Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vangelis Sound from the Little Phatty, via mik300z of YouTube

Like Vangelis?  So do I.  Recently YouTube user mik300z put up an excellent video showcasing a Little Phatty emulating the classic Vangelis sound made on the Yamaha CS80.  If you're a Blade Runner fan, you'll love this.  Since he go so many replies, he even recreates the patch so you can make your own at home.  Check it out!  And while you're at it, why not head over to his YouTube page or one of the video pages and thank him?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

that girl with dark eyes-- Edgy 80s Sounds from a One-Woman Operation

that girl with dark eyes, AKA Tiffany Sotomayor, is a great synthy singer-songwriter out of San Francisco/ Barcelona.  I received an email about her a week ago and am finally getting this post I wanted up now.  A couple of my favorites of her tracks from her SoundCloud include "Hey Baby" and "Balloon".  "Hey Baby" features some great Chromeo-esque leads and crisp beats.  "Balloon" features some 80s styling, pad stabs, and a warm grumbly bass.  Great stuff.

Check out all the tracks from her recent digital release below.  I'm really excited to hear what she comes up with next, so keep an eye out for more in the new year.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm not dead... here's some music!

Hey readers,
I know it's been a while.  I haven't even checked the stats page in some time, I'm sure alot of you guys stopped checking in daily after that fall off of posts... just letting you know, I am really busy with schoolwork right now, and in addition to that there isn't a ton of new synth news... mostly some companies sitting on their asses about new great products, and some actually putting some together... unfortunately, the synth world is a bit split nowadays.  Tons of money gets put into researching making the best workstations and digital synths.  Nothing's wrong with digital, but it needs to be balanced with analog-- a bit like pie and ice cream.  A warm part and a colder part.  It's silly, but it's the truth.  For every great Moog or DSI product, we also see a ton of whack digital crap.  Analog's a bit like vinyl-- it's coming back, but not many companies realize it, or if they do, they're trying to ignore it.  So don't give up on this site-- I haven't.  I've just been busy, and there hasn't been groundbreaking news to me, although there is a ton of new music swirling around... much of it I'm unaware of.

Keep in mind I always want to keep the posts on this site of a certain quality.  I don't want to bog you down with eBay listings (if you wanted eBay, you'd be there, not here).  I don't cover the page with silly YouTube videos of huge modular systems where one can't make sense of it.  I try to keep it pure here-- pure entertainment, little advertising (almost none at this point!), and nothing but good music.

Here's a few tracks to fill the void of absence...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Breaking: Daft Punk's website changes, speculation begins

Exciting news that Daft Punk's website has updated it's look-- which only means one thing-- a big announcement is around the corner!  Sure, it's complete speculation, but I wouldn't doubt that Thomas and Guy-Manuel are up to going to announce a new record soon.  We're coming up on about a year anniversary of the release of the Tron: Legacy Soundtrack, but it's been a full 6 years since Human After All came out.  The French duo HAD to have done more in that time-- there were reports a couple years ago that they were recording again, so it's unclear if it was the Tron soundtrack or a new record, but this site update is promising.  Expect some sort of announcement soon, and cross your fingers for a new record!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Korg announce 2 new Monotrons

What a nice little treat for Friday!  Korg has announced two new additions to the analog "mono" family, the Monotron Duo and the Monotron Delay.  These are the siblings to the original Monotron, sharing the same MS-20 filter and oscillators, but each has replaced a function of the original.  The Delay features, obviously, a Delay, but omits the pitch knob and the resonance.  It now features a wide-range ribbon for sounds across multiple octaves.  This delay is really exciting because it can process external sounds-- that's the true value of this item.  The Duo features a ribbon that can lock to major, minor, or chromatic scaling, and features two oscillators that can be used to cross modulate one another.  It also omits the original Monotron's LFO.  Check out the videos above and below for some compact analog goodness.

Dear Korg, while you're at it making these great little analog treats, why not combine them to make a new analog classic?  You're halfway there.  Adding some envelopes, a keyboard, and a little bit more size to the unit for this low of a price would make it a musician's dream.  Everyone would want one.  Pretty please, Korg?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chromeo treat the Electric Factory to Halloween Funk

Chromeo were in Philadelphia this Monday for Halloween.  While the Electric Factory is not my favorite of the Philly venues, I could tell something special was in the air when I arrived.  Perhaps it was the mutual high blood sugar shared by all the guests at the Factory.  Tons of kids were dressed in costumes, some of which were hilarious-- definitely a few unique choices thrown in, too.  I haven't even been a Chromeo fan for long, but I was really anticipating their show, and they sure as hell delivered.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dave Smith Interview: We talk Tempest with a synth legend

As some of you may have noticed, I recently changed the header of the site to a certain familiar font-- that of Dave Smith Instrument's logo.  It's commemorating the release of the new Tempest, DSI's brand new analog/digital hybrid drum machine.  I'd been trying to score an interview with Dave for a couple months now, but he's been quite busy at work on his newest classic.  Finally, that interview is up today.

