Synthwave Sunday: Enzo Van Baelen Interview + Antwerp!

It’s always a big deal when TimeSlave Recordings co-founder Enzo Van Baelen has new music. In 2017 he dropped a ton of amazing singles, including Fireball, which was nominated for a Synthy Award for Single of the Year! Finally, after a year of teasing us with singles, Enzo is delivering his first full length record! Antwerp is bringing together all of the tracks you know and love already, like Testarossa, Night Shift, Scottie (Part 1), and the aforementioned Fireball, but we’re getting a LOT more than that. How much more? Let’s dive in!

The first thing you’re going to notice about Antwerp is how good it sounds. Enzo Van Baelen trusted his tracks to ZAYAZ for mastering, and I can tell you right now, it was well founded! This is a tight record, and ZAYAZ deserves a nod for it, so, hat’s off man! Enzo also has some pretty stellar guest artists involved, including Night Shift, Occams Laser, Kid Neon, and ZAYAZ. What you get a sum that is far greater than the parts. Sure, I’ve loved hearing Enzo’s tracks as he released them over the past year, but hearing them alongside the new music is a completely different experience! Besides, Antwerp contains what has to be one of the best synthwave arcade anthems ever, King of Kong (Ballad of Billy Mitchell). Seriously, for a kid who grew up in the arcade, it’s like a slice of my childhood compressed into a track.

Antwerp comes out January 22nd on TimeSlave Recordings, but pre-orders are live right now! Even more exciting, there’s a limited edition vinyl that ships out in March. Only 100 are being made, so don’t sit on this. Besides, we all know that it’s going to sell out! Head over to Bandcamp right now to get your orders in!

Get your pre-order in now! I know I did!

I had the chance to talk to Enzo over the past week about the record, how life is at TimeSlave Recordings, and a whole lot more! Settle in for our #SynthwaveSunday conversation this weekend!

Antwerp, your debut full length, is set to release soon. What is going through your mind?

Good question!  I guess I’m feeling understandably nervous about how people will react to hearing it. When we started this label, the plan was to work on our own music first and foremost – which hasn’t necessarily panned out. To be honest, a lot of other things have got in the way – not least the level of admin and organisation. So the process has felt a little disjointed in some respects!

All that said, to be honest, I’m just stoked to have pulled together what I think is an unpretentious and catchy homage to an era I love. I really hope people enjoy it.

You worked with some pretty amazing artists on the record. Can you tell us a little more about that?

Well I’m lucky to be able to work with my brother (Kid Neon) on a day-to-day basis. His shredding guitar solos are the business. But also to work with Occams Laser – one of my favourite Synthwave producers. When you work with an established artist like that, it’s a strange feeling sending them a sketch that feels unfinished, but it worked well. And after some back and forth I think that track really came out sounding solid.

Night Raptor was one of the first artists we signed up to work with as a label and I think his melodies really brought the title track (Antwerp) to life. He’s a huge talent.

I really have to thank ZAYAZ as well. He’s one of the nicest guys on the scene and a massively gifted musician. He mastered the album and pulled out a fire remix of Termination. The mastering process isn’t in my skill set and the pop in the speaker when I heard the final product left me thinking I was listening to something else! That was special.

I’ve been following your music since I started Echosynthetic. Why did you wait so long to release an album?

It’s time more than anything. I’ve spent most of the last 4 weeks with my brother and girlfriend up to our necks in cardboard trying to get vinyl out to our customers. And most of the last year has been like that – a steady encroaching on our spare time! Don’t get me wrong, I love it. Holding my brother’s debut album in my hand was a feeling I’ll never forget. It was like “we’ve landed”! I feel the same every time a new record arrives from the pressing plant and I can’t wait to see more of our artists having that feeling too. That’s what it’s all about.

The Echo Chamber articles that you contribute to Echosynthetic are massively popular! Can we expect more of those throughout 2018?

Yeah man. I love this site. The biggest issue with this scene is the lack of quality, in-depth coverage and Echosynthetic is playing a huge role in filling that void – and maintaining the progress of the music we all love. Without the podcasts and blogs there would be nothing to pull it all together. As long as people want to read my nonsense I’ll keep writing it.

2017 was a massive year for TimeSlave Recordings. How are you coping with the rapid growth?

We’re not… Haha. No, it’s tough, don’t get me wrong. I’ve already cut my hours at work to do more with the label, because it’s growing every week and we keep reaching new milestones all of the time. But we have taken on help for when the orders really pile up.

The guys on the label are great too. We have a vibrant slack group to share tracks and float ideas around. I really want to thank them for tolerating my random bursts of energy, which can sometimes seem like I’m chasing tangents relentlessly. They all took a chance on me and my brother – and it means a lot to be able to work with them and hopefully to help them get where they want to go with their music.

Speaking of 2017, what was your favorite record of the year?

Tough question. I’m gonna avoid a diplomatic incident by picking something not from our label…

Nocturnal by The Midnight is an obvious choice. But I also loved Return to Alvograth by Futurecop! and I’m a huge fan of Droid Bishop’s work so perhaps ‘End of Aquarius’. To be honest, there’s a whole heap of albums I’ve discovered in recent months which are from back in the early days of the scene, and I wouldn’t mind tipping my cap to De Lorra who deserves a lot more hype.

What are your plans for 2018?

We needed to learn how to handle big vinyl releases, and after some early hiccups I think we’ve got there. It sounds like a first world problem, but setting up a system for shipping is harder than it seems. I don’t want to be responsible for another Olde English Spelling Bee debacle. I have sympathy for the work they found themselves with – after selling way over 1,000 copies of Macintosh Plus. But you only have one chance to build a reputation.

2018 is going to be about continuing to build the relationships we have within the scene – and hopefully bringing more records and cassettes to people.

In terms of musical direction, we will always be a synthwave label, but we want to branch into all types of retro sounds. So expect a bit more in a vaporwave vein, as well as some more synth pop. And maybe a live event in London during the summer.

Any New Year’s Resolutions?

Find more time to make tunes. Be more organised. Smoke less.

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

Too right! Everyone at TimeSlave Recordings – in no particular order: The G, 24-7, ZAYAZ, KiLoSo, PsyKat, COMPUTRONIC, Occams Laser, Night Raptor, Galaxy 80, Cybertonix, Lars Lennarth, U-KOH…

To everyone we’ve worked with this year: including Michael Oakley, Neon Shudder, BVSMV, Decade Defector, Richard (aka Shokizm), Krazie Kras, Primorph, Ethereal Delusions, Futurecop!, Droid Bishop, waterfront dining, Spettro Family, and anyone I’ve forgotten.

Special thanks to my brother Kid Neon. It’s a family affair and I couldn’t do it without him.

Also, to my girlfriend who tolerates me spending almost every waking hour listening to, talking about or making synthwave.


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