Thursday, July 17, 2014

ROOM8 Interview

When I first heard ROOM8, the classic sounds and catchy synth hooks immediately resonated with the synth pop lover in me, and I was hooked from the first verse- but this was a couple years ago, near the band's first releases.  My interest piqued again when they recently released their new EP Visions of You, featuring Electric Youth, whom you may know from the Drive Soundtrack.  ROOM8 is the collaboration of Ezra Reich and Nic Johns, who have teamed up in LA to bring back true vintage tones and classic song writing to the SoundCloud age.  Their highly anticipated (but still in progress) album Transduction features a host of contributors from the synthesizer's golden years (more info on that on their SoundCloud page).  I recently got the chance to talk to the band about their studio gear and influences.

You guys have a very distinctive 80s feel to your music. Can you give me a run down of what you have in your studio, in terms of synths and rack gear? Are you using any plugins for sounds?
ROOM8: We never sit down and go after an "80's" sound. We just love the synthesizers that were built in the late 70s and 80s and we use them to make music. We also love song structure and pop music and soundtrack music which incorporates some of that structure. On some of our earlier material which has begun coming out with the "Visions of You" EP we used a hybrid of VST's and Hardware. On the newest stuff in our studio we are now primarily using hardware. We use Arturia primarily for software (with a few others). In terms of hardware their are a few secrets but some things are:
arp solina
korg polysix
korg lambda
korg wavestation
roland juno 60
roland jx 10
Oberheim OB8
Oberheim Matrix 6R
Yamaha DX7
Prophet 600
Novation Bass Station 2
and a few other ones including a massive rare one that will remain a secret
also our guitar rig is a secret but we can say it's the same rig used on every 80's Giorgio Moroder record.

How did your collaboration with Electric Youth come about?
ROOM8: We met them and realized we loved so many of the same films and music and just got along great. We have a song we co-wrote and produced coming out on their debut record called "Without You" in addition to their feature on our track "Visions of You".

Do you have any hidden influences— someone who we’d never guess by your music?
ROOM8: We love so many things. We are huge fans of early pop music like Roy Orbison and Phil Spector. We are also hugely influenced by films both with synth soundtracks and with traditional soundtracks.

What's the writing process like for you? Are you thinking of melodies first and adjusting sounds as you go? Or do your sounds influence the melodies?
ROOM8: Generally we start by creating a musical track and we write the words and melody to that. Sounds greatly influence the melodic and lyrical content of our songs.

Is there any gear you don't have that you lust after? 
ROOM8: It would be great to have a yamaha CS-80, but really there are just so many incredible instruments out there. It usually has to do with what we are missing in our rig as every synth has its own character to it.

When you perform live, what kind of setup do you use?
ROOM8: We have a full live band. Singer, vocoder, synths, saxophone. We use some vintage gear like our Juno 60 and pieces of our Simmons SDS 8 drum kit and then we have some laptops running Arturia.

What new gear excites you the most?
ROOM8: We are fans of what korg is doing with new analog. Re-releasing the arp odyssey. They seem to have smart leadership over there. The Novation Bass Station 2 is a really nice sounding new mono synth. It's great that people are building new analogs. However, there is a magic and sound quality to the older ones which we have yet to feel from any of the new ones in the same way.

Do you have a favorite synth or audio company, digital or hardware (besides Arturia)?
ROOM8: In terms of software UVI and Arturia seem to lead the pack. In hardware it's fantastic that Tom Oberheim is making new synths and the rebuild of the two voice sounds fantastic from the demos we've heard.

ROOM8's Studio

Is there any other newer gear you're after?
ROOM8: No other brand new synths per se. But lots of old ones. There are a number of mono-synths we have our sights on. Slowly but surely.

What are your plans for the future, is a full length release in the works?
ROOM8: Yes there is so much music in the works and quite a bit in the can. The business aspect of music is always slower then our productivity level so things take a while to come out sometimes, but you can definitely look forward to a full length.

A big thanks to ROOM8 for joining me and letting us take a look at their gear!  Be sure to check out their SoundCloud, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

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