We’re closing out the 2017 Synthwave Sunday topics with an interview with French synthwave producer Jack Maniak. Before we get to that, you absolutely have to hear his new album, Code 403! What begins as a well produced and well written slice of dark synthwave really brings the heat about two minutes and forty seconds into the first track. That’s when savage guitar riffs bring some serious weight to the music, and also induces spontaneous headbanging. Did you think I was going to close the year out with something boring? Give me a break! Jack Maniak’s Code 403 is heavy, unpredictable, and more than anything else, addictive. Every track has a hook and I defy you to pull away once the hook is set.
The list of well used guitar work in synthwave is small but growing. The list of those using said guitars to add a metal swerve to the music? Even smaller, but also growing. Now narrow that list down to master level work at blending the heavy aesthetic with the synthwave and the group of artists would fit into the palm of your hand. Jack Maniak is firmly in that short list and Code 403 cements that status. At no point during my several complete album listening sessions did I get bored. In fact I found myself noticing small nuances…soaring synths that played off of a gutteral riff, harmonizing chords that weave in and out of a track, etc.
This is where I would typically tell you how to buy Code 403, but Jack Maniak covers that in the interview below. Instead I’ll urge you to follow him on Twitter and on Facebook! Now, let’s have a chat with Jack Maniak!
For someone hearing your music for the first time, how would you describe it?
It is a mixture of new synthwave (retrowave) and hard rock. I put guitar riffs in to increase the bassline impact and guitar solos when needed to replace the voice melody. As the first album was on the theme of a space invasion, it has some special sounds like theremin and solo leads like Jean Michel Jarre. The main thing was to create great melodies like in the 80s but with a powerful impact (big sound and great basslines to make the groove).
What was is the story behind Code 403?
All my albums will speak about my character Jack, à young adult who have special abilities; he will discover them gradually. In the first opus, Jack had to face an alien invasion (with 80s references) and was the only one who could win against them by activating the code 403 to launch a secret weapon. All the tracks are about a little story of the journey until the epic final “Glory”. The feeling of this song should let you know if Jack has won or not 🙂
Each song is in the “story” order and my better help you understand Jack’s journey and the evolution of the fight.
The album sounds absolutely massive! What do you use in the studio?
First of all, I am a composer and not a sound engineer, so I went in the Lower Tones Place Studio to mix and master my tracks with Edgard Chevallier (who did a great job). I wanted something massive like Carpenter Brut because, as I said, I like to do retro but in a modern way; with guitar riffs and big distorsion basses, it has to be huge.
I love the guitars and the heavy tilt the music has! What were your musical inspirations?
Well, no particular inspiration, I just do what music inspires me at the moment; I play in 2 other bands (Idensity and Omrade) which are more about Metal and Avant-garde, so I have a natural background of heavy riffs, lol. Also, since I am a drummer first, I could create punchy drum/bass fills.
What are some of your favorite musical releases of 2017?
I like Perturbator’s last album, but generally bands who have their own universe like FM84, Volkor X, Carpenter Brut (of course), Daniel Deluxe, Dance with the dead, Gunship…
Favorite film of the 1980’s?
So many, lol! Terminator, Gremlins, Star Wars, etc…
What led you down the path to creating synthwave?
I always had a keyboard at home and, and even though I am a drummer first, I have played more and more synth lately. It is now my main instrument! Experimenting in my other bands was probably the sign for me to go further, and as I loved the 80s it was natural for me to go toward synthwave because I love creating melodies.
Anyone you’d like to thank before we go?
Sure! First I want to thank you for the interview, I hope your readers will like it, more information can of course be found on my Facebook/Twitter pages. I want to thank Jet Set Trash (Digital) and Midnight Pursuit (cassette) to help me on this adventure, and Julian Lopez Gamella for the great artwork he did on this first album.