release and I still can’t thank him enough. I had this other cover artwork I tried to make on my own that was….well let’s just say it’s a good thing we didn’t use it as it had soundwaves with clip art of surfers riding them coming out of a synthesizer image and looked pretty cheesy by comparison lol – someday I will release it to the public for laughs.
The tracks on this compilation were incredible, I couldn’t believe what I was assembling and it took a while to get it the way I wanted it. I thought this was a great way to introduce the artists from the label along with some very well known and established talent – and the result was magnificent. The exclusive tracks are all incredible also.
But yeah I was so glad to work with everyone on In Synth We Wave. When it was up to 50 something tracks I thought that would be it, but only weeks later it was up to 66 tracks and I thought that was where it would end. But Timecop1983 and Kalax both jumped on board at the last minute and we added 2 tracks by the mysterious FTL Drive just before the compilation launched – that made it 70 tracks on one compilation, with 17 exclusive tracks and 20 from the artists on the label. Insane, and for $10 the best value of all compilations this year hands down.
My goal was to put together a compilation that had not only quality tracks from some of the more well known producers out there, but also get everyone from the label involved as well and get them in there along for the ride. I believe In Synth We Wave has to be up there as one of the best if not the best compilation of 2017, not just based on quantity but also on quality. When I compiled it I wanted to set it up like a DJ Mix – so very Dreamy and Chill at the beginning, while slowly getting into more Electronic Rock territory, and shifting later into darker, harder and more futuristic tones. It took me over a week to compile it the way I wanted it. I kept moving all the tracks back and forth constantly before I finally thought everything fit well. Not only did I get all my friends on this one compilation but I made a bunch of new friends in the process. There isn’t another music community more friendly than the Synthwave community and this compilation is a
true testament of that.
Speaking of compilations, at the end of June you released RetroSynth Records Vol. 1. Can you tell us more about that?
RetroSynth Records Vol. 1 is the first label artists compilation (volume 2 is coming in August/Sept) that features mostly newer tracks on the label but also some favorites from a few months back. Most of the artists only got one track each on this with exception to Zalza and Neon Black and 2DCAT who was featured in conjunction with his “Shared Dreams” EP release. After Advection Stride got 4 tracks on In Synth We Wave, they got just the last track on this compilation, and they asked for me to keep it that way, but once again Brutal Render came through with some incredible artwork that pays homage to the classic 1982 film Blade Runner.
Most of the tracks on this new comp are found on the respective EP’s and albums on the label, but some are new and exclusive like “Steam” by Neon Black which starts pretty downtempo and then kicks things up a notch midway through, “Rogue” by Dealiosis that has a sinister bass and contains samples from the classic “Oni” video game, and “Thoughts Of A Lonely Boy” which is the first Flammen track released with his superb vocals. But yeah, many other great tracks on here like the 5th single by Voynich “F L U X”, “I Miss You Victoria Lynn” by MOTIV from his new Lethal Nights EP, “Don’t Kill Yourself” and “Ask Me” by 2DCAT found on his “Shared Dreams” EP, “Memories Of Saturn” by FOMOR1AN found on his debut “2016 Demos” EP, the recent “Cyborg Dreams” single by Blaze of Gunfire, the Blade Runner inspired “Your Eyes” by Ray Gun Hero found on his “Unleashed” EP, the hypnotic “Remission” from Mellow Fields found on his self titled debut EP, Zalza’s amazing Computerwave tracks “Press CLR for Clear” and “Terminal” found on his Out Of Memory album, “Starboy (Feat. Crytek)” by Untitled Project Of Maks_SF found on his “Last One Standing 2.0” album, “Hi-Fi Fantasy Girls (In Stereo)” by Neon Black found on his debut album “Good Vibes”, “Beta Alter” by Stephanie which is the opening music to his film “Dungeons & Dragqueens” and found on his upcoming second album “Stephanie Must Die”. Advection Stride closes things out with “Omega Centauri” found on thier third album “Sentinel”. The last two tracks by Zalza and Advection really have a sense of finality to this great compilation.
