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.