To call Dave an audio electronic engineer who owns is own company just doesn't quite cut it.  He's very much a legend in the world of synthesizers.  If you don't know why, you'd have to try hard to not find his influence.  Dave started Sequential Circuits back in the mid-70s, a music company.  They created the first programmable polyphonic synthesizer, the Prophet-5, in 1977.  Prophet-5s are still highly sought after today and is arguably the greatest synthesizer ever made.  In addition to that and other great products made by SCI, Dave helped create MIDI, the universal music standard we all use for our keyboards-- he even coined the term.  Sequential Circuits was eventually bought out and Dave had stints at other companies making digital products, only to return to his roots more recently with Dave Smith Instruments, who've also remade his classic Prophet-5 as the Prophet '08, in addition to other new classics like the Evolver and Mopho.

I can't help but feel lucky to get a chance to chat with such a legendary name in electronic music.  I sit here with my Mopho Keyboard and my Tetra just within reach, two of DSI's recent creations, which I love to play.  The Tempest marks a huge moment for many synthusiasts as it's a truly rare breed-- drum machines aren't as popular, let alone an analog and digital hybrid.  While I haven't tried a Tempest yet and there aren't many (if any) reviews out yet, early impressions say Dave has once again set the bar incredibly high for competitors with a new classic.  Check out what Dave has to say on Roger Linn and the Tempest below.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Live Review: Anoraak and Fred Falke rock the Brooklyn Bowl

On Saturday, I went up to New York City to catch Anoraak and Fred Falke live at the Brooklyn Bowl.  If you've never been to the Brooklyn Bowl, I highly recommend it-- it had an incredibly chill vibe, great disco balls, and was one of the best venues I've ever been to.

Check out the full review, pictures, and video below.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Space out with the Yamaha CS-80

I found this amazing video of the Yamaha CS-80 a couple nights ago which showcases some awesome sounds and really shares the beauty of the instrument.  This video comes from Logan Mannstrane, who has an awesome Vimeo account dedicated to ambient synth sounds here.  I've also posted a couple of his other videos below, the Oberheim 4 Voice SEM and a custom SCI Pro-One.  All  of his are beautifully shot.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Arturia planning Oberheim SEM Virtual Synth Plugin

Arturia is planning a new remake for the virtual synth line of the classic Oberheim SEM synthesizer, continuing their long line of virtual synth plugins based on classic synths.  Currently, they have the Minimoog Model D, SCI Prophet 5, and Roland Jupiter 8 to name a few.  The Oberheim joins the team, and it's the first virtual Oberheim I've seen.  More details should be on Arturia's site on the 25th of October.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

So as everyone has heard, Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple, died today.  It's been pretty much all over the news, and has got me thinking a bit.

I've grown up with Apple products since I was a little kid.  As far as I can remember, we never had a PC in my house.  I remember my family getting the first iMac G4 that was shaped like a bubble in the base.  It was the coolest thing 11 year old me had ever seen.  I remember my brother getting the first iteration of the iPod, which was blocky compared to today's standards, but as state-of-the-art as they came at the time.  I remember trying my first iPhone and iPod Touch in the local Apple store.  My family has often been called gadget people, so for me, what Steve Jobs created wasn't just high end gizmos-- they were little pieces of the future, as if we were lucky enough to try something we only saw in movies.  Another magic moment I can remember is trying iChat with video conferencing before Skype was big-- I was able to see my brother who was miles off at college face to face.  These major tech moments, where I was fascinated by technology and felt like I was seeing into the future (if you've seen Back to the Future II, it was like feeling that world in my own).  Everything else that's not Apple almost seems derivative to me-- so much of what I'm intrigued by is fed by Apple products.  I wouldn't be able to blog without my laptop, I wouldn't have the music collection I do, I wouldn't be able to play games on my phone like I do, or listen to music anywhere I want.  I'm not saying I live and breath Apple, but when I touch technology, I might as well be touching Apple products.  While it almost sounds like I'm saying Apple is dying, I know it isn't, but I'm not sure if it will ever be the same because the creative force pushing it is now different.

In hundreds of years, I think Steve Jobs will be one of those guys who we group in with other inventors like Watts and Ford. There have been many contributions to technology and science lately, but only Jobs has left a mark on so many different areas-- he founded Pixar, changed computers, and changed the way we look at phones.  Sure, there are a ton of copy cats of the iPhone and iPad now, but without him coming first, we wouldn't know these great devices.  Macs are used pretty commonly in making music nowadays-- you can watch any amount of Future Music's In The Studio interviews and see that most of the producers use Macs.  There's very much a connection between music and Mac-- after all, they started the iTunes store in addition to iPods, and they've made it super easy to make your own music on Logic or Garageband.  All this wouldn't exist without Steve Jobs' innovation.