What is the main goal you have in mind for the label? What drives you?
If I have any main goal for the label it’s to see it succeed without sacrificing the original ideas we have in place. One thing about RetroSynth I want everyone to know is that we strive to be original, it seems like everyone wants to be the next NewRetroWave, and while that’s fine and all, you can’t discount original ideas that make you different. That is what we are about. We don’t limit ourselves to Synthwave only. I’m a huge fan of Ambient music so when someone like Voynich releases a track like the epic cinematic opus “F L U X”, I get all excited because it challenges people’s perception of what can be found in Electronic / Synth music, and that it can also be armchair listening music at home for the imagination. As someone who was obsessed with 1990’s Electronica, I can say I’m a fan of so much Electronic music and if I hear quality, I’m going to want to have it on my label. No matter what.
Success is everything, and we are working with some very talented artists that believe in creativity. What drives me is the opportunity to be in the position I’m in right now with this brand, the fact that we have a growing fanbase on YouTube that can extend to the label is huge. But I’m never satisfied, and I really think we have a long way to go still, but the amount of projects we have planned from now until 2018 is staggering. I am a one man army – I have to make and edit each YouTube video on my own, I have to manage everyone on the label, I have to communicate with people every day and post to social media every day, all while working a 40-50 hour job each week. At times it can be daunting, but I love it. And if I have any true goal, it’s to succeed to the point where I could actually quit my job, and do this full time. Then you’re talking about bigger things, potential tours, and more ways to market and expand further. I have to remind myself that the YouTube channel is only a year old and the label is only 7 months old, but I want more, and I want it faster. I’m not someone who likes to wait on anything and I want to see us succeed now, not later. I am devoted to this brand 1000% and I will never give up on it until we reach the top.
But this is just the beginning, we have so much more coming. The new website will have a submission form for those who want to join the label, or submit their tracks or DJ mixes to the YouTube channel and I will personally decide on who makes it and who doesn’t. Just another step forward to helping us grow faster.
Why do you think synthwave has managed to grow so much despite being largely ignored by mainstream media outlets?
I think Synthwave has managed to grow every year because of the quality of artists and labels on bandcamp, the extremely friendly and creative community, the growing underground fanbase, and just all the outlets online that bring the music and info to the people. It all started with the soundtrack to “Drive” in 2011 for the most part, but then you look at those in the scene that have kept it fresh and exciting by promoting it so well, starting with Maniac Synth on YouTube, that was my first exposure to “Synthwave” and it really got me interested in finding out more about it. Then you have more people that want to keep pushing it further like the good people at Synthetix.FM / Synthwave Sunday, and things like Power85, Drive Radio and Recall FM and podcasts and radio shows like Synthwaves on KFAI, The Fratelli85 Show, Beyond Synth with Andy Last, many other radio shows and podcasts all over the world dedicated to this growing genre also. There are obviously a number of new YouTube channels other than NRW that are making a big impact like Neon Nights, Synthwave Emotions, and obviously RetroSynth as well. And those channels continue to increase, spreading more awareness of this great music. But you look at all those things and then look at social media – you have twitter and people who are fans of the music creating accounts to re-tweet info about specific artists or labels or events they love, and Facebook has many different groups for the music like the Recall FM Retro Pool, and groups for artists and designers like Neon Renegades. Then take a look at forums online like the Outrun and Horror Synth forums on reddit, and people following and re-posting more artists on SoundCloud. And of course another major reason is online media outlets like Echosynthetic which is fast becoming the go-to ultimate resource for all things Synthwave! With all this stuff happening now, and more things coming on the way this movement will continue to thrive in the underground, and eventually the mainstream media will have to take notice.
Where do you see the scene headed?
Synthwave is a monster in the underground that can only get bigger. If you look at the new releases on Bandcamp each week – there is always something notable on there, as there are so many talented producers showing what they can do, and many of them will get overlooked easily. I try to make sure that doesn’t happen, I’m always looking for artists with talent that need more exposure. There are so many artists who don’t make traditional “synthwave” but more of what I like to call “Spacewave” or “Cyber Synth” and there are lots out there who don’t get much recognition.
