Synthwave Sunday: An Interview With YouTube Powerhouse Neon Nights

With a genre like synthwave getting little to no mainstream exposure, having an outlet for your music is very important. Thankfully, whether you’re an artist, writer, label, promoter, or even a fan, synthwave is very much hands on for everyone. The work to push this music to a bigger and better audience is something that we all have a hand in and it is this grassroots approach that makes the whole scene special. One of those involved in this push has a very visual way of helping the scene, and that brings us to Neon Nights.

If you’re not already familiar with the Neon Nights YouTube channel, you should probably stop what you are doing and CLICK HERE, then hit the subscribe button. Their channel gives artists very important access to thousands of YouTube viewers and they treat the little guy just the same as the big boys, which is my favorite thing about them.

What better way to thank them for their contribution to the scene than to feature them as this week’s Synthwave Sunday spotlight? Well, how about an interview too?!? Enjoy!

For someone who hasn’t visited the Neon Nights YouTube channel before, what can you tell us about it?

Neon Nights is a channel devoted to promotion of new and lesser known artists with an occasional venture into some more established names with less appreciated tracks. We are promoting synthwave, retrowave, outrun and any other genre that is influenced by and draws inspiration from the 80’s era and culture.

What made you decide to create the channel in the first place?

I’ve always been drawn to the 80’s era, but I never got the chance to experience it really, and I’ve always loved the sound of synth. I’ve listened to Edward Artemyev and Vangelis long before I knew how to read and write. Later on in my life my taste in music was eclectic, but a common thing in all genres was that I mostly liked the tracks and artists that used a lot of synth sounds, and for some past 5-6 years I’ve been making playlists with my friends which included a lot of music by Kavinsky, Lazerhawk, Megadrive, Dynatron, and many others. At the time, I had no clue that the music I was listening to was labeled synthwave, retrowave or outrun, I just went with it and enjoyed it. In time as my playlists got saturated with the usual suspects, and when I wanted to find more, I found a big gap, a void so to speak, between the well-known names in the scene, which were relatively few, and a plethora of names that were behind the curtain and making awesome music too.

That was the moment I decided to create the channel with a goal to get those lesser known talented guys some exposure and to have an awesome music platform in which hopefully not only I would be enjoying, but also the people coming to the channel and checking it out.

What has been the main goal of Neon Nights?

I wanted to share the passion and love of the genre with everyone else, and I figured making a channel on Youtube would be the right way to do it; I’d have a platform that would serve me as a constantly updated playlist, the artists would have a platform where they’d get free promotion and more visibility, and the community could check out the music that gets posted there and we would all enjoy it together. At least that was the plan, and I hope everything is going well for all sides so far!

How do you decide what songs you’re going to feature?

There are no strict rules, almost everyone gets featured as long as their music fits the genre, they are legit and the tracks are finished works, so no demos or previews. Recently though, I’ve started double checking some of the artists because there were a few cases of imposters and plagiarism, so if the artist doesn’t submit a few of their site links for reference I kindly ask them to do so, otherwise in such cases they don’t get featured.

If it is the other way around, and I stumble upon a track that sounds good, I’ll ask the artist for the permission to feature it, and if they approve it then it gets featured.

Where do you see synthwave headed as a genre?

Synthwave is more than recycled music from the 80’s, it is a genre that draws inspiration from an era and its culture, and the artists are some of the most talented people I’ve had a chance to communicate and work with. As more people get drawn in the genre I hope that they recognize this and respect the artists for what they are, and respect their music.

Currently there seems to be a big gap between a few well-known names that have basically coined the genre and then there is a plethora of lesser known artists that don’t seem to be getting the deserved recognition. I think that if the community gives an equal chance and the opportunity to all, and if they listen to the music without any prejudice and without placing themselves above the artists then synthwave will keep on growing into a healthy and an even more established genre.

What are some things you’d like to see more of?

I’d love to see more live events promoting the genre and the community, it would give a lot more visibility to the artists and the genre. Vinyl records are back too, but I know that they are quite expensive and not many artists have a chance to release their music on them, let’s hope that it changes, and we sure hope to be able to help in that way too in the future!

Visuals and graphics are one more thing that are becoming more present, that Neo 80’s feel, with bright colors and rad designs is always a pleasure to see. More of those fellow designers, please!

What has been the most successful video on the channel?

In terms of views, the most successful track on the channel is “Covenant” by Electric Dragon, behind it comes the Halloween mix I made last year with various artists, and after that one there are tracks from artists like IndiGhost, Iversen, and Road to Arcadia.

But, video views aside, in my own opinion the most successful tracks are the ones from the artists that due to the visibility gained from my channel go on to be featured on more bigger ones like NRW, or the artists that progress and release an EP, album, sign a label deal, and for all of that I have a few pretty good examples, just a few are StarSpawn, Zayaz, Iversen, and Isidor.

How has Neon Nights changed since you started?

In the beginning it was just a private hobby gone public, and as time passed by everything became a bit more serious, and I had a clear vision in which direction the channel should go. My mission now is more to promote the artists and giving back to the community. There are more feature submissions than ever, and the channel is being more and more recognized in the synthwave community, I guess this interview is one of the proofs to that too! Also there are now giveaways every now and then, which also wouldn’t be possible without the awesome generosity of the artists.

Any big plans for the rest of 2017 or the near future?

A few more mixes are in the works and the Halloween mix will probably become a ritual, so yeah, everyone can expect another awesome one this Halloween too! I’d also love to livestream more, but my internet is limited, I might try and get the help of the community to make that possible.

There will be more giveaways, and I might make a web app for easier submissions for the artists. For all that planning to get realized I also have to find someone who would help out a bit with the channel and everything, as it is already getting a bit too hard for one person to handle it all.

In the end we will see, but the channel will always be oriented to promotion of the artists and to giving back to the community!

Anyone you’d like to thank or shout out?

Big shout goes to my fam @80sEmperor, he recently stopped promoting and went for a break, I hope he comes back, he’ll always have my respect, as he selflessly helped me get my channel to where it is now. Also a big shout out to the whole community on twitter and facebook, to guys like Andy Synth, mods over at r/outrun, to you and everyone at Echosynthetic, and to the artists like our man Isidor, then Vampire Step-Dad, DREDDD, Zayaz, White Tiger, and all the others!

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