So I just wanted to say thanks, Steve Jobs.  You've put the future on our desks, on our TV and silver screens, in our hands, in our pockets, and in our ears.  You've forced every other company to try to catch up, and you've pushed the quality of technology much further than it would have been without you.  You will live on as a legend for many reasons.  Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Incredible Free VSTs and AUs: Togu Audio Line

Togu Audio Line is a free, donation based VST and AU plugin collection from the awesome Patrick Kunz.  These great plugins got my attention a couple months back when some guests mentioned that they used them, and more recently I've seen that even the mighty Fred Falke is a fan.

I strongly encourage you to donate to this guy if you get some of his plugins, because they're way too much of a steal.  I'll list off a few that he has up for grabs:

The TAL-U-No-62, which is based off of a Roland Juno 60, is great for polyphonic sounds.  Seen above, it's a great way to get an idea of a Juno 60 without breaking your bank.  There's also the TAL-Chorus-60, which is what Fred Falke used in one of his tracks.  This is a great way to add the very famous vintage chorus to any synth, let alone a Juno imitator.

The TAL-Bassline is based off of the Roland SH-101, another classic synth.  Off the top of my head, both guests Frankmusik and Starsmith used the real deal.  This is perfect to put together a great low end, or even a lead on your track.

The TAL-NoiseMaker is another synth plugin.  Not based on a retro synth, but plenty of options to mess around with too, especially if you're trying to go more "modern" and don't want the limitations of the classics.

There's even more on the site, including an EQ, a Reverb, a Vocoder, and more.  This is the PERFECT place to start if you want some free plugins straight away on your new DAW (or even something like Garageband!)  Part of the reason these types of plugins are so desirable is they limit you in the way the classic synths did-- that's why the programmers of the 80s were so awesome.  They invented ways to get great sounds out of some synths that weren't easily programmed or didn't have a ton of options.

Check out the site here and be sure to donate if you download!  I'm sure the programmer appreciates any little bit he can get for his time.

Marina and the Diamonds - Radioactive [Starsmith Rework]

Apologies for being out of the posting loop the past couple days... I'll be on my best to get more posts up soon!

So this track isn't even going to be released, which is a shame, because it's some of Starsmith's best remix work.  The track is Marina and the Diamonds' "Radioactive" off of her next record, Electra Heart.  I haven't heard the original (not sure if it's even out) but this remix really nails a great groove and gets the feet shuffling.  Starsmith's really developed into an excellent producer.  Why isn't this being released you ask?  At this point, there has to be some greater evil working against Starsmith.  I wouldn't  rule out the Illuminati or Freemasons.  There's been a few of his mixes rejected, and the greatest crime of all was his label dropping support for his solo record, which I discussed with him in his interview here.  Hopefully that will be properly released within the next year or two, and not become his equivalent to Weezer's Songs from the Black Hole.

Fin, if you're listening, never stop making great music.

Check back for more posts soon!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

From the desk of the Sympathizer...

So we've just cracked 70 posts, and hit 10,000 visits a week or two ago, so it's been a really exciting time for me as the writer of this site.  When I started this site in May, I didn't think it would be where it is right now-- I've gotten to interview many great artists, some of whom I even consider favorites, and others that are soon to be favorites as they release more music.

Something I've noticed with many of the guests is that there's now a blurred line in music production that didn't exist 20 years ago.  It used to be common for artists to only write their music and perform it, and the producer would record them, and make their records click and sound well on the radio.  Hiring a good producer and recording in a good studio costed thousands of dollars, so in order to get to that point, unless you were rich, you needed to impress a fair amount of people.  Now, with the advancement of computers, artists are doing almost everything outside of selling their music-- they're writing it, recording it, mixing it, programming it, using all the effects.

It's this sort of production that makes me wonder where the real talent lies in some of the more mainstream cultures of music.  Watching American Idol and the X-Factor shows off a ton of people who have "good" voices (I use quotes because it's really about taste at the end of the day) but many of them-- even most of them-- don't know the first thing about writing songs, or playing an instrument, let alone recording outside of their own voice.

I find it alarming that you can look up the producers of the top ten songs on iTunes and elsewhere and realize that the producers who craft those tracks are the real talent and yet go unnoticed by most of the public.  Would you have guessed that one of the producers who's made Katy Perry's Teenage Dream (the record) such a hit also did Britney Spears, Pink, and even some of N'Sync's hits back in the 90s?  That's all the work of Max Martin, who you've probably never heard of but is consistently selling millions.  What is the value of those singers, besides "good" voices and looks?  As American Idol and X-Factor show us, there's plenty of "good" singers, and with autotune, you don't even need a good singer.

