Synthwave Sunday: An Interview With Decade Defector

There are a lot of upcoming releases but few have me excited as the Renegade EP by Decade Defector. If the title track feat. Tom Edwards on vocals is any indication of how good it’s going to be, Decade Defector are set to have one of 2017’s hottest releases. If you’ve not heard it it yet, I’ve linked it below so you can listen along while you read. If you’ve not listened to Decade Defector yet, consider this entire article a friendly nudge to get you on board before they hit the big time.

We had the chance to talk to Nate VanBuskirk, the man behind Decade Defector over this past week to get some insights on what’s to come!

Who is Decade Defector?

Decade Defector is my Synthwave moniker. I picked it because of the influence the 80s has on Synthwave music. I see myself as a defector of the current decade because of my dislike for today’s popular music. So it’s like I’m defecting from this decade and returning to the 80s, musically speaking. Outside of Synthwave I go by Nate VanBuskirk, I’m 27 years old and live in Dayton, Ohio. I began making Synthwave music under the Decade Defector name a little over 2 years ago. I started out making a few covers of Kavinsky’s Nightcall as a means of learning Logic Pro X and Synthwave production. Nightcall playing during the beginning scenes of Drive also played a major roll in my discovery of the genre. We’ll get into that more later!

You’ve got new music coming out soon. What can you tell us about it?

Yes I do! For the past year or so I’ve been working on my debut EP, Renegade. It will contain 5 tracks and is scheduled to release next month! I’m currently working on the final track and I’m just about at the mixing and mastering stage. The EP will contain 2 instrumental tracks and 3 tracks with vocals. I really think it’s sounding great and I’m so excited to release it! Additionally, Neon Nights will be doing a giveaway for free download codes to the EP once it releases so stay on the lookout! If you want to get a preview of the EP, I have released a preview track on my Soundcloud page. Furthermore, you can listen to “On The Beat (feat. Dave Maverick)”, 1 of 5 tracks from the EP, in it’s entirety on the Neon Nights YouTube channel!

What has been your biggest inspiration? Why did you start writing music?

Without a doubt, Drive the movie with Ryan Gosling was my biggest inspiration. I remember hearing good things about it and decided to watch it one night and was blown away by the soundtrack. At the time, I had no idea what that genre of music was even called so naturally, I did some googling and my world was opened to the retro magic of Synthwave! I was so inspired by Drive that the very next day I drove to Guitar Center and bought a used MicroKorg. Additionally, I bought the same pair of boots, and the replica jacket, that Ryan wears in the movie! Okay, enough of that before I really start to make myself sound creepy, ha ha.

Ever since I was 13 years old I have been involved with music in one way or another. I started out playing guitar in a death metal band with my younger brother and our friends. We mostly played cover songs but we had a few originals where I got to write my own riffs. We even played at a school dance, which thinking back on it now, why the hell would a school ever want a death metal band playing at their school dance! We had a lot of friends though so everyone was into it, or pretended to be ha. That band lasted about a year before we disbanded due to lack of interest and/or not having any free time away from school sports. I continued to play guitar though, and even started playing piano once I started attending college. There was this amazing baby grand in a study lounge that anyone was free to play so I was in there whenever it was open practicing and learning from YouTube videos. Then one day the piano was gone! This really upset me and gave me the initial push towards buying my own piano/keyboard so I could keep playing. It just so happens that this was right around the time I watched Drive and was exposed to Synthwave music, and that just cemented my desire to buy my own equipment so I could keep playing! I started writing music because it gave me a feeling of accomplishment that nothing else had or has to this day. Any musician will tell you, there’s nothing like that feeling you get when you listen to your own music and you actually like it and believe it’s good enough to share!

What is your writing process like?

