Synthwave Sunday: Straplocked / First Strike Review + Interview!

The end of last year saw a huge influx of amazing albums, so many in fact, that it’s taking me into the new year to get them all covered. One such album is the Straplocked full length, First Strike. What’s better, not only am I going to cover the album, I also have a full interview with Straplocked to cap it all off! We strive to please here at Echosynthetic, and I assure you, the more Straplocked you have in your life, the better!

The first thing you’re going to notice when you check out First Strike by Straplocked is that right out of the gate he’s hitting you with a blistering collaboration with Synthwave Guitar God, Dimi Kaye. Then you might be thinking to yourself, why in the world would he LEAD OFF with a Dimi Kaye track…how are you going to top that? Straplocked must be crazy…or, you know what? He might be really good. Having spent plenty of time with First Strike, I can vouch for the latter. Straplocked is really, really good at what he does.

The thing that strikes me the most (sorry about the pun, haha) about First Strike is how big and bold it sounds. It’s almost hard to describe how much weight this record has! Every guitar riff, bass hit, and harmony sounds like it’s enveloping you, especially if you’re listening with a good set of headphones. Make sure you’ve done some neck exercises as well…you know those dumb neck rolls that made you do during P.E. class that you thought had no purpose? Well they exist to prepare you to bang your head to synthwave, and First Strike is stacked with banging tracks.

Before we head into the interview, I want to make sure you hit play up above on the link to the album. I need you to understand the infectious hooks that Straplocked has infused into First Strike. Every track has one and they’re all different. Sometimes it’s a bass line, sometimes it’s a guitar riff, and other times it’s a nuanced thing that’s infused with all of the music. Regardless of where or how it appears, it works…Every. Single. Time.

You can find First Strike over at Bandcamp, where you will see my logo under the supporters. I’m fully willing to put my money where my mouth is when I tell you this is one of the best synthwave albums you will buy this year. Period.

Alright, now that you know what Straplocked sounds like, how good First Strike is, and where you can find it, let’s talk to the man behind the record!

For someone new to your music, what can you tell us about Straplocked?

I guess right now, what I’d tell someone new is to bear with me LOL!  I’m still pretty new to the scene and I am still in the process of finding my sound.  Right now, all I can tell you for sure, is that whatever my sound may ultimately be, its dark, aggressive and melodic at the same time.

You’ve been featured on NewRetroWave. What kind of boost did that give your music?

Well to be honest, not as much as I could have received. But, that’s my fault.  So far I’ve had 3 features on other artists tracks and one solo spot.  It honestly all comes down to how the release is setup BEFORE getting promotional exposure.  While the solo spot DEFINITELY helped get me more fans across the board, looking back I would have made sure that I had my social media accounts properly setup and the single already released on all platforms FIRST before submitting it for promotional consideration.  Like I said before, I’m still new to the scene and new to being a solo producer, so I’m still trying to figure all this stuff out! Mistakes are part of that journey.

What got you into music and what drove you toward synth based tunes?

Hmmmmm…. well, I’ve been involved in music in some capacity since I’ve been about six years old.  I have vague memories of learning to play classical guitar about the same time I started playing clarinet.  Guitar only really materialized when I was about 15 and I’ve stuck with that for the past 18 years.  What led me to synth based music was again completely by accident, lol. I had spent most of my 20s playing live guitar in bands that went absolutely nowhere and was frustrated by the amount of time that I had spent being stagnant.  So I decided to sell all of my live guitar equipment, pick up a copy of ableton live and a push 2 and give making house music a try.  I’m a huge Deadmau5 fan and thought, “I know quite a bit about music, how hard can it be?” Well, that was pretty arrogant to think because after about a month of TRYING to figure out how to use ableton live and making some pretty awful beats, I gave up.  Fast forward about a year later, March of this year to be exact, I forced myself to try again.  I remade a few songs to understand how to use the software better and started buying software synths like crazy.  A good friend of mine then introduced me to Perturbator’s Dangerous Days album and I became almost instantly hooked on synthwave.  I had passively been listening to synth wave for probably a couple of years already but, didn’t know how heavy the genre got and never explored it on my own until hearing that album.  After that, I started looking for synthwave presets for all the synths I had and then learned how to create those sounds on my own. Now, here I am 🙂

You’ve got a new album! Can you tell us about your debut full length?

Process wise, this album has been a huge learning experience for me.  It’s a blend of everything I’ve discovered and learned since getting into synthwave and is the first step in me being able to attain a fully realized personal style.  The main thing I’ve taken away from this process is to have a plan going in.  Being mainly a spontaneous person, this wasn’t part of the process of the first album but will definitely be part of the process moving forward.  Sound wise, the album blends mainly “diet dark” wave type sounds together to form what you’ll hear soon.

When you aren’t writing music, what do you do with your time?

Just living man 🙂 I’ve got a wonderful finance (who is actually starting to produce her own synth wave tracks) and 2 beautiful children with her.  That keeps us pretty busy.  I also own a small web design firm that I’m in the process of expanding to and with another company.  My life is hectic but amazingly fulfilling.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

Oh man easy. Volkor X!  In my opinion, he’s the most innovative guy on the scene and will be one of the key players in making this genre of music evolve.

Anyone you’d like to thank or shout out before we go?

Probably too many!  My family and friends and of course all the wonderful producers I’ve met that have helped me out; Thunder Porpoise, Moonraccoon, Sequencer, Dimi Kaye, Emmet Brown, William Henley, Ray Gun Hero, A Midnight Society, Occams Laser, Scott Forte and my friends at RetroSynth Records, Neon Nox, my buddy Jon Cassidy for all the mixing and mastering work he’s doing for me and my good friend Alex Donovan for introducing me to synthwave in the first place.

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