I think part of the reason I'm so drawn to electronic music is the fact that you can usually trust who made it is who made it.  There's no disconnect-- generally the "demos" are what you hear as the final finished record, albiet a bit fatter or better produced in the purely "clean and big" sounding way.  There is, of course, many different levels between the singers who are their producer's marionettes and the producers who are the artists.  Visitor, who were guests a couple months back, send off their demos to Diamond Cut who re-records some synth parts for them.  Starsmith and Ellie Goulding sit in a room together and write, and while Ellie is certainly a talented singer, without her and Starsmith working together, probably wouldn't be quite the hit they were (although it's technically the Ellie Goulding record).

So what does this all mean, really?  I hope there's more acts that work like Ellie and Starsmith, or Visitor and Diamond Cut in the future, or just Producer-Artists.  The producers who work in the shadows on the hits feel so misleading to me.  There's a ton of people (most likely younger people) who probably think someone like Katy Perry is a hit because of her talent-- I won't say she's a bad singer (how can you tell anymore?  Is she auto-tuned, is she even singing live?) but she's certainly not only reason her music sells so well.

A little food for thought on a Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The DSI Tempest is almost here...

All you lovers of drum beats and Analog/ Digital combos can rejoice that the much sought after Dave Smith Instruments Tempest is almost here!

The release date of this soon to be legend has been clicked back a few times, but it looks as though we've just about made it-- I've most recently heard it should be just about ready in another week.  If you haven't heard about this thing, be prepared to be talking about it for the next twenty years-- this is just about as classic as it's going to get.  Dave Smith, who helped pioneer polyphony in synths and created the Prophet 5 and Pro One, teamed up with Roger Linn, who created the LinnDrum and other classic drum machines.  Mixing these two together is a recipe for awesome, as they're both incredible innovators in music technology.  Great drum machines seem to be dying down, and analog drum sounds are becoming even rarer, but the Tempest is going to change all that.  Not only does it feature analog oscillators and the warm Curtis filter found in the other DSI products, but it also includes 2 digital oscillators per voice as well.  Not only that, but it also has samples of Roger Linn's older drum machine creations.  This represents such an important step in music tech because of the beautiful marriage of analog and digital sounds, which compliment each other so nicely, as we could see in the DSI Evolver and PolyEvolver.  This is pretty much the perfect piece of equipment if you're looking for a high end drum machine of today-- but enough gushing, watch the video below.

Hopefully we'll see this thing shipping in another week or so-- I'm sure the last little bits are just tiny software issues ironing out and are worth the wait.  After this, who knows what's next for DSI?  They have synths in pretty much every price bracket... perhaps we'll see a keyboard version of Tetra, or something even grander...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Frankmusik Interview: On Do It In The A.M., Erasure, and the perfect Pop Record

Frankmusik is a really exciting artist for me to be able to interview.  His music helped kick start my initial interest in electronic music and the 80s revival.  His track "3 Little Words" off his record Complete Me, along with its awesome retro-feel video was the start of my own personal music evolution.  Not only was "3 Little Words" great, but the rest of the record was an awesome collection of beautifully mixed vintage and new elements, as it featured old-school chip tune style sounds, as well as borderline show-tune piano all expertly crafted. To this date, Frankmusik has inspired many, but no one else has come close to his unique style of beautiful vocals over warm synths, catchy hooks, and classic piano.

Of course, when I heard FM had moved to L.A. for his next record (if I recall correctly, I remember him tweeting in 2009 how if Complete Me wasn't a hit, he wanted to move to L.A. and make a pop record) I was a little concerned.  In my opinion, he'd have to change drastically for US radio.  Was the singer selling out?  My concerns grew when his collaborations with Far East Movement, who are very much in the rap/pop realm of the US currently, landed him on Jimmy Kimmel Live.  Was FM trying to be the next US pop star? Would he trade his awesome original niche for a taste of some stateside fame and boring electropop?  I voiced these concerns via Twitter and that's when FM first got in contact with me.

A little over a month ago, I chatted with Frankmusik about his new record, Do It In The A.M., but didn't get enough information at the time for a proper interview.  After seeing him in Philadelphia, he promised to finish up some follow up questions I had sent him via email.  The first set below are from our chat over Skype, and the second half is from our email correspondance.  I've edited the Skype chat a bit to make it more readable and taken out some dialogue, but there was no edits to the words.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Sanfernando Sound remixes Kites & Starlings

The Sanfernando Sound, a guest on the blog a month or so ago, has been recently been keeping his hands full with some awesome remix work.  The most recent is "The Disappearance of Becky Sharp" by Kites, released just a couple days ago.  I'm not familiar with Kites, but they seem to have a great nostalgic feel to them-- a perfect coupling for the talents of The Sanfernando Sound.  This is his second remix for Kites, the first being "A Flower Is All That Remains" shown below.

