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28 mei 2020

Interview met Taurus 1984

Morgen (vrijdag 29 mei) verschijnt het tweede album van de Britse producer Taurus 1984 met als titel ¨Dream Warriors¨. Een fantastisch album wat je zeker moet gaan beluisteren. In dit interview met Alastair praten we over de totstandkoming van ¨Dream Warriors¨, Outland Recordings en verdere toekomstplannen. Eén ding is zeker, Taurus 1984 heeft een geweldig album uitgebracht en de toekomst belooft veel goeds voor deze sympathieke muzikant.

Tomorrow (Friday, May 29th) the second album by British producer Taurus 1984 will be released, entitled ¨Dream Warriors¨. A fantastic album that you should definitely listen to. In this interview with Alastair we talk about the creation of ¨Dream Warriors¨, Outland Recordings and further future plans. One thing is certain, Taurus 1984 has released a great album and the future holds great promise for this likeable musician.

Taurus 1984

Alastair, can you please introduce yourself?
Hello Sander, thank you for having me. I'm Alastair and I write and produce music under the name of Taurus 1984, a name taken simply from my star sign and year of birth. I have been involved in music for the past 20 years (typing that made me wince!) playing in various bands and writing songs for a number of projects.

Congratulations with your second album ¨Dream Warriors¨. How was it to work on this album?
Thank you so much, it was an absolute pleasure to work on. It is quite a personal record lyrically with the majority of it being a time capsule experiment about the period whilst I was writing it. It was a really cathartic and exciting experience translating everything over to song. Initially, I worked on 99 % of the tracks in my studio and then would transport them over to Bobby's studio and we'd work on extra layers and production techniques together. Bob (who writes music for film and tv as his profession) and I have known each other since we were around 9 years of age, we both share a love for '80's film/culture, Synthwave and retro & modern pop. It was a total pleasure getting to work on the project together, we laughed a lot and got to try out some interesting ideas while working with some amazing people and friends.

When you compare ¨Dream Warriors¨ to your other album ¨Lost in time¨, what things did you do differently this time?
Although both albums do share some similarities, in my opinion they really are two different things. 'Lost in Time' essentially is an instrumental soundtrack album, it was my first experience in writing, recording and producing electronic music. It was a very steep learning curve that I'm always trying to improve on. It was out of pure coincidence that the project started to be honest. I had always had a deep love for the genre, but not necessarily had any plans to start creating it. My close friend James Iles (who does the majority of the Taurus 1984 artwork-legend!) and I were co-directing a short 1980's inspired horror comedy film (Hard to Kill) that we shot in Helsinki, Finland (may I add, it was minus 21 degrees there!). We needed a soundtrack and I volunteered to do it. So, that's how the project began. I had such fun with the first album, however, I wanted to try something different for the next. I adore vocal records (I love writing vocal melodies and hooks), so set about the task to write a record that encompassed a feeling of nostalgia, reflectiveness while being mindful to keep one foot in the future with how modern 'retro' pop is sounding.

When I listen to the new album, I can hear it´s a top notch production. You worked together with a lot of singers and musicians. How did you approach this project from a producers point of view?
It was a completely different process to producing the first album, there were a lot more people involved this time round, which I loved. Working with the singers on this album was an absolute joy, I met Jeris and Abi while we were singing backing vocals for a BBC concert with pop star Demi Lovato, we hit it off instantly and they were my first choice for vocalists. I was also extremely lucky to involve my old friend Phil Colwill who appears on a track on the record too. I wanted to experiment with a lot of vocal harmonies and kids' choirs, which I trialled on 'Dream Warriors' initially. That was great fun! Everyone involved on performing side of the album were great friends of ours. On the whole it was an extremely enjoyable process, obviously there were challenges, but nothing major. We learnt very quickly about each other and how one another works. It was lovely also having no studio time constraints, we had time to play and come up with ideas on the fly- it was a really natural and fun environment which I will certainly be replicating for the next record.
Production wise, Bobby was a giant factor on getting things sounding the way they do, he's got a great ear and is Captain Cubase. We then sent it to Pete Maher (U2, The Killers, The 1975, etc.) to have it mastered. Pete is an absolute genius and scientist in the mastering realm, obviously that really helped, and was just amazing having him working on the songs.

Which songs are most special to you on ¨Dream Warriors¨?
To be honest, all of them. Like I mentioned earlier, it is a very personal album lyrically to me. Something I enjoyed was playing with the juxtaposition of very reflective lyrics set to the back drop of a melodic '80s influenced pop melody. I really enjoy that style of writing along with it being quite conversational too, I vibe off the realness of hearing something said to you, that moves you in some form and then including it in a song. If there was one song for me that means the most it would have to be the title track of the album 'Dream Warriors', it was the first song I wrote for this album and really set the path straight for how the rest was going to sound.