Synthwave (or Retrowave) has become a bit of an umbrella term. It seemed in the beginning that “Outrun” was another name for Synthwave, but really now it’s a subgenre – just look at artists like Night Runner – that track they did “The Sentinels” is the very definition of “Outrun” it has a sense of urgency to it that some other Synthwave simply doesn’t have. You have “Dreamwave” which to me, there needs to be a lot more of honestly. You have “Darksynth” which is probably the most popular and oversaturated at the moment. There is also “Horror Synth” which again, is fairly niche, so a lot of those artists don’t get as much recognition as they should.
But to get back to your question – I feel that Synthwave is big in the underground right now, and it reminds me of Electronic Music in the mid 1990’s, when it was THE underground sound, and eventually the subgenre “big beat” crossed over to the US mainstream as “Electronica” but unlike that “Next Big Thing” in the USA, I think Synthwave – once it makes its impression felt, will be a force to be wreckoned with. You are already seeing it with artists like FM-84, The Midnight, Dance With The Dead, and Magic Sword – those 4 US artists have the potential to break big, then you have supremely talented Synthpop artists and singers like Dana Jean Phoenix and Let Em Riot who definitely have crossover appeal, and worldwide barnstormers like Timecop1983 and Carpenter Brut.
Another thing that will help push it is festivals – so things like the first Echosynthetic Synthwave//Synthpop fest is a great idea, we need more things like this to help promote this great music here in the USA. Festivals will also catch the mainstream media’s attention and we need that. That type of exposure gets the major labels interest – and we need that also. The major labels are what push the mainstream music, especially with advertising and massive promotion. For any artists to jump on to a major would signify the beginning of Synthwave making it to the mainstream. It’s really a matter of the media latching on the same way they do with every other “Next Big Thing” like when “EDM” got big (for the wrong reasons might I add) you saw the media coverage it got which just helped push it even more. I really don’t want to see Synthwave go to “EDM” saturation levels and see pop stars and r&b singers collabing with artists who then become watered down millionaire “Superstar” DJ’s in Las Vegas lmao. In all seriousness I would love to see Synthwave become much like how “Alternative” music was in the USA in the early 90’s, it was very well known and it sold well, but it wasn’t “Pop” music and the artists never changed their sound to appeal to the label they were on in order
to make more money.
I think it’s going to take a couple more years but I believe Synthwave will break through to the mainstream sooner than people think, it’s already bubbling under with artists like Perturbator, Gunship, and Scandroid cracking the Billboard top 10 charts and iTunes top 100 albums. The seeds have been planted with such things as Stranger Things and Kung Fury and this sudden love for all things Retro. Magic Sword’s “In The Face Of Evil” being featured on the brand new Thor: Ragnarok trailer is huge exposure also. With more and more media outlets, artists and record labels popping up each year, and more festivals that pop up all over the world like Retro Future Fest, it won’t be long until the “Buzz” catches the music industry and the major labels start thinking about how to market the “hot” new sound for a new generation of mainstream music listeners. But we’ve seen this before. Electronic Music flourished in the underground for almost 2 decades before the mainstream and major labels felt the “Electronica” boom of 1996-1998 in the USA. And it really didn’t last long and consisted mostly of Big Beat artists like Fatboy Slim, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, and The Crystal Method. The key for Synthwave to have sustainability at a mainstream level is for more than just a few artists to break through, the floodgates have to open up big, letting mainstream listeners learn and understand everything we already know in the underground about all the incredibly talented artists out there.
Who are some artists you’ve really been enjoying this year?