My personal favorite of the new remixes is of Starlings' "Dark Arts" which is, again, a great retro-sounding track with a whirlwind of classic synths that makes my feet want to shuffle in my chair.  Check out all the great remixes and be sure to watch out for the official release of the remix to "Dark Arts" on October 10th.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Synth Magic's LUCEifer: Awesome Free Poly Moog Emulation for PC

Synth Magic has just showed off a new freebee for all you PC users out there-- sadly I'm a mac user, so I can't be playing with this, but this demo sounds so good I HAVE to show it off.

Judging by the sounds of the YouTube clip above, this one is going to be a hit-- it offers a great emulation of the very famous PolyMoog-- all the sounds are straight Gary Numan and other 80s classics.  Much of the clip even reminds me of Blade Runner and Terminator.  I'd love to hear what you guys think, so be sure to give a shout to me or praise Synth Magic on Twitter for his awesome work.

You can download this VST for free here.  Be sure to check it out!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Mix

Below are some recent great tracks that have come through in the past few weeks.  Check them out, and be sure to check out the artist's SoundClouds by clicking their usernames.  Some of the tracks are FREE as well, so be sure to download!

AIMES - 'Sorry Bout Ur Fame' 2011 Summer Promo Mix by Aimes

+ AIMES's record on Beatport and iTunes

Friday, September 9, 2011

Frankmusik Live at the Theater of the Living Arts, Sept 8th 2011

It's been just about 2 years since I last saw Frankmusik live-- the first time FM played as a last minute guest for the Perez Hilton tour and opened the show for 3 other artists.  At that time, Complete Me, his first record, had only been out for a month or so.  The performance was a stellar track by track type set, featuring some beat-boxing.  Much has changed since that show.  FM now lives in LA, and has his upcoming sophomore release Do It In The A.M.. So how did last night's performance compare to 2009's?  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Synthesizer Exhibit in Berlin

Got a very cool email a couple days ago from Germany about a synthesizer exhibition.  I don't know much about the event, but I've read it's actually ending tomorrow, but if you're in Berlin I highly recommend checking it out while you can it ends the 10th, so make sure you check it out!  You can see some pictures here.  There's also more information at that link.

The synths come from the mighty Synthesizer Studio in Hamburg.  You can view their website here.  The site lists some records done at the studio (which I'll now have to check out) as well as all the awesome gear-- I'd love to hang out at that studio.  Be sure to check out that site for more information.  Why can't we have more great synthesizer institutions in the US?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: Zenhiser's 80s Drum Collection

A couple weeks ago, I got a copy of Zenhiser's recent sample multi-pack, The 80s Drum Collection. This set consists of 10 of Zenhiser's other sample selections, so not only am I reviewing this entire collection but the individual parts-- three sets of 80s Electro Beats, the Pure 80's Kick Drums, Hi Hats, and Snares & Claps, three sets of Ultra 80's Drum Beats, and the Ultra 80s Drum Kit. All this totals to 885 samples and it's just over a gig in size!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Choosing your first Synth

Korg MicroKorg

One of the questions I see most on the net about synthesizers is everyone asking what they should buy first as a beginner. After looking around, everyone pretty much turns up on one of two-- the MicroKorg and the Alesis Micron. More recently the Akai Miniak  has also become potential first synth, too, but it's supposedly the same sound engine as the Micron. After demoing the MicroKorg  and the Micron years ago to buy my first, I settled on the Micron because it had regular size keys, and I had liked the look of it. I used it for a few shows, using only the presets, and never managed to actually learn how to program it well. It now sits in my bedroom and I've hardly touched it, especially since moving on to bigger and better synths.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chromeo's Master Synth Collection

I've been grooving to Chromeo lately, and after combing the web for information I've found a great deal of information on their studio.  If you don't know Chromeo, they fit the bill of a synth band and have a great retro feel to them.  They balance pop with old school electronic 80s funk, and it works perfectly.  Here's a list of some of their gear:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jordan F - Definitely Miami

Unfortunately these days I've just started class again (surprise, I'm a college student) so I've recently been reacquainted with a lot of friends-- hopefully it won't detract too much from the post flow of the site, but you never know.  Jordan F's tracks add the perfect soundtrack the night rides in the car.