Dream Warriors van Taurus 1984

Your new album is released by Outland Recordings. How did you end up working together with this label?
What an absolute pleasure it has been getting to work with Outland. After they announced they were starting a record label we began chatting with each other and sharing mixes with them, we then had a meeting during Retro Future fest in London and soon after signed a contract with them in the early part of this year. I feel really grateful to work with both Stuart and Brett, they work tirelessly and are so passionate with everything they do in regards to Outland. They are the best guys too, I'm so pleased to be able to call them friends. Sharing a label with some incredible roster artists is really exciting also and really makes you strive to write the best songs you can and provide the best content that you can provide.

Outland Recordings

What are you further plans for this year, though life is not normal nowadays due to COVID-19?
Well, 2020 threw a bit of a curve ball for a lot of artists didn't it. Initially, I was a little worried about releasing a record during this tough time, but we adapt and push forward, in a lot of ways, the extra time aspect has been golden and has made me think outside the box in terms of promotion and content production. We've been lucky to have some very talented friends who have helped a lot with creating social media content with us recently, we released a mini music video shot over in Los Angeles last week and have another one coming May 25th. Asides from that, I have made a start on album number three. So far to date, I think there's around 6 or 7 songs in various stages of undress/in idea form that can be whittled down to form album contenders. Once 'Dream Warriors' comes out, we will continue to promote that, and as soon as it's safe to do so, will be playing a few shows. Prior to the pandemic we had a number of music videos in the diary to shoot which obviously we need to reschedule. One of them involving a runway, a DeLorean and an aeroplane. So, we look forward to sharing that with you...

What is the last movie that you have seen?
The last movie I watched was actually The Breakfast Club. I've lost count of how many times I've seen it. I am a giant John Hughes fan. Apart from that I watched a documentary about Stiv from the punk band The Dead Boys earlier, that was cool too.

What do you like most about the ´80s?
How long do you have?! I'll try and keep it short. The '80's to me represents so many special things, but mainly, a feeling of nostalgia and fun before life got a bit more complicated. My first memories of music or film were from that period, so spending your formative years with that surrounding you makes a profound dent on your adult tastes. The resurgence of the '80's in popular culture has also been really exciting to see, and personally, I think it has the potential to bring positive awareness to this subculture we are in. In some ways, visually now it's probably way more 80's than the 80's ever was, but that's fun and I like that - I'm a golden age thinker with lost boy syndrome, so, ya know! I love where things are at currently, but I'm also really excited to see how it will progress and mutate over the next few years, I think that's the best way for it to stay healthy and not become stagnant.

And finally, any last words to the synthwave community?
Thank you for the support and interest that you have shown towards Taurus 1984. I am really grateful to be a part of this scene as an artist and as a fan. It's hands down one of the most supportive and coolest scenes I've experienced. I've met some wonderful, talented and funny people through it. So, cheers, stay safe and don't forget to check out 'Dream Warriors' - out May 29th digitally and physically via Outland Recordings.

Je kunt Taurus 1984 volgen op:

25 mei 2020

Nieuwe synthwave releases om snel te gaan checken

Afgelopen weken zijn er weer een heleboel nieuwe prachtige synthwave releases uitgekomen. Ik heb er in deze special vier voor je op een rij gezet.

Verborgen parels: nieuwe synthwave releases

Sound System van Electronic Visions

De Nederlander Electronic Visions is terug en debuteert met zijn nieuwe album ¨Sound System¨ op het Amerikaanse label Polychora Records. Het resultaat is prachtig. Je kunt heerlijk ontspannen op de chille klanken van deze talentvolle producer. Nummers als Sustain en Matrix behoren tot mijn favorieten. Beste werk van Electronic Visions tot nu toe!

Airglow (feat. Loréan) van DreamStation 1986

Nu verder met een andere Nederlander, namelijk DreamStation 1986 die samen met producer Loréan een geweldig nummer hebben uitgebracht. Airglow is een heerlijk zweverig nummer, vol melodische ritmes en klanken. Dit is genieten!


Een nieuwe darksynth/cyberpunk-ster is opgestaan en heet CHAOS VECTOR. Deze sympathieke zuiderbuur heeft een zwaar album opgeleverd vol donkere, grimmige en zenuwslopende geluiden. Maar het resultaat is te gek en verplichte kost voor elke liefhebber van het knal- en beukwerk.

Vacate van GRAEDA

Als laatst reizen we af naar Zwitserland voor het album ¨Vacate¨ van GRAEDA. Een fantastisch album vol heerlijke synthwave, electro en (lichte) house invloeden. Dit album ga je opzetten na een hele warme dag als de zon begint te zakken en er een licht verkoelende wind opsteekt.

19 mei 2020

Interview met Dana Jean Phoenix

Onlangs bracht de Canadese synthwave queen Dana Jean Phoenix haar nieuwe album ¨Megawave¨ uit. Een geweldig album wat zij samen maakte met de Oostenrijker Powernerd. Helaas is de Europese toer van Dana deze maand geannuleerd, maar is er wel goed nieuws te melden. Lees hierover en meer over de totstandkoming van ¨Megawave¨ in mijn tweede interview met Dana Jean Phoenix.