I listen to music every day, whether it’s at home, in my car, or at work on my mp3 player while I work the overnight graveyard shift at my full time job, and there are so many great Synthwave artists out there. If I had to mention some of my favorites from this year so far they would have to be obviously everyone on the label first who I listen to just about every day it seems lol, but after that some of my favorites are Battlejuice, 2DCAT, Mono Memory, Primorph, Powerwalker, Synth Ryder, DREDDD, low.poly.exception, Jon of the Shred, The Northern Lights, JJ Mist, Crockett, Deadlife, The TCR, Vampire Step-Dad, POWERCYAN, Stilz, Oceanside85, MICROCHIP TERROR, Cosmo Cocktail, Isidor, September87, Dana Jean Phoenix, Glitch Black, Ethereal Delusions, 20SIX Hundred, Roxi Drive, TSTR, Kalax, Mangadrive, neon shudder, Don Dellpiero, Rose Thaler, Speed Machine, FacexHugger, AWITW, Droid Bishop, Trevor Something, Astral Tales, Greyskull, Protector 101, Volkor X, Timestalker, man there are just too many more to mention, I could go for a while!
Speaking of this year, we are halfway through! Anything up your sleeve for the second half of 2017?
We have tons more in store coming for the second half of 2017! We now have the website operational and it features the awesome 24/7 radio station “RetroSynth FM” which is made up entirely of my personal collection of Synth music and features everyone on the label also. We have RetroSynth Records vol. 2 coming in August / September, we are going to do a big surprise re-issue of a classic release on CD from a top artist in late August / September also. We have a big Halloween compilation planned for October that might be another big project like In Synth We Wave. Ray Gun Hero’s new album in October is going to be jaw dropping, Neon Black will be releasing his third album “Wet Dreams” this Fall. 80tribe has a new EP coming in November or December. Blaze of Gunfire has another new EP coming very soon. New Zalza single “High Roller” is coming in a couple weeks and it’s awesome. Stephanie has “Stephanie Must Die” in the works along with his Kickstarter movie “Dungeons and Dragqueens”, and the new 4th album from Advection Stride that includes the tracks “Judgement” and “Night Driver”
which are found on In Synth We Wave. Neon Black has an official video coming soon featuring some hot female models, Flammen has a huge new album coming that will bring to mind Joy Division, and The Cure. Voynich always has new singles coming and the debut album will drop at some point. Maks_SF has lots more stuff coming as he’s always working hard on new music. And of course tons more videos coming to the YouTube channel also! We are also looking into doing vinyl releases on select (only) releases. The first is planned to be the new Ray Gun Hero album in October. We have more new DJ Mixes coming to our “DJ Mix Series” on the YT channel from Dealiosis and Neon Black and more soon.
As for me, I’m going to start doing some DJ Mixes for the YouTube channel, and hopefully in 2018 get back to producing my first EP in FL Studio which was started but I’ve had no time to do any more with it because of my consistent work with the YouTube channel, the label, social media, and communicating with many people during the week. I also have my own professional camera I’m going to learn how to start using so I can start filming my own content as well for music video purposes. I’m always communicating with new people who want to collaborate, and I would love to do a crossover with another record label if they are interested – in the early 90’s you used to see labels like Rising High Records and Harthouse join forces for compilations or jungle labels like Suburban Base & Moving Shadow would collab together also, you don’t see that much anymore. I want to bring back the idea of record labels working together if possible. I also am planning our first label remix compilation featuring everyone on the label remixing each others tracks. We will also start doing more on social media soon with a remix competition as well. I also have plans to do an all female producers & singers compilation this year around the holidays if possible! If I can somehow keep up with all this, I may also start a Vlog at some point on the YT channel to keep people up to speed with what’s going on. I can barely keep up half the time and I seriously amaze myself sometimes when I’m able to get everything done I set out to do each week, but I am determined to accomplish every goal I set for this brand.
Anyone you’d like to thank or shout out?
Shout outs to the RetroSynth fam! Jon @ Scythe Saga! Kaleb @ MerchWave! Everyone who supported us the last year on YouTube, everyone who has supported the label, and everyone who has followed us on social media! Big thanks to Advection Stride, Tobias Abram, Taylor Christian Russell (The TCR), and Zoltan (The Neon Droid) Gabor! Also much love to my mother and father, my brother Shawn, my best friend Kurt, DJ Skott, Daphney, and Rachelle!