I've been getting an influx in reader submissions lately (thanks for sending your stuff in! I promise to respond to everything) and this one in particular caught my attention, and it definitely fits here considering I've got blue neon writing and you guys seem to love the 80s Nu Disco style.  Jordan F's new three song set is perfect for fans of the retro.  I actually immediately bought this EP as soon as I heard it I liked it so much, and you can even get it for free if you want over at his bandcamp, although I think you'll agree, it's better than free.  What better way then to kick off the end of summer and month of September with some great retro vibes?  Bonus: the artwork is straight vintage too.  Check out "Definitely Miami" above and "Cupido" below.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Starsmith Interview: "Lesson One", Ellie Goulding's Next Record, and More

STARSMITH is undoubtedly one of my favorite producers.  From his early collaborations with Frankmusik to his co-writing and production of more than half of the smash hit Lights with Ellie Goulding, he's the definition of a rising producer.  Not only has he worked with other artists like Kylie Minogue, Marina and the Diamonds, and Yes Giantess to name a few, but he's also released some of his own solo work too.

"Lesson One" is his newest track (released yesterday), a French-House laid back jam with layers of great pads and an awesome synth solo.  I absolutely love this track, and it stands so brilliantly as a single.  It's an incredibly warm piece of music with a great shuffling beat.  The vocal effects are also terrific.  The b-side "Champion" is also is another classic Starsmith groove, which reminds me more of his earlier work.

I chatted with Starsmith about his new single, his favorite producers, and a bit on Ellie Goulding's next record (which I so dearly hope he produces again).  Read on below to catch up with Starsmith.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ben Lee Interview: Catching up and his new record, 'Deeper Into Dream'

Ben Lee is an old favorite of mine.  I first became enamored with his sound when he released the single "Catch My Disease" back in 2005, supporting his album Awake is the New Sleep.  Awake is a quintessential feel good pop album.  Prior to that, he had released a few other albums-- my favorite being Breathing Tornados, a record of odd samples beautifully strung together-- not something you hear typically from a singer/songwriter.  Since Awake came out, Ben has also put out two other great pop records-- Ripe and The Rebirth of Venus.  While he isn't the most synth-y artist to have on the site, I was sure to snatch up an opportunity to talk to him a bit about those old records, and chat about his upcoming release.  You can hear his new single over at Spinner.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

AIMES Album Review

I was given the album Your Floor Is Now a Tree a couple weeks ago by newcomer AIMES. I had been meaning to review this for a couple weeks now, but kept having to push it back-- I wanted to make sure I heard the record enough to know what I like, and I figured since this is the first album review on the site, I have to do it justice.

First and foremost, I'm not really sure how to categorize this music-- regardless if you like categorization or not, it helps explain what an artist sounds like to new comers. It's certainly not a house record, as there are far too many slower jams, but it's definitely synthy and out there. Perhaps this is the "chill-wave" I hear so much about?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pure Analog Synthpop by Synthjunk - Awesome Youtube Videos

Just came across this YouTube channel for a user named Synthjunk.  This guy has some awesome videos showing off his synth gear.  Lots of cool vintage synths-- Korg Monopoly, Roland Jupiter-6, Moog Prodigy and plenty of others.  His videos are also stylized very well, as all he lights the room with is a head lamp, which leads your eyes around the video.  Check out more videos below, or check out his channel for the complete collection.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Max Cooke Interview: Inside Ellie Goulding's Live Show

Lights - Max Gordon Remix by Interscope Records

If you've seen Ellie Goulding's live show, you know it's a great time.  Ellie's vocals sound great in a concert venue, and she's got a great backing band that deliver fantastic renditions of her hit record, Lights.  I caught Ellie's show a few months ago at the World Cafe Live (one of the best venues in Philadelphia, hands down) and was in awe-- I really loved the show.

I recently talked to Max Cooke, Ellie's live keyboardist-- and sometimes guitarist-- about what goes into a show like Ellie's.  Max is also well known for fronting the band Goodbooks a few years ago in the UK.  If you've been to Ellie's shows, looking at the stage, Max is on the right behind a Moog Voyager.  He gave me the inside scoop on all of the tech, and here's your chance to check it all out.  Read on below to see how Ellie's North American tour was built.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chromeo - When The Night Falls [Official Video]

A couple days ago, Chromeo released their new video for "When The Night Falls" featuring Solange Knowles.  I don't normally post up videos on this site, but this one is just too good.  Also, it's got some incredible remixes... check out Breakbot's below.  Chromeo has an incredible synth collection, as seen in their appearance in Future Music a couple months ago.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Zenhiser's Roland CR-78 The Machine Sample Pack Review

CR-78 The Machine - Zenhiser Sample Pack Demo by The Synth Symp

The Roland CR-78 is a classic drum machine. Whether you've heard of it or not, it greatly influenced the sounds of the 80s and is featured on many famous tracks. Some of the artists who used it include Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates, Blondie, Ultravox, OMD, Roxy Music, and Gary Numan. While the CR-78 lacked full programmability like the Roland TR-707 or 808, it still had enough customizability to make it a great addition to any musician's studio. Unfortunately, eBay prices for this collector's item have forced it well past the $500 USD range. If someone wanted its classic sound for a new recording, they'd have to pay out a pretty penny for it.