Canadian synthwave queen Dana Jean Phoenix recently released her new album "Megawave". A great album that she made together with Powernerd. Unfortunately, Dana's European tour has been canceled this month, but there is some good news to report. Read about this and more about the creation of "Megawave" in my second interview with Dana Jean Phoenix.

Dana Jean Phoenix

Hi Dana, this is my second interview with you. Thank you very much for this. How are you doing in these turbulent times?
Hey, thanks for having me back! It's certainly a unique time, but we’re proving just how adaptable and resilient we are. I'm happy to have some quality time to practice my keytar, Jareth.

Congratulations with your new album ¨Megawave¨. You made this album together with Powernerd. How was it to work on this project?
Thank you! The concept for working on a full album together came about at a live show we played in Vienna last year. Powernerd and I have always had a great energy working on previous songs and performing live together at some seriously hype shows, so it was exciting to explore an entire album and keep those good vibes going. Powernerd Paddy is such a wicked producer and musician and the album was an absolute blast to make. I've played several shows with Outland too and am so stoked that the album is released on their label, Outland Recordings.

Can you tell us something on the way this album was made, with a big ocean between two musicians?
As the song 'New Technology' on the album touches on, we live in an incredible time where the internet allows us to connect and exchange ideas with such ease. I think it's fair to say that Powernerd Paddy and I are both drawn to funk and disco vibes, so with that in mind, he would send over tracks, and I got to work on vocals, harmonies, and in some cases I would add a keyboard solo. Jan-Friedrich Conrad added his magic touch in the way of additional synths and solos to the songs 'Living Rent Free' and 'Sunrise Stance'.

Dana Jean Phoenix & Powernerd - MEGAWAVE

When we talk about the lyrics on ¨Megawave¨, what did inspired you writing these lyrics?
Themes of self-empowerment have always been an important aspect to my music, and it never hurts to add a few sci-fi twists! I've had the good fortune to tour Europe and the US twice, and I'm always inspired by the people I meet at shows and on my travels. It's important to be self-sufficient and independent, but ultimately it's those human connections that make us stronger. Appreciating those relationships and the people who have supported me over the years is a key source of inspiration.

What is your favorite song on ¨Megawave¨?
'New Technology' and 'Living Rent Free' are faves for me, especially lately, as they deal with themes of technology helping to keep relationships thriving and speaks to the need to stay positive and strong in a time where there can be a lot of negativity.

You were planning to do a new European tour this spring. Now with the Coronavirus gigs are being cancelled. Is there any news you maybe can share with us regarding a possible new tour later this year?
Yes! I'm looking to play Europe this coming fall - Vienna on Oct 15th and London on Oct 17th. I'm looking forward to sharing more announcements and dates in the coming weeks.

Lately I have been listening a lot to the album ¨Welcome to the Real World¨ by Mr. Mister. What music from the past is coming out of your speakers these days?
Nice! I love the song 'Broken Wings' from that album. Tears for Fears’ ‘The Seeds Of Love’ album is absolutely brilliant and I’ve had it on repeat a lot lately. Chuckii Booker’s ‘Niice ‘N Wiild’ album is such an underrated gem of pure funky jams with lethal bass lines and I’m glad it’s found its way back to my ears.

What do you wish for the world after this big health- and economic crisis?
I hope it offers a new perspective that small acts of kindness and understanding can go such a long way. It’ll be all the sweeter too when we can all come together for live shows and jam under one roof again.

You are a very important person in the synth world and you are a role model to many. What advice can you give young musicians?
Listen to your instincts, take risks, and try to tackle challenges that scare you. You’re totally capable and you learn more with every chance you take.

And finally, any last words to the synthwave community?
Stay Retro, Stay Safe, and thanks for supporting the album Megawave. I'm looking forward to getting back on the road and seeing everyone again!

Je kunt Dana Jean Phoenix volgen op:

18 mei 2020

Nieuw album van Neon Nox is fantastisch

Op vrijdag 15 mei verscheen het nieuwste album van de Zweedse producer Neon Nox met als titel ¨Last Stand¨. Het resultaat is...fantastisch!

Neon Nox - Last Stand

Normaal gesproken zou dit nieuwe album het predicaat ¨Album van de week¨ verdienen, maar ik heb helaas niet genoeg tijd deze week om dieper op dit album in te gaan. Wel heb ik al een aantal keren naar ¨Last Stand¨ geluisterd en ben ik erg te spreken over deze plaat. De stijl omschrijft zich als een mix van synthwave, outrun en dreamwave. Het is niet echt in een hokje te plaatsen, maar dat maakt helemaal niets uit. Elk nummer is te gek en zelfs Powernerd speelt nog mee op zijn gitaar tijdens het zesde nummer The Stash.

Neon Nox heeft, na twee jaar, weer een geweldig nieuw album gemaakt wat heerlijk is om naar te luisteren.

Naast de digitale versie van ¨Last Stand¨ is dit album momenteel ook nog te verkrijgen op vinyl, cassette en cd. Maar wacht niet te lang, het zou zomaar eens snel uitverkocht kunnen raken.