I usually start the process by taking a day or two to listen to as much Synthwave and 80s music as I can. When I come across a track I like I make sure to write down the artist and track name. Once I’ve got about 4 or 5 of these tracks picked out I pull them up on Youtube/Bandcamp/Soundcloud to be used as reference tracks throughout the writing process. I usually try to pick the tempo and key of the track first. After I’ve got that sorted, I start with a drum beat and bass line. I then work on the melody, pads, fills, FX, and arrangement of the track. During the arrangement period I decide if the track will have vocals or be instrumental. If the track suits vocals I get in touch with my friend Tom Edwards and send him a rough version of the track so he can write and record vocals. We communicate back and forth via email and Facebook messenger. Once I have his vocal files I start working on the mix and getting the track ready for mastering. I share all updates with Tom so we are both actively involved in the writing process. A track is only released if we are both happy with the end result. Also, now seems like a good time to announce that Tom Edwards is now an official member of Decade Defector! I’m pumped to bring him on full time and ecstatic that he likes the music enough to sign on! I’m proud to say that I  introduced Tom to Synthwave music!

What is your recording setup?

I use Logic Pro X as my DAW, a Novation Impulse 49 midi controller, a Komplete Audio 6 interface, and KRK Rokit 5s for monitors. I mostly make music “In the Box”, some of my favorite plugins are the Korg Legacy Collection, Arturia V Collection, Aly James VProm,  Dexed, OBXD, and Sample Magic’s Synthwave Drums. Logic’s Retro Synth is pretty great too! However, I really want to start using more hardware in my music. Recently, I’ve purchased a Yamaha DX7, Korg DW-8000, Roland TR-707, and a Roland TR-626. You can hear the TR-707 on my upcoming track “On The Beat” and the TR-626 on another upcoming track of mine, “Sink”! Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had a chance to incorporate the DX7 or DW-8000 but that time is coming soon!

Best live show you’ve ever been to?

That would have to go to my favorite band, Modest Mouse! I love their music so much and even have a left leg full of tattoos inspired by their music and artwork! I saw them for the first time with my friend in Columbus, Ohio after having listened to them all through junior high and high school. I knew all the words to every song and seeing them play live while being in the front row was just amazing! I think what made it my favorite live show was the fact that I had waited so, so long to see them in concert and it was finally happening! They sounded just as great as they did on their albums as well!

What are some tracks you’ve been into lately?

The Midnight – Nighthawks
Gunship – Shadow Fury
Com Truise – Syrthio
Meteor – Contact
Toro Y Moi – You and I
Toro Y Moi – Mirage
Chromeo – Hot Mess
Tesla Boy – Undetected
Queens of the Stone Age – You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire
Why? – Waterlines
Dance Gavin Dance – Flossie Dickey Bounce
Veil Of Maya – Unbreakable
Volumes – Wormholes
Modest Mouse – Pups to Dust
Modest Mouse – Sugar Boats
Tom Edwards – Pretty Green Eyes

What are your plans for the rest of 2017?

To finally release my debut EP, Renegade! I’ve been working on it for a year now and my original release date was March 2017 haha. The next thing would be to save as much as possible for my upcoming wedding in March 2018!

Anyone you’d like to thank or shout out?

I would first like to thank you for giving me my first interview ever! This is a huge milestone for me and I really am grateful for this! Secondly, I want to say thanks (or sorry) to my fiancee Stephanie, who has supported and encouraged me throughout writing the EP and has also had to listen to the same loops of music over and over for the last year (hence the sorry part).I also want to give a huge shout out to Tom Edwards who, I believe, has really helped take my music to the next level. Again, I’m super pumped he’s now a full time member of Decade Defector. Next, I want to think everyone who helped me with this EP such as: Tom Edwards (Vocals), Dave Maverick (Guitar), Tim Waves ( EP Artwork), and Mikolaj Wieczorkiewicz (Mastering). I want to thank all the Synthwave social media outlets out there that tirelessly support the scene and bring in new fans everyday! Lastly, a huge thanks to all my fans out there that have helped get me to this point!


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