When I heard Zenhiser was putting together a high-quality sample pack of the famous drum machine, I'll admit, I was pretty excited. The samples I had before this pack lacked any low end and needed desperately to be tampered with in order to make them come to life at all, so much to the point that I've never gotten anything I like out of them. With this new sample pack, I would be able to enjoy the sounds of the CR-78 without tampering with them or putting a massive hole in my pocket. But would it actually live up to such a classic machine?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bag Raiders Interview

BAG RAIDERS is an incredibly big name right now.  The Aussy duo exploded onto the scene with their track "Shooting Stars" in 2009.  Last October, they released their self titled record, which contained brilliant tracks like "Sunlight" and "Snake Charmer".  More recently, they've toured  with the phenomenal Ellie Goulding and brought their amazing sound to the, in my opinion, dance-deprived US.

"Shooting Stars" tore up the Australian charts, as well as the Hype Machine.  The track features an amazing synth hook that builds upwards and hooks the listener to a climactic explosion of dance greatness--the beat is even featured in Madeon's "Pop Culture" mix.  The music video for "Shooting Stars" features fantastic flying-on-car action.  Their record Bag Raiders follows up perfectly to this.

I chatted with the duo recently about their tour, their hit "Shooting Stars", collaborating with Dan Black, and their amazing synth collection (the one I envy most since Diamond Cut!).  Read on below to check out the inside scoop on Bag Raiders.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cinnamon Chasers Interview

I was very excited to get in touch with CINNAMON CHASERS a week ago. Cinnamon Chasers first captivated listeners with his club hit, 'Luv Deluxe', of which the music video currently has more than 2.7 million views on YouTube. I show this video to people all the time-- they are almost floored by the creativity, and the beautiful groove of the track sets the background mood perfectly.

This past year, Cinnamon Chasers has released Science, another brilliant dance record with grooving synths and big beats. He's even further remixed this record for the club scene as the Science Remixes, Pt. 1. He also exemplifies beautifully that you don't need a big analog collection, or even soft synth collection, to bring down the house. Read on below to hear about what goes on behind the scenes with Cinnamon Chasers.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Michael Jackson's Keyboards

Hey readers, hope you're all doing well.  Make sure you check back tomorrow (Thursday) for another big interview!

Have you ever been curious about what type of synths Michael Jackson used?  The King of Pop's sounds are incredibly famous and synonymous with the 80s.  Keyboard Magazine has put together an article on what types of sounds were used in Jackson's old records and have a comparison to what would have been used on his This Is It tour.  While it's always sad MJ is no longer rocking, talking his synths is a good way to pay tribute.  The article is here, but here are some of the cliff notes:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Anoraak Interview

It's not everyday that I have the pleasure of hearing from ANORAAK.  The French artist first hit the scene big in 2008 with his incredibly catchy track 'Nightdrive With You' (which is still being discussed by the Manchester DJ's last week!) and has since been inspiring young DJs around the world.  What's even more impressive is this all started out as a bedroom effort.  Since that release, he's also helped start the Valerie Collective who continue to rock great nostalgic beats around the world.

His more recent record Wherever the Sun Sets was a testament to the same great synth lines and catchy beats that got him noticed in the first place.  'Crazy Eyes' in particular stood out as a catchy jam and was a heavily remixed track by many artists.  'Dolphins and Highways' again showcases the beautiful mental images that Anoraak evokes to listeners-- nothing but beautiful beaches and Miami Vice neon lights.

An interview with Anoraak seems rare these days, so I was sure to get the low down on his writing philosophy and to ask about what synths he likes to use.  Very little information is available on the web on his synth collection.  Read on below and check out this rare moment when Anoraak reveals a great deal on his production style.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fun Friday - She's the Queen 'Sleepwalker's Curse' Demo

She's the Queen - Sleepwalker's Curse [Exclusive Demo] by The Synth Symp

Hey everyone, hope you had a good week and enjoyed the feature on Manchester.  I've got some really big things coming up, so be sure to be here Monday for the first in a set of interviews I'm incredibly excited about.  Be sure to come back then.

