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16 mrt. 2020

Interview met Alien Private Eye

De Engelse producer David Kaer aka Alien Private Eye bracht afgelopen donderdag (12 maart) zijn debuutalbum ¨No Programmed Instructions¨ uit. Op dit album hoor je zijn muzikale versie voor de sci-fi klassieker Ghost In The Shell. Een monsterklus als je het mij vraagt, maar het resultaat is verbluffend. In dit interview lees je hoe David dit project heeft aangepakt en met welke apparatuur.

English producer David Kaer aka Alien Private Eye released his debut album "No Programmed Instructions" last Thursday (March 12). On this album you can hear his musical version for the sci-fi classic Ghost In The Shell. A monster job if you ask me, but the result is amazing. In this interview you can read how David approached this project and what equipment he used.

Alien Private Eye

David, can you please introduce yourself?
That’s probably the toughest question you could ask because honestly I’m not all that interesting. I’ve loved music since I was young enough to think and feel, I’ve played in bands since I was about 13 or 14 years old. I’d consider myself and jack of many instruments but a master of none. I’ve recently started working under the artist name Alien Private Eye to release my own, more instrumental focused music.

Congratulations with your debut album ¨No Programmed Instructions¨. Its a real treasure for every music lover out there. Creating the complete rescore of the 1995 sci-fi classic Ghost In The Shell isn't an easy task. How did you work on this massive project?
Over a long period of time. This whole thing really started as a passion project. I’ve always enjoyed films, the musical scores that accompany them and how different music can completely change how a film feels. Removing the original score by Kenji Kawai from the film whilst still retaining the dialogue was the most gruelling part of it. The composing aspect of the project was actually completed pretty quickly. I chucked the film into Logic and just kind of jammed through the whole thing with some basic synth patches. That’s how I came up with most of the leitmotif’s or themes for the piece. Next up was the rhythm side of things. Laying down some drum patterns but then changing the tempo during certain scenes to really try and get moments to pop at the right time, like crash cymbals and an explosion happening pretty much simultaneously. After that it was all the usual, sifting through, finding the right sounds, tweaking little bits here and there. There was actually a lot of guitar all over the album at one point which I later decided I didn’t like as it stopped the guitars at the end coming so ¨out of nowhere¨. There’s also some thematic reasoning behind why the guitar and vocals only appear on the last track.


On the closing track ¨No Call¨ there is a guest vocal performance from Waiting For Wednesday's Laura Shackleton. How was it to work with Laura?
Super easy. We’ve worked together more than a few times and she’s actually sung this song before. ¨No Call¨ was originally written about 5 or so years ago by myself for a college assignment, Laura did the vocals back then too. But when I decided I was going to use this song as the final track, I’d lost the stems from the previous recording so I couldn’t just take those vocals out and drop them into the new version of the song. Luckily Laura agreed to re-track the vocals. This was by far the easier part of the whole project. She sang the whole thing straight through 5 or 6 times so I had a few takes to choose from. I ended up only using one of them. So what you hear on that closing track (other than the bits I’ve isolated to put a telephone-style effect on) is one pitch perfect take. No tuning or anything, just a bit of slight EQ and compression, and fair bit of reverb. I really want to give a shout out to Waiting For Wednesday too whilst I’m here. I’m not sure how much crossover there is between the Synthwave and Country/Folk communities but if you like slick vocal melodies and harmonies, if you like songwriting, if you like lyrics that are actually about something and not just a bunch of words thrown against the wall (like mine), then you owe it yourselves to check these girls out.

When I look at the cover of the album, I am stunned by the beautiful artwork. How did you and Yanuar CT met up?
I came across Yanuar CT through that wonderful information highway we call the Internet. It was simply a matter of searching around many different sites, finding someone who’s work I liked and commissioning some art. Yanuar’s work caught my eye due to it not looking anything like your usual synthwave-style artwork. I specifically wanted the cover art to differentiate itself from not just that, but the movie that inspired it. No neon, none of the green that Ghost In The Shell is known for. I simply asked for something along the lines of “a robotic or cyborg woman” and then just let him do his thing. I couldn’t be happier with the final result.

No Programmed Instructions van Alien Private Eye

What gear did you used to produce this album?
The drums are a combination of a few different drum machines. An Alesis SR-16 and a Boss DR-202, either sampled or played in live. Other than the drums, guitar and vocals, everything was done using a MIDI keyboard and Logic Pro X. My old Fender Stratocaster was DI’d straight in and treated later and Laura sang into a Sure SM-57 (after testing out a few others). That microphone is fantastic in the right situations and should never be frowned upon. Oh, and lots and lots of coffee.

Which other anime movies or series do you like?
Princess Mononoke would probably take the number two spot for me after Ghost In The Shell. That or Akira, I kind of go back and forth on those.


Now that ¨No Programmed Instructions¨ is released, what are your further plans for this year?
In terms of music? I’ve got no idea really. I’ve got another musical project I’m working on right now but other than that I don’t really have the time yet to be experimenting with more ideas. Life tends to get in the way. Not in a bad way exactly, but between the day job and family commitments there’s only so much time and energy a person can put into unleashing those creative juices. Maybe next year, fingers crossed!

When reading about your background I learnt that you also formed a group called Flash Cassette with Adam Hunte. Can we maybe expect a third album in the future?
That other musical project I said I was working on? That’s actually the third Flash Cassette album. That’s Adam’s baby though, he started it and the first album is all him. I only got involved with the second album and onwards. We’re looking at a late June release for the third album, assuming we aren’t all living in underground bunkers by that point. But if we are, at least you’ll have some brand new funky tunes to keep you company.


What do you like most about the ´80s?
Bad movies. Seriously. The ´80s has some of the worst (best) action movies ever made. They can make you laugh more than a genuine comedy flick and it’s even where I go the name Alien Private Eye from. Check that one out if you can find it anywhere!


And finally, any last words to the synthwave community?
Just saying ¨hello¨ would make the most sense I guess because this is my first time going out as a solo artist. I don’t know. Stop worrying about genres so much! Enjoy the music you like and make the music you want to make. Don’t think too hard about wether it fits into this or that box. This is the way.

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