I wrestled this demo out of the hands of She's the Queen a few days ago for the site.  The track 'Sleepwalker's Curse' is a fan favorite for the band, so getting an intimate look at the infancy of this song adds a great perspective.  This early demo showcases a less effect-filled, piano heavy version of the track, and lacks the slow buildup to the chorus we all know well now.  The versions before this were still in the phase of the band finding its sound-- perhaps one day Emily and Drew will release more of their other demo tracks as well, so be sure to bug them on Twitter about it.

Have a good weekend, and see you here Monday!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Manchester Week: Jules Schimmer

Closing out our feature on Manchester this week is the brilliant JULES SCHIMMER.  Recently he's been releasing great mixes on his SoundCloud and he is currently working on new tracks that you'll see sometime soon.  You'll also find a wealth of his awesome remixes there as well.  Like the other Mancunians, Jules very much loves the sounds of the 80s, which ties this feature together really well.  If I had to explain Jules' sound to a new listener, I'd simply say "he makes his synths Schimmer".

Check below to find out about Jules' influences, what he uses in the studio, and read about his live shows.  He'll also break down an amazing bass that's featured in his remix of Anoraak, which will help you get started on making your own great bass patches.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Manchester Week: Mindscramble

Mindscramble - Upstart (demo) by Mindscramble

Interviewing MINDSCRAMBLE is like greeting an old friend to me-- but we've never met in person.  When the blog was in its wee days of infancy, I received a few emails from interested people, him being one of the few.  Not sure what to think judging by his photo, I checked out his Soundcloud and was immediately excited-- I had found the type of readers who I wanted to listen to.  Mindscramble was the first of the Manchester crew I met, so it's a pleasure to have this interview.

Mindscramble combines the feelings of 80s montages and beats into great tracks.  While he claims to be a beginner, I never hear any evidence of it.  Check below as I delve into his influences and find out what makes him tick.  I'm also excited to show off a demo work in progress of his new track, 'Surge', and he takes a crack at the classic patch from Anoraak's 'Nightdrive with You'.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Manchester Week: The Sanfernando Sound

THE SANFERNANDO SOUND is the music production moniker of Jason Sieu Persad. Born in the city of San Fernando (Trinidad & Tobago) and now based in Manchester (UK), Jason makes music because he’s fascinated by synthesizers, drum machines and any gadget (preferably with small, flashing lights) which produces odd sounds. He is currently working on his second remixes for indie-electro bands Starlings and Kites and is collaborating with singer Maighréad on fresh material.

I first heard The Sanfernando Sound before I started this blog when he brilliantly remixed She's the Queen's 'Sleepwalker's Curse' about 5 months ago.  His remix repertoire also includes Two Door Cinema Club and Anoraak.  We've recently had a good conversation on hardware synths via email, so he's a bit of a 'kindred spirit' in terms of the love of synth hardware and drum machines.  Read below to find out about his collection, and be sure to check out a patch he's gifted to us using a free plugin.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Manchester Week: Kid Machine

KID MACHINE is the first artist of this week's Mancunian special.  I've had the pleasure of talking to him via Twitter for about a couple months now.  Kid Machine makes great Italo-Disco tracks with stabbing synths and shuffling beats that echo the sounds of the 70s and 80s.  Be sure to check out his great catalog of tracks on SoundCloud as you enjoy this interview.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Manchester Week!

This week, I'm very excited to present a set of interviews with 4 talented producers living in Manchester, England for Monday-Thursday of this week.  If you're like me (and much of the rest of the world), you first think of the Manchester United Soccer  (Football) team, the most famous club in the world, when you hear the name 'Manchester'.  This week's DJs will clue you in on the awesome nu-disco/ electro scene happening in Manchester today.

For this week, be prepared to sit back and enjoy hearing great clubby tracks, influences, and hearing some exclusive tracks and learning some patch programming.  Check back tomorrow for the exciting start of MANCHESTER WEEK!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Moog hints, Champions, and more

Hello everyone, hope your Friday is going well.  A couple of things to mention before we all escape to the weekend...

Moog is showing off a "special project" that's "the first of its kind", which is said to rhyme with Rogue Door.  Speculation on their Facebook Page has guesses such as "Moog Door", "Moog Gore", but my guess would be between "Moog More" and "Moog IV".  Nothing in the picture indicates polyphony, but there are Mooger Foogers lined up across the top of the Voyager XL, implying there's way more to this than just a standard 5 grand keyboard.  Only time will tell...

EDIT: Today, Moog revealed the Moog Store.  Not quite a polyphonic synth...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

AIMES - Every Time When I See You (Radio Edit)

Hey everyone, hope you're enjoying your Thursday.  I was recently introduced to a new artist called AIMES.  AIMES has got a nice fresh approach to synth pop-- his vocals nicely straddle modern and the soft spoken 80s.  Combine that with a funky beat and some nice analog synths, and you've got yourself